A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for June 2015

[URBAN NOTE] “Yonge subway relief will last only about 15 years: Metrolinx”

The Toronto Star‘s Tess Kalinowski looks at the grim future facing the TTC, even in the context of predicted technological and organizational improvements. We need something new.

In 15 years, the TTC will again reach a tipping point where the spine of its system won’t be able to handle the crowds, according to a Yonge Relief Network Study by Metrolinx.

It shows that the GO electrification program, called regional express rail (RER), won’t divert enough ridership from the Yonge line to negate the need for a separate relief line. Although Metrolinx hasn’t studied SmartTrack separately, that finding isn’t expected to change.

“There will be increments to SmartTrack — whether there are additional stations — but we don’t consider that it would dramatically alter the impact because so much of SmartTrack is already embedded in RER,” said chief planning officer Leslie Woo.

Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan is based on adding more stations to the Stouffville GO line and building a spur west along Eglinton from the Kitchener line from Mount Dennis to near the airport corporate centre. Since much of the Yonge subway crowding comes from riders boarding to the north and east, that western spur wouldn’t divert many riders, said Woo.

Regional express rail, which would run on the GO tracks around Toronto at frequencies of up to 15 minutes, is projected to reduce Yonge St. demand by about 4,200 rides in the peak period in 2025. By then the subway will have capacity for about 38,000 riders per peak hour in the peak direction.

The Yonge line south of Bloor is already operating about 11 per cent over its capacity of 28,000 passengers per hour. But the TTC’s new computerized signaling system, automatic train control, which will allow it to run more trains closer together, will increase capacity by about 20 per cent when it’s up and running by 2021.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2015 at 10:41 pm

Posted in Toronto, Urban Note

Tagged with , , ,

[LINK] “Kadyrov and Putin: parallel lives”

Nina Jobe and Karena Avedissian at Open Democracy look at the strange symbiosis between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov.

On 3 June, a group of masked men attacked the offices of the regional branch of the Russian Committee Against Torture in Grozny, Chechnya, destroying computers and documents, and damaging the organisation’s car. The police did not respond to calls by staff about the attack, and the Committee Against Torture reports that the attackers went about their business ‘slowly’, as if they knew the police were not going to be dispatched.

The Russian authorities have remained silent on the case, just as they remain silent on the de facto legalisation of polygamy and forced marriage in Chechnya, and the de facto acquittal of people close to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov who are suspects in the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. But these events prompt questions about the extent to which Chechnya remains a genuine subject of the Russian Federation, and highlight a deeper tension between the federal authorities and Chechnya – now boiling over after years of Kadyrov’s rule.

[. . .]

Chechnya is perhaps the most striking case of this asymmetry [between national and regional governments]. This has been exemplified in large part by Kadyrov’s repeated defiance and disregard of Russia’s federal laws. Kadyrov’s recent conflicts with the FSB – most notably when he threatened to have his men fire on federal troops who operated on Chechen territory without his blessing – and the silence of Vladimir Putin and other members of the Russian elite, have only highlighted this situation further.

For instance, when opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was murdered metres from the Kremlin’s walls in late February, blame quickly fell on men close to Kadyrov. The Chechen leader publicly came to the defence of one of the accused, Zaur Dadayev, and refused to turn over the others. Dadayev was an officer in Kadyrov’s private army, the Sever Battalion, as was Ruslan Geremeyev, another high-ranking member of the battalion, who is alleged to have been involved in organising the murder. Geremeyev has since fled abroad.

With the lack of a pushback or even a statement from the Kremlin for these acts, Moscow’s authority is beginning to lose traction. While this is sometimes mistaken for outright favouritism or even the opening of a ‘soft exit’ for Chechnya from the Russian Federation, this particular free rein of power resembles what Kimberly Marten calls ‘outsourcing sovereignty.’

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2015 at 10:37 pm

[LINK] “WWII Lawsuits Muddy Effort to Ease Japan-South Korea Tension”

Sam Kim of Bloomberg looks at how ongoing legal issues are hindering improvements in relations between Japan and South Korea.

South Korean activists are complicating President Park Geun Hye’s tentative steps to improve ties with Japan, by turning to courts to seek recognition they were forced to work for Japanese companies, used as sex slaves or suffered after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

A South Korean court Wednesday ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to pay five South Koreans compensation for forced labor prior to Japan’s defeat in World War II. A planned appeal could take the case to the Supreme Court, where two similar cases are pending. Further muddying the issue is a threat this week by women forced into sexual servitude to file a suit against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the U.S.

A separate court Friday turned down a suit by 79 Koreans who worked in Hiroshima during the war. The plaintiffs demanded that the South Korean government either pay them 10 million won ($9,000) each or press Japan harder to compenstate them for their suffering after the nuclear bomb was dropped. Their leader Sung Rak Koo said he will appeal the court decision.

The legal wrangling contrasts with recent efforts by the nations’ leaders to repair ties that have soured over a territorial dispute and Park’s demands for further Japanese repentance over its World War II aggression. Park, who has refused to hold a bilateral summit with Abe, joined him in calling for a fresh start at ceremonies Monday to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties. The spat is weighing on trade and strategic cooperation between the two U.S. allies.

“No start is new unless all sins are redressed,” said Kim Han Su, 97, an activist who was made to work at a Mitsubishi Heavy shipyard in the southern Japanese port of Nagasaki from 1944 to 1945. “Park and Abe are hiding their heads in the sand if they are trying to bury historical wrongdoing,” said Kim, who isn’t one of the plaintiffs.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2015 at 10:35 pm

[LINK] “The war monument that’s polarizing Canada”

MacLean’s hosts the Canadian Press article looking at the ongoing controversy over the Mother Canada veterans’ memorial proposed for Cape Breton. The history wars continue.

Rhadie Murphy has spent her life on the rugged coastline that snakes along Cape Breton’s northern flank, its pink granite rocks stretching out near her home in the heart of Ingonish.

The 72-year-old is unreserved in her pride and praise of the small community on the eastern edge of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, calling that piece of the Cabot Trail “the most beautiful place in the world.”

So Murphy and her large family were left shaking their heads in bewilderment when their tranquil hometown took centre stage in a fractious debate over Mother Canada, the towering war monument that could adorn their shoreline.

[. . .]

The 24-metre statue depicts a doleful woman with her arms outstretched toward Europe and the Canada Bereft monument at Vimy in France. The draped figure, meant to embrace soldiers who never returned from distant conflicts, is the brainchild of Toronto businessman Tony Trigiano who was struck by the number of young Canadians buried in a European cemetery he visited.

It has attracted the support of the federal government and Canadian luminaries, including a former prime minister, business heavyweights, prominent journalists and the president of the Calgary Flames.

But the ambitious project has cleaved opinion across the country, with many saying it has no business in a national park and that it cheapens the memory of the war dead who are already commemorated at hundreds of less audacious sites.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2015 at 10:33 pm

[CAT] “Tama the cat: 3,000 attend elaborate funeral for Japan’s feline stationmaster”

The Guardian‘s Justin McCurry reports.

In an outpouring of grief usually reserved for the passing of a cultural icon, thousands turned out at the weekend to bid a final farewell to a cat credited with saving an obscure Japanese railway line from financial ruin.

An estimated 3,000 people, including railway officials, attended Tama the cat’s Shinto-style funeral on Sunday, days after she died of heart failure aged 16 – the equivalent of about 80 human years.

Tama quickly became Japan’s most famous cat after she was appointed honorary stationmaster at the unmanned Kishi station in rural Wakayama prefecture, western Japan, in 2007.

Before long, visitors flocked to the station to see the former stray – a custom-made stationmaster’s cap perched on her head – welcome and see off passengers, giving a desperately needed boost to the sleepy, and heavily indebted, Kishigawa line.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2015 at 10:26 pm

[LINK] “Freedom has bitter, baffling taste for former Guantanamo inmates”

The Globe and Mail‘s Stephanie Nolen reports on the unfortunate aftermath of an initiative by Uruguay to welcome six releasees from Guantanamo. Apparently too little has been done to ensure their reintegration into their new society.

This began as a story of compassion and renewal. Before dawn one warm Sunday last December, six inmates from the U.S. military jail in Guantanamo Bay landed at an airstrip here in the Uruguayan capital. The U.S. flew them from Guantanamo shackled and hooded, but Uruguayan officials insisted they be unbound before they left the plane, and walk as free men into their new lives.

These six – four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian – were all identified as former al-Qaeda fighters, and theirs was a significant resettlement from the prison that bedevils the Obama administration.

They moved into a house in a slightly down-at-heel neighbourhood in the centre of Montevideo. In the first days, the six – who had spent years in solitary confinement and on hunger strikes – took wide-eyed trips to the grocery store and walks on the beachfront. Uruguayans waved and approached to welcome them and wish them well. They were to begin Spanish classes, and a construction company and other businesses promised them jobs.

The euphoria, however, was fleeting. Six months in, the men are adrift and struggling – baffled by Uruguay in the best case, enraged and bitter, in the worst. As the U.S. government seeks somewhere, anywhere, to resettle the other Guantanamo inmates, Uruguay’s story of transcultural empathy stands as a cautionary tale.

[. . .]

[President José Mujica] agreed to take them – but did not, it now appears, do much to prepare his tiny country, with a total Muslim population of about 300, to support and resettle six men with murky pasts who endured years of brutal interrogation and isolation.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2015 at 10:22 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • James Bow describes his recent visit to California.
  • City of Brass’ Aziz Poonawalla argues that orthodox Muslims in the United States should celebrate nation-wide same-sex marriage out of their own enlightened self-interest.
  • Centauri Dreams features a guest post from J.M. Nielsen looking at the “zoo hypothesis”.
  • Cody Delistraty examines, with photos, Audrey Hepburn’s lifelong love of Paris.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting that very young star MWC 758 seems to be forming planetesimals.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on a woman with a cyborg arm, and examines the history of Mars’ atmosphere loss.
  • Geocurrents maps the relationship between Turkey’s HDP and the Kurds.
  • Kieran Healy looks for sleeping beauty papers in philosophy.
  • Imageo examines the New Horizons‘ photos of Pluto and Charon.
  • Language Hat notes a comparative dictionary of Siouan languages and notes the dynamics of swearing in Québec French.
  • Language Log notes the contribution of an American missionary to the development of Korea’s hangul script.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that low rates of poverty amogn Scandinavians and descendants in the United States has to do with culture not policy, and is scathing about Greece.
  • Peter Rukavina looks inside a hard drive.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog maps Kazakhstan by ethnicity.
  • Torontoist looks at the 1899 Canadian National Exhibition.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World looks at the shared interests of Britain and Australia in Asia.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russians are moving away from identifying Ukrainians as part of their nation, looks at the collapse of the Russian world, and looks at disasters in Sochi.

[PHOTO] Roses at the AIDS Vigil, Barbara Hall Park

Roses at the AIDS Vigil #toronto #pride #aidsvigil #flowers #roses #aidsmemorial #barbarahallpark

Daily Xtra has more about this year’s event.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm

[PHOTO] Absolut Vodka at the LCBO

Absolut Vodka at the LCBO #toronto #lcbo #pride #absolutvodka #manulifecentre

Happy Pride!

Written by Randy McDonald

June 28, 2015 at 4:21 am

Posted in Photo, Toronto

Tagged with , , , ,

[CAT] Shakespeare, celebrating

Shakespeare, celebrating #shakespeare #pride #cats #catsofinstagram #caturday #rainbow

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Photo, Toronto

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