1. Work-related deaths nearly double in Nova Scotia
Yesterday, the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia released numbers on work-related injuries or deaths. The big item: the number of people who either died at work or from work-related illnesses nearly doubled last year, from 21 to 40.
Some of these deaths are the result of conditions workers faced years ago — like exposure to asbestos. But deaths from on-the-job acute traumatic injuries (like drowning or falls) jumped from five in 2017 to 14 in 2018.
Of the 14 acute fatalities, six drowned or were lost at sea from the fishing industry and three were in the construction industry.
“Typically, these are extenuating circumstances, like it’s a storm or there’s a lack of personal protective equipment or in the construction sector you may have someone who didn’t wear a fall restraint,” said [WCB Nova Scotia CEO Stuart] MacLean.
MacLean said the province’s Labour Department has “upped their efforts in enforcement” in the fishing sector.
“We want to generally raise awareness that the risk is high in that sector and when things go wrong, they go terribly wrong,” said MacLean.
The length of time workers are taking before returning from injury has also increased (probably because the work-force is aging), and mental health claims to WCB nearly doubled as well.
2. Street checks end, for now
In StarMetro Halifax, Julia-Simone Rutgers and Taryn Grant* report on Justice Minister Mark Furey’s announcement of a moratorium on random street checks of pedestrians and vehicle passengers.
Rutgers and Grant get it right in the lede of her story, referring to the moratorium as “an immediate but temporary halt.” A moratorium, after all, is not a ban.
[Furey] told reporters Wednesday he believes street checks can be a useful policing tool when used appropriately, but when they’re based on racial discrimination they are “simply unacceptable and a breach of one’s human rights.”…
Furey said an apology from the government was worth considering, but he was reticent to offer one himself.
“This is a bigger discussion than street checks and an apology. I don’t know how many times I can express that these behaviours are unacceptable.
“Is there a formal apology coming from government? That may follow some of the discussions, that may form part of the outcomes of the work.”
Halifax councillor Lindell Smith said Furey’s announcement was a “pleasant surprise,” but he would like to see more recognition of the harm street checks have caused the Black community.
But, according to the reporters, even in announcing the moratorium, Furey referred to street checks as a useful tool but only if they are used appropriately.
This morning I listened to Portia Clark interview social worker Robert Wright of the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition. Clark asked Wright if he would feel different about walking or driving today than he did yesterday. Wright laughed and said no. “I think the legacy… is going to take a generation to unravel. I think we should realize that the fear Black men, particularly young Black men, have of police is something that has come to us. It is historical… and just banning street checks is not enough.”
I was street-checked early Wednesday morning for the first time since… well, since I was in my early 20s and living in Montreal. It was after 1am and I was walking home after parking my car at a nearby church. I started going up our long, steep driveway, when an SUV that had been on the road behind me turned into the neighbours’. That seemed like an odd coincidence. Then the car did a three-point turn, headed back towards me and put on its flashers. I walked back down and said, “What can I help you with” to the RCMP officer. He wanted to know what I was doing out at night walking along the road in dark clothing. I explained. He said he was concerned about break-ins, asked what the address of the residence was and asked my name. He was polite throughout the exchange and did not ask for ID. Even though I know I would have no obligation to provide ID, I suspect that in the moment I might have done it.
I’m middle-aged and white. For me, this check was an extremely minor inconvenience, but it was still a bit unsettling. (I always feel nervous when I’m talking to the police, even when they’re polite and I’ve done nothing wrong.) I can’t truly understand what it must feel like to be young and African Nova Scotian, and be stopped for no reason other than racism over and over and over again.
Let’s hope the moratorium turns into a full-fledged ban. There is no “done properly” when it comes to street checks.
* as initially published, this article item inadvertently omitted Grant’s name.
3. Barho family members on their way
After the horrifying house fire in February that took the lives of the seven Barho children, the federal government said it would try to expedite bringing other members of the family to Canada. One group arrived in February, and another is coming today*. The Barhos came to Canada in 2017 as refugees from the war in Syria.
CBC has a very brief story on this today — of necessity, I guess, because nobody is releasing much information. Susan Bradley writes:
The Hants East Assisting Refugees Team (HEART Society) also gave a statement on behalf of Kawthar Barho [the mother of the family].
“Kawthar would like to thank everyone who has reached out to support her and her husband, Ebraheim, over the past two months. The love and generosity of Canadians has been a light in a very dark time. Kawthar continues to spend her time in the hospital by her husband’s side supporting him on his long road to recovery. Kawthar is thankful to all the individuals who have worked to reunite her with her family.”
*The original CBC story said the family members were arriving Friday. Since then, CBC reports that the HEART Society have issued a press release saying the family members in fact arrive today. We have updated accordingly.
4. $50,000 fishing fine
Paul Withers continues his reporting on all things oceans-related for CBC, with the story of Sambro fisherman Casey Henneberry.
A Sambro, N.S., halibut fisherman convicted of underreporting his catch by 40 per cent on a week-long commercial fishing trip has been ordered to pay an additional $49,376 penalty.
Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Frank Edwards ruled an earlier provincial court sentence for vessel captain Casey Henneberry was too lenient.
Henneberry had four previous fisheries-related convictions before federal fishery officers boarded his vessel, R & S Venture, in May 2017 and found about 15,000 kilograms of halibut in the hold.
Henneberry originally was given a much lower fine, which the Crown appealed, saying it was not high enough to serve as a deterrent. He has been convicted of similar offences before.
1. Sure, you can have my tapes
Lindsay Souvannarath’s lawyer was in court yesterday, appealing her life sentence for her role in a conspiracy to commit a mass shooting at the Halifax Shopping Centre.
Jordan Bonaparte interviewed Souvannarath for his true crime The Nighttime Podcast, and was on The Sheldon MacLeod Show to talk about it. Two things struck me from the interview. First, Bonaparte got quite worked up about the idea that Souvannarath is being held in a Canadian prison, since she is not a Canadian. He felt she should be sent home and the Americans should deal with her, and that it doesn’t make sense to be incarcerating her at a cost greater than the nursing home care his relatives get.
This seems a bit odd, but whatever. It’s his opinion.
But there was something I found more egregious. MacLeod asked Bonaparte if it was true that the police had asked him for the raw, unedited tape of his interviews with Souvannarath, and Bonaparte said they had. MacLeod asked if he had turned them over, and Bonaparte said sure. They showed him “a court order or something” and he handed over the recordings. He said he had no interest in fighting and didn’t really understand what the cops wanted with the tapes or could learn from them anyway. (I believe he said they may have wanted to hear answers to questions they had asked her but to which she had refused to reply.)
Now, I don’t like it when pundits or politicians dismiss reporting they don’t like as being the work of bloggers or podcasters, as though that diminishes their efforts or makes the information they uncover somehow less important. Lots of great stories have been broken by bloggers and podcasters, or by journalists being dismissed as “just” bloggers or podcasters. You don’t have to have come out of j-school. But you should have an understanding basic journalistic practices — one of them being that it’s a big deal when the cops come asking for your tapes.
We sometimes pick up bags of newspapers out for recycling along our road because we heat our house in part with a woodstove. The newsprint is helpful for starting fires. But a few years ago, we picked up a bag that, instead of having the usual old copies of The Chronicle Herald or the local Masthead News, was filled with issues of Writer’s Journal, “The Trade Paper for Writers, Editors, and Publishers,” dating from 1944 to 1950. (During that period, the cover price went up from 15 to 20 cents.)
Some of the papers are stamped with the name of the shop from which they were purchased.
From what I understand, Royal Sweets was a landmark restaurant/shop in New Glasgow that closed down decades ago. Here is a photo of what remained in 2008:
I’ve had these dozen or so issues of Writers’ Journal sitting in my office for years. They are fascinating, for a couple of different reasons. One is the sheer number of publications listed in each issue, all of them looking for writing: a magazine for farmers and ranchers, seeking stories with “a southwestern slant”; a new magazine about basketball; the recently merged Ski News & Ski Illustrated; and so on. There are submission guidelines for big New York publications (including The New Yorker, looking for cartoons, light fiction, and serious fiction) and more modest publications, like Shoe Service Magazine, listed in the July 1944 issue:
Articles dealing with up-to-date modern shoe repair shops which do not feature cut prices and which are not links in chain organizations are wanted by “Shoe Service Magazine,” of which Walter J. Eggers is editor.
The magazine wanted to cover topics including the following:
Modern shoe shops and their methods… shoe repair advertising along with copy of the ads and story of the results therefrom… constructive and instructive articles regarding unusual services such as call and delivery, specializing in dyeing or refinishing; outstanding shoe corrections work (possibly along with chiropodists)…
Pay is .75 cents to a penny a word, with the possibility of more for exceptional quality. But many of the magazines pay far better, with the mid-range being 10 cents/word. Some publications pay rates, especially for fiction, that writers would be thrilled to get today. For example, in 1947, Kirkeby Hotels Magazine was looking for “light and frothy” fiction of up to 1,500 words and paying $250 per story.
Several things jumped out at me as I read these old papers.
First, there was the sense of familiarity. The specifics may be different (you’re not likely to see an ad today boasting about how much money you can make writing for radio) but many of the issues and approaches are similar to those you’d find in a writers’ publication today. Pulp novelists band together to fight unlicensed reproduction of their work in magazines. An authors’ association seeks to set up a licensing collective to negotiate for secondary rights, so authors can enjoy an ongoing revenue stream instead of selling their work outright. Writers warn others about which editors to avoid because they take too long to reply, or treat writers poorly, and which publications have a track record of not paying. There is news about contests, along with interviews with editors who explain what they are looking for (and what they are not), and tips on writing different genres (“Writing Light Verse: That Something Enabling It to Sell Boils Down to Freshness”; “Writing Period Novel: Live Intensely in the Era, Successful Novelist Counsels Press Women of Denver”). And the paper carries reports on what’s hot and what’s not in the marketplace.
If in quest of the jack pot, one might try a manuscript written around a series of murders. “The subject is popular, and I suppose always will be, Wendt stated. “Psychological murder mysteries offer a new field that has not been… completely exploited.”
One of the very best lines in which to write is the “How To” field: How to live with other people; how to live with God; how to live with one’s self, how to manage international relationships; how to stop worrying after having read the Kinsey report.
(The Kinsey Report came out in 1948 and blew the lid off traditional notions of American vanilla hetero sexuality, revealing much higher-than-expected rates of adultery, masturbation, and other sexual behaviours one simply did not speak of at the time.)
There is the occasional story about writers and editors who are clearly ahead of their time. In 1949, Lev Gleason Publications announced a new magazine called Tops, featuring comics for adults.
There are still some persons who insist that a picture story or cartoon narrative is for children, but we now know that millions of adults prefer the comfort and ease of the combined picture and text. “Tops” will meet a long-felt need in the adult magazine field.
And there is this early stab at increasing diversity in the industry, from 1947:
The course is “currently being organized by a white man” and aims to “teach class-members to write material suitable for publication in magazines and newspapers, and to further inter-racial relations by aiding Negro writers better express their ideas in print.”
I was also struck by several items that are historically significant. The July 1944 issue carries a story on the front page about Stardom magazine re-branding as Seventeen, and changing its target audience to high school girls:
As “Seventeen,” the publication will be devoted to fashion, beauty, movies, plays, books, records, bands and all other interests of girls of high school age. The world at large will not be neglected, however.
Primarily, the magazine will aim to guide teen-age girls “gaily, honestly and realistically.” Problems will be treated for its readers from their own level, rather than being written down or up to…
[Editor Helen] Valentine has not fixed a rate of payment as yet, but she promises it will be good, and on acceptance. In any event it will be equal, or exceed, anything in its field.
(Valentine essentially created the teen magazine. Her New York Times obituary is worth reading.)
Then, in August 1948, Writers’ Journal led with a story about the comics industry setting up its own editorial code, “to raise the moral tone of their publications.”
The publishers had set up a committee “to study the possible elimination of comics magazines dealing with “crime, lust or sex.”
Phil Keenan, president of the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers, gave a statement summarizing the self-policing code, which includes the following:
Crime should not be presented in such a way as to throw sympathy against law and justice or to inspire others with the desire for imitation. No comics shall show the details and methods of a crime committed by a youth. Policemen, judges, Government officials and respected institutions should not be portrayed as stupid or ineffective or represented in such a way as to weaken respect for authority…
Sexy wanton comics should not be published. No drawing should show a female indecently or unduly exposed and in no event more nude than in a bathing suit commonly worn in the United States… Divorce should not be treated humorously or represented as glamorous or alluring.
I was surprised by the number of references to Nova Scotia (usually tucked away in small print, but still). The listings include the Nova Scotia Poetry Centre run by Mrs. George Gilbert of Halifax, at 489 Robie Street, a mention of the latest by writer Will Bird (whose classic travel book Off Trail in Nova Scotia happens to be sitting on my desk), and a story about a farmer from the Bridgewater area winning a writing contest sponsored by Maclean’s magazine.
I’ll leave you with a letter to the editor from E.L. Maness of Los Angeles. It would not be out of place today as a slightly unhinged online comment (you know, the kind you should never read) or a Twitter rant:
Who is plowing AAA under? I, too, regret that there are Communists mixed up in it, but Commies stick their red noses into everything. I think AAA will prevent writers, when they are broke, from selling their copyrights to wolf publishers who will make a thousand per cent on the deal later. Let’s find out if the Author’s League is still in there pitching or if they’re more publisher conscious than author conscious now.
Mrs. Alicia L. Rooney of Scappose, Ore., please note: I, too, have been puzzled at the way in which mention of Woodford’s name draws fire from the Red camp, and their followers. If the Red-Fascists, as J. Edgar Hoover calls them, hate Jack, then I’m all for him.
Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — Tim wrote about the loss of heritage buildings yesterday.
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm, City Hall) — there are no action items on the agenda.
Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Thursday, 5pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — Lake Banook weeds.
Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, City Hall) — agenda
No public meetings.
No public meetings this week.
Thesis Defence, Psychology and Neuroscience (Thursday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Stephanie Snow will defend “Finding Balance: Identifying Ways to Improve the Delivery of Surgical Care to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
In the harbour
06:00: Jennifer Schepers, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
10:30: Atlantic Huron, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
20:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
21:30: Jennifer Schepers, container ship, sails for Kingston, Jamaica
Has the Chronicle Herald always carried the Saturday New York Times crossword, or is that a recent addition?
No Morning File tomorrow. Enjoy the long weekend.
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