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Daily Tech News 20 February 2023 | Main | Mid-Morning Art Thread
February 20, 2023

The Morning Report — 2/20/23

buttigiegkong.jpg

Good morning kids. Happy President's Day, which is a total joke considering it completely subsumes George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and throws them in with the likes of James Buchanan, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ and the jug-eared dog-eater. Sponge-Brain Shits-Pants is an asterisk. Then again, America today is an asterisk in the wake of the events of 2020. And if you consider that the asterisk resembles a certain anatomical aperture. IIRC it's called the buttigieg. But I digress.

The top story continues to be the toxic waste disaster that is threatening to turn southeastern Ohio and perhaps beyond into a sort of chemical Chernobyl. As bad as the initial derailment and spill of thousands of gallons of vinyl chloride, somehow the geniuses on the ground who are charged with mitigating the contamination and cleaning up the mess decided to open the valves on the tank cars that had only been derailed and were still sealed . . . and then toss a match to it.

I'll be the first to admit to not being Red Adair, and that being a model railroad hobbyist who also got a B in high school chemistry does not make me an expert in this kind of situation. But, as CBD and I incredulously pondered on the latest episode of the podcast (linked here and in the sidebar) how could those tasked with mitigating the problem and cleaning up the spill intentionally turn a serious but perhaps containable/controllable accident into a massive environmental and health disaster that will no doubt turn East Palestine and the surrounding region into a toxic wasteland perhaps for years if not decades to come?

I am a retired engineer having significant experience with pressure vessels and some background with DoT tank regulations.  I offer my thoughts based on limited knowledge and a little thinking.

From what I could learn, the contents of the tank(s) were becoming unstable and pressure was increasing.  It was feared that the tank would explode and send shrapnel everywhere.  So the decision was made to relieve the pressure with a “controlled burn.”  This story raises many questions that must be answered.

The first question is, what was causing the pressure to build?  Physically there is no difference between a tank sitting on its wheels on a track and a tank lying on its side on the ground.  There is nothing about a tank lying on the ground that would cause pressure to build.  Was there a fire around the rail cars?  I’ve seen nothing indicating that this was the case, nor is it likely there was a wild land fire in the middle of winter in Ohio.  How did they know pressure was building?  Were they monitoring a pressure gauge on the tank?  If so, they were close enough to put out any fire that might be threatening the tank.  Furthermore, transport tanks are equipped with a pressure relief valve that would not allow pressure to build enough to burst them.  Note:  if the contents of a transport tank are so hazardous that they are unsafe to vent via a relief valve, additional requirements are imposed on tank strength and integrity during accidents. 

Because rollovers and derailments are expected, hazardous transport tanks are designed to survive them.  They are also designed with rollover protection so that fill connections are protected to remain accessible and functional in the case of these accidents.  This would have allowed responders to connect to and empty the tanks into alternates such as over-the-road tanks and then hauled away.  Why was this approach rejected?

Finally, these tanks are made of ductile material, typically mild carbon steel. They do not eject shrapnel whey they burst.  Rather, they split apart with all material remaining contiguously attached.  The tank itself might become airborne, but it would not break up into pieces.  Why was the governor of Ohio told the tank would produce shrapnel? Even if the shrapnel scenario were true, how would that be more hazardous than releasing tons of hazardous acid and toxic fumes?

As I had stated on Friday, the railroads, like virtually every other aspect of life in general is now regulated out the wah-zoo. There are 74,532 pages of regulations in the Federal Register, all enacted by unelected bureaucrats yet carry the force of civil and criminal penalties. You can bet your balls to a barn door that railroads and how they handle cargo, especially toxic cargo, comprise more than just a handful of those pages. Not just railroads but as the author notes, the construction of the tank cars down to every last nut, bolt, washer and cotter pin.

Perhaps the prime indisputable, inescapable and immutable law of nature is this: SHIT HAPPENS. We get into trouble when we think we have the ability to prevent things from happening just because we pass laws or issue regulations. That is the fatal conceit of Leftists, in that they believe beyond all doubt despite 10,000-plus years of recorded history to the contrary, that they can regulate life to the point of guaranteeing our personal safety. All we have to do in return is give up our freedom. And therein lies another rub in that those who assume that the Left does this merely for altruistic reasons also have not paid attention to what has transpired over that aforementioned time period. Hell, just the past 100 years alone is enough evidence. But I digress.

The author of this essay rightly points out that there are so many safety features designed into these tank cars, which have been transporting and continue to transport millions upon millions of gallons of some of the most toxic substances you can imagine across thousands of miles of railroad track for decades, that even a nasty spill like this should not have gone from a serious incident into a disaster of historic proportions. Something is afoot here. If it's some sort of criminal sabotage that caused the train to jump the track that's bad enough. Equally bad is poor maintenance of the trackage and/or the trucks (wheels) of the cars that derailed. By the way, the evil greedy railroads are required by laws and regulations to inspect and replace wheels and other elements of the rolling stock on a regular basis. And the evil greedy railroads are mostly owned by Democrat-Leftist financial institutions like Blackrock and Vanguard.

So whatever caused the derailment, malfeasance or criminal sabotage/terrorism should, of course, be thoroughly investigated. That said, if it turns out to be the latter, I fully expect a coverup by the DOJ/FBI should it be either the E.L.F. or Isis. Meh, they're probably trying to tie this to some pro-Trump MAGA people as we speak (do I sound jaded?).

But the issue here is the reaction to this. Given all we know about the nature of these tank cars and their general record of safety over the course of decades, whatever accidents and spills that may have occurred in that time frame notwithstanding, how could those charged with mitigating the problem have thought it wise to empty thousands of gallons of safely contained chemicals and then put a match to the whole thing?

There are only two possible reasons I can think of: rank incompetence or intentional criminal malice. That said, more often than not, they go together (like ramma-lamma-lamma). As was noted, East Palestine and its environs voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the past two elections. Is it crazy to believe that someone in the government ordered the people on the ground to do this and that those on the ground without hesitation just followed orders unquestioningly? The chain of command that stretches from D.C. to Columbus and to East Palestine must include dozens or hundreds of people. Surely at least one of them said that torching the tank cars was madness? This entire episode paints a truly frightening picture of human nature, the level of competency of those charged with our safety, on the ground and behind a desk, and worse, pure evil if doing this was an act of political retribution.

If you think that that stinks, I direct your attention to the skies above Montana:

The administration immediately claimed the balloon was a Chinese Spy Balloon, and yet when asked the obvious question — why was it not shot down — the administration responded that the debris could harm civilians on the ground.

The same administration just sat idly by as deadly vinyl chloride was recently lit on fire in Palestine, Ohio — spewing poisonous gases into the air. That harm to nearby residents seems to be of little concern to the Biden administration.

But when it came to an alleged Chinese spy balloon soaring above a state with the third lowest population density, the administration was very concerned with debris harming…just who and what exactly? . .

. . . One explanation for the Biden administration’s sudden policy change — from 'it is a threat, but we can’t shoot it down', to 'it likely ,i>isn’t a threat so we must shoot it down' — is that it’s a pathetic effort by the Administration to virtue signal its sudden concern for our national security and counteract criticism of incompetence and weakness.

While possible, it fails to explain why the administration was so reluctant to shoot down the Chinese Spy Balloon.

One theory for this is that the Biden administration is bought and paid for by the communist Chinese. While it’s true that Biden and other officials are certainly compromised by the Chinese, what if the balloon had nothing to do with China? What if the ‘Chinese Spy Balloon’ was actually a U.S. Spy Balloon? What if the administration’s insistence that it was Chinese was actually a convenient narrative to hide an even more alarming secret? . . .

. . . Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed concern that “Even in tests, they’re still collecting a lot of data on Americans: who’s driving to the union house, the church, the mosque, the Alzheimer’s clinic. “We should not go down the road of allowing this to be used in the United States, and it’s disturbing to hear that these tests are being carried out, by the military no less.”

While this technology may not be exclusive to the United States, the description of the balloon — both in size and capability — matches that described recently soaring over Montana. Notably, the balloons are subject to fewer restrictions and regulations than drones.

Furthermore, private companies like ‘World View’ are dedicated to advancing this very technology. World View purports to be “a global leader in stratospheric exploration and flight.” . . .

. . . The FCC filing also suggested that the balloons might also carry a Sierra Nevada video capture system called Gorgon Stare; a wide-area surveillance system comprised of nine cameras capable of recording panoramic images across an entire city simultaneously.

Despite Biden’s worrisome ties to China, it makes more sense that the administration was reluctant to shoot the balloon down because it was part of a U.S. DARPA program — a U.S. balloon — rather than a Chinese spy balloon.

The question isn’t what is China doing with these balloons, but what is the U.S. government doing with these balloons and what are they being used for.

Coincidentally, just weeks before the supposed Chinese Spy Balloon was seen hovering over Billings, Montana, the stratospheric exploration leader World View announced a merger agreement to create a public company with the Leo Holdings Corp — a deal valued at $350 million dollars.

It’s no secret that the U.S. Government has invested heavily in these spy balloons and the administration has repeatedly sought to normalize their existence; even claiming that the Biden administration had learned that such balloons had been detected during the Trump administration, unbeknownst to Trump and his own officials.

ADDENDUM: The Chi-Coms are indeed screaming bloody murder about us shooting down their balloon and demanding we return the wreckage. That said, did the Chi-Com balloon overflight accidentally reveal the existence of our own spy balloons that are surveilling the American citizenry? That sounds rather plausible to me.

They're from the government and they're here to help you. By the way, I saw Gorgon Stare open for Kraftwerk at the Sportspalast in '33 . . .

    ABOVE THE FOLD, BREAKING, NOTEWORTHY

  • Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed concern that “Even in tests, they’re still collecting a lot of data on Americans: who’s driving to the union house, the church, the mosque, the Alzheimer’s clinic. “We should not go down the road of allowing this to be used in the United States, and it’s disturbing to hear that these tests are being carried out, by the military no less.”
    Could the 'Chinese Spy Balloon' Have Been a US Spy Balloon?
  • “Abortion-rights activists were already launching attacks on pregnancy resource centers online.”
    Pro-Lifers in the Crosshairs
  • Lloyd Billingsley: "Slain DHS whistleblower declared a criminal and remains under investigation by Customs and Border Protection for 'contraband' and possible U.S. Code violations."
    FBI Deepens the Mystery of Philip Haney


NOTE: The opinions expressed in the links may or may not reflect my own. I include them because of their relevance to the discussion of a particular issue.

ALSO: The Morning Report is cross-posted at CutJibNewsletter.com if you want to continue the conversation all day.

Follow us on Twitter: @CutJibNews
Follow us on Instagram: @Cutjibnewsletter

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posted by J.J. Sefton at 07:47 AM

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