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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at the SPECULOOS red dwarf observation program.
  • The Crux examines VX nerve agent, the chemical apparently used to assassinate the half-brother of North Korea’s ruler.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the inhabitants of the Tokyo night, like gangsters and prostitutes and drag queens.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines Donald Trump’s tepid and belated denunciation of anti-Semitism.
  • Language Log looks at the story of the Wenzhounese, a Chinese group notable for its diaspora in Italy.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the by-elections in the British ridings of Stoke and Copeland and notes the problems of labour.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a post-Brexit map of the European Union with an independent Scotland.
  • Marginal Revolution reports that a border tax would be a poor idea for the United States and Mexico.
  • The NYRB Daily looks at the art of the medieval Tibetan kingdom of Guge.
  • Otto Pohl notes the 73rd anniversary of Stalin’s deportation of the Chechens and the Ingush.
  • Supernova Condensate points out that Venus is actually the most Earth-like planet we know of. Why do we not explore it more?
  • Towleroad notes Depeche Mode’s denunciation of the alt-right and Richard Spencer.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi considers the question of feeling empathy for horrible people.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the thousands of Russian citizens involved with ISIS and examines the militarization of Kaliningrad.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • At Antipope, Charlie Stross wonders–among other things–what the Trump Administration is getting done behind its public scandals.
  • blogTO notes a protest in Toronto aiming to get the HBC to drop Ivanka Trump’s line of fashion.
  • Dangerous Minds reflects on a Talking Heads video compilation from the 1980s.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reflects on a murderous attack against Indian immigrants in Kansas.
  • The LRB Blog looks at “post-Internet art”.
  • Lovesick Cyborg notes an attack by a suicide robot against a Saudi warship.
  • Strange Maps links to a map of corruption reports in France.
  • Torontoist reports on Winter Stations.
  • Understanding Society engages in a sociological examination of American polarization, tracing it to divides in race and income.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the many good reasons behind the reluctance of cities around the world to host the Olympics.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that where the Ingush have mourned their deportation under Stalin the unfree Chechens have not, reports that Latvians report their willingness to fight for their country, looks at what the spouses of the presidents of post-Soviet states are doing, and notes the widespread opposition in Belarus to paying a tax on “vagrancy.”
  • Arnold Zwicky looks at the linguistic markers of the British class system.

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

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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

[LINK] “Canada won’t abandon Mexico in NAFTA talks, Freeland says”

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The Globe and Mail‘s Robert Fife reports on the problems facing North American integration, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland promising not to desert Mexico, at least not on multilateral issues whatever these might be.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland assured Mexico on Tuesday that Canada will not strike a bilateral deal with Washington in negotiations to revamp the 1994 North American free-trade agreement. During a panel discussion with Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray, Ms. Freeland sought to dampen concerns that the Trump administration would seek bilateral talks with each of its NAFTA partners.

Ms. Freeland stressed that it is too early to even talk about what might be up for renegotiation since the Senate has not yet confirmed commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, who will head the trade negotiations, and Robert Lighthizer, the nominee for U.S. trade representative.

“There is no negotiating process yet initiated. In fact, the United States does not even have a team in place to begin those negotiations. So let’s not put the cart before the horse,” she said when asked if Canada was prepared to throw Mexico under the bus to protect this country’s interest from President Donald Trump’s America-first trade policy.

“But we very much recognize that NAFTA is a three-country agreement, and if there were to be any negotiations, those would be three-way negotiations.”At the same time, Ms. Freeland said there will be bilateral issues that Canada and the United States will want to discuss separately – something Mr. Videgaray conceded would happen when it comes to Mr. Trump’s plans to build a wall to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drug smuggling from Mexico.

“We understand that there are some issues that, by nature, are strictly bilateral to the U.S.-Canadian relationship … just as Canada acknowledges we have a bilateral relationship with the U.S. and I am sure [Ms. Freeland] would prefer to stay away from some of those aspects of that.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 10:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Taxpayer-funded transit report kept secret by city”

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What can be said but that this, reported by the Toronto Star‘s Jennifer Pagliaro, is unacceptable?

A $100,000 consultant’s report meant to help determine whether transit projects worth billions of dollars are cost-effective has been kept secret by the city.

In June, the city paid the firm, Arup, which consults on transportation projects worldwide, to provide business case analyses for several projects planned by the city, including Mayor John Tory’s original “SmartTrack” idea for additional stops along the GO Transit rail line travelling through Toronto, and the controversial one-stop Scarborough subway extension.

The report produced by Arup, however, was never publicly released as part of a city staff report to executive committee in June, which was then debated at a July council meeting.

The missing consultant information adds to a series of questions over future transit plans that include delayed reports and a secret briefing note on the Scarborough subway extension that has been called a “political football,” and still-incomplete analysis of the mayor’s key campaign promise for an additional heavy rail service that is moving ahead, while heavily modified.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 8:45 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “$80M TTC budget hike not quite at ‘record’ level “

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The Toronto Star‘s Ben Spurr takes issue with John Tory’s contention that this budget’s 80 million dollar increase in the TTC budget is the largest in the organization’s history.

Mayor John Tory has hailed this year’s TTC budget as a “record investment” in the public transit system.

But does the 2017 spending plan really represent a historic achievement for the TTC?

In a speech to council midway through Wednesday’s marathon meeting to finalize the 2017 city budget, Tory noted that the operating subsidy that the city gives to the transit agency was set to increase by $80 million this year. It will rise to about $690 million, compared to the $610 million budgeted for in 2016.

“Eighty million dollars is maybe not the all-time record increase, but it’s maybe the second biggest in all the recent years, and maybe ever,” he said.

However, it appears that despite Tory’s statement, this year’s funding increase may not even be the largest of his term.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 19, 2017 at 7:15 pm

[LINK] “Trump immigration raids are for white voters in the Midwest”

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The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer argues that recent immigration raids in the United States, which have been high-profile but actually have not taken that many people into custody, might be a sort of political theatre for Trump’s voters. (Or, they might be more than that.)

So what is the point? Two possibilities.

1.This is just the start of a massively stepped-up program, including those National Guard mobilizations and lots of new federal spending.

2.This is intended to give Trump voters a sense that something dramatic is being done. The terror that it strikes among immigrants is collateral damage. (Or maybe collateral benefit, from Steve Bannon’s point of view.)

Considering that this administration appears to be the opposite of a well-oiled machine in terms of management ability, but does seem to be taking the permanent campaign to a new level, I would bet on the latter. Like the infamous taco bowl tweet from the campaign, this is aimed squarely at angry white voters.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm