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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)
Apostrophen ('Nathan Smith)
Arnold Zwicky's Blog
Aufbau Ost (Melanie K.)
Bad Astronomy (Phil Plait)
Beyond the Beyond (Bruce Sterling)
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
Steve Munro
Strange Maps
Sublime Oblivion (Anatoly Karlin)
Supernova Condensate
Tall Penguin
Technosociology (Zeynep Tufekci)
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)
The Yorkshire Ranter (Alex Harrowell)
Zero Geography (Mark Graham)

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2016
1:37 pm - [LINK] "China Wants To Be The Next Hockey Heavyweight"
Over at Vice Sports, Sheng Peng describes the heavy investments being made into China into making China a hockey superpower. Russia is playing a particularly large role, in providing training and guidance, but there are also influences from Europe.

There is no Chinese word for "puck." In fact, the most literal translation for "bingqiu"—Chinese for hockey—is "ice ball." The Chinese are about as familiar with hockey as Wayne Gretzky is with badminton.

Yet off the West 4th Ring of Beijing on Sept. 5, 2016, the Kunlun Red Star were taking the ice for their home debut at LeSports Center. The Red Star are the newest franchise of the Russian-based KHL, thought to be the second-best league in the world after the NHL. In other words, what were they doing here?

[. . .]

China wants to flex again, as it did during the 2008 Summer Olympics. This time, the country is training to be a hockey heavyweight. Like Russia, the United States, or Canada. Really.

China has the capital. And right now, it has the motivation: In just six short years, all eyes will once again be on Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

China, as host country, will have a chance to field squads for both the men's and women's ice hockey tournaments. In arguably the Games' most prestigious event, the hunger to be able to stand toe-to-toe with the best in the world is naturally greater. Not that far behind, also, is the specter of the "sick man of Asia", which has dogged the Middle Kingdom's last century.

But how can China transform its IIHF 37th-ranked men's national team, which plays literally three rungs below the elite, into a unit with even a puncher's chance in 2022?

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1:35 pm - [LINK] "Why Facebook Won't Give Up on China"
Bloomberg View's Adam Minter explains Facebook's desire to still get into China in the context of the mercurial policies of China's government towards different social networking platforms.

[T]he most revolutionary service was Tencent's WeChat, released in 2011. At first glance, it looked like just another social network and messaging service. Yet it quickly morphed into something much richer, offering a free video-chat system, a taxi-hailing service, a bill-paying portal and a vast shopping environment. Today it's possible to bank on the system and send money to anyone. Invoking "The Lord of the Rings," some users joke that it's the "one app to rule them all." It now has more than 700 million users, including nearly everyone with internet access in China -- and another 70 million overseas.

Compared to WeChat, Facebook is a desert, with little allure to Chinese users. There aren't any public statistics on how many mainlanders use Facebook, but in my experience they're mostly Chinese who have lived or worked in the West, want to maintain friendships overseas, and have access to the technical means to avoid government blockades. For those without such connections, Facebook's only theoretical appeal is that it provides access to news, posts and videos that are otherwise censored. If and when Facebook is reintroduced, those advantages will disappear -- and so will the most obvious argument for joining.

But Facebook still has one thing going for it, which is surely on Zuckerberg's mind: Technology and social media evolve rapidly in China.

Only two years ago, Sina Weibo was China's biggest and most popular social-media platform. Then, after a government crackdown, it lost its political edge and many of its most popular users, and was left for dead. Even as the eulogies were being written, however, Weibo was reinventing itself. It soon became a platform for live-streaming bloggers and celebrity self-promotion, and it boomed once again, boosted by an astonishing 10 million live broadcasts between April and June of this year -- a 116-fold increase over the previous quarter. Today, Weibo is approaching 300 million users and its most popular live-streamers get multi-million dollar endorsements.

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1:30 pm - [URBAN NOTE] CBC and Torontoist on the closing of Beit Zatoun, Mirvish Village
CBC News' Laura Howells reported on the imminent closure of Palestinian diaspora centre Beit Zatoun, displaced by the transformation of Honest Ed's and Mirvish Village.

Toronto's rampant development is claiming another casualty this week: community space Beit Zatoun will host its final event on Wednesday.

Tucked away in the Annex neighbourhood, Beit Zatoun has become a hub of social justice and activism in the city.

In its nearly seven years, the Markham street location has hosted more than 1,000 events — everything from poetry readings to film showings, meetings, lectures, art and music.

But like its neighbour, Honest Ed's, Beit Zatoun will soon be demolished to make way for the Mirvish Village development.

"It has blazed a path for the grass roots community," said founder Robert Massoud.

"And now in its leaving, it leaves a hole. And so hopefully people can recognize the need to fill that hole in a different way."

At Torontoist, Amanda Ghazale Aziz wrote about Beit Zatoun's impact on her own life.

Beit Zatoun helped me learn about my maternal family. What I got out of this place were tiny fractions of my heritage that wouldn’t have been recovered by my mother’s memory or a detailed Google search. I knew folks who were in the same boat as me, but it was a matter of finding a physical ground.

A community can work to revive lost histories and traditions, but it’s location that gathers them together.

Over the past seven years, Beit Zatoun—“House of Olive” in Arabic—has hosted over 1,000 events coming from virtually every community making up Toronto and cutting across many dimensions of identity. It worked tirelessly to create a community based on mutual awareness and building solidarity. Only 25 per cent of its events had anything to do with the Middle East and the centre was well-known in left and radical activist movements as much as it was a space for the arts, like the Shab-e She’r poetry nights.

To me, it felt like visiting the home of a relative you hadn’t seen in a decade.

While it took me forever to finally visit, I was welcomed with a quiet hospitality by way of treats when I did make the trek. And every single time after that. In fact, Beit Zatoun events were known for having bread, olive oil, za’atar to dip, coffee with cardamom, and tea with sage adorn the tables for people to consume.

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1:28 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Comic Book Store The Beguiling Plans Move to Kensington Market"
Torontoist's David Hains looks at the impending move of The Beguiling from Mirvish Village to College Street near Kensington Market.

Longtime Mirvish Village institution The Beguiling will close its Markham Street digs on January 28.

The venerable comic book store has been at its current location since 1992, after it moved from its original Harbord Street location where it was founded in 1987.

The store, which specializes in independent comics as well as original art, will relocate to College and Spadina at 319 College Street, just north of Kensington Market. The College Street location might have a casual opening sometime in December, but will be open for regular business on January 3.

[. . .]

The Beguiling isn’t the only comic book store affected by the Honest Ed’s development. Its children’s comics store, Little Island Comics, located on Bathurst Street, will close. In a Facebook post announcing the changes, The Beguiling says that much of Little Island’s selections will be available at Page and Panel, its store located in the Reference Library. In a phone call with Torontoist, store owner Peter Birkemoe says that the Little Island brand will live on in some form in the future, but that there are no current plans for it to have a physical location.

The 319 College Street location will have about 20 per cent less square footage than the existing store, but Birkemoe says the store layout will be better, which will make for easier browsing. The store will be on one floor, and it will mark the first time The Beguiling is fully accessible.

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1:24 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "The last days of Mirvish Village before it's gone"
Amy Grief's photo essay at blogTO takes a look at the last weeks of Mirvish Village before the transformation of Honest Ed's guts this small neighbourhood, talking with some of the businesspeople of the street.

Darrel Dorsk started visiting Markham Street when he moved to Toronto from California in 1974. Like many, he would head to David Mirvish Books to buy the Sunday edition of the New York Times. Back then it cost 25 cents; he was a regular customer until the store closed in 2009. By then, the paper was $7.50.

Dorsk runs The Green Iguana Glassworks at 589 Markham St. He’s been in the same spot since 1981 and fills with storefront with his handmade frames, glass baubles and a variety of prints and pictures. “It’s very messy in here, but hopefully people find it interesting,” he says.

Neighbours refer to Dorsk as the mayor of Mirvish Village and he has plenty to say about his time on the street. “I like to tell people I’ve been suffering from an obscure medical syndrome working on Markham Street and the acronym is TMF. It stands for too much fun.”

Dorsk got his start in the 1970s selling stained glass boxes, which he made with his girlfriend at the time. His zoology degree from Berkley hangs in his store and he notes he once wanted to be a veterinarian – that’s why there are so many natural history prints on his wall.

He’s sad to be leaving Markham Street but plans to move his business into a building he bought at 948 Bloor Street West.

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1:19 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Four Reasons Why Road Tolls Are a Good Idea"
Torontoist's Gideon Forman presents a four-part argument in favour of road tolls.

The first thing to note about proposed tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway is that they’ll benefit everyone—drivers and non-drivers.

Drivers should notice the highways are less congested and their trips faster, as some motorists opt for other means of transportation. Transit riders should notice service improvements as toll-generated dollars help the City invest in capital projects such as the downtown relief line.

Details still need to be confirmed, but the thrust of the mayor’s plan is clear. Drivers would pay a flat—not distance-based—fee of two to three dollars. That would generate about $200 million annually for transit and road improvements.

The policy requires provincial permission (not a major hurdle) and Council approval. Early vote counts suggest about 30 councillors support the plan. Given the mayor’s popularity, it would be shocking if the new measure was shot down.

The toll is likely to be backed by many on the left who desperately want expanded transit and by conservatives who like the fact it would be paid by non-Torontonians currently making no contribution to the city’s road network. (According to chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, cited in the Star, about 40 per cent of DVP and Gardiner users don’t live in Toronto.) Assuming the proposal is approved in early 2017, revenue could start flowing in by 2019.

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1:12 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "TTC backs off Scarborough subway expropriations"
The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr reports on something confusing, if good for the homeowners in question. Will the Scarborough line extension's route be changed? Will the line exist at all? Who knows?

Residents in the path of the Scarborough subway extension are no longer in danger of losing their homes.

The TTC sent notices to about a dozen property owners near the intersection of McCowan Rd. and Ellesmere Rd. last week, alerting them that their land would no longer be required to make way for a construction staging site for the controversial transit project.

In May, the TTC told residents of 11 homes on Stanwell Dr. that their properties might need to be expropriated for a tunnel staging site. A further 23 properties were facing partial expropriation.

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) said he was “thrilled” by the TTC’s decision, and declared that the transit agency had “avoided a huge mistake.”

“I wish that these proposals were not put on the table in the first place,” said De Baeremaeker, who is a vocal supporter of the one-stop subway extension to the Scarborough Town Centre. “So I do tip my hat and congratulate the TTC staff for actually listening to the public.”

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10:46 am - [URBAN NOTE] CBC: Bombardier sends Eglinton Crosstown, Finch West LRT test car to Kingston for trial
CBC News' Christine Pagulayan reports on the belated delivery of the much-promised test car from Bombardier.

A prototype light-rail vehicle for Toronto's Eglinton Crosstown and Finch West LRT lines is en route to undergo testing — two years after Bombardier was supposed to deliver the project's first test car.

Bombardier spokesman Marc-Andre Lefebvre told CBC Toronto, "Bombardier is quite happy that our LRV projects are going forward."

"I can confirm our LRV pilot vehicle has gone to the next step and has left Thunder Bay to go to our Kingston site," he said.

Lefebvre said Monday that because the prototype is traveling by rail, it should arrive in Kingston, Ont. in about five to 10 days.

Testing has already begun at Bombardier's Thunder Bay plant. But nine months of qualification testing still needs to be done and it is unclear when those tests will begin.

A relevant tweet showing the first glimpse of the test car is here.

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10:36 am - [BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO notes that Toronto finally got its first test LRT from Bombardier, after many delays.

  • Centauri Dreams considers some of the problems with drafting a message to extraterrestrial civilizations.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes that an upcoming Japanese telescope could detect oxygen on, among other planets, K2-3d.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that Ivanka Trump's shoe factory is moving from China to Ethiopia in pursuit of lower wages.

  • Language Hat links to a report on Alghero, the city that is the heart of a fading enclave of Catalan on the Italian island of Sardinia.

  • The LRB Blog notes the ascent of François Filion in France.

  • Otto Pohl describes the position of Soviet Kurds.

  • pollotenchegg reports on ethnic diversity in the different raions of Ukraine.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer links to a 2013 study suggesting Cuba under Communism underperformed significantly.

  • Towleroad looks at Donald Trump's claim of voter fraud.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that deniers of the Holodomor should be shamed.

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7:37 am - [PHOTO] Looking up the Don River from Queen Street
Looking up the Don River #toronto #donriver #rivers

Toronto's Don River may face significant ecological challenges, but the northwards view from Queen Street East at least evokes a functioning urban riverine ecosystem.

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Monday, November 28th, 2016
11:54 pm - [DM] "A brief note on the demographic prospects of Cuba"
Over at Demography Matters I make a brief post about Cuba's demographic prospects in light of its dubious economic hopes. There are going to be more emigrants, and Cuba's generally negative demographic situation will not help things.

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8:52 pm - [BRIEF NOTE] On the immiseration of Cuba under Communism
Late in December of 2015, I wrote an answer in Quora to a question wondering if Cuba proves that Communism worked. Could it stand as an example for the Third World? It could not, I argued, mainly because Cuba before Castro was an advanced society with high levels of human and economic development, and because Cuba after Castro simply coasted.

PBS' synopsis notes the fatal flaw in Cuba's prosperity, which was distributed very unevenly and helped to create a pre-revolutionary situation.

Cuba's capital, Havana, was a glittering and dynamic city. In the early part of the century the country's economy, fueled by the sale of sugar to the United States, had grown dynamically. Cuba ranked fifth in the hemisphere in per capita income, third in life expectancy, second in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, first in the number of television sets per inhabitant. The literacy rate, 76%, was the fourth highest in Latin America. Cuba ranked 11th in the world in the number of doctors per capita. Many private clinics and hospitals provided services for the poor. Cuba's income distribution compared favorably with that of other Latin American societies. A thriving middle class held the promise of prosperity and social mobility.

There were, however, profound inequalities in Cuban society -- between city and countryside and between whites and blacks. In the countryside, some Cubans lived in abysmal poverty. Sugar production was seasonal, and the macheteros -- sugarcane cutters who only worked four months out of the year -- were an army of unemployed, perpetually in debt and living on the margins of survival. Many poor peasants were seriously malnourished and hungry. Neither health care nor education reached those rural Cubans at the bottom of society. Illiteracy was widespread, and those lucky enough to attend school seldom made it past the first or second grades. Clusters of graveyards dotted the main highway along the foothills of the Sierra Maestra, marking the spots where people died waiting for transportation to the nearest hospitals and clinics in Santiago de Cuba.

This 1966 New York Review of Books exchange of letters on the Cuban revolution makes Cuba's relative advancement clear: "[I]n 1953, not a particularly good year for the Cuban economy, Cuba’s per-capita income of $325 was higher than that of Italy ($307), Austria ($290), Spain ($242), Portugal ($220), Turkey ($221), Mexico ($200), Yugoslavia ($200), and Japan ($197)".

Ward and Devereux's 2010 study "The Road not taken: Pre-Revolutionary Cuban Living Standards in Comparative Perspective" (PDF format) makes more detailed claims: "On the eve of the revolution, incomes were 50 to 60 percent of European levels. They were among the highest in Latin America at about 30 percent of the United States. In relative terms, Cuba was richer earlier on. Income per capita during the 1920s was in striking distance of Western Europe and the Southern United States. After the revolution, Cuba slipped down the world income distribution. Current levels of income per capita appear below their pre-revolutionary peaks." Notwithstanding criticism of these figures--Ward and Devereux do seem to account for price levels, contrary to Louis Proyect's claims--they seem valid. Cuba on the eve of the revolution was a high-income Latin American society, fully bearing comparison with the Southern Cone and Venezuela, even much of Europe.

What does this mean about the success of Cuba under socialism? Probably the most noteworthy element of Cuba's post-revolutionary history is that of economic stagnation and relative decline. Cuba has fallen behind spectacularly, not just behind its western European peers but behind Latin America as well. Latin America's high-income countries have had a chequered growth history, but even these, Cuba's peers, have done better: Wages and living standards in Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile are substantially higher. Even in the context of the Caribbean, Cuba's geographic peers, Cuba's performance has been patchy, with the Dominican Republic making lasting gains.

What happened? One counterfactual analysis suggests that Cuba's economy began underperforming badly in 1959, the moment of the revolution. Ward and Devereux suggest, ironically enough, that it is only by the late 1950s that the Cuban economy had completed its long, slow recovery from the devastating impact of US sugar tariffs imposed in the early 1930s. (Cuba, they suggest, may have seen little net economic growth since the 1920s!) Of all the economies in the world to be transformed into autarkic socialist states, Cuba's highly-export dependent economy may have been among the least suited.

There may well have been gains to general Cuban living standards from the redistribution of wealth and resources. These gains were limited: The positive effects of the revolution, including increased investment in human development, may have been swamped by the negative effects including the collapse of Cuba's previous trade networks and the costs of converting an economy to Communism. Cuba may simply have coasted on its pre-revolutionary achievements, expanding access to pre-existing institutions.

In the end, Cuba has been left as vulnerable as any other post-Communist countries by the failure of its political model, perhaps even more exposed and vulnerable than before the introduction of Communism. Castro and his communism did not improve Cuba's position relative to the outside world. In this, Cuba bears comparison not so much with the countries of the Third World as it does with the countries of central Europe, similarly semiperipheral countries with similar problems of inequality which did not see much benefit in the long run from Communism.

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6:34 pm - [URBAN NOTE] blogTO on the empty Honeydale Mall
blogTO's Derek Flack has a nice photo essay, "Toronto's dead mall is stuck in limbo", looking at west-end Toronto's abandoned Honeydale Mall. It seems to be only a matter of time until the mall is redeveloped.

Toronto’s only true dead mall can be found at Dundas and the East Mall, almost directly across the street from Cloverdale Mall. Where the latter shopping centre has managed to carve out a lasting purpose in the shadow of the far busier Sherway Gardens, the former has fallen into virtual ruin after being closed down completely a few years ago.

Prior to being fenced off, Honeydale Mall spent its last years in a sort of zombie state, not fully alive but not entirely dead either. The majority of the vendors had cleared out, leaving only a weekly flea market as the action in the sprawling retail space.

During these years, Honeydale served as a playground for photographers looking to capture its peculiar end-of-the-world aesthetic rather than as a bonafide shopping destination.

It wasn’t always this way. While the mall was never the type of wildly popular destination as Yorkdale, back in the mid 1990s, the presence of Wal-Mart, a major grocery store, and a host of independent retailers meant that it served a valuable community presence, even as the older Cloverdale was always more popular.

When Wal-Mart moved out in 2004, the major decline began. The No Frills hung on for about a decade, but eventually things got so dismal that it packed it in as well. The entire property was finally fenced off at some point in 2014, leaving only the hulking shell of the former mall to be viewed from a distance. It’s remained that way to this day.

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6:31 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Realtors warn against raising Toronto’s land transfer tax"
Tess Kalinowski's Toronto Star article describes a situation I do not have that much sympathy for. Toronto needs money to do good things. If this involves doing something that might slow down the real estat emarket, well, so much the better.

First-time homebuyers could be hit with hundreds of dollars in additional closing costs if Toronto “harmonizes” its land transfer tax with the province’s, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) is warning.

The difference could add $750 to the average home transaction and add an upfront expense that would hit first-time buyers particularly hard.

A city manager’s report that suggests Toronto could “harmonize” the municipal and provincial land transfer taxes is actually an increase, since the provincial tax is higher, said Von Palmer, TREB’s chief communications and government affairs officer.

“They use the word harmonization like it’s a break-even proposition. It is not. It’s an additional $100 million (for the city),” he said.

Toronto is already making $500 million a year more on the tax than the original $350 million estimate when it was introduced about eight years ago, Palmer said.

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6:28 pm - [LINK] "CBC/Radio Canada asks for $400M in increased government funding to go ad-free"
I really approve of this CBC proposal, described at the CBC itself. Why not establish Canada's national broadcaster as financially independent?

CBC/Radio Canada has submitted a position paper to the federal government proposing the public broadcaster move to an ad-free model, similar to the one used to pay for the BBC in the United Kingdom, at a cost of about $400 million in additional funding.

"We are at a critical juncture in our evolution, continuing to operate under a business model and cultural policy framework that is profoundly broken," said the CBC's document, released on Monday afternoon. "At the same time, other nations are moving their cultural agendas forward successfully — and reaping the benefits of strong, stable, well-funded public broadcasters."

The additional money CBC is asking for would largely be "replacement funding" if the media organization eliminates advertising. The proposal requests $318 million to replace advertising revenue: $253 million in lost ad sales plus $105 million to "produce and procure additional Canadian content" to fill the programming gaps in their absence. CBC is also asking for $100 million in "additional funding of new investments to face consumer and technology disruption."

However, the proposal notes that removing ads will also result in savings of $40 million in the cost of selling advertising.

Total government funding for CBC would equal an investment of $46 per Canadian every year — up from the current $34 per Canadian it currently receives, the document says.

Two-thirds of the ad revenue given up by the CBC, the proposal argues, "would migrate to other Canadian media, including private TV and digital, for a net gain to them of $158M."

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6:27 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Disturbing the peace: Can America’s quietest town be saved?"
BBC's technology reporter Dave Lee reports on the West Virginia town of Green Bank, isolated from the outside world by strict limits on radio transmissions which may be coming to an end.

I am not the first BBC reporter to pop in here. In fact, Green Bank is a source of constant fascination for journalists all over the world. Recently, several people in the town told me, a Japanese crew baffled everyone when it appeared to set up a game show-style challenge in the area.

Outsiders come here for two reasons. One, to marvel at the science. Two, to ogle at the unique people who have chosen to live here.

Green Bank sits at the heart of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile (33,669 sq km) area where certain types of transmissions are restricted so as not to create interference to the variety of instruments set up in the hills - as well as the Green Bank Observatory, there is also Sugar Grove, a US intelligence agency outpost.

For those in the immediate vicinity of the GBT, the rules are more strict. Your mobile phone is useless here, you will not get a TV signal and you can't have strong wi-fi  - though they admit this is a losing battle. Modern life is winning, gradually. And newer wi-fi standards do not interfere with the same frequencies as before.

But this relative digital isolation has meant that Green Bank has become a haven for those who feel they are quite literally allergic to electronic interference.

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6:24 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "The Noiseless Revolution"
Torontoist's Chris Bateman describes how, in 1883, Toronto adopted standardized time.

Before time was standardized around the world, Toronto’s public clocks, such as the one at St. Lawrence Hall, were set based on the position of the sun observed at the Toronto Observatory at University College. Photo from the Toronto Public Library, E 9-234.

The approximately 17-and-a-half minutes between 11:35 and 11:52 a.m. on November 19, 1883, didn’t officially exist in Toronto.

When the time reached 25 minutes to noon on that day a little over 133 years ago, the city’s public clocks at St. Lawrence Hall, Osgoode Hall, Union Station, and at various fire stations quietly skipped almost 20 minutes ahead.

This was the day the Toronto switched to standard time, abandoning forever its own hyper local time calculations in favour of a system synchronized with towns, cities, and countries around the world.

Remarkably, and quite improbably, the origin of this chronological shift lies in a typographical error in a train timetable in the 1876 Official Irish Travel Guide.

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6:21 pm - [ISL] "Another needle found in P.E.I. potato"
The Guardian shares this story of possible tampering with Island potato exports. This is, besides criminal, decidedly unwelcome news for the Island's agricultural sector.

A sewing needle has been found in a dish of cooked P.E.I. potatoes, the latest in a string of incidents involving metal objects discovered in Island spuds.

Halifax police Const. Dianne Penfound said they received a report Sunday evening that a sharp object was found in the potatoes after they had been peeled and cooked at a local home.

She said the bag of potatoes was purchased at a Giant Tiger store on Nov. 6 and that the potatoes were from P.E.I., but offered no details on the brand or origin. She added that no one was injured in the incident.

Alison Scarlett, spokeswoman for Giant Tiger, said they have pulled the potatoes from the store's shelves.

“Giant Tiger Stores Limited has reached out to the Halifax Police Department to get more information on the matter and is currently working directly with our potato vendors,” she said in an email.

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6:19 pm - [ISL] "A colony of Quakers tried to make a go of it in New London"
The Guardian's Mitch MacDonald highlights a new book documenting the efforts of Quakers to set up a colony on the north shore of Prince Edward Island, in New London to the west of Cavendish.

“New London: The Lost Dream” details a Quaker colony’s ambitious beginnings in the late 1700s, leaving a question of how different the province would now look if the group had continued to flourish.

Author and historian John Cousins said the book’s research began as an interest of his own family connections to the settlement located at what is now the Cape Road in French River.

“I knew nothing about them but there were always vague references to Quakers,” said Cousins. “No one had written about this community in its early days.”

Quakerism was a branch of Christianity with many social differences from other Christian denominations. They didn’t have clergymen and preferred to worship in meeting houses rather than “steeple houses” their term for churches. They were also being early believers in gender equality.

The Quakers also had a new vision for their P.E.I settlement.

“The plan was not to start a farming community but an industrial village,” said Cousins.

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6:15 pm - [ISL] "Victoria, P.E.I., gets $650K for community upgrades"
A brief CBC News article highlights the new funding Victoria-by-the-Sea will be getting from the federal government to promote its tourism potential. As anyone who has seen my photos from this south shore Island community can testify, Victoria-by-the-Sea certainly deserves whatever prominence it can gain.

Victoria-by-the-Sea will receive almost $650,000 from the federal government to help it capitalize on its tourism potential.

The money, provided by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, will go toward upgrading the 90-metre-long seawall, creating a pedestrian pathway to connect the waterfront with green-space and business areas, developing recreational greenspace with visitor parking, and upgrading the historic Victoria schoolhouse to serve as regional rental space and source of revenue.

The community will contribute $480,000 toward the project, with $20,000 coming from the South Shore Tourism Development Fund.

P.E.I. MP Wayne Easter said the money will enhance the tourism experience in Victoria.

"This picturesque community is certainly a treasure along our rural landscape," he said. "The community and business owners are proud of what they have to offer and they want to share it."

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