November subscription drive
I was going to write a long thing this morning in support of our subscription drive, but got pulled away trying to make sense of the Ukrainian space industry. So I’ll keep it short.
1. Waiting for Fitch
“Bob Dylan didn’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” writes Stephen Kimber. “And Nova Scotians don’t need a consultant to tell us our Emergency Health Services are a mess. Do we really even need one to tell us how to fix it?”
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2. The climate emergency and the economy
“It’s not often that I root for the anti-hero in a book,” writes Linda Pannozzo,
but it seems that as I neared the end of Jeremy Lent’s latest book, The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning— perhaps the longest book I’ve ever read at roughly 570 pages if you count the index — I found myself desperately wanting humanity to stir from its collective inertia and start making the ethical decisions that will lead to those possible futures, meticulously laid out by Lent, that aren’t a version of hell on earth.
In a stunning and eminently readable sweep of pretty much all of human history, Lent wraps up the book with two chapters in which our economic system — the subject of this four-part series — figures prominently.
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I have very much enjoyed this series by Pannozzo. It’s the kind of in-depth project that most media won’t touch.
The point of the series is that our mostly unquestioned pursuit of “economic growth” is both the cause of the climate crisis and the barrier to solving the climate crisis. If we are going to avoid the worst of cataclysmic climate change, we’re going to have to rebuild our economy, and to do that we must chuck the foundational tenets of capitalism.
I don’t want to lose the focus of the series, but will note that along the way in Part 4 Pannozzo mentions a disturbing, almost science fiction-like possible dystopic future:
I hinted at this earlier, but near the end of the book Lent lays out what he sees as the possible trajectories of the human race, and they range from a collapse of civilization to what he calls a “Techo Split,” to a scenario in which humanity remains “resilient.”
If you’re anything like me and already prone to catastrophic thinking, the grisly details of a worst-case scenario collapse on a global scale naturally inhabits my imagination and can sometimes keep me awake at night. But seeing it articulated in print by Lent and supported by 10 years of rigorous interdisciplinary research has taken it from the realm of irrational worry to an actual plausible outcome. He lays out the collapse in brief, but in no uncertain terms:
After decades of the worst holocaust in human history, filled with unimaginable suffering, the survivors would be looking to a future in which humanity would never again be able to rise above the values and norms of agrarian society, with humans and animals forever exploited as the primary energy source for an elite minority.
In the Techno Split scenario — one that Lent concedes would be a fundamental betrayal of current human values — an affluent minority would continue to advance, while the vast majority of the world’s population would live in squalor. Benefiting from continued technological progress, enjoying their “neurally interconnected, genetically enhanced lives,” the affluent would be “increasingly segregated from the billions of others suffering the effects of climate change and resource depletion. Eventually, they would become — effectively, if not literally — two separate species. One species, genetically and technologically enhanced, exploring entirely new ways of being human; the other species, genetically akin to us, barely surviving within its collapsed infrastructure.”
Ok, let’s not go there.
Well, consider that the imagined “techno-split” is just an acceleration and natural end-point of current trends. This weekend’s This American Life podcast had a segment about rich parents who put their children on human growth hormone simply so the children can socially outcompete their classmates. (Taller boys get more chicks, apparently.) The podcast made the obvious connection to the college admissions scandal. It’s not hard to envision future gene therapy and brain-computer interface technologies being accessible by the very wealthy and no one else.
And isn’t that what the whole Mars enterprise is all about? The proposition is that humanity will spend trillions of dollars that could otherwise be spent addressing the climate emergency in order to develop technologies that will allow a few hundred extremely wealthy people to leave this decaying orb and start anew on another planet, leaving the rest of us to die in squalor.
Oh, good morning.
3. Corey Rogers
“After deliberating for 15 hours over three days, a jury has found special constables Cheryl Gardner and Daniel Fraser guilty of criminal negligence causing death in connection with the jail-cell death of Corey Rogers,” reports Natasha Pace for CTV:
Gardner and Fraser were working as booking officers on June 15, 2016.
That night, Corey Rogers tried to visit his newborn baby at the IWK Health Centre, but was turned away because he was intoxicated.
The 41-year-old man was arrested outside the hospital and a spit hood was placed on him.
He was taken to the Halifax Regional Police station and placed in a jail cell.
Rogers was found dead a few hours later, when he suffocated after vomiting, with the spit hood on.
“The maximum avaialble sentence is life in prison. We’re certainly not seeking that,” said Crown Attorney Chris Vanderhooft. “There’s no minimum sentence prescribed by law for this offence, so we’ll determine what sentence we’re going to seek once we get the pre-sentence report, and once we’ve done the research.”
4. Crane company was fined for worker’s death
I haven’t seen it reported elsewhere locally, but Lead Structural Formwork, the crane company that erected the crane on South Park Street that collapsed during Hurricane Dorian, was earlier this year fined $50,000 for its role in the death of a worker in Fredericton in 2017. Reported
A construction company has been fined $50,000 in connection with the death of a worker at the Hilton Garden Inn construction site in Fredericton two years ago.
Steven Lutes, a foreman for Lead Structural Formwork Ltd., fell about four storeys (12.5 metres or 41 feet) to his death on Jan. 30, 2017.
Lutes, 42, of Upper Coverdale, was a married father of two.
Lead Structural Formwork pleaded guilty last fall to a charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failing to ensure the fall-protection system was used.
On Wednesday, provincial court Judge Julian Dickson said the Moncton company’s infraction was “a contributing factor” in Lutes’s death.
Lutes’ death came three years after another worker fell at a Lead Structural Formwork, work site. Reported
A New Brunswick contractor says he had concerns about safety at a Fredericton construction site, both before and after a worker was seriously injured in a fall.
John Ball, who is a pipefitter, called WorkSafeNB on Dec. 29, 2014, to report a fall safety issue at the condo construction site at 215 Queen St.
In response to Ball’s complaint, WorkSafeNB visited the site the following day.
It issued a stop-work order for a worker who was not wearing fall protection on an elevating platform. Work resumed the same day.
The very next day, Ball’s fears were realized.
On Dec. 31, 2014, a 26-year-old man fell 12 metres from the fourth floor of the site.
The man spent several months at the Stan Cassidy Centre For Rehabilitation in Fredericton. His current condition is unknown.
Lead Structural Formwork is named as a defendant in a proposed class-action lawsuit related to the South Park Street crane collapse.
4. Ukrainian corruption and the Canso spaceport
Update, January 20: The Chicago Morning Star is not a credible news source. This item should not have been published. The fault is mine, and mine alone, and I apologize.
“The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine fired the head of the State Space Agency Pavel Degtyarenko,” reports Jackson Sorbo for the Chicago Morning Star in an article headlined “Space Scandal.”
Because the political stakes are high and there is so much misinformation, I’m always a little leery of any reporting on Ukraine. I can’t find any other western news outlet reporting about Degtyarenko’s dismissal, but it is reported by the English-langage web site of Ukrinform, the Ukrainian News Agency, which in a report on the passing of the national budget notes that “At the same time, Head of the State Space Agency Pavlo Dekhtiarenko was dismissed from the post.” (Spellings of names is not consistent in English translations, either.)
Moreover, the context of Sorbo’s article is echoed in the financial press — that is, that the firing of Degtyarenko/Dekhtiarenko comes after a deal between the US firm Firefly Aerospace and the Yuzhmash rocket factory.
Sorbo explains that:
In October, FireFly Aerospace placed an order for Yuzhmash for mass production of rocket components, including 100 combustion chambers, 500 automation units, and 40 turbopumps. The total contract value is estimated at $15 million.
The information about the contract was released on October 21. And a week later, on October 30, the head of the State Space Agency, which manages the plant, signed an order to dismiss Sergey Voyt from the CEO position at the Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant. Considering the successful contract of the enterprise with the American company, the decision caused a commotion among experts and in the media community. The very next day, Pavel Degtyarenko cancelled the order to dismiss Voyt. However, the behaviour of the head of the space agency sparked interest from the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
According to our sources in the Ukrainian government, there was a corruption scheme between Pavel Degtyarenko and the senior staff of Yuzhnoye Design Office represented by Alexander Degtyarev. This enterprise creates space systems and owns all the space technologies of the country.
For a long time, Degtyarenko was working at Yuzhnoye Design Office and in 2017 he headed the State Space Agency of Ukraine using the office management connection. After taking the position, he lobbied for the interests of the design office. In particular, for a long time, the senior staff of Yuzhnoye Design Office had tried to gain control of the Yuzhmash plant. While the enterprise was idle and its debt was increasing, they had taken only limited steps towards this goal. In addition, the CEO of Yuzhmash Sergey Voyt actively opposed the transfer of plant control to the design office.
After the publication of the information about the $15 million contract with Firefly, Degtyarenko and Degtyarev decided to speed up the process and as soon as possible change the CEO of the Yuzhmash Machine-Building Plant to their protege. The scheme was exposed, and a few days later the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine decided to dismiss Degtyarenko.
This sounds par for the course in corruption-plagued Ukraine.
Why does this matter in Nova Scotia?
Anti-corruption expert Don Bowser recently explained the development of Maritime Launch Services to an audience in Canso:
Bowser traced the history of MLS, started in 2016 by American space industry professional John Isella, who was working for the Ukrainian government company Yuzhnoye, after the company’s efforts to build a spaceport in Brazil fell through.
At that point, Bowser said, Yuzhnoye, which does design and sales, and a second government-owned company, Yuzhmash, were desperately looking for another place to work, so they set up Maritime Launch Services, and partnered with an American government contractor, United Paradyne. (Isella was later replaced by Steve Matier as MLS CEO.)
According to Bowser, “MLS was directly created by Yushnoye. There is no degree of separation.”
Conceivably, the Canadian government might have an interest in supporting the Ukrainian space industry, which is why Maritime Launch Services was lobbying federal officials in 2018 in hopes of getting financial backing for the Canso spaceport. But evidently the Trudeau government found the whole proposition too dicey, and no federal official has publicly expressed support for it.
The one Canadian official who has supported the Canso project is Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil. In a letter of support for the spaceport, McNeil wrote:
… I have personally met with and discussed this project with Mr. Steve Matier and some of the other principals behind this exciting development as well as their Ukrainian partners.
Matier is president of Maritime Launch Services. Neither he, the company, nor the unnamed Urkrainian partners are listed with the provincial registry of lobbyists.
Which is kind of what you would expect from Ukrainians acting corruptly, no?
Commenting on the Canso operation, Mary Campbell quips:
5. Ships Start Sometime in the Future
“The delivery date for the first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) built at the Irving Shipbuilding facility in Halifax has been pushed back once again, according to government officials,” reports Brett Ruskin for the CBC:
The original delivery date was late 2018. In August, the Department of National Defence said it was hopeful its first vessel, HMCS Harry DeWolf, would be delivered by the end of 2019.
“It is now anticipated that delivery will occur in winter 2020, acknowledging that there remains some uncertainty,” said a statement from Andrew McKelvey, a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence.
City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall ) — not much on the agenda.
Public Information Meeting – Case H00477- Demolition Application (Wednesday, 6pm, Alderney Gate Public Library) — Ekatirine Keramaris wants to tear down a house she owns at 64 Wentworth Street in Darmouth. The house is a Registered Heritage Property know as the John Misenor House.
The house was registered as a historical property on June 10, 1986. At the time, Dartmouth City Council was considering five such applications — 14 Queen Street; 32 Dundas Street; and 28, 43, and 64 Wentworth Street. Representing the property owners, the developer Roger Eckoldt objected to the listing of 14 Queen and 28 Wentworth. Evidently, the properties were being considered for registration without the owners’ consent; from the minutes of the meeting:
Ald. Levandierhad concerns about the procedures followed in property registrations, and suggested that property owners should be contacted before any action is initiated to have heritage registrations placed on their properties. AId. Connors explained some of the difficulties with existing legislation, which sets out the procedures that have to be followed, and as a result of Which, these communication problems arise. He noted that the Heritage Advisory Board is well aware of the points raised by Ald. Levandier and has taken the position that where there is objection to a property registration, the registration does not proceed. The Board is continually looking at ways of avoiding these areas of misunderstanding and making procedures more acceptable to property owners.
Mr. Eckoldt said he could not understand why property owners could not be contacted prior to notice of intended registration being served on them. Also, he felt that property owners should not have to clear their property titles of encumberance, once a registration has been denied by Council. He commented on an instance where he had to spend time and effort to have this done on one of his properties.
Ald. Billard defended the intent of the heritage legislation under which properties are able to be registered and thereby protected. He pointed out that it is important for a community to preserve its heritage and unless there is some means of doing so, historic buildings will otherwise be lost. Unfortunately, this has already happened in Dartmouth before the. legislation came into being.
The council then voted to not list 14 Queen and 28 Wentworth. The minutes continue:
There was no objection to the registration of the property 64 Wentworth Street and no one wishing to be heard in this connection. Council therefore proceeded to approve the heritage registration for 64 Wentworth Street, on motion of AId. Connors and Hawley.
The other two properties were likewise approved.
Unfortunately, the minutes don’t say why the John Misenor House deserved to be on the historic registry in the first place, and as of Monday afternoon the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting hasn’t been updated with the staff presentation or with Keramaris’ explanation for why she wants to tear down the house.
On its Facebook page, the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia says merely:
It would be possible to move it, perhaps even to another of the properties owned by the same family. But as a registered property on a large 8,000 sq ft lot, there are already development opportunities to be had in behind it and overlooking the cemetery. The whole area — physically defined by topography as a small neighbourhood — is comprised of houses of similar or slightly larger size apart from two very large houses, now divided up into flats.
The area is zoned “Downtown Neighbourhood,” which by my read does not allow for the construction of a multi-unit building on this site.
I can’t find much about John Misenor. There was a John Misenor who was captain of the East India Company’s ship Princess Amelia back in 1727, but I think it’s doubtful that’s our man, as why would he give up a fine career in plundering just to come to Dartmouth for retirement? There’s another John Misenor who was listed as a “measurer of grain” somewhere in Nova Scotia in 1878, so I’m guessing that’s him. I asked David Jones, who knows everything about Dartmouth history, about Misenor, and if I hear back I’ll let you know.
Halifax and West Community Council (Wednesday, 6pm, City Hall) — the see-through Willow Tree building is before the council.
North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm, Boardroom, Four-pad Arena, Bedford) — more changes for Bedford West. I get the sense that City Hall simply gives the developers whatever they want in Bedford West because who cares, really? For myself, I feel like we’re building a soulless, car dependant suburb with no real thought put into it.
Health (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House) — the committee will be speaking with reps from the Canadian Cancer Society and the Lung Association of Nova Scotia about “Youth Smoking and Vaping.”
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Auditor General Michael Pickupwill be asked about his October financial audit.
Future of University Avenue Pop‑Up Engagement (Tuesday, 3pm, outside Killam Library entrance) — they’re “engaging” on “visioning” again. From the listing:
Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is engaging the public on visioning the future of University Avenue.
Given that University Avenue and Morris Street is the front door to all of our Halifax Campuses, Dalhousie Facilities Management is making an extra effort to hear from students, faculty, and staff at Dalhousie to inform HRM.
There are no proposals at this time from HRM – just an opportunity to bring ideas about what future you could envision for University Avenue and Morris Street. Add your thoughts to the process by stopping by for some quick and easy input.
Thesis Defence, Microbiology and Immunology (Wednesday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jaime Nicole Wertman will defend “Developing a Two-pronged Drug Screen to Identify Compounds that Protect against Cisplatin-induced Oto- and Nephrotoxicity.”
Symphony Nova Scotia Reading Sessions of Composition Students’ Works (Wednesday, 10am, Room 121, Dal Arts Centre) — conducted by Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser.
Genetic, biochemical, and cell biological mosaics in insect-bacteria symbioses (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — John McCutcheon from the University of Montana will talk.
Mount Saint Vincent
Sunetra Ekanayake: Botanical Watercolours (Tuesday, 10am, MSVU Art Gallery) — In this exhibition, the artist “invites us to consider the precious and distinct nature of plant species found around the province and on the MSVU campus.” Opening reception with the artist on November 20, 12pm.
The Stories of African-Canadians: Navigating Between Fiction and History in Exploring Slavery, Freedom and Contemporary issues (Wednesday, 7pm, Alumni Hall)) — Lawrence Hill will talk, followed by a Q&A moderated by Portia Clark.
In the harbour
03:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for TKTK
03:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
07:45: USS Indianapolis, US warship, arrives at Dockyard, which is reason enough for the above Robert Shaw monologue from Jaws (the ship arriving today is the fourth with that name; the shark attack was related to the second, which was sunk by the Japanese in 1945)
9:00: Leopard Moon, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Baton Rouge, Louisiana
09:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Tampa, Florida
16:00: Qamutik, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Montreal
22:00: Hooge, container ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea
Where are the Canadian military ships?
There’s going to be weather today, they say.