As Canadian National Railway ramps up its crude oil shipments across North America, the corporation continues to be dogged by derailments. The following 5 CN derailments in Canada were reported during the past 4 weeks:
1. November 17, 2014: Two locomotives collided near CN’s Symington Yard in Winnipeg, Manitoba, injuring an engineer who was sent to the hospital. (Winnipeg Free Press)
2. November 15, 2014: Twenty-six intermodal cars and one locomotive derailed east of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The derailed cars carried distiller grain, lumber, pulp and rolls of paper. The derailment disrupted CN operations for about 24 hours. (BC Local News)
3. November 8, 2014: Sixteen cars derailed while entering CN’s Gordon Yard in Moncton, New Brunswick – 10 were loaded with crude oil and 6 cars for transporting automobiles were empty. Over 150 litres of crude oil spilled from one of the derailed cars. The Moncton Fire Chief complained that his department was not contacted by CN about the derailment even though 10 of the derailed cars were filled with flammable product. The fire department was finally contacted over 7 hours following the derailment by a contractor hired to transfer oil from the damaged tank car to a spare car. It took about 2 days to clean up the tracks. (CBC News, CBC News 2)
4. October 26, 2014: Nine cars derailed about 130 km north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. One of the derailed cars spilled an undisclosed volume of diesel fuel. It is not known whether any of the fuel spilled into nearby waterbodies. Another one of the derailed cars was loaded with sulphuric acid. It took over 3 weeks to clean up the derailment site, including mobile vacuum units trying to remove spilled diesel fuel. (Soo Today, Soo Today 2)
5. October 21, 2014: Three cars derailed at an intersection in southeast Calgary, Alberta, closing 52nd Street to vehicular traffic in both directions. One derailed car was loaded with oil, one with automobiles, and a third car was empty. (Calgary Herald)
For more information on CN derailments in Canada and the U.S., see CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents.
Filed under: Canadian National Railway, Derailment, shipping oil by rail, Spills
SFO taxi workers protest causes gridlock, headaches "“Our income has been cut so bad,” he said, “you’ll definitely see more of this.”
SFO taxi workers protest causes gridlock, headaches
By Kale WilliamsNovember 17, 2014 Updated: November 18, 2014 8:44am
Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle
Taxi drivers clog traffic outside Terminal 1 during a protest at San Francisco International Airport on Nov. 17, 2014.
A protest by San Francisco cab drivers against ride services such as Uber and Lyft caused gridlock and a lot of headaches at San Francisco International Airport on Monday night, officials said.
The cabbies wouldn’t pick up riders and blocked lanes starting about 9 p.m., SFO duty manager John Gintry said, and travelers reported long backups coming into and going out of the airport.
Fliers, instructing drivers to circle the terminals, were distributed among many of the cabbies by the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance. Many drivers posted signs on their taxis reading, “This vehicle has full-time insurance, 'TNCs’ (transportation network companies) do not!”
The protest, which lasted until 11 p.m., is the latest episode in a dispute between city taxi drivers and ride-sharing companies.
In June, state regulators told the on-demand ride companies to stop operating at airports, which require taxi and limo drivers to have special permits. But last month, SFO reached a deal with Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, allowing the companies to pick up and drop off passengers at the airport.
Sidecar became the first on-demand ride service okayed to work at SFO. Rider JoAnna Karem prepares to take a short trip in San Francisco with Sidecar driver Eric Janson. Sidecar first ride company to win OK from SFO for airport rides
The rise of the app-dispatched ride-sharing companies in San Francisco has dealt a huge blow to the city’s taxi industry. The number of taxi rides plummeted 65 percent in just 15 months, according to a report presented to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board in September. The ride-share companies argue they are replacing an outdated industry that isn’t meeting the transportation needs of the city.
Skot Ballard, who has been driving cabs in San Francisco for six years, said his main reason for protesting was the roughly $4-per-trip airport fees that cabbies must pay but ride-service companies don’t. He also said the ride-sharing outfits weren’t safe for passengers.
“They don’t know where they’re going because they don’t know the city,” Ballard said as his DeSoto cab idled in the taxi lane after the protest died down. “They’re always looking at their phones, which just isn’t safe.”
Ballard, who broke his horn by continuously blowing it during the protest, said people should expect more of this type of labor action.
“Our income has been cut so bad,” he said, “you’ll definitely see more of this.”
Kale Williams is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: email@example.com Twitter: @sfkaleTags: SFO taxi protestUber
November 18, 2014: Unless we act now, Congress may end up cutting a legislative deal by year’s-end to allow pension plan trustees to slash the already-earned benefits of retirees as a purported way of saving deeply-troubled multiemployer plans.
This would be a radical departure from the federal pension law and it would wipe out the anti-cutback rule which states unequivocally that once a retiree starts receiving a pension – it cannot be taken away unless a plan becomes insolvent.
It is outrageous for Congress to contemplate allowing cuts in retirees’ benefits as a way of staving off insolvency, without exploring other options to preserve hard-earned pensions.
We all care deeply about the health of our pension plans, but we do not think that they should be allowed to balance their books on the backs of retirees who are most vulnerable.
Say no to retiree benefit cuts. Tell Congress there are other alternatives that must be explored to save multiemployer plans.
Tell Congress no backroom deals.
You can help by contacting your Senators and Congressional Representative in your state and Congressional district. You can also contact their Washington office. The Capitol Hill switchboard is (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative.
Take Action. Have you signed the Protect Our Pensions petition yet? Click here.
Issues: Pension and Benefits
LA Port strike spreads to rail yard
Date: Nov 18, 2014 5:30 AM
Justice for Port Truck Drivers
PRESS ADVISORY: Tuesday, November 18, 2014
PRESS CONTACT: Barb Maynard
(323) 351-9321; firstname.lastname@example.org
6:30 AM PST press conference at Union Pacific Rail Yard
Truck driver strike spreads to intermodal rail yards from the docks, creating logistical nightmare before Black Friday
Commerce, CA – Early Tuesday morning, the port truck driver strike spread from the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach to intermodal rail yards that are serviced by Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport (HRT). These rail yards dispatch cargo to and from warehouses and distribution centers across America. Drivers intend to follow trucks from Pacer and HRT to customer locations, including the rail yards, and picket the trucks while they are working at those locations.
Like drivers at QTS Inc., LACA Express, and WinWin Logistics that went on strike Monday, drivers at Pacer and HRT are striking to end misclassification as “independent contractors,” a scam that has led to massive wage theft and denied drivers basic workplace protections such as safety and health regulations, disability insurance, workers compensation, and unemployment insurance
“We are sick of being trampled upon and mistreated,” said Humberto Canales, a misclassified “independent contractor” from Pacer Cartage. “We are joining the fight and coming out of the shadows to demand our rights as company employees to provide a better future for our families.”
“Now is the time to end this misclassification scheme and provide a better future for our families. These companies have gotten away with this scam for too long. It’s time to make a change,” said Alfredo Reyes of Harbor Rail Transportation.
What: Press conference with truck drivers from Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport.
Who: Striking port truck drivers from Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport.
Where: Union Pacific Railroad Truck Processing Entrance. 4341 East Washington Blvd, Commerce CA. Location is at the intersection of Indiana and Washington Blvd.
When: Tuesday, November 18, 2014; 6:30 AM PSTTags: LA Long Beach Port Truckers Strike
By MIKE ISAAC NOVEMBER 18, 2014 12:22 AMNovember 18, 2014 12:22 am Comment
Uber, the immensely popular ride-hailing service, has said in the past that it has had a strained relationship with the media. It is likely not going to get better any time soon.
On Monday evening, BuzzFeed News reported that an Uber executive detailed a plan to “hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists” to act as a sort of defense against what he saw as a wave of recent antagonistic press coverage.
The comments, Buzzfeed said, came from Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president for business, during a private dinner in New York last week. Mr. Michael’s comments, BuzzFeed said, focused on one journalist in particular, Sarah Lacy, who runs the technology site Pando. Ms. Lacy has been an outspoken critic of Uber and of Travis Kalanick, the company’s chief executive.
Shortly after the article appeared, Mr. Michael backed away from the comments.
“The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner – borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for – do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach,” Mr. Michael said in a statement. “They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.” Uber has said that the private dinner was supposed to be considered an off-the-record affair.
Nairi Hourdajian, an Uber spokeswoman, said: “We have not, do not and will not investigate journalists. Those remarks have no basis in the reality of our approach.”
The article from BuzzFeed, written by Ben Smith, the site’s editor in chief, said the plan Mr. Michael outlined could, in Mr. Michael’s words, “help Uber fight back against the press.” The researchers, he said, would look into “your personal lives, your families” — referring to journalists — and give the media a taste of its own medicine.
Ms. Lacy responded on Monday with an article on her site.
“Companies shouldn’t be allowed to go to illegal lengths to defame and silence reporters,” she said. “Professional women in this industry actually deserve respect.”
The statements comes at a particularly difficult time for Uber, which has faced criticism for its cutthroat tactics with competitors like Lyft, another ride-hailing company. Uber’s founder, Mr. Kalanick, has also had his character questioned in recent press reports.
Still, Uber has grown at a breakneck pace over the last five years; it has raised more than $1.5 billion in venture capital, and it is looking to raise at least another billion dollars from private investors in the future, according to people close to the company.Tags: UberJournalists
Racist Apartheid Israel Moves To Bar Palestinians From Buses And Sets Up Segregated Buses
October 28, 2014, 6:15pm
Separate Buses? That's How Occupation Rolls.
By Mira Sucharov
As of next month, Israel will operate separate buses for Palestinian residents of the West Bank returning from jobs as day laborers in Israel, thanks to political pressure from West Bank settlers who donʼt want to ride on the same buses as “Arabs.” The question is: Should we care?
Settler leaders claim that the move was due to aggressive and uncouth behavior by Palestinian passengers, coupled with an overall concern for Jewish passengersʼ security. According to a report in Haaretz, one settler told a meeting of a Subcommittee on Judea and Samaria, convened by MK Motti Yogev of the Jewish Home party, about having been sexually assaulted by a Palestinian rider. Another complained that his pregnant wife was not given a seat by Arab passengers. Others were worried that Palestinians on buses could lead to hijackings, or worse. But IDF officials insisted they did not see the Palestinian presence on board these buses as a security threat.
In a democracy, of course, an official report of sexual assault should result in an investigation and possibly individual charges being laid. An informal report — as this one was — might lead a municipality to intensify its safety and surveillance measures. But to collectively deny an entire ethnic group the right to travel on some buses would be collective punishment, rightly considered prejudicial.
Israelʼs rule in the West Bank, however, is far from democratic. Palestinian residents of the West Bank arenʼt Israeli citizens, which means that the normal democratic channels arenʼt open to them from the get-go.
Israel Attorney General Calls for Explanation on Palestinian Bus Ban
Israel Bars Palestinians From Riding 'Jewish' Buses in West Bank
Under the terms of the Oslo agreement, it is true that the Palestinian Authority rules over part of the West Bank (Area A). The rest is controlled either jointly (Area B) or fully (Area C) by Israel. And while most Palestinians reside in Areas A and B, Area C comprises over 60% of the West Bankʼs territory, and includes nearly 300,000 Palestinian residents.
Within the areas controlled by Israel, there is a system of roads dotted with checkpoints. Most roads are accessible to both Israeli citizens (including settlers) and Palestinian residents. But 65 kilometers of West Bank roads are accessible only to Israelis. (Whether this means “Jewish-only” roads is a matter of debate. Technically, Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel have equal access. But in practice, given that some roads are intended for settler access, and settlers are Jews, some roads are de facto Jewish-only.)
As for the checkpoints — 99 fixed checkpoints as of February, plus hundreds of “flying checkpoints” — they control who gets to cross over the Green Line into Israel proper, thus helping keep Israelis secure. But, along with physical obstructions put in place by the military administration, they also restrict travel within the West Bank by subjecting Palestinians to humiliating searches and long lines. Add to this the so-called separation barrier snaking around the settlements, and Palestinian freedom of movement — even within the West Bank — is curtailed by a foreign power.
So about those separate buses: Should we care?
For my part, as someone who is concerned with human rights for both Palestinians and Israelis, I would say this: not really. The buses are simply a function of the overall system of occupation that inherently denies the Palestinians the basic human right of being ruled by the entity that represents them.
Recall that a Palestinian caught throwing stones will be tried in Israeli military court. An Israeli caught throwing stones will be tried in Israeli civil court. Add to this that neither court — military or civil — contains officials representing the regime that Palestinians have elected, and we have an overall situation that is fundamentally unacceptable from a moral, political and ethical standpoint. (Itʼs worth noting that the Palestinian Authority is also to blame for not having held elections since 2006, partly owing to the Fatah-Hamas split.)
Itʼs no wonder that BʼTselem, the Israeli human rights watchdog organization, issued a 2014 report called “47 Years of Temporary Occupation.” Accordingly, the current head of the organization, Hagai El-Ad, told me in an interview last month that he is seeking to challenge the view of the occupation, in the minds of Israelis, as constituting nothing more than “business as usual.”
The usual business of occupation is indeed unequal separation. Itʼs separation between the citizens of the occupying country and the residents of the territory being occupied. Separate buses might be the bitter icing on an even more bitter cake. But thereʼs little new here. The business of occupation rolls along, as usual.
Israeli Racist Aparthied Regime Moves To Bar Palestinians From Buses And Establish Segregated Buses
Thursday, October 30, 2014 | return to: WebExclusive
Controversy follows Israel bus segregation plan for Palestinians
by Abra Cohen, J. staff
Follow j. on and
Palestinians living in the West Bank who commute to work in Israel would be barred from riding buses with Jewish passengers, according to new guidelines proposed by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Instead, Palestinian commuters would ride in separate, segregated buses, and would have more limited options for returning conveniently to the West Bank.
The guidelines are being framed as a security measure that will prevent terrorism, but they may not be enforceable under Israeli law, and have been condemned as racist by a diverse array of critics.
According to wire reports, Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has asked Ya’alon for “clarifications and explanations” regarding the guidelines by November 9.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Weinstein is concerned that the Defense Ministry lacks the authority to unilaterally make such a decision.
Jewish West Bank settlers have long complained about women being sexually harassed by Palestinians on buses, but Ya’alon denied charges in the newspaper Ha’aretz that settler pressure forced his hand.
The newspaper also reports that Israeli military officials say that Palestinian bus passengers are not a security threat, thanks to existing screenings by the Shin Bet security service and Israeli police.
However, Ya’alon draws a direct line between Palestinian ridership and terrorism.
"You don't have to be a security official to understand that when there are 20 Arabs on a bus with a Jewish driver and two or three passengers and an armed soldier, that's a guarantee of a terror attack," Ya’alon was quoted in Ha’aretz.
Ya’alon’s proposal, which comes on the heels of last summer’s Gaza War, has been condemned by Israeli human rights groups, including B’Tselem, which called it “a discriminatory measure against the Palestinians,” according to an Associated Press report, and an Israeli NGO leader, who called the guidelines “an ugly logic of ethnic division.”
A Jewish Daily Forward headline referred to the ban as a possible form of “apartheid.”
“Israel Attorney General Probes Palestinian Bus Ban”
Associated Press, October 28, 2014
“Attorney-General to Ya'alon: Who Says You Can Order Separate Buses?”
Jerusalem Post, October 27, 2014
“Israeli Official Questions Palestinian Bus Ban”
JTA, AP, October 30, 2014
“Israel Bars Palestinians from Riding ‘Jewish’ Buses in the West Bank”
JTA, The Jewish Daily Forward, October 26, 2014
“Ya'alon: Putting Palestinians, Jews on Same Bus in West Bank Guarantees Terror Attack”
Ha’aretz, October 29, 2014
“In Israel, Palestinian Bus Ban Slammed as Racist”Tags: apartheidbusesIsrael
On Nov. 10, 2014, anarchist prisoner Nikos Romanos began a hunger strike laying claim to educational passes from prison, in order to be able to take classes in the university that he has succeeded to enroll.
His application to the Prison Council - that is formed by attorney general Nikolaos Poimenidis, headmistress Charalambia Koutsomichali as well as the social worker - still remain unanswered, while the appealing interrogator Eftichis Nikolopoulos, who has been claiming up to today not to be tasked with this matter, has sent a document to the Council, reporting that the application for administration of educational passes from prison has been denied.
Iraklis Kwstaris that has begun a hunger strike on the 29th of October for being given his educational passes from prison to take classes at his university TEI of Piraeus, is receiving the same denying documents from the Council.
California Port Gridlock: Labor Disputes May End Up Costing Billions
FRIDAY, NOV 14, 2014, 4:41 PM
California Port Gridlock: Labor Disputes May End Up Costing Billions
BY ALEX LUBBEN
Longshore workers and truckers in California operate at key nodes of the American economy, able to prevent billions of dollars worth of goods from reaching stores throughout the country. (Lance Cunningham / Flickr)
West Coast ports are stuck in gridlock. Earlier this week, truck drivers were waiting for as long as seven hours at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to try to retrieve single containers of cargo. The backup at these ports, which handle the majority of shipments from Asia, is threatening the timely delivery of billions of dollars’ worth of holiday goods.
The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents the docking companies at ports along the West Coast, blamed the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) for the initial slowdown, accusing the union of refusing to dispatch skilled workers at the ports, creating backups that are part of an attempt to gain leverage in contract negotiations. The union—whose workers have been without a contract since July—has denied that they are intentionally clogging the port’s flow of goods.
The “orchestrated job actions,” as PMA refers to the alleged slowdown, began at ports in the Pacific Northwest and has since spread to the Los Angeles-Long Beach (LA-LB) ports. PMA claims that the ILWU informed them that they would stop dispatching qualified workers.
ILWU denied this in a press release issued on November 10:
Obscuring months of data regarding the non-labor related causes of the current crisis-level congestion problem, PMA’s Texas-based public relations firm announced that the ILWU was the cause bringing “the port complex to the brink of gridlock.” The public relations firm also propagandized about the ILWU, its leadership, and false claims of safety issues.
They contended that the delays are due instead to an exodus of truck drivers from their industry because trucking companies refuse to pay a living wage, record retail import volumes and larger vessels discharging enormous amounts of cargo. That concern was echoed by truck drivers, who walked off the job earlier this week as well. They’ve struck multiple times this year, complaining of what they say is improper classification as independent contractors and low wages. While it isn’t yet clear whether the drivers’ strike is significantly impacting the flow of goods from the port, if longshore workers choose to join the truckers, the ports would likely be thrown into total chaos.
A coalition of retailers, wholesalers, farmers and manufactures from the National Retail Federation (NRF) issued a letter to President Obama asking for federal mediation in the longshore workers’ contract negotiations. Even before the truckers’ strike, the coalition feared the consequences of the worker unrest:
The threat of a West Coast port shutdown is creating high levels of uncertainty in a fragile economic climate which has forced many businesses to once again undertake contingency plans that come at a significant cost to jobs and our economic competitiveness.
A report by the NRF estimates that a total stoppage could cost the economy as much as $2 billion a day.
Alex Lubben is Deputy Publisher of In These Times.