A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • Antipope Charlie Stross wrote last night about the political consequences of the Scottish referendum.
  • blogTO notes that east-end strip joint Jilly’s could become a boutique hotel and restaurant combo much like the Drake.
  • Centauri Dreams reviews the discovery of Pluto’s moon Hydra.
  • Engage with Crooked Timber‘s open thread on the Scottish referendum if you wish.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper predicting the existence of an exoplanet, Kepler-47d.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares the story of how Soviet space station Salyut 7 was saved by two cosmonauts.
  • Geocurrents notes the unreal claims of the Islamic State.
  • Joe. My. God. shares the story of the lesbian couple in Iowa together for 82 years before marrying.
  • The Lawyers, Guns and Money discussion on the consequences of the Scottish referendum is noteworthy.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that the Irish economy is starting to see faster growth now.
  • Torontoist notes that Doug Ford has launched his campaign website.
  • Towleroad shares the story of San Francisco supervisor Scott Wiener who has announced that he takes PrEP.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia is set on an Argentine-like trajectory of missed growth and calls for more attention to the plight of Crimean Tatars.
  • Zero Geography’s Mark Graham maps the pre-referendum Scottish presence on social networks.

[URBAN NOTE] “Strategists for Soknacki and Stintz throw support behind Tory”

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CP24 reports. It looks like this campaign is John Tory’s to lose now.

Earlier on Friday, two key strategists who worked on the campaigns for Karen Stintz and David Soknacki threw their support behind Tory.

Tory welcomed Stintz’s campaign chair Paul Brown and Soknacki’s adviser Gordon Chong outside city hall Friday morning, but did not specify the exact roles they will play on his campaign.

“To me this is important evidence of the fact that we are gaining momentum and that we are gaining new people to our cause to bring the city together and to create one Toronto,” Tory said. “I am just very happy to have them show this gesture of confidence in me, our campaign and perhaps more importantly what this campaign is about.”

Chong, a former councillor, was a member of Mayor Rob Ford’s transition team when he was elected in 2010 and authored a 2012 report on how to fund transit expansion in Toronto titled “Toronto Transit: Back on Track.”

In that report, Chong advocated parking taxes or levies and a special regional sales tax to pay for new infrastructure. On Friday, however, he told reporters that he believes Tory can in fact follow through on his SmartTrack proposal using Tax Increment Financing.

Under TIF, a government borrows money to fund the cost of a project and then pays it back using additional tax revenue generated by higher property values and increased development.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 19, 2014 at 8:08 pm

[LINK] “Canada’s great debt to Scotland”

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Author Ken McGoogan’s MacLean’s article about the contribution of Scottish Canadians to the creation of modern Canada is a nice brief take.

In uptown Toronto, if you look east across the street from the Royal Ontario Museum, you will see an elegant building that symbolizes what the Scots have done for Canada. It also suggests why, in light of today’s divisive referendum, Canadians should take a moment to think of their Scottish cousins. Originally, this stately, three-storey structure formed part of the University of Toronto. Today, the main tenant is Club Monaco, a clothing-store outlet geared to young professionals. If you step inside on a Saturday afternoon, you will marvel at the ethnic and linguistic diversity swirling around you.

What does that have to do with the Scots? I would argue: everything. The architect who designed this building, working with philanthropist Lillian Massey, and as part of an architectural firm owned by G.M. Miller, was my wife’s grandfather—a Scottish immigrant named William Fraser. Few people know his name. The Scottish architect has become invisible. Yet, when you look around from inside this neoclassical edifice, you realize that the architect is all around you. So it is with Canada. The Scottish architects are invisible. But if we stop and look around, we realize that they played a preeminent role in shaping our country. Nobody owes them more than we do.

Obviously, Canada is not just a land mass bordering on three oceans and a superpower. It is a cultural, political, and economic entity. It is a web of interconnected governments, businesses, institutions, organizations, and individuals—a complex interweaving of social programs, cultural networks and communications and transportation systems. That is why we can think of it as being “invented.” Canada is a multifaceted creation, one that, more than a decade ago, Richard Gwyn rightly identified as the world’s first postmodern nation.

Today, there are almost as many Canadians of Scottish heritage (4.7 million) as there are Scots in Scotland (5.3 million). Scottish Canadians constitute only 13 per cent of the Canadian population, and have never exceeded 16 per cent. Yet their shaping influence has proven wildly disproportionate. No matter how you approach the history of Canada—through exploration, politics, business, education, literature—you find Scots taking a leading role.

[. . .] I think we should highlight how Scottish Canadians fostered the pluralism that is the hallmark of postmodern Canada. Of this country’s 22 prime ministers, for starters, 13 claimed at least some Scottish heritage, or almost 60 per cent. These include Sir John A. Macdonald, William Lyon Mackenzie King, John George Diefenbaker and Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Would anybody suggest that these figures made no difference?

Written by Randy McDonald

September 19, 2014 at 2:49 am

[URBAN NOTE] “‘Toronto needs Doug Ford’ …”

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The National Post‘s Natalie Alcoba reports on Rob Ford’s recorded statement of support for Doug Ford’s mayoral bid.

Hours before he begins his chemotherapy, Mayor Rob Ford released a recorded statement in which he vowed to beat cancer and urged his brother Doug Ford to jump into the mayoral race, “wholeheartedly, right now.”

It’s the first time the city has heard from the mayor since he was hospitalized with a tumour last week which has since been diagnosed as a rare form of cancer called liposarcoma. Mayor Ford withdrew from the mayoral race last week and Doug Ford put his name forward, but the councillor has been at the hospital with his brother, not on the campaign trail.

[. . .]

“Last week I asked my brother to carry the torch and continue the work we started together,” the mayor said, sounding drained and with a raspy voice.

“Toronto needs Doug Ford as Mayor. There’s so much at stake in this election. The city’s future and the issues facing Toronto can’t wait. So, I’m encouraging my brother to jump into this race, wholeheartedly, right now.” He went on to tout his brother as a caring man with a “vision” and said he deserves credit, too, for the last four years.

“I could not have accomplished what we did without him,” said Mayor Ford.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 18, 2014 at 7:52 pm

[LINK] “Sanctions? What sanctions? Russians are shopping for food in Narva”

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Estonia’s Delfi reports that Russian shoppers are flocking to the Estonian border city of Narva in the search for foodstuffs unavailable in Russia following the imposition of sanctions.

The decision by Russia to ban the import of many Western foods in retaliation for sanctions over Ukraine in August has sent the grocery prices in the country soaring and greatly worsened inflation. Eesti Päevaleht reports that the Estonian border town Narva is experiencing a massive influx of daily shoppers from Russia, who are after cheaper food.

It used to be the other way round. Inhabitants of Narva – situated by the Estonia-Russia border – going to shop for vodka and cigarettes in Russia. Since the Russian embargo on many Western foods, most notably dairy products, the traffic has reversed – daily shoppers from across the border are carrying bags full of Estonian milk and sausages to Russia.

“Look, they are reporting about hungry Russians again,” a local resident joked when Eesti Päevaleht’s journalists approached a supermarket in Narva.

Jokes aside, things have gone sour for many people on the other side of the border. Over the weekend, the four large supermarkets in Narva are full of queues. Tax-free shopping is not anymore the main reason for Russians to travel here. People come for foods that they can now only dream about in Russia. And it is cheaper.

The bags are full of cheese, sausages, sour cream. The Russian embargo on imported Western foods applies for large quantities, not for personal shopping. However, the Russians who have taken a trip to Narva, are not eager to admit that they are here for basic commodities, and tried to put on a brave face when questioned by Eesti Päevaleht.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 18, 2014 at 7:43 pm

[LINK] “Belarusians try out a new language: their own”

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The Christian Science Monitor‘s Rachel Stern reports on what might be the beginning of a renaissance in usage of the Belarusian language in Belarus. Apparently Lukashenko’s government, hitherto content with presiding over the steady progress of Russian, is newly sympathetic to causes which might help differentiate Belarus from its eastern partner.

Every Monday evening, an airy contemporary art gallery in central Minsk is filled with a language rarely heard on Belarus’s streets: Belarusian.

An average of 240 people pack the premises of the gallery, dubbed Ў after a character that only exists in the Belarusian Cyrillic alphabet, for a free course to practice and fine-tune their skills in the official language. Since 1999, use of Belarusian has dropped dramatically in favor of Russian.

“We have our own language but most people here don’t use it,” says Veranika Famina, an actress who has been attending “Mova Nanova” – or “Language Anew” in Belarusian – since it launched in January 2014.

But many Belarusians are now taking an increased interest in their native language to assert their country’s own identity and culture apart from neighboring Russia. Mova Nanova and a growing number of unofficial linguistic initiatives are taking Belarusian beyond the school classes that it’s often isolated to and back into the public sphere.

“For young people, speaking Belarusian is cool. They feel more Europe-oriented,” says translator Iryna Harasimovich at the cafe at Ў, which showcases work only in Belarusian and English. “Belarus has historically been a pendulum between East and West and that’s only become more blatant due to the situation in Ukraine.”

Written by Randy McDonald

September 18, 2014 at 7:40 pm

[LINK] “Twitter Suggests Scotland Is Going Solo”

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Bloomberg’s Mark Gilbert notes a study of Twitter posts suggesting that momentum may be with separatists.

Opinion polls remain inconclusive as to whether Scotland will decide to secede tomorrow, as the final hours tick by before a referendum. Still, an analysis of Twitter messages by academics at Oxford University has shed a little more light, suggesting that the momentum is with those who favor independence.

Karo Moilanen, a visiting academic at the university, has dissected more than 1 million tweets in the past month. The “yes” campaign has generated more than 782,000 missives, compared with 341,000 for those backing the “no” movement. Both camps saw a dive in activity yesterday, though those backing the Scottish nationalists were still twice as active as the unionists[.]

Moreover, Moilanen’s software, called TheySay, parses the sentiments in messages using language algorithms. The results suggest those who would go it alone are more upbeat in their tweeting than their unionist opponents[.]

[. . .] The most recent opinion polls show the “no” campaign leading with about 52 percent, compared with 48 percent for the “yes” group when undecided voters are excluded. That makes the vote too close to call given the margins of error involved and the inherent imprecision of opinion polling. So the excitement of those young Twitter users, voting for the first time, may just determine the fates of both Scotland and the U.K.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 18, 2014 at 2:21 am


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