Today’s Morning File is written by Katie Toth. I’m a reporter and writer who’s hopped up on cold brew coffee and cranky letters, so let’s do this.
1. ‘FRO’ to Blue Mountain developers, City staff says
HRM staff recommended council avoid developing the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lake Wilderness area.
The recommendation goes against the facilitator’s report that suggested moving forward with development plans. Council will review the document next week.
This is a long and somewhat complicated saga. You can read the report for yourself here.
2. Man killed in Dartmouth shooting
“Halifax Regional Police say a man called just before 3 a.m. to say he had been shot,” CBC reports. “He was found near John MacNeil Elementary School on Leaman Drive.”
The shooting happens only days after an anti-violence ceasefire march in North Preston, to commemorate Tylor McInnis’ death and call for an end to gun violence in the HRM.
3. Nova Scotia is trying harder to enforce child support rules
Nova Scotia says it’s taking more deadbeat parents to force them to pay child support. “As of March 31, $62.1 million in uncollected payments was owed to spouses and children in Nova Scotia,” reports the CBC.
Let’s be clear: skipping out on child support is not a classy move. Is the answer to suspend the drivers’ licenses of maybe-broke dads and garnish their wages though?
4. Europe’s best minds in Halifax studying sponges — for science!
From the CBC, again, oh my god do you guys ever sleep in?
European scientists are at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax this week studying deep sea sponges recovered off the coast of Nova Scotia by the Canadian research ship Hudson.
The veteran Coast Guard vessel is just back from an ambitious month-long, deep water ocean survey that ran from Bermuda to the underwater canyons near Sable Island.
“We believe sponges are very important to the ocean ecosystem,” Jasper de Goeij of the University of Amsterdam said.
5. Parents say they were left out of school review talks
The Halifax Regional School Board is trying to decide whether to close down the seventh and eighth grades of Oxford Elementary School, making it a K-6 school, and send Oxford students to Highland Park Junior High.
But parents at another local school, St. Catherine’s Elementary, are upset they weren’t consulted about the debate, Metro reports. That’s because St. Catherine’s students go to Oxford for seventh and eighth grade.
Don’t come for the parents unless you want them to come for you.
6. Donkin mine hiring temporary foreign workers — MP says that’s ‘strange’
American coal magnate Chris Cline is re-opening the Donkin mine in Cape Breton. Much hullabaloo was made about all the new jobs it would bring to Cape Breton, where many people have a deep knowledge of the mining and energy industry either from working in coal or working on the tar sands.
But it turns out the mine has hired three temporary foreign workers, rather than locals, to handle ‘safety and maintenance,’ and the union is not impressed.
Now, MP Rodger Cuzner says he’s on the case.
“It certainly strikes me strange,” he told the CBC. “We’re pursuing it with the minister’s office now to see what the status is,” Cuzner said Wednesday.”
7. Nova Scotia says it’s cool to spray pesticide all over the woods
From Local Xpress: The company wants to choke out the woods’ deciduous trees so Northern Pulp has an easier time logging for paper. If you are going to follow a link and read a news story today, let it be this one. Depressing, important read.
1. One Muslim Haligonian is tired of being told she’s “not from here.”
Yeah, that would be tiring. Especially since Muslims are a critical part of the city’s fabric. And because as of 2011, there were 7,000 Muslims in Halifax — that means this city has over 4 times more Muslims than Buddhists. Who’s asking the Shambhala hippies where they are from? Hmmmm?
2. Lisa Roberts’ byelection win should scare the Libs.
Though byelection results should be treated with caution — particularly when turnout is so low — the results do suggest that the Liberals can’t take a landslide victory for granted in the next general election. Halifax Needham indicates pockets of support for the opposition still exist, and there are enough voters in these pockets to elect opposition MLAs.
With such a wide lead in the polls, a Liberal sweep in the next election is not out of the question. But the New Democrats over-achieved in Halifax Needham and the Liberals came up well short of where they should have been. So Stephen McNeil would be wise to dampen any thoughts of an early election call.
3. Cranky letter of the day
From the Inverness Oran:
Recent research indicates that nail biting and thumb sucking in children may contribute to an immunity towards common allergens.
I underwent a recent allergy test which confirmed that I have no allergies. That was the good news. Yet the allergy symptoms persist, most notably the sneezing fits. Since all other suspects have been eliminated I am left with the suspicion that it is myself to whom I am allergic.
In view of these recent findings, in which respiratory doctor Robert Hancox from the University of Otago in New Zealand reported that nail-biting or thumb-sucking children were less likely to react to allergens like dust mites, fungus, wool, or pet dander, I’ve been studying my own finger nails.
When, I ask myself, does the biting of one’s nails fail to provide the antidote to allergies? At age two? Four? 10? 40? When?
Frank McDonald, Inverness Oran
The Board Room Cafe is opening a new location in Bedford.
Halifax is looking for one (1) wood chipper.
Props to this Truro couple for finding a giant mushroom.
Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (4:30pm, Office and Maintenance Building, 5718 Point Pleasant Drive) — discussion of the Point Pleasant Park Long-Term Comprehensive Plan.
No public meetings.
Fall 2016 Exhibitions- Opening Reception (7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — “Stitched Stories: The Family Quilts”; “The Dress: Mayann Francis and the Call to Serve”; and “Lisa Hirmer: Dirt Piles, Landscape/Displacement.”
In the harbour
[This section is compiled and written by Tim Bousquet.]
5am:Anthem of the Seas, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John with up to 4,819 passengers
6:45am: Bruarfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
7am: Veendam, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney with up to 1,350 passengers
7am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 36 to Autoport
7:15am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
11am: Bruarfoss, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
3:30pm: Veendam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
4:30pm: Anthem of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
7pm: Lady M I I, yacht, arrives at Sackville Landing from Lewisporte, Newfoundland
5am: Bahri Abha, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
1pm: Bahri Abha, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Genova, Italy
8pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
The monster cruise ship Anthem of the Seas is in port today. With a capacity of up to 4,819 passengers and 1,300 crewmembers, it is by far the largest cruise ship to call at Halifax — the next largest are the Caribbean Princess and Carnival Sunshine, which can each handle up to 3,765 passengers. The Veendam, also in port today, carries just 1,350 passengers. Only three cruise ships on the planet are bigger than the Anthem of the Seas.
Operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises, the Anthem of the Seas has had a hellish year.
In February, on a six-day cruise from New Jersey to the Bahamas and back, the fully loaded Anthem of the Seas ran into an accurately forecasted storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina that brought 125-mile-per-hour winds and 30-foot seas. For 12 hours the ship pitched and rolled so ferociously that passengers and non-essential crew were ordered to stay in their cabins. True, the cabin minibars were opened up for free, and the Super Bowl was played on TVs, but passengers said they feared for their lives.
While confined to their staterooms for approximately twelve hours, passengers were holding onto their beds and/or whatever they could find in order to keep from falling due to the severe crashing of waves and listing of the vessel. Furniture was overturned and tossed throughout the vessel; broken glass littered all levels of the vessel; a portion of the ceiling collapsed; elevators became inoperable; waves crashed through open and/or shattered balcony doors; and water rushed in through numerous other areas of the vessel.
Waves were crashing over the top of the lifeboats tethered along the side of the Anthem of the Seas as the ship listed heavily to either side. At times the vessel listed (tilted) as far as 45 degrees and the passengers were violently thrown across their cabins.
Passengers scrambled to search for life jackets or floatation devices but were unable to do so. There were numerous families with small children aboard the vessel and parents did their best to protect themselves and their young children who were crying uncontrollably and screaming in sheer terror.
In another lawsuit, reports Kimberly Miller for the Palm Beach Coast:
Forty families of children with autism sued the luxury cruise company saying officials were negligent in their actions to sail the Anthem of the Seas into the storm despite forecasts that predicted turbulent weather.
According to the suit, which seeks class-action status and was filed in federal court in Miami, the families and their aides were “hurled against cabin walls, floors and furniture, sustaining bodily and psychic injuries.”
“There were 40 families with Autism Spectrum Disorder children aboard the vessel and parents and aides did their best to protect themselves and their children who were being severely battered and traumatized,” the suit claims.
Royal Caribbean said that only four passengers sustained injuries, none of them serious.
The company also brushed off damage to the ship as “cosmetic,” but the US Coast Guard said otherwise. As lawyer Jim Walker recounted days after the cruise:
[T]he Coast Guard announced that one of the vessel’s two azipods malfunctioned during the storm and that the Anthem returned to port in New Jersey with only one propulsion unit operating. Late yesterday afternoon, the Coast Guard stated that “during the storm the port azipod, which is one component of the vessel’s propulsion system, burned out all four clutches.”
If the Anthem’s propulsion was further disabled during the storm, the cruise ship would be in serious trouble.
“Major casualties are the result of synergy from multiple causes. If one bad thing happens, you probably get through it,” maritime law litigator and law professor Larry Brennan told the media. “If a ship loses propulsion in a storm, it’s at the mercy of the seas. Instead of cosmetic or structural damage, there’s a much better chance that a ship can be lost.”
Had the Anthem of the Seas been lost, the passengers would be doomed. Continued Walker:
Cruise passengers claim that the waves crashed over the top of the lifeboats tethered along the side of the Anthem of the Seas as the ship listed heeled heavily to one side. Even if passengers could have gotten into the lifeboats, this class of Royal Caribbean ships does not have enough lifeboats for both passengers and crew members. The ship is designed such that the crew are forced to use a system of sliding down chutes into life-rafts – a dangerous design even in pleasant weather. Panic may cause the crew members and the passengers to compete to get into the lifeboats which are far safer than the life-rafts.
Walker thinks that given the dearth of lifeboats and the almost impossible access to them, it’s only a matter of time before there is a Titanic-like cruise ship disaster. Commenter abya claimed:
I was on the Anthem of the Seas sailing… YES THAT ONE! There was 0% chance of the lifeboats or the chutes could have been safely deployed under the extreme hurricane conditions we faced. Royal Caribbean also took away lifejackets from passenger staterooms (now located at the Muster Stations). The crew was just as frightened as us passengers were and it would have been pandemonium if the abandon ship call was made. Terrifying to think that if disaster were to strike a Royal Caribbean ship, it would result in tragedy.
But Royal Caribbean seems to have learned from the near-disaster. Three weeks later, two days were knocked off a planned 13-day Anthem of the Seas cruise out of New Jersey because of another storm brewing off Cape Hatteras. Company officials said that a norovirus outbreak on the cruise had nothing to do with their decision.
Then, in June, tragedy struck aboard the Anthem of the Seas. As CBS New York reported:
An 8-year-old boy was being rushed to the hospital late Thursday after being found unresponsive in a swimming pool on a cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
At around 8 p.m. Thursday, the boy was found in the swimming pool on the ship,
Anthem of the Seas. The child had gone without oxygen for 18 minutes, officials told CBS2.
The ship had left Bayonne, New Jersey, earlier in the evening, and was five to 10 miles offshore from Breezy Point, Queens, when the child was found, Joe Biermann reported from Chopper 2.
The boy was treated by the ship’s medical team, but that was not sufficient, and the ship altered its course and headed back toward Bayonne, according to Royal Caribbean cruises.
The boy, whose name was Prince Adepoju, died two days later. As Chabeli Herrera reported for the Miami Herald:
About a dozen drowning or near-drowning incidents have occurred on major cruise lines in the past two years.
Like most hotels, cruise ships don’t have lifeguards on duty. Royal Caribbean International does post signs alerting adults to the “swim at your own risk” policy and provides life jackets for children in a variety of sizes in the pool area, according to a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman. Of the major cruise companies, only Disney Cruises has lifeguards at shipboard pools.
Walker, the lawyer, adds:
Last year, in an article titled “Cruise Ships Are Unregulated Trouble on the High Seas,” the New York Times wrote that Congress has exempted these cruise ship behemoths from virtually all regulations. The Times characterized the last death of a child in a pool without a lifeguard as a problem with letting cruise lines regulate themselves.
All major cruise lines have lost children and passengers in swimming pools on their ships. Like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL and Princess Cruises continue to refuse to hire lifeguards.
To my knowledge, Disney is the only cruise line to employ life guards on its cruise ships. However it did so only after a 4-year-old child nearly drowned on the Fantasy and sustained a catastrophic brain injury requiring life-time medical care and resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement.
I have long advocated for having a lifeguard at every pool on a cruise ship. Lifeguards are needed because parents are not perfect, and there is a natural tendency for parents to let their guards down when they are on vacation. Kids deserve to have their parents and the cruise line working together to keep them safe. The cruise industry collects billions of dollars a year from passengers and pays virtually zero in U.S. taxes. It’s shameful for every cruise line except Disney to refuse to hire lifeguards to keep kids safe and to be trained and certified in life saving measures and CPR.
Here in Halifax, we profit enormously from the cruise ship traffic — at least we’re told we do; I suspect that the supposed economic impact is vastly overstated. Regardless, I think we need to look at these visiting ships with more of a skeptical eye. The uncritical enthusiasm for the cruise industry and its alleged economic impact overlooks a whole slew of problems. Profiting or not, we should demand increased regulation and accountability.
You made it this far. You deserve a photo from the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary:
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