A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for June 2015

[PHOTO] Financial District in the rain

Financial District in the rain #toronto #financialdistrict #skyscraper #rain #baystreet #frontstreet

Walking out of Union Station in a rush to meet up with an Internet friend Saturday, this is what I saw.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 30, 2015 at 2:20 pm

[NEWS] Some Pride links

  • Christianity Today notes how the Bible verses used to debate same-sex marriage have changed over time.
  • On the subject of same-sex marriage, Lawyers, Guns and Money observes the differences between this court case and past cases involving interracial marriage, Savage Minds looks at the anthropological perspective, and the Tin Man reflects on the achievement.
  • Locally, Torontoist looks at the political history of Pride, the National Post observes the decision of Patrick Brown, Progressive Consrrvative leader, to march in pride as the first leader to do so, Elton John’s Torontonian husband David Furnish reflects on his history growing up gay in Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s, and an epochal 1976 kiss-in at Yonge and Bloor is described in the Toronto Star in the context of LGBT activism.
  • Internationally, CBC reported on the police attack on a gay pride march in Istanbul.

[LINK] “Lebanon Just Did a Whole Lot More Than Legalize Being Gay”

Muftah’s Erin Kilbride describes the ways in which Lebanon’s recent overturning of laws against non-heterosexual behaviour is indebted to trans issues even as these are ignored by external press coverage.

LGBTQ rights supporters rejoiced on Thursday with news that homosexuality is no longer illegal in Lebanon. A court ruling abolished a case against an unnamed transwoman – accused of having a “same sex relationship with a man” – stating that homosexuality can no longer be considered a crime because it is “not unnatural.” Lebanese law only prohibits sexual acts “contradicting the laws of nature.”

Mirroring coverage of LGBTQ advancement in the Western world, however, a vast majority of reports, blogs, tweets, and celebratory Instagram posts conspicuously erase the critical role of trans people in securing this victory.

Conveniently forgetting the “T” in LGBTQ advocacy and communications efforts is not new. In gender battles from the U.S. to the Philippines, trans people are both purposefully and unconsciously excluded from public discourse. The “transgender exclusion” permeates media coverage, advocacy efforts, health care plans, gender-based social services, and extends into the work of prominent and prestigious gay-rights organizations. Human Rights Campaign, widely regarded as America’s preeminent LGBTQ research and advocacy group, is the target of frequent criticism for its historic failure to include trans issues in their advocacy. While HRC has made significant and praiseworthy in trans advocacy and awareness raising efforts in the recent past, it may be worth mentioning that a Google search for “human rights campaign trans” produces this article first: Why The Transgender Community Hates HRC.

Coverage of Lebanon’s recent ruling has not been an exception to the global tendency to erase the “T” in LGBTQ. The landmark ruling originated in a case brought against a transwoman, yet coverage of the “historic statement” has almost exclusively used the word “gay[.]”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2015 at 10:50 pm

[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