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  • Centauri Dreams remembers Ben Finney, this time from the angle of a man with an interest in space colonization.

  • Crooked Timber wonders what will happen to the Anglo-American tradition of liberalism.

  • Dangerous Minds imagines the VHS tapes of Logan and Stranger Things.

  • Far Outliers notes the Soviet twist on Siberian exile.

  • Inkfish notes that Detroit is unique among cities in being a good place for bumblebees.

  • Marginal Revolution wonders if modern Germany really is a laboratory for innovative politics.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at José Maria de Eça de Queirós, the "Proust of Portugal".

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw updates his readers on his writing projects.

  • Torontoist reports on how Avi Lewis and Cheri DiNovo have advocated for the NDP's Leap Manifesto.

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As a long-time NDP voter, I think that Charlie Angus' candidacy for the NDP leadership, reported here by NOW Toronto's Kevin Ritchie, is a very good thing for the party, or at least that it can be.

Punk rock-style swag was on display at the bar as supporters packed the Horseshoe Tavern on Queen West. After short sets by musicians including Jason Collett, Ron Hawkins and rapper Mohammed Ali, Charlie Angus, the 54-year-old MP for Timmins-James Bay, took the stage to Patti Smith’s People Have The Power to make it official. Angus became the second candidate to officially join the NDP leadership race Sunday.

Angus did not spell out any specific policy positions, but emphasized job security, the high cost of post-secondary education and Indigenous issues in a 15-minute speech that echoed the appeals to working-class voters of former Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders.

“We cannot be torn apart my the evil, false, corrosive politics of division,” Angus said. “The new working class is white collar and blue collar.”

Explaining that he spent $160 on a new suit for the occasion, Angus added: “I spent the money because we’re going to bring a little bit of class to politics.”

Angus chose the Horseshoe to launch his campaign, the club at which he saw his first punk show – the Last Pogo ­­– as a teenager in the early 70s. He formed his own band after that, touring and recording seven albums over a 26-year career as the singer of alt-folk band the Grievous Angels, an experience, he says, that sharpened his interest in politics and social change.
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Martin Regg Cohn's Toronto Star column makes some harsh, but not necessarily inaccurate, judgments about NDP feelings towards Ontario's capital and largest city.

Despite [leader Andrea Horwath's] right turn, her fellow New Democrats at city hall are going in the opposite direction. Mere days after she explained herself to Tory — no need to toll commuters because a future Horwath government will turn over all the cash you need from general tax revenues — a gaggle of NDP councillors sensibly backed the mayor’s plan.

What do these city hall New Democrats see in road tolls that their fellow travellers at Queen’s Park are blind to? Might it be fidelity to transit priorities? Fear of congestion? Environmental peril?

Perhaps they sense that, despite Horwath’s twists and turns, public opinion has turned. Polls on tolls traditionally show strong resistance, but recent surveys point to majority support in Toronto.

In a previous column, I described how the NDP-PC anti-toll tag team was “the last straw” for a lifelong New Democrat, former MPP Paul Ferreira, who has left the party in protest. Ferreira, once chief of staff to ex-leader Howard Hampton and (briefly) Horwath, told me in an interview that by opposing tolls — without thinking through the implications — the party was being intellectually dishonest.

And geographically duplicitous.

In the last election, Horwath lost crucial Toronto seats while pursuing her populist, pocketbook appeals elsewhere. Many New Democrats still buy into the caricature of Toronto as a bastion of wine-swilling, blood-sucking elitists who don’t feel the pain of hard-working rural folk.
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Spacing Toronto's John Lorinc is fed up with the NDP's failure to get Toronto voters, most recently on the road toll issue.

How long do progressives and urban dwellers more generally have to wait before Ontario’s NDP stops compensating (atoning?) for former premier Bob Rae’s decision, circa the early 1990s, to slap tolls on Highway 407?

The question arose again late last week when Andrea Horwath’s populists stood shoulder to ideological shoulder with Patrick Brown’s Progressive Conservatives to support a symbolic motion calling on Kathleen Wynne’s government to reject the City of Toronto’s forthcoming request to put tolls on the Gardiner and the Don Valley Parkway.

I understand that opposition parties need to be, well, oppositional. But as happened in the last provincial election in 2014, Horwath revealed she’s got a tin ear when it comes to not just funding urban infrastructure but deploying green policies meant to change driver behaviour, reduce emissions, and spur transit use.

Instead of tabling a motion calling on the provincial government to, say, properly fund the operating costs of transit, toll all the 400-series highways or urge the Wynne Liberals to give the City of Toronto other revenue tools, such as sales tax, Team Horwath threw in their lot with a rurally-based party that has little interest in transit and scant purchase with urban voters.

Why? Shouldn’t progressive voters in big cities like Toronto be able to back an electoral option to the Liberals? Of course. Yet last week’s stunt — which, let’s face it, is what that motion amounted to — stands as a fairly crisp signal that the NDP isn’t interested in Toronto. I understand why the Tories don’t much care about the city, but the NDP’s indifference is much more difficult to grasp.
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The Toronto Star's Martin Regg Cohn writes about why one Toronto NDP MPP left his party over its opposition to road tolls.

Politicians are like pretzels — easily twisted out of shape.

Until they snap.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives are twisting themselves into cloverleafs over road tolls. But they’re not the only politicians clutching fig leafs.

The New Democratic Party is also twisting and turning in ideological circles over road tolls. And this time, the road kill is one of their own.

Paul Ferreira, a lifelong New Democrat, one-time MPP, and former chief of staff to two of Ontario’s NDP leaders, has quit the party.

Many New Democrats responded by telling him they’d “already taken a similar decision,” Ferreira told me, for the same reason: The party is being “fundamentally dishonest.”
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MacLean's shares this Canadian Press report describing how MP Charlie Angus is apparently aiming to become NDP leader. All I can say that, as his is the first serious candidacy, it's about time.

New Democrat MP Charlie Angus stepped aside as his party’s caucus chair and indigenous affairs critic Wednesday to contemplate a potential leadership bid.

The 54-year-old northern Ontario MP is considering entering the race to replace Tom Mulcair at the helm of the NDP, a contest that doesn’t come to a vote until October 2017.

“I can’t be in that role if people are talking to me about running for leader,” Angus said outside the House of Commons.

“There’s a lot to consider, but I am very passionate about the renewal of our party (and) I think we have a lot to offer Canadians.”

Angus said the duration of the race will be a factor in his decision-making process, noting that it sets a much higher bar for those candidates who ultimately decide to vie for the position.

“I think it is crazy how long it is,” he said.
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The Toronto Star's Robin Levinson King reports on the withdrawal of Toronto NDP MP Cheri DiNovo from the leadership contest for the NDP. That DiNovo's candidacy was informal, and that she was the only one running, says worrisome things.

Cheri DiNovo is dropping out of the NDP leadership race because of problems with her health.

The local MPP for Parkdale-High Park had thrown her hat in the ring to lead the federal NDP last June, positioning herself as the candidate most able to return to the party to its socialist roots.

But after suffering two mini strokes, known as transient ischemic attack, DiNovo says she must focus all her attention on getting better.

“My staff and family have been amazing through this experience and it is in consultation with them – to whom I owe so much – that I have to announce I’m withdrawing from the leadership race. For at least the next month or so my focus will be on my health, so that I’ll be able to return to Queen’s Park in the fall,” she wrote on Facebook.

DiNovo raised eyebrows in June when she announced her bid to replace Tom Mulcair because she didn’t have the $30,000 deposit required of federal NDP leadership candidates.
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NOW Toronto/I>'s Michelle da Silva looks at Cheri DiNovo's candidacy.

The federal NDP leadership race has its first candidate – sort of. Cheri DiNovo, the long time NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park, tossed her hat in the ring June 7, declaring herself as the “unofficial candidate” to replace Tom Mulcair.

At the NDP convention in Edmonton in April, delegates voted for new leadership after the party’s disappointing performance in the last federal election. Many believed Mulcair was to blame, but few within the party were willing to state as much publicly. DiNovo was the exception, emerging as outspoken critic, telling NOW bluntly in an interview earlier this year, “He’s got to go. I’m not a fan.”

At the time, DiNovo was certain she had no aspirations for the job herself, even going so far as to say, “I’m not qualified.” But now the former United Church minister is having second thoughts.

“Really, who is qualified for that job?” she asked at a press conference at her Roncesvalles constituency office this morning. “Certainly, I can imagine better candidates than myself, candidates that would get more votes and have more skills, and I say go for it. If a stronger candidate comes along that espouses the same principles, I’m happy to fold behind them, but I’m also not happy to just stand back and wait for that to happen.”
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If NDP Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo were to run for the leadership of the federal party, as suggested by the CBC among others, this would indeed be notable. I like her, for the record.

A veteran member of the Ontario Legislature will become the first official candidate for leader of the federal New Democratic Party.

Multiple sources say Cheri DiNovo will declare her candidacy to replace Tom Mulcair as federal NDP leader in an announcement in her riding on Tuesday.

[. . .]

DiNovo is a champion of social justice issues, campaigning successfully to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to include gender identity and expression, and introducing a bill to give same-sex couples the same parental rights as male-female couples.

She also convinced the Liberal government to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to recognize post-traumatic stress disorder as being work-related for police, firefighters and paramedics, after introducing four separate private member's bills over seven years.
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  • The BBC notes an attack on a vegan restaurant in Tbilisi by meat-eating nationalists.

  • Bloomberg notes a slur by a German populist against a non-white soccer player, reports on Sweden's economic boom, Looks at rail investment in India, and notes Southeast Asia is beating out China as a destination for Japanese investment.

  • Bloomberg View looks at reform in Tunisia's Islamist movement and notes the lack of private foreign investment in Greece.

  • The CBC notes anti-gentrification sentiment in the Montréal neighbourhood of St. Henri, resulting in the looting of a gourmet grocery store.

  • MacLean's interviews Sebastian Junger on his theory that PTSD is rooted in the problems of modern individualism.

  • The National Post looks at an anthropologist's discovery of ancient hobo graffiti.

  • Open Democracy notes the Europeanization of Estonia's Russophones.

  • The Toronto Star contrasts the responses of the NDP and the Conservatives to their election defeats, and notes how older Chinese couples are now using fertility treatments to have their second child.

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  • Bloomberg notes Twitter will stop counting photos and links against its 140-character limit, reports on the challenges of the new Taiwanese president, and reports on Japan's efforts to boost its workforce.

  • Bloomberg View argues European banks just aren't good at investment banking, suggests austerity worked for Latvia, and argues an IMF suggestion of a debt holiday for Greece is impolitic.

  • CBC notes J.K. Rowling's defense of Donald Trump.

  • Via The Dragon's Gaze, I found this Eurekalert post noting a search for Earth-like worlds around highly evolved stars, like the red giants that our sun will evolve into.

  • Gizmodo reports on how Sweden is moving the city of Kiruna to safer ground, and describes Amazon's interest in opening more physical bookstores.

  • The Inter Press Service wonders what will happen to Brazil now.

  • The National Post notes the mysteries surrounding a secret American military spaceplane.

  • Open Democracy looks at the human rights consequences of Mexico's long-running drug war.

  • TVO considers the impact of a long NDP leadership campaign on the party.

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  • 3 Quarks Daily notes a Financial Times article on the rebirth of brutalism.

  • Bloomberg looks at the Polish opposition's upcoming protest and notes the promise of North Korea's leaders not to use nuclear weapons first.

  • CBC notes the likely permanent displacement of many from Fort McMurray and reports on the failure of Marvel's movies to be as progressive as the comics.

  • The Globe and Mail wonders if the NDP will survive.

  • MacLean's notes the Parti Québécois' planned leadership convention this fall.

  • Scientific American notes that global warming makes fires like Fort McMurray's more likely.

  • The Toronto Star notes the likely role of surveillance and predictive policing in the future.

  • Universe Today notes that Enceladus' water jets seem to occur when the moon is furthest from Saturn.

  • Wired notes the lack of an official Google Play desktop app in an article about people who designed a desktop app themselves.

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    view.com/articles/2016-04-21/malaysia-s-immigration-mess">examines immigration controversies in Malaysia.
  • CBC notes that Manulife is now providing life insurance for HIV-positive people.

  • Gizmodo reports from the Pyongyang subway.

  • The Guardian notes the sequencing of Ozzy Osbourne's DNA.

  • The National Post reports that Québec NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau might well be considering a run for the NDP leadership.

  • Newsweek reports on the decision of the Wall Street Journal to run an ad denying the Armenian genocide.

  • Finally, there has been much written after the death of Prince. Some highlights: The Atlantic looks at how he was a gay icon, Vox shares 14 of his most important songs, the Toronto Star notes his connection to Toronto, Dangerous Minds shares videos of early performances, The Daily Beast explains Prince's stringent control of his content on the Internet, and In Media Res mourns the man and some of his songs.

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  • Bloomberg notes how an economic boom will let Sweden postpone hard decisions, looks at the popularity of the Korean Wave in China, suggests that subsidies are going to be a big issue for cash-short Arab governments, looks at the investigation in Bulgaria of groups which arrest refugees, and looks at the long-term problems of the Russian economy.

  • CBC reports on a Saskatchewan woman who has a refuge for pet rats.

  • Global News illustrates the dire social conditions in the Ontario North, hitting particularly strongly First Nations groups.

  • The Guardian reports on speculation that Neanderthals may have died in significant numbers from African diseases brought by human migrants.

  • MacLean's notes a study of handwriting styles in ancient Israel which suggest that literacy was reasonably common.

  • The Mississauga News reports on a new PFLAG support group for South Asians in Peel.

  • National Geographic notes the strong pressures on island birds towards flightlessness.

  • Science Mag notes subtle genetic incompatibilities between human women and male Neanderthals which would have hindered reproduction.

  • The USA Today network has a story examining the recent HIV outbreak in Indiana.

  • Vice reports on the huge cleavages within the NDP, something also examined at the CBC.

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  • Asahi notes the problems of Uniqlo.

  • Atlas Obscura looks at the effort to restore the Old Spanish Trail, an early American interstate highway.

  • Bloomberg notes the travails of the coal industry in the Czech Republic.

  • Bloomberg View notes South Africa's serious economic problems and looks at how the Panama Papers make centrism more difficult.

  • CBC notes how a terrifyingly high suicide rate in Attawapiskat has triggered a state of emergency.

  • Fusion looks at how default settings for online mapping services have left some people targets.

  • The Boston Globe reports on how Boston cops can now be freely gay.

  • The Inter Press Service notes the increasing alienation of Ethiopia's Oromo in the face of the corporatization of agriculture.

  • MacLean's considers the future of the NDP, post-Mulcair.

  • Space Daily looks at new research examining how neutron stars could, through mass accretion, become black holes.

  • The Toronto Star looks at what happened to Mulcair at the NDP convention.

  • The Weather Network notes the spread of goldfish into the lakes of Alberta.

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  • The Atlantic notes how some Americans are dealing with an invasive species, the lionfish: by hunting and eating them.

  • Bloomberg notes that the Ukrainian prime minister resigned as a result of the Panama Papers.

  • Bloomberg View notes the creation, in Russia, of a military force directly under the president.

  • CBC notes the report of an Uber driver in Ottawa that he only made eight dollars an hour after costs, and considers whether Canada might be obliged to provide First Nations children with education in their languages.

  • The Conversation notes the sophistication and lasting power of Australian Aborigines' star maps.

  • NOW Toronto notes divisions among the NDP's young members as to what to do with Mulcair.

  • The Toronto Star notes the need for Mulcair to get approval from a large enough majority of NDP delegates.

  • The Dragon's Tales linked to this War is Boring article arguing that a Japan armed with nuclear weapons would have made things much worse.

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  • Bloomberg notes the defection of 13 North Korean workers at an overseas restaurant to the South, reports that Venezuela has declared Friday a holiday to try to save on power consumption, wonders if low oil prices will hurt the Philippines through diminished remittances from the Middle East, notes that Russian efforts at import substitution are failing, and argues against a $15 minimum wage in the United States.

  • The Inter Press Service reports on how forests can help solve urban water scarcity issues.

  • MacLean's notes the general attack in Alberta on Mulcair, from the NDP and from the Wildrose Party.

  • The National Post notes the export of old homes from British Columbia to the United States, and looks at how Russia's targeting of terrorists' families works out.

  • The Dragon's Tales linked to this PNAS article speculating as to why Mars is so small relative to Earth.

  • Wired notes how a study that was product of fraud ended up apparently being confirmed by research conducted by the same whistleblowers. How tragic for the first author.

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At ipolitics.ca, Andrew Mitrovica is scathing of the leadership of the federal NDP, not just Mulcair.

In the months since its calamitous election campaign, the NDP — a party that prides itself on, and largely defines itself by, perpetually demanding accountability of other parties — has carefully avoided holding its own leader to account.

As far as I can tell, no one inside the NDP hierarchy in Ottawa has paid any price (beyond a little humiliation) in the wake of the painful thrashing the party received on October 19.

Tom Mulcair remains the bruised, diminished leader of a rump caucus reduced to playing third-string in the House of Commons and acting, yet again, as the self-proclaimed parliamentary conscience of Canada. (The line the NDP trots out every time it gets trounced in a federal election — that it’s the Western Hemisphere’s most moral party — is getting stale.)

Sure, Mulcair has made noises about how he takes personal responsibility for squandering the NDP’s historic opportunity to actually win a federal election. But from my distant perch in Toronto, Mulcair’s mea culpa sounds about as convincing as Ezra Levant does when he tells people he’s a journalist now.

Look, if Mulcair truly accepted blame for the NDP’s disastrous showing, don’t you think he would have taken the proverbial walk in the snow by now? Ottawa did record its largest one-day snowfall ever earlier this week. Opportunity knocks, Mr. Mulcair.


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