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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • At Acts of Minor Treason, Andrew Barton is very unhappy with the misuse of the Hugo Award.
  • Anthropology.net notes that DNA has been retrieved from an ancient and mostly fossilized Neanderthal fossil.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the early history of the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • Crooked Timber looks at the controversies over religious liberty.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze considers how extraterrestrial life can be detected through disequilibria in exoplanet atmosphere and notes the recent Alpha Centauri B study.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that by 2018 a laser will be deployed on a drone.
  • Geocurrents shares slides from a recent lecture on Yemen.
  • Language Hat examines the Yiddish word “khnyok”.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the Republican race.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the unpopularity of political jobs among young Americans.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes SpaceX’s problem with retrieving the first stages of its rockets.
  • Torontoist looks at beekeeping in Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes a Kickstarter fundraiser for Emil Cohen’s photos of queer life in Providence.
  • Transit Toronto notes the expansion of free WiFi throughout the subway system.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that divorce papers can be served via Facebook if it is the most practical alternative.
  • Window on Eurasia fears a summertime Russian attack on Ukraine, notes Russian fears of rebellion at home, and looks at Russian Internet censorship.
  • The World’s Gideon Rachman wonders if the Greek demand for Second World War reparations will bring the Eurozone crisis to a head.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes the essential lack of difference on government spending between Labour and the Tories and looks at flawed computer databases.

[ISL] “Stephen Harper should never have appointed Mike Duffy a P.E.I. senator”

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The Toronto Star‘s Thomas Walkom writes about how, in appointing Ontario resident Mike Duffy as senator from Prince Edward Island, Stephen Harper violated the constitution, almost certainly knowingly.

By any reasonable interpretation, Duffy did not meet the primary constitutional qualification for a Canadian senator — that he be “resident in the province for which he is appointed.”

In fact, as the prime minister must have known (almost everyone else did), Duffy had been living in the Ottawa areas for decades. He was born in Prince Edward Island. But he had not lived there for a very long time.

And yet, in defiance of the Constitution, Harper appointed Duffy to represent P.E.I. in the Senate.

Almost all of Duffy’s legal problems stem from the efforts he and others made to try to square this impossible circle.

Crown prosecutor Mark Holmes made the point almost in passing Tuesday when he noted that Duffy was “probably ineligible” to sit as a P.E.I. senator.

The trial returned to the question Wednesday when former Senate clerk Mark Audcent was asked who was responsible for determining whether a senator met the constitutional requirement for residency.

His answer: The prime minister.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 9, 2015 at 10:44 pm

[LINK] “What is going on in Alberta?”

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Mike on Facebook linked to this post at Three Hundred Eight by Éric Grenier looking at next month’s election in Alberta. Out of nowhere, the governing Progressive Conservatives are in third place, behind the gutted Wildrose Party and the New Democratic Party.

The Calgary Herald is doing double duty on Alberta polling these days, coming out with new numbers from ThinkHQ last night (also reported by Metro Calgary and CTV) and then even more new numbers this morning (here reported by the CBC) from Mainstreet Technologies. And the two polls, one conducted online and the other via IVR, showed virtually identical results.

Wildrose scored 31% in both polls, with the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats only a point apart for second place.

ThinkHQ had the NDP with 26% to 25% for the PCs, while Mainstreet had the PCs at 27% and the NDP at 26%.

Both polls also put the Liberals at 12% support.

There is a lot of agreement to go around, but these numbers are unprecedented. In my Alberta polling archive going back to 2008, I have no poll showing the PCs in third place, and only in the darkest moments before Alison Redford resigned have the Tories polled this low before. In none of these polls going back seven years has the NDP even managed 20%, but here they are at 26%. From an electoral perspective, the last time the New Democrats took this much of the vote was in 1989.

This is not to say that the polls are unbelievable. With the Insights West poll from last week, we now have three separate pollsters showing broadly the same thing. Jim Prentice has gambled on an early election, and the first roll of the dice is looking very bad for him.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 9, 2015 at 10:41 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO shows the scope of the construction at College and Spadina, as streetcar track work continues.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the evidence for a subsurface ocean on Ganymede.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining a very early Sun-like star and its debris belt, noting evidence that massive collisions are quite common.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper examining the thickness of the ice covering Europa’s ocean, suggesting it might be 28 kilometres.
  • Mathew Ingram notes how he and other GigaOM writers are now writing for Fortune.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money places the Germanwings mass murder in the context of the precarious nature of airplane pilots’ careers.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the very thin atmospheres of Io and Callisto.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog celebrates 100 thousand page views.
  • Towleroad notes how pro-gay ads help normalize depictions of queer lives.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy is concerned about the impact of ignorant voters.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russian interest in making participation in censuses mandatory, observes fragile leadership in post-Soviet countries, and notes virtual republics declared by pro-Russians in southern Ukraine.

[LINK] “Mike Duffy ‘probably ineligible’ to be P.E.I. senator, Crown argues”

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The Canadian Press’ Jennifer Dutchburn writes at CBC about how the criminal prosecution of Mike Duffy is turning up a lacuna in Stephen Harper’s judgement. How did Duffy ever get appointed Senator for Prince Edward Island when he did not meet the residency requirements?

One of the sets of charges involves living expenses and alleges Duffy defrauded the government by claiming his primary residence was in Prince Edward Island while he actually lived in Ontario.

“Senator Duffy was probably ineligible to sit as a senator, and to sit in the Senate as a representative of Prince Edward Island,” Holmes told the court.

“He was constitutionally eligible to have been appointed from the province of Ontario, but that is not what happened.”

Harper named Duffy to the Senate to represent P.E.I. in late 2008, despite the fact Duffy had lived in the Ottawa area for decades. Duffy was a well-known former TV broadcaster who went on to be featured prominently at Conservative events and in promotional materials.

Later, when questions began to be raised in the media about how much time he spent in P.E.I., Harper defended Duffy’s eligibility both publicly and behind the scenes.

The Constitution says a senator “shall be resident in the province for which he is appointed,” and must own property worth at least $4,000 in that province.

Harper’s staff were insistent that the definition be accepted on its own merits, and not be subjected to any kind of additional interpretation or scrutiny.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 9, 2015 at 1:03 am

[LINK] “In Myanmar, white elephants are prized symbols of rulers”

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Nathan Vanderklippe’s article in The Globe and Mail looks at how the so-called white elephant has become a vital element in statecraft in mainland Southeast Asia, particularly in Burma but also in Thailand.

White elephants hold power by virtue of a history possibly rooted in Vedic Hinduism, dating back more than two millennia, “where Indra, the king of the gods, is always depicted as seated upon exactly such a beast,” says Rupert Arrowsmith, a cultural historian at the University College London who has lived in Myanmar, where he has twice been ordained a monk.

Later, the mother of Gautama Siddhartha – Buddha – dreamed that a white elephant had entered her womb before giving birth, extending the animal’s influence to Buddhism. Burmese kings took “master of the white elephant” as one of their titles and the animals were afforded every luxury. They suckled human breasts as babies and as adults were ornamented with diamonds, kept in gold houses and fed from golden troughs.

Having them in place was among the most important events in the inauguration of a new capital. Their death, too, had great portent. Colonialists rooted out white elephants along with monarchies, since the animals were potent royal symbols.

In Myanmar, royal rule ended in 1885, and the tradition was only recently revived. Author Rena Pederson writes that military strongman Than Shwe, in power from 1992 to 2011, “desperately wanted one of the power symbols to signify his own kingly rule.” Mr. Arrowsmith speculates it might have to do with Than Shwe seeking legitimacy for his new capital, Naypyidaw, built at the cost of billions of dollars on an empty plain.

What seems clear is the collection of white elephants was a deliberate act. In 2008, Myanmar’s government created a White Elephant Capture and Training Group charged with the nationwide collection effort.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 8, 2015 at 10:23 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes that the average price of a home in Toronto has risen above six hundred thousand dollars.
  • D-Brief observes an acceleration in the deforestation of the Amazon.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the environment of close-orbiting exoplanets.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money mocks the standards of Rolling Stone, and Jann Wenner.
  • Steve Munro studies the frequency of service on the St. Clair streetcar line.
  • Peter Rukavina notes that the proportion of women running for political office in Prince Edward Island’s election next week is far below their share of the population.
  • Torontoist looks at homelessness and underhousing in the Toronto inner suburbs and explains the rights of tenants.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy explains why a Colorado bakery could refuse to write an anti-gay inscription on a cake.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the writings of a Kalmyk Eurasianist and examines the popularity of ethnic nationalism in the Russian intelligensia.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell provides more evidence of the poor judgements of the United Kingdom’s Liberal Democrats.
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