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Did you know that the drought in Brazil is so bad that some neighborhoods are only being allowed to get water once every three days? At this point, 142 Brazilian cities are rationing water and there does not appear to be much hope that this crippling drought is going to end any time soon. Unfortunately, most Americans seem to be absolutely clueless about all of this. In response to my recent article about how the unprecedented drought that is plaguing California right now could affect our food supply, one individual left a comment stating “if Califirnia can’t supply South America will. We got NAFTA.” Apart from the fact that this person could not even spell “California” correctly, we also see a complete ignorance of what is going on in the rest of the planet. The truth is that the largest country in South America (Brazil) is also experiencing an absolutely devastating drought at the moment. They are going to have a very hard time just taking care of their own people for the foreseeable future.
And this horrendous drought in Brazil could potentially have a huge impact on the total global food supply. As a recent RT article detailed, Brazil is the leading exporter in the world in a number of very important food categories…
Over 140 Brazilian cities have been pushed to ration water during the worst drought on record, according to a survey conducted by the country’s leading newspaper. Some neighborhoods only receive water once every three days.
Water is being rationed to nearly 6 million people living in a total of 142 cities across 11 states in Brazil, the world’s leading exporter of soybeans, coffee, orange juice, sugar and beef. Water supply companies told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper that the country’s reservoirs, rivers and streams are the driest they have been in 20 years. A record heat wave could raise energy prices and damage crops.
Some neighborhoods in the city of Itu in Sao Paulo state (which accounts for one-quarter of Brazil’s population and one-third of its GDP), only receive water once every three days, for a total of 13 hours.
Are you starting to see what I mean?
This is serious.
B. Lynn Ingram, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California at Berkeley, thinks that California needs to brace itself for a megadrought—one that could last for 200 years or more.
As a paleoclimatologist, Ingram takes the long view, examining tree rings and microorganisms in ocean sediment to identify temperatures and dry periods of the past millennium. Her work suggests that droughts are nothing new to California.
A drought of even 10 years would absolutely cripple this nation. Already, the size of the total U.S. cattle herd is the smallest that it has been in 63 years and California farmers are going to let half a million acres sit idle this year because of the extremely dry conditions. If this drought persists for several more years we will have an unprecedented crisis on our hands.
Unfortunately, there are signs that this current drought in California may be part of a larger trend. I had never heard of “the Pacific Decadal Oscillation” before this week, but apparently it is a phenomenon that can cause droughts that last “for decades“…
Ingram and other paleoclimatologists have correlated several historic megadroughts with a shift in the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean that occurs every 20 to 30 years—something called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The PDO is similar to an El Nino event except it lasts for decades—as its name implies—whereas an El Nino event lasts 6 to 18 months. Cool phases of the PDO result in less precipitation because cooler sea temperatures bump the jet stream north, which in turn pushes off storms that would otherwise provide rain and snow to California. Ingram says entire lakes dried up in California following a cool phase of the PDO several thousand years ago.
And of course it isn’t just the western half of the country that is struggling with water supply problems. In the Southeast, water has been a major political issue for quite some time…
The drought-parched states of Georgia, Alabama and Florida are back at it — fighting for a slice of water rights in a decades-long water war that’s left all three thirsty for more.
The 24-year dispute is emblematic of an increasingly common economic problem facing cities and states across the country – the demand for water quickly outpacing the supply as spikes in population soak up resources.
Most of us that live in the United States are accustomed to having seemingly inexhaustible supplies of fresh water. We use more fresh water per capita than anyone else on the planet, and most of us never even think twice about it.
Unfortunately, things are changing. We are on the precipice of a great water crisis, and many Americans are going to be in for a very rude awakening.
And the frightening thing is that the U.S. is actually in much better shape than most of the rest of the world is when it comes to supplies of fresh water. In some areas of the globe, a “water crisis” is already a daily reality.
We have heard that someday water is going to become the “new oil”, and we are starting to get to that point. Life is simply not possible without water, and as global supplies of clean, fresh water dwindle it is inevitable that it is going to cause global tensions to rise.
So what do you think the solutions to these problems are?
DailyCensored.com – Breaking Censored News, World, Independent, Liberal NewsTPP: NAFTA on Steroids – DailyCensored.com – Breaking Censored News, World, Independent, Liberal News
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal from hell. It’s a stealth corporate coup d’etat.
It’s a giveaway to banksters. It’s a global neoliberal ripoff. It’s a business empowering Trojan horse. It’s a freedom and ecosystem destroying nightmare.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls it “a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement.”
More on TPP below. New York Times editors support it. Two decades ago, they endorsed NAFTA.
On January 1, 1994, its destructive life began. It’s anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-consumer and anti-democratic.
Corporate giants love it. Why not? They wrote it. Hundreds of pages of one-size-fits-all rules benefit them.
They override domestic laws. A race to the bottom followed. NAFTA was a disastrous experiment. In November 1993, New York editors headlined “The ‘Great Debate’ Over NAFTA,” saying:
“The laboriously constructed agreement to phase out trade barriers among the US, Mexico and Canada, which this page has strongly supported, is likely to have a positive, though small, impact on US living standards and provide a modest boost to the Mexican economy.”
“Some American jobs would be lost to cheaper Mexican labor, other jobs would be gained because American exports would increase as Mexico’s high tariffs gradually disappeared.”
“Economics aside, Nafta’s defeat would suggest that the US had abandoned its historical commitment to free trade and would thus discourage other Latin and South American countries thathave moved toward more market-oriented economies in the expectation of freer world trade.
So-called “free trade” is one-sided. It isn’t fair. NAFTA proponents promised tens of thousands of newly created US jobs.
Ordinary famers would export their way to wealth. Mexican living standards would rise. Economic opportunities would reduce regional immigration to America.
NAFTA’s promises never materialized. Reality proved polar opposite hype. A decade later, about a million US jobs were lost.
America’s Mexican trade deficit alone cost around 700,000 jobs by 2010.
Official government data show nearly five million US manufacturing disappeared since 1994.
NAFTA alone wasn’t responsible. It reflected broken promises, lost futures, and other trade deals from hell to follow. TPP stands out. It’s NAFTA on steroids.
Since 2008, multiple negotiating rounds were held. They continue secretly. Twelve nations are involved.
They include America, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Others are invited to join.
At issue is agreeing on unrestricted trade in goods, services, rules of origin, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers, government procurement and competition policies, and intellectual property (IP).
It’s about eliminating fundamental freedoms. It’s circumventing sovereign independent rights. Corporate power brokers want unchallenged control.
They want global rules and standards rewritten. They want supranational powers. They want them overriding national sovereignty. They want investor rights prioritized over public ones.
They already rule the world. Imagine giving them more power. Imagine no way to stop them.
Imagine a duplicitous president. Obama’s in lockstep with their wish list. He intends giving them everything they want.
Public Citizen is independent. It’s our voice. Its work entails “ensur(ing) that all citizens are represented in the halls of power.”
Its Global Trade Watch (GTW) monitors TPP developments. It calls it “a stealthy policy being pressed by corporate America. (It’s) a dream of the 1%.” It’ll:
• “offshore millions of American jobs,
• free the banksters from oversight,
• ban Buy America policies needed to create green (and many other) jobs (as well as) rebuild out economy,
• decrease access to medicine,
• flood the US with unsafe food and products,
• and empower corporations to attack our environment and health safeguards.”
Hyped benefits are fake. Reality is polar opposite what corporate shysters claim. Everything accruing from TPP benefits them. It does so by undermining what matters most to ordinary people.
Lori Wallach heads GTW. Ben Beachy is research director. Last June, they headlined their New York Times op-ed “Obama’s Covert Trade Deal.”
He’s committed to open government, he claims. His policies reflect otherwise. He’s negotiating TPP secretly.
It’s “the most significant international commercial agreement since the” World Trade Organization’s 1995 creation, said Wallach and Beachy.
Congress has exclusive “terms of trade” authority. Obama systematically refuses repeated congressional requests to release the entire draft agreement being negotiated.
He “denied requests from members to attend (sessions) as observers.” He “revers(ed) past practice” snubbing them.
He “rejected demands by outside groups” to release the draft text. George Bush never went that far.
Obama’s “wall of secrecy” had one exception. About “600 trade ‘advisors,’ dominated by representatives of big business,” got access to what Congress was denied.
TPP overrides American laws. It requires changing them. Otherwise trade sanctions on US exports can be imposed.
Wall Street loves TPP. It prohibits banning risky financial products. It lets banksters operate any way they want without oversight.
Congress has final say. Both houses will vote on TPP. Ahead of doing so, they’ll have access to its full text.
Why later? Why not now? Why not earlier? Why not without enough time for discussion and public debate?
Members won’t get enough time to examine TPP carefully. Maintaining secrecy as long as possible prevents public debate.
Obama wants TPP fast-tracked. He wants it approved by yearend. Until March, Ron Kirk was Obama’s trade representative.
He was remarkably candid. He said revealing TPP’s text would raise enormous opposition. Doing so might make adopting it impossible.
According to Wallach and Beachy:
“Whatever one thinks about ‘free trade,’ (TPP secrecy) represents a huge assault on the principles and practice of democratic governance.”
“That is untenable in the age of transparency, especially coming from an administration that is otherwise so quick to trumpet its commitment to open government.”
On October 30, a newly formed Friends of TPP caucus was formed. Four House co-chairman head it. They include Reps. David Reichert (R. WA), Charles Boustany (R. LA), Ron Kind (D. WI) and Gregory Meeks (D. NY).
They sound like earlier NAFTA supporters. They claim TPP is important for US jobs, exports and economic growth. They lied saying so.
Wallach commented separately. TPP is hugely hugely destructive, she said. It’s more than about trade. It’s a “corporate Trojan horse.” It has 29 chapters. Only five relate to trade.
The others “either handcuff our domestic governments, limit food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy and climate policy, or establish new powers for corporations.”
They promote offshoring jobs to low-wage countries. They ban Buy America. Corporations can do whatever they please. Instead of investing domestically, they can use “our tax dollars” to operate abroad.
They can exploit national resources freely. They’ll have “rights for min(ed) (commodities), oil, gas” and others “without approval.”
TPP includes all sorts of “worrisome issues relating to Internet freedom.”
It provides a back door to earlier failed legislation. It resurrects SOPA, PIPA, ACTA and CISPA provisions. It tramples on fundamental freedoms and national sovereignty.
“Think about all the things that would be really hard to get into effect as a corporation in public, a lot of them rejected here and in the other 11 countries, and that is what’s bundled in to the TPP,” said Wallach.
“And every country would be required to change its laws domestically to meet these rules.”
“The binding provision is each country shall ensure the conformity of domestic laws, regulations and procedures.”
Negotiations are secret. Nothing is discussed publicly. Details leaked out. TPP includes hugely unpopular policies. It forces them on member countries.
It overrides domestic laws protecting people and ecosystems. It’s predatory capitalism at its worst writ large. Obama fully supports it. Lawmakers hadn’t seen it until last year.
They got access to a single chapter. Examining it is severely restricted. Their office is denied a copy. They alone can read it. Their staff is denied permission.
They can’t take detailed notes. They can’t publicly discuss what’s in it. Technical language makes it hard to understand what they read.
Congressional approval is likely. Lobby pressure is intense. “Everything is bought and sold,” said Wallach. “Honor is no exception.”
The reason there’s no deal so far “is because a lot of other countries are standing up to the worst of US corporate demands,” Wallach explained.
For how long remains to be seen. If TPP is adopted, public interest no longer will matter. The worst of all possible worlds will replace it. Corporate rights will supersede human ones. A global race to the bottom will intensify.
Signatory countries will be legally bound to support loss of personal freedoms. Sovereign laws won’t protect against poisoned food, water and air.
Ecosystems will be destroyed. Millions more jobs will shift from developed to under or less developed nations.
Corporate power will grow more exponentially. Fundamental human and civil rights may erode altogether. Not according to Times editors.
On November 5, they headlined “A Pacific Trade Deal.”
A dozen nations want a deal by yearend, they said. They want it to “help all of our economies and strengthen relations between the United States and several important Asian allies.”
It bears repeating. TPP is a trade deal from hell. It’s a stealth corporate coup d’etat. It’s a freedom and ecosystem destroying nightmare. Times editors didn’t explain.
They lied to readers. They betrayed them. They repeated their 1993 duplicity. Millions affected understand best.
An October 8 White House press release lied. It called TPP “a comprehensive, next-generation model for addressing both new and traditional trade and investment issues, supporting the creation and retention of jobs and promoting economic development in our countries.”
“The deepest and broadest possible liberalization of trade and investment will ensure the greatest benefits for countries’ large and small manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers, as well as workers, innovators, investors, and consumers.”
Times editors endorsed what they haven’t read. TPP provisions remain secret. Leaked information alone is known.
Times editors willingly accept Obama misinformation as fact. Twenty years ago, they got NAFTA wrong. Here they go again.
They’re mindless about secret negotiations. Public concerns don’t matter. Corporate interests alone count.
Subverting national sovereignty is OK. So is empowering transnational giants without oversight. They’ll be able sue countries for potentially undermining future profits.
Times editors support the worst of corporate excess. Doing so shows which side they’re on.
Fundamental freedoms aren’t important. Corporate rights drive The Times’ agenda. Its editors explained nothing about fast-track authority.
Max Baucus (D. MT) chairs the Senate Finance Committee. He supports fast-tracking. Doing so hands congressional authority to Obama.
Proper hearings are restricted. Debate is limited. Amendments can’t be introduced. The Senate can’t filibuster. Congress can only vote up or down.
It can happen virtually out of sight and mind. It can happen with scant media coverage. It can happen with none at all. It can become law with practically no public awareness.
Imagine corporate America getting coup d’etat authority with hardly anyone knowing what happened. Imagine the consequences if it does. Imagine today’s America becoming worse than ever.
Times editors stressed how Obama wants TPP to be “an example for the rest of the world to follow.”
Imagine one more than ever unfit to live in. Imagine a president promising change to believe in promoting it.
Imagine Times editors endorsing what demands condemnation. Imagine not explaining what readers most need to know.
Imagine substituting misinformation for truth and full disclosure. Imagine all the news they call fit to print not fit to read.
A Final Comment
On November 13, Public Citizen headlined “Leaked Documents Reveal Obama Administration Push for Internet Freedom Limits, Terms That Raise Drug Prices in Closed-Door Trade Talks.”
“US Demands in Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Text, Published Today by WikiLeaks, Contradict Obama Policy and Public Opinion at Home and Abroad.”
TPP’s leaked text reveals Obama demands limiting Internet freedom. He wants restricted access to lifesaving medicines.
He wants all TPP signatory countries bound the the same deplorable rules.
He lied claiming TPP reduces health care costs. It has nothing to do with advancing online freedom as he promised. It’s polar opposite on both counts.
According to Public Citizen:
“It is clear from the text obtained by WikiLeaks that the US government is isolated and has lost this debate.”
“Our partners don’t want to trade away their people’s health. Americans don’t want these measures either.”
Obama’s in the pocket of Big Pharma. He’s a Wall Street tool. He represents other corporate interests. He spurns popular ones. He lies claiming otherwise. He repeatedly avoids truth and full disclosure.
He lied about Obamacare. It’s an abomination. It’s a scam. It’s a scheme to enrich insurers and other healthcare giants.
TPP is a global scam. It’s an assault on fundamental freedoms.
Reports indicate around half the House members strongly oppose it. Others lean that way. According to Lori Wallach:
“This could be the end of TPP.”
“All these other countries are like, ‘Wait, you have no trade authority and nothing you’ve promised us means anything. Why would we give you our best deal?’ Why would you be making concessions to the emperor who has no clothes?”
It bears repeating. TPP is a trade bill from hell. It’s a stealth corporate coup d’ etat. Killing it is essential.
The alternative is losing fundamental freedoms. It’s destroying national sovereignty. It’s making healthcare less affordable. It’s undermining what ordinary people value most.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Pipeline safety incident rate doubled in past decade – CBC News – Latest Canada, World, Entertainment and Business News
Pipelines regulated by the federal government — which include some of the longest lines in the country — have experienced a swell in the number of safety-related incidents over the past decade, documents obtained by CBC News suggest.
In recent months, a spate of oil and gas spills both from train derailments and pipelines have raised questions about what mode of transport is the safest.
The pipeline industry has touted its record as it seeks support for numerous controversial projects across the continent, including TransCanada’s Keystone XL to the U.S. Gulf Coast and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway to the B.C. coast.
However, according to figures from a National Energy Board (NEB) data set obtained under access-to-information by CBC, the rate of overall pipeline incidents has doubled since 2000.
By 2011, safety-related incidents — covering everything from unintentional fires to spills — rose from one to two for every 1,000 kilometres of federally-regulated pipeline. That reflects an increase from 45 total incidents in 2000 to 142 in 2011.
Pipeline watchers like Pembina Institute associate Nathan Lemphers suggest the rise may be a worrisome sign of aging infrastructure.
“The pipelines that are in the ground are getting older and in some cases there’s more products flowing through them so you’re going to see increasing incidents and increasing defects in those pipelines unless they’re properly maintained,” Lemphers said.
The NEB documents give detailed information about 1,047 pipeline safety incidents from Jan. 1, 2000 until late 2012.
- Pipeline safety project: From grainy documents to interactive map
- Pipeline safety incidents: How CBC organized the data
The federal regulator oversees any pipeline that crosses provincial or international borders, which includes about 90 companies that own about 71,000 kilometres of pipelines. The data does not include smaller pipelines monitored by provinces.
The National Energy Board attributes the rise in incidents to heightened awareness among companies about what they need to report.
“We’ve been out there talking with industry associations and the companies themselves to ensure that they are fully aware of what the reporting requirements are and I think that’s why we’re seeing an increase right now,” said NEB’s business leader for operations, Patrick Smythe.
Leaks, spills triple
Each company overseen by the NEB must report safety issues including the death or serious injury of a worker, fires, explosions, liquid product spills over 1,500 litres and every gas leak.
Among the other findings based on NEB’s pipeline database is that there’s been a three-fold increase in the rate of product releases spills and leaks — ranging from small leaks and spills to large — that have been reported in the past decade.
More than four reportable releases happened for every 10,000 kilometres in 2000, or 18 incidents in total, according to NEB data. By 2011, that rate had risen to 13 per 10,000 kilometres, or 94 incidents.
Those numbers include any oil or natural gas releases companies are required by law to report.
Carl Weimer, executive director of U.S. advocacy group Pipeline Safety Trust, says each small leaks may not be significant on its own, but taken together they provide a better picture when looking at safety trends.
“It shows how really carefully they are taking care of the pipelines,” said Weimer.
British Columbia experienced the most pipeline safety incidents for a single province, with 279 recorded events from 2000 to 2012 in the data set. Alberta came in second with 244 incidents, followed by Ontario with 146.
The community with the highest number of incidents in its vicinity is the remote town of Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, which has seen 71 events.
NEB concerned about severe incidents
CBC News turned the NEB data set into a user-friendly map that allows Canadians to explore pipeline incidents using filters such as the nearest community, year, company, pipeline or substance spilled.
It provides an unprecedented bird’s eye view of safety issues plaguing pipelines over the past decade and also gives users the ability to drill down into the details of each report.
NEB’s Smythe says that the regulator has not seen an alarming increase in the “significant, serious or major incident over the last little while.”
Recent documents published by the NEB show that they have expressed some concern over rising numbers.
“Notwithstanding the safety record of NEB-regulated pipelines, the board has noticed an increased trend in the number and severity of incidents being reported by NEB-regulated companies in recent years,” one 2012 report states.
Another 2011 document citing the same concern also notes the need for NEB to “enhance data collection” in order to tackle that problem and other troubling trends in the industry.
It goes on to say that a reduction in the numbers ultimately “depends on actions taken by the industry.”
Brenda Kenny, president of the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association, which represents major companies, says there’s an industry-wide commitment to “get to zero incidents.”
“We’re driving that out very hard through our risk-based management approach at the industry level that involves a lot of best practices, integrity, management, technology and these indicators,” said Kenny.
“The Canadian pipeline industry is one of the very safest in the world second to none in terms of actual results,” said Kenny.
Pipelines have faced unparalleled attention in recent years as global demand fuels a production boom across the continent, resulting in a rise in pipeline proposals.
“Pipelines were very much out of sight out of mind until recently,” said Ian Goodman, a U.S. energy consultant who works with regulators and community groups across North America.
The pipeline debate is not generally “front-page news day after day … the way it now is. That’s a new development.”
If you have any pipeline-related stories, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whistleblower lawsuit says CN is cooking its books – CBC News – Latest Canada, World, Entertainment and Business News
A whistleblower lawsuit in the United States is accusing CN Rail of fudging its numbers to increase executive bonuses and to make it appear to be North America’s most efficient railroad for investors.
Tim Wallender, a former CN trainmaster based at the company’s Harrison Yard in Memphis, Tenn. has filed a lawsuit under the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act — which was passed into law to protect whistleblowers following the Enron scandal in the early 2000s.
CN is asking that Wallender’s claims that it routinely reported fraudulent efficiency statistics to shareholders and customers be thrown out. CN claims he repeatedly reported train movements falsely and got fired for it.
Wallender, 42, does not deny fudging the numbers but insists he was ordered to by his boss.
He alleges in his suit that his managers made large bonuses, and the company was able to promote itself as being 20 to 25 per cent more efficient than its competitors, by creating favourable statistics that “were based on a persistent and pervasive fraud.”
None of these allegations has been proven in court.
“My (general) superintendent was always talking about how he had carte blanche to do whatever he had to do to make it work in Memphis,” Wallender told CBC News in an interview in Mobile, Ala. where he’s now working for a different railroad. “He would talk about how him and [then-CN vice president] Keith Creel were so tight and how they talked every day and he had permission to do whatever he needed to do.
“What do I do? — that’s my livelihood, this job. Without it I have no insurance, no pay, no benefits, nothing. “
Wallender outlines how to misreport ‘efficiencies’
Wallender claims he and other lower-end employees were asked to tamper with “dwell time” statistics — an industry measure of how long freight trains sit in a yard — to make it appear that trains moved quickly. The crucial reporting time was 5 a.m., and if trains arrived later their dwell time clocks would not start until the next morning.
The goal, Wallender alleges, was to get trains out of the yard just before 5 a.m., or have them arrive just after, either by moving the train so it could trigger time-stamp sensors, or by adjusting the clock in the company computers.
They also reported cars were either broken or delivered to the customers — so they would be taken off the clock — when in each case they would still be in the yard, he claims in his lawsuit.
Another trick was to move a train onto a ghost or dummy track which did not get monitored on the company’s computer, he claims.
“I’m telling you everybody knew about this,” said Wallender, who originally hails from Wisconsin. “It’s a common practice. I know it happened in Chicago, Champagne, Memphis, Jackson — it happened all over the U.S.”
According to CN documents related to the case, the company did audits of the Memphis yard — three times before Wallender’s dismissal in September 2012 — and indeed found several employees were falsifying efficiency records.
“I am extremely disappointed to learn about these reporting infractions,” wrote Creel in a February 2012 letter. The letter acknowledged other reporting scams at CN, not listed above. “It cannot and will not be tolerated. We have an obligation to our customers and shareholders to continue our pursuit of ‘service excellence.'”
But Wallender says Creel’s letter was just “lip service” to the idea that the company cared about accurately reporting its efficiency ratings to the stock market.
“The allegations in this matter are unfounded and factually incorrect,” said Creel, who is no longer with CN. “I have, and always will, hold all employees to the highest ethical standards and the facts in this case will reflect that.”
Because of a December 2011 audit, Wallender was to be disciplined. He brought a tape recorder with him to the meeting with his boss, general superintendent Andrew Martin.
“I was supposed to be [suspended] for two days, lose two days’ pay, and [they were going to] put a letter in my file,” recalls Wallender.
CBC has obtained a copy of the recording in which Martin can be heard saying: “I’m suspending you for two days, but I’m suspending you for two days to put you on your off days… I have to draft this letter. I’m going to give you a copy of this letter. I ain’t gonna never send it” to human resources.
“He never told me to stop,” said Wallender, echoing arguments in his lawsuit. “He just said ‘Don’t be so perfect on the report next time.'”
A complaint against Martin from another railway worker in the summer of 2012 led to the investigation that led, Wallender claims, to his demise at CN.
Wallender handed over emails of the instructions he had received to fudge CN’s numbers, and his audiotape of his discussion with Martin, to CN’s human resources investigator.
He recalls telling the investigator: “I’m done lying. If I get fired for this, which I expect to do, at least I can walk away with my head up, that I got fired for telling the truth.”
He was fired the following month, CN claims, for continuing to fudge the numbers. After his dismissal, he pointed out to his bosses how others were continuing to fudge the numbers, and his access to CN’s computers was cut off.
Wallender’s lawyer, Bill McMahon of the Chicago law firm Hoey & Farina, said Martin got a slap on the wrist after the review, “and continues to be employed at CN. The only person who got terminated, who lost his job, is the man who came forward with the concrete irrefutable evidence of the statistical manipulations of efficiency ratings in the Harrison yard.”
CN told CBC News yesterday, in a three-page email from spokesman Mark Hallman, that CN “collects data to make informed business and operational decisions. The notion that CN would condone any misreporting in that context is untenable.”
CN ignored many of the CBC’s requests, including a question about why their computer software is so easily manipulated to change data, but they did say that through their auditing process CN has found “only a limited number of reporting issues which did not affect the integrity of the data that the Company has reported to the rest of the rail industry.”
Although it boasts of its dwell time and train speed on its website and heralded a five-percent drop in dwell time in this week’s third quarter report to the market, CN says its “operating metrics such as yard dwell are performance indicators that are not included in any part of CN’s audited financial reports that are sent to shareholders and securities regulators.”
Hallman added that the Montreal-based company’s “decision to terminate Mr. Wallender was fully warranted given his history of misreporting, management’s repeated admonishments for such misreporting, and Mr. Wallender’s brazen disregard and continued misreporting of data even after he was ordered to cease such practices. Mr. Wallender’s termination illustrates the seriousness of CN’s approach to insure data integrity.”
Former CN employees back Wallender claims
However, two former employees of the Memphis yard have come forward to CBC to back up some of Wallender’s claims.
Toby Lehman, a former CN yardmaster in Memphis, put in the aforementioned complaint about Martin because he and others were constantly being harassed to falsely report the efficiency statistics of the yard, such as by inputting false arrival and departure times. When nothing was done for three months, he sent a complaint further up the chain of command, and an investigation commenced that, he believes, led to Wallender’s dismissal.
“I apologized to Tim — he was just backing me up with his evidence,” said Lehman, who has since left CN for another company. “Even after Tim got fired,” the manipulation of the train’s arrival and departure times continued, said Lehman.
A former clerk at the Memphis yard, Sara Welch Wood, also jumped to Wallender’s defence, saying employees shouldn’t be made to choose between their jobs and doing the right thing.
She remembers the fear that went through the office if employees didn’t find a way to make cars disappear so they wouldn’t be on the 5 a.m. report.
“There were a lot of different times that I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting chewed out,” recalls Wood, 30, who is now a nursing student. “At 4:45 those cars were miraculously gone. There were several times I’d show them at a different yard,” though they were still at Harrison in Memphis, she said.
“I felt bad because I knew I was lying about it. So you’re in between making your supervisors happy and lying. That was one of the reasons it was such a stressful job. It never feels good to lie.”
In his lawsuit, Wallender alleges that “Creel — whose compensation substantially depends on a high price for Canadian National’s shares — protected Martin from discipline, gave a green light for Martin’s misconduct, and gave Martin carte blanche to continue the misconduct that protected and increased the value of his stock options.
Martin, who remains the general superintendent of the Harrison Yard, did not respond to messages.
Wallender’s lawyer, McMahon, said the victim in this case is just not Wallender, who suffered the indignity of being fired, losing his income and his health insurance for himself and his daughter who is suffering from a chronic illness, but all employees of CN.
McMahon said that what the U.S. has learned from the Madoff, Enron and Worldcom scandals is that the “real victims that we know from this type of corporate malfeasance are the employees, their families and the people that rely upon these corporations to accurately and professionally manage their businesses in order to provide a job.”
Wallender got a job with another railroad in the southern U.S. where he is happy to accurately report figures on the company’s efficiency, but he wishes CN well. “There are a lot of good people there. The problem I had with all the cheating is you can’t fix anything unless you know it’s broken.
“And by us hiding everything, nobody knows it’s broken.”
Former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich explained, saying:
“Of all developed nations, the United States has the most unequal distribution of income, and we’re surging towards every greater inequality.”
America’s 400 richest elites have more wealth than half the population. Jacob Kornbluth’s new documentary film “Inequality for All” examines disturbing truths.
US inequality is at historic highs. Since 1970, America’s economy doubled. The top 1% benefitted hugely. They earn more than 20% of national income. It’s triple their 1970 percentage.
The gap between rich and all others keeps widening. Inequality hurts everyone, says Reich. Since economic recovery began in 2009, America’s top 1% got 95% of the gains.
Adjusted for inflation, median household income keeps declining. Where will most people “get the money they need to keep the economy going,” asked Reich?
“We’re the richest economy in the history of the world. For the majority of Americans not to get the benefits of this extraordinarily prosperous economy, you know, there’s something fundamentally wrong.”
America has less upward mobility than any other developed country. If you’re poor, you’ll stay that way.
If you’re lower middle class, “the cards are going to be stacked against you. You will probably never get anywhere,” says Reich.
“Who is actually looking out for the American worker? The answer is nobody.”
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The nation is headed toward becoming a “100 percent plutocracy.” Inequality this extreme fuels public anger. It hurts economic growth. Force-fed austerity assures worse ahead.
Reich teaches a popular Wealth and Poverty course at UC Berkeley. His book “Beyond Outrage” explains what’s wrong with America’s economy.
It doesn’t work. It benefits the privileged few. It harms most others. Doing so undermines America. Expect worse ahead unless people react, he says.
He’s never been more concerned about things than now. He cites “the corrupting effects of big money in politics,” regressive hard right policies, and unprecedented “wealth and power at the very top.”
Things are “perilously close” to falling apart altogether. People are right to be outraged. It’s a “prerequisite for social change.” It’s vital to “move beyond outrage and take action.”
The stakes are too high to be ignored. Nothing good happens in Washington unless people mobilize, organize and demand it.
“Nothing worth changing in America will actually change unless you and others like you are committed to achieving that change,” he stresses.
So-called US economic recovery is fake. Main Street poverty, unemployment, underemployment, hunger and homelessness are at Depression era levels.
Half of all US households are impoverished or bordering it. Recovery benefitted only America’s most well off. Most others endure deepening deprivation.
According to economist Emmanuel Saez:
“For the first time in nearly 100 years, the percentage of income taken by the top 10 percent of Americans topped 50 percent.”
From 2009 to 2012, “(t)op 1% incomes grew by 31.4% while bottom 99% incomes grew by only 0.4%.” Adjusted for inflation, they declined considerably.
From 2007 – 2009, average real family income declined 17.4%. It’s more than any period since the Great Depression. Wealthy Americans recovered and then some. Conditions for most others went from bad to worse.
According to Saez:
“We need to decide as a society whether this increase in income inequality is efficient and acceptable and, if not, what mix of institutional and tax reforms should be developed to counter it.”
Russell Sage Foundation president Sheldon Danziger said:
“The continued high rate of poverty is no surprise, given ongoing high unemployment, stagnant wages and government spending cuts.”
“Poverty is higher today than it was in 2000, and household incomes are lower. The ‘lost decade’ is likely to turn into ‘two lost decades.’ ”
According to Marx:
“Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, and mental degradation at the opposite pole.”
America’s wealth distribution is extreme. It keeps shifting disproportionately upward. Most people are more than ever on their own.
Financial elites run America. Whatever they want they get. Popular needs go begging. Things go from bad to worse.
In 1962, Michael Harrington’s “The Other America: Poverty in the United States” exposed the nation’s dark side, saying:
“In morality and in justice, every citizen should be committed to abolishing the other America, for it is intolerable that the richest nation in human history should allow such needless suffering.”
“But more than that, if we solve the problem of the other America we will have learned how to solve the problems of all of America.”
Jack Kennedy addressed the issue. In his January 8, 1964 State of the Union address, Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty.
He barely scratched it. Inequality was severe. Today, it’s unprecedented and growing. It bears repeating. Census data show around half of US households impoverished or bordering it.
Government data most often over-estimate good news and understate what’s bad. Unprecedented numbers of US households are impoverished under protracted Main Street Depression conditions.
Bipartisan harshness assures greater pain and suffering. Over 20% of US households haven’t enough money for food and other essentials.
On November 1, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit cuts are coming. One-person households will get $11 per month less.
For 2 people, it’s $20. For three it’s $29. For four it’s $36. Expect more cuts ahead. Food costs are rising. Family incomes are falling. More help is needed. Congress and Obama intend less.
America’s most needy will be harmed most. So will tens of millions of children. They may end up without enough to eat.
America’s great divide is greater than ever. In 2009, around half of US households had no assets. Today it’s more than half.
Most Americans don’t earn enough to live on. Things go from bad to worse. Hardwired inequality is deepening. Casino capitalism takes precedence.
America’s criminal class alone benefits. Ordinary people are swindled. Venal politicians serve wealth, power and privilege. Democrats and Republicans are in lockstep. Few benefit at the expense of most others.
On July 28, AP headlined “Exclusive: Signs of Declining Economic Security,” saying:
“Four out of 5 US adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives.”
It’s a disturbing “sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.”
“Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized US economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.”
Hardship for white Americans is rising. AP-GfK poll numbers show “63 percent of whites called the economy ‘poor.’ ”
Fifty-two-year-old Irene Salyers perhaps spoke for others, saying:
“I think it’s going to get worse. If you do try to go apply for a job, they’re not hiring people, and they’re not paying that much to even go to work.”
Economic insecurity is much worse than government data show. It affects over three-fourths of white Americans.
It’s defined as experiencing unemployment some time during working years or needing government aid to survive.
According to Professor William Julius Wilson:
“It’s time that America comes to understand that many of the nation’s biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position.”
Government data fall short of explaining things. Conditions are much worse than official reports. Most Americans struggle to get by. Impoverishment or close to it affect them.
It’s harder than ever for millions of disadvantaged households to survive. Their numbers keep growing exponentially. Vital social protections are eroding. It’s happening when they’re most needed.
“By race, nonwhites still have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90 percent.”
“But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76 percent enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare or near-poverty.”
“By 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the US will experience bouts of economic insecurity.”
According to Professor Mark Rank:
“Poverty is no longer an issue of ‘them.’ It’s an issue of ‘us.’ Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need.”
Data Professors Tom Hirschl and John Iceland compiled provide more context. They show:
• for the first time in nearly three decades, impoverished single-mother households surpassed or equaled black ones; they exceeded numbers of Hispanic single mother families; and
• numbers of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods increased.
According to a University of Chicago General Social Survey, whites are more pessimistic about their futures than since the depths of the early 1980s.
“Just 45 percent say their family will have a good chance of improving their economic position based on the way things are in America,” said AP.
Polls show over 80% of Americans mostly don’t trust government. Congress’ approval rating is 11%.
It’s barely above its all-time February and August 2012 10% low. Given the margin of error, they’re’s virtually no difference between then and now.
Americans are suffering. Things go from bad to worse. Republicans and Democrats are in lockstep. They’re cutting social protections when they’re most needed.
Expect greater harshness ahead. Most people are fed up. Poll numbers show it. Conditions are far too deplorable to ignore. It remains to be seen what’s next.
A previous article said people power alone can save us. They’re’s no other way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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- Why Robert Reich cares so passionately about economic inequality (pbs.org)
- ‘Inequality is bad for everyone’: Robert Reich fights against economic imbalance (pbs.org)
- Must-See Movie, “Inequality for All” with Robert Reich, Opens Sept. 27 (huffingtonpost.com)
- More Inequality Updates (madeinamericathebook.wordpress.com)
- Project Censored’s Top 25 Most Censored News Stories from 2012-2013 (consciouslifenews.com)