Trans Mountain pipeline costs are adding up for Canadian government

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享National Observer:The Trans Mountain oil pipeline is costing a Canadian Crown corporation some staggering interest expenses that cast doubt on strong revenues from the infrastructure touted in the federal government’s recent economic update.The interest expenses were $20 million over a single month in September, right after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government purchased the pipeline and related assets from Texas energy company Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion. As part of the purchase, the government also had to set aside an additional $500 million as a security deposit in case of environmental damage, and this appears to be part of the interest expenses.If the interest expenses continue to pile up at that rate over the year, they will come to represent a larger sum than the amount of money that the government has said the pipeline is on track to raise this year primarily from toll charges.Oil pipelines earn revenues by charging tolls to companies that are shipping fuels on the infrastructure. The Trudeau government has said that the proposed Trans Mountain expansion project, if completed, would generate more revenues and could be sold back to the private sector, along with existing assets, as a profitable venture.In a new quarterly report, the Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDEV), the Crown corporation that now owns and operates the pipeline through a network of subsidiaries, said it incurred $21.27 million in interest expenses related to Trans Mountain during the third quarter ending Sept. 30.The pipeline from the oil patch to the west coast and its related expansion project was acquired by Ottawa in a deal that cleared Aug. 31. These two dates represent approximately a month’s worth of expenses, or $255.24 million over the year. That is well above the “over $200 million” that Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s fall fiscal update said the pipeline was on track to make in “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization,” or EBITDA, a type of metric used in finance to show a performance snapshot. EBITDA doesn’t include things like capital investment costs or expenses linked to debt.Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, co-authored a report in June with Kathy Hipple, a financial analyst at the institute and corporate finance lecturer at Bard College, stating that the Canadian government was facing at least $11.6 billion in costs to complete the pipeline. “This transaction and the cost of further planning and construction could add a $6.5 billion unplanned expenditure to Canada’s budget during FY 2019,” the report states, boosting Canada’s projected deficit by 36 per cent.Sanzillo told National Observer that while it is not uncommon for a government economic development transaction to keep revenues, capital costs and operational expenses separate, the interest expenses and fiscal update numbers represent an incomplete picture. “For a project of this size and importance,” said Sanzillo, “the executive has a responsibility to also produce an all-in-one, true and accurate inclusive project accounting that answers the question: ‘How much is this costing the Canadian taxpayer?’ These financial disclosures are partial, and absent a full accounting, are irrelevant. Because it is only a partial explanation, it says nothing about the financial viability of the project.”More: The Trudeau government’s Trans Mountain purchase has triggered staggering interest expenses Trans Mountain pipeline costs are adding up for Canadian governmentlast_img read more

Doctor oversaw 3 inmate deaths

first_imgSAN JOSE, Calif. – A doctor at San Quentin State Prison was placed on paid administrative leave after three inmates died under his care, a newspaper reported Saturday. Garen Vong of San Francisco is allegedly the physician described in federal court documents as “Dr. X” in connection with three preventable deaths, according to the San Jose Mercury News, citing prison health care records. Vong was sidelined by prison officials on Feb. 3, four days after the death of the third patient, Bobby Lee Duren, who was serving a nine-year assault sentence. Duren, 48, of Oakland, was diagnosed with bronchitis, but shortly afterward had a heart attack and died from massive bleeding into his lungs. Officials have not determined what caused the bleeding. In June, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson ordered a federal takeover of the prison system, citing later the “incompetence and outright depravity in the rendering of medical care.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It was another example, not only of bad medical care, but information was known about a physician who was dangerous and responsible for patients dying,” said Dr. Joe Goldenson, San Francisco’s jail health services director, who reviewed Duren’s file at the request of the judge. Investigators with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed that Vong was placed on leave and said they were looking into whether Vong committed medical malpractice. But spokesman Todd Slosek said the agency could not comment directly on specific cases. Vong defended his treatment of Duren and said he was cleared in the other two deaths. “I don’t think I should be held responsible,” said Vong, a 1978 graduate of the University of Saigon Faculty of Medicine. A class-action lawsuit filed by inmates in 2001 led to an agreement to overhaul the state’s $1.1 billion prison health care system. But lawyers accused the Schwarzenegger administration of failing to implement the changes and asked a federal judge to take over. A panel of three medical experts appointed by the judge found widespread negligence within the system, including 10 preventable deaths at San Quentin, three of which were attributed to Dr. X. last_img read more

How DJ Varnika Kundu stood up to her high-profile stalkers

first_imgAt 12.30 pm on what had until that moment been an unusually quiet Friday night, Ajay Kumar, one of the constables on the ‘graveyard’ shift at the police control room in Chandigarh, answered a distress call. A frightened woman, very evidently on the verge of panicking, said she was being,At 12.30 pm on what had until that moment been an unusually quiet Friday night, Ajay Kumar, one of the constables on the ‘graveyard’ shift at the police control room in Chandigarh, answered a distress call. A frightened woman, very evidently on the verge of panicking, said she was being chased. Two men in a white sports utility vehicle were following her and had attempted to block her way and tried to force entry into her car. She gave him the registration number of the vehicle stalking her. The young policeman advised her to keep driving. “We are on our way. Don’t worry,” he reassuringly told her. Acting with astonishing alacrity, two PCR vans in the vicinity of the pursuit, by then along Madhya Marg, the main arterial road running through Chandigarh’s northern sector towards Panchkula in Haryana, began closing in.Precisely 10 minutes after she called the control room on the emergency 100 number, Chandigarh police personnel had nabbed her stalkers. “Tum jaante ho hum kaun hain (do you know who we are),” one of the men shouted, hoping to intimidate the cops. “We don’t want to know who you are,” head constable Satish Kumar retorted, deftly grabbing the keys from the SUV’s ignition. He then reported the arrests to the area police station in Sector 26.Fortuitously, the would-be assailants were netted only yards from the Chandigarh-Haryana border at what is locally referred to as the ‘Housing Board chowk’. And this is important because of who they are: Twenty-four-year-old Vikas Barala, the man driving the SUV, is the son of Haryana’s Bharatiya Janata Party president Subhash Barala. He was accompanied by Ashish Kumar, 26, a lawyer from Fatehabad. “If they had entered Panchkula (Haryana), it would have been impossible to arrest them,” Kumar said. The arresting officers have stated that both men were ‘reeking of alcohol’, a fact that doctors at the government hospital where they were taken for medical examination also later noted.advertisementBack in April 1988, just a few years into his service as a Haryana cadre IAS officer, Virender Singh Kundu and his bride Sucheta were blessed with their first-born. They named her Varnika (Sanskrit for ‘pure like gold’ or the ‘moon’). Some years later, Sucheta had their second daughter, Satvika. “My mother, who’s always been so proud of her son and believed he could do no wrong, wasn’t exactly happy when told we didn’t plan more children,” Kundu recalls with a bit of a chuckle. The officer, after all, hails from the intensely patriarchal Jat hinterland-a village called Shahpur in Panipat district-where the age-old preference for sons is no different even today.”It hasn’t been easy to raise two daughters,” says Kundu. Though living in the relatively modern and liberal climate of Chandigarh, he says, made life simpler. Fairly early in his career, the couple built a home in Panchkula (continuation of Chandigarh into Haryana) to give their girls the security and comfort of a modern city. The decision to not live in a government house, the officer says, also allowed him to resist political pressures or influence. “I’ve never been afraid of being transferred,” he explains.The Kundus are an unusual family. As Varnika, wearing her streaks of premature grey hair as a statement of her independence of thought and spirit, says, “My parents brought us up not as two girls but as two people.” Virender and Sucheta let their girls grow instead of trying to raise them. “We never even thought of trying to set them on a particular path or influence their choices,” says their father. Of course, he had doubts whether it was the right way to go, but as things have turned out, the couple say they are happy they didn’t attempt to ‘manicure’ Varnika and Satvika.o when Varnika showed an early interest in music, Kundu encouraged her, employing his knowledge of physics (he did a master’s from Chandigarh’s Panjab University before joining the civil service) to build her first rudimentary audio mixer. And six years ago when she decided to become a full-time DJ, both parents happily supported her unusual career choice. Initially starting out as Chandigarh’s first and only woman DJ at the then newly opened Girl in a Cafe restaurant, Varnika now freelances, doing gigs in Chandigarh and Delhi. She also composes music inspired by groups like Radiohead and Flying Lotus.Late nights that oftentimes turn into early mornings go with Varnika’s chosen turf. But then the Kundu sisters have always been encouraged to be independent. Years ago, the family, including mom and dad, trained together to earn their respective black belts in Choi Kwang-Do (a gentler-on-the-joints version of the martial art taekwondo). So upping and driving off by herself to a gig in Delhi or Gurgaon, or driving home late from Chandigarh was never something either Varnika or her parents had been particularly concerned about.advertisementDinner table discussions in the Kundu household were never about the perils that Varnika’s career choice could bring. They were always about what she needed to do if the situation ever turned ugly-just like it did when Barala and Ashish attempted to abduct her in Chandigarh on the night of August 4.Like almost any other woman or girl, Varnika’s been in somewhat similar situations before. “I was never afraid,” she says. On one occasion, her mother followed her at a safe distance, a rod in hand, to waylay a particularly persistent, offensive man on a bicycle. “Boys, men will follow you, but will usually give up the chase the moment they see you’re on the phone (calling for help) or if they spot a PCR vehicle,” she says.That night was different. She had absolutely no notion of who they were, but Varnika had no doubt of their intentions. Twice during the chase, the man (Ashish) on the passenger seat of the SUV got off and tried to force her car door open. “They were brazen,” Varnika recalls. Both, in Sector 26 and finally at the Housing Board chowk where they were nabbed, Barala and Ashish were clearly not afraid of being challenged and tried to enter Varnika’s car in full view of people in other vehicles.”That entire time that the SUV stayed alongside my car, trying to bully me into stopping every 10-15 seconds. I was in a full-blown panic attack because they would keep trying to corner me, and I’d somehow manoeuvre my way out and keep moving. My hands shaking, my back spasming from fear, half in tears, half bewildered, because I didn’t know if I’d make it home,” a thoroughly traumatised Varnika wrote on her Facebook page the next morning.Hailed widely for her ‘courage’, Varnika says the truth is that she was ‘terrified’ right until the moment she drove home and spotted her father. But despite the all-encompassing fear, she did exactly what had been discussed at home about such situations-call 100, extract herself from the situation, then call home.But there is real courage in what the Kundus chose to do after the incident. Undeterred by the fact that the accused belong to the ruling BJP in Haryana and Delhi, they have decided to pursue the case to its logical conclusion. Confronted with the terrible prospect of losing Varnika that night, Kundu says the fact that she came home safe has given him immense strength. “We will pursue this till they (the accused) get what they deserve,” he says.A week after, a very calm and collected Varnika too is becoming brave about absorbing and dealing with the vicious flood of attempts to shame and blame her on social media.advertisementConsider this: Shaina NC, a prominent national spokesperson of the BJP, tweeted an old photograph of Varnika (possibly stolen from her Facebook page) with two boys and misidentified one of them as Vikas Barala, to suggest that they had ‘history’. She actually tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Though Shaina took down the post claiming that her account had been hacked, the BJP’s Union minister of state for heavy industries Babul Supriyo let loose a series of tweets questioning the Chandigarh police’s investigation of the case. “A guy chases a girl-he’s drunk! Deplorable. But why charge him with ‘abduction’ without investigation,” the minister tweeted on August 8. This, a day after Haryana BJP vice president Ramveer Bhatti publicly blamed the victim for being out so late!It doesn’t stop there. Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala’s supporters and family members launched ‘Justice for Vikas Barala’, a Facebook page bearing unprintable verbiage shaming his victim. Among those leading the attack on social media is Vikas’s own cousin Kuldeep Barala, who reportedly already stands accused of abduction and molestation in the BJP chief’s home constituency Tohana.Varnika Kundu, who has shunned any manner of politics until now, says the huge outpouring of support from the public is essentially what is giving her the strength to press on.A week after the incident, in Chandigarh more than 500 women spontaneously responded to #MeriRaatMeriSadak (MyNightMyStreet), a call that local women’s activist Amy Singh made on Facebook. There were ripples elsewhere too with similar demonstrations in Delhi, Jaipur and Panchkula.For the record, Barala and Kumar were arrested and released on bail within hours on August 5 because the Chandigarh police initially chose to charge them with only drunken driving and stalking (both bailable). Four days later, in the face of mounting public outrage, Vikas Barala and Ashish Kumar were arrested with the added (non-bailable) charges of attempted abduction, wrongful restraint and attempt to commit offences punishable with imprisonment. The ‘dirty’ duo, who have pleaded “not guilty” in court, are in judicial custody at Chandigarh’s Burail Jail till August 25.The Kundus, meanwhile, are gearing up for a long legal battle. Varnika has also decided to put her gigs as a DJ on hold till she’s done with the case.last_img read more