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3 Quarks Daily
80 Beats (Andrew Moseman, Brett Israel)
A BCer in Toronto (Jeff Jedras)
Acts of Minor Treason (Andrew Barton)
Andart (Anders Sandberg)
Alpha Sources (Claus Vistesen)
Anthropology.net
Apostrophen ('Nathan Smith)
Arnold Zwicky's Blog
Aufbau Ost (Melanie K.)
Bad Astronomy (Phil Plait)
Beyond the Beyond (Bruce Sterling)
blogTO
Bonoboland (Edward Hugh)
Bow. James Bow.
Broadside Blog (Caitlin Kelly)
A (Budding) Sociologist's Commonplace Book (Dan Hirschman)
Gerry Canavan's blog
Castrovalva (Richard R.)
Centauri Dreams (Paul Gilster)
Charlie's Diary (Charlie Stross)
City of Brass (Aziz Poonawalla)
Crooked Timber
The Dragon's Gaze (William Baird)
The Dragon's Tales (William Baird)
Dangerous Minds
Everyday Sociology Blog
False Positives (Ian Irving)
Far Outliers (Joel)
The Fifteenth (Steve Roby)
A Fistful of Euros
GeoCurrents (Martin Lewis)
Global Sociology
The Great Grey Bridge, Honourary Canadian (Philip Turner)
Halfway Down the Danube (Douglas Muir et al.)
Hunting Monsters and inuit bikini scarlet carwash
In Media Res (Russell Arben Fox)
Inkless Wells (Paul Wells)
Intuitionistically Uncertain (Michel)
Itching for Eestimaa (Guistino)
Ivor Tossell on the Web
Jim's Occasional Journal of Sorts (Jim Rittenhouse)
Joe.My.God (Joe)
Johnny Pez's blog
Karl Schroeder's blog
Kieran Healy's Weblog
Language Hat
Language Log (Mark Liberman et al.)
Languages of the World (Asya Pereltsvaig)
Lawyers, Guns, and Money
LRB Blog (London Review of Books)
The Map Room (Jonathan Crowe)
Marginal Revolution (Tyler Cowen)
Marginalia (Peteris Cedrins)
Mark Simpson
Maximos' Blog (Russell Darnley)
More Words, Deeper Hole (James Nicoll)
The Naked Anthropologist (Laura Agustín)
New APPS blog (group blog)
No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) (Peter Watts)
The Numerati (Stephen Baker)
NYRB Daily (New York Review of Books)
Open the Future (Jamais Cascio)
Otto's Random Thoughts (J. Otto Pohl)
The Pagan Prattle (Feòrag)
Passing Strangeness (Paul Drye)
patrickcain.ca (Patrick Cain)
Personal Reflections (Jim Belshaw)
Photosapience Daily (Jerrold)
Pollotencheg (Ukrainian demography blog)
The Power and the Money (Noel Maurer)
Progressive Download (John Farrell)
Registan (group blog)
Rev Rachel Rambles (Rachel Kessler)
The Rose and Phoenix Inn (Victoria Goddard)
Russian Demographic Live Journal (Ba-ldei Aga)
A Rusty Little Box (Rebecca)
Savage Minds
The Search (Douglas Todd)
Shadow, Light and Colour (Elizabeth Beattie)
Sharp Blue (Richard Baker)
The Signal
Some Ramblings from Mr. Gueguen
Spacing.ca
Steve Munro
Strange Maps
Sublime Oblivion (Anatoly Karlin)
Supernova Condensate
Tall Penguin
Technosociology (Zeynep Tufekci)
Torontoist
Towleroad (Andy Towle)
Understanding Society (Daniel Little)
Volokh Conspiracy
Wasatch Economics (Scott Peterson)
Wave Without A Shore (C.J. Cherryh)
The Way the Future Blogs (Frederik Pohl)
Whatever (John Scalzi)
Window on Eurasia (Paul Goble)
Wonkman
The Yorkshire Ranter (Alex Harrowell)
Zero Geography (Mark Graham)

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> previous 20 entries

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
11:15 pm - [FORUM] Do you think the world risks running into a new stagnation?
With Brexit set to diminish the prospects of the British economy and Trump's policies seeming likely to harm the United States, there seems a real prospect of all of the rich countries of the world remaining stuck, with stagnant living standards and growing inequality. Less rich countries also face similar problems, with Russia and Brazil at best bottoming out their declines and China heading who knows where. The big economic boom that began after the Second World War and continued, with varying geographic emphases, even after the 2007-2008 financial crisis might be coming to an end.

Do you think it will? What do you think the consequences might be? People who feel themselves being immiserated, I would note, are often people who make more narrow and less generous choices politically and socially. I hate to raise the spectre of the 1930s gratuitously, but are we in fact heading for an epoch like this? (And then what next?)

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9:05 pm - [LINK] "Trump Is Setting a Terrible Precedent. Ask Japan."
Bloomberg View's Michael Schuman argues that Trump's proposed economic policies, including intensive government management of private businesses, risks pushing the United States into a version of Japan's lost decades.

Factory workers should be cheering. Donald Trump, actually living up to a campaign promise, has been badgering corporate America to keep manufacturing jobs at home. On Thursday, Trump announced that Carrier Corp. will maintain about 1,000 jobs in Indiana rather than shift them to Mexico. He has prodded Apple Inc. to build plants at home rather than outsource to China. And he has taken credit (dubiously) for rescuing a Ford Motor Co. factory in Kentucky.

Many of you are probably saying: Hey, why haven't we done this sort of thing all along? Finally, we've got a tough guy in the White House who can stop those fat cats from moving our jobs overseas!

The problem is that Trump's bullying will undermine the rule of law -- and ultimately prove detrimental to the U.S. economy. We know this because he's far from the first government official to try such meddling. In Japan, bureaucrats were once famous for it. And the results there should serve as a warning.

During Japan's high-growth decades, its bureaucrats interfered in the economy in ways big and small. One of their favorite methods was to issue missives known as "administrative guidance." Such directives usually had no force of law, and they weren't proper regulations. The bureaucrats were trying to control business decisions in areas where they lacked formal authority. Companies very often abided by this guidance anyway, however, because if they didn't, they knew the bureaucrats could find some way of punishing them -- for instance, by blocking necessary raw materials or withholding a critical permit.

Japan's bureaucrats believed, much as Trump seems to now, that their actions protected the greater interests of the nation by controlling the self-serving motivations of individual firms. And when Japan was booming, they won kudos from analysts who saw their economic stewardship as a key factor in the country's success. Some even advocated that the U.S. emulate their state economic management to become more competitive.

But administrative guidance soon became part of a wider system of government interference that ultimately proved Japan's undoing. In effect, the practice created two sets of books -- one official, one unofficial. Since the latter was informal, firms had no real recourse to challenge it. That allowed bureaucrats to wield ever more influence. They sometimes employed their guidance to circumvent market forces -- for instance, to form production cartels or impede foreign companies, which limited competition and protected weak firms. Even consumers complained that the web spun by the bureaucracy was hiking the cost of living to exorbitant levels.

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9:02 pm - [LINK] "The U.K.'s Industrial Policy Is Bound to Backfire"
Victoria Bateman's Bloomberg View article arguing that the post-Brexit United Kingdom's proposed economic policies aren't likely to work out well, at all, feels plausible.

Industrial Strategy is making a comeback. One of Theresa May's first acts as prime minister was to create a new "Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy." That may sound impressive, but history is littered with equally well-intentioned but unsuccessful industrial strategies. For every case of success one can find more than one case of failure.

Previous attempts at industrial strategy in Britain include disastrous interventions during the 1920s and 1930s. An “Industrial Transference Scheme,” aimed at moving unemployed industrial workers to new jobs in expanding regions. Other policies sought to encourage mergers to help “rationalize” industry and exploit economies of scale, all with the aim of catching-up with the U.S. From 1932, a 10 percent general tariff on imports (later raised to 20 percent) was imposed. The policies arguably provided some short-term relief, but they stored up competitiveness problems for the future.

New interventions followed World War II: more state-supported mergers in everything from shipbuilding to computing, industrial subsidies, a public campaign to "buy British", a policy to create "national champions" and nationalization. The result was a 50 percent Anglo-German productivity gap and a rapid decline in Britain's share of world manufacturing exports to 9 percent by 1973 from 25 percent in 1950. By the end of the 1970s, a shakeout of inefficient resources was required, one which set the stage for Margaret Thatcher's showdown with the trade unions.

Most if not all of these past strategies would today run afoul of the European Union's state aid rules or the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. Subtler tools, however, remain, including support for research and development and support for companies in declining regions, policies that most economists feel are justified by “market failures.” But what is often forgotten is that a similar defense was used in the past to justify all other kinds of interventions. Getting it right is no easier today.

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8:58 pm - [LINK] "The day after Brexit"
John Quiggin's Crooked Timber post imagining likely outcomes for the post-Brexit United Kingdom feels depressingly possible. The discussion is largely good, too.

I’m finding it hard to see that anything will happen to justify the massive effort involved. The Poles and other EU citizens whose presence was the biggest single justification for Brexit won’t go away. On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that all EU citizens will get permanent residence, even those who arrived after the Brexit vote. Even with a hard Brexit, the benefits of consistency with EU regulations will be overwhelming. The terms of any trade deal with non-EU countries won’t be any better than the existing EU deals and probably worse.

Even symbolically, what’s going to happen? Typically, national independence is marked by a ceremony where the flag of the imperial power is lowered, and the new national flag is raised. But, from what I can tell, the EU flag is hardly ever flown in the UK as it is. The same for national currency, passport, official languages and all the other symbolic representations of nationhood.

So, after a successful Brexit, Britain will be a little poorer and more isolated than before, but otherwise largely unchanged. Will that count as success in the eyes of those who voted to Leave. I don’t know. Maybe those closer to the action could comment.

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6:34 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Don’t scapegoat foreign buyers for unaffordability, says CMHC"
MacLean's shares Laura Kane's Canadian Press article which shares a warning about not housing crises to start tensions over immigration.

The president of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is warning against an “us versus them” mentality in Vancouver, where he says foreign buyers are not the major factor driving unaffordability.

Evan Siddall delivered a pointed speech on Wednesday to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, where he said housing should not become a wedge that divides newcomers from long-time residents.

“When a white person buys a house, we don’t notice. When somebody of a different colour does, we do. That’s not good economics,” he said.

Vancouver’s skyrocketing housing prices have increasingly been blamed on foreign capital flowing from China. The British Columbia government introduced a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers in July in response to those concerns.

Asked by reporters whether he believed racism was playing a role in the housing debate, Siddall said he wouldn’t use such a “strong term,” but the contrast between “us and them” was a factor.

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6:31 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "No hard feelings for owners who lost store to Queen West gentrification"
The Globe and Mail's Marcus Gee tells the story of a Queen West convenience store now closing down on account of the gentrification of its neighbourhood.

Until Thursday, Sandy Chen and Henry Zhou ran a convenience store on Toronto’s Queen Street West. As the neighbourhood around them went from seedy to artsy to trendy, their Queen’s Grocery & Variety at the corner of Queen and Lisgar streets remained stubbornly the same.

Year after year, day after day, they stood sentry behind the store counter, cheerfully hawking (as the sign outside proclaimed) “pops, snacks, ice creams, ATM, TTC, Lotto” and other necessities of urban living.

But cities are always evolving and even Queen’s Grocery couldn’t resist forever. Real estate values have soared on Queen, one of the hottest streets on the continent. Someone bought the building from their old landlord last spring. Faced with a doubling of their rent, the couple, now in their 50s, decided to wind up the business that sustained them for 17 years.

As they prepared to close on Wednesday, a handwritten sign announced “Everything must go!!!” Inside the store, already half empty, Ms. Chen was slashing prices and giving lots of stuff away free. The sound of hammering and drilling came through the wall as renovators encroached. A contractor who looked in said the space would become (what else?) a vegetarian restaurant.

It is a process that is underway on city streets from London to Chicago to Shanghai. Rundown downtown neighbourhoods are reviving. New money and new blood is rushing in. The local hardware becomes a yoga studio, the greasy spoon a coffee bar. This stretch of Queen used to boast two car-wash joints, now priced out and long gone.

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6:29 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Who Deserves a Fare Subsidy?"
Steve Munro takes a look at the complex history of fare subsidies on the TTC.

With the never ending problems of balancing the TTC’s budget, the question of trimming or eliminating various forms of fare subsidy are back on the table. This shows up as a quick fix to revenue problems with the assumption that “if only riders paid more, there wouldn’t be a problem”. The target group varies from time to time, but the premise is the same – somebody is freeloading and “my tax dollars/fares” should not be paying their freight.

A basic problem with this argument is that it will not fix the revenue shortfall permanently, only increase the cost of using transit by whichever group is targeted. If, for example, all discount fares were eliminated in 2017, we would be right back at the same position in 2018 wondering how to deal with increased costs, but without that convenient list of scapegoats.

A quick review of the “concession fares” is in order to put the question in context.
•Adults who are willing to purchase tokens up front (or preload their Presto cards) get a discount relative to riders who pay cash.
•Adults who want to prepay even more can purchase daily, weekly or monthly passes which cap their costs within a time period.
•Special passes and validation stickers are available to extend the range of services covered by adult passes to premium fare routes and to other transit systems.
•Daily pass holders get a special “family” deal on weekends and holidays when up to six people, maximum two adults, can travel on the pass.
•Monthly pass holders can obtain various extra discounts based on a commitment to buying 12 months’ worth of transit (the Metropass Discount Plan or MDP), and bulk-buy discounts are available to organizations that resell passes (the Volume Incentive Program or VIP).
•A Convention Pass is available to allow for bulk purchase of transit service for large groups at a price considerably below the cost of a day pass.
•Students and seniors have passes priced at a 20% discount from adult passes, and MDP pricing provides for a further discount. Cash and ticket fares are discounted about 33% from adult rates.
•Children ride free.
•A limited number of designated groups (the blind and war amputees) travel free.
•WheelTrans users are entitled to be accompanied by a Support Person at no extra charge.

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6:27 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Niagara Falls gets $4M lighting makeover; LED brightens view"
CBC Hamilton gives me one more reason to go to Niagara Falls this year.

A $4 million lighting makeover is dialling up the wow factor of Niagara Falls at night.

Officials say energy-efficient LED lighting unveiled Thursday will provide brighter and more robust colour than the halogen technology that's been used to cast the Falls in rainbow hues after dark for the past 20 years.

The Niagara Parks commission streamed the event live.

The light beams emanate from banks of spotlights on the Canadian side of the Falls, lighting up the Horseshoe and American Falls that, along with the Bridal Veil Falls, make up the bi-national tourist attraction.

The Falls were lit for the first time in 1860 with 200 lights like those used to signal for help at sea. Electricity was first used in 1879. The Illumination Tower where most of the lights are located was built in 1899.

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6:25 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Munro’s Books co-founder Jim Munro was a champion of arts and culture"
The Globe and Mail's Paul Willcocks gives an elegy for a notable independent bookseller in Victoria, British Colombia.

Jim Munro, who died suddenly at his Victoria home on Nov. 21 at 87, created one of the world’s great bookstores in a city of fewer than 400,000 people.

Munro’s Books, with its beautiful historic interior, carefully selected stock and storied staff and service, is a destination for bibliophiles. Earlier this year, National Geographic listed it as No. 3 on a list of the world’s top 10 destination bookstores. That was only the latest in a string of accolades from across Canada and around the world.

But in Victoria, Mr. Munro was much more than a store owner, even a celebrated one.

Mr. Munro did things. When he saw problems he brought people together to fix them. He pushed projects that he believed mattered to the community, from heritage conservation to the arts. Stylish, with a tidy white beard and sharp blazers, smart, generous, modest and charming, Mr. Munro was very much at the centre of life in Victoria.

“He had friends in all ideologies and parties and sectors,” says Dave Hill, who spent 38 years working with Mr. Munro. Mr. Munro’s broad personal interests connected him with a wide range of people – including owners of small businesses, writers, artists, musicians – and his enthusiasm helped bring them together, Mr. Hill says.

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6:09 pm - [BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • At Apostrophen, 'Nathan Smith talks about how he made a tradition out of Christmas tree ornamentation over the past twenty years.

  • blogTO notes that Toronto's waterfront has major E Coli issues.

  • Crooked Timber notes the potential for the recent by-election in London, fought on Brexit and lost by the Tories, to mean something.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on a search for radio flares from brown dwarfs.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that China has been installing ecologies on its artificial South China Sea islands.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers what it means to be an ally.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the complex peace negotiations in Colombia.

  • The Map Room Blog shares a map of American infrastructure.

  • Marginal Revolution notes a one-terabyte drive passed from person to person that serves as a sort of Internet in Cuba.

  • Towleroad notes a film project by one Leo Herrera that aims to imagine what prominent AIDS victims would have done and been like had their not been killed by the epidemic.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the complexities surrounding Brexit.

  • Arnold Zwicky has had enough with linguistic prescriptivism.

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3:44 pm - [ISL] "Kensington police officer apologizes to Nickelback for Facebook post"
CBC News' Shane Ross reports on the ending of an unfunny joke.

A Kensington, P.E.I., police officer has apologized for "bullying" Nickelback and removed a Facebook post he says drew a reaction far beyond his expectations.

Last week, Const. Robb Hartlen posted on the police Facebook site that he would force arrested drivers to listen to Nickelback's 2001 album Silver Side Up as a punishment for drinking and driving. It was just his way of using humour to spread an important message, he said.

CBC P.E.I. published a story about the tongue-in-cheek post, as did other media around the world, including Time magazine and CNN.

"At no time did I think it would go as far as it did," Hartlen said.

On Friday, Hartlen removed the post and in a new Facebook post wrote a public apology to Nickelback.

Hartlen said the message of "Don't drink and drive" began to take a backseat to the "bashing of the band."

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11:14 am - [PHOTO] White lights arch, Allen Lambert Galleria, Brookfield Place
White lights arch #toronto #brookfieldplace #allenlambertgalleria #architecture #christmas #white #lights

Downtown Toronto was all a-glitter yesterday. I think I may have liked the quiet showiness of this lights, following the arch in the Allen Lambert Galleria, best.

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10:35 am - [CAT] Shakespeare, feeling better in the dark
Shakespeare, feeling better in the dark

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Friday, December 2nd, 2016
10:34 pm - [DM] "The Globe and Mail on the Syrian refugee population in Canada"
I've a post up at Demography Matters linking to journalist Joe Friesen's article in The Globe and Mail, a data-driven analysis "Syrian exodus to Canada: One year later, a look at who the refugees are and where they went" that takes a look at how the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees resettled Canada are doing.



The initial surge of arrivals was fuelled primarily by privately sponsored refugees whose applications were already in the pipeline under the previous Conservative government. Many of them have family ties in Canada and their first year is subsidized by their sponsor group. In Quebec, where roughly half of Syrian-Canadians were believed to reside, about 80 per cent of Syrian arrivals were privately sponsored. By contras, in Saskatchewan, only a very few have been privately sponsored and the overwhelming majority are government sponsored. In the first years after arrival, privately sponsored refugees, who often have advantageous family networks and higher levels of education, tend to fare better economically, studies have shown. Government-sponsored refugees are typically selected based on humanitarian need, which will often present social and educational challenges and they tend to take longer to establish themselves.



Ontario and Quebec, Canada’s two largest provinces, took in the largest number of refugees. Alberta, where there are established networks of private sponsorship groups, including large organizations run by Catholic groups in Calgary and Edmonton, surged ahead of its larger neighbour British Columbia to take third spot. New Brunswick took in refugees at a rate far higher than its share of population, exceeding the numbers seen in more populous provinces such as Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.



Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, Canada’s three largest cities, are always magnets for immigrants, so it’s no surprise that they would see the largest influx of Syrian refugees. All three have Syrian-Canadian residents who will have helped drive sponsorships. They also have effective refugee-sponsorship organizations, such as churches and secular groups, that provide an infrastructure for the new arrivals. On a per-capita basis, it was the mid-size Canadian cities that saw the greatest proportional impact of the Syrian refugee movement. Trois-Rivières, a Quebec city of 135,000 people, had the highest per-capita rate of arrivals. Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said there is a large and well-organized Armenian-Syrian community in Quebec that has contributed to sponsoring and settling a sizable number of the new arrivals. London, Ont., a city with a sizable Muslim community, welcomed the fourth-highest total, proportionally.




Friesen goes into more detail. There are some problems which may hinder the refugees' integration into Canada, with shortfalls in education and sometimes a lack of fluency in either official language.

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Thursday, December 1st, 2016
7:28 am - [PHOTO] Last Metropass line, November 2016, Eglinton station
Last Metropass line, November 2016, Eglinton station #toronto #yongeandeglinton #eglinton #ttc #metropass #metrolinx #presto


Last night when I was at Eglinton station, I snapped a photo of the regular end-of-the-month line-up for a Metropass. It was a noteworthy moment for me because this is going to be the last such moment, with the transition in January 2017 to the reloadable Presto cards.

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Wednesday, November 30th, 2016
3:59 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "John Abbott College’s new program supports Montreal’s Inuit students"
At MacLean's, Emily Baron Cadloff describes a program set up by a Montréal CEGEP to meet the needs of Inuit students from the northern Québec region of Nunavik, to migrate south for education.

In 2009, Alicia Aragutak finished high school in her hometown of Umiujaq, on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay. She was one of three students to graduate, and one of two from the remote, fly-in-only community of 400 people to study in Montreal, 1,245 km away.

Arriving in a huge metropolis “was a rather shocking experience for me, since I lived in one of the smallest towns in Nunavik,” says Aragutak, now president of the non-profit Qarjuit Youth Council. She enrolled at the English-speaking John Abbott College, a Montreal CEGEP with close to 600 students at the time, which was more people than Aragutak had ever seen.

Nunavik, the northernmost region of Quebec, is home to more than 12,000 people, the majority of them Inuit. Many young people like Aragutak, now 25, have never been away from home, let alone lived in residence at a college. But getting a post-secondary education, she explains, is expected. “I knew at that time my future would require some kind of education.”

Every year since the formation of the Kativik School Board (KSB) in 1975, Inuit students from all over Nunavik have travelled south to a CEGEP. More than half of the 100 students currently away from home for school ended up at John Abbott, which offers a two-week college preparatory program to help introduce young Inuit to life in the city. It also helps Inuit students form connections. “You get to know your classmates, but it’s not as close-knit as it is up north. So when you’re in the same environment as people who are going through the same changes as you, it’s comforting,” says Aragutak, who studied youth and adult correctional intervention. “And you feel like you’re not alone.”

Now, thanks to a $667,000 federal grant, the Kativik School Board is going a step further, introducing a one-year, general education pilot program in September 2017 called Nunavik Sivuniksavut.

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3:52 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Montreal neighbourhood’s new-temple ban sparks debate about public space"
The Globe and Mail's Ingrid Peritz touches upon the tensions between Hasidim and non-Hasidim in the Montréal borough of Outremont regarding the management of public space. There are legitimate concerns on both sides, whether the concern of Hasidim that they are being squeezed out or the concern of non-Hasidim that their public space is being taken over. (The Montréal gym whose windows were frosted so as to obscure outsiders' views of exercising women, at the request of Hasidim, is located here.)

A referendum vote in favour of banning new houses of worship on one of Montreal’s most upscale streets has inflamed tensions with the district’s community of Hasidic Jews, fuelling a divisive debate over religious minorities and the sharing of public space.

In a vote that coincides with heightened sensitivity across the continent about the treatment of minorities, residents in the borough of Outremont voted 56 per cent in favour on Sunday of upholding a zoning ban on new temples on Bernard Avenue, one of the well-to-do district’s main commercial arteries.

While the bylaw does not identify a specific religion, it coincides with the rapid expansion of the local Hasidic community, a largely insular, ultra-orthodox group that has grown to about 25 per cent of the population.

Some in the Hasidic community see the vote as push-back against its members. With zoning bans in place on residential streets and other commercial areas in Outremont, Bernard was the last place in the developed part of the borough available to open a synagogue.

[. . .]

The referendum vote is the latest iteration of long-standing strains between the Hasidic Jewish community and the majority in Outremont, home to some of the leading political and cultural figures of Quebec (the borough recently made waves when it renamed Vimy Park after the late premier Jacques Parizeau, a long-time resident). Below the surface, the debate is over the notion of belonging and the stresses of co-habitation in the central Montreal borough of 25,000, where black-garbed Hasidic men are a visible presence. The Hasidic community, bound by deep religious tenets, mostly avoids mixing with those outside its faith.

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1:05 pm - [ISL] "Hundreds rally for electoral reform on P.E.I."
CBC News' Natalia Goodwin notes a major protest in Charlottetown calling on the Island government to honour the results of the recent referendum on changing the electoral system to one based on proportional representation.

An estimated 300 people gathered in front of the Coles Building in Charlottetown Tuesday night to voice discontent over how the results of the recent plebiscite on electoral reform were handled.

There were chants of "Honour the vote" throughout the hour-long protest. People even brought pots and pans to bang on; they were loud and they were angry.

"This is bullying, and I don't take well to bullying and I really will stand up to bullying," said protestor Greg Bradley

"King Wade wants to keep things the way they are and people want change and we're not allowed to have a voice it seems."

The noise from the crowd got even louder as the MLAs began to return to the legislature for the evening sitting. Some stopped to hear what speakers were saying and engage in debate and questions with rally goers. There were many speakers including representation from all four parties on P.E.I.

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1:02 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Is Public Sex in Parks a Public Safety Concern?"
Spacing's Marsha McLeod and Jen Roberton take a look at the campaign against public sex in Marie Curtis Park, placing it in a broader context of queer repression.

The presence of public sex in parks is a long standing tradition in urban centres. For some, having public sex is a fetish. For others, they may frequent parks for sex because they do not have access to an indoor space for sex, notably true for some homeless people and queer people. Cruising, the practice of seeking anonymous sex in parks or other public spaces, has a specific significance for men who have sex with men (MSM) who may not identify as part of queer or gay communities, and may not have other means of meeting other MSM.

Despite the fact that public sex occurs regularly in parks, few cities actively plan parks accommodating this reality. In response, some activists have taken guerrilla planning tactics to claim park space for sex. In 2011, activists posted signs in Copenhagen’s Ørstedsparken which read that sex is allowed in the park, but patrons must show respect to other park users by not having sex near the playground, in plain view, or loudly between 9am and 4pm. Patrons were also reminded to dispose of any waste they may produce, including used condoms and paper towels. The signs were removed by municipal officials.

The guidelines on public sex in parks put forth by Copenhagen activists include the needs of patrons using parks for sex, while also considering the needs of people using the space for other recreational activities that may seem to conflict with cruising. The Ørstedsparken guidelines also mirror the regulations that govern public sex in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark. Since 2008, public sex has been allowed in Vondelpark as long as patrons do not litter, do not engage in sexual activities near the playground, and limit public sex to evenings and nighttime. In an article in the Amsterdam Law Forum, Laura Morrison and Alba Izadó León Hernández write that the changes to the regulations in Vondelpark were done by the municipal government to protect all members of the local community, including gay men who were being targeted by ‘queer-bashers.’

Recent police stings targeting men cruising in Toronto’s Marie Curtis Park reflect what happens when parks are not seen as spaces that community members utilize for a variety of activities, including public sex. The police operation, entitled ‘Project Marie’, involved plain-clothed male officers frequenting specific cruising spots to wait for men to solicit them for sexual activities. The operation led to ticketing 72 people一95 percent of whom are men一with a total of 89 charges. Most people were ticketed for non-criminal offenses, including trying to solicit sex from an undercover officer and for being in a parking lot after hours (under the assumption that they were there to engage in public sex). The Toronto Police Service stated that the 22 Division undertook the operation so that parents and children who frequent Marie Curtis Park could “take back” the space.

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12:59 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Hamilton: The benefits of living on the outskirts of cool"
Spacing's Alanna Stuart writes about Hamilton's position on the edge gives it a chance to innovate. Gerschenkron's argument from backwardness?

Despite its new reputation as a real estate hotbed, Hamilton has yet to be branded as an internationally renowned cultural hub, though the annual Supercrawl arts festival is threatening to change that. The steel town still has more boarded up storefronts than venues and cafes, yet it’s also managed to birth a Grammy-winning electronic music scene that’s been celebrated worldwide since the ’90s.

I made a documentary about this community, and, in the process, came to realize that Hamilton’s cultural impact didn’t happen in spite of its perceived weaknesses, it happened because of them.

Looking at other geographic musical movements revealed this phenomenon isn’t unique to Hamilton. Take Virginia Beach, VA, for example. The mid-sized, tourism-driven military town gave birth to Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo (The Neptunes), and The Clipse, who together, planted the seeds for the rap and “future R&B” revolution of the’90s and 2000s.

Meanwhile in the UK, musicians growing up in the airplane manufacturing centre of Bristol, two and a half hours west of London, fused hip hop production, singer-songwriter craftsmanship, and reggae music to form its signature trip hop sound and more. Influential bands like Massive Attack, Portishead, and Roni Size Reprazent all emerged from this sonic mish-mash.

Though their music lends these places an air of avant-garde now, when their scenes’ champions were growing up, none of these cities were anybody’s idea of cool. And I think that was part of their advantage.

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