News

1. Dorian

Dorian.

“On Sept. 3, 2019, as deadly, destructive Dorian zeroed in on southeastern US coastal states, the four biggest American wireless carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint — all pre-emptively announced plans to help their customers stay connected,” writes Stephen Kimber:

Verizon, for example offered unlimited calling, texting and data from Sept. 2–9 for those in the hurricane’s crosshairs; its Florida stores opened up free charging stations and pledged “free one-time water damage services and discounts on portable power supplies.” The others offered similar breaks.

Those American carriers were responding to a request from their regulator, the US Federal Communications Commission. “We have worked to ensure that communications providers and power companies closely coordinate their activities as needed,” explained FCC Chair Ajit Pai.

It’s good to know someone was minding the store.

Here in Nova Scotia? Not so much.

Click here to read “The Great Dorian Disconnect of 2019.”

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2. Canso spaceport

We’ve taken two of Joan Baxter’s recent articles out from behind the paywall.

The first is her look at local opposition to the Canso spaceport. She wrote:

“I hadn’t even made it into Canso when I happened upon the first person willing and eager to speak her mind on the proposed spaceport that Maritime Launch Services wants to construct in the picturesque community at the very end of Highway 16.

In a charming restaurant a few kilometres from the centre of town, Canso native Alicia Rhynold didn’t hesitate when asked what she thinks of the spaceport project. As she handed out plates loaded with seafood and salad, she declared, “I am against it.”

Nor did she care if anyone heard her. “I’m an open book,” Rhynold said. “There won’t be jobs. And there will be toxins. We’re a fishing village and if something happens, we’ll lose everything.”

Travelling into town, I see dozens of signs proclaiming “We say no to the Canso Spaceport” plastered on poles and on lawns.

I’d travelled to Canso to attend an information session being hosted by a newly formed group of citizens concerned by the plans to launch Ukrainian-made rockets from a site just 3.5 kilometres from the town’s hospital.

They call themselves “Action Against Canso Spaceport” or AACS…

AACS organized a public meeting at the Canso Lions Club because it was concerned that people in the area had not been getting the whole story from project proponents.

This local opposition to the project comes as something of a surprise, given the generally positive coverage the project has been generating, and reported enthusiasm for it from municipal officials.

Baxter went on to show how presenters at the event laid out the environmental concerns and the beyond-sketchy history of Maritime Launch Services.

Click here to read “Opposition to Canso spaceport grows.”

3. Northern Pulp Mill

The second Joan Baxter song is her conversation with Ellen Page about her upcoming documentary about the Northern Pulp Mill, “There’s something in the water.” She wrote:

It was a Saturday morning and Ellen Page was giving up some of what could have been a bit of down time to do a telephone interview about her forthcoming film on environmental racism in Nova Scotia, which will have its world debut this September at the Toronto International Film Festival.

I was hammering her with intrusive questions, and yet twice, in just a half hour, Page — a megastar actress who has starred in a long list of massively successful movies and television shows — said “sorry” to me, for no discernible reason.

Her humility and earnest demeanour are disarming.

On Twitter, Page describes herself as “a tiny Canadian.”

There’s no argument that physically she is petite. But nothing else about Page is diminutive. Her talent is gigantic and so far has earned her — at the ripe young age of 32 — an Academy Award nomination, and several dozen awards and other nominations.

Just as outsized as her talent are her courage and willingness to take on the causes of marginalized communities and the environment.

Click here to read “There’s something in the water.”

4. Klepto cop

Photo: Halifax Examiner

A police release from Friday evening:

Today [Friday], Halifax Regional Police (HRP) received a report regarding a theft involving an HRP officer in Halifax. At approximately 2:45 p.m. on September 13, police received a report of a theft that had just occurred at a business.

The officer was arrested and released this evening on an appearance notice. The officer has been suspended with pay in accordance with the Nova Scotia Police Act. The investigation is currently ongoing, and there are no further updates at this time.

I’m told this involved a shoplifting incident at the Bayers Lake Superstore.

5. Carbon offsets

Not a very good carbon offset.

This morning, the Department of Environment issued a Request for Proposals for “the provision of Assessing the Potential for Carbon Offset Credit Generation in Nova Scotia to Nova Scotia Environment (NSE).”

Carbon credits rarely work.

The logic of carbon credits is that there is a linkage between reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building carbon sinks. The implied argument is: “I can keep spewing out carbon dioxide now, so long as I help build a carbon sink over there somewhere that absorbs carbon dioxide.”

Take air travel. Jet flights generate an enormous amount of GHGs. An air traveller might think, well, I have to make this flight, but I’ll contribute to a fund that restores a rain forest in Brazil, and that rain forest will absorb enough GHGs to “offset” those generated by my flight. There are two problems with this equation.

First, some crazed fascist government might come to power in Brazil and unleash a maddened scramble for disposing indigenous people of their land, burning down all the forests, and turning them into methane-belching beef farms for McDonald’s. That’s an extreme (albeit real) example, but it’s impossible to be certain that the institutions and legal protections we create today in order to build carbon sinks will survive through the political and economic turmoils of tomorrow. That’s especially true in a world beset with climate change geopolitical chaos.

Second, I’ve never seen a carbon offset program that takes into consideration the full impacts of the initial purchase. When I buy an airplane ticket, I’m not just creating GHGs. I’m additionally creating profit and shareholder value for the airline. And some of that profit is reinvested into expansion of the company, the purchase of additional airplanes, and associated marketing campaigns to increase the number of planes in the sky into the future. Every time I take a plane instead of taking the train, I’m giving financial support to the future of the air industry, and taking away financial support from the future of the rail industry.

I don’t think responsibility for addressing the climate change emergency should be placed on the individual consumer. I’m just showing how the carbon offset argument is flawed.

In fact, we won’t successfully address the climate change emergency without rapid and radical institutional change. And that means real government action, and not meaningless sloganeering and false action like buying carbon offsets.

Reducing GHGs means government-mandated changes in how we generate electricity (Nova Scotia has made important first steps in this direction, but now needs to do considerably more) and shifting government expenditures in highways to expenditures for rail and mass transit.

That said, there are indeed carbon sink opportunities in Nova Scotia — the most obvious is our forests, which could be managed so as to absorb an enormous amount of GHGs for decades and centuries to come. But instead, our government is encouraging and subsidizing clearcutting the forests for pulp, biomass, and a fantasy future “biofuel” industry that is sold as “carbon neutral” but is in fact the exact opposite, as it destroys the ability of the forest to serve as a sink.

Even if we do change course and use our forests as a carbon sink, the forests shouldn’t be seen as an “offset” to further GHG emissions. We need to both build carbon sinks and reduce GHG; there’s not a potential tradeoff of one from the other.

This is an emergency.

6. Truck fire

On September 3, police responded to a truck on fire at 20 Angus Morton Drive, off Innovation Drive in Bedford. A CBC report included a photo of a burned outbuilding. “A 34-year-old man from Hammonds Plains is held for court and is facing charges of Arson and Property Damage over $5000,” police said in a release.

Court documents obtained by the Halifax Examiner show that the fire was started by a man who was attempting to commit suicide. The truck belonged to his mother, who declined to press charges.

7. The miracle of social media

Some of the court documents I reviewed last week pertained to the seizure of some weapons at a man’s house.

The court documents related that the man had attempted suicide. He took one of his guns, a shotgun, and attempted to film himself killing himself and to send the video to his wife. But the shot missed, the bullet only grazing his head, but destroying the phone. Police became involved and drove the man to hospital; he was cooperative. The reason there is a court document is because the police were going to seize the man’s five guns. Which is good.

With the exception of the shotgun, the guns (two — a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun — were registered) were stored legally and “safely” in a locked cabinet.

I looked the man up on Facebook, and found that both he and his wife have been posting happy things — anniversary greetings to each other, photos of playing with the kids, and so forth — both before and after the attempted suicide. It’s like there wasn’t this incredibly disturbing event that happened at all, right in the middle there.

By all outward appearances, they are living happy and successful lives.

Which is to say: don’t believe other people’s always-happy social media posts. They could well be masking heartache and pain.

Someone with suicidal thoughts should contact the Mental Health Hotline at 1-888-429-8167.


Government

City

Monday

Board of Police Commissioners (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — Board Chair Natalie Borden is putting forward a motion concerning data about police checks, as follows:

Motion for Council to Consider:

That the Board of Police Commissioners request that the Chief of Police and the Chief Superintendent prepare a plan to address the recommendations in the Wortley report that address data collection on police stops. The plan should identify:

  • Responsibility-which organizations and/or resources are responsible and should be involved in implementing the recommendation
  • Specific action steps
  • Estimated timeline
  • Method for tracking progress that can be reported back to the Board of Police Commissioners Reason: Halifax Board of Police Commissioners POLICY AND PROCEDURES MANUAL section regarding the Board Roles and Responsibilities manual states:Under the Police Act (s.55(3)(a)-(g) & 68(3)(a)-(g)) the Board is responsible to provide the following direction to both the HRP and RCMP, specifically to :
  1. determine, in consultation with the Chief of Police and the Chief Superintendent, or a designate, the priorities, objectives and goals respecting police services in the community;
  2. ensure the Chiefs establish programs and strategies to implement the priorities, objectives and goals respecting the police services;
  3. ensure that community needs and values are reflected in policing priorities, objectives, goals, programs and strategies;
  4. ensure that police services are delivered in a manner consistent with community values, needs and expectations;
  5. act as a conduit between the community and the police services;
  6. recommend policies, administrative and organizational direction for the effective management of the police services;

Under this responsibility the Board of Police Commissioners can request that the Chief of Police develops a plan to address issues impacting the community and the priorities of the police services. Refencing the Wortley report, the Board, Human Rights Commission and community members see these recommendations as a priority for addressing the over-representation of black people in the street check data.

Creating and delivering a plan would allow for tracking of the results of the changes to be made in response to the report.

Outcome Sought: To develop a framework for the data required to effectively track outcomes for the changes being implemented as a result of the Wortley report.

We’re again slipping from “ban street checks” to “collect more data so we don’t have to ban street checks.”

Accessibility Advisory Committee (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

Province

Monday

No public meetings.

Tuesday

Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place) — Canadian Youth Remembrance Society.


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Mindfulness (Monday, 12:10pm, Room B400, Killam Library) — Patricia McMullen will talk about “An Introduction to Practicing Mindfulness — and some supporting science.” I dunno, whatever its origins, seems to me “mindfulness” is usually just an excuse not to be an active citizen. Regardless, info and registration are here.

Thesis Defence, Civil and Resource Engineering (Monday, 2:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Anna Maria Zakhem will defend “Effect of Newly Constructed Structures on Existing Tunnel Linings.”

On b-ary Binomial Coefficients (Monday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Lin Jiu will present this joint work with Christophe Vignat and Diane Shi. The abstract:

​​In the first part of the talk, I will introduce the b-ary binomial coefficients, arising from the b-ary binomial identity. From the explicit expression and generating function, some properties can be derived naturally, such as the link to Lucas’ congruence theorem, the Chu-Vandermonde identity, and the Pascal’s triangle. The second part includes recent work on further generalizations, i.e., the b-ary binomial coefficients with negative integer entries. There are three different generalizations that lead to different expressions and properties. Besides some results, several conjectures will also be presented and I am looking forward to any (potential/possible) collaboration.

Tuesday

Food System Failure — Why Food is a Forgotten Policy Option (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1020, Rowe Management Building) — a panel discussion with Jamie Baxter, Megan Bailey, Sara Kirk, and Sara Seck. From the listing:

The right to food is enshrined in international law, while ending hunger is explicit as the second of 17 global sustainable development goals. Yet 4 million Canadians experience food insecurity, diet-related chronic diseases are increasing, and climate change is threatening food supply and production as well as traditional ways of life for many communities across Canada. These complex issues point to a failure of the food system but why isn’t anyone talking about this failure in the run up to the Federal election?

In this panel, four speakers will discuss the challenges and opportunities for our 21st century food system, from the perspectives of health, sustainability, economic development, corporate responsibility and law. In doing so, they will address the question, what are the policy levers for a fair, affordable, sustainable and healthy food system for Atlantic Canada?

Streamed live here.

Senator Doug Black (Tuesday, 1:30pm, Room 207, Weldon Law Building) — will talk about Senate business, effects of recent legislation on Eastern Canada, the Canadian economy, and current energy issues.​

Kleisli Double Categories II (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Robert Paré will talk. He says:

I will continue my case study of double categories arising from monads and comonads. I will look at companions and conjoints, double functors, and horizontal and vertical transformations, all motivated by the Kleisli construction.​


In the harbour

05:00: YM Essence, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
05:30: Undine, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
06:30: Norwegian Dawn, cruise ship, with up to 2,808 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Sydney, on a nine-day cruise from Quebec City to New York
06:30: Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 42 from San Juan, Puerto Rico
07:15: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a  seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
08:00: Mein Schiff 1, cruise ship with up to 2.894 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on a 15-day cruise from Hamburg, Germany to New York
09:00: RFA Tideforce, British Navy replenishment vessel, sails from Dockyard for sea
10:00: HMS Dragon, British destroyer, sails from Dockyard for sea
11:00: HMS Queen Elizabeth, British aircraft carrier, sails from anchorage for sea
16:00: Undine sails for sea
16:00: YM Essence sails for Rotterdam
16:30: Norwegian Dawn sails to Bar Harbor
16:30: Tropic Lissette sails for Palm Beach, Florida
18:30: Zaandam sails for Bar Harbor
19:00: Mein Schiff 1 sails for New York

Where are the Canadian military ships?



Footnotes

I have an early meeting today.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. A few years ago I called the “Mental Health Hotline at 1-888-429-8167” about a violent member ( a minor) of my family who was totally out of control.
    They told me they would take no action once I told them that I had not been physically injured — Even though they could hear screaming in the background and me trying to restrain the person. I was shocked!
    I also told them that I thought the person was in danger of harming, even killing, themselves — I was supposed to take them to emergency, even though they knew I couldn’t restrain the person, let alone get them into my car.

    In my view, the Mental Health Hotline is useless

    I hope others have received help

  2. I remember about 10 years ago, I applied for a position with a company in Alberta. They were looking to create a carbon capture exchange program for farmers. I was to lead the software development team that would build the exchange.

    The idea was that farmers could change their farming techniques to use less tilling, resulting in lower CO2 emissions. This difference in emissions would be credited to them as negative carbon emissions. Farmers could then sell these carbon credits on to larger companies looking to acquire large numbers of credits.

    I never got the job, but the idea seemed strange to me (probably why I didn’t get the job). It seemed to me that the farmers would be decreasing food productivity in an effort to chase carbon credits. I looked into the farming techniques that would be required to achieve these results, and came across “no-till” farming.

    No-Till farming has been around for decades, and has advantages in certain terrains. I do not understand the full cost/benefit break-down, but what struck me was you replace “tilling” with “spraying”. No-Till farming replaces mechanical tilling with chemical pesticides to kill weeds.

    A carbon credit scheme that tries to save the environment by increasing pesticide run-off, seems a little disingenuous.

    All carbon credit schemes I have looked into (only two) have had an element of “passing the buck”: you solve one problem by creating another problem that no one is looking at. Sort of like dealing with your waste problem by shipping it to the Philippines.

    1. I’d offset some flights before – it contributed to solar panels on social housing in Montreal) and called the EAC today to see if there were any more local options. They’d suggested bullfrog power or forstsinternational.org out of Sackville NB. I don’t think the concept is as flawed as Tim makes it out to be. It seems a bit simpler than the carbon credit/exchange system but less so than a pure tax. I feel guilty about flying and short of buying an acre of field and planting a bunch of trees I’m not sure what I can do…

  3. 7. The miracle of social media – that got deep fast. I liked it.
    You are absolutely right, don’t believe everyone’s post. Some could be masking something.
    A great little nugget of an article.

  4. I’m in a Monday mood so I’m going to be annoyingly picky:

    – McDonald’s Canada uses Canadian beef, something they’ve bragged about in advertising since at least the 80s. Is it good beef or humanely raised beef or healthy beef? That’s a different question! But it *is* Canadian. I gather that the biggest buyer of Brazilian beef right now is Russia, since sanctions have kept them from being able to buy from the US or Europe.

    – Also, in most cases a shotgun doesn’t fire a “bullet” – it fires “shot” consisting of lots of little pellets.

    Okay, pickiness mode now off. Have a good week!