A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for June 2014

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Andart’s Anders Sandberg links to a paper of his examining the ethics of brain emulations. How ethical is it do make very life-like simulations of minds?
  • blogTO notes a public art movement tracing the former path of the Don River.
  • The Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell notes that population change in the US is a consequence of migration and natural change.
  • Centauri Dreams considers intergalactic travel. Given the huge travel times involved, travelling on a hypervelocity star ejected from a solar system may be more secure.
  • The Cranky Sociologists’ SocProf notes that not caring about a particular social issue until it affects you actually isn’t good for society as a whole.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper suggesting between 5.3 and 10% of Sun-like star ssupport Earth-sized planets in their circumstellar habitable zones, and another identifying HIP 114328 as a solar twin.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the latest developments in marriage equality in Finland.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen notes that Scottish devolution hasn’t changed much policy, perhaps passing over the possibility that perhaps devolution has prevented change.
  • Patrick Cain maps the 2014 Ontario election.
  • Torontoist notes that the Toronto Star has given the Toronto Public Library more than a million of its vintage photographs.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that, according to a recent court ruling, smartphones in the US are safe from arbitrary search.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine is steadily losing its position there.

Devjyot Ghoshal’s article at The Atlantic profiles one of the few growth sectors of American journalism, in the ethnic press.

As commenters note, the barebones nature of these operations don’t bode well for even their future, never mind larger mainstream organizations.

There are close to a hundred ethnic newspapers in New York City with a combined readership of 2.94 million, almost a third of the city’s total population, according to the New York Press Association.

Together this collection of monthly, weekly, and daily newspapers are part of a larger ecosystem: More than 270 community and ethnic publications in 36 languages that are published in New York. In the last two years alone, at least 21 new ethnic newspapers have been launched. In contrast, the number of daily newspapers in the United States has dropped from 1,480 in 2000 to 1,382 in 2011.

But these small publications, often run out of basements such as Rehman’s, are surviving—and occasionally even thriving, riding the coattails of the city’s burgeoning immigrant population. More than 3 million of New York’s 8.2 million residents are foreign-born, the city’s planning department estimates—the highest percentage of immigrants since the European influx of the 1930s.

Javier Castaño is among them. The Colombia-born journalist started out as a reporter for the United States’s oldest Spanish-daily, El Diario La Prensa. Eventually, he rose to become the editor-in-chief of Hoy Nueva York, a free Spanish-language daily. In 2008, Hoy’s print edition was shuttered, and Castaño fired.

Instead of finding another job, Castaño decided to turn publisher. He started the Queens Latino, an online news outlet focusing on Queens’s Spanish-speaking community. It’s a huge demographic bloc: More than 27 percent of the borough’s 2.3 million residents are of Hispanic or Latino origin. A few months later, he launched a monthly newspaper.

“They say that Latinos use the Internet in a strong way and they go to see videos all the time,” explained Castaño, sitting at his home-office in Jackson Heights. “But I don’t think they are getting the news still via the Internet. So you need that newspaper.” The Queens Latino currently prints about 15,000 copies every month.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2014 at 7:11 pm

[ISL] “Puerto Rico: Tropical Tax Haven for America’s Super-Rich”

I wonder how this new phase in Puerto Rico’s economic history, as reported by Business Week‘s Katherine Burton, will last.

It’s 2 a.m. at the La Factoria bar in Puerto Rico’s Old San Juan, a hipster joint with a sagging couch, tile floors, and Christmas lights that wouldn’t be out of place in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg. While Get Lucky plays, tipsy couples slink out the doors onto the colonial city’s cobblestone streets and into this warm April night. At the bar, a 28-year-old hedge fund trader—the type of person who posts his SAT results on his LinkedIn page—is ranting about the tax code. He’s obsessed with it, complaining that the U.S. is the only major country taxing citizens on their worldwide income, no matter where they reside. That’s why he moved here.

Struggling to emerge from an almost decadelong economic slump, the Puerto Rican government signed a law in early 2012 that creates a tax haven for U.S. citizens. If they live on the island for at least 183 days a year, they pay minimal or no taxes, and unlike with a move to Singapore or Bermuda, Americans don’t have to turn in their passports. (Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in federal elections.) About 200 traders, private equity moguls, and entrepreneurs have already moved or committed to moving, according to Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce, and billionaire John Paulson is spearheading a drive to entice others to join them.

Puerto Rico’s low-tax welcome mat comes as some of the wealthiest Americans grow more anxious about tax increases and rhetoric directed at the rich. Tax bills have risen after a 10-year break under President George W. Bush that disproportionately favored the rich. The 2008 global financial crisis and the recession that followed also unleashed movements such as Occupy Wall Street that focused attention on growing inequality and the responsibility of large financial institutions in helping to create the mess.

In October 2011 protesters marched by the homes of Manhattan’s billionaires, including Paulson’s. A little more than a year later, President Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney in an election that highlighted the latter’s wealth and private equity background. “I’m worried about the shifting mentality among the electorate, people blaming problems on the rich, on business, and on capitalism,” says Peter Schiff, a onetime candidate for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut and a former economic adviser to libertarian presidential hopeful Ron Paul. “I’m afraid that the tax rates that are already high will get higher in the years ahead,” maybe up to 60 percent or 70 percent, he added.

Schiff, who runs Westport (Conn.)-based brokerage Euro Pacific Capital, relocated his $900 million asset management arm from Newport Beach, Calif., to San Juan in 2013. He plans to move to the island within the next several years. (For now, a son from a first marriage is keeping him in Connecticut.)

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2014 at 7:08 pm

[LINK] “Expat voting: Court denies Ottawa’s fight for 5-year rule for voters abroad”

This news reported by CBC earlier this week is quite good, I think.

Canadians living abroad, regardless of when they left the country, will be able to cast ballots in next week’s federal byelections in Ontario and Alberta.

An Ontario Court of Appeal judge made the ruling today, denying the federal government’s request for a stay of a lower court ruling that would have extended voting rights to anyone who had lived outside the country for more than five years.

Monday’s decision comes just days before voters were to head to the polls on June 30 for four byelections — two in Alberta, two in Ontario.

It paves the way for about 1.4 million longtime Canadian expats to vote alongside others who moved abroad more recently.

An amendment to the Canada Elections Act passed in 1993 barred citizens abroad from voting in Canadian elections if they were out of the country for longer than five years.

But last month, Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Penny found the five-year rule arbitrary and unconstitutional.

“The [government] essentially argues that allowing non-residents to vote is unfair to resident Canadians because resident Canadians live here and are, on a day-to-day basis, subject to Canada’s laws and live with the consequences of Parliament’s decisions,” Penny wrote in the May 2 decision.

“I do not find this argument persuasive.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Posted in Canada, Politics

Tagged with , , , ,

[PHOTO] Cover of Eurythmics’ 1983 album Touch, recreated by Michael Venus for Nuit Rose

The cover of the Eurythmics’ 1983 album Touch is iconic, featuring Annie Lennox in her short dyed orange hair, wearing a leather face mask and flexing her muscles.

For Nuit Rose, Michael Venus recreated the cover as part of his winning “Icons and Demigods” project.

Cover of Eurythmics' 1983 album Touch, recreated by Michael Venus for Nuit Rose

He did many more album covers, as the below photo hints at.

100_2197

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2014 at 4:50 pm

[PHOTO] Six pictures from World Pride, Church and Wellesley

I liked this mural of classic gay iconography at Church and Wellesley proper.

A mural of classic gay slogans

This humourous RuPaul invocation at a David’s Tea on Church deserves sharing.

Seen at David's Tea, Church and Wellesley

Some of the bars on Church below Maitland.

Some of the bars on Church below Maitland

A couple in bright yellow shirts was looking at the information pillar outside of Timothy’s on Church.

Looking at the information pillar outside Timothy's on Church Street

I was amused that Iceberg Vodka, one of homophobic mayor Rob Ford’s favourite drinks, was being advertised as part of Pride.

Advertising Iceberg Vodka at World Pride

Inside modernist Wellesley station, outings can end.

Inside Wellesley Station

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm

[PHOTO] Rain-soaked alley off Dupont

Rain-soaked alley off Dupont

Written by Randy McDonald

June 26, 2014 at 2:04 pm