A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[LINK] “Is this China’s Chernobyl moment?”

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Open Democracy’s Maria Repnikova describes how the contemporary Chinese response to the Tianjin explosion demonstrates the flexibility of the Chinese system, contrasted to the late Soviet respons eto Chernobyl.

[T]he Chinese authorities, while sometimes still treating information as a “ virus on the verge of infecting the masses,” now often treat crisis coverage as a potent tool to be deployed. For the past decade, Chinese authorities have refined a ‘contained transparency’ approach, focusing on guiding public opinion via selective censorship mixed with the selective dissemination of information and responsiveness to public grievances. Some media coverage is allowed, but reporting is restricted as much as possible to the official version of the Xinhua News Agency. Central officials make appearances at disaster sites and hold news conferences, albeit sometimes after a short delay, and the official press carries hopeful messages regarding disaster relief and top-level investigations. This was the approach to Tianjin.

Although censorship was pervasive after the blast, it was carefully targeted. Many critical posts were swept from the web, but many survived, even if only temporarily. Moreover, a number of traditional media platforms launched impressive investigations of the disaster, pushing the envelope of the official directive of Xinhua-only coverage. Topics they covered included the ownership structure of Ruihai, the high death toll among fire-fighters, and the links between Ruihai and the state-owned company Sinopec. These reports called, in different ways, for greater official accountability. The state’s willingness to allow these reports to circulate points to the intentionally incomplete nature of control, a sense that bounded bottom-up feedback can be helpful rather than harmful even in a state that prizes top-down control.

Finally, we are now seeing a burst of official responsiveness to public questioning and discontent. Top executives of the offending company have been detained, and the mayor of Tianjin publicly admitted responsibility for the scandal. This official responsiveness to the disaster, however, is being carefully managed to ensure that the central state can still be seen as a benevolent guardian, while the blame is placed squarely on local officials.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 27, 2015 at 7:44 pm

[LINK] “NDP in reach of majority, new poll suggests”

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The Toronto Star‘s Allan Woods reported this morning about the exceptional strength of the NDP nationally. A NDP majority?

The Forum Research poll for the Toronto Star projects the NDP with enough support to win 174 seats in the Oct. 19 election. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals now sit in second place with 30 per cent support, while Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are losing support and have the backing of just 23 per cent of the 1,440 Canadians surveyed.

The poll, conducted on Sunday and Monday, may have captured both anger at the revelations emerging from testimony of Conservative officials at Sen. Mike Duffy’s fraud trial, as well as the recent stock market scare, which has heightened talk of a faltering Canadian economy, said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff.

“Maybe you could say it’s a perfect storm for the Tories because they’re the ones who seem to have taken this on the chin,” he said. “We’ve said all along that if this economy goes south it’s over for the Tories. They’re in charge, they’re it and on top of that they’ve built a lot of their campaign around being great economic managers.”

Harper’s campaign headaches seem to have benefitted the NDP, which now has 54 per cent support in Quebec, 41 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and 39 per cent in British Columbia.

In Ontario, the province with the most seats in the House of Commons, Mulcair’s New Democrats lead with 36 per cent of respondents saying they would vote for the party. The Liberals are second with 33 per cent and the Tories have 26 per cent support.

[. . . In Québec], the once-dominant sovereigntist Bloc Québécois is in third place behind the Liberals and just ahead of the Conservatives, and is projected not to win any seats in the Oct. 19 vote.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 27, 2015 at 7:35 pm

[ISL] Jason Markusoff on watching Mike Duffy in Cavendish, PEI

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In a MacLean’s article, Markusoff reports on how locals are reacting to the whole Duffy affair.

As a local history book—and the local Simpsons, McNeills and Clarks—will assert, the community of Cavendish was founded by three families 225 years ago. Those are still common surnames among the roughly 250 year-round residents of this northern Prince Edward Island hamlet made famous by Lucy Maud Montgomery and her visits to a McNeill-owned farm named Green Gables.

Drawn by the Anne lore and the beaches, Cavendish swells each summer by thousands of cottagers and tourists, substantially diversifying the pool of surnames. Among them are the Duffys of 10 Friendly Lane, perhaps the most prominent residential address of this campaign after 24 Sussex.

Islanders were suspicious from the start of Sen. Mike Duffy’s insistence that he could represent P.E.I. When word got around that the P.E.I.-born, Ottawa-based broadcaster had claimed Cavendish as his primary residence, George Clark-Dunning found out which house it was from one of the McNeills. One spring day, Clark-Dunning, a retired hotelier, left his family stead to walk past Memory Lane, G. Willikers Gift Shop and Green Gables to get to the Duffy cottage. Shopping bags covered the home’s light fixtures, a telltale sign of tourists at the end of the season, he said.

As controversy gathered around their occasional neighbour, Cavendish year-rounders learned that the senator and his wife had post-facto obtained provincial driver’s licences and health cards for the island of their supposed primary residence. “To us, it was just the birthday candles on the icing on the cake,” Clark-Dunning said.

The notoriety and criminal charges haven’t made the Old Duff a summertime recluse. Weeks before his trial resumed in August and pulled him back to his once-subsidized “secondary residence,” Duffy not only attended but spoke out with concern at a public meeting about the particularly raucous and boozy aftermath of this July’s Cavendish Beach Music Festival.

Some in Cavendish remain supporters or friends, and Islanders are too genteel to make Duffy feel unwelcome during his summer stay, Clark-Dunning said. “And there are people who are standing by him in this, definitely, so if you think he’s about to be dropped into the deep fat like a good doughnut, you just smile politely and keep your mouth shut. True gentlemen just don’t get into it.”

Written by Randy McDonald

August 26, 2015 at 2:00 am

[URBAN NOTE] “Holding Montreal Island seats top priority for Liberals”

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The Toronto Star‘s Chantal Hébert notes the exceptional potential weakness of the Liberals. If they fear losing seats in their Québec heartland of the island of Montréal, what prospects does the party have?

Today, according to the latest CROP poll, the party is running a dismal third across francophone Quebec, some 38 points behind the NDP.

If the federal election had been held this week the Liberals would again have been locked out of most of the province.

[. . .]

The NDP says it has also set its sights on Trudeau’s own Papineau riding. Former CBC/Radio-Canada journalist Anne Lagacé Dawson will carry the party flag in that battle.

By talking up their prospects in Papineau, the New Democrats may be getting ahead of themselves. Trudeau has established a personal connection to the riding and he did beat poor Liberal odds twice.

Still, in the last election the Bloc Québécois won 26 per cent of the votes in Papineau. If that support collapses in favour of the New Democrats — as it has been province-wide — the Liberal leader could be in trouble.

For the many federal Liberals in Quebec who saw Trudeau as a saviour at the time of his leadership victory two years ago, the first three weeks of the election campaign have been sobering ones. The party is nowhere near where it had expected to be in Quebec.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 25, 2015 at 10:31 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Torontoist on the departure of Pachi and the cost of the 2024 Olympics

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Torontoist’s David Hains linked to the enigmatic final photo of Pachi, Pan Am/Parapan mascot, on his Instagram feed. He then posted an analysis of the Olympics, money-wise: At an estimated cost of $13 billion, what could Olympics funds pay for locally? Quite a lot, it turns out.

•Fund TCHC capital repair backlog over next 10 years to keep units in good standing ($2.6 billion).
•Build the Downtown Relief Line from Union to Don Mills (Over $4 billion).
•Build the full Waterfront LRT ($600—$900 million, depending on alignment).
•Fund Lower Don flood protection and area improvements, thus unlocking billions in real estate value (Over $900 million).
•Eliminate the TTC’s unfunded state of good repair backlog [PDF], including 372 subway cars, 201 Wheel Trans buses, 99 new buses, 66 new LRVs, subway and surface track maintenance, meeting the TTC accessibility requirement by the provincially mandated deadline in 2025, and more ($2.3 billion).
•A $400,000 condo for every homeless person in Toronto ($2 billion).
•20 new full-service community centres ($590 million).
•20 new libraries ($170 million).

(Why don’t we just pay for that? Indeed, why not.)

Written by Randy McDonald

August 21, 2015 at 10:27 pm

[LINK] “NDP’s ‘Orange Wave’ in Quebec now a tsunami: poll”

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The Montreal Gazette‘s James Mennie reports on the dominance of the NDP in Québec. The party is now entrenched.

[T]his morning, a CROP survey conducted for La Presse suggests that the NDP wave in Quebec is taking on the dimensions of tsunami, and anyone else hoping to make gains in this province is in danger of getting swamped.

The survey suggests the NDP enjoys 47 per cent support in Quebec — a staggering 27 percentage points ahead of the federal Liberals and, relatively speaking, light-years ahead of the Bloc Québécois (16 per cent) and Conservatives (13 per cent).

When asked who they thought best suited to be prime minister, 41 per cent of respondents gave the nod to NDP leader Thomas Mulcair while just 15 per cent believed Liberal leader Justin Trudeau should be sent to 24 Sussex. Conservative leader Stephen Harper, the guy who actually has the job, polled just 13 per cent.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 21, 2015 at 10:11 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about her favourite things in New York City.
  • Centauri Dreams features an essay by Nick Nielsen arguing in favour of manned spaceflight.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the unusual chemical composition of the debris disk of HD 34700.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes Finland’s interest in a guaranteed minimum income.
  • Language Log notes the complexities of Wenzhou dialect.
  • Languages of the World shares an old post on the Roma and their language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that prison rape in the United States is a real thing.
  • pollotenchegg looks at birth rate trends in Ukraine over 2013-2015.
  • Savage Minds notes the difficulties of life as an anthropologist.
  • Torontoist notes a dance festival in Seaton Village.
  • Towleroad notes the Illinois ban on gay conversion therapy.
  • Transit Toronto looks at the TTC’s service in the time of the Canadian National Exhibition.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a Ukrainian nationalist criticism of Ukrainian policy after independence, and suggests that fear of a Russian nationalist backlash might lead to a Russian annexation of Donbas.
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