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  • Bloomberg reports on how Canada-Mexico relations will be tested by NAFTA and Trump.

  • Canada, the 2016 Census reported, is marked by noteworthy linguistic diversity (Tagalog does particularly well.)

  • Vice notes how Galen Weston's opposition to the minimum wage increase for workers at Loblaws is not in his self-interest.

  • Vice's Motherboard looks at how greenhouse agriculture in Nunavut could help drastically reduce food insecurity in that territory.

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  • The Globe and Mail describes a salvage archaeology operation in Cape Breton, on the receding shores of Louisbourg at Rochefort Point.

  • Katie Ingram at MacLean's notes
  • The National Observer reports on how Québec has effectively banned the oil and gas industry from operating on Anticosti Island.

  • This La Presse article talks about letting, or not, the distant Iles-de-la-Madeleine keep their own Québec electoral riding notwithstanding their small population.

  • Will the Bloc Québécois go the way of the Créditistes and other Québec regional protest movements? Éric Grenier considers at CBC.

  • The National Post describes the remarkable improvement of the Québec economy in recent years, in absolute and relative terms. Québec a have?

  • Francine Pelletier argues Québec fears for the future have to do with a sense of particular vulnerability.

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  • Charley Ross reports on an unexpected personal involvement in the disappearance of Kori Gossett. Did an informant know?

  • Citizen Science Salon reports, in the time of #sharkweek, on the sevengill sharks.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to an article on the Chinese base in Sudan.

  • Inkfish has a fascinating article describing how New Zealand's giant black swans went extinct, and were replaced.

  • Language Hat notes two obscure words of Senegalese French, "laptot" and "signare". What do they mean? Go see.

  • Language Log argues that the influx of English loanwords in Chinese is remarkable. Does it signal future changes in language?

  • Lawyers, Guns Money notes how Los Angeles and southern California were, during the American Civil War, a stronghold of secessionist sentiment, and runs down some of the problems of Mexico, including the militarization of crime.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on what books by which authors tend to get stolen from British bookstores.
  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests that Donald Trump is not likely to be able to substantially reshape NAFTA.

  • Roads and Kingdoms reports from the recent protests in Poland against changes to the Supreme Court.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the structure of the cities of medieval Europe, which apparently were dynamic and flexible.

  • Unicorn Booty shares some classic gay board games.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is going to try to wage a repeat of the Winter War on Ukraine.

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  • Ars Technica recommends five sights on the British coast to see before they are erased by global warming.

  • This Syracuse.com report about the upstate New York town of Sandy Creek, beset by Lake Ontario flooding, is alarming.

  • VICE's Kate Lunau notes the serious threat posed by sea level rise to coastal Canadian centres, from Halifax to Vancouver.

  • Robinson Meyer in The Atlantic notes that the US South, already badly off, will be hit hard by global warming.

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  • The Independent notes a denial that Scotland's Conservatives will split from the national party. I wonder, thought, if Scotland's political spectrum is going to shift, like Québec's, from a left-right split to a separatist-unionist one?
  • Owen Jones argues in The Guardian that the rampant prejudices of the DUP, including its homophobia, make it an unsuitable coalition partner.

  • Andray Domise argues in MacLean's that a perceived need to fit in means that immigrants can be too ready to dismiss local racisms.

  • Fast Company lets us know that the minimum wage increases in Seattle have not led to higher retail prices.

  • CBC notes the death of Sam Panopoulous, the Canadian man who invented Hawaiian pizza.

  • Adam West, the first man to play Batman on the screen, has died. We all, not just the fandom, are the poorer for his passing.

  • Are the robots not poised to take over our world? What does their absence demonstrate about our underachieving economy? The Atlantic wonders.

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The Globe and Mail's Robert Fife reports on the problems facing North American integration, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland promising not to desert Mexico, at least not on multilateral issues whatever these might be.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland assured Mexico on Tuesday that Canada will not strike a bilateral deal with Washington in negotiations to revamp the 1994 North American free-trade agreement. During a panel discussion with Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray, Ms. Freeland sought to dampen concerns that the Trump administration would seek bilateral talks with each of its NAFTA partners.

Ms. Freeland stressed that it is too early to even talk about what might be up for renegotiation since the Senate has not yet confirmed commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, who will head the trade negotiations, and Robert Lighthizer, the nominee for U.S. trade representative.

“There is no negotiating process yet initiated. In fact, the United States does not even have a team in place to begin those negotiations. So let’s not put the cart before the horse,” she said when asked if Canada was prepared to throw Mexico under the bus to protect this country’s interest from President Donald Trump’s America-first trade policy.

“But we very much recognize that NAFTA is a three-country agreement, and if there were to be any negotiations, those would be three-way negotiations.”At the same time, Ms. Freeland said there will be bilateral issues that Canada and the United States will want to discuss separately – something Mr. Videgaray conceded would happen when it comes to Mr. Trump’s plans to build a wall to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drug smuggling from Mexico.

“We understand that there are some issues that, by nature, are strictly bilateral to the U.S.-Canadian relationship … just as Canada acknowledges we have a bilateral relationship with the U.S. and I am sure [Ms. Freeland] would prefer to stay away from some of those aspects of that.”
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The Toronto Star's Maria Jimenez interviews former Mexican congressman Agustin Barrios Gomez on the subject of how Mexico should deal with President Trump.

How are Mexicans reacting to Trump’s threatening carmakers not to open plants in Mexico?

Mexicans are still shell-shocked. The idea that the U.S. is now a mercantilist predator is taking a long time to sink in. People wanted to think it was campaign rhetoric, but the cancellation of the Ford plant in San Luis Potosi is bringing it home for a lot of people.

How can the Mexican government and business community counteract Trump’s refrain that the North American Free Trade Agreement is costing the U.S. jobs?

North America is competing with other regions of the world and fully 40 cents of every dollar the U.S. imports from Mexico comes from content produced in America. (Parts often cross the border several times while U.S. and Mexican factories work together to finish a product).

North America is competitive only insofar as we act as a team. Beggar-thy-neighbour policies act in detriment to everyone in the three countries.

What do independent studies conclude about the benefits of NAFTA?

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 14 million Americans have jobs that are a direct result of trade with Canada and Mexico. Mexico is the No. 1 or No. 2 export market for 23 U.S. states, including Texas and California.
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The Guardian's David Agren describes how Donald Trump's opposition to American trade with Mexico is likely to hurt this smaller but quickly developing country's industrial sector.

[E]conomists and Mexican politicians have warned that Trump’s tantrums portend further economic problems as companies shy away from the public shaming that could come with investment in the country.

Federico Estévez, a political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, said that danger for Mexico was not a potential trade war, but the chilling effect Trump’s words would have on foreign investment.

“They’ll be careful about their capital expansion programs in a place like Mexico because Trump will jawbone them – not in private: in public,” he said.

Much of the foreign direct investment in Mexico has gone to the car industry, which took hold in states such as San Luis Potosí and sent GDP growth in the region soaring above 5% per year.

The industry’s roots in Mexico date back over decades – for years Volkswagen produced the Beetle in the state of Puebla – but the sector has grown steadily since the 1980s, to the point that most of the world’s major automakers have opened plants in the country.

“One of the main advantages automakers have in Mexico is high productivity and low wages in these plants. That’s attractive,” said Harley Shaiken, a geography professor at the University of California at Berkley, who studies the Mexican auto industry. An average car factory worker in Mexico earns around $8 an hour, compared to the $60 an hour that Ford spends on a US employee, including pay and benefits.

“You have mega transnational companies that are able to earn a lot of their investment in Mexico, in part because productivity is high and wages are depressed.”
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Matthew A. Winkler at Bloomberg View describes how Mexican-American trade is not a zero-sum affair. We will see if the underlying economic rationale for a close American-Mexican relationship can manage to survive Trump.

A Trumpist might deplore the success of these Mexican companies in profiting from rising U.S. prosperity. But then he'd have to consider American firms like Kansas City Southern, the Missouri-based railroad freight company whose almost-50 percent Mexico-sourced revenue is the largest such percentage in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. It rallied 20 percent this year, or more than triple the S&P 500's gain. About 48 percent of the industrial shipping firm's sales came from Mexico last year, up from 44 percent in 2011 and demonstrating Nafta's free-trade benefits as Kansas City Southern increased its workforce by more than 9 percent during the five-year period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Many market watchers have focused in recent months on the correlation between the peso and Trump's ups and downs in the polls as a bellwether of the November election. That's because Mexico has been a focus of Trump's bigotry and xenophobia as he has sought to assign blame for lost American jobs.

In truth, there are many causes for lost manufacturing jobs. Advances in technology and China's rise as the No. 2 economy are among them. Nafta was neither the killer nor creator of employment that its enthusiasts and detractors predicted. It did make the U.S. economy more efficient and therefore stronger. That's what global investors like about it.

The appreciation of Penoles, Kansas City Southern and Cemex this year provides a benign perspective of Mexico's relationship to the strengthening U.S. job market, where unemployment has fallen below 5 percent from a high of 10 percent in October, 2009. Housing starts have more than doubled, to an annual pace of 1.05 million since April 2009 after the worst recession since the Great Depression, according to Bloomberg data. Construction spending increased 51 percent to $1.142 trillion in August from the same month in 2011 when they'd fallen to the lowest level since 1999, while the number of workers in U.S. construction climbed 23 percent to 6.7 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Trump excoriates American auto makers for using Nafta to create jobs in Mexico instead of the U.S. He recently attacked Ford Motor Co. for moving production of Focus compact cars from Wayne, Michigan. But the Wayne factory will continue to operate with no loss of its 3,700 workers, producing the profitable trucks and sport utility vehicles most in demand.
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The National Post shared Nacha Cattan and Eric Martin's Washington Post article looking at the general reaction in Mexico to Donald Trump's election. I wouldn't be surprised if this ended North American regionalism.

Mexicans watched their televisions in horror as Donald Trump was victorious over Hillary Clinton in the U.S. election, putting into power a man who stirred resentment of them and their relatives in the U.S. and promised to build a wall between the nations after almost a century of peace.

“The world has gone crazy,” said Alessandro Mendoza, watching the results on two giant screens at a packed gathering of Mexican and American businessmen at the American Society. As Trump’s lead mounted, the 29-year-old lawyer from Mexico City, who has cousins in Miami, put his hand to his mouth in surprise and whispered to his friend, “we’re screwed.”

The country has been gripped for months by the election campaign, culminating with a tense night that Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz monitored from offices resembling a war room. Thousands of the capital’s residents had planned to celebrate a Trump defeat at the Angel of Independence in the city center, where soccer fans party after the national team wins. But as the final results came in, the Paseo de la Reforma thoroughfare that runs past the monument was eerily silent.

“Americans have disappointed me,” said Jose Enrique Guillen, a 28-year-old sociology student at the Pinche Gringo bar in the capital. “I feel the hatred. I’m sad and worried.”

From the moment Trump began his campaign by calling undocumented Mexican immigrants “rapists,” the Republican used Mexico as a whipping boy to drive home his concerns about free trade and undocumented workers. Now, after months of beating Trump piñatas, burning his effigies and donning wigs to satirize him in theaters, Mexicans are facing a bleak reality that could damage the nation’s economy and throw the lives of millions of migrants into chaos.
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  • At Antipope, Charlie Stross imagines what might become possible with cheap heavy spacelift.

  • blogTO notes the vandalization of the iconic Toronto sign during Nuit Blanche.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering the detectability of interstellar comets.

  • Language Log looks at Chinese language transcriptions for Obama, Hillary, and Trump.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at impending hard Brexit and notes how the economy of Thailand is dominated by Bangkok.

  • The NYRB Daily writes at length about its apparent discovery of the identity of Elena Ferrante.

  • Savage Minds shares a Bolivian perspective on Donald Trump.

  • Strange Maps shares a list of ten potential Jewish homelands outside of Palestine.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at quiet Chechen dissidence and warns about the consequences of Putin's repressions.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell worries about the people soon to be in charge of the United Kingdom's Brexit negotiations.

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CBC News' Cameron MacIntosh reports on the continuing economic decline of northern Manitoba. How can Canada call itself a northern nation with issues like these?

It's a long drive, twisting through seemingly endless forest, past lakes, down a long two-lane highway that alternates between patches of broken pavement and gravel.

Eventually Manitoba's Provincial Road 391 comes to an end.

A nearly 1,100 kilometre drive north of Winnipeg, Lynn Lake is just about as far north as you can drive in Manitoba on an all-weather road.

It's also long been at the end of the road economically.

On the final stretch of 391 — Sherritt Avenue, Lynn Lake's main drag — is the Northern Store, one of the few active businesses in town. A group of residents, including Tommy Caribou, is just sitting around outside.

Caribou's red cap would be familiar to anyone that's been paying even minimal attention to American politics. The slogan, written in white, is slightly modified: "Make Lynn Lake Great Again."
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A couple of weeks ago, Tristan Hopper's National Post article "The grandiose — but failed — 1960s plan by an Ontario war hero to settle a ‘second Canada’ below the Arctic" caught my attention.

It all comes down to Richard Rohmer, a Canadian war veteran perhaps more notable to many as an author of pulp fiction (really bad technothrillers, mainly). As Hopper notes, he had an ambitious plan for the settlement of the Canadian Shield.

If things had gone Richard Rohmer’s way in the 1960s, the Canada of 2016 could have been home to as many as 70 million people.

Canada would have had a GDP rivalling that of the United Kingdom and new highways, new railways and new metropolises, all built in the sparsely populated boreal forest region that Rohmer came to call “Mid-Canada.” He would even help to spawn an entirely new type of citizen: The hearty, winter-loving “Mid-Canadian.”

Rohmer — a lawyer and decorated RCAF Wing Commander — was leading a charge to build a “second Canada” on top of the old one.

“It was a very simple concept; the country needed long range policies and plans for the future orderly development of this vast land that we have,” said Rohmer, 92, speaking by phone from his home in Collingwood, Ont.

[. . .]

In its heyday, Rohmer’s Mid-Canada plan attracted the attention of a who’s who of powerful Canadians: Captains of industry, bank CEOs, labour leaders, scientists and Aboriginal leaders and the patronage of former Prime Minister Lester Pearson and the Governor General.

“Canada’s future is inseparably linked with the development of Mid-Canada,” read a preliminary report. More zealous boosters even claimed that a Canada without the moxie to develop its boreal forest might as well meekly surrender to U.S. annexation.

The scope, as the above map indicates, was very ambitious.

There would be diagonal trans-continental railroad connecting Labrador ports to the Yukon. A highway to the Arctic. New growth centres; Flin Flon, Whitehorse, Labrador City, Thunder Bay and High Level were all pegged as settlements that could reach Calgary-esque levels of size and influence by the year 2000.

Strangely, Waterways, the precursor to Fort McMurray, was left off the list. It remains one of the few Mid-Canada cities that achieved any semblance of the growth envisioned by Rohmer.

Final infrastructure cost for a full-blown 1970s incursion into Mid-Canada? Four to five billion dollars, about $35 billion in 2016 dollars.

Governor General Roland Michener, a friend of Rohmer, arranged a meeting with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The idea was that Rohmer would show up, present the report, screen some slides and get the ball rolling on a Ministry of Mid-Canada or the like.

Instead, he met the disinterested eyes of the Prime Minister, who couldn’t seem to escape Rideau Hall fast enough.

“The message was ‘don’t even bother,’ but in any event we did our best,” he said.

Rohmer has long chalked up the failure to partisan considerations. The airman reeked of Tory blue, and whatever Trudeau planned to do with Canada in the 1970s, settling the North was not on the list.

I would argue that political differences were less important than the immense cost of this project. Could there have been any constituency for this sort of massive spending? To this, I would add the question of politics, not least with the First Nations. How would the indigenous peoples of the North, the last peoples not to be overwhelmed by European and Euro-Canadian settlers in their homelands, respond to this?

A September 2014 article in The Walrus, "If We Build It, They Will Stay" argued straightforwardly for this plan to be implemented now.

If the federal government had bought into Richard Rohmer’s vision from the start, the mid-Canada corridor would look very different today, beginning with infrastructure. Fifty years ago, it was still a government responsibility and, to a degree, priority. Now, it seems, there isn’t a government at any level that has the money for it. Infrastructure is incredibly expensive, and without a commercial imperative, a difficult sell.

But it’s not just infrastructure that governments have abandoned; they’ve abandoned leadership, as well. The government of Stephen Harper is a facilitator. It doesn’t spend money on northern infrastructure; its interest in policy tends to be narrow and ideological (gutting environmental law to pave the way for resource extraction, for example); and its record on Aboriginal concerns got off to an unfortunate start when it reneged on the Kelowna Accord, a Liberal initiative that had allocated $5 billion to First Nations education, housing, health services, and economic development (things haven’t improved much in the years since).

Canada was founded on bold action (David Thompson’s exploration of the West, Alexander Mackenzie’s push north) and big ideas (Confederation). But we have lost the appetite for both. The last big idea in nation-building was Clifford Sifton’s immigration policy under Wilfrid Laurier’s government a century ago, when a cheery, somewhat misleading campaign lured one million foreign settlers to the Prairies. Occasionally, we are pushed toward something larger (Expo 67, various Olympics), but for the most part we have come to settle for the “Peace, Order, and good Government” described in the British North America Act of 1867.
Good government, however, has become synonymous with good management. Courage isn’t prized, and we’ve paid a price for our caution. When it comes to infrastructure investment, planning, and urban development—activities that shaped the country at its founding—our caution has worked against us.

We are in need of a bold national vision, and the thoughtful development of the mid-Canada corridor certainly qualifies. Rohmer envisioned sustainable development, and if anything that’s even more desirable now than it was five decades ago. It would bring us prosperity. It would force us to be environmentally responsible. It would hasten the long-overdue respectful inclusion of First Peoples in Canadian society. It might even help us realize that elusive dream: meaningful national unity.

I am much less convinced of this. Scott Gilmore in MacLean's noted that, by most metrics, the Canadian North is terribly underdeveloped and that Canadians by and large are fine with this. At Vice, meanwhile, James Wilt's article "Why Scott Gilmore’s Latest Claims About the North Are Bullshit" makes the point via a series of interviews that much of what Gilmore would term development (large-scale resource exploitation, particularly) would be unwelcome among the people who actually live there.

Roger Epp, Director of UAlberta North, political science professor and author of We Are All Treaty People: Prairie Essays

VICE: What's wrong with how Gilmore approaches the North?
Epp: First, Gilmore's North is a slippery one. Sometimes it is strictly the territorial north, when he is counting people; and then, when he is counting ports, it slips down to Churchill. The question of where North begins is the subject of endless debate. Is Fort McMurray north? Labrador? Prince George? Sudbury? Chicoutimi? Or only those places where Indigenous peoples predominate?

Second, the "North" is judged entirely in terms of whether it is the site of effective sovereignty and economic development, especially of its "mineral wealth." Those are not necessarily the only criteria that Northerners would apply, though the assumption is that their perspectives are irrelevant. What matters is whether the North is genuinely "ours," meaning Southern Canadians'. As if it is up to people in Toronto and Ottawa to decide if "we" are a northern nation. People live there, and have been living there a long time.

Is this a symptom of Gilmore simply not being able to conceptualize that distinct cultural interpretations of lands/waters, economies, and societies exist? Or what's going on here?
Especially outside the territorial capitals, and in parts of the provincial norths as well, there is a complex relationship between what we might call traditional and wage economies. The latter presumably is a mark of "development." But it is not one or the other for people. Traditional land-based, water-based skills still compensate for the ridiculous price of food, for example, and the relationship between those skills and real self-determination and also the character traits required to live it out should not be discounted.

I was in the community of Deline on Great Bear Lake in late August, just before the effective date and the celebration of a self-government agreement that was almost two decades in the making. While Deline is not without its challenges, those negotiations were an incredible test of community leadership and cohesion, as well as a grounding in traditional stories and spirituality. Deline was rightly celebrated. Where was Gilmore?

For Rohmer's Mid-Canada Development Corridor to take off, or anything like it, at the very least we would need a national government willing both to engage in massively costly projects like this and to ignore the complaints of the people who actually lived there that these projects were hurting their lifestyles and communities. (In addition to First Nations, the Canadian government might well find itself in conflict with provincial government with their own plans for their portions of the Canadian Shield.) This is not impossible, but it would require some fairly significant tweaks.

Would there even be any guarantee that this plan would work? Hopper's article notes that we could well end up creating a sub-Arctic urban dystopia, with mined-out resource cities in environmental wastes. Northern Canada could look much more like post-Soviet Siberia that we Canadians would like to imagine. What would happen if funding to these vast projects was interrupted, as they were in the Soviet Union in the 1990s?

What do you think about this possibility? Was the Mid-Canada Development Corridor realizable?

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Bruno Carvalho's Open Democracy essay looks at the impact of the Olympics on Brazilian urbanism as manifested in Rio de Janeiro.

In the mid-1990s, amid a crisis of rampant violence in Rio de Janeiro, an influential Brazilian journalist, Zuenir Ventura, published a book with the title Cidade Partida. The expression could be translated as broken or split city, as if Rio had an integrity that contemporary violence shattered. A more apt translation is an increasingly prevalent phrase used to describe urban conditions in the United States: divided city. Given the striking contrasts between Rio de Janeiro’s upper-class buildings and hillside favelas, it is not surprising that the epithet found broad resonance.

Cidade Partida challenged what was until then Rio’s most recurrent moniker, Cidade Maravilhosa—marvelous or wonderful city. Those familiar with its landscape will find explanations to be superfluous. In the 1930s, when a song about Rio titled “Marvelous City” hit the airwaves, in the 1960s when it became the city’s official anthem, and today, when crowds sing it in unison during carnival, images of Rio’s cultural and natural exuberance come to mind. But the origins of the expression betray another history. “Marvelous City” became popularized in the context of an ambitious, Paris-inspired set of urban reforms early in the twentieth century.

The phrase designated a city becoming modern, whiter, and at long last, as we read often in the press from the period, “civilized.” In this scenario, a more divided city was in fact the goal, with the poor—disproportionately non-white—pushed to the outskirts or incipient favelas, as far as possible from central areas and from view. Led by then-mayor Francisco Pereira Passos, the reforms resulted in the eviction of one-tenth of the city center’s residents. To be sure, part of the goal of the reforms was to remedy a reputation Rio had earned as a “city of death” or “foreigner’s grave,” due to the prevalence of diseases like yellow fever. The Zika virus, in this regard, produces an unmistakable echo of the past. But the notion of the marvelous city of the belle époque as the privilege of a few remained clear to many. The manifesto of a labor group in 1929 mocks the use of the epithet by “literary fops,” drawing attention instead to the dire living conditions of the working classes.

Rio once had the largest urban slave population in the Americas, and the presence of their descendants in major public spaces presented an embarrassment to governing elites. In the belle époque, World’s Fairs and Expos proliferated, and major cities served as arenas where empires and nation states could compete. Not coincidentally, the modern Olympics began in 1896 in Athens, amid this era of proliferating precursors to today’s mega-events. Rio de Janeiro at the start of the twentieth century was the third major port of the Americas, behind New York and Buenos Aires, and the capital of a newfound republic, proclaimed in 1889. The city’s compact colonial fabric, marked by varied and jumbled street life, did not befit national ambitions. The Pereira Passos interventions sought to give an urban form to the positivist ideals of “order and progress,” enshrined in the Brazilian flag. In practice, Rio de Janeiro was to be considered marvelous when undesirables were not around. A divided city was, in fact, a desired outcome of the reforms.

But as students of the past quickly learn, in the history of city planning, the improbable happens often, and the unintended happens all the time. Some spaces envisioned as exclusivist playgrounds for the elites have since become appropriated as sites of democratic congregation and social mixture. In belle époque Rio there were attempts to prohibit those not dressed “decently” from circulating in central areas. Now, these same spaces are periodically occupied by carnival revelers, political protesters or social movements. The dream of a city with central spaces reserved to the rich only partially succeeded. The aspiration of a tropical civilization in the Parisian mold waned, as more relaxed dress codes attest. In later decades, led by Rio, Brazil instead projected a far more original—even if evidently distorted—image as “the country of carnival,” or of “racial democracy.”

In the 1990s, Ventura wrote his Divided City in the aftermath of a massacre, when off-duty policemen killed twenty one people in one of Rio’s poorer peripheral neighborhoods. He spent months in this community to write a book that was bold for exposing Rio’s divisions, or the inner workings of drug traffickers and corrupt police forces, but also for an insistence on valuing the city’s imperiled traditions of circulation and cultural exchanges. Since then, far-reaching infrastructure investments have favored favelas, and in Brazil, major redistributionist policies were implemented without stirring the sort of ethnic animus that we find elsewhere (though there are many discouraging signs). After emerging from a long military dictatorship (1964–85), Brazil appeared to be in an ascendant trajectory, even as its former capital and most visible city lagged behind.
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The Globe and Mail carries Madeline Smith's Canadian Press article describing the new direct air route between Toronto and Niagara.

Starting Sept. 15, charter flight company Greater Toronto Airways will run two round trips between Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport and the Niagara Regional Airport every weekday.

David Nissan, vice-president of operations for Greater Toronto Airways, says the flights will run about 15 minutes, with capacity for eight passengers.

“We hope that it will connect the communities,” he says. “We can cut down commuting times from two hours to 15 minutes.”

Nissan says the company is starting out by targeting business travellers, and flights will cost $85 one way and $149 for a round trip.

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati says people in Niagara need more options to get to Toronto and back, and finding a way to cross the lake instead of going around it could be a good solution. He says traffic congestion on the highways is becoming “unbearable and unreasonable” for commuters.
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  • ABC reports on the Sudanese-Australian basketball players who are transforming the game in Australia.

  • Bloomberg reports on the potentially transformative scope of China's New Silk Road project.

  • Bloomberg View likes the new Star Trek movie's shift beyond speciesism.

  • CBC reports on the strength of pro-Trump support among non-voting Amish in Pennsylvania, and looks at a VIA Rail proposal to set up a commuter run in Halifax.

  • Gizmodo reports on Florida's disastrous coastal algal infestations.

  • The Globe and Mail notes a proposal for Ontario-Michigan cooperation and recounts the story of the construction of the Rideau Canal.

  • The Guardian reports on Catalonia's swift progress towards a declaration of independence.

  • MacLean's describes Manitoba's falling crime rate.

  • Open Democracy wonders about Italy's Five Star Movement and looks at the newest African-American hashtag movements.

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  • Centauri Dreams and The Dragon's Tales look at the cryogenic prebiotic chemistry of Titan.

  • Dangerous Minds notes that a restored version of David Bowie's film The Man Who Fell to Earth will be hitting theatres in fall.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks at how some archeologists are successfully identifying individual makers of Harappan seals.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at disabilities and relationships.

  • The LRB Blog notes Tony Blair's close relationship with the United States.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at how New York City librarians once received their own apartments.

  • Steve Munro looks at the TTC's air conditioning problems.

  • Torontoist satirizes the visitors of Trinity Bellwoods Park.

  • Window on Eurasia claims the Russian Far East is deteriorating.

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  • Bloomberg reports on the problems of France's Burgundy wine region, looks at the impact of Brexit on the economy of South Africa, and thinks Airbnb will survive San Francisco.

  • Bloomberg View considers what the European Union will do next, looks at the EU's failure to capture hearts and minds, and notes that young Britons are now trapped.

  • The Globe and Mail reports on the problems of Sobeys.

  • The Inter Press Service reports on Cuban agriculture.

  • MacLean's examines the reasons for Québec separatists' disinterest in Brexit.

  • National Geographic notes the suspension of Florida's bear hunts.

  • The National Post suggests Canada could take up the slack in NATO left by the United Kingdom.

  • Open Democracy considers tabloid-driven nationalism in the former Soviet Union and features Owen Jones talking about the need for post-Brexit Britain (or England) to change.

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  • Bloomberg looks at the European cities hoping to poach talent from London post-Brexit, notes central Europe's support for the European Union, looks at how Venezuelans are dealing with broken cars with the car industry gone, and looks at the United Kingdom's already substantial hit.

  • Bloomberg View considers peace in Columbia, notes American infant mortality, looks at China's fears over Brexit and examines China's anti-corruption crackdown.

  • CBC notes the substantial refugee population of Ukraine.

  • The Inter Press Service wonders about the consequences of Brexit for the United Nations.

  • MacLean's notes the beginning of the North American leaders' summit.

  • National Geographic observes the impending end of the ivory trade of Hong Kong.

  • The National Post looks at the Leave voters' regrets.

  • Open Democracy looks at Scotland and also at the post-Brexit environment more generally.

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From Historica Canada, Halifax Explosion #toronto #doorsopen #blogtodot16 #torontorailwaymuseum #halifaxexplosion

The above photo was taken of a video monitor at the Toronto Railway Museum during my Doors Open visit, poised on a display in front of the Nova Scotia Pullman car. It preserves a scene from 0:23 of Historica Canada's Halifax Explosion Heritage Minute, when train dispatcher Vince Coleman realized the imminence of the Halifax Explosion and opted to warn an incoming train to stop short of the danger zone. All it took him was his life.

"What do you think you're doing?" shouted chief clerk William Lovett as train dispatcher Vince Coleman turned back towards the office. "We've only got a minute or two left! Anyone in the office won't stand a chance, and you're a married man with a family to think of!" But Vince Coleman was thinking about the passenger trains speeding towards the threatened harbour. He had to stop them.

In that moment of pure and selfless action, Coleman telegraphed his urgent warning. At precisely 9:06 on December 6, 1917, the worst man-made explosion ever [before the atomic bomb on Hiroshima] tore through Halifax, claiming 2,000 lives, including the life of Vince Coleman.

The Great War had brought prosperity to Halifax. The harbour bustled with convoys of men and materials bound for Europe. But on the evening of December 5, two ships' captains anxiously awaited departure. Aboard the Imo, a Belgian relief ship at anchor in the harbour, Captain From was annoyed that a late inspection had forced him to delay departure until morning.

Outside the harbour sat the French steamship Mont Blanc, its captain Aimé Le Medec awaiting morning access to the harbour and official clearance. Captain Le Medec had good reason to feel uneasy. Four days earlier his freighter had been loaded with tons of picric acid, TNT, gun cotton and benzol. The Mont Blanc was a floating bomb.

At 7:30 a.m., on December 6, the Mont Blanc began its slow entry into the harbour just as the Imo pulled up anchor. Forced to the wrong side of the channel by a steamer and tugboat, the Imo continued its improper course in direct line with the incoming Mont Blanc. The two ships sighted each other. There was a confusion of whistle blasts, misunderstood signals and, at 8:45 a.m., a disastrous collision.

As black smoke and flames rose from the Mont Blanc, crowds gathered on the Pier to watch the excitement. Factory workers, stevedores, mothers and children rushed to the best vantage points. Few people had any idea of the danger.

But one sailor who knew about the imminent explosion ran past the railway freight yards, warning Coleman and Lovett to clear out. Vince Coleman knew what was at stake when he ran back to tap out his crucial message. In the worst catastrophe in Canadian history, one man sacrificed his life to save 700 others.

This is rightly recognized as one of the top Heritage Minutes aired on Canadian television in the 1990s, happily preserved for posterity on YouTube.

The Halifax Explosion dominated one of the chapters of my Honours English essay, through Hugh MacLennan's novel Barometer Rising. I had argued that this disaster was used by MacLennan to draw a thick line between the traditional past of Nova Scotia and the modern world that its people had to join.

It is not enough, as Murray drunkenly suggests, to “[m]ake everyone live in the country [so] there won’t be any more of these goddam wars” (137). Nova Scotians must shed their parochialisms and enthusiastically embrace the wider world, just as they did before the explosion as foreign crews and ships arrived incessantly in Halifax harbour. Like Big Alec MacKenzie, Nova Scotians must “bridge the gap out of the pioneering era and save [their] children from becoming anachronisms” (208) at the relatively cost of being lost to their native regions. They must, like Penelope Wain and Neil Macrae, become people “who could seem at home almost anywhere” (208) even while preserving what remnants of Nova Scotian identity they could.

Before the Halifax Explosion was a symbol, it was a catastrophe. Thousands of people had been killed and thousands more maimed in the devastation of the chief metropolis of the Maritimes by one of the largest explosions to occur before the nuclear era. The tragedy is that this is an event that was highly contingent: If only the Mont Blanc had been better piloted, had received greater care from the authorities of Halifax harbour, this never would have happened. What if? I can't help but imagine this possibility, this imagined glimpse of a world spared, could have been as much a torment as a relief.


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September 2017

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