Global Corporate Control – Too big to exist

Many people suspect that large transnational corporations such as Goldman Sachs Group (US) or Sun Life Financial (Canada) are the primary beneficiaries of many governmental policies and regulations. There is also a feeling that large powerful corporations conspire with each other and this in turn is the basis for many conspiracy theories.

A recently published paper shows mathematically that there is *one* core group of tightly interconnected super nodes (powerful corporations) that dominate worldwide commerce. Their interconnected nature ensures that they have common interests, so no conspiracy is required and their massive wealth ensures that they can outright own any corrupt government that can be bought, such as the current Regime in the USA.

To show this, the authors started with 43060 transnational (TNC) corporations taken from about 30 million records in the Orbis 2007 database. They then analyzed the ownership links coming into and out of each TNC paying attention to who controls the majority of its shares. The following observations were noted:

  1. Mutual cross-shareholding (A owns part of B and B owns part of A) is very common. This discourages competition.
  2. There is only one strongly connected component in the core. If each of companies A, B and C all link to each other, then it is said to be a “strongly connected” component. Approximately three quarters of the ownership of each company in the core is held by the core itself. It is sort of like a case of extreme incest or an “old boys club”.
  3. Each company in the core on average has an ownership interest in 20 other core companies.

This passage from the paper sums it up nicely:

“We find that, despite its small size, the core holds collectively a large fraction of the total network control. In detail, nearly 4/10 of the control over the economic value of TNCs in the world is held, via a complicated web of ownership relations, by a group of 147 TNCs in the core, which has almost full control over itself. The top holders within the core can thus be thought of as an economic “super-entity” in the global network of corporations.” [1]

Look closely at the list of the top 50 transnational corporations in the table below, ranked by control of the global network of interconnected core companies. NACE codes that starts with 65 through 67, are financial institutions. SCC in the Network Position column means the company is part of the strongly connected core.

Number 15 is Walton Enterprises, the holding company for WalMart and its growing empire. It is classified T&T (tubes and tendrils) meaning that it is connected to the core but not as intertwined with other core members. China petrochemical group is also T&T – these make sense since they are massive, but newer players.

Members like Vanguard #8 marked IN (inward links) make sense since it holds billions in retirement investments and owns a great deal of everything.

Global network of control

Given that this small group of 50 companies controls 40% of the intertwined core, anything that would collectively benefit them all is something that you would expect them to try to acquire. Goldman Sachs for example, has had many former employees in high ranking positions in the US Government. Henry Paulson is a good example. What then would benefit the core?

Globalization, Automation, Banking Deregulation and tax havens are obvious areas. Of these, globalization is the most dangerous.

Free trade agreements and union busting allow human capital to be harvested at the bottom of the barrel where wages are poverty level, benefits non-existent and environmental regulations can be ignored. The only thing that gets in the way are trade protection rules and unions willing to strike. In the US and Canada, this translates having everything made in China. Walmart #15 has the most to lose from this so it should be not surprising that no Walmart store in North America has been successfully able to unionize and the total dominance of Asian made products for sale. Consumers are also partially to blame for not insisting on “made locally” products. However, with downward wages and inflation, people often shop at dollar stores out of desperation. The exodus of millions of manufacturing jobs is exterminating the middle class.

Most of the closely connected core companies are financial institutions. Finance is the only business where you can make trillions by being a parasite. They manufacture no real products and can get a small cut on every transaction. Their vast financial clout can manipulate prices globally to their benefit.

The ideal situation for them is to control the money supply of the world’s most valuable currency (via the Federal Reserve), remove all regulations to enable creative accounting (and fraud), have enough political influence to ensure that they will not be prosecuted when things go bad, promote the idea of privatizing gains and socializing losses (bailouts). Complicating tax laws helps too since transnational corporations can move product through many companies and claim the profits are incurred wherever taxes are lowest. Goldman Sachs helped Greece defraud the EU.

Significance for Canada

1. Some of the tightly connected core are right here – like Sun Life. This is not just a US problem. The core is too powerful to exist and needs to be regulated or broken up whenever possible. It is reasonable to expect that core companies will be promoting things that do not appear to be related to their apparent line of business because of the web of control.

2. Corporate lobbying and contributions to politics must be made illegal with severe repercussions for any form of bribery. Both the politician and lobbyist should be legally liable. The connected core has effectively unlimited resources to spend and will exploit every advantage.

3. All negotiations between corporate or foreign interests and politicians must be held in a public forum and recorded. Closed door negotiations should be illegal. While some deals may not happen without privacy, the potential for abusive underhanded dealings far outweighs any benefits. For example, should Canada be able to secretly negotiate trading North Atlantic fish quotas for a promise to buy Alberta wheat?

4. Harmonization of laws with other countries should NEVER be a primary goal. Corrupted regimes like the USA have many laws written by corporate lobbyists (copyright laws are a good example). These laws are not in the interest of US citizens let alone the rest of the world. Insuring our laws are similar is no different than letting the connected core companies write them for us. Why would Canadian politicians leak advance copies of laws to the US embassy for approval or feedback or as a favour?
This kind of behavior needs to land a politician in jail.
“Bernier promised to keep the Ambassador informed on the copyright bill’s progress, and indicated that USG officials might see the legislation after it is approved by Cabinet, but before it is introduced in Parliament.”Wikileaks document here

5. Strictly enforce local and diverse ownership of media (newspapers and TV) to limit its role as a mass propaganda organ. Media ownership should never be intertwined with other commercial interests. Ideally, there would be many independent radio and TV stations. Public radio and TV should be publically financed and completely independent of political interference.

6. Reform the voting system. One vote favors a two party system that is easily corrupted. Being able to check off all acceptable boxes on a ballot eliminates vote splitting and makes it far easier for a 3rd party candidate to get elected.

7. Implement term limits for all elected offices.

8. Pass strict whistle blower protection laws. Governmental classified documents that expose crimes should leak, and the messenger should be protected, not prosecuted.

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How to follow the U.S. Revolution (Occupy Wall Street)

A revolution has begun in the USA. You will hear very little about it on mainstream media, and what you do hear is misleadingly dismissive (small groups, hippies, wasn’t as large as the organizers hoped for, etc.) for obvious reasons — the owners of mainstream media and the public broadcasters like the BBC, CBC and PBS are afraid to cover it and blatantly support the status-quo. Even if journalists do their jobs, they will be quickly overruled as seen here in this before and after image.

NYT caught deceiving the public

The only way to see what is really going on is to bypass MSM (mainstream media) entirely, e.g. ignore the propaganda from the New York Times, CNN, and newspapers. The best place to get started is with twitter and search for a hash tag like #occupywallstreet. This will lead you to tweets with up-to-date links where you will find commentary, pictures and video. You will also find a lot of dis-information and lies posted by trolls, lunatics and paid propagandists. However, the human brain is a good noise filter and you will rapidly see a common thread of sanity and be able to find good material.

The revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya all started out small, but then expanded quickly and exponentially. While only thousands of people are marching in New York City every day, millions of people are following on twitter and social media. Support is global.


The central theme is that the vast majority (the 99%) have very little say in their “democracy” because corporations have been able to fund elected officials and this institutionalized bribery has resulted in countless policies that are wiping out the middle class. It also doesn’t matter anymore who you vote for because all the political parties serve the same interests, interests which have little in common with the 99%.

Many other themes will emerge later such as anti-capitalism. Improving democracy is the more socially acceptable rally cry at the moment but as people realize that our current society which was built on exponential growth and unlimited energy resources is dying — there will be demands for fundamental social changes. The 1% are powerful and have a lot to lose and will use their proxies (propaganda, police, intelligence agencies and the military) to fight to the end.

See 7 Core Demands from the Occupy Wall Street Movement for some of the demands that are emerging. These currently include:.

  • End the Collusion Between Government and Large Corporations/Banks, So That Our Elected Leaders Are Actually Representing the Interests of the People (the 99%) and Not Just Their Rich Donors (the 1%).
  • Investigate Wall Street and Hold Senior Executives Accountable for the Destruction in Wealth that has Devastated Millions of People.
  • Return the Power of Coining Money to the U.S. Treasury and Return to Sound Money
  • Limit the Size, Scope and Power of Banks so that None are Ever Again “Too Big to Fail” and in Need to Taxpayer Bailouts
  • Eliminate “Personhood” Legal Status for Corporations
  • Repeal the Patriot Act, End the War on Drugs and Protect Civil Liberties
  • End All Imperial Wars of Aggression, Bring the Troops Home from All Countries, Cut the Military Budget and Limit The Military Role to Protection of the Homeland

Have a look at the “We are the 99%” photo blog for a disturbing personal reminders of how bad things are in the USA. Here is a sample:

We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.
Despair in the USA
Higher education is a bubble, run by the same kind of people who control our banks, our homes, our health.

My mother came to this country believing it was the only place where one’s hard work and education could allow you to transcend the bonds of race, gender, socioeconomic class. I am about to receive my Ph.D. in a technical science from an Ivy League school. I earned scholarships and worked two full-time jobs in college to get here. I have worked on research and taught classes for six years on a stipend that would qualify me for welfare. There are NO jobs waiting for me when I get my doctoral degree. Despite working for the past six years, my university files graduate labor under a tax code that prevents me from applying for unemployment and that saves the university unforetold in tax breaks. Because the school is a private institution, we graduate students are unable to unionize, despite the fact that we provide a significant amount of the teaching and research labor that makes this school $$. EDUCATION IS NOT A PRIVILEGE but in this country it is held captive as such.

I went to graduate school believing that there might be some financial security afforded by a higher degree, and that with that security I could finally buy my mom her own house and take care of her. Instead, I have wasted six years of my life and am about to enter a job market that will tell me that I am overeducated and overqualified. I will no longer be able to help my mom pay for health insurance, and I will no longer have my own. I pray for our good health because that’s pretty much all we will have left. I am the 99%

All of the protesters demands are reasonable, and the only violence so far has been inflicted by the New York Police Department. For example: Women’s screams and cries as a police mace them in captivity and the video is here.

The image below shows three women that have been trapped behind a construction fence by the police. A while collar NYPD officer named Anthony Bologna comes up to the fence and sprays these these women in the face with mace.
NYPD criminal acts Also note the view count on the video — more than a quarter of a million views in one day and the ratio of likes to dislikes is 92%.

Go to and enter the search term #occupywallstreet or #takewallstreet and read the tweets.

There is a live video at which is also embedded immediately below this.

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at

Anonops is here:

Adbusters has good coverage

The NYC General Assembly of OccupyNYC has its own web site.

Occupy Wall Street also has its on Wikipedia page.

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Continental Integration NAI – (USA, Canada, Mexico)

North American Union or Continental Integration was discounted by most people as conspiracy theory until recently but is now a matter of public record thanks to Wikileaks. Since Canadians do not currently support integration, the US government and Canadian counterparts prefer an incremental approach to sneak it in piece by piece.

The diplomatic cable below states that there is a consensus amongst Canadian economists that union is beneficial — and given the nature of world politics, “beneficial” is clearly limited in scope to the benefit of powerful interests and not regular citizens. I would like to know who these economists are. Perhaps economist and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is one of them.

The use of quotes in the passage “Our research leads us to conclude that such a package should tackle both “security” and “prosperity” goals” is also interesting since it implies the writer considered them to be highly questionable.

A few more quotes stand out:

  • The central bank governor has taken the position that “monetary union is an issue that should be considered once we have made more progress towards establishing a single market.”
  • When advocating NAI, it would be better to highlight specific gains to individual firms, industries or travelers, and especially consumers.

It would be almost impossible to implement regulations and policies that maximize the quality of life for the average Canadian citizens if they had to be harmonized with US regulations, or worse yet, there was no Canadian authority. Far too many US policies are developed in conjunction with, and sometimes written by and for the exclusive benefit of large entities, such as the agricultural giant Monsanto, banks or the recording industry. The USG (U.S. Government) has a very low regard for the majority of humanity.

Some examples:
There are many good reasons to avoid genetically modified plants, especially the impact to a farmer’s legal rights to produce free seed for the next harvest. Whereas before a farmer could be self sufficient, now they have a corporate parasite in the food chain that can control the price of seeds. Countries that object to GM products are pressured or manipulated by the US government. See these cables French TV Film Attacks Us Biotech Regime or SLOW BUT STEADY: MOVING AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY FORWARD AT THE VATICAN

Feeding formula to infants when mothers do not have clean water to mix with the formula, can lead to diarrhea and death — so why would the USA lobby against it in a foreign country? POWERFUL LOBBY AND QUESTIONABLE LOBBY BACK POSSIBLE RESTRICTIONS ON MILK FORMULA

Canada’s attempts at reforming its copyright laws were heavily intertwined with US interests. Consider this:

Minister of Industry Maxime Bernier “also stated that the final copyright legislation “would be in line” with USG priorities, but was not more specific.”

“Bernier promised to keep the Ambassador informed on the copyright bill’s progress, and indicated that USG officials might see the legislation after it is approved by Cabinet, but before it is introduced in Parliament.”

Industry Minister Tony Clement’s policy director asked U.S. officials to add Canada to their Special 301 Priority Watch List known as the Copyright Blacklist. Zoe Addington, Director of Policy, Industry Canada “said that they have not yet determined if they will use bill C 61 as a model or start from scratch. In contrast to the messages from other Canadian officials, she said that if Canada is elevated to the Special 301 Priority Watch List (PWL), it would not hamper – and might even help – the GOC’s ability to enact copyright legislation.

Economic union would be an even greater disaster — Canada has a small population with vast resources, including hydroelectric resources that will be around long after the oil is gone. It is not recklessly inventing money (quantitative easing) and has been rather conservative with borrowing. The currency has real value. Canada is also free to set interest rates that make sense for current economic conditions unlike countries in the EU.

Contrast that with the US dollar which could easily collapse. It is also worth looking at the mess in Europe with the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Spain and Greece) threatening to take down the euro zone. Economic unions might work if all member economies were similar, their governments actually represented the people that voted them into power and corruption was not rampant. This is clearly not the case, and judging from the rest of the cables, most national governments constantly scheme against their citizens, lie continuously and commit atrocities – the only common thread being that some corporate entity or wealth family always benefits from the actions.

One part of the solution is clear — small (Disintegration) is better since it limits the power to do evil (see Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered), and anytime you hear about “efficiencies” ask yourself, “efficient or profitable for what”?

It is bad enough that some Canadian politicians are just as crooked as their foreign counterparts and work to deceive the voting public so that they can implement laws that harm their constituents but benefit corporate interests or make friends in the USG. However,”integration”, perhaps styled after the EU, would be vastly worse since there would be no local authority to object to outrageous abuses or at least, attempt to implement ethical policies.

The text below is the cable about NAI (North American Integration) referred to earlier. Please read it and make sure it never happens.










E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) 04 Ottawa 3431 (Regulatory agenda)

(B) 04 Ottawa 066 (Canadian trade policy)



¶2. (SBU) An incremental and pragmatic package of tasks
for a new North American Initiative (NAI) will likely gain
the most support among Canadian policymakers. Our research
leads us to conclude that such a package should tackle both
“security” and “prosperity” goals. This fits the
recommendations of Canadian economists who have assessed the
options for continental integration. While in principle
many of them support more ambitious integration goals, like
a customs union/single market and/or single currency, most
believe the incremental approach is most appropriate at this
time, and all agree that it helps pave the way to these
goals if and when North Americans choose to pursue them.

¶3. (SBU) The economic payoff of the prospective North
American initiative – in terms of higher incomes and greater
competitiveness – is available, but its size and timing are
unpredictable, so it should not be oversold. Still, a
respectable economic case has been made for such an
initiative, and this message spells it out. We believe
that, given growing Canadian concern about “border risk” and
its effects on investment, a focus on the “security” side
could also produce the most substantial economic/trade



¶4. (SBU) Canadian economists in business, academia and
government have given extensive thought to the possible
options for further North American integration. Nearly all
of this work assumes that each of the three countries is
pursuing standard economic policy goals – growth,
productivity and competitiveness (rather than more specific
concerns raised by Mexican analysts such as migration
management, regional development, or environmental
protection). Since 9/11, Canadian economists working in
this area have generally endorsed a comprehensive initiative
with the United States on security, trade, and immigration.
Following is our summary of the professional consensus:

PROCESS: At this time, an “incremental” approach to
integration is probably better than a “big deal”
approach. However, governments should focus on
choosing their objectives, and not on choosing a

BORDER VS. PERIMETER: Even with zero tariffs, our land
borders have strong commercial effects. Some of these
effects are positive (such as law enforcement and data
gathering), so our governments may always want to keep
some kind of land border in place. Canada and the
United States already share a security perimeter to
some degree; it is just a question of how strong we
want to make it.

BORDER RISK: The risk that business will be obstructed
at the border by discretionary U.S. actions, such as
measures to defend against terrorism or infectious
disease, in addition to growing congestion, have become
major risks to the economy, inhibiting investment in
Canada. For small businesses, the complexities of
navigating the border are apparently even more
intimidating than the actual costs. Reducing this risk
is Canada’s top motive for pursuing further

LABOR MARKETS: Many Canadian economists point to labor
markets – both within and among countries – as the
factor market where more liberalization would deliver
the greatest economic benefits for all three countries.
They advocate freeing up professional licensing laws,
and developing a quick, simple, low-cost work permit
system, at least for U.S. and Canadian citizens.

REGULATION: Canadian economists agree that Canadian
regulations (if not their standards, then their
complexity) are needlessly restricting foreign
investment and impeding food, communications and other
industries. (Inter-provincial differences are
important here, since Canada’s federal government does
not have the benefit of a U.S.-style “interstate
commerce” clause). While much of the problem is
domestic in nature, an international initiative could
help to catalyze change.

CUSTOMS UNION: A common external tariff, or a customs
union which eliminated NAFTA’s rules of origin (ROO),
is economically desirable. NAFTA’s ROO are so
restrictive that importers often prefer to pay the
tariff rather than try to prove North American origin.
However, economists differ on the size of the benefits
available and on whether these would justify the effort
of negotiation. One study estimated that a full
customs union which eliminated ROO would only raise
national income by about one percent.

CURRENCY UNION: Canadian economists are split on
whether a return to a fixed exchange rate, or adopting
the U.S. dollar, would benefit Canada in current
circumstances. (Canada last tied its dollar to the
U.S. dollar from 1962 to 1970). The central bank
governor has taken the position that “monetary union is
an issue that should be considered once we have made
more progress towards establishing a single market.”


¶5. (SBU) Past integration (not just NAFTA but also many
bilateral and unilateral steps) has increased trade,
economic growth, and productivity. Studies suggest
that border efficiency and transportation improvements
(such as the lower cost and increased use of air
freight) have been a huge part of this picture.
Indeed, they may have been more important to our
growing prosperity over the past decade than NAFTA’s
tariff reductions. Freight and passenger aviation are
critically important to our continent’s
competitiveness, and businesses are very sensitive to
the timing, security, and reliability of deliveries –
hence the “border risk” which so concerns Canadian

¶6. (SBU) A stronger continental “security perimeter”
can strengthen economic performance, mainly by
improving efficiency at land borders and airports. It
could also facilitate future steps toward trilateral
economic integration, such as a common external tariff
or a customs union, if and when our three countries
chose to pursue them. Paradoxically, the security and
law enforcement aspects of the envisioned initiative
could hold as much – or more – potential for broad
economic benefits than the economic dimension.
¶7. (SBU) Some international economic initiatives (such
as FTAs) produce across-the-board measures that
generate broad benefits for a country’s industries and
consumers on a known time-line. This was true of NAFTA
but it is less likely to be true of the economic
aspects of the NAI. Non-tariff barriers such as
standards and regulations generally must be tackled one-
by-one. This is a piecemeal process and the ratio of
payoff to effort is likely to be lower than with across-
the-board measures. Governments naturally focus on
resolving the problems which their firms or citizens
bring to their attention. While this approach has
merits, it tends to deliver the payoffs toward
particular interests. If there are hidden costs, there
might be little impact on national performance. As we
move toward a list of barriers to tackle, it will
remain important to balance those interests. For
example, some Canadian economists have suggested that
NAFTA fell short of expectations with respect to
increasing consumer choice in Canada; that may be a
theme we should stress as efforts to promote further
integration take shape.

¶8. (SBU) In contrast, cooperative measures on the
“security” side, a critical focus of current bilateral
efforts, can deliver substantial, early, and
widespread economic benefits. Security and law
enforcement within North America have evolved rapidly
since 9/11, leading to many less-than-perfect processes
for handling legitimate international traffic.
Collaboration to improve these processes could yield
efficiency improvements which would automatically be
spread widely across the economy, leading to general
gains in trade, productivity, and incomes.


¶9. (SBU) There is little basis on which to estimate the
size of the “upside” gains from an integration
initiative concentrating on non-tariff barriers of the
kind contained in NAI. For this reason, we cannot make
claims about how large the benefits might be on a
national or continental scale. When advocating NAI, it
would be better to highlight specific gains to
individual firms, industries or travelers, and
especially consumers.


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Mazda MPV transmission failures JATCO JA5A-EL zoom-zoom splat

When zoom-zoom goes bad

This is a place holder for a longer investigative article I am writing, and I am hoping that if yours failed too that you will leave some comments.

My experience was a total failure of a Mazda MPV 2002 automatic transmission (JATCO) with less than 100,000 miles and Mazda denying that there was any kind of known issue with them. The quoted price for a replacement from Mazda Canada was $5,500 installed which is outrageous. I opted for a used junkyard transmission but the first one the dealership installed slipped between gear changes to they had to find a second junkyard transmission and I had to rent a car for two weeks. I suspect a lot of Mazdas are just sent to the junkyard when the transmission fails.

Mazda Canada states “Regarding your transmission inquiry, there are no known manufacturing defects that will result in the failure of your transmission.” . However, in the literature link below, there is a update handbook available that refers to “many engineering changes” that need to be applied in the rebuild process. Mazda needs to recall these transmissions and apply these updates, or at the very least, offer them to customers with failed transmissions. Of course “should” doesn’t improve short term profit and recalls look bad on the financial statements, so I am not holding my breath. The only real cost to Mazda are the thousands of people like myself that will no longer be loyal customers. If I had done a Google search and found nothing out there, I would have written it off as bad luck and not bothered with this page — but there are thousands of complaints out there and the issues of lemon laws, class action law suits and recalls have been mentioned numerous times.

I also had a look at the JATCO site and saw that you could ask them questions provided that you agree “We send email replies only for the purpose of responding to specific questions from customers. We strictly forbid transfer, secondary use or disclosure to any third party, of all or part of the contents of such replies without our permission.” Outrageous – now customer service comes with prearranged gag order.

Technical Literature
Automatic Transmission Service Group

“The JATCO 5 speed automatic transmission is known as the JF506E in the Jaguar X Type and Land Rover’s Freelander. In the Mazda 6 and MPV it is known as the JA5A-EL and with VW’s Golf, GTI and Jetta it is the 09A. Overseas it is known as the 5F1J or the Durashift -5-Tronic transmission used in the Mondeo vehicle starting in 2002.5 model year. This manual contains the procedures necessary to diagnose, overhaul and/or repair the Mazda JF506E transaxle, and is intended for automotive technicians that are familiar with the operation of automatic transmissions.

Note: There have been many engineering changes in this transaxle since its introduction in 1999. ATSG also has available an “Update Handbook” which includes the many changes and is required along with this manual for a proper overhaul or repair.”

… more soon

Example Repair Costs

  • Feb 2011 – CDN$2300 for a local junkyard replacement, installed with 5 year warranty on part only. Dealer claims it is a nightmare and they are on their second used transmission 10 days later.
  • Feb 2011 – CDN$5500 for a Mazda Canada replacement, installed

Links that have discussions of Mazda failures and some quotes:
There are a lot of horror stories over at too.
“I purchased a 2002 Mazda MPV mini van brand new. I had taken it in a couple of times for a problem of when i pressed the gas it would stall and then jerk and make a clunk sound. the dealer could never replicate the issue, and the problem continued. now i justed turned 70,000 miles and the transmission failed and needs to be replaced at a cost of 2500-3000. As i look online i see hundreds of complaints on this same issue. there needs to be a recall on the transmissions. K of MT PROSPECT, IL Oct. 22, 2010 ”

APA (Automobile Protection Association) – 2004 Mazda MPV complaints
– there should be a lot more by now –
“Forty-one complaints concerning the 2000-2002 Mazda MPV have been filed by the public since November 2002. The owners who contacted the APA complained mostly about vibration and transmission problems. From November 2002 to March 2003, complaints were filed at the Toronto office using the short one-page form; twelve such forms were filled out by consumers. From May 2003 until today, complaints have been filed using the two-page form available on the web site and were sent to both the Toronto and Montreal offices. Twenty-nine such complaints were sent to the APA. All of the consumers who sent the APA completed forms identified themselves and left us their telephone numbers and, in most cases, their e-mail addresses.” Mazda MPV Transmission Problems (this thread has 170+ messages)
“My 2002 MPV with 68,000 miles started having problems with the transmission slipping into neutral. I took it to the local dealer who and service manager indicated there was an “internal failure” in the transmission and repair cost would be $3,500. They would order a rebuilt transmission from Mazda and install it. A transmission failure at this low mileage is not acceptable. My first and last Mazda! I’d strongly advise any MPV owners out there to get rid of their vans before it is too late.”

“I called Mazda today. They were useless. They said because I was out of warranty based on mileage and time of ownership ( 45 months and 68,000 miles) they could not do anything. It is annoying that the tranny would go at such low mileage and equally annoying that the repair is so expensive. Anyone reading this that owns a MPV, dump it now!”

“On Sept. 7th, 2010 at 97174 miles the transmission gave out. I lost the 4th, 5th, and reverse gears. I was able to get around at 25 mph in gears 1-3. Up until now shift shock had always been present. I didn’t get the recommended reflash because according to what I’ve read on various MPV blogs and forums most people that had it done still had shift shock. I concluded it wasn’t worth it. I had never changed the transmission oil because it isn’t recommended by Mazda. Why? I’ve pondered that for a long time. This repair in out of my league. I got quotes from $1200.00 to $3500.00 for rebuild or remanufactured (there is a difference). I contemplated a used transmission from the junk yard. Then the dreaded thought of sending my beloved MPV to the scrap heap. This year MPV qualified under the Cash For Clunker program. I should have done it then. I decided on a $2000.00 local rebuild buy a reputable well established transmission shop that was well acquainted with this type transmission and its flaws. I learned it is a JATCO (Japanese automatic transmission company) JF506E transmission. Used in certain Jaguar, VW, Mazda, Ford, Landrover models and other manufacturers. Excessive valve body wear and cracked and/or broken reverse piston seem to be the major and very common problems. Jaguar actually had a recall on the transmission. According to the transmission shop, all the new rebuild kits come with upgraded parts. all part flaws have been addressed. My MPV is on the road again. ”

Where to file complaints

Government agencies

Comsumer Protection sites

.. convenient links coming soon

Please leave a comment if you want to be notified of any future recall or action. I won’t publish your e-mail address so you won’t be getting any spam. If you leave failure details (mileage, age, year of the vehicle and repair cost or salvaged perhaps and some comments) will add them to a table.

Posted in Vehicles | Tagged | 26 Comments

On demand ventilation for your home (HRV Venmar Heat Exchangers)

How to use a Ventilation system effectively and why the controls that came with your unit are useless.

complete article is at:

I had previously written here about indoor air quality and ventilation requirement rules of thumb. These are generalities like how many times an hour the air in your home should be exchanged (ACH) such that you have decent indoor air quality. The idea was to size your ventilation system to be able to meet these targets — but as it turns out, the whole exercise is misguided.

We will now take a more fundamental look at the problem.

CO2 (carbon dioxide)

Human activity generates carbon dioxide (you breath it out) and this raises the levels above what you find outdoors. The level outside is about 400 ppm (parts per million) and once you enter your house, you start adding to these levels. A classroom with the door closed in school is about 1000 ppm when people start yawning and the point when many would say it is stuffy inside.

Oxygen levels also drop, but this is negligible because there is already lots of oxygen in the atmosphere. At 20% or about 1/5 of your living room full of oxygen, you are not going to notice a reduction in oxygen that makes you feel like you are on a mountain top somewhere. By contrast, CO2 levels start out at .0039% and are very tightly connected to your body’s biochemistry. If they rise, your breathing rate changes and you may feel tired.

Let’s start by looking at the CO2 and humidity levels in a room during a typical day where you sleep at night, have a burst of activity and then leave the home vacant and go to work. You return at 6pm and go to bed close to midnight.

CO2 levels without ventilation

Note the following:

  • The rate that the CO2 levels goes up is approximately double during the day as it is at night. This is because you aren’t exerting yourself much at night and burn less energy. You burn sugar and fats and make carbon dioxide just as your car produces CO2 by burning gasoline.
  • Rates fall off quite rapidly when you leave the house because of natural infiltration (drafts). They fall off even faster if the ventilation fan is on or it is windy outside.
  • Humidity is totally useless as an indicator that someone is home. You may get spikes during a morning shower as in the graph above, but unless you are boiling water for hours, it doesn’t change much throughout the day. Humidity is the red line in the graph above and one of the intakes for the ventilation is a foot from a shower stall.

There are many other pollutants that can lower the indoor air quality, but almost all of them are associated with humans being in the house. Smoking and cooking are obvious examples. If you can keep the C02 levels under control, you will likely keep everything else under control too. Of all the things you can test for, humidity is one of the most useless but unfortunately, that is exactly what the controls on a Venmar heat exchanger do.


Notice that there is a setting for Summer, assuming it will be more humid then so raising the set point will prevent it being on all the time. No matter what you set it at, it will either be on or off almost all the time since humidity levels don’t change rapidly. If you look at the red line in the graph above, where would you have set humidity control to turn on and off? (no good answer here). In other words, it is useless.

I previously suggested using a timer to turn the fans on and off with a set rhythm — two hours on and two hours off. This cuts your operating expenses in half, but is unfortunately still pretty dumb.

Natural air infiltration

Most houses have a lot of leaks and don’t need extra ventilation on windy days or perhaps at all. The house tested for this article had been very well sealed, for example:

  • The dryer vent was replaced with a non draft ball vent.
  • All plastic vapor barriers were glued together with acoustic sealant (a soft tar like black goo)
  • All pot lights were made air tight with plastic and expanding foam
  • One way air flaps were added to every bathroom fan
  • Door seals were touched up with silicone so that there were zero drafts
  • All wall sockets were sealed, some with special plastic boxes that seal the incoming wires.

So, given that this is far tighter than your average home, was the air infiltration very significant? Well, it all depends on the wind. When the winds are high (say 50 kmh and above, which is a typical city speed limit) the CO2 levels don’t even rise. When there is no wind at all, it gets stuffy rapidly. If you get your house tested with a blower door, they decrease the pressure by 50 Pascals (not enough to pop your eardrums) and look for drafts. A windy day does the same thing.

The graph below shows that on a really windy period, you don’t need extra ventilation to keep the CO2 levels low. On a day with no wind and lots of activity in the house, it can’t keep up. You could have a larger ventilation unit to solve this, but then it would be even more important for it to be intelligent enough to know when not to be on.

CO2 graph 1


To verify this, the Davis Vantage Pro weather station on the solar collector was used to overlay the C02 and humidity readings, and this was the result:

CO2 graph two

The colors have changed. Red is the high wind gusts so you can see this is a ridiculously windy place (Canadian North Atlantic). The lower dark blue link is the average wind speed, and the yellow is the CO2 level in parts per million. The period in brackets spanning about two days did not need extra ventilation and it isn’t surprising given the red (wind gusts) were hovering around 40 kmh. The controller was programmed to come on if the levels exceeded 750 ppm but this never happened.

CO2 graph three

The graph above shows that the wind finally stopped and the CO2 levels began to rise, and at the right bracket, the fan was finally triggered. The spike immediately after was due to some intense activities. If you start lifting heavy boxes or working out, you will find the levels go up very rapidly. Using a car as an example, exhaust at idle or a human sitting watching TV is nothing compared to driving at highway speeds or running on a treadmill.

There are a few ways we can keep the air quality decent and not waste too much expensive heat or cooling by having the fan run when it is useless. Since using the humidity control is useless and using a timer will save money but has no idea if it really ought to be on or not, we are left with:

  • Turn the unit on when it feels stuffy (instead of opening a window like you would have years ago). In this case, you are the carbon dioxide sensor.
  • Write a small program using a cheap remote control device like the X10 and its "firecracker" adapter to poll yahoo for the weather results and turn the ventilation on when wind levels are low, and also turn it off during periods when you are never home (e.g. single person that works 9-5).
  • Actually measure the gasses in the return air duct and make intelligent decisions based on reality.

To experiment with the 3rd, option, the following was set up:

Gas sensors were installed in the incoming and outgoing heat exchanger ports since this is the place where you can make an intelligent decision about whether it should be on or off.

The diagram below shows the basic layout of a heat exchanger. Warm air leaving (red arrow) passes through the diamond shaped block and warms the air coming in. This heat exchange and the ability to run the air through a filter is the whole reason behind using an $800+ ventilation system instead of opening your windows for free. The latter is often a good idea, especially when the temperature outside is pleasant.


Then using a micro controller like you might have in your microwave oven, a control program was set up to do the following:

  • Sample the air for 2 minutes and record various gas concentrations (CO2 is the important one), temperature and humidity. I’ve yet to detect propane, methane or natural gas in this house.
  • Keep it on for 2 minutes and then if the levels exceed 750 ppm, keep the fan on high until the levels drop back down to 700 ppm.
  • Once levels are back down to 700 ppm, stay off for 30 minutes, and then sample again for 2 minutes to see what changed.

CO2 controller

The final results are very interesting. The screen above shows the percentage of time that has been used for sampling and for purging stale air. Over the last week, the average has been:

  • 9% sampling (which is just the cost of sampling)
  • 25% purging (when it needs to be on)
  • The remaining 66% of the time it was off because it wasn’t needed.

Obviously if you used a timer to turn it on 25% of the time you would exhaust the right quantity of air, but there is no way it would be timed right. Furthermore, without the controller, I would never have known that 25% was what I needed on average this January, either. This of course is the whole problem with rules-of-thumb and sizing units based on the suggested number of air exchanges per hour. There are too many variables, so unless you have some way of measuring the pollutants in the air, you are just taking a wild guess.

CO2 controller

This picture above is showing that the current C02 level is 633 ppm (not enough to feel stuffy) and the fan is Off. The system has been idle for 19 minutes and 30 seconds and will soon turn on the fan for another sampling period.

CO2 controler

This photo above shows the real value of a heat exchanger. The air going out is 23.8°C with 30.7% humidity (room temperature) but the incoming air is already 16.9°C despite being -3°C outside (just below freezing with 75% humidity). The outgoing air is warm and releases heat from condensation when it cools in the heat exchanger core. If this was a ventilation system without the heat exchanger core, the incoming air would be a frigid -3°C instead of almost room temperature.

There is also a lot more that can be done with on-demand ventilation such as:

  1. Making a proper PID controller for it (e.g. control theory instead of on at 750 and off at 700ppm) and letting it control the motor speed. There are algorithms to minimize the operation costs or maximize rapid performance.
  2. Turning the fan on to cool the house after a hot summer day when it cools down after sunset or after a thunderstorm.
  3. Adusting the humidity levels when possible (based on the difference between the inside and outside humidity) to reduce the possiblity of mold growth. This is more of a comfort feature than saving money, although reducing humidity could save you from mold damage.
  4. Monitoring dust as well as CO2 by counting dust particles by adding a real-time dust particle counter. (cheap ones don’t exist so I will have to build one from scratch)
  5. Going bizzerk when explosive levels of propane/natural gas or poisonous carbon monoxide are detected (fan high and alarm sounding).
  6. Identifying the food being cooked and your guests by their odors and making voice comments (just kidding – although the technology is rapidly getting to that point.

It is a shame that millions of homes are stuck with brainless HRV units with failing motors leaving everyone with variable air quality and excessive utility bills. A fan motor draws about 200 watts and at 24 hours a day, this is 1725 kWh per year or about $175 in North America. The potential savings here would have been 66% or $115 a year, just for running the motor. The savings from the heat exchange part could also be significant if you live in a very cold climate and use electric heat. The health considerations around indoor air quality have some value too, but it would be impossible to quantify but potentially significant if you have smokers and non-smokers in the same household or have breathing problems.

All the data is now streaming into a SQL database and I’ll do some crunching later once I have all four seasons to analyze.

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