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  1. It would be refreshing to see other religions call out their own when merited. When true believers become a danger to themselves and others Fri Aug 13, 2021 - The Globe and Mail by Michael Coren The devil, it’s said, has all the best tunes. Not sure if that’s necessarily true, but Beelzebub certainly has an exemplary public relations department. How else can we explain how appalling the Christian world often appears at times of crisis? That’s seldom been as bitingly obvious as during the COVID-19 pandemic, with resistance to vaccinations often led by conservative Christians. The vast majority of churchgoers aren’t reactionary, and they’ve fully embraced lockdowns, physical distancing, and vaccinations, but that can’t obscure the reality of the situation. Read right-wing Christian media platforms and websites, listen to their radio broadcasts, look at who is protesting, and the paranoia and anger are palpable. A poll this year by the U.S. Public Religion Research Institute found that a mere 45 per cent of white evangelicals said they would get vaccinated, the second-lowest acceptance rate of any religious affiliation, and the indications are that this number has remained fairly static. In Canada, the percentages seem to be higher, but the problem remains. Last December, for example, then-Conservative MP Derek Sloan, an outspoken social conservative, sponsored a parliamentary e-petition claiming: “Bypassing proper safety protocols means COVID-19 vaccination is effectively human experimentation.” It received more than 41,000 signatures. The opposition to vaccines is multifaceted. The most ideologically plausible, if still bizarre, objection comes from those convinced that embryonic stem cells have been used in the development and manufacture of vaccines, and in some cases that may be true. Yet even the Vatican has said it’s “morally acceptable” to receive a vaccination that has used cell lines derived from aborted fetuses, because of the “grave danger” of the pandemic. But Pope Francis is not popular with Catholic conservatives, and they look to alternative leaders such as Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has said the virus “has been used by certain forces, inimical to families and to the freedom of nations, to advance their evil agenda. … These forces tell us that we are now the subjects of the so-called ‘Great Reset,’ the ‘new normal,’ which is dictated to us by their manipulation of citizens and nations through ignorance and fear.” This darling of the Catholic right, by the way, has just tested positive for COVID-19. Other forms of Christian anti-vaccine hysteria are drenched in “hidden agenda” fantasies, conspiracy theories about the state and secularism, and eschatological mania. There is a global battle, it is said, between the remnant of authentic Christians, be they Catholic or evangelical, and the Godless forces of government, media and business. COVID-19, and the vaccine response to it, are all part of the plan to control and dominate. There are myriad references to Masonic plots and the illuminati, and sometimes – predictably – this dark lunacy bleeds over into antisemitism. Not always though. One of the loudest resisters to vaccinations is a nun called Mother Miriam, a Jewish convert to Roman Catholicism, with a popular daily phone-in show in which she presents her “mission to bring hope to a world that has lost its way.” Part of that mission, apparently, is to argue that vaccines are “not only unethical and immoral, but have been proven to be very dangerous.” COVID-19, runs the anti-vaccine narrative, is either a hoax or, if real, is nothing more than a mild flu. If the latter, it has been exploited by plotting governments and elites to close churches, remove freedom of religion and impose vaccines. Donald Trump, always eager to echo fundamentalist rhetoric, said while still U.S. president that some states had closed places of worship, while allowing “liquor stores and abortion clinics” to stay open. The obsession with conspiracies isn’t confined to Christian conservatives, and is typical of any subgroup that sees its place under threat by a world it can’t accept or understand. The consequences, as we know only too well, can be fatal. In the Christian context, it’s tied in with polemics about Armageddon, the end times, and the notion that vaccines contain the “mark of the beast.” This nonsense is supposedly from the Book of Revelation, where the Antichrist is said to tempt Christians to mark their bodies. That’s a callow misreading of the deeply complex final book of the New Testament, as much poetry as allegory, and demanding a non-literal approach. Problem is, literalism is at the broken heart of the anti-vaccine theocrats. Mingled together, it’s a toxic and anti-social mess, with the true believers more determined than ever. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” But that’s from the Gospel of Luke, and not to be trusted – he was a doctor. Michael Coren is an author and ordained cleric in the Anglican Church of Canada.
  2. Federal government to require vaccinations for all federal public servants, air and train passengers 'We need to reach as many Canadians as we possibly can'
  3. A "superb writer", if memory serves... With a closer look, certainty about the ‘existential’ climate threat melts away Wed Aug 11, 2021 - The Washington Post by George F. Will Journalism about climate change has a high ratio of certitude to certainty when reporting weather events or climate projections, such as this week’s U.N. report. There is a low ratio of evidence to passion in today’s exhortations to combat climate change with measures interestingly congruent with progressive agendas that pre-date climate anxieties. Last year, CNN announced: “Oceans are warming at the same rate as if five Hiroshima bombs were dropped in every second.” True. However: “The earth absorbs sunlight (and radiates an equal amount of heat energy) equivalent to two thousand Hiroshima bombs per second.” That sentence is from “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters,” by physicist Steven E. Koonin, formerly of Caltech, now at New York University after serving as the senior scientist in President Barack Obama’s Energy Department and working on alternative energy for BP. His points are exclusively from the relevant scientific literature. Because unusual weather events are routinely reported as consequences of climate change, Koonin warns: “Climate is not weather. Rather, it’s the average of weather over decades.” Of course the climate is changing (it never has not been in Earth’s 4.5 billion years), the carbon footprints of the planet’s 8 billion people affect the climate, and the effects should be mitigated by incentives for behavioral changes and by physical adaptations. Human activities account for almost all of the increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, but science has limited ability to disentangle human and natural influences on climate changes in, for example, the Little Ice Age (about 1450-1850) or the global cooling of 1940-1980. Although Koonin cites U.N. reports when saying “human influences currently amount to only 1 percent of the energy that flows through the climate system,” media “reports” say hurricanes are increasing in numbers and intensity. Koonin says “humans have had no detectable impact on hurricanes during the past century.” Improved weather radar detects even weak tornadoes, hence the increase in reported ones. But, says Koonin, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the number of significant ones has changed negligibly, and the strongest kind have become less frequent. Sea levels, currently rising a few millimeters a year, have been rising for 20,000 years. Koonin cites recent research that the rate of rise ascribable to melting glaciers has “declined slightly since 1900 and is the same now as it was 50 years ago.” The melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets contributes no more to rising sea levels in recent decades than it did 70 years ago. The average warmest temperature across the United States has hardly changed since 1960 and is about what it was in 1900. A scandalous 2019 Foreign Affairs article by the director-general of the World Health Organization asserted: “Climate Change Is Already Killing Us.” Says Koonin, “Astoundingly, the article conflates deaths due to ambient and household air pollution (which cause … about one-eighth of total deaths from all causes) with deaths due to human-induced climate change.” The WHO says indoor air pollution in poor countries, mostly the result of cooking with wood and animal and crop waste, is the world’s most serious environmental problem. This is, however, the result not of climate change but of poverty, which will become more intractable if climate-change policies make energy more expensive by making fossil fuels less accessible. New coal-fired power plants in China and India will double and triple those nations' emissions, respectively. There are, Koonin says, five times more people “developing” than “developed,” and in this century cumulative carbon dioxide emissions from developing nations will be larger than from developed nations. Every 10 percent reduction that the developed world makes (“a reduction it has barely managed in 15 years”) will offset less than four years of emissions from growth in the developing world. Koonin notes (as instant media analyses of the 4,000 pages might not) that this week’s U.N. study expresses low confidence in most reported trends in hurricane properties over a century, is uncertain whether there is more than natural variability in Atlantic hurricanes and calls its extreme emissions scenarios unlikely. Some of its plausible emissions scenarios project 1.5 to 2.7 degrees Celsius warming by 2100. By then, however, global gross domestic product, which grows by a larger multiple than population, will mean a much-increased per capita global wealth. A previous U.N. report said that a large global temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius might negatively impact the global economy as much as 3 percent by 2100. Koonin says: Assuming, conservatively, 2 percent annual growth, the world economy, today about $80 trillion, would grow to about $400 trillion in 2100; climate impacts would reduce that to $388 trillion. Not quite an “existential” threat.
  4. On the border opening, Canada has been reduced to America’s guinea pig Thu Aug 05, 2021 - The Globe and Mail by Lawrence Martin That sounded like a rather fruitless phone chat between U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the other day. The two amigos talked sport for a while, including our remarkable women’s soccer team subduing the overdog Americans at the Tokyo Olympics. But they tippy-toed around numerous pachyderms in the room – in particular, how Canada seems to have gotten hoodwinked on opening its border. Pressured by Washington, Ottawa announced it would open the border to non-essential travel on Aug. 9. The Americans aren’t reciprocating, however, despite giving us the impression all along that they would do so. Indeed, their boundary could remain closed for several months longer, according to many Americans in the know, even though the COVID-19 infection rate among Canadians is very low. But with the Delta variant surging in their own country, Americans will be able to cross into Canada. Why the long border stall by the Yanks? “Honestly, we’re scratching our heads,” said Laurie Trautman, director of the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University. “It seemed Homeland Security was ready to open in June.” But it didn’t happen, and now, she said, the administration is dragging its heels. The delay on their side, several Americans told me, works to their advantage. “They want to wait and see how the Canadian border opening goes,” said Scotty Greenwood, head of the Canadian American Business Council, “before making up their minds on when to open.” In other words, Canada now gets to play the role of guinea pig. Often, the analogy proffered for the two countries’ relationship is that of the elephant and the mouse. Now, it’s that tailless South American rodent frequently used as a specimen for laboratory research. One hopes that the Prime Minister bluntly raised the matter with the President. But from the readout of their conversation, apparently no abusive epithets were hurled. A possible explanation for the boundary blockage is that the U.S. hasn’t yet agreed upon a method of screening incoming Canadians. But you’d think they would have done that months ago, said Ms. Greenwood, a North Carolinian. Another rationale for the delay could be that, with the Delta variant outbreak, the U.S. is now more preoccupied with its own problems. “Domestic politics are the priority,” said Kathryn Bryk Friedman, a Canada-U.S. specialist at the University of Buffalo. “Here in Buffalo, the surge is very serious. There will likely be a masking mandate soon.” It could also be that there are “too many cooks in the kitchen,” as Ms. Trautman put it. There are about five agencies dealing with COVID-19 issues, and it’s taking forever to get a consensus. Additionally, there’s the problem of needing to co-ordinate with Mexico. Opening one border without doing the same for the other presents potential legal and other difficulties. Back in June, when the U.S. appeared ready to open, Ottawa put out the word that it needed more time. The opportunity was missed, some believe. Even with Mr. Biden replacing Donald Trump, there has been no progress for Canada on its priorities, including the border, the continued detention of two Canadians in China in retaliation for executing the U.S.’s extradition request of a Huawei executive, and the strong Buy America laws Mr. Biden is dead serious about implementing. Bruce Anderson, chairman of Abacus Data, said he doesn’t expect U.S. relations to figure prominently in the upcoming Canadian election. That said, Mr. Trudeau would have appreciated the like-minded liberal President throwing him a bone or two before the election is called. The difficulty, said Ms. Greenwood, is that while Mr. Biden “wants to treat our allies better, he has to reassure American workers he is standing up for them.” But Canadians shouldn’t worry about this President, said James Roosevelt, co-chair of the Democratic National Committee and the grandson of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Mr. Biden will restore Canada’s confidence in the United States, he said in an interview; the border will be opened and any American protectionism – exemplified in the administration’s mammoth infrastructure program – “will not be done blindly or drastically.” Mr. Roosevelt, who is currently heading up a group pushing Mr. Biden to go full out on a new New Deal, recalled how his grandfather carved out a close relationship with Prime Minister Mackenzie King that greatly benefitted both. Mr. Biden, he said, shares many of FDR’s qualities as a progressive but “not radical Democrat.” Progress on bilateral issues has also been impaired by the extended absence of a U.S. ambassador in Ottawa. But Mr. Biden last month named David Cohen, a telecom executive and Democratic fundraiser, to the post. With his close ties to Mr. Biden, he will have the ear of the White House.
  5. So while the federal government bribes, cajoles or otherwise forces drivers into electric vehicles, VIA Rail contracts for 32 new diesel powered trains with a thirty year life span. Heaven forbid they should back up all their virtuous platitudes on climate change by fast tracking electrification of the corridor and running it with green, relatively inexpensive hydro power from Quebec (there's a hat-trick for the feds).
  6. The pride a parent must feel..... Passenger Arrives Taped to a Seat and Is Charged With Assaulting Flight Attendants Maxwell Berry, 22, of Norwalk, Ohio, punched a Frontier Airlines flight attendant and groped two others on a flight from Philadelphia to Miami, the authorities said. Tue Aug 3, 2021 - The New York Times By Neil Vigdor frontier.mp4 A Frontier Airlines passenger assaulted three flight attendants, punching one and groping the breasts of two others, on a weekend flight from Philadelphia to Miami, prompting one crew member to tape him to his seat until the plane landed, the authorities said. Part of the altercation was caught on video by other passengers, who jeered as the man was restrained for the remainder of Flight 2289, which left Philadelphia at 10:41 p.m. on Saturday and landed 2 hours and 37 minutes later. Frontier Airlines said in an initial statement on Tuesday that the flight attendants would be “relieved of flying” while it investigated, which drew sharp criticism from the Association of Flight Attendants, the nation’s largest flight attendants union. Later on Tuesday, the airline said that paid leave was in line with “an event of this nature.” The Association of Flight Attendants said that the encounter was emblematic of the hostilities faced by airline crews since the loosening of travel restrictions that had been put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. It came amid a surge of reports filed by airlines with the Federal Aviation Administration about unruly passengers, who have faced steep fines for disruptions. In one video, which was obtained by several television stations and received widespread attention online, the man, who police said had been drinking, repeatedly cursed at other passengers and at the crew. He said that his parents were worth “two million goddamn dollars.” The Miami-Dade Police Department identified the man as Maxwell Berry, 22, of Norwalk, Ohio, who it said in a criminal complaint had been charged with three misdemeanor counts of battery. It was not immediately clear if Mr. Berry had a lawyer. Messages left by phone at his family’s home in Ohio and by email on Tuesday were not answered. Mr. Berry was booked into the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department on Sunday and was released later that day. Court date information was not immediately available from the department. The trouble began when Mr. Berry ordered his third alcoholic beverage of the flight and brushed his empty cup against a flight attendant’s backside, according to the criminal complaint, which said that the flight attendant told him “don’t touch me.” Mr. Berry, who had been sitting in seat 28D, then emerged from the bathroom shirtless after spilling his drink, prompting a flight attendant to tell him that he needed to be fully dressed, the complaint said. The flight attendant helped him get a shirt out of his carry-on luggage, and Mr. Berry walked around the cabin for about 15 minutes. That’s when he groped the breasts of another flight attendant, who told him not to touch her and to sit down, the authorities said. In the criminal complaint, officers wrote that Mr. Berry later put his arms around the same two flight attendants and groped their breasts. When a male flight attendant approached and asked him several times to calm down, officers said, Mr. Berry punched him in the face with a closed fist. Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a statement on Tuesday that the encounter was one of the worst disruptions experienced by airline crews this year. “A drunk and irate passenger verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted multiple members of the crew,” Ms. Nelson said. “When he refused to comply after multiple attempts to de-escalate, the crew was forced to restrain the passenger with the tools available to them onboard. We are supporting the crew.” In their complaint, officers said that several other passengers had helped to restrain Mr. Berry, whom the video showed being secured to a seat by a male crew member with what appeared to be packing tape. A seatbelt extender was also used as a restraint, the police said. Some other passengers laughed and pulled out their cellphone cameras to record the scene. “Frontier Airlines maintains the utmost value, respect, concern and support for all of our flight attendants, including those who were assaulted on this flight,” the Denver-based carrier said. “We are supporting the needs of these team members and are working with law enforcement to fully support the prosecution of the passenger involved.” But the flight attendants union criticized the airline’s response. “Management suspended the crew as a knee-jerk reaction to a short video clip that did not show the full incident,” said Ms. Nelson, the union’s president. “Management should be supporting the crew at this time, not suspending them.” Frontier did not answer questions about the airline’s policies and procedures for restraining unruly passengers, including whether tape had been approved for that purpose. In the criminal complaint, the arresting officers said that they had referred the matter to the F.B.I., but that it had declined to pursue federal felony charges against Mr. Berry. Mr. Berry’s legal problems may be just beginning, though. The F.A.A. has fined several passengers tens of thousands of dollars this year for clashing with airline crews over mask requirements and other safety instructions. Earlier this year, the agency imposed a zero-tolerance policy for interfering with or assaulting flight attendants that carries a fine of up to $35,000 and possible jail time. An F.A.A. spokesman said in an email on Tuesday that the agency investigates all reports of unruly passengers, but that it could not comment on individual cases. “Cabin crews are responsible for deciding how to respond to unruly-passenger incidents,” said the spokesman, Ian Gregor. Mr. Berry graduated in May from Ohio Wesleyan University, where he received a values in action award from the Greek life community for being a “perfect role model” and for leading “the fight to dismantle fraternity stereotypes.” The university posted a Zoom video of the presentation. “Ohio Wesleyan is saddened to learn of this situation with one of our graduates,” Cole Hatcher, a spokesman for the university, said in an email on Tuesday. “The case does not involve the university, and the incidents depicted do not reflect Ohio Wesleyan’s values.”
  7. ? - I never said it wasn't a coal fired unit - it is. I said coal didn't play role as a source of ignition or fuel for the explosion and fire in the turbine hall and it didn't. Steam turbine went into an overspeed condition and came apart (in a big way). There is no coal in the turbine hall, coal fired combustion for steam generation is housed in a separate building. Could have happened in any gas or nuclear power station using a steam turbine as well. Something might have 'gone off like a bomb', but it wasn't coal in this instance. Financial Review
  8. Suspect a three year bridge may be a bridge too far.... Laid off from Air Canada, a year later long-time worker fights to win back flights — and more Mon, Aug 2, 2021 - Toronto Star By Rosa Saba - Business Reporter Jeff Iacobucci is certainly not the only person to have lost his job during the pandemic. But more than a year later, he’s still fighting to get what he believes is a fair severance package from his former employer. Iacobucci worked at Air Canada for just over 22 years. Like many, near the end of March 2020 he went home and waited for weeks to find out whether he still had a job to return to. In June, a phone call confirmed what he feared: he had been permanently let go. When Iacobucci received his severance package, it wasn’t what he had hoped for. (Air Canada declined to comment on “confidential personnel matters.”) The package included 12 months of Iacobucci’s base salary. But that wouldn’t include the bonuses he usually received, which were often “quite significant,” he said. It also didn’t include the overtime and holidays Iacobucci often worked, he said — in other words, the base salary wasn’t anything close to what he would actually make in a year. Iacobucci’s benefits were also cut — he got a few months of medical coverage, and no dental, he said. But the most egregious thing for Iacobucci was a benefit he had been looking forward to. After 25 years of service, he said he was supposed to get flight benefits for life, meaning he could get flights for a nominal charge on standby. Iacobucci was less than three years away from the lifetime of affordable flights he had been anticipating. Instead, Air Canada offered him 20 of those flights in the voluntary severance package, and when he refused that, offered a non-voluntary package with six. “As soon as I saw the agreement I was like, oh, there’s no way I’m accepting this,” said Iacobucci. After speaking to some employment lawyers, who told him the whole thing could be settled in a matter of months, Iacobucci hired one. They started with a letter to Air Canada, but the company refused to negotiate, said Iacobucci, so he proceeded with a claim via the Canada Labour Board, which was then referred to the Canada Industrial Relations Board. After being set up with a mediator, Iacobucci says the airline has been pushing back the mediation date, which he thinks is a stalling tactic. Iacobucci is especially frustrated with his experience because it’s been the opposite of what he was told it would be. “The expectation is set up (that) this is going to be really quick and easy and simple,” he said. “My experience has been, it’s anything but that.” Iacobucci’s lawyer, Howard Markowitz, said COVID-19 is holding labour cases up, making the process frustrating for both claimants and their lawyers. “There’s a huge backlog,” he said. Luckily, experts say most severance package disputes are settled before making it to court. If you’ve been terminated, here are some tips to help you tell whether what you’re being offered is a good deal, and how to proceed if you think you’re owed more. How do I know if my severance package is fair? Employment lawyer Lior Samfiru said a terminated employee should always assume their severance package is inadequate, and not sign right away. If your employer has given you a deadline to accept the severance agreement, employment lawyer Stuart Rudner said not to panic. “If you do not sign and return the documents, you will still receive your statutory entitlements, and you can pursue the additional compensation to which you are entitled,” he said in an email. Markowitz said a Google search often brings up the legal minimum severance entitlement, and many people won’t look further than that to figure out what they could be entitled to. There is no hard and fast rule to determine what a fair severance offer looks like, said Samfiru. It’s based on your age, the length of your employment, and the type of position you held at the company. For example, if two people who had each worked at a company for ten years were both laid off, but one was significantly older or had held a position higher up on the management chain, that person would be offered more than the younger, less senior person. Rudner said most people underestimate how much they’re owed in severance. “It sometimes surprises people to learn that, generally speaking, you are entitled to have a package that includes all forms of compensation, such as benefits, bonuses, commissions, and car allowance,” said Rudner. As a rule, Samfiru said these perks should continue for as long as your salary is paid out. “Would I have gotten it had I continued working there over the severance period?” Samfiru said you should ask yourself. “If the answer is yes, then that has to be included as part of the severance.” As for something like Iacobucci’s flight benefits, that’s a little more difficult to determine, said Samfiru. But if a perk like those flight benefits would have kicked in had the severance period been a working period — in other words, if Iacobucci’s severance period pushed him over the 25-year mark — then that perk should be on the severance deal too. Another important component of the severance package is the clause concerning what happens if the terminated employee gets a new job. Samfiru said it’s important to make sure the clause not only extends your benefits until you’re receiving benefits at your new job, but also doesn’t cut off your pay entirely if your new job pays significantly less than your previous one. Rudner agreed: “Negotiate a minimum income that will trigger this clause. Otherwise, if you work one shift at a grocery store, you could cost yourself months of severance.” I don’t think I’m being offered a fair severance deal. What should I do? If you’re unsure about the fairness of the deal you’ve been offered, Samfiru and Rudner suggest consulting an employment lawyer to review it. Carolyn Levy, president of technology for human resources consultancy Randstad Canada, said you shouldn’t worry about what it will look like to consult a lawyer, as a third party is always helpful. “Put yourself first,” she said, instead of worrying about what your former employer will think. You may be able to use the lawyer’s assessment to negotiate on your own if you have a good relationship with the employer, Samfiru said. But having a lawyer send a letter to the company is an effective way to kick-start a negotiation and get a better offer. Usually, these disputes are over pretty quickly, said Samfiru, as the employer is prepared to give you more, but hoping you don’t ask for it. The process can be more complicated if there are other documents involved, such as an employment agreement that limits your severance options, but those aren’t always binding, he said. But if the negotiation doesn’t go as planned, your next step is a legal claim, which can still be settled fairly quickly through mediation, said Samfiru. “Going to court is the rare exception,” he said, noting that it’s only worthwhile if there’s a lot at stake, and if you’re sure you have a good chance at winning. It’s up to your lawyer to push if there are any unnecessary delays, said Samfiru. That’s the position Iacobucci finds himself in now.
  9. No proponent of coal (sooner it's gone the better) but it played no role as a fuel or source of ignition for the explosion and fire in the Callide Power Station turbine hall article you posted.
  10. California NIMBYs Threaten Biden’s Clean Energy Goals Fri Jul 30, 2021 - Bloomberg News by Mark Chediak (Bloomberg) -- Like many who live in this pastoral valley near Livermore, Calif., Chris O’Brien is a believer in renewable energy. The 61-year old logistics business owner outfitted his barn with solar panels that power his 50-acre ranch where he grows oat hay, raises horses and grazes cattle. “Everyone here is in favor of green energy,” O’Brien said. But that support has its limits. When he learned of plans to build a giant solar farm next door to his property—the kind of project that would help meet the state’s clean energy goals—O’Brien decided he had to fight it. It was exactly the sort of thing that would spoil the rural landscape that he says should be protected by a local anti-development measure. “It would be a sea of glass, it disturbs the environment”
  11. Grounded Pilots Swamp Aviation Recruiters in Fight for Jobs Sat Jul 31, 2021 - Bloomberg News by Angus Whitley (Bloomberg) -- When U.K.-based Goose Recruitment kicked off a recent campaign to find 30 Boeing Co. 737 cargo pilots for a client in Europe, 400 resumes poured in within 48 hours. Most of the applicants used to fly commercial passenger jets. “Pre-Covid, most airline pilots would look down their noses at flying cargo,” Goose’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Charman said in an interview from his office in Southampton on England’s south coast. “Now they’re like, ‘Pick me!’” This clamor for work is being reflected around the world, as desperate pilots who’ve been grounded by the pandemic for more than a year mob recruiters for the few new flying jobs on the market in a last-ditch effort to save their aviation careers. Wasinc International Ltd., which recruits overseas pilots for Chinese and Japanese airlines, is getting so many emails from out-of-work applicants that it no longer needs to advertise the roles it is trying to fill. Job applications from down-on-their-luck aviators, from Brazil and Mexico to Canada and Europe, have jumped at least 30-fold from pre-virus days, Wasinc CEO Dave Ross said in an interview from his home in Las Vegas. While a rebound in U.S. domestic air travel offers some hope, the pleas for work reflect an industry decimated by the crisis. Temporary and permanent job losses at the four biggest carriers in the U.S. exceeded 150,000 last year, including pilots and other staff. Global airline capacity is still wallowing 31% below normal levels, according to OAG. Aggressive waves of the fast-spreading delta variant also threaten to push back a travel recovery, which could bring more trouble to the industry as pilots leave for good to retire, look for other work or as their flying qualifications expire. That risks leaving a shortage of skilled operators in the cockpit whenever a firmer recovery takes hold. Airline pilots must typically pass two proficiency checks a year, and additional qualifications tied to specific aircraft types can expire in 12 or 24 months. A survey in January found that more than half of the world’s commercial pilots were no longer flying for a living. Wasinc has just four Chinese carriers including Sichuan Airlines Corp. accepting applications from overseas pilots, down from 23 before the pandemic. Covid travel restrictions make it hard for foreign pilots to enter China for assessments, Ross said. Even if a pilot lands a job, the generous pre-pandemic compensation packages of around $24,000 a month have more than halved because pilots aren’t flying so many hours, he said. Ross said many of the pilots on his books looking for work are approaching the end of their validity periods. With the outlook so bleak, some are opting to leave the industry altogether. “I don’t think we can avoid the fact that maybe in less than a year, there’s going to be a shortage,” he said. Boeing said late last year the world will need 763,000 new pilots by 2039, even if Covid-19 had temporarily put a brake on traffic growth. Some are hiring again, trying to play catchup in markets experiencing a rebound. American Airlines Group Inc. will hire 350 pilots this year and 1,000 in 2022, 50% more than previously planned. Ryanair Holdings Plc is also adding 2,000 pilots over the next three years to grab market share from weakened rivals. The low-cost airline needs pilots to fly the new Boeing 737 Max jets it began taking in June. Delta Air Lines Inc. plans to hire more than 1,000 pilots by next summer as domestic leisure travel returns. These bursts of activity aren’t enough to soak up the current excess of crew, according to Goose’s CEO and founder Charman. Even his company’s campaign that attracted a rush of applicants was put on ice due to “changes in our client’s business,” he said. It’s not just senior pilots with pensions and savings who are quitting now that jobs have dried up, Charman said. There are signs that career aspirations are dwindling for junior pilots too. “They’ve given up,” he said. “Our prediction is that, very quickly, we will have a real problem in the aviation sector.”
  12. Fire breaks out in Tesla Megapack unit in Australia during testing Fri Jul 30, 2021 - Reuters by Byron Kaye SYDNEY, July 30 (Reuters) - A fire broke out in a Tesla Inc Megapack battery unit in Australia on Friday during testing of one of the world's biggest energy storage projects, run by France's Neoen SA, fire authorities said. The fire erupted during an initial trial of the high-profile energy project known as the Victorian Big Battery near Melbourne on Friday morning local time, authorities said, adding that nobody was injured and the facility was evacuated. "Neoen and Tesla are working closely with emergency services on site to manage the situation," Neoen Managing Director Louis de Sambucy said in a statement. The site had been disconnected from the grid and "there will be no impact to the electricity supply", added de Sambucy. The statement did not give the cause of the fire. Fire Rescue Victoria said crews with breathing apparatus were working to stop the blaze spreading from the 13-tonne battery to nearby batteries at the site. A fire department scientific officer was conducting atmospheric monitoring, it added, although it said there was no threat to the community. A Tesla spokesperson in Australia could not immediately be contacted. The total cost of the project has not been disclosed, but Neoen won A$160 million ($118 million) in cheap finance from the Australian government earlier this year to help fund the big battery designed to produce 450 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity. Tesla supplied its Megapack technology for the project, which is due to start operating in time for the Australian summer, which begins in December.
  13. Canada not among countries exempt from quarantine for travel into England and Scotland Vaccinated travellers from many European countries and U.S. will not have to quarantine upon arrival Cited the success of the vaccine rollout in the U.S. and EU as a reason for the decision
  14. Well played Joe! China hosts Taliban leaders as U.S. withdraws troops from Afghanistan Wed Jul 28, 2021 - The Washington Post By Rebecca Tan China expressed support for the Taliban’s role in Afghanistan’s future while warning it to cut ties with a separatist movement in the Xinjiang region, in a clear expression of Beijing’s geopolitical goals in the Central Asian country. Just days after meeting with top U.S. officials in the port city of Tianjin, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi welcomed a nine-member delegation from the Taliban that included chief negotiator and top political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. This comes amid the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, which some experts and officials have warned could lead to political instability in the region. According to a Foreign Ministry statement, Wang told Taliban leaders that America’s “hasty withdrawal” from Afghanistan is a mark of its policy failures in the country. China will not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, he said, adding that the Taliban is expected to “play an important role in the process of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction” of the country. The meeting comes as the Taliban has increasingly been reaching out to countries in the region, in the likely expectation that the movement will soon become a major player in the running of Afghanistan. While peace talks are underway between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, they have been stalled, even as the militants have unleased offensives in Afghanistan that have won it new territory. Chinese leaders also took the opportunity to demand that the Taliban sever all ties with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which Beijing has frequently blamed for attacks in its far western Xinjiang province. The movement “poses a direct threat to China’s national security and territorial integrity,” Wang said, adding that “it is the common responsibility of the international community to fight against ETIM.” Taliban leaders at the meeting pledged to respect the national security of China, Mohammad Naeem, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, said in a Twitter statement. China has long been critical of U.S. presence in Afghanistan but recently aired concerns that U.S. military withdrawal could plunge the region into instability and potentially cause security problems along China’s sensitive northwest border. Human rights violations against the Uyghur population in the northwest territory of Xinjiang have elicited widespread condemnation from the international community and continue to be a major source of tension between the United States and China.
  15. Ya don't mess with the mesa.... The US’s largest solar farm is canceled because Nevada locals don’t want to look at it Tue Jul 27, 2021. - electrek The Battle Born Solar Project in Nevada – what would have been the largest solar farm in the US – is now canceled because nearby residents said it would be an eyesore. The 850 megawatt, 9,200-acre solar farm, which would have been constructed in southern Nevada’s Moapa Valley, was to sit on 14 square miles on the Mormon Mesa, a flat-topped hill around 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. California-based Arevia Power and Solar Partners VII LLC withdrew their application with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) last week in the face of opposition from a group called Save Our Mesa. The group, which is made up of residents, environmentalists, and others, feels that the solar farm would hinder hiking, camping, driving off-highway vehicles, and horseback riding and deter tourists from visiting artist Michael Heizer’s environmental sculpture, “Double Negative”. We have been called a whining NIMBY group, well this is mostly true because this project IS literally IN our backyard!
  16. Pearson Airport backtracks on policy to separate arrivals based on COVID-19 vaccination status Policy was in effect for less than 2 days Tue Jul 27, 2021 - CBC News
  17. Boeing’s Talent Exodus Threatens Turnaround After 737 Max Crisis, Pandemic After calamity and years of restrained ambition under cost-obsessed executives, the company that was once a factory of dreams is losing workers to SpaceX and Amazon Software design and coding errors have repeatedly led to performance shortfalls
  18. With respect, the New York Times did not write or publish the report referred to above.
  19. All part of the limited context plot... U.S. urges 50,000 Chevy Bolt owners to park outside because of fire risks GM made the same recommendation and added owners should not leave vehicles charging overnight. Thu Jul 15, 2021 - Automotive News by David Shepardson WASHINGTON -- U.S. auto safety regulators on Wednesday urged about 50,000 owners of General Motors electric Chevrolet Bolt vehicles that were recalled last year to park outside and away from homes and other structures after charging because of fire risks. Earlier on Wednesday, GM made the same recommendation and added owners should not leave vehicles charging overnight. The recommendation was prompted after the largest U.S. automaker said it was investigating reports of two recent fires in vehicles that were recalled in November for fire risks. The 50,000 U.S. Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles are from the 2017-2019 model years and were recalled for the potential of an unattended fire in the high-voltage battery pack underneath the backseat’s bottom cushion. NHTSA opened an investigation in October into the Bolt fires, the agency noted Wednesday and "continues to evaluate the information received, and is looking into these latest fires." The November recall of nearly 69,000 Chevrolet Bolt EVs -- including about 50,000 in the United States -- with high voltage batteries produced at LG Chem Ltd's Ochang, South Korea facility, was made after five reported fires and two minor injuries. Among the fires was a Bolt belonging to an influential state lawmaker in Vermont, reports said. In April, GM also announced a software update and said dealers would use "diagnostic tools to identify potential battery anomalies and replace battery module assemblies as necessary." NHTSA said owners should park outside indefinitely regardless of whether they have had the software update completed. GM said in April it would make the diagnostic software standard in the 2022 Bolt EV and electric utility vehicles, as well as future GM electric vehicles, and would offer the update for all other Bolt EVs on the road at a future date.
  20. Pilot Sues Delta for $1 Billion Claiming the Airline Stole Crew App Thu Jul 15, 2021. - Bloomberg News By Christopher Yasiejko Delta Air Lines Inc. was sued for more than $1 billion by one of its own pilots, who claims he developed a text-messaging app for flight crews that the airline stole and used as the basis for its own app. Captain Craig Alexander sued Atlanta-based Delta for trade-secrets theft in Georgia state court on Monday. He claims he spent $100,000 of his own money to develop his QrewLive app, which he pitched to the airline as a way to address crew communication snafus after disrupted flights. Delta turned him down but went on to launch its own identical tool, he claims. Delta “stole like a thief in the night” and defrauded its own loyal employee, Keenan Nix , a lawyer for Alexander, said Wednesday in an interview. He said Alexander, an 11-year veteran at the airline, was flying a Delta 757 “as we speak.” Morgan Durrant, a Delta spokesperson, said in a statement: “While we take the allegations specified in Mr. Alexander’s complaint seriously, they are not an accurate or fair description of Delta’s development of its internal crew messaging platform.” A five-hour power outage that resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations in August 2016 cost Delta more than $150 million. The pilot said in the suit he emailed Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian at the time saying “he had a ‘solution.’” Bastian allegedly responded promptly and referred Alexander to the company’s new chief information officer. ‘Carbon Copy’ Bastian and the CIO, Rahul Samant, are both named in the suit, along with four other Delta executives. Alexander claims he had several positive meetings with the airline in 2015 and 2016 in which executives made clear they were interested in acquiring his app. The pilot noted in his suit that Bastian and Samant have both bragged to investors that the app has smoothed operations. In describing the damages he’s seeking, Alexander said the value of the technology, “based solely upon operational cost savings to Delta, conservatively exceeds $1 billion.” Alexander is also seeking punitive damages against Delta. “To add insult to theft and injury, Captain Craig Alexander must use his stolen QrewLive text messaging platform every day while he works for Delta,” the suit claims. “Each time he looks at the FFC app, he is painfully reminded that Delta stole his proprietary trade secrets, used them to Delta’s enormous financial benefit.” But Delta eventually cut off discussions and then launched its own crew app in April 2018, called Flight Family Communications. “‘FFC’ is a carbon copy, knock-off of the role-based text messaging component of Craig’s proprietary QrewLive communications platform,” Alexander said in his suit. The pilot could face a challenge pursuing his claims as a Delta employee, as companies typically own the rights to anything produced by their workers. In his suit Alexander stressed that he put his own time and resources into QrewLive and said Delta indicated it would be willing to purchase the app from him on the same terms as from an outside vendor.
  21. “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” - Oscar Wilde Toronto man threatens Air Canada agent at Florida airport, saying he has bomb in his bag Wegal Rosen, 74, checking in at the Fort Lauderdale airport to fly home to Toronto, was angered by the carry-on baggage fee Tue Jul 13, 2021 - National Post by Shari Kulha Here’s what you do and don’t do when preparing to travel by air. First, you read the fine print before purchasing a ticket. You know up front what extra fees — say, for baggage — that you’re going to be responsible for. Then, when you get miffed at check-in, being told you have to pay to take your carry-on on board, you don’t walk away, leave the bag and tell the agent there’s a bomb in it. A 74-year-old Toronto man, checking in at the Fort Lauderdale airport to fly home for a cardiologist appointment, became overstressed about the fee and walked off in a huff, muttering about an explosive device in his bag. Security shut three terminals of the international airport, and within minutes eight flights were cancelled, some 50 flights delayed, and travellers ferried outside to wait four hours while security and threat-management teams did their due diligence — including closing area roads, which, causing traffic jams, expanded the incident area beyond the airport. Wegal Rosen found himself arrested instead of on-boarded. The Deerfield Beach resident was taken to the Broward Main Jail for a weekend think. On Monday, he appeared in court, where bond was set at US$20,000. Security at any airport is on high alert at all times, but a 2017 incident at the same airport taught them not to take this man’s threat lightly. A gunman had opened fire in the baggage claim area, killing five people and wounding six. The attack saw panicked travellers running out of the terminal and onto the tarmac. If convicted of the second-degree felony, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel says, Rosen could be sentenced to 15 years in prison and be fined US$10,000. And he could be on the hook for restitution to cover the costs and damages arising from his false bomb threat. The judge said he could fly back to Toronto only after posting bail. But she warned Rosen that he would have to find an alternative route home. “You cannot return to the Fort Lauderdale airport, Mr. Rosen, do you understand?” He said he did. According to the Washington Post, his lawyer acknowledged that Rosen had “said the magic words you do not say.” Oh, and in the bag he left by the ticket agent’s desk? His CPAP machine for treating sleep apnea.
  22. Porter Airlines to buy up to 80 new planes in major expansion Including plans to fly into and out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport Mon Jul 12, 2021 - The Financial Post By Barbara Shecter Porter Airlines is taking advantage of the crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic to buy up to 80 new aircraft and vastly expand its flight network across North America and into Mexico and the Caribbean, including plans to fly into and out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Michael Deluce, who took over as chief executive in April 2019, less than a year before the pandemic, said the disruption that cost large national airlines more than 90 per cent of their pre-pandemic traffic allowed Porter to make deals to acquire the newEmbraer E195-E2 aircraft at a good price, hire pilots, and find room in competitive airports. “The pandemic and the crisis that really the entire industry has gone through over the past 15 months has really opened up substantial opportunities in our view to shift the competitive landscape,” he said in an interview. Scaling up as quickly and substantially “would have been much more challenging in a pre-pandemic world,” he said, adding that there has been “nothing comparable in this history of aviation.” The Toronto-based regional airline grounded its fleet in March of 2020 when the global pandemic was declared and travel restrictions “made operating impossible,” Deluce said. But this also allowed Porter to cut costs, and regional flights from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport are now set to resume beginning Sept. 8. The expanded flights using the 120-seat to 146-seat planes with transcontinental rangewill begin in mid-2022. Porter has made firm commitments to buy 30 planes, and has an option to purchase 50 additional aircraft. The total aircraft order is valued at up to US$5.82 billion at current list prices. The purchase rights agreement includes a provision to convert to smaller E190-E2 aircraft, giving Porter the ability to introduce non-stop service in some markets where connecting flights are often the only option, and enable higher-frequency service for routes with greater demand. In the past, the 15-year-old airline offered service to and from the northeastern United States and eastern Canadian destinations including Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax, all within about 1,600 miles of Toronto. Porter, which entered the pandemic with little debt, secured additional government credit to shore up the balance sheet and offset risk as it recovers and expands, but doesn’t plan to tap much of it, Deluce said. On June 30, Porter Aviation Holdings Inc., parent company of Porter Airlines, announced it had reached an agreement with the federal government for loans of up to $270.5 million, including $20.5 million dedicated to passenger refunds for flights cancelled due to the pandemic. Analysts have suggested it could take years for the airline industry to recover from the pandemic. Deluce said he believes a return to pre-pandemic flights levels is achievable by 2023 or 2024, with pent-up demand for leisure travel evident as vaccination rates grow and travel restrictions decline. Business travel will take longer to recover, he said, but he predicts it will come back to previous levels. Airline consultant Robert Kokonis said short-haul business travel, which was “in Porter’s wheelhouse” before the pandemic, is likely to be slowest to bounce back because companies may find it cheaper and equally productive to continue meeting by video-conferencing services such as Zoom and Skype. “We’ll get back on the road again but my feeling is … if you’ve got a home office in Toronto and a big branch plant in Montreal and you used to go there every two weeks, maybe that trip is only going to happen once a month. Or if you used to go once a month, it’s going to be once a quarter,” said Kokonis, managing partner at AirTrav Inc. “If that’s the case, by bringing these E2 jets in it opens up different types of flying and markets for Porter that previously they couldn’t have touched. So if you could launch a leisure flight to Vegas or L.A., it’s good news.” He said Porter’s expansion plan is “bold” and “decisive” and also stakes a claim for the airline as the North American launch partner for Embraer’s fuel-efficient E2 aircraft. Kokonis said if things go well, he would not be surprised to see the privately held company pursue in initial public offering in the next couple of years to fund further expansion and perhaps provide an exit for some shareholders. In 2010, Porter shelved a planned IPO when the valuation offered did not meet expectations. A few years later, the carrier announced a plan to buy additional larger aircraft from Bombardier Inc., but hit a snag when an agreement could not be secured with federal and local authorities to extend the runway at Porter’s downtown Toronto airport to accommodate the planes.
  23. Ryanair aims to hire 2,000 pilots over next three years Low-cost airline embarks on recruitment spree for its new fleet of Boeing 737 Max jets Mon Jul 12, 2021 - Financial Times by Harry Dempsey Ryanair is planning to hire 2,000 pilots over the next three years in one of the aviation industry’s biggest recruitment drives since the start of the pandemic. The hiring spree will add to the current roster of 5,000 pilots at Europe’s largest airline. It is also aiming to increase annual passenger numbers by more than a third within three years over pre-pandemic levels. “We are delighted to start planning for a return to growth over the coming years as we recover from the Covid-19 crisis and grow to 200m guests by financial year 2024,” said Darrell Hughes, people director at Ryanair. In May last year, the company had warned that it would need to cut 3,000 jobs but said it escaped without making any of its pilots redundant during the pandemic. Some cabin crew have lost their jobs. However, its pilots did agree to take a 20 per cent cut to their pay, which will be restored to its original levels over four years. Ryanair said it needed more pilots to operate its new Boeing 737 Max jets — the first delivery of its order of more than 210 arrived last month. The new aircraft should help the company to reduce fuel use, carbon emissions and costs. Ryanair will start training pilots this year, aiming to have them ready to fly by next summer. Its investments in planes and staff contrast with difficulties elsewhere in the industry. As of April, more than 18,000 pilot jobs are threatened or have been permanently lost during the pandemic, according to the European Cockpit Association. Ryanair is betting on pent-up demand for when curbs on overseas travel ease. Chief executive Michael O’Leary reckons that rivals will be unable to meet that demand, forecasting a 20 per cent fall in the number of short-haul seats available in Europe over the next few years.
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