A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • The Big Picture shares photos of life around the world this month.
  • blogTO notes that a vacant lot on Sherbourne Street will become an urban farm, for a time.
  • Centauri Dreams explores the strange oceans of Titan.
  • Dangerous Minds shares some astoundingly open ads for cocaine paraphrenalia from the 1980s.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a study suggesting that it was the Chicxulub impact, not the Deccan Traps volcanic eruptions, which were extinction-triggering.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the governor of South Carolina’s statement that his political opponents orchestrated the reaction to anti-trans legislation to ensure he would not get re-elected.
  • Language Hat reports on an Igbo journalist explaining why he, and many of his people, do not speak their ancestral language.
  • The Map Room Blog maps patterns of rail travel in Europe.
  • Michael Steeleworthy is critical, and rightly so, of the massive announced cutbacks to Newfoundland and Labrador’s library service.
  • Torontoist notes the Toronto Hard Candy gym’s cutting of its links with Madonna.
  • Transit Toronto notes the TTC is looking for volunteer ambassadors.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that population growth in Russia is concentrated in largely non-Russian regions.

[NEWS] Seven links on the acquittal of Mike Duffy and the future of the Senate

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News that Senator for Prince Edward Island Mike Duffy was, last Thursday, resoundingly acquitted of all 31 charges of misuse of Senate funds, was surprising. I, and others, were taken by the thoroughness of the acquittal by Justice Charles Vaillancourt, as described by CTV.

A judge in an Ottawa court has cleared Senator Mike Duffy of all 31 criminal charges and delivered a scathing indictment of the political operations of the office of former prime minister Stephen Harper.

Justice Charles Vaillancourt said the Prime Minister’s Office under Harper treated Senators as “pawns” and described Duffy as just another “piece on the chess board.”

“The political, covert, relentless unfolding of events is mind-boggling and shocking,” he said. “The precision and planning of the exercise would make any military commander proud. But in the context of a democratic society, the plotting that’s revealed in the emails can only be described as unacceptable.”

Vaillancourt portrayed Duffy as an unwilling partner in a scheme to accept a $90,000 cheque from Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright to cover questionable expenses, even though they were likely legitimate[.]

CTV’s Sonja Puzic went into greater detail over Vaillancourt’s ruling.

Vaillancourt said he accepted the defence’s argument that the senator was a pawn in the PMO’s strategy to manage the fallout of media reports about the validity of Duffy’s residency and expense claims.
The judge said the PMO’s goal was to “calm that storm” and the PMO staffers who testified at Duffy’s trial struck him as “highly intelligent and hardworking individuals who executed their mandates with ruthless efficiency.”

Vaillancourt said the PMO emails entered as evidence, including correspondence between Wright, senior PMO staffers and Conservative senators in leadership positions, led him to ask himself, “Was Nigel Wright actually ordering senior members of the Senate around as if they were mere pawns on a chessboard?… Were those same senior members of the Senate robotically marching forth to recite their provided scripted lines?… Does the reading of these emails give the impression that Senator Duffy was going to do as he was told or face the consequences?

“The answers to the aforementioned questions are: YES; YES; YES; YES; YES; and YES!!!!!” Vaillancourt wrote in his judgment.

[. . .]

Vaillancourt also called Duffy a credible witness and disagreed with the Crown’s allegation that the senator misrepresented the location of his primary residence in Prince Edward Island.

The judge said that Duffy sought out experts’ advice on the issue of primary residence, including from Stephen Harper. “This was not some minor bureaucratic official speaking but the Prime Minister of Canada,” he wrote.

Vaillancourt said there wasn’t any “sinister motive” on Duffy’s part and noted that there appears to be no definition of principal residence or related criteria in the Senate policy.


Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Randy McDonald

April 27, 2016 at 11:54 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Influence of once-powerhouse police union wanes at city hall”

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Good. From the Toronto Star‘s Betsy Powell:

The tongue lashing city councillors gave police last week over controversial paid duty was the latest sign of the Toronto Police Association’s waning influence at city hall.

Members of the executive committee took turns ripping into the fact thousands of highly trained — and paid — Toronto cops have an iron grip on lucrative off-duty assignments.

“I think many councillors are fed up with this,” Councillor James Pasternak told reporters. “The paid-duty officers are costing in the $30 million range, they’re using taxpayer-funded motorcycles and squad cars and horses and uniforms which we incur the cost of replacing while they’re moonlighting and it’s just not right.”

For TPA president Mike McCormack, such talk is the new normal.

He recently sent a don’t-stick-your-neck-out letter to union members that said political leaders care more about “special interests” than backing frontline officers.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 26, 2016 at 5:13 pm

[NEWS] Some Monday links

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  • Bloomberg notes continuing anger in Egypt at the cession of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, and looks at the travails of Sweden’s Greens.
  • The Guardian reflects on the devastation of a generation of artists by HIV/AIDS.
  • Newsweek looks at the gentrification of San Francisco.
  • The Washington Post looks at the American living in Tokyo who is a leading publisher of crime news.
  • Wired notes the travails of subcription music service Tidal.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Centauri Dreams considers, among other things, studies of Alpha Centauri.
  • D-Brief talks about the unexpected chill of Venus’ poles.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares a photo of the San Francisco shoreline.
  • Far Outliers notes the rare achievements of Michael the Brave.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the recent finding by an American court that transgendered students are protected.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the nuitards.
  • Marginal Revolution notes some of the singular failure of the Brazilian economy over the past century.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer wonders why some people apparently call Russia and North Korea the 51st states.
  • pollotenchegg maps election results onto declared language in Ukraine.
  • Savage Minds starts a series on decolonizing anthropology.
  • Torontoist celebrates the tenth anniversary of Type Books.
  • Transit Toronto notes upcoming repairs to Ossington.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on Russian fears that the Russian economy might be doomed to stagnate.

[URBAN NOTE] “The life and death of SmartTrack: how to spur transit innovation”

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In NOW Toronto, Salvator Cusimano reflects on the failure of SmartTrack and argues that new transit plans need to be actually innovative, sustainably as well.

As a seven year-old train enthusiast, I would beg my dad to take me on the non-stop GO train from Oriole Station to Union for fun. I studiously followed transit developments in the city, including the Sheppard Line’s seemingly interminable and ultimately disappointing construction.

Then SmartTrack came along during the last municipal election promising relief without the quagmire of construction – more trains, fewer Sheppard Lines. I was entering Dundas West station one morning when a woman handed me a navy pamphlet with green and white lettering. It proclaimed that if I voted for John Tory, I would soon be able to reach Union Station in less than 10 minutes, instead of the minimum 30 I knew I was about to spend balancing in a crammed subway car and staring at a system map bearing a black void where the much-discussed Downtown Relief Line was supposed to be.

Fast-forward and a much scaled-down version of SmartTrack has now been approved.

If SmartTrack was as flawed as some observers claimed, how did Tory win?

Students and practitioners of innovative design suggests that Tory won because voters wanted innovation, and Smart Track seemed to offer it.

Innovation doesn’t simply mean “new technology.” Designers define it as a process that starts with defining a challenge and identifying possible solutions and then putting these ideas to the test by creating low-fidelity prototypes that they try out, discard, and rework over and over again. With each iteration, they learn what works, what doesn’t, and how they might get it right, failing many times, cheaply, to eventually get it right is better than getting it wrong after spending big.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 20, 2016 at 7:35 pm

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

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  • The Australian Financial Review warns that Brazil should try to avoid the trajectory of Italy from the 1990s on in falling prey to Berlusconi-like populism.
  • Bookforum looks at the very early history of word processing for writers.
  • Bloomberg View suggests that an inflexible China is on its way towards a Japan-style slump.
  • CTV News reports on despair among Newfoundlanders after the province’s new budget.
  • The Financial Times notes how allegedly hiding a billion dollars’ worth of debt cost Mozambique significantly with the IMF.
  • Foreign Policy looks at the distancing between the United States and Saudi Arabia under Obama.
  • Kate Beaton at Hark A Vagrant considers the implication of Dagger’s frankly unwearable uniform.
  • Mashalla News reports on Portuguese-speaking communities in Lebanon, product of migration by Brazilians of Lebanese background.
  • New York‘s Jonathan Chait is critical of Sanders’ approach as he is losing, while Vox visits Sanders’ upstate New York stronghold of Ithaca.
  • Australia’s SBS looks at immigrants whose ancestral countries no longer exist. How do they identify?
  • The Toronto Star looks at the impact of climate change on the agriculture of the Prairies.
  • Wired notes the struggle of Pinterest to move on from being an American platform to being a global one.

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