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  • Peter Goffin reports from the hauntingly empty Toronto Islands during their time of flood.

  • Edward Keenan, also in the Star mourns for Torontonians who will spend most of the summer, at least, without having the Islands.

  • Alison Gzowski, a resident of the Toronto Islands, writes for The Globe and Mail about how the flooding reminds her of nature's power.

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Euractiv carries an AFP report looking into the possibility that Scotland's Shetland Islands might, in the case of the United Kingdom falling apart, try to separate from Scotland to form a sort of West Nordic microstate thanks to the oil in the archipelago's waters.

Of all the consequences of the Brexit vote, the fate of the Shetland Islands in the North Atlantic and their oil fields and fisheries may not top the list for negotiators in Westminster and Brussels. But it soon might.

But the prospect of a new bid for Scottish independence as Britain leaves the EU is making some residents of these rugged islands think again about whether they would be better off alone.

“It would be wonderful,” Andrea Manson, a Shetland councillor and a leading figure in the Wir Shetland movement for greater autonomy, told AFP.

The movement’s name means “Our Shetland” in the local Scots dialect, a derivation of Middle English which has replaced the islands’ original Germanic language, Norn.

The remote archipelago, already fiercely independent in spirit, is geographically and culturally closer to Scandinavia than to Edinburgh, and politically more aligned with London and Brussels.

In the past 1,300 years, Shetland has been overrun by Scandinavian Vikings, pawned to Scotland as a wedding dowry by Denmark, subsumed into the United Kingdom in 1707, and dragged into the European Economic Community against its will in 1973.
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Frances Robles' front page article in The New York Times noting how Muslims from Trinidad and Tobago are being recruited in large numbers for ISIS and like organizations is alarming.

Law enforcement officials in Trinidad and Tobago, a small Caribbean island nation off the coast of Venezuela, are scrambling to close a pipeline that has sent a steady stream of young Muslims to Syria, where they have taken up arms for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

American officials worry about having a breeding ground for extremists so close to the United States, fearing that Trinidadian fighters could return from the Middle East and attack American diplomatic and oil installations in Trinidad, or even take a three-and-a-half-hour flight to Miami.

President Trump spoke by telephone over the weekend with Prime Minister Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago about terrorism and other security challenges, including foreign fighters, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, said.

Trinidad has a history of Islamist extremism — a radical Muslim group was responsible for a failed coup in 1990 that lasted six days, and in 2012 a Trinidadian man was sentenced to life in prison for his role in a plot to blow up Kennedy International Airport. Muslims make up only about 6 percent of the population, and the combatants often come from the margins of society, some of them on the run from criminal charges.

They saw few opportunities in an oil-rich nation whose economy has declined with the price of petroleum, experts say. Some were gang members who either converted or were radicalized in prison, while others have been swayed by local imams who studied in the Middle East, according to Muslim leaders and American officials.
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The Toronto Star's Curtis Rush writes about the Cayman Islands' hockey team, staffed heavily by Canadian expats.

After trading long Canadian winters for the perpetual summer of this luxurious Caribbean tax haven, Bill Messer was content to enjoy the soft sands and warm waters of island living. The only thing he really missed was hockey.

So in 2003, when he saw a television report about the nascent World Pond Hockey Championship, he began plotting a strategy to get a team from his adopted home ready to play in his native country, Canada.

The initial response to his inquiry, however, felt like a cold slap in the face.

The tournament organizer, Danny Braun, warned Messer in an email that it was frigid up in Canada and that hockey was a very fast, very rough game.

As he read the email, Messer said, he realized that he had not made it clear to Braun that he was Canadian.
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  • blogTO notes an Instagram user from Toronto, @brxson, who takes stunning photos of the city from on high.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining the limits of exoplanet J1407b's massive ring system.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes evidence that the primordial Martian atmosphere apparently did not have carbon dioxide.

  • Imageo notes that the California rivers swollen by flooding can be seen from space.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that American intelligence agencies are withholding sensitive information from a White House seen as compromised by Russian intelligence.

  • Language Hat talks about the best ways to learn Latin.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper observing a decline in inter-state migration in the United States.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at the interesting failure of a public sculpture program in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw notes the remarkable heat that has hit Australia in recent days.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the intersection between space technology and high-tech fashion.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at how Argentina gave the Falkland Islands tariff-free access to Mercosur.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the countries likely to be vulnerable to rapid aging.

  • Transit Toronto notes the Bombardier lawsuit against Metrolinx.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that poor Russian statistical data is leading directly to bad policy.

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CBC News notes impending labour shortages in the Island's construction industry, particularly in the skilled trades.

The Construction Association of P.E.I. is concerned about an industry forecast that predicts a growing shortage of construction workers for the Island.

BuildForce Canada is estimating 300 more workers will be needed in the next decade, and currently more skilled workers are retiring than being hired.

Sam Sanderson, the general manager of the Island's construction association, says there's already a shortage of workers, and work in all areas of construction are expected to increase.

"Moving forward, we have some of our local contractors finding it almost impossible to find skilled people in different trade sectors presently," he said.
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CBC News' Shane Ross reports on very good news indeed from Charlottetown. If the numbers are accurate, something like 2% of the Island population took part in this march.

Islanders of different ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds marched in Charlottetown on Saturday to show they welcome diversity and oppose policies that discriminate against refugees.

The march began at the bottom of Queen Street and continued peacefully up to Province House. The group — which police estimated at 2,000 — listened as organizers from the Cooper Institute and the Muslim community spoke out against Islamophobia. The speeches were interspersed with moments of silence and prayer.

"It made me happy, at a point I felt like crying just seeing the amount of people who were out here to support those injured and hurt," said Hammad Ahmed, a UPEI student, who helped organize the Charlottetown march.

Amid widespread protests late last month, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order temporarily barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

The gathering in Charlottetown was part of the National Day of Action against Islamophobia and White Supremacy, and gave people the opportunity to grieve for those killed at a mosque in Quebec City last week.
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  • blogTO tries to pit the west side of Toronto against the east side.

  • Centauri Dreams describes an inventive plan to launch a probe to rendezvous with Proxima Centauri.

  • Crooked Timber looks at the idea of civil society in the age of Trump.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper that aims to explore why Neptune-class exoplanets are so common.

  • Marginal Revolution notes an interesting history of Singapore.

  • The New APPS Blog links to a report suggesting that big data may have created President Trump.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the latest plans for exploring Ceres.

  • Towleroad notes a rumoured plan to legalize anti-LGBT discrimination under Trump.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy has one take on Supreme Court obstructionism.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russians may accept pension reforms which will place the minimum age for qualifying for a pension for men above the average male life expectancy, and reports from St. Petersburg about a dispute over the ownership of a church.

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The Guardian is the latest news organization to cover the erosion of Lennox Island, chief Mi'kmaq reserve on Prince Edward Island, into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Ashifa Kassam's article. Between erosion and rising sea levels, it's an open question as to whether one of the most noteworthy centres of Mi'kmaq culture left can last to the end of the century.

His hands tucked tightly in the pockets of his jeans, Gilbert Sark nodded at the ice-covered bay stretched out before him.

Decades ago, his grandfather – at the time one of the few in this First Nations community to own a truck – would spend winters ferrying people across the frozen bay to Prince Edward Island. One wintry day, the truck hit a patch of soft ice, sending it plunging into the frigid waters below.

His grandfather didn’t make it out of the truck in time. “That bay has claimed a lot of people,” said Sark. “Now it’s claiming land.”

For as long as anyone can remember, life on Lennox Island – a community of some 450 people on the east coast of Canada – has been set to the rhythm of the waters that lap its shores of red sand. But climate change is drastically altering this relationship, sending sea levels rising, pelting the small island with fiercer and more frequent storms and bringing warmer winters that eat away at the ice cover that traditionally protected the shores for months at a time.

The result is impossible to ignore. “We’re losing our island,” said Sark. A survey of the island carried out in 1880 counted 1,520 acres of land. In 2015, surveyors mapped out 1,100 acres of land on Lennox Island – suggesting more than 300 football fields worth of land have been swallowed by the sea within the span of a few generations.

Sark pointed to the shoreline next to the cemetery where his mother and many other members of his family are buried. “There used to be a field right there. We used to play football in that area.”

The community recently spent tens of thousands of dollars to save the graveyard from the encroaching waters, building a wall made up of three layers of rock. “They had to fix it or there would be caskets going out into our bay,” said Sark. “It was that close.”

The scars of the island’s battle against climate change are visible across this low-lying island. Local people recall playing baseball where boats now bob in the water; homes that once sat 20ft from the shore now teeter precariously close to the sea. The shoreline has crept up to the edges of the community’s decade-old sewage lagoon, sparking concerns that a storm surge could send waste into Malpeque Bay, a world-renowned site for harvesting oysters.
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The Globe and Mail carries a Canadian Press report describing how the Confederation Centre of the Arts gallery in Charlottetown has restored the identity of a woman artist of the 19th century.

For decades, her creations have been wrongly attributed to men — but after a two-year investigation of her work, the daughter of a former Prince Edward Island lieutenant governor is finally getting credit long overdue in what a researcher calls a “little feminist victory.”

The Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown opened its “Introducing Caroline Louisa Daly” exhibit over the weekend, but it’s hardly the first time her paintings have graced its halls. Some pieces have been part of the gallery’s permanent collection since the 1960s.

But the paintings and drawings were for years wrongly attributed to Charles L. Daly and John Corry Wilson Daly — Ontario men who were of no relation to Caroline Louisa Daly.

“I don’t think it was a malicious misattribution by any means, but I think it’s just all too easy to forget the accomplishments of women sometimes,” said gallery registrar Paige Matthie. “(That was) the driving force that kept me going back to it over and over again ... to give credit to a woman who we’ve never, ever acknowledged before.”
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CBC News' Kerry Campbell shares news from the slowly-unfolding online gambling scandal, revealing the identities of the three politicians whose E-mails went mysteriously missing.

Chris LeClair. Melissa MacEachern. Rory Beck.

Those are the three names the Official Opposition was searching for when members asked government over and over during the fall sitting of the legislature — "whose emails were deleted?"

It wasn't anyone from the MacLauchlan government that provided the answers today however. It was Auditor General Jane MacAdam.

Her investigation into the province's failed e-gaming plan included a special section on government records management, which concluded safeguards to protect records were not being followed, thus, "government records can easily be destroyed."

In particular, MacAdam said in her report some emails from key players in the e-gaming initiative which should have been provided to her, were not.

Today MacAdam told the province's Standing Committee on Public Accounts those emails were from three accounts: those of LeClair, former chief of staff to Robert Ghiz; MacEachern, former deputy minister of innovation and also tourism and culture; and Beck, who passed away in 2012 while serving as clerk of executive council.
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The Guardian of Charlottetown reports on the rapid growth of traffic at Charlottetown Airport, surely a good sign for the airport as for the larger tourism-dependent economy.

The number of passengers who went through the Charlottetown Airport in 2016 increased by 12 per cent over the previous year.

The airport authority says the 354,234 people through the terminals last year set a new passenger traffic record, which was previously set in 2014 with 317,827 passengers.

Charlottetown Airport Authority CEO Doug Newson said it’s the first time the airport’s passenger numbers surpassed 350,000.

[. . .]

Newson said increased services to Toronto by Air Canada Rouge and WestJet in 2016 contributed to the record numbers. Air Canada also extended its popular summer flight from Ottawa to operate for six months last year.
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The Guardian of Charlottetown reports on the potential for a land claim lawsuit on Prince Edward Island, involving the sale of resort property in the west of the province on land traditionally significant to the Mi'kmaq.

The Mi’kmaq chiefs in P.E.I. are considering legal action to prevent the sale of the Mill River golf course and provincial park to one of the founders of the Toronto Blue Jays, which was announced earlier today.

The chiefs of the Abegweit and Lennox Island First Nations issued a joint news release Thursday, saying they are “shocked and thoroughly disappointed” to learn of the sale of the Crown land to Don McDougall.

They have repeatedly told the province, both verbally and through formal correspondence, of their objection to the deal that will see over 400 acres of provincial Crown land sold to McDougall.

On several occasions the Mi’kmaq governments have told the province this sale would impact negatively on the constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Mi’kmaq people, the chiefs state in their release.

They say they are now considering legal action to stop the deal from going through.

“We will have to take all steps necessary to protect the Aboriginal and Treaty rights of the Mi’kmaq people and will be forced to examine litigation, including injunctive relief to prevent the sale,” said Abegweit Chief Brian Francis.
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CBC News' Cherie Wheeler reports from western Newfoundland, where an experiment in growing canola and wine grapes in this historically non-agricultural province has yielded success.

Thanks to the success of some unconventional crops grown last summer, western Newfoundland might soon add canola and grapes to its list of agricultural products.

Working with independent farmers, the provincial Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agrifoods experimented with the two crops that aren't traditionally grown in the province.

The hope was those first-time crops could sow the seeds for new farming industries.

While canola farming is big business in the prairies, it's unheard of in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Yes, we're a lot different from Saskatchewan, but perhaps we might have a little better conditions than Iceland or northern Norway," said Kavanagh, the province's alternative feed co-ordinator.

[. . .]

It turns out she was right. Planting 12 hectares on private farmland on the island's west coast, in Pasadena, Kanvanagh said the yield was ¾ of a metric tonne per acre — which is on par with the rest of Atlantic Canada.

[. . .]

Like canola, the idea to grow grapes in Newfoundland was germinated in another province.

"There was a huge opportunity for grapes [in Nova Scotia]," says Newfoundland and Labrador's fruit-crop development officer Karen Kennedy. "And there was no one commercially growing grapes here."

Buoyed by stories of backyard gardeners growing grapes, Kennedy planted the first experimental vines four years ago in Humber Village, a small community in Humber Valley, as well as in Brooklyn, on the Bonavista Peninsula.
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CBC Prince Edward Island was among the news sources to note that Prince Edward Island was listed first in CNN's list of the top places to go this year.

With Canada celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017, there's no finer excuse to head to the birthplace of the nation, Prince Edward Island.

Travelers are falling in love with the island's rocky red shores and picturesque fishing villages all over again thanks to several new TV and movie productions of the Lucy Maud Montgomery classic, "Anne of Green Gables."

The best way to explore the island's capital, Charlottetown, is on foot.

Many of the highlights are in the historic downtown core including the Charlottetown Province House -- the famed government building where the Charlottetown Conference took place in 1864. It was here that a small group of elected officials gathered to discuss the possibility of joining the region's independent provinces to create a singular nation.

Three years later, Canada's Constitution Act was passed by British Parliament and a new country was born.
Upscale restaurants have multiplied on the island in the last 10 years, taking advantage of the excellent local produce.

But there's nothing quite like an old fashioned lobster supper -- a massive gathering traditionally held in a cavernous community hall that ends with a table full of empty shells and butter-coated fingers.


Note that it did not rank #1, but instead was just the first entry. This is a distinction, I think, some people have passed over.
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The Guardian's Helena Smith reports on the prospects for peace and eventual reunification in Cyprus. I only hope that the negotiating parties will not decide to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

After 18 months of intensive negotiations to settle inter-ethnic divisions, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akıncı will attempt to finesse the details of a peace deal in Geneva this week by poring over maps and discussing territorial trade-offs before tackling the potentially explosive issue of security.

Asked if he was optimistic as he arrived at the UN’s European headquarters on Monday morning, Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader, said: “Ask me when we are finished.”

For an island the finer skills of peacemakers has long eluded, the talks are seen as a defining moment in the arduous process of resolving what has long been regarded as the Rubik’s cube of diplomacy.

On Sunday, the new UN secretary general, António Guterres, described the talks as a historic opportunity. In Nicosia officials on both sides of the buffer zone spoke of “the best and last chance” for a settlement. Other experts described the talks as the endgame.

“This is the final phase of the final phase,” said Hubert Faustmann, a professor of history and political science at the University of Nicosia. “It will be the first time since 1974 that Turkey and the Greek Cypriots will hold direct talks at the negotiating table.”

A week of fierce horse-trading lies ahead before Greece, Turkey and former colonial power Britain – the island’s three guarantors under its post-independence constitution – convene on 12 January to address the issues of troop presence and security in an envisioned federation. Both are seen as crucial to ensuring 1974 is never repeated.
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CBC News' Stephanie Vankampen reports on the end of a shuttle connecting Prince Edward Island to the mainland. One reason I left was the question of accessibility to the outside world: I wanted to be able to be mobile. The weakness of mass transit routes, including buses, in the Maritimes generally is a serious issue. That the underlying economics might well not support unsubsidized routes just makes the situation worse.

Since the Confederation Bridge opened in 1997, shuttle service has been offered to bring Islanders to Halifax.

Many passengers have taken the bus regularly for years, to travel to medical appointments, the Halifax airport, or to and from university in the city.

Driver Gary Meyers has been making the run — 13 hour days, 5 or 6 times a week — for the last 17 years. He knows every crack and bump on the road between Charlottetown and Halifax.

He said while the service will be missed by the regular customers, it was no longer profitable for the company to run both shuttle and bus service.
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CBC News' Stephanie Brown reports from the eastern Prince Edward Island town of Souris, which has launched a new initiative to try to attract immigrants. I wish them luck, but given--for instance--a dire regional economy that cannot retain people born in the area, I wonder if there ever can be much of a niche for Souris as a destination for international migrants.

The Town of Souris, its Rural Action Centre and the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada are teaming up to make the town more welcoming for newcomers.

"We've had a few newcomers come and go, and some come and stayed, but we want to be able to encourage more to stay," said town administrator Shelley LaVie.

The three groups have prepared a workshop for Jan. 17 aimed at town councillors, local businesses, and anyone else interested in helping out.

"We think this workshop might just help the rest of our town staff and our town councilors to understand what are their needs, and what are they looking for, and what will help encourage them to stay," LaVie said.

​LaVie said she doesn't know if there's a particular reason why Souris hasn't seen a large population of newcomer residents, but said from conversations she's had, access to language education services is a big draw, and that is mostly offered in central areas like Charlottetown.

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