Bob Broughton's Blog about British Columbia politics

Vancouver-Seattle passenger trains saved, but let's look forward

The Province columnist Jon Ferry wrote a worthwhile column about the future of Amtrak's Seattle-Vancouver service, Foot-dragging feds slow train service to Seattle.

A few comments on points that Ferry made:

  • A target of four trains a day is entirely reasonable. Long before Amtrak existed, Burlington Northern (now known as BNSF) was running four trains a day between Seattle and Vancouver, at a time when the population in the Tacoma-Seattle-Everett-Mount Vernon-Bellingham-Vancouver corridor was much lower.
  • The actual mover and shaker for the existing service is actually the Washington State Department of Transportation; Amtrak runs the service under contract. WSDOT has started talking about a third daily train. I hope that they at least take a look at an overnight Vancouver-Portland train, with sleeper cars. The idea would be to reduce the demand for plane flights in the corridor. If market studies show that there's no demand for this, OK, but at least do the studies.
  • Ferry mentions running high-speed trains via Abbotsford instead of White Rock. This is the first I've heard of this. Running high-speed trains around Crescent Beach certainly doesn't make any sense, but BNSF's long-term plan is to create a new set of tracks running east of White Rock.

Message to wingnuts about Manhattan mosque

1. This mosque is not at Ground Zero. It is two blocks away.

2. This project, officially known as the Cordoba Initiative, is a lot more than a mosque. It will be 13 stories, and includes a performance-art center, a gym, and a swimming pool.

3. The person behind the Cordoba Initiative is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is the founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement. He is the Imam of a mosque in Manhattan that is 12 blocks away from Ground Zero. The stated objective of the American Society for Muslim Advancement is to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together through programs in academia, policy, current affairs and culture.

4. Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, is Jewish and Republican, and he has no problem with this project. So why do you have a problem with it?

5. Iman Feisal has as much right to put up a religious centre on Manhattan as you have to put one of your churches in my neighborhood. If you have a problem with this concept, take it up with little Mormon boy Glenn Beck.

International Day Against Stoning follow-up

Here is an account of several International Day Against Stoning events: Worldwide Protests in Support of Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani and Against Stoning and Execution.

Mission Free Iran has made an entirely reasonable request to the United Nations: Stoning, Rape and Execution of Women is Bad Gender Policy; It is Time to Remove the Islamic Republic from the UN Commission on the Status of Women

Op-ed piece by Irwin Cotler, published in the Vancouver Sun: Iran is more than just a nuclear threat. Cotler is a former minister of justice and attorney-general of Canada. He makes a very strong case for an end to enabling the behavior of the Ahmadinejad regime.

Pakistan (allies of the U.S. and Canada in the war in Afghanistan) has sentenced a man and woman to death by stoning for adultery. Here's a story by Saeed Shah in The Guardian: Pakistani couple face death by stoning threat after conviction for adultery.

July 11: International Day Against Stoning

I learned a couple of days ago that Sunday, July 11, is the International Day Against Stoning, and protests against this barbaric practice are taking place in at least Washington, DC, Beverly Hills, CA, London, and Sydney, Australia.

The obvious question that this raises for me is, why is it that in the Twenty-First Century, we have a need for such a thing as an "International Day Against Stoning"? Throwing rocks at human beings to put them to death, for "crimes" such as "illicit relations", is something that I learned about in Sunday School. It gave rise to one of Jesus' best known quotes, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

This was two thousand years ago. The creatures who don't have any problem with casting the first, second, or third stones now live in Iran, Pakistan, Somalia, and Nigeria.

I'll write about Pakistan first. I've recently read two books by Greg Mortenson, Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools. I recommend both of them highly, especially Three Cups of Tea, but if you don't have time to read a book, you can watch this video of an interview of Mortenson by Bill Moyers of PBS. Mortenson's low-cost efforts to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan have done far more good than the billions of dollars spent on bombs in that part of the world.

Now, about Iran. In Bill Maher's film "Religulous", Maher points out, near the end when he's summing up, that religious fanatics are making the world a dangerous place, and it's time for us to stop enabling their behaviour. (If you're a religious fanatic, and you're reading this, it's you I'm talking about.) (Click here to watch "Religulous" in its entirety, but the good part is the last ten minutes.)

If you've been paying any attention at all to events in Iran over the past 30 years, you know that the country is governed by religious fanatics who call themselves Shiite Muslims. You know that Iran has a president who denies that the Holocaust happened. He went to New York City and claimed that there are no Gays among Iran's 74 million people. He wants Iran to develop nuclear weapons, but keeps lying about it.

Now, who is enabling Ahmadinejad's behaviour? Two people who are doing it are Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, and Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua. So, if you consider Chavez and Ortega to be friends of yours, it's time to find yourself some new friends.

One-half of Iran's government revenue (remember, this article is about the goverment of Iran that stones people for "illicit relations") comes from oil exports. These exports go to Japan, China, India, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Greece, France, and South Africa. If you drive a car, or ride a bus or plane in any of these countries, you're enabling the behaviour of the Iranian government.

If you live elsewhere, you can show your support for the International Day Against Stoning by placing a rock in a public place.

Story by Daphne Bramham in the Vancouver Sun: Public stoning the most repulsive form of capital punishment

National Post sued, and it's about time

University of Victoria Professor Andrew Weaver has launched a lawsuit against the National Post, Terence Corcoran, Peter Foster, and Kevin Libin. It's about time.

The National Post columnists stated that Weaver is a "corrupt scientist". They claimed that he fabricated stories about a break-in into his office.

Weaver did no such thing. His office was indeed broken into, and there is a police report to prove it. However, Weaver never made any accusation with regard to who was responsible for it.

Why, then, did it say in the National Post, not once but on four different occasions, by three different authors, Corcoran, Foster, and Libin, that Weaver had accused the fossil fuel industry of being responsible for the break-in?

Because the National Post prints lies, that's why. The editors and management of the National Post know that Terence Corcoran is a liar, but they keep him on the payroll, and don't fact-check his stories.

Here's a couple of examples. On February 3, 1997, Corcoran wrote a piece for the Globe and Mail that stated that the Non-Smokers' Rights Association (NSRA) had used money from public funding to attack tobacco-industry-friendly politicians. The NSRA did no such thing, and the NSRA sued the Globe and Mail and got an apology and a settlement.

In April, 2001, Corcoran, now writing for the National Post, wrote that the British Columbia government "prohibits raw log exports except by exceptional permit". No, it doesn't. Permits are required only for exporting logs from Crown land. Raw log exports tripled in 2000, the year prior to when Corcoran made this false statement.

Weaver is being represented by McConchie Law Corporation in Victoria. Here's their press release: Climate Scientist Sues National Post for Libel. Weaver's suit also intends to hold the National Post responsible for libelous comments posted on their web site.

If you have other examples of lies told by Terence Corcoran, Peter Foster, or Kevin Libin, send me an email, or post a comment to this article. I'll add them to the list here, as well as forward them to McConchie Law Corporation. The idea here is to convince a judge that apologies and retractions have been insufficient in making these liars change their behaviour, and they need to be hit harder in the pocketbook.

The sinking of the "Queen of the North"

An article by Ian Mulgrew in the Vancouver Sun, Ferry sinking: We may never know what happened starts with this sentence: "The public may never hear what actually happened aboard the Queen of the North ferry the night it hit Gil Island and sank, killing two people, because the family of the victims can’t afford B.C.’s exorbitant court fees."

Huh? Why not? The Queen of the North was the property of the citizens of British Columbia. That's us. Are they telling us that we can't find out why this ship is now sitting at the bottom of Granville Channel?

B.C. Ferries did an internal investigation in 2007. The Federal agency Transportation Safety Board did an investigation, and released a report in 2008; you can read it for yourself here.

The same day that Mulgrew's article was published, the provincial Ministry of Attorney General laid criminal negligence charges against the navigator, Karl Lilgert. You can read the Ministry's statement here. Good idea; let's get this thing in court.

One thing that we will probably learn from this is that the Queen of the North had a perfectly good GPS system, and the crew wasn't using it.

Video story from A/News.

I was a passenger on the Queen of the North in 2004. It was a wonderful experience.

Wikipedia article: MV Queen of the North

OK, let's put a stop to this. Now.

Thanks to Crooks and Liars for making this available.

Two quick facts:

1. It is none of the Canada Border Services Agency's business whether Amy Goodman or anybody else wants to talk about the 2010 Olympics or not. From the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: "Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association."

2. "The Canada Border Services Agency didn't respond to our request for an interview." Let's see if they will respond to a subpoena instead.

Story by Petti Fong of the Toronto Star: What Olympics? Baffled U.S. radio host interrogated at border "Canada Border Services Agency spokeswoman Faith St. John said she could not speak specifically about Goodman's detention. But she said anyone entering the country may be subject to a more in-depth examination.

"It should not be viewed as an accusation of wrongdoing." Wrong, Ms. St. John. If there was no accusation of wrongdoing, why was Goodman told that she had to be out of Canada within 48 hours?

Video story (with transcript) from Democracy Now. Includes quotes from Chris Chaw, David Eby.

Blog post by Harvey Oberfeld: Border Services Attack on Freedom of Speech: Merits More than Just a Story. Lots of good comments.

Blog post by Sabina Becker at News of the Restless: A big embarrassment for my home and native land

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