A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘islands

[ISL] “Shetland Islands toy with idea of post-Brexit independence”

Euractiv carries an AFP report looking into the possibility that Scotland’s Shetland Islands might, in the case of the United Kingdom falling apart, try to separate from Scotland to form a sort of West Nordic microstate thanks to the oil in the archipelago’s waters.

Of all the consequences of the Brexit vote, the fate of the Shetland Islands in the North Atlantic and their oil fields and fisheries may not top the list for negotiators in Westminster and Brussels. But it soon might.

But the prospect of a new bid for Scottish independence as Britain leaves the EU is making some residents of these rugged islands think again about whether they would be better off alone.

“It would be wonderful,” Andrea Manson, a Shetland councillor and a leading figure in the Wir Shetland movement for greater autonomy, told AFP.

The movement’s name means “Our Shetland” in the local Scots dialect, a derivation of Middle English which has replaced the islands’ original Germanic language, Norn.

The remote archipelago, already fiercely independent in spirit, is geographically and culturally closer to Scandinavia than to Edinburgh, and politically more aligned with London and Brussels.

In the past 1,300 years, Shetland has been overrun by Scandinavian Vikings, pawned to Scotland as a wedding dowry by Denmark, subsumed into the United Kingdom in 1707, and dragged into the European Economic Community against its will in 1973.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm

[ISL] “Trying to Stanch Trinidad’s Flow of Young Recruits to ISIS”

Frances Robles’ front page article in The New York Times noting how Muslims from Trinidad and Tobago are being recruited in large numbers for ISIS and like organizations is alarming.

Law enforcement officials in Trinidad and Tobago, a small Caribbean island nation off the coast of Venezuela, are scrambling to close a pipeline that has sent a steady stream of young Muslims to Syria, where they have taken up arms for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

American officials worry about having a breeding ground for extremists so close to the United States, fearing that Trinidadian fighters could return from the Middle East and attack American diplomatic and oil installations in Trinidad, or even take a three-and-a-half-hour flight to Miami.

President Trump spoke by telephone over the weekend with Prime Minister Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago about terrorism and other security challenges, including foreign fighters, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, said.

Trinidad has a history of Islamist extremism — a radical Muslim group was responsible for a failed coup in 1990 that lasted six days, and in 2012 a Trinidadian man was sentenced to life in prison for his role in a plot to blow up Kennedy International Airport. Muslims make up only about 6 percent of the population, and the combatants often come from the margins of society, some of them on the run from criminal charges.

They saw few opportunities in an oil-rich nation whose economy has declined with the price of petroleum, experts say. Some were gang members who either converted or were radicalized in prison, while others have been swayed by local imams who studied in the Middle East, according to Muslim leaders and American officials.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 22, 2017 at 6:30 pm

[ISL] “China close to finishing buildings on South China Sea islands that could house missiles, US says”

This is great. The Guardian carries Reuters’ report from the South China Sea.

China, in an early test of US President Donald Trump, is nearly finished building almost two dozen structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea that appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles, two US officials told Reuters.

The development is likely to raise questions about whether and how the United States will respond, given its vows to take a tough line on China in the South China Sea.

China claims almost all the South China Sea, which carries a third of the world’s maritime traffic. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims. Trump’s administration has called China’s island building in the South China Sea illegal.

Building the concrete structures with retractable roofs on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs, part of the Spratly Islands chain where China already has built military-length airstrips, could be considered a military escalation, the US officials said in recent days, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It is not like the Chinese to build anything in the South China Sea just to build it, and these structures resemble others that house SAM batteries, so the logical conclusion is that’s what they are for,” said a US intelligence official.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 22, 2017 at 6:00 pm

[ISL] “From sand beach to frozen lake, meet the guys of the Cayman Islands pond hockey team”

The Toronto Star‘s Curtis Rush writes about the Cayman Islands’ hockey team, staffed heavily by Canadian expats.

After trading long Canadian winters for the perpetual summer of this luxurious Caribbean tax haven, Bill Messer was content to enjoy the soft sands and warm waters of island living. The only thing he really missed was hockey.

So in 2003, when he saw a television report about the nascent World Pond Hockey Championship, he began plotting a strategy to get a team from his adopted home ready to play in his native country, Canada.

The initial response to his inquiry, however, felt like a cold slap in the face.

The tournament organizer, Danny Braun, warned Messer in an email that it was frigid up in Canada and that hockey was a very fast, very rough game.

As he read the email, Messer said, he realized that he had not made it clear to Braun that he was Canadian.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 16, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO notes an Instagram user from Toronto, @brxson, who takes stunning photos of the city from on high.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the limits of exoplanet J1407b’s massive ring system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes evidence that the primordial Martian atmosphere apparently did not have carbon dioxide.
  • Imageo notes that the California rivers swollen by flooding can be seen from space.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that American intelligence agencies are withholding sensitive information from a White House seen as compromised by Russian intelligence.
  • Language Hat talks about the best ways to learn Latin.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper observing a decline in inter-state migration in the United States.
  • The NYRB Daily looks at the interesting failure of a public sculpture program in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw notes the remarkable heat that has hit Australia in recent days.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the intersection between space technology and high-tech fashion.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at how Argentina gave the Falkland Islands tariff-free access to Mercosur.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the countries likely to be vulnerable to rapid aging.
  • Transit Toronto notes the Bombardier lawsuit against Metrolinx.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that poor Russian statistical data is leading directly to bad policy.

[ISL] “Construction workers needed on P.E.I., says industry”

CBC News notes impending labour shortages in the Island’s construction industry, particularly in the skilled trades.

The Construction Association of P.E.I. is concerned about an industry forecast that predicts a growing shortage of construction workers for the Island.

BuildForce Canada is estimating 300 more workers will be needed in the next decade, and currently more skilled workers are retiring than being hired.

Sam Sanderson, the general manager of the Island’s construction association, says there’s already a shortage of workers, and work in all areas of construction are expected to increase.

“Moving forward, we have some of our local contractors finding it almost impossible to find skilled people in different trade sectors presently,” he said.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2017 at 7:00 pm

[ISL] “‘Proud to be a Canadian’: 2,000 on P.E.I. march against Islamophobia”

CBC News’ Shane Ross reports on very good news indeed from Charlottetown. If the numbers are accurate, something like 2% of the Island population took part in this march.

Islanders of different ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds marched in Charlottetown on Saturday to show they welcome diversity and oppose policies that discriminate against refugees.

The march began at the bottom of Queen Street and continued peacefully up to Province House. The group — which police estimated at 2,000 — listened as organizers from the Cooper Institute and the Muslim community spoke out against Islamophobia. The speeches were interspersed with moments of silence and prayer.

“It made me happy, at a point I felt like crying just seeing the amount of people who were out here to support those injured and hurt,” said Hammad Ahmed, a UPEI student, who helped organize the Charlottetown march.

Amid widespread protests late last month, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order temporarily barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

The gathering in Charlottetown was part of the National Day of Action against Islamophobia and White Supremacy, and gave people the opportunity to grieve for those killed at a mosque in Quebec City last week.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2017 at 6:45 pm