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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘paraguay

[URBAN NOTE] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait considers the possibility that our model for the evolution of galaxies might be partially disproven by Big Data.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly reports how she did her latest article for the New York Times.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the beginning of a search for habitable-zone planets around Alpha Centauri A and B.
  • The Crux looks at how the skull trophies of the ancient Maya help explain civilizational collapse.
  • D-Brief notes new evidence suggesting that our humble, seemingly stable Sun can produce superflares.
  • Dead Things reports on the latest informed speculation about the sense of smell of Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares the NASA report on its progress towards the Lunar Gateway station.
  • Gizmodo looks at the growing number of China’s beautiful, deadly, blooms of bioluminescent algae.
  • io9 reports that Stjepan Sejic has a new series with DC, exploring the inner life of Harley Quinn.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at an example of a feminist musical, the Chantal Akerman The Eighties.
  • Language Hat links to a review of a dystopian novel by Yoko Tawada, The Emissary, imagining a future Japan where the learning of foreign languages is banned.
  • Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money reiterates that history, and the writing of history, is an actual profession with skills and procedures writers in the field need to know.
  • Liam Shaw writes at the LRB Blog about how people in London, late in the Second World War, coped with the terrifying attacks of V2 rockets.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a new book, Wayfinding, about the neuroscience of navigation.
  • Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution reviews a Robert Zubrin book advocating the colonization of space and finds himself unconvinced.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the ancient comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko explored by the ESA Rosetta probe.
  • Roads and Kingdoms provides tips for visitors to the Paraguay capital of Asuncion.
  • Peter Rukavina reports that, on the day the new PEI legislature came in, 105% of Island electricity came from windpower.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel argues that, in searching for life, we should not look for exoplanets very like Earth.
  • Strange Company shares another weekend collection of diverse links.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little shares the views of Margaret Gilbert on social facts.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Kadyrov might dream of a broad Greater Chechnya, achieved at the expense of neighbouring republics.
  • Arnold Zwicky considers some superhero identity crises, of Superman and of others.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes that our first confirmed extrasolar visitor has been named, I/U2017 U1.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the dynamics allowing Enceladus to keep its subsurface water ocean.
  • Crooked Timber reacts to the alarming rift opening up between Saudi Arabia and its Shi’ite neighbours, including Lebanon and Iran.
  • D-Brief notes that the New Horizons team planners are seeking a new name for their next target, (486958) 2014 MU69.
  • Dangerous Minds takes a look at some of the greeting cards designed for American Greetings by Robert Crumb.
  • Hornet Stories notes the rise of explicitly homophobic and transphobic ideologues in Paraguay, and its implications for wider South America.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes growing Democratic strength in Washington State.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a New York Times map of the Virginia election for governor.
  • The NYR Daily looks how the brutally quick shutdown of DNAInfo and the Gothamist network reflects the generally parlous state of journalism (among other things).
  • Roads and Kingdoms takes a look at the humble momo, a breakfast food in (among other places) Bhutan.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains why quark fusion can never be a potent energy source.
  • Understanding Society celebrates its tenth anniversary.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the disinterest of most Russians in personally costly revolutionary actions.

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • Bloomberg notes Petrobras’ dismissal of rumours it is threatened by the impeachment, observes that many Europeans expect a chain reaction of departures if the United Kingdom leaves, notes that a return to high economic growth in Israel will require including the Palestinian minority, and
    looks at Panamanian efforts to convince the world that the country is not a tax haven.
  • The Globe and Mail remembers Mi’kMaq teacher Elsie Basque, and looks at how Mongolia is trying to adapt to the new economy.
  • Bloomberg View states the obvious, noting that an expected event is not a wild swan.
  • CBC notes Rachel Notley’s tour of Fort McMurray.
  • The Inter Press Service notes the denial of everything about the Rohingya.
  • MacLean’s looks at further confusion in Brazil.
  • Open Democracy notes a push for land reform in Paraguay and looks at the devastation of Scotland’s Labour Party.
  • Wired notes the dependence of intelligence agencies on Twitter, proved by Twitter shutting an intermediary down.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bag News Notes comments on one of the iconic photos of the Boston Marathon bombing aftermath, of an elderly man on the ground in front of three cops. It turns out that the man, a jogger, ended up coming second in his age class.
  • Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell notes that migration and economic development are quite compatible, even emigration–migrating professionals often return to their community of birth, bringing skills and connections acquired abroad with them.
  • Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster notes the few surveys of the nearby universe for Dyson spheres, vast artifacts of extraterrestrial civilizations. Nothing has been found so far!
  • Bostonian Daniel Drezner posts about the necessity of reacting to the Boston Marathon bombings calmly and rationally.
  • Joe. My. God. picks up on a Paraguayan presidential candidates vitriolic condemnation of same-sex marriage and non-heterosexuals, and on the response to said.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money observes that left-wing terrorism in the United States is pretty marginal, certainly more so than right-wing terrorism.
  • The New APPS Blog notes that a great way to ensure the full development of young children is to talk to them.
  • Normblog’s Norman Geras is quite unimpressed with an article expressing opposition to same-sex marriage (here, in New Zealand) that amounts to “just because.”
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer lists the numerous severe economic problems facing post-Chavez Venezuela. Perhaps, for the sake of multi-party democracy in that country, the defeat of Capriles by Chavez’s successor Maduro is for the best.
  • Towleroad notes the success of same-sex marriage in New Zealand.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Sasha Volokh is very unimpressed with the content of Russian school history textbooks, propagandizing on behalf of empire and minimizing state atrocities as they do.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that wealthy China is starting to take an interest in the Arctic, perhaps at the expense of Russia.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Daniel Drezner wonders if, at a time when Europe is weakening, the United States can find partners and allies to take Europe’s place in emerging countries like India and Brazil.
  • Extraordinary Observation’s speculates that social engineering might change the ways American cities and city-dwellers operate, becoming more pro-bike for instance.
  • Geocurrents writes about Paraguay, suggesting that its apparent tolerance for corruption may have a lot to do with its participation in two deadly, very draining wars.
  • Global Sociology really doesn’t like the IMF, particularly what it sees as economic strategies which disproportionately hurt the poor and the middle classes.
  • Law 21’s Jordan Furlong warns that China may end up becoming hugely important as the outsourcing of legal work goes, with obvious implications for lawyers in North America and elsewhere.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money’s communication of the reality that the Israeli-South African alliance under apartheid was so close that Israel was apparently willing to sell South Africa nuclear weapons doesn’t surprise me. The fact that Israel got away with such potentially catastrophic proliferation will threaten non-proliferation efforts, in the Middle East and elsewhere.
  • Noel Maurer is not impressed by German public opinion’s hostility to IMF bailouts of southern European Euro-using countries, since Germany will benefit.
  • Slap Upside the Head reports on the sad news that Canada is about to deport an asylum seeker, hoping that Canada wwill save him from persecution on the grounds of his sexual orientation.
  • Spacing Toronto’s Shawn Micallef mourns the recent death of Will Munro, a queer artist and community organizer who helped transform Toronto’s artistic community.
  • Zero Geography maps Internet usage by country. Romania and Ukraine turn out to have surprisingly low rates of Internet usage.

[LINK] Some Friday links

To start things off, blogTO, Spacing Toronto, and Torontoist (1, 2) all have posts covering last night’s storm here in Toronto.

  • Far Outliers examines the reasons behind Japan’s shift towards stronger patriarchy from the 13th century on and the reaction of many women to this.
  • Hunting Monsters examines the inordinately complex procedures behind electing city mayors in Bosnia’s Mostar and reflects on the lack of reckoning for perpetrators of war crimes.
  • Language Hat links to an article exploring the phrases that Welsh-speakers use while texting.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on how market distortions in Iraq–in this case, in the Yezidi marriage market’s dowries–can be transformative.
  • Noel Maurer discovers that Brazil’s generous terms with can also be expected to be repeated with Peru, as powerful but generous Brazil organizes South America around itself. Confusion over Mexican government spending priorities also features, rightly.
  • Slap Upside the Head reports on the case of a Vancouver lesbian couple who were denied the right to a Sunday family transit pass by a bus driver.
  • Spacing Toronto’s Sean Marshall takes a look at Philadelphia’s new streetcars and their routes.
  • Strange Maps examines the history of the much-searched after but ultimately fraudulent arctic island of Buss.
  • Towleroad reports on the case of an Israeli DJ at a Bedouin wedding party for insisting on playing the Pet Shop Boys.
  • Window on Eurasia features various links, one suggesting that many Russians don’t accept Ukrainians’ lack of a Russian identity either cultural or political, another speculating that Chechnya’s increased isolation from Russia and from modern socioeconomic structures might lead to its secession.

[LINK] “Home in the Chaco”

This Friday just past, the National Post‘s Polina Levina has a fascinating article on Canadian Mennonites who, displaced by anti-German sentiment in Canada, went and moved to Paraguay.

The Gran Chaco desert in Paraguay has for centuries been known as L’Inferno Verde, or “the Green Hell.” With the temperature routinely reaching 42 C in the summer, no sources of water and gusts of dusty wind through the flat nothingness, it is no surprise that only 3% of Paraguay’s population occupies an area that makes up 60% of the country. A Paraguayan diplomat once famously told a British traveller, “Doan go there, ees only esnakes an espiders.”

Yet, this inhospitable terrain is home to a vibrant community of 30,000 Mennonites, around 9,000 of them Canadian citizens. Their story is one of endless wanderings, from Germany and Switzerland through Russia to Canada and finally to this desolate patch of terrain, where they were granted a special arrangement by the Paraguayan government to self-rule their land in relative isolation.

[. . .]

At that time, the Paraguayan government was desperate to settle the Chaco, and had already tried buying ships, all-expenses paid, to woo people from England, France and Australia.

“Few came, and those who did soon left,” said Peter Dyck, author of Up from the Rubble, an account of Mennonite experiences trying to found new settlements in South America and Canada. “They were ready to give up, but then Canadian Mennonites needed a new home.”

More than 70 years later, the Mennonites out-earn indigenous Paraguayans tenfold, supplying 80% of the country’s milk and dairy products — so successful that they now face the challenge of being employers, without being regarded as colonizers.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 20, 2009 at 11:03 am

[LINK] “Nurses Seeking Greener Pastures in Italy”

Natalia Ruiz Díaz’ Inter Press Service article “Nurses Seeking Greener Pastures in Italy” examines how some professionals from Paraguay, one of the poorest countries in South America, are starting to emigrate in large numbers to the developed world.

Graciela Samaniego has her bags packed. Along with a number of fellow nurses, she is ready to leave her job at a public hospital in the Paraguayan capital and fly to a city in northern Italy, where she will work in a nursing home.

“I’m going because I want to build a house. With what I earn here, despite all the years I’ve been working, it’s simply impossible,” she tells IPS.

The group of nurses recruited to work in Italy mention different reasons for going, from the dream of having a home of their own to ensuring financial stability for their children.

The preparations for their departure have been kept under close wraps since an attractive job offer began to make its way through the ranks of nurses in this landlocked South American country in 2005.

Representatives of Italian companies, like Obiettivo Lavoro, the European country’s largest human resources management group, came to Paraguay seeking to hire health workers.

The first contingent of nurses consisted of more than 100 people, nearly all of them women.

Around 95 percent of the health workers who have left since 2006 were nurses with a certain level of seniority in their workplaces, and with degrees from respected local universities like the National University of Asunción, where education is tuition-free.

“This is an eminently female profession in our country, which faces gender discrimination on a daily basis,” María Concepción Chávez, president of the Paraguayan Nursing Association, told IPS.

Now new groups of workers are getting ready to head halfway across the world in search of better working conditions. But this time around, the hires include recent graduates from nursing school.

“One of the reasons for emigrating is the lack of recognition of our profession in this country, where wages and benefits are far below the level of the work required of us,” said Chávez.

Paraguay has a long history of being a country of emigration–the second half of the 20th century was marked by massive emigration to Argentina, most notably.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 11, 2009 at 3:36 pm

[BRIEF NOTE] On Paraguay and Brazil

Interesting things are happening in Paraguay, and many of them have to do with Brazil. Take land reform.

Brazilian farmers who have settled in Paraguayan territory have asked the government of Brazil to mediate in the tension, which in some cases has escalated into confrontations with local groups of campesinos.

The Lugo administration’s response was that it will seek the best solution, within a framework of respect for the rule of law. Through negotiations, a first agreement was arrived at between the campesino Coordinating Committee for the Defence of Sovereignty and Agrarian Reform, and a group of Brazilian landowners.

The Brazilian farmers agreed to sell 22,000 hectares to the Paraguayan state, which will pay for the land using part of the revenues from the Paraguayan-Brazilian Itaipú hydroelectric dam that are set aside for social spending.

Balbuena stressed that resistance against the Brazilian soybean farmers is growing because the spraying of their crops hurts campesino communities and their crops and livestock. “This dispute is not about occupations of land, but about the problems associated with the use of toxic agrochemicals,” he said.

The boom in soybean monoculture in eastern Paraguay in the last few years is at the root of the present conflicts.

In seven years, the area under soybean crops in Paraguay doubled, reaching 2.4 million hectares by 2007, equivalent to 25 percent of all cultivated land in the country. And all of it is genetically modified (GM) soy, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

Paraguay is now seventh in the global ranking for the area under transgenic crops, and has no legislation on the use of GM seeds. It is also the world’s fourth largest exporter of soybeans.

There are 81,000 Brazilians living in this country, not counting their Paraguayan-born descendants. Most of them live along the Brazilian border.

“Between 1992 and 2002, the number of people describing themselves as Brazilian nationals fell. However, there are many more Portuguese-speakers,” Fabricio Vázquez, a researcher at the National University’s Faculty of Agrarian Sciences, told IPS.

Vázquez said that Brazilian immigrants should be regarded as a social group undergoing a process of integration.

“Rural immigrants (Brazilians, Canadians, Russians, and so on) settled a long time ago in border areas that were neglected by the Paraguayan state. The issue is not whether they are many or few, but that they are a group of producers who have a large socioeconomic impact,” he said.

The catastrophic War of the Triple Alliance saw Paraguay radically depopulated in the 1860s by the armies of the Empire of Brazil, and subsequently saw Paraguay–like Uruguay and Bolivia–become a buffer state between Brazil and Argentina. In the 1950s, Paraguay’s dictator Stroessner decided to move closer to Brazil and away from Argentina, eventually falling into a Brazilian sphere of influence. Kacowicz argues that the whole of the Southern Cone is part of a Brazil-defined zone of influence as expressed most recently through Mercosur, but the greatest imbalance within the Common Market of the Southern Cone is arguably between an industrialized Brazil of 190 million people and a poor landlocked Paraguay home to less than ten million. Naturally, there are fears of Brazilian domination. The electricity produced by the joint Brazilian-Paraguayan Itaipu Dam is another sticking point, since Paraguay wants to renegotiate the terms of the deal to give Paraguay a larger share of the revenues. So far, Paraguay has managed to avoid falling into the same trap of somewhat self-destructive nationalism that characterizes modern-day Bolivia owing to the greater maturity of Paraguay’s political culture and the relatively minor nature of ethnic cleavages, but Paraguay’s Brazilian connections may yet prove to be especially controversial.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 12, 2008 at 7:45 pm

[BRIEF NOTE] A Paraguayan Irony

The idea that Paraguay is–or given mortality trends in the 80+ cohort, was–a haven for Nazis is common knowledge (1, 2, 3), even seeping into popular culture. How ironic is it, then, that the population of Paraguay is largely mestizo, product of one of the most thorough intermixings of indigenous and immigrant populations in the whole of the Western Hemisphere, and united in the use of the Guaraní language as the national language? Compare, if you would, the despair of Bormann in São Paulo when he realized that he lived in a global metropolis where “race mixing” was ubiquitous?

Written by Randy McDonald

February 20, 2006 at 6:39 pm

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