Serena Ryder: Canadian
“Good Morning Starshine”; ‘If Your Memory Serves You Well’ (2006)
(6pm) CBC Montreal With Michel Godbout:
1) Passenger Train Derailment: Trains have had a habit of coming off their tracks in Canada. This one involved 32 cars of a 142-car freight train jumping the tracks just outside Kingston’s VIA Rail (commuter) train station. The wreck left the busiest commuter line in Canada, which connects one of the most populated regions in North America — Quebec City, Quebec to Windsor, Ontario — closed for at least twenty hours. There were no injuries, there usually aren’t in Canadian train derailments. Canada’s transportation infrastructure is a mess. While our previous government (the Liberal Party of Canada) were telling anyone who would listen that we had not only signed the Kyoto Accords but had started the process to get them into existence, they were busy selling off the land rights to our rail networks and tearing up the track beds so we could have a “TransCanada Walking Trail”. Fewer trains = more trucks on the roads. Now we have a patchwork, at best, of railway lines that don’t serve our major cities. Our only commuter train, which is a Government agency, is grossly under-utilized mostly because the stations are so fucking impossible to find. Then the new owners of CN Rail (freight) even, in a cost saving measure, replaced their Mountain Engines with Flat-Ground train engines without changing the braking systems. Weeee… bam.
2) Air Quality Concerns In Sports Arenas: Apparently it’s not a good idea to run combustion engines inside an enclosed area where athletes are training. Asthma levels among winter athletes who train in an arena are higher than those who train outside… away from direct exhaust. There are thousands and thousands of ice arena’s in Canada. Saskatchewan*, with a population of 950,000, has over 700 hockey rinks (some are outdoors) with more than 24,000 registered minor hockey league players (those are just the kids). Each of these rinks has to be “cleaned” six, eight sometimes ten times per day depending on how heavy the use. The CBC did a small sample study recently and found that “ultrafine particles” — particles so small they can easily deposit deeply into the lungs, agitating asthma and some cardiovascular illnesses — levels were so high the kids might as well be playing in traffic during rush hour.
“We found the ice-rink athletes, all the skating athletes, the figure skaters, the short track speed skaters and the hockey players had a higher prevalence of exercise induced asthma … and their lung function was chronically low,” said Kenneth Rundell, who runs the human performance lab at Marywood University in Scranton, PA. There are no rules or laws regulating these kind of pollutants in Canada. But, hey, we signed Kyoto.
Keeping in mind most of these rinks are in small communities where hockey and figure skating is a volunteer-run enterprise, and that most of these rinks have little or no serious air filtration systems and the “ice resurfacing machines” (Zamboni is the most popular brand name), which use natural gas or propane as fuel, can cost in the six figure range to replace or upgrade to an electrical engine, the chances of anything changing anytime soon is nil and none.
(*The Province of Saskatchewan (251,865 sq-miles) is roughly 2.6 times larger than the United Kingdom (93,788), which has a population of 60,000,000 funny sounding people.)
3) Minor League Hockey Brawl: Some hockey players in the Quebec Junior Hockey League (17 to 19-years old) got into a tussle and the coaches yelled at each other. Some of the fans thought it’d be a good idea to start throwing stuff and swearing. This was news because the two teams, the Quebec Remparts and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, do this aboot every time they meet on the ice. Sometimes after the games as well. Also, the owner and coach for the Remparts is Patrick Roy. Patrick is/was/will always be the greatest goaltender in National Hockey League history. Until Martin Brodeur retires anyway. There were some fines. No suspensions. There will be lots of suspensions if this happens again though.
(6.30pm) NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams
1) Gas Prices Jump: There are such a thing as “Calendar Stories”. These are news stories that you can plan you coverage for months, even years in advance. Like stories aboot consumerism versus Christmas, aboot how cold it can get in Canada or Buffalo in the winter, or American elections, or aboot gas prices going up before a holiday or when a season changes. Taa-daaa: it’s spring.
2) Walter Reed Fallout: When people finally take notice of the shit conditions you’re supplying to wounded soldiers returning from an unpopular war it is best, from a public relations view, to just bow your head and agree with everything everyone says aboot your character. The last thing you do is say things like “Yeah, but…” or “This isn’t a catastrophic disaster”, both of which were said by Lt. General Kevin Kiley (MD), the Numb Brain Fuck Nut who was, until today, in charge of the Walter Reed Hospital. This Iraq/Afghanistan Adventure was only supposed to last three weeks. The worst injury Walter Reed was expecting was a sprained foot and some random VD. SURPRISE!! The Veterans Administration is now reviewing all 1400 of its hospitals in America.
3) Mentally Wounded Soldiers: From 2001 to 2005, 31 per cent of American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have got, and will continue to have for a very long time, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Which means they’ve been exposed to enough loud noise and traumatic experiences that they will periodically relive their experiences for the rest of their lives. But, doctors and researchers say, the numbers should be much higher. Most soldiers, they say, are being misdiagnosed or just aren’t talking aboot their symptoms. Fifteen per cent of veterans of the Vietnam war, the report said, still show symptoms of PTSD. Again, the American military health care system is overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with such high numbers of mentally ill veterans.
(7pm) PBS: The News Hour With Jim Lehrer:
1) Another Walter Reed Official Resigns: More aboot the forced resignation of Lt. General Kevin Kiley. He’s the third general to be fired over the Walter Reed issue… because of the number and frequency and type of injuries returning soldiers have experienced, several new “barracks” had to be bought or reopened to house these men and women. Some of these buildings should have stayed condemned. The recovering soldiers were forced to cohabitate with rats, mould and roaches. The entire system will be under review for a few more months.
2) Iraqi’s Bury Their Dead: The people who were blown up over the weekend during religious “festivities” were laid to rest today. American soldiers, acting on tips, found three “car-bomb making factories” and were expecting to find a lot more over the next few days.
3) Who Loves The Troops More: American Congressional Democrats are trying to prove they love and care aboot American soldiers more than Republicans, the Republicans gave Democrats the finger. Has anyone noticed that politically — so far — the New Democrat “Majority” have been outflanked and beaten by the Republican “Minority” on almost every issue since the “earth shattering” election of just a few months ago? And now, surprise, the Democrats are going to give President Bush another blank cheque… or at least another US$100B to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Does anyone remember Nancy Pelosi?
(10pm) CBC: The National With Peter Mansbridge
1) CDN Soldier Charged With Manslaughter: A Canadian soldier was charged with Manslaughter today in the accidental shooting of another Canadian soldier. The incident happened eight months ago in Afghanistan while a vehicle of Canadian soldiers were on patrol when a single shot was discharged, killing Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry regiment, who was in the first weeks of his second deployment to Afghanistan. If convicted Master Cpl. Robbie Fraser, also from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry regiment, could receive 12-years in a military prison. The two men were close friends and the widow of Jeff Walsh spoke out against the charges, saying “I’ve been irate at the fact that they’ve even considered manslaughter as one of the charges,” Julie Mason in a report on CBC.ca. “It’s painful enough when a soldier loses a brother, it’s even harder when you lose a friend and it’s your weapon that went off.”
2) Lost Detainees Stay Lost: Canada’s Defence Minister, Gordon O’Conner, and Canada’s Chief of The Defence Staff , General Rick Hillier, were both in Afghanistan trying to figure out what happens with “detainees” after Canadian Forces hand them off to Afghanistan officials. A few weeks ago there was a vague report of three… lets call them “Opposition Forces” who were handled roughly (scratches and bruises) by Canadian soldiers while they were “being detained”. When Canadian officials went to find out if Canadian soldiers had roughed them up unnecessarily, they had ‘disappeared’. The Afghans say they were either released or never existed. Now Canada is trying to get an NGO called “the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission” to monitor all detainees Canada drops off at the Afghan doorstep.
3) Canadian Mystery Man Arrested In Spain: Some Canadian dude was busted in Spain on fraud charges totaling over $20M. He is also suspected of helping to finance “al Qaeda-esque” training camps. This must have been a ‘Breaking Story’ because I just gave it more time than CBC did.
(11:23pm) BBC World News:
1) Zimbabwe Nearing Breaking Point: The BBC has been banned from Zimbabwe for a few years now, so the footage — I think — was from ITN. It looks like Zimbabwe is finally aboot to fall apart. Zimbabwe troops are now, on a daily basis, beating the shit out of anyone and everyone they can reach with those four-foot long clubs they carry. Political gatherings have been banned and, like Stalin and Castro before him, Zimbabweans can no longer gather in groups on the street without Official Permission. Robert Mugabe has had 27 years in power and has essentially crushed one of the very few African successes. Four out of five citizens are unemployed, inflation is running at 1700 per cent, which means last weeks Z$800 loaf of bread will cost Z$3000 this week. Three million Zimbabweans have fled the country. Mugabe plans on ruling until his 90th birthday. Which would be aboot another five years or so. Unless someone puts a bullet in his head before that. Just saying.
2) BBC Reporter Kidnapped: Alan Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza, where he was working. The BBC seems to be, at least from here, being very muted aboot this story. Reporters are kidnapped often enough in Gaza that this isn’t a surprise. Sometimes there’s a ransom. Mostly Hamas or the PLO remind the kidnappers that keeping reporters somewhat neutral is best for The Cause.
3) Russia Not Supplying Uranium To Iran: Russia, who is building Iran’s nuclear facilities, has decided that it will withhold the actual uranium fuel for a little while. Just in case. They say Iran is behind in its payments. Iran says it’s because America Just. Won’t. Leave. Us. The. Fuck. Alone.
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I’m Canadian, it’s what we do. Off the ice.