Jump to content


Donating Member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Posts posted by Airband

  1.  I expect there will be a very different narrative come the fall when the true value of a 'peace dividend' becomes apparent.

    We need a real debate about the Ukraine war


    Tue May 24, 2022 - The Washington Post
    By Katrina vanden Heuvel


    “When all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

    It’s time to challenge the orthodox view on the war in Ukraine.

    As Russia’s illegal and brutal assault enters its fourth month, the impact on Europe, the Global South and the world is already profound. We are witnessing the emergence of a new political/military world order. Climate action is being sidelined as reliance on fossil fuels increases; food scarcity and other resource demands are pushing prices upward and causing widespread global hunger; and the worldwide refugee crisis — with more international refugees and internally displaced people than at any time since the end of World War II — poses a massive challenge.

    Furthermore, the more protracted the war in Ukraine, the greater the risk of a nuclear accident or incident. And with the Biden administration’s strategy to “weaken” Russia with the scale of weapons shipments, including anti-ship missiles, and revelations of U.S. intelligence assistance to Ukraine, it is clear that the United States and NATO are in a proxy war with Russia.

    Shouldn’t the ramifications, perils and multifaceted costs of this proxy war be a central topic of media coverage — as well as informed analysis, discussion and debate? Yet what we have in the media and political establishment is, for the most part, a one-sided, even nonexistent, public discussion and debate. It’s as if we live with what journalist Matt Taibbi has dubbed an “intellectual no-fly zone.”

    Those who have departed from the orthodox line on Ukraine are regularly excluded from or marginalized — certainly rarely seen — on big corporate media. The result is that alternative and countervailing views and voices seem nonexistent. Wouldn’t it be healthy to have more diversity of views, history and context rather than “confirmation bias”?

    Those who speak of history and offer context about the West’s precipitating role in the Ukraine tragedy are not excusing Russia’s criminal attack. It is a measure of such thinking, and the rhetorical or intellectual no-fly zone, that prominent figures such as Noam Chomsky, University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer and former U.S. ambassador Chas Freeman, among others, have been demonized or slurred for raising cogent arguments and providing much-needed context and history to explain the background of this war.

    In our fragile democracy, the cost of dissent is comparatively low. Why, then, aren’t more individuals at think tanks or in academia, media or politics challenging the orthodox U.S. political-media narrative? Is it not worth asking whether sending ever-more weapons to the Ukrainians is the wisest course? Is it too much to ask for more questioning and discussion about how best to diminish the danger of nuclear conflict? Why are nonconformists smeared for noting, even bolstered with reputable facts and history, the role of nationalist, far-right and, yes, neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine? Fascist or neo-Nazi revivalism is a toxic factor in many countries today, from European nations to the United States. Why is Ukraine’s history too often ignored, even denied?

    Meanwhile, as a former Marine Corps general noted, “War is a racket.” U.S. weapons conglomerates are lining up to feed at the trough. Before the war ends, many Ukrainians and Russians will die while Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman make fortunes. At the same time, network and cable news is replete with pundits and “experts” — or more accurately, military officials turned consultants — whose current jobs and clients are not disclosed to viewers.

    What is barely reflected on our TVs or Internet screens, or in Congress, are alternate views — voices of restraint, who disagree with the tendency to see compromise in negotiations as appeasement, who seek persistent and tough diplomacy to attain an effective cease-fire and a negotiated resolution, one designed to ensure that Ukraine emerges as a sovereign, independent, reconstructed and prosperous country.

    “Tell me how this ends,” Gen. David Petraeus asked Post writer Rick Atkinson a few months into the nearly decade-long Iraq War. Bringing this current war to an end will demand new thinking and challenges to the orthodoxies of this time. As the venerable American journalist Walter Lippmann once observed, “When all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

    • Like 1
  2. Your Pilot May Have Had Suicidal Thoughts. And That’s OK

    Intentional crashes highlight the need for better mental-health protections in a high-stress job


    Fri May 20, 2022- Bloomberg News
    By David Fickling and Tim Culpan


    “Pilots have this reluctance toward reporting their mental health. It’s not easy to become a pilot. They do a lot to achieve success, and to carry out an action that may very well jeopardize their medical is a risk they’re not prepared to take.”

    How would you feel about getting on a flight knowing that the pilot had been having suicidal thoughts? If you’re a regular passenger, you’ve probably already done it.

    Few things in aviation evoke greater horror than the prospect of a pilot who deliberately drives a plane into the ground. That’s what happened, notoriously, with Germanwings Flight 9525 in 2015, when 150 were killed after the first officer locked the captain out of the cockpit and steered the plane into an Alpine mountain. 

    It’s such an alarming prospect that some suspected pilot suicides remain hotly disputed, as with the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 soon after departure from New York in 1999. Intentional crashing is among the theories posited for the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in 2014, though no conclusion has been made. Now that possibility hangs over the fate of China Eastern Airlines Corp. Flight 5735, which may have had its controls pushed into a deliberate nosedive ahead of its crash on March 21, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.

    For all the understandable alarm that such incidents attract, the solution is almost certainly to be more open about mental health, not more restrictive. Of roughly a billion commercial aircraft trips carried out since the 1970s, pilot suicide has only been suggested in eight crashes. The far greater risk is that the culture of aviation is preventing pilots from being honest about their state of mind and thus allowing depression and other disorders to fester without sufferers seeking the treatment they need.

    Commercial pilots are among the few professionals who must pass medical tests, typically taken annually, to certify their ongoing fitness for work. They’ll include physical checks of eyesight and hearing, as well as asking if pilots have experienced mental health issues or seen a psychologist.

    “Pilots have this reluctance toward reporting” their mental health, says Corrie Ackland, a psychologist at the University of New South Wales who’s studying the issue. “It’s not easy to become a pilot. They do a lot to achieve success, and to carry out an action that may very well jeopardize their medical is a risk they’re not prepared to take.”

    It’s not hard to see the problem with this setup. Ideally, pilots having mental health issues should be seeking out help and declaring it to their employer — but they’re far less likely to do so if it might end their careers. Even more intrusive ways of checking someone’s mental state are easy to hack. Those wanting to conceal depression will know that when asked: “In the past two weeks, how often have you felt little pleasure in doing things?” the answer to give is: “Not at all.” 

    Compare anonymous surveys of aviators to ones where their identities are disclosed, and it’s clear that a taboo is fully in place. One self-reported questionnaire conducted by New Zealand pilots while renewing their medical certificates found that just 1.9% suffered from depression, levels far lower than those reported among the general population. An anonymous survey of 1,848 pilots conducted in the wake of the Germanwings crash, however, found 12.6% suffered from depression and 4.1% had experienced suicidal thoughts within the past two weeks. While that might sound worryingly high, it’s pretty much in line with levels in the general population and, in particular, high-stress occupations.

    It’s hardly surprising that pilots suffer from mental health problems. Separation from family and non-work social networks, disrupted sleep, and irregular work hours all come with the territory. Add to the mix a reluctance to seek help, and it’s remarkable rates of depression aren’t even higher.

    Exacerbating the problem is the sheer stress of the job itself. Most flights occur without incident, but that’s because pilots need to be meticulous in following procedures while having the mental flexibility to troubleshoot in real time. Even then, increasingly sophisticated systems make the job harder because the machines they fly are more complex and difficult to understand.

    In his book “No Man’s Land,” Captain Kevin Sullivan details the numerous computer failures he had to wrestle with when Qantas Flight 72 plunged towards the earth over Western Australia in 2008. The second part of the book outlines the aftermath — the severe mental trauma he faced after landing his stricken aircraft. The former U.S. naval pilot ended up retiring from commercial aviation as a result. 

    Few pilots face events as dramatic as QF72, but strict deadlines, tight budgets and job insecurity amplify the impact of even minor incidents. Most don’t write a book about their experience or get the level of peer or corporate support Sullivan received.

    Airlines are understandably paranoid about all aspects of safety, including mental health. The problem is, the current stigma around addressing the topic clearly isn’t serving those ends. The pilot who crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 had a history of depression that was known to the airline, but didn’t proactively disclose a serious deterioration in his mental condition four months before the crash — something the accident report attributed in part to his fear of losing his license. 

    A simple solution may be to do more to promote indefinite leave, and even retirement or temporary redeployment to ground duties for pilots facing mental health issues. Solid guarantees by airlines that a self-report won't end an aviator’s career in the skies would encourage sufferers to find the help they need.

    The medical profession itself may have useful lessons, having pushed back against laws requiring mandatory reporting of mental health issues to regulators so that such action is only taken in the rare cases where patients might be at risk. That suggests a far more honest approach to the problem, and one that will minimize the risk that pilots see the best solution as trying to conceal and repress their true state of mind. 

  3. Musk says 'utterly untrue' that he sexually harassed flight attendant on private jet

    Musk's SpaceX rocket company made an out-of-court settlement with the woman, the report said.


    Fri May 20, 2022 - Reuters


    "The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens – this is their standard (despicable) playbook – but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech."

    Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter late on Thursday to denounce as "utterly untrue" claims in a news report that he had sexually harassed a flight attendant on a private jet in 2016.

    Business Insider reported earlier on Thursday that Musk's SpaceX paid $250,000 in 2018 to settle a sexual harassment claim from an unnamed private jet flight attendant who accused Musk of exposing himself to her.

    The article quoted an anonymous person who said she was a friend of the flight attendant. The friend had provided a statement as part of the private settlement process, according to the article.

    "I have a challenge to this liar who claims their friend saw me 'exposed' – describe just one thing, anything at all (scars, tattoos, …) that isn’t known by the public. She won’t be able to do so, because it never happened," Musk tweeted.

    Reuters was not able to verify the Business Insider account. Musk and SpaceX did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on the Business Insider story or on Musk's tweets.

    In addition to allegedly exposing himself, Musk rubbed the flight attendant's thigh and offered to buy her a horse if she would "do more" during an in-flight massage, Business Insider quoted the friend of the flight attendant as saying.

    The flight attendant came to believe that her refusal to accept Musk's proposal had hurt her opportunities to work at SpaceX and prompted her to hire a lawyer in 2018, according to Business Insider.

    The rocket company made the settlement out of court and included a nondisclosure agreement which prevented the flight attendant from speaking about it, Business Insider said. The news site did not name the friend or the flight attendant.

    Musk, who is in the midst of a contentious effort to buy Twitter Inc., said on Wednesday that he would vote Republican instead of Democrat, predicting a "dirty tricks campaign against me" would follow.

    In the Business Insider article, Musk was quoted as saying the flight attendant's story was a "politically motivated hit piece" and that there was "a lot more to this story."

    On Thursday evening, Musk first tweeted: "The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens – this is their standard (despicable) playbook – but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech." In the initial tweet, he did not specifically mention the allegations in the Business Insider article.

    "And, for the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue," Musk added in another tweet.

    He also tweeted that the article was meant to interfere with the Twitter acquisition.

    Reuters could not immediately reach Business Insider for comment.

  4. 13 hours ago, IFG said:

    Hmm ...  "provide pension security" ... any thoughts about who will pay the piper for that? 

    Look - we're all concerned when things go a bit wobbly. Should those of us without guaranteed retirement income (albeit imperfectly, but a lot more so than my own mostly self-funded efforts for sure) be called upon to subsidize this guarantee (presumably, as a tax-payer), or is the CPC kindly including us in their largesse?

    Not sure whether you were referencing the lobbying in general or the proposed bill specifically with respect to a guarantee. 
    I may have well missed it in the language labyrinth of the bill's construction but I don't see any reference to the government's obligation or authority to top up or bridge any shortfall resulting from a fund's insolvency.
    The bill appears more to represent an increased level of protection through (an overdue) rejigging of creditor priorities and insurance obligations rather than a taxpayer backed guarantee.
    In any event if it comes to backstopping retirement funding it should not restricted to the (relatively) fortunate few.

  5. Flight crews forced to work without pay as a result of delays at Canadian airports, unions say


    Thu May 12, 2022 - The Globe and Mail
    by Eric Atkins - Transportation Reporter


    'said employers have warned pilots they could be fired if they don’t stay on the plane until the last passenger leaves.'

    Delays at some Canadian airports have forced flight crews to work without pay while planes are held at gates, unions representing flight attendants and pilots say.

    A rebound in air travel and shortages of staff at customs and security checkpoints mean passengers face long waits to board, take off and disembark – especially at Toronto Pearson.

    Most flight crews are paid only when the plane is in motion, a quirk in their contracts that means they are performing their jobs without compensation while at the terminal gate. Additionally, airlines count the unpaid time that begins when the plane arrives at the gate as part of the rest time toward crews’ next flight, creating possible safety and fatigue problems, said Wesley Lesosky, a president with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, who represents 15,000 flight attendants at nine airlines.

    “What we’re seeing every day – and it’s only getting worse – is the planes land and then you’re not permitted to allow people off the plane until [Canada Customs] is free to receive you,” Mr. Lesosky said from Port Moody, B.C. “So then the flight attendants are left on the plane with the passengers waiting to be told, ‘Okay, you can let people off.’”

    Barret Armann, a pilot and Unifor union president who represents 410 pilots at Sunwing Airlines, said employers have warned pilots they could be fired if they don’t stay on the plane until the last passenger leaves. This can take about two hours at Pearson, he said.

    “The flight checks, all of the flight plans that we put in, all of the weather checks, the weight and balance, everything really for the safety of the flight, we do for free. And then when the airplane pushes back [leaves the gate], we start getting paid,” Mr. Armann said in an interview. “And when the airplane arrives at the gate, we stopped getting paid.”

    Mr. Lesosky said flight attendants have been subjected to verbal abuse from impatient passengers.

    “When you land at 6:03, you’re planning, ‘Okay, at 6:30 I’ll be in the cab, at seven o’clock, I’ll be home,” he said. “When you’re still on the plane at 10 and nobody is giving you any answer as to what’s going on, you’re fit to be tied. We all are. It can definitely get tense. We’ve definitely heard of cases of people being screamed at.”

    Both union leaders said they have taken steps with their airlines to ensure people are paid for their work. Sunwing did not respond to an e-mail.

    Airlines and airport operators say the government agencies that screen passengers are understaffed and were unprepared for the surge in travellers in recent months. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), The Canada Border Services Agency, the Public Health Agency of Canada and U.S. Customs laid off workers at the start of the pandemic, and have been slow to rehire, leading to delays in passenger checks. These measures currently include health checks, filling out the ArriveCan app, random COVID-19 tests and proof of vaccination.

    All these layers add to the time it takes to get through a queue. The tourism industry warns the lineups will get worse in the summer.

    The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Toronto Pearson, has called for the government to drop some health checks to streamline arrivals and departures.

    Transport Canada Minister Omar Alghabra met with the head of CATSA, Michael Saunders, to ensure the agency is implementing a plan to hire staff and end the delays, government spokeswoman Laurel Lennox said. “We understand Canadians may be frustrated by this situation, and ask that they remain patient as we work hard with our partners to resolve this issue,” Ms. Lennox said.

    Christopher Bloore, head of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, said the delays at Toronto Pearson are holding back the recovery in tourism across Canada. “Toronto Pearson is the gateway for international travellers visiting Toronto and continuing to other Canadian destinations. The current travel experience will have detrimental and lasting impacts on how Toronto and Canada are viewed on the international stage,” Mr. Bloore said.

    Mr. Alghabra on Wednesday said understaffed government agencies are not the only reason for the delays. Travellers who are unaccustomed to preparing their luggage for security checks and variable flight schedules are also contributing, he told reporters.

    Mr. Armann scoffed at this. “I can assure you they’re not rusty travellers,” Mr. Armann said. “There is a significant issue at the airport. It’s got nothing to do with rust.”

  6. Elon Musk puts $44bn Twitter deal ‘on hold’

    Shares drop almost 20% after entrepreneur questions fake accounts on social media site


    Fri May 13, 2020 - Financial Times
    by Arash Massoudi, Cristina Criddle and Robert Wright 

    Elon Musk has put his takeover of Twitter “temporarily on hold” over concerns about the number of spam and fake accounts on the social media platform, raising fresh doubt over whether the Tesla chief executive will complete the $44bn deal.

    The entrepreneur announced the move in a Twitter message on Friday, sharing a link to a Reuters news story this month that suggested the number of fake accounts on the site represented less than 5 per cent of its 229mn users.

    The statement immediately hit Twitter’s share price, with the stock tumbling 19.7 per cent to $36.23 in pre-market US trading.

    Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of usershttps://t.co/Y2t0QMuuyn

    Twitter now trades at a huge 44 per cent spread to the $54.20 per share price Musk agreed to pay in mid-April, signalling that investors do not believe a deal will happen anywhere near that price and possibly not at all.

    The doubt introduced by Musk’s tweet is the latest example of the whirlwind manner in which the transaction came together, which even led to Musk waiving his right to carry out due diligence while negotiating terms.

    Twitter and Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Tesla shares, which have fallen 33 per cent since Musk tweeted that he was giving serious thought to purchasing Twitter in late March, rallied nearly 6 per cent in pre-market New York trading.

    It is unclear what the legal effect of his notice was. Musk has previously said one of his priorities for the platform is to “defeat the spam bots or die trying” and to authenticate human accounts.

    In Twitter’s first-quarter results, the company said less than 5 per cent of its monetisable daily active users were fake or spam accounts.

    “In making this determination, we applied significant judgment, so our estimation of false or spam accounts may not accurately represent the actual number of such accounts, and the actual number of false or spam accounts could be higher than we have estimated,” Twitter said in the results.

    Musk’s move comes just a day after Twitter announced an immediate hiring freeze, cost-cutting measures and the departure of two senior leaders. The company has faced long-term pressure from investors over slow growth compared with rivals such as Meta and TikTok.

    The billionaire’s bid to buy Twitter sent shockwaves throughout the technology and financial world, though many speculated that Musk was not serious about the deal or that he would eventually walk away. The Tesla chief agreed to pay a $1bn break fee if he abandoned the agreement.

  7. 3 hours ago, Moon The Loon said:

    How does one explain why crude oil refined at Cum By Chance is not allowed to be sold in Newfoundland or, as I understand it, anywhere in Canada?

    Actually it could be sold in Nfld but not elsewhere in Canada and was a condition of sale placed on the refinery by it's one time owner Petro-Canada so as not to undercut it's other Canadian operations. Not currently a factor as refinery has been mothballed since Mar 2020.

    3 hours ago, Moon The Loon said:

    There were three refineries in Dartmouth (across from Halifax) - Esso, Ultramar & (if I recall) Texaco. Two of them were dismantled in the 90's. Why? IRVING!

    Can't speak to the other two, but Esso (Imperial Oil) was simply too small (89k b/d) to compete against the likes of Irving (300+k b/d) and other refiners in the Atlantic Basin e.g. mega operations in New Jersey area.

    3 hours ago, Moon The Loon said:

    A natural location for a massive refinery is in northern Alberta - adjacent the tar sands

    True enough - but a massive refinery would produce a massive amount of refined product, far beyond what the local Alta market could absorb.
    How do you get high volumes of various types of distillate products (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, fuel oil, propane, etc) to end user markets a thousand+ kilometers away?
    Convert existing crude pipelines that might not longer be needed? Yes, except some of these distillates are corrosive and require specialized alloyed pipe, others have different pressure requirements and some don't travel well over shared facilities due to contamination issues. Build new pipelines - in today's environment? As some might say - good luck with that. 

    • Thanks 1
  8. 12 hours ago, Moon The Loon said:

    Why have refineries of the past been shut down?

    Just a guess...

    Old; 'dirty', small (size matters), many were not set up to handle Canadian grades (refits expensive). Difficult, time consuming and expensive to site new ones due to environmental opposition. Government demonization of the industry does little to whet the appetite of investors and spectre of a 'made in Canada' price restriction would just have them run further and faster (see NEP 1980).

  9. Ukrainian commanders lash out at Kyiv over Mariupol resistance

    Criticism from Azov regiment comes as Russia continues assault on steel plant before May 9 Moscow celebrations


    Sun May 08, 2022 - Financial Times 
    by Ben Hall in Kyiv


    'The Azov battalion has far-right origins but was incorporated into the Ukrainian armed forces in 2014 and is considered one of the best trained parts of the military.'

    The commanders of the Ukrainian forces holding out against Russian troops in the Azovstal plant in Mariupol lashed out at the government in Kyiv for not doing enough to help them defend the city.

    “Our government failed in the defence of Mariupol, failed in the preparation of the defence of Mariupol,” said Ilya Somoilenko, a lieutenant in the Azov regiment, the military unit that has been leading the Ukrainian resistance from a last redoubt at the vast steel works on the edge of the city.

    The “authorities have been sabotaging the defence of Ukraine for eight years,” he said.

    Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov regiment, accused the government of “cynicism” for celebrating the evacuation of small groups of civilians when so many people had been killed in Russia’s assault on the south-eastern port city.

    The two officers were speaking to reporters via Zoom from one of the bunkers at the besieged Azovstal facility.

    Their comments are the first public display of dissent within the Ukrainian military which has otherwise celebrated its battlefield achievements in fending off Russia’s full-scale invasion over 10 weeks. It is also a sign of the desperation of the Ukrainian forces who are under constant artillery bombardment and repeated attempts by Russian forces to storm their redoubt underneath the steel plant.

    All remaining women, children and seniors were evacuated from the steelworks in the south-eastern port city on Saturday, according to the deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk. In total 300 civilians have been freed from the plant.

    President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian authorities, in conjunction with the UN and International Committee of the Red Cross, were planning to evacuate all medical staff and wounded soldiers.

    Zelensky has also called for Ukrainian military personnel — thought to number between several hundred and 2,000 — to be allowed to leave the vast facility. He said on Friday international diplomatic efforts were under way to secure their safe passage.

    The next phase of the evacuation would be “extremely difficult” but “we do not lose hope,” Zelensky said.

    Somoilenko said “surrender was not an option because Russia is not interested in our lives, is not interested in letting us live”. He appeared to criticise what he said was an attempt to negotiate with Russia over their release and said they need a “third party to intervene to extract the garrison”.

    “The evacuation could be done if some people did their jobs better,” Somoilenko added.

    He claimed that the defenders of Mariupol had killed 2,500 Russian soldiers and had “blocked” 25,000 troops and therefore accounted for a disproportionate share of Ukraine’s success against the invaders.

    The Azov battalion has far-right origins but was incorporated into the Ukrainian armed forces in 2014 and is considered one of the best trained parts of the military.

    Ukrainian officials say Moscow has been trying to crush the resistance at Azovstal so that president Vladimir Putin could present a battlefield success when Russia celebrates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany on May 9.

    Russian forces continued to attack Ukrainian positions along the 1,000km frontline and struck targets over the weekend, including Odesa. Up to 60 civilians are feared dead after a Russian air strike on a school in eastern Ukraine.

    • Thanks 1
  10. Boeing ditches Chicago headquarters for Washington, DC area

    Relocation to Arlington, Virginia would bring US aerospace group closer to key federal lawmakers


    Thu May 05, 2022 - Financial Times
    by Steff Chávez


    “Boeing’s problem isn’t a lack of access to government, but rather its ongoing production problems and the failures of management and the board that led to the fatal crashes of the 737. Boeing should focus on making safe airplanes — not lobbying federal regulators and congress.”

    Boeing will move its headquarters to the Washington, DC area from Chicago, bringing the company closer to federal lawmakers and rival defence contractors.

    The US aerospace group on Thursday said it will shift its base to Arlington, Virginia, joining fellow military contractors Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics in the Washington suburbs.

    “The region makes strategic sense for our global headquarters given its proximity to our customers and stakeholders,” chief executive Dave Calhoun said in a statement.

    The company also “plans to develop a research and technology hub in the area to harness and attract engineering and technical capabilities”, according to the announcement.

    Though Boeing claimed that it will “maintain a significant presence” in Chicago and Illinois, the withdrawal will be a symbolic blow for the city, and the move was immediately condemned by the state’s US senators.

    “Boeing’s decision to leave Illinois is incredibly disappointing,” senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth said in a joint statement. “We are working together to ensure Boeing leadership both understands how harmful this move will be and does everything possible to protect Illinois’s workers and jobs.”

    Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s mayor, was less fazed, saying in a statement that the city has “a robust pipeline of major corporate relocations and expansions”.

    The move comes during a tumultuous period for Boeing. The company has been subject to greater regulatory scrutiny following two fatal crashes of its 737 Max jet in 2018 and 2019 and the discovery of flaws in its 787 Dreamliner. Dreamliner production remains halted and has cost the company about $5.5bn so far.

    Boeing also reported $1.2bn in losses in the first quarter stemming from its replacement programme for Air Force One, the US presidential aircraft, and the war in Ukraine.

    Relocating to Washington is “a step in the wrong direction”, said representative Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which issued a report in 2020 criticising Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, the US regulator, for safety lapses.

    “Boeing’s problem isn’t a lack of access to government, but rather its ongoing production problems and the failures of management and the board that led to the fatal crashes of the 737. Boeing should focus on making safe aeroplanes — not lobbying federal regulators and congress,” he continued.

    Boeing shares fell 4 per cent at $150.47 on Thursday amid a wider sell-off in US stocks.

    News of the headquarters being moved was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

    Amazon announced the establishment of secondary headquarters in Arlington in 2018, receiving $573mn in related incentives. It was not immediately clear what, if any, incentives Boeing was being offered.

    Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago in 2001, lured by more than $50mn in local tax incentives, following its merger with then Midwest-based McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing was headquartered in Seattle from its founding in 1916 until its Chicago relocation.

    Boeing currently operates out of a skyscraper in Chicago’s West Loop neighbourhood, though only about 500 of its 140,000 global employees work there.

  11. Ontario College of Physicians suspends rural family doctor for 'inappropriate' COVID-19 treatments, advice

    New slate of allegations against Phillips, including 'interference with the testing of an infant for COVID-19'

    Tue May 03, 2022 - CBC News 
    by Casey Stranges



    'Phillips drew a comparison between pandemic-related public health measures and the treatment of people with disabilities in Nazi Germany.'

    Ontario's College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSO) has temporarily suspended the licence of Dr. Patrick Phillips, a physician whose social media comments promoting misinformation during the pandemic landed him before a disciplinary committee. 

    Phillips, who worked as an emergency room physician in Englehart, Ont., had previously been called before the college's disciplinary committee to answer to allegations of misconduct. 

    The allegations are, at least in part, connected to Phillips's statements on social media, where he once had a sizeable presence. Nearly 40,000 users followed him on Twitter before his account was suspended. 

    In one instance, in a series of tweets on Sept. 25, 2021, Phillips drew a comparison between pandemic-related public health measures and the treatment of people with disabilities in Nazi Germany.

    He has also called Ontario's vaccine certificate system "illegal" and claimed it would be used to "deny medical care, food, banking and shelter" to unvaccinated people.

    In a video posted to the Reddit group LockdownSkepticism, Phillips appears in a video questioning the risk of asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 as "negligible to non-existent." 

    "It is alleged that Dr. Phillips engaged in disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct and failed to maintain the standard of practice of the profession in relation to his communications, including communications on social media and other digital platforms, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and related issues," the CPSO's website said.  

    In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for the college said that its Investigations, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) ordered Phillips be handed an interim suspension order. 

    The committee said Phillips was allegedly "incompetent in relation to his patient care and reporting adverse events following immunization." 

    Allegations against Phillips, listed on the notice of hearing issued by the CPSO's discipline tribunal, include:

    • Interference with the testing of an infant, who was not his patient, for COVID-19;
    • Inappropriate reporting of adverse events following immunization;
    • Inappropriate management of patients/other individuals in relation to COVID-19 vaccines and in relation to COVID-19 treatment and prophylaxis, including inappropriate prescribing; Inappropriate provision of medical exemptions in relation to COVID-19;
    • Inappropriate communication with patients/other individuals in relation to COVID-19 vaccines, treatment and prophylaxis;
    • Unprofessional conduct and communications at his hospital workplace, including failure to follow hospital protocols.

    CBC Sudbury reached out to Phillips for comment via social media but did not receive a response.

    A date for the tribunal is expected to be set in the coming weeks.

  12. ‘Sorry, Grandma, we’re cutting your benefits.’ No politician will ever say that. But maybe they should

    Mon May 02, 2022 - The Globe and Mail


    'should a senior couple with a combined income of $150,000 get full OAS payments? Their cheques are, after all, being paid by taxpayers – nearly all of whom are younger, and have lower incomes.

    A new round of data from the 2021 census details what has long been known: Canada, you’re getting old.

    While Canada is younger than Group of Seven countries such as Germany and France (but older than the United States and Britain), the number of Canadians aged 65 and over is steadily surging. In 2021, there were seven million – 19 per cent of the population, up from 16.9 per cent five years earlier. And the 65 and older cohort is poised to get much larger: There are 5.2 million people aged 55 to 64 and this soon-to-retire group outnumbers those entering the work force by a million. The gap is the biggest ever, and a reversal of generations past.

    The sheer size of the wave of aging baby boomers has an outsized effect – including on federal spending for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

    Ottawa’s outlook for its future program expenses is helpfully buried away on page 252 of the most recent federal budget. Elderly benefits, at $68.2-billion, is the largest line item among transfers to people and governments. In four years, the figure is expected to be $87.2-billion. Then and now, elderly benefits cost more than the Canada Health Transfer and equalization, combined.

    The rapid increase accounts for the bulk of Ottawa’s additional spending in coming years, ahead of health care, child care, housing or climate. This is in part because OAS and GIS are entirely paid by taxpayers. That makes the falling ratio of workers to benefit-receiving retirees a pressing concern. (The Canada Pension Plan, in contrast, is funded by the contributions of workers and employers.)

    In 2016, the Trudeau Liberals enriched the GIS. And that was a good idea. GIS goes only to poor seniors, making it a great way to reduce poverty among the elderly – something that used to be widespread. In the 1970s, seniors were more than twice as likely to live in poverty as the average Canadian. By 2020, just 3.1 per cent of seniors were low income, according to Statistics Canada – half the Canadian average.

    But as the Liberals improved the targeted GIS, they reversed a Harper government plan to raise the age of the almost-universal OAS pension to 67 from 65. The payment is worth about $7,800 a year, and is given to virtually all Canadian seniors. A percentage of the money is clawed back if your income is more than $79,000, but seniors with incomes as high as $133,000 a year still get some OAS.

    The Harper government’s plan to gradually up the OAS age to 67 was to have started next year. The Liberals scrapped that, and last year raised OAS benefits by 10 per cent for those 75 and older, starting this summer.

    In a world of finite taxpayer dollars, that should raise questions.

    Given that people are living and working longer, is 65 still the right age for OAS? Should the income level at which the clawback starts be lower? And should a senior couple with a combined income of $150,000 get full OAS payments? Their cheques are, after all, being paid by taxpayers – nearly all of whom are younger, and have lower incomes.

    The good news is that rising OAS and GIS payments aren’t going to destroy the country’s finances. The actuarial outlook sees the cost at a peak of 3.27 per cent of gross domestic product in a decade or so, compared with 2.8 per cent now. But that half percentage point of the economy is $13-billion a year – about 60 per cent more than Ottawa plans for its share of national child care.

    Seniors vote, and their numbers are growing, which is why no political party wants to be accused of cutting grandma’s benefits. In 1985, when Brian Mulroney tried to partially de-index OAS from inflation, he was confronted by 63-year-old Solange Denis, who famously told the PM: “You lied to us. I was made to vote for you and then it’s ‘Goodbye Charlie Brown.’ ” Mr. Mulroney caved.

    Or consider France. President Emmanuel Macron has long wanted to raise the normal pension age to 65 from 62 – but the move is opposed by almost three-quarters of the country. In the U.S., full Social Security benefits for people born after 1959 begin at age 67 – but only because of a slow-motion change made in the Reagan era. Any other tinkering is a third rail of U.S. politics.

    Refusing to raise the age of OAS eligibility, and then offering bonus payments to those 75 and over, was great politics. But is it good for Canada?

  13. Canadian airline crew detained in Dominican Republic urges Ottawa for safe return after drug seizure


    Tue May03, 2022 - The Globe and Mail
    by Alanna Smith


    Death threats have continued since their release, and the airline has hired private security and relocated the crew regularly to avoid detection. Mr. Edmondson said the crew members are afraid being returned to prison would be a death sentence. “They don’t think they’ll be coming out of that jail if they get put back.”

    An airline whose crew was detained in the Dominican Republic along with its passengers after alerting authorities to 200 kilograms of cocaine hidden in an internal compartment is urging the federal government to intervene ahead of a court hearing that could force them back to jail.

    Eric Edmondson, chief executive officer of Pivot Airlines, sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly asking her to call on the Caribbean country to ensure the crew’s safe return to Canada.

    “For more than 24 days, our crew has been subject to threats against their lives, inhumane treatment and arbitrary detention for dutifully reporting a crime and averting a potential aviation disaster,” Mr. Edmondson wrote. “Time is of the essence.”

    Five Pivot Airlines crew members and six passengers were scheduled to return to Canada from Punta Cana on a chartered aircraft on April 5. Before takeoff, a mechanic discovered suspected contraband on board and police in Canada and the Dominican Republic were alerted. If the plane had taken off, Mr. Edmondson said, the location of the contraband could have sparked an uncontrollable fire.

    Dominican authorities jailed all 11 people on the plane, sending men and women to separate facilities, according to the airline.

    On April 6, the Dominican Republic’s National Directorate for Drug Control released a statement that said the group was “being questioned to determine their possible involvement” in the attempted shipment of illicit drugs. Two-hundred kilograms of cocaine, stashed in eight gym bags, was seized from the aircraft.

    Mr. Edmondson said the men were sent to a prison meant for narcotics criminals and were subject to harassment and beatings. The airline hired someone to ensure Pivot staff were fed and protected to some extent in prison, he said.

    The group was granted bail, but is not allowed to leave the Dominican Republic. Local prosecutors are attempting to appeal the court’s bail decision. It is not clear when the hearing will take place. Mr. Edmondson said prosecutors don’t have evidence connecting the crew to the cocaine.

    Death threats have continued since their release, and the airline has hired private security and relocated the crew regularly to avoid detection. The passengers have separate legal counsel and are not staying with the airline staff.

    Mr. Edmondson said the crew members are afraid being returned to prison would be a death sentence.

    “It’s a one-way ticket,” he said. “They don’t think they’ll be coming out of that jail if they get put back.”

    Global Affairs Canada said in a statement that it is aware of the incident involving Pivot Airlines and that Canadian officials are monitoring the situation, engaging with local authorities and providing consular assistance. Adrian Blanchard, press secretary to Ms. Joly, also said that Parliamentary Secretary Maninder Sidhu recently travelled to the Dominican Republic and met with government officials.

    Mr. Edmondson said the government must do more.

    “The government, we think, has to step up and intervene. It’s unacceptable a Canadian airline crew can be incarcerated wrongfully,” he said.

    The federal government is urging Canadians to exercise a high degree of caution if they travel to the Dominican Republic, citing violent and opportunistic crime.

    The Foreign Affairs Ministry in the Dominican Republic did not respond to a request for comment.

    Family members have confirmed the identity of one of the passengers as Calgary-based photographer Brittney Wojcik-Harrison. A cousin, Bella Harrison, said the family learned about her imprisonment last Thursday from a lawyer in the Dominican.

    “It just feels like a movie and, when it was happening, I almost didn’t believe it,” said Ms. Harrison, adding that her cousin had been vacationing in Punta Cana. “She’s really not okay. ... She’s just trying to keep her head above water.”

    Ms. Harrison said Global Affairs Canada has provided little information to the family owing to provisions of the Privacy Act. She said Ms. Wojcik-Harrison is in a safe location.

    “I’m just really shocked because I’ve been proud to be Canadian my whole life and just to see how little they care about this person that literally would never be involved in this, I just don’t understand that,” Ms. Harrison said. “How can they just forget about 11 people?”

    • Thanks 1
  14. How the ‘jack-in-the-box’ flaw dooms some Russian tanks

    Mon May 02, 2022 - The Washington Post
    By Sammy Westfall and William Neff


    For the U.S. military, Hamilton said, “if the tank is destroyed and the crew survives, you can make another tank more quickly than you can train another crew.”
    For Russia, “the people are as expendable as the machine,” he said. “The Russians have known about this for 31 years — you have to say they’ve just chosen not to deal with it.”

    The sight of Russian tank turrets, blown off and lying in ruin along Ukrainian roads, points to a tank design issue known as the “jack-in-the-box” flaw.

    The fault is related to the way many Russian tanks hold and load ammunition. In these tanks, including the T-72, the Soviet-designed vehicle that has seen wide use in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, shells are all placed in a ring within the turret. When an enemy shot hits the right spot, the ring of ammunition can quickly “cook off” and ignite a chain reaction, blasting the turret off the tank’s hull in a lethal blow.


    Other tanks on the modern battlefield generally store their ammunition away from the crew, behind armored walls. The Russian T-72 main battle tank’s ammunition sits in a carousel-style automatic loader directly beneath the main turret and members of the crew.

    If a penetrating hit on the tank’s relatively thin side armor detonates one of these rounds, the explosion can set off a chain reaction, killing the crew and destroying the tank.

    “For a Russian crew, if the ammo storage compartment is hit, everyone is dead,” said Robert E. Hamilton, a professor at the U.S. Army War College, adding that the force of the explosion can “instantaneously vaporize” the crew. “All those rounds — around 40 depending on if they’re carrying a full load or not — are all going to cook off, and everyone is going to be dead.”

    British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace this week estimated that Russia has lost at least 530 tanks — destroyed or captured — since it invaded Ukraine in February.

    “What we are witnessing now is Ukrainians taking advantage of the tank flaw,” said Samuel Bendett, an adviser at the Center for Naval Analyses, a federally funded nonprofit research institute. Ukraine’s Western allies have provided antitank weapons at high volume.

    Ukraine, too, has been using Russian-made T-72 variants, which face the same issue. But Russia’s invasion has relied on the large-scale deployment of tanks, and Ukraine has been able to fight back better than expected.

    The flaw speaks to a broader difference in approaches between Western militaries and Russia’s, analysts say.

    Why Russia gave up on urban war in Kyiv and turned to big battles in the east

    “American tanks for a long time have prioritized crew survivability in a way that Russian tanks just haven’t,” said Hamilton. “It’s really just a difference in the design of the ammo storage compartment and a difference in prioritization.”

    Ammunition in most Western tanks can be kept under the turret floor, protected by the heavy hull — or in the back of the turret, said Hamilton. While a turret-placed ammunition storage compartment is potentially vulnerable to a hit, built-in features can prevent the same level of decapitating devastation seen in the case of the T-72.

    Even the early versions of the American M1 Abrams tanks in the 1980s were fitted with tough blast doors separating the crew inside from the stored ammunition. These tanks have a crew of four, including a loader who opens the ballistic door manually. These were designed to be stronger than the top armor, so that if ammunition is cooked off, the explosion would be channeled upward through blowout panels, rather than into the crew compartment, Hamilton said.

    On the battlefield, Ukraine uses Soviet-era weapons against Russia

    On the other hand, Russian tanks rely on mechanical automatic loaders, allowing them to be manned by a team of three.

    The design of Russian tanks prioritizes rate of fire, firepower, a low profile, speed and maneuverability vs. overall survivability, said Hamilton. Russian tanks tend to be lighter and simpler, and have thinner, less-advanced armor than Western tanks. The design vulnerability was probably “just cheaper and lighter,” Hamilton said.

    Newer Russian models have come out since the T-72, which was produced in the 1970s by the Soviet Union. One of them, the T-14 Armata, has been described as a sophisticated battlefield game-changer since it debuted at a 2015 military parade. But the Armatas have not yet seen much use outside parades. Newer variants of the T-72 have come with greater tank protections, Bendett said, but the prevailing principle has been the same: a three-person crew with a lower profile, and shells in a circle within the turret.

    For the U.S. military, Hamilton said, “if the tank is destroyed and the crew survives, you can make another tank more quickly than you can train another crew.”

    For Russia, “the people are as expendable as the machine,” he said. “The Russians have known about this for 31 years — you have to say they’ve just chosen not to deal with it.”

    • Thanks 1
  15. All of which brings us to the helicopter.

    The helicopter is not the kind of thing that the RCMP or the commission appear to be eager to discuss in public.

    According to the GC Surplus documents, on January 20, 2015 Wortman - operating as buyer 1122342 — offered $235,000 for a 1979 Sikorsky S76A helicopter. The twin-engine medium helicopter is like those used by the coast guard, police in provinces outside Nova Scotia, air ambulances or by executives. It can seat up to 12 passengers. The helicopter can fly 740 kilometres on a tank of fuel. 

    Wortman didn't win the bid for the helicopter, but the very fact that he had tried to get it raises obvious questions, like why would a Dartmouth denturist be interested in such an exotic machine?

    To attempt to answer that question would cause the MCC to veer into a territory it appears determined to assiduously avoid - Wortman's criminal operations and what the police knew and didn't know about them.

    Just about everyone who knew Wortman in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were keenly aware that he had long been involved in smuggling cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and guns, among other things, across the border with Maine.

    The only ones who didn't seem to know about all this, if you believe their story, are the police, especially the Mounties. 

    • Confused 1
  16. As allies visit Ukraine's capital, Canada's absence is being noticed

    Canadian Embassy should not be among first out, last back in: former Ukrainian ambassador to Canada


    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi shake hands during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday. Canada has not sent any high-profiles to meet Zelensky since Russia invaded his country earlier this year.

    Sun May 01, 2022 - CBC News
    by David Common 


    'With the largest Ukrainian diaspora outside former Soviet states, Canada has claimed to be one of Kyiv's biggest supporters, making the absence of a high profile visit and an open embassy all the more puzzling for some.'

    In the month since Russia's retreat from Ukraine's north, the capital Kyiv has seen a frenzy of high-profile visitors: 11 prime ministers, Austria's chancellor, the U.S. secretaries of state and defence, its House speaker, the UN secretary-general — even Hollywood star Angelina Jolie.

    Canada has not sent even a cabinet minister.

    Ukraine has noticed.

    "When you physically see a friend, an ally … present in the capital, that would mean a lot," said Andriy Shevchenko, who was until recently Ukraine's ambassador to Canada.

    It's not just the question of a visit. 

    Twenty seven nations have reopened diplomatic posts in Kyiv — but Canada's embassy in Kyiv remains locked up, vacated prior to the start of the war.

    "Canada was one of the first countries to move the embassy out. We do not want Canada to be the last one to return," said Shevchenko.

    Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly has said plans are in the works to reopen. 

    "We need to make sure the security situation on the ground allows for it," her office said in a statement.

    Others have moved faster. Poland and Georgia never left. Italy and The Netherlands reopened their mission, as did the United Kingdom.

    Kyiv is "the right place to be," Britain's ambassador told The Guardian newspaper.

    With the largest Ukrainian diaspora outside former Soviet states, Canada has claimed to be one of Kyiv's biggest supporters, making the absence of a high profile visit and an open embassy all the more puzzling for some.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office did not directly respond to a question about a possible visit, but said in a statement that he and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "remain in frequent contact, in addition to regular contact across the federal government with their Ukrainian counterparts."

    Why a visit is important

    Many VIP visits to Ukraine's capital include stops north of the city where Russia left a trail of destruction in its aborted northern front.

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Bucha, scene of mass graves, and Irpin, a leafy suburb outside the capital where half the buildings were razed in Russia's initial invasion.

    Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov visited the smoldering ruins of Irpin, and told a CBC News crew it is imperative that world leaders visit because "it's very different when you make public statements from the comfort of your office. It's very different to see it first hand."

    Canada's contributions to Ukraine

    Since the outbreak of the latest chapter in nearly a decade of on-and-off conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the federal government has pledged support. That process went into overdrive after February's invasion.

    But some countries have been far more generous, relative to the size of their economies.

    Poland, for instance, is approaching 1 per cent of its total GDP in contributions of both financial and military support.

    Canada did not rank in the top 12 of donors in a tracker established by Kiel University in Germany at the end of March.

    Since then, Canada has committed an additional $500 million in support.

    The Biden Administration has requested an additional $33 billion US in aid for Ukraine, the majority for purchases or transfers of military equipment.

    American and Canadian soldiers are training Ukrainian soldiers — outside Ukraine — on the use of sophisticated M777 howitzers, which have a range of 30 kilometres. When equipped with high precision Excalibur shells, they are accurate to within 10 meters.

    "We greatly appreciate all the Canadian help, the weapons and the military training and the financial support," said former ambassador Shevchenko. 

    Canada gave Ukraine four of these big guns. Australia, with a smaller population, offered six. The U.S. transferred 90.

    European nations have also purchased or dispatched military equipment from their own stocks, though they are more at risk of Russian retaliation.

    Many remain reliant on Russian gas to power their economies. Poland and Bulgaria were cut off last week. Others may follow. Canada, however, does not depend on Russian gas and, by virtue of its geography, is less vulnerable to Russia's orbit.

    • Thanks 1
  17. Millions of bees that were transported on a Delta flight died in extreme heat after being left on the tarmac in Atlanta


    Sat Apr 30, 2022 - Business Insider
    by Ryan Hogg


    'She got through to Edward Morgan, a beekeeper in Georgia and he and more than 20 others from Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association rushed to the airport to try and save the bees.'

    Millions of bees bound for Alaska died on a Delta Air Lines flight after the plane was left on the tarmac in Atlanta, Georgia, following a diversion. 

    Alaska Public Media (APM) reported on Wednesday that a Delta plane carrying a shipment of around 5 million bees bound for Anchorage, Alaska, was forced to reroute to Atlanta. Most of the bees died in the Georgia city.

    The shipment of 200 crates, ordered by Sarah McElrea of Sarah's Alaska Honey on behalf of 300 Alaskan beekeepers, carried 800 pounds of bees and was worth an estimated $48,000. 

    The crates had been due to travel from Sacramento, California, to Anchorage Airport via Seattle, Washington. But the bees did not fit on the Seattle-bound flight and were instead rerouted through the Delta hub in Atlanta. 

    Delta told McElrea the bees would have to wait in a cooler last Saturday but they were transferred to the tarmac the next day over fears the bees were escaping. McElrea told APM the temperature in Atlanta was 80 degrees Fahrenheit on the day they were left there.

    "I really panicked when they found they had moved them outside because the pheromones that those honeybees emit are attractive to other honeybees that are native to the area," she told APM. Because the bees were outside, it made it harder to rescue those in the crates.

    MacElrea told APM that she connected on Facebook to "a page that is based in Georgia." She got through to Edward Morgan, a beekeeper in Georgia, Atlanta, who told Atlanta radio station WABE he and more than 20 others from Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association rushed to the airport to try and save the bees.

    "It's devastating to see that many dead," Julia Mahood, a Georgia master beekeeper, told WABE. "Just clumps of dead bees that had no chance because they were left outside with no food and basically got lost in Delta's machinery."

    In an emailed statement, Delta spokeswoman Catherine Morrow told The Associated Press on Friday the airline "was made aware of the shipment situation ... and quickly engaged the appropriate internal teams to assess the situation. We have taken immediate action to implement new measures to ensure events of this nature do not occur in the future."

    Catherine Salm, another spokesperson for Delta, told APM: "We have been in contact with the customer directly to apologize for the unfortunate situation." 

    McElrea and Delta did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment outside normal working hours. 

    McElrea told The New York Times in an interview that Alaskans increasingly rely on imports for bees to pollinate crops for spring and autumn harvests.  

    "People don't grasp just how dependent we as a species are on honeybees for pollination," MacElrea told the New York Times. "And this is just a waste, an absolute tragedy."

    • Sad 1
  18. BC court tosses 'WestJet travel credits are gift cards with no expiry' argument

    High court says travel credits aren't covered by laws banning expiry dates on gift cards


    Fri Apr 29, 2022 - CBC News
    by Bethany Lindsay

    B.C.'s highest court has reversed a decision to certify a class-action lawsuit over WestJet's one-year expiry policy for "travel bank credits," saying they're not equivalent to gift cards and don't fall under the same consumer protection laws.

    In a unanimous decision this week, a panel of three judges of the B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Vancouver woman on behalf of WestJet passengers who've received expiring travel credits because of things like cancelled flights and lost luggage.

    A B.C. Supreme Court judge had certified the suit as a class action in 2020, finding there was a reasonable argument to be made that these credits fall under legislation prohibiting expiry dates on gift cards or prepaid credit cards.

    But Appeal Court Justice Patrice Abrioux wrote in his reasons Wednesday that the lower court judge had erred in her approach, and it was clear WestJet's credits aren't covered by the same laws.

    Abrioux said his reading of provincial consumer protection legislation suggests that, by definition, gift cards and prepaid credit cards must have "a prepaid fixed amount which the purchaser or gift card holder may use up to the amount that has been prepaid, or 'topped up.'"

    In the case of plaintiff Tiana Sharifi, who lost $421.80 when her credits for a cancelled trip expired, the justice said she had not directly prepaid for a fixed amount of travel credits.

    "Or to state the matter this way: Ms. Sharifi purchased a prepaid flight. She did not purchase a prepaid purchase card, gift card, gift certificate or otherwise, for WTB [WestJet travel bank] credits," Abrioux wrote.

    "Indeed, it is clear that Ms. Sharifi's entitlement to receive WTB credits was entirely contingent on future events and she may never, in fact, receive the credits in question."

    'Prerogative of the legislatures' to change laws

    The decision goes on to say that the "entirely contingent nature" of WestJet's credits means that they are "an entirely different form of financial product or device" than those covered in B.C.'s Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act and similar legislation in other provinces.

    "If contingent credits are to be subject to the provisions of consumer protection legislation either in this or the other provinces in question, then that is the prerogative of the legislatures, not the courts," Abrioux said.

    According to Sharifi's original notice of civil claim, she had booked round-trip flights for two people from Vancouver to Paris in January 2018.

    She cancelled the trip in May 2018 and was issued a $993.23 credit. WestJet imposed a one-year expiry date on the credit, which was issued to her travel bank account.

    Though she used $571.46 of her credit on another flight to Calgary, the rest expired.

    Sharifi's credits were what WestJet calls "hard" credits, which are issued for flight changes or cancellations and can be extended for another year for a fee of about $20. "Soft" credits are issued for reasons like lost luggage, customer complaints or airline promotions and cannot be extended.

    Sharifi had argued that tens of thousands of people have unjustly had their WestJet credits expire or been forced to pay fees to extend them.

    • Like 1
  19. In 'shocking move,' Dominican prosecutors appeal bail decision for Canadians from cocaine-carrying plane

    Pivot Airlines said it is 'deeply concerned' for its employees’ safety and that the federal government must do more


    Fri Apr 29, 2022 - National Post
    by Tom Blackwell

    Prosecutors in the Dominican Republic have appealed a decision to free on bail the crew and passengers of a Canadian charter airliner where a 210-kilogram stash of cocaine was found, a legal move the plane’s owner calls “shocking.”

    Pivot Airlines said in a statement Friday it is “deeply concerned” for its employees’ safety and that the federal government must do more to try to secure their safe return.

    The five Pivot crew members and six passengers were ordered released from jail earlier this month on $23,000 bail and a requirement that they stay in the country until the investigation of the drug find is completed.

    The airline has complained about that stipulation preventing the Canadians from leaving the Dominican Republic, noting that it was members of the crew who discovered the contraband secreted in the plane’s “aviation bay” and then reported it to authorities.

    The judge who ordered them released noted that prosecutors had presented no evidence tying the crew or passengers to the cocaine.

    They had already spent several days in jail by the time they won bail, some of them in communal cells alongside accused drug traffickers. Even after being released, they were subject to credible death threats, the airline said.

    “In a shocking move, the prosecutor has recently filed an appeal of the court’s decision to grant our crew bail, despite having no evidence tying them to a crime,” Pivot said in the statement.

    It’s now well known in the Dominican Republic that the crew stymied the attempted smuggling of drugs worth as much as $25 million on the street in Canada, the company says. If they’re sent back to prison alongside narcotics criminals, they will be in serious danger, without the protection of the private security they had on the outside, said Pivot.

    “It is entirely unacceptable that Canadian citizens could be arbitrarily detained for dutifully reporting criminal activity,” it said. “Together with international unions representing the crew, we are cautioning Canadian travellers and more than 70,000 airline employees to seriously consider the risks of travel to the Dominican Republic.”

    “If reporting a crime in the Dominican Republic could result in arbitrary detention, the government must seriously consider issuing a similar travel advisory.”

    Pivot said it was grateful for what help the federal government has offered so far. It’s providing consular support and Maninder Sidhu, parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, raised the issue on a pre-planned visit to the country last week, according to Joly’s press secretary.

    But “the simple fact is” that Ottawa has not done enough to get the Canadians back safely, said the statement.

    “They miss their families. They fear for the lives, as well their mental and physical well-being. And they want to come home.”

    The CRJ-100 regional jet landed in the Dominican Republic March 31, carrying potential investors being entertained by an Alberta company, says Pivot. They were supposed to leave April 5, but just before departing a mechanic travelling with the plane discovered a black bag inside the avionics bay, which holds electronic equipment.

    Pivot alerted authorities in Canada and the Dominican Republic. Police there then discovered another seven bags, all stuffed with cocaine.

    Prosecutors alleged at the bail hearing that the plane and its passengers were a “façade” designed to hide the flight’s true purpose — smuggling drugs into Canada.

    But they said they were not alleging any of the group placed the cocaine in the plane, only that an unnamed additional person accompanied the crew and boarded the aircraft the day before it left.

    Judge Francis Yojary Reyes Dilone said the fact the crew reported the contraband and that there was no evidence linking them or the passengers to the cocaine meant he had to impose less severe restrictions on the group than the prosecution had demanded.

    • Thanks 1
  20. I'll see your dental plan and raise you one.....

    Canadian tech firms offer employees egg freezing in bid to win talent and improve equity

     Egg freezing is a costly procedure that can delay a woman’s childbearing years and some workplaces now offer money to help cover the procedure


    Wed Apr 27, 2020 


    ‘Oh my God, is this how dudes feel just walking around on the Earth?’

    VANCOUVER - Alyssa Atkins froze her eggs when she was 29 years old. An executive at a fast-growing startup dating someone four years her junior, she felt rushed into thinking about motherhood. She paid $15,000 for what felt to her like a freedom that biology only affords men. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, is this how dudes feel just walking around on the Earth?’” she said. “They get to just do whatever they want.” Atkins, now 31, has since founded Toronto-based Lilia, a concierge service that walks women through the sometimes convoluted egg-freezing process. 

    With a recent bump in demand for egg-freezing procedures, she said Lilia is fielding inquiries from a host of North American companies looking to add the firm’s concierge egg-freezing services as an employee benefit. The changes come in an effort to increase workplace equity. 

    Egg freezing attempts to circumvent a woman’s biological clock. Some women use it as a means of delaying motherhood until an opportune time in their life, like after accomplishing a career goal or finishing a degree. Others turn to it for medical reasons, as might someone with cancer whose treatment plan may impact their fertility. 

    The procedure sees a doctor retrieve eggs from a woman’s body, which are cooled and preserved for future impregnation. It’s an expensive pursuit. One Western Canadian chain of fertility clinics estimates costs between $10,000 and $14,000 for an egg-freezing cycle and medications. It charges an additional $500 annual storage fee after the first year and between $6,250 and $7,300 to thaw an egg and inject it with sperm in the hopes of a successful pregnancy. 

    In 2014 Facebook and Apple made headlines when they became among the first major U.S. employers to offer staff money for egg freezing. After two years of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, Atkins found women are now “really interested” in the procedure. She suggests some women feel they lost two reproductive years due to the pandemic, which may have ended their relationships or paused dating altogether. They now feel a sense of urgency to preserve their eggs and buy more time. 

    While Atkins said the U.S. is the source of most of Lilia’s current business-employers there have realized that women want their workplaces to “care about their reproductive autonomy and family building on their own timeline,” she said-Canadian tech companies are increasingly starting to cover some of the costs of egg freezing for their workers.

     “I’m pretty sure a few of [our employees] cried … because they were so excited,” said Amanda Nagy, director of people operations at Thinkific. The Vancouver-based online-learning company significantly increased its fertility coverage this year, upping the lifetime maximum support available for employees from $2,400 to $15,000. That can cover fertility treatments to aid pregnancy, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI), or those that put it off, such as egg or sperm freezing. In quarterly surveys where Thinkific staff can weigh in on perks and benefits, they told the company they wanted more funding for fertility treatments. Some employees also approached human resources directly, said Nagy, with questions on what coverage existed for family planning. “We did see a greater need to provide a more comprehensive plan,” she said.

    Hootsuite, a Vancouver-based social-media management company, started to offer fertility treatments for Canadian employees in 2021 with a lifetime maximum of $12,000 available for procedures including egg freezing. Twenty-six employees have dipped into these fertility-treatment funds so far, said Paul Dhillon, the company’s director of total rewards. Hootsuite made the change after engaging consultants to revamp its benefits package with an eye toward diversity, equity and inclusion. “We want to be inclusive of all different types of families,” Dhillon said.The consultants told Hootsuite that many companies were considering egg-freezing benefits, and that offering them would make it a market leader. 

    Alida, a Toronto-based customer-experience management and insights company, has since 2018 offered Canadian employees $10,000 toward fertility treatments, including egg freezing, and $5,000 toward fertility drugs in one of its benefits plans for employees. The goal is inclusivity. “Most women at a certain age group are working hard in their careers and so they put off having children,” said Hermina Khara, Alida’s senior vice-president of people and culture.

    In Canada, the average age women gave birth started to edge up in the mid-1970s, according to Statistics Canada; in 2011, it surpassed 30 years old. Alida wanted to make starting a family accessible to workers choosing to delay parenthood, said Khara. Share the full article! Send to a friend When Silicon Valley first popularized egg freezing as a workplace benefit, it led to backlash. Critics argued it wasn’t actually a family-friendly policy but just another way to keep employees tied to work. The Canadian employers said it’s not about forcing women into a particular choice, but offering a range of options so they can decide what is right for them and when. “We’re not here to determine whether it’s the right time for somebody or what process that they want to go through,” said Dhillon. “We just want to understand: what [are] the best benefits we can put in place that gives flexibility of choice for the individual?

    At Thinkific, Nagy said the company didn’t focus on providing benefits that only delay parenthood, but opted for broader fertility coverage. “We want to just really support and facilitate whatever those decisions may be.” While it may be unusual today for an employer to pay for egg freezing, at least some of the companies offering such benefits believe the trend is here to stay. “I think it’s something that’ll become pretty standard,” said Dhillon. “It just takes time for us to get there.” He compared it to more employers offering employee-assistance programs or other mental-health benefits today than five years ago. “It’s something that starts as a trend … and then it becomes table stakes.”

  21. Man dies after Cargojet crew van crashes at Hamilton airport

    Sat Apr 23, 2022 - The Canadian Press

    Hamilton police say a 52-year-old man has died after a crew van crashed at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport.

    In a statement, the airport says a Cargojet crew van, which had five Cargojet employees on board, was involved in a single-vehicle collision just after 2:15 a.m. on Saturday.

    Staff Sgt. John Pauls with the Hamilton Police Service says the five people were all sent to hospital after the incident.

    Pauls says a 52-year-old man, who was driving the van, was pronounced dead a short time later, while the four passengers suffered minor injuries.

    He says an investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

    Police say operations at the airport have not been affected by the collision investigation.

    • Sad 2
  22. Flair Airlines flap should prompt Ottawa to relax foreign ownership rules


    Thu Apr 21, 2022 - Toronto Star
    by Rita Trichur


    'No Canadian cares if Americans, or other foreigners for that matter, control airlines that service destinations within Canada. We just want to pay the lowest possible price for a ticket.'

    The fate of Flair Airlines is caught up in stifling and outmoded federal airline regulations, and Canadians should be outraged at the prospect of losing yet another discount carrier.

    At issue is whether Edmonton-based Flair is actually controlled by foreigners, in contravention of federal law, despite the airline’s claim of being 58 per cent Canadian owned. Specifically, the Canadian Transportation Agency suspects U.S. investment firm 777 Partners is actually calling the shots at Flair, even though it only owns a 25-per-cent stake.

    It seems three of Flair’s five directors are – gasp – U.S. citizens who have connections to 777 Partners. What’s more, Flair apparently leases a number of planes from the Miami-based investment firm and owes it a whole whack of money.

    Oh my swirls! An American private equity firm is investing in our airline industry and providing us with a lower-cost choice for air travel to Canadian, U.S. and Mexican destinations. Predictably, rival airlines are kicking up a fuss. But good luck trying to find a Canadian who thinks this is an actual problem.

    This regulatory fiasco involving Flair is the latest example of how Canada’s outdated laws and regressive attitude toward foreign investment doom discount airlines, limit competition and harm ordinary Canadians who are fed up with overpriced air fares.

    The blame for this mess lies squarely with Ottawa. Instead of opening up Canadian skies to real competition from foreign-controlled airlines when it had the chance, the Trudeau government opted to merely tinker with our foreign investment rules.

    Back in 2018, the government raised the foreign investment limit for airlines to 49 per cent from 25 per cent. But it also ensured that international investors had no path to gaining control of a Canadian carrier.

    Under federal law, no single foreign investor is allowed to own more than a 25 per cent stake in a domestic airline. Moreover, the law prohibits foreigners from effectively controlling a domestic airline in other ways (such as exerting undue influence over its decision making or by running its daily operations). In the CTA’s regulatory parlance, such scenarios are known as “control in fact.”

    Therein lies the rub with the Flair case.

    The CTA is giving Flair until May 3 to straighten up and fly right, or risk losing its operating licence. Flair, meanwhile, is asking Transport Canada for an 18-month exemption to address the regulator’s concerns.

    Obviously, Ottawa should grant an exemption. It’s a reasonable request. Jobs are on the line and customers could be stranded by an abrupt shutdown. Moreover, Flair needs enough time to shuffle its board, tidy up its debt and resolve any other lingering concerns.

    But this farcical flap over who controls Flair should also prompt Canadians to question why our country maintains such antiquated laws in this day and age.

    It’s clear our government’s aversion to foreign investors makes no sense. So, if Ottawa is serious about increasing competition in the airline sector, it must relax the remaining foreign ownership restrictions for airlines that fly domestic routes.

    No Canadian cares if Americans, or other foreigners for that matter, control airlines that service destinations within Canada. We just want to pay the lowest possible price for a ticket.

    Australia and New Zealand have a 49-per-cent foreign-ownership limit for domestic airlines that fly internationally, but foreign investors are allowed to own up to 100 per cent of carriers that only operate on domestic routes.

    The Competition Bureau has previously advocated replicating that model in Canada for domestic air service. And, of course, the 2008 Competition Policy Review Panel argued there’s “no evidence that foreign-controlled airlines would be any more or less inclined than Canadian firms in servicing Canadian routes.”

    So why do our legislators still look askance at deep-pocketed foreign investors?

    Canada should pursue a variation of the Australian and New Zealand policies – one that would allow smaller airlines such as Flair that fly within Canada, and to U.S. and international destinations, to be 100-per-cent foreign owned and controlled.

    Really, the only airline that should be majority Canadian-owned is Air Canada. That’s still a point of patriotic pride for some – even if our flag carrier showed Canadians little loyalty during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Remember Canada 3000, Royal Airlines and Jetsgo? How many money discount airlines need to fail before Ottawa pursues policies that create real competition?

    Canadians shouldn’t have to pay through the nose for air travel. We’ve suffered long enough. And after being stuck at home for the past two years, now is the time to demand change.

  • Create New...