The polite fiction that the governor general is somehow “above politics” is what really lacks credibility today

Posted: November 8th, 2017 | No Comments »

Julie Payette, who was sworn in as Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada on the banks of the Ottawa River, Monday, October 2, 2017, back when she was just an astronaut floating in space.

There seems at least some significant agreement within the Canadian federal punditocracy (which I admire a great deal) that our new former-astronaut Governor General Julie Payette badly blotted her copy book, when she gave spirited opening remarks at the recent 9th annual Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa.

I nonetheless feel driven to confess that I am one of the (I believe) growing numbers of Canadians who are not offended by anything Her Excellency said to the country’s top scientists.

I would not, myself, have said quite what she said, or in the way she said it. Eg : “Can you believe that … we are still debating and still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process let alone, oh my goodness, a random process?”

But I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) myself be an astronaut either. And it’s reassuring at last to hear someone in Canadian public life stand up for one of the various growing minority groups I count myself among — the 23.9% of all Canadians who reported “No religious affiliation” in the 2011 census.

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Homage to Catalonia : déjà vu all over again .. it may belong in Spain but this isn’t the way to keep it there?

Posted: October 29th, 2017 | No Comments »

George Orwell with the POUM militia at the Aragón front in the Spanish Civil War, 1937. He is the tallest among the standing figures. The woman crouching just by his hand is his wife Eileen.

[UPDATED OCTOBER 31, NOVEMBER 1]. George Orwell’s Spanish Civil War book, Homage to Catalonia, first appeared in print in the spring of 1938. Not quite 80 years later, some updated version of its sad story about Spanish and Catalan politics — and the harsh light they cast on the wider world of the 1930s — may be unfolding all over again.

We’re following up here on the Catalonia part of L. Frank Bunting’s October 11 report on this site : “Canadian Thanksgiving 2017, Catalonia capers in Spain, and the unbearable lightness of Mélanie Joly” (subsequently UPDATED OCTOBER 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21!).

We’re also happy enough that, just this past Friday, October 27, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared Canada’s support for “one united Spain … after the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona passed a motion unilaterally establishing a new country.”

At the same time, we’re happy as well to note the CBC Montreal report : “Catalan independence vote sparks contrasting opinions from Quebec and Canadian politicians … Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada recognizes united Spain while Quebec premier calls for dialogue.”

Beyond this we’re just observers from a distance, perched on the northern shores of the North American Great Lakes, in front of desk-top internet monitors and big-screen TVs (and with warm memories of various Spanish visits in the 21st century). And we are especially impressed with eight particular observations from much closer to the action in Madrid and Barcelona :

Celebrating the Catalan declaration of independence in Barcelona, October 27, 2017.

* “Separatist lawmakers in Catalonia were unbowed …  erupting in applause as their vote was approved with 70 votes in favor of an independent Catalan Republic, 10 against and two blank ballots out of a total 135 members.”

* “Within an hour of the Catalan vote, the Spanish Senate in Madrid voted 214 to 47 to invoke Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution, granting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy extraordinary powers to take direct administrative control over the region and remove secessionist politicians.” (As best we can make out, 24 members of the Spanish Senate are from Catalonia?)

* “Mr. Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party has its origins in the neo-Francoist Allianza Popular, which was founded by former Franco ministers after the dictator’s death.”

* “however Rajoy chooses to implement Madrid’s takeover of Catalonia, it seems unlikely that his actions will end the era of ‘disorder’ there … something close to half of Catalonia’s electorate truly favors independence; that sentiment is unlikely to wane with Madrid’s intervention … the sectarian standoff will become even uglier in the days and weeks to come … The Spanish problem … is …  The political pacts that were formed in 1978, following the death of Franco, appear to be falling apart.”

* “‘Two months ago, I would have said that 43 percent [turnout in the Madrid-repressed referendum that voted 90% for Catalan independence] was not enough,’ said Ester Romero, 25, a [Barcelona] sales manager who had come to the [pro-independence] rally … ‘But after all the oppression, after all the police hitting people during the referendum, it’s enough.’”

Catalan president (now officially ex-president) Carles Puigdemont as the Parliament of Catalonia declares independence on October 27.

* “Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council bluntly announced: ‘…nothing changes. Spain remains our only interlocutor.’ … Tellingly, Tusk added, ‘I hope the Spanish government favours force of argument, not argument of force.’”

* “The United States said Catalonia was an ‘integral part of Spain’ and that it supported Spanish government efforts to keep the nation ‘strong and united.’ … State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the two NATO allies ‘cooperate closely to advance our shared security and economic priorities.’”

* “Regional elections in 2015 returned a slim majority of pro-independence lawmakers, who took this as a mandate to push ahead with the independence drive … Analysts predict a similar outcome in the upcoming ballot” (now scheduled by Spanish President Mariano Rajoy for this  December 21, 2017).

For more than anyone ever really wanted to know about our own Canadian views on Homage to Catalonia 2017–18 click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll down below.

[UPDATE OCTOBER 31 : Meanwhile we've been impressed by Carles Puigdemont’s reaction to current events at a news conference in Brussels  — “I ask the Catalan people to prepare for a long road. Democracy will be the foundation of our victory” — and his “announcement that he would accept the regional election on Dec. 21.” See the short but sweet Thomson Reuters report “Ex-Catalan president accepts snap election, says 'long road' to independence.”]

[UPDATE NOVEMBER 1 : In the face of many other global events of deep concern, the situation in Catalonia and related places has grown somewhat quieter and will probably stay that way for a while at least. But the plot nonetheless continues to quietly thicken, in various troubling ways. See, eg : “Catalonia president Carles Puigdemont will ignore Spanish court order to answer rebellion charges ... Arrest warrant could be issued making it virtually impossible for him to stand in upcoming election” ; “Catalonia Will Not Retreat” ; “How Catalonia’s crisis is turning into a European problem” ; and “Catalonia: Fascists caught making Nazi salutes during anti-Catalan independence protest ... Far-right protesters also chanted 'Viva Franco' in reference to Spain's former dictator.”]

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There won’t be any NiqaBitch in Montreal protesting Quebec’s Bill 62 in 2017 the way there was in Paris in 2010, but ..

Posted: October 24th, 2017 | No Comments »

What is the most sensible (and democratic?) reaction to Quebec’s Bill 62, “requiring Quebecers to uncover their faces to get or receive government services”?

(In effect Bill 62 partially bans face-covering burqa and niqab headgear worn by some — a quite small number it seems — Muslim women in Canada’s francophone-majority province.)

(1) Our first sources here are four articles from the Friday, October 20 Toronto Star : (a) Quebec’s Bill 62 declares war on sunglasses (Chantal Hébert) ; (b) How Ontario politicians avoided Quebec’s burka backlash (Martin Regg Cohn) ;  (c) What a mean thing Quebec has done (Heather Mallick) ; (d) Ottawa should show courage on Quebec’s Bill 62 (Star Editorial Board).

One slightly larger context for all this is what former Ontario premier William Davis liked to call the sister provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

(Together they formed the United Province of Canada, 1841–1867. Whatever its other faults, the United Province actually managed to give itself what we would now call a democratically elected Canadian Senate in 1856, and issue the first Canadian decimal currency in 1858.)

For more than anyone ever wanted to know about our own Ontario views on Bill 62 in Quebec click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll down a little further below.

Meanwhile the Canadian debate over the ban-the-niqab in Quebec takes place in various still broader contexts. Our research assistants have looked quickly at five further groups of sources :

(2) Four additional mainstream media reports : (a) Trudeau who? on Quebec Bill 62 (CBC News) ; (b) Born-in-Canada Muslim student Masuma Khan at Dalhousie U and her support for  Mi’Kmaq people in Atlantic Canada (Huffington Post) ; (c) Nazneen Sheikh’s “invitation to progressive liberal women in Canada to champion” Bill 62 (Toronto Sun)  ; and (d) an upcoming Swiss “referendum on banning niqabs and other face-covering garments” (Associated Press).

(3) Two sources on the pros and cons of wearing particular Muslim headgear for those directly involved : (a) “Hijab, Niqab or Nothing” — a ?2008? CBC TV discussion chaired by Carole MacNeil and now on YouTube ; (b) Quebec women who’ve worn niqabs discuss province’s controversial neutrality bill (Morgan Lowrie at The Canadian Press).

(4) Three sources on the “Niqa Bitches” in Paris, autumn 2010 : (a) NiqaBitch, Original Full Video — Two French females [one allegedly Muslim] strolling through the streets of Paris in  niqab and mini-shorts as a critique of France’s recently passed law (YouTube) ; (b) ‘NiqaBitch’ unveil themselves in Paris — Are this veil-wearing, leg-baring duo making a powerful political point, or trivialising the niqab debate? (Nesrine Malik, The Guardian, Thursday 7 October 2010 ;  (c) “Sexy Paris protest criticizes ‘unconstitutional’ French anti-burqa law” (Clarke Bowling, New York Daily News, Thursday, October 28, 2010).

“Deux femmes françaises se promenant dans les rues de Paris dans un niqab, jambes nues et mini-shorts en tant que critique de la loi récemment adoptée en France”, October 2010.

(5) 72% of “First Nations people with registered Indian status” in Quebec still “living on reserve,” but only 37% in Ontario (Statistics Canada, 2011 Census).

(6) Two sources on recent Supreme Court of India decision striking down “triple talaq” — “the Muslim practice that allows men to instantly divorce their wives” : (a) Triple talaq verdict Highlights: Modi says SC order grants equality, Rahul welcomes decision (Hindustan Times, 22 August 2017) ; (b) Triple Talaq Verdict: Muslim Women Are Cheering — But So Is BJP (Shuma Raha, The Quint, 22 August 2017).

For excessive further detail and —  again — for more than anyone ever really wanted to know about our own Ontario views on Bill 62 in Quebec click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll down below.

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Canadian Thanksgiving 2017, Catalonia capers in Spain, and the unbearable lightness of Mélanie Joly

Posted: October 11th, 2017 | No Comments »

“It’s October already and the leaves in High Park are still very green. Eduardo Lima/mEtro.”

[UPDATED OCTOBER 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21]. Just when I start to conclude that the younger generation running things these days has lost all interest in the literary graces that disciplined my own heyday, I come across a headline like : “Fall features fail to fully unfurl” — in the free metro news tabloid I like to look at with my Tim Horton’s coffee.

All liberations of this sort are necessarily fleeting, it seems. I unhappily note that the online edition of the same report by the gifted Genna Buck has been re-titled “Don’t expect great fall colours in the GTA this year, expert says … Warm weather means fewer autumn colours.”

This may be more informative in some sense, but it’s less interesting — and/or fun to read over coffee, looking out the window at the still quite green local Kew Gardens across the street!

In any case, as I thought about the many things I ought to be thankful for on the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, October 7-9, 2017, number one on my list this year was whoever thought up the wonderfully alliterative “Fall features fail to fully unfurl,” as a title for Genna Buck’s explanation of why “It’s October already and the leaves in High Park are still very green.”

I have just two very quick further thoughts about Thanksgiving 2017 in the northern woods.

Spanish woman fighting for the Republic in the 1930s Spanish Civil War, armed with British Lee-Enfield rifle. Many thanks to Yvonne Dyer.

First, living very close to Lake Ontario as my TV watching partner and I do, the leaves on our trees are always pretty green on the second Monday in October. This unusually mild autumn is not changing things much in that respect.

Second, I never quite appreciated just how bland and unassuming our Canadian Thanksgiving is, until I spent a US Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) in Kansas City, a while ago now. (I guess I prefer the more laid-back and casual way we celebrate the holiday. I also guess many in the USA would not — but then I remember as well the many others who never vote in elections, and in their private kingdoms get very serious about “live free or die.”)

Meanwhile, two more political events — one in today’s revival of Ernest Hemingway’s Spain and one here at home in Canada — are at least vaguely on my mind, as I also contemplate just how thankful I am that I live in the country I do, especially at this moment in trumpet time. (And for more than anyone ever wanted to know on all this — including OCTOBER 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21 updates click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll below!)

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Ave atque vale Hugh Hefner : “one of a handful of people who most represent the sexual revolution” .. maybe ??

Posted: September 29th, 2017 | No Comments »

“Hefner works on the first issue of Playboy magazine in his Chicago apartment,” 1953. (Photo provided by Playboy Enterprises.)

Like others, no doubt, I haven’t looked at a copy of Playboy magazine for a great many years. And I never subscribed or otherwise read the articles (or looked at the photos) regularly.

But for a time in the late 1950s and 1960s, it was something young men my age were expected to know about and take an interest in. The recent death of founder Hugh Hefner, at the impressive age of 91, does seem a milestone of sorts in my life.

I don’t have a lot to say — and certainly I can offer no unique analysis.

I can only point to four main sources on the subject I bumped into, during a morning’s research-homage to a man who, in his own words, was “one of a handful of people who most represent the sexual revolution” in the North America where I grew up :

(1) My first source is a long obituary from the Los Angeles Times : “Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who shook up American morality with an ideal of swinging singlehood, dies at 91.” I thought it did a nice job of surveying the Hefner career in easily digested prose.

(2) “Hugh Hefner Fast Facts” from the “CNN Library” does an equally nice job of summarizing the career in even more easily digested bullet points.

(3) These days I often find Wikipedia articles much better than the reputation which preceded them for quite a while. And I found the Wkipedia article on “Playboy … an American men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine” quite helpful in this case.

Hugh Hefner poses with "bunny-girl hostess" Bonnie J. Halpin at the Playboy Club in Chicago, June 20, 1961. (ED KITCH / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO).

(4) One thing I can remember hearing by word of mouth back in the late 1950s and early 1960s was that Miles Davis had declined a Playboy jazz award because the magazine did not have black playmates. (This changed with Jennifer Jackson in the March 1965 issue : see Josh Robertson on “A History of Black Playboy Playmates,” February 1, 2013.) Whatever the exact truth may be here, the black journalist Alex Haley (of later Roots fame) finally interviewed Miles Davis for Playboy in 1962, and the interview was published in the September issue that year. As the “Jerry Jazz Musician” website aptly opined in April 2016, Mr. Davis’s 1962 “opinions on race, politics and culture continue to be important … a reminder of the complexity of American life.” (And this seems even more to the point in the early autumn of 2017.)

From these four main sources (and a few related articles) I have assembled a quick-and-dirty chronology of top 10 non-fake facts that still intrigue me. It is followed by an extra bow to the 1962 Miles Davis interview, and a wild guess about a present-day trend Hugh Hefner at least reminds me of, that has nothing directly to do with sex. (Granting that many, many things are indirectly connected this way, of course … ) :

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If the USA can have Donald Trump as president, Canada can have Wab Kinew as leader of Manitoba NDP ????

Posted: September 20th, 2017 | No Comments »

Youthful Wab Kinew as an indigenous hip-hop rapper, back in the day.

This past Monday Dan Lett at the Winnipeg Free Press wrote : “The path that Wab Kinew is walking just became incredibly steep.”

Mr. Lett went on : “That’s an odd thing to say about a man who just won a landslide victory to become the new leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party. But thanks to a flurry of recent revelations about Kinew’s troubled life before he became a politician, this is no ordinary political narrative.”

Four days ago Steve Lambert at The Canadian Press had further explained how : “‘It’s a new day for the NDP and it’s a new day for Manitoba,’ Kinew declared to cheers following the vote.”

Yet : “Within minutes of Kinew’s victory, the governing [Manitoba provincial] Progressive Conservatives had a web site up that highlighted Kinew’s decade-old criminal convictions, charges of domestic violence that were stayed, and rap lyrics with offensive terms for women, gays and lesbians and others.”

At least much of all this has been known for a while, and Mr. Kinew has even made political capital out of confessing old sins, and demonstrating more recent reforms. (“‘I am not the man I was,’ Kinew told delegates before the vote with his wife, Lisa Monkman, by his side.”)

Wab Kinew and his father, the late Tobasonakwut Kinew, who “dedicated much of the latter part of his life to reconciliation between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities across North America.”

Way back in March 2016  — before Wab Kinew had even won a Winnipeg seat in the Manitoba legislature for the New Democrats — Chinta Puxley at The Canadian Press was reporting that in his youth “Kinew had been part of a rap group called the Dead Indians.”

In more mature times  : “As he became a father and his political awareness grew, Kinew saw the contradiction in advocating for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and the misogyny and homophobia of hip-hop culture.”

There were (and still are) also many inside and outside Manitoba (including myself) who have very much wanted Wab Kinew to do well as the new leader of the Manitoba provincial New Democratic Party. He is an indigenous politician in Canada who wants to be a Canadian (and not just an indigenous) leader. And that could prove very helpful for the Canadian future, especially at this particular point in the life of the 1867 confederation, in the true north, strong and free.

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BC “NDP and Greens celebrate a stunning political power play” as ex-Liberal Darryl Plecas takes speaker’s job

Posted: September 12th, 2017 | No Comments »

BC “Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas is escorted from the speaker's corridor to the legislative assembly after being elected speaker of the legislature in Victoria on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. Photograph By CHAD HIPOLITO, The Canadian Press.”

You may not care much about Premier John Horgan’s government’s “first update on BC budget” — like finance minister Carole James herself.  You may also be thinking, like us, that the intriguing new NDP-Green alliance in BC provincial politics still looks too insecure to be of much broader Canadian significance.

We can only say we have ourselves at least started to think again after digesting  headlines like : “MLA Darryl Plecas shocks Liberals by taking job as Speaker” ; and “Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas becomes new Speaker … BC Liberal interim leader Rich Coleman calls Plecas’ move a ‘betrayal’.”

Rob Shaw has explained the crux of all this in the Vancouver Sun: “The ultimate impact of the move could be to lengthen the life of the minority NDP government, and give the New Democrats the necessary breathing room to pass legislation. With a Liberal in the job, the NDP can pass legislation without having to rely on the Speaker to break tie votes, a risk it faced if it had to appoint a NDP MLA as Speaker.”

Or as Mike Smyth at The Province has noted : “Plecas stunned his former Liberal colleagues on Friday by accepting the $150,000-a-year Speaker’s job, a shocking move that effectively handed the governing NDP-Green alliance an expanded, three-seat majority in the legislature.”

What some of we BC politics novices back east (well … north of the Great Lakes) are still wondering is who is former Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas (who is now Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, but also a victim [?] of “BC Liberals remove Darryl Plecas from party”)?

And what does his action mean for the thesis that Canada’s Pacific Province is moving towards the Australian model of parliamentary democratic political party development — where, after various twists and turns, the Liberals wind up as the effective conservative party on the right?

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Saul Alinsky & the dangers of Antifa (+ happy 100 CP & walking away from NAFTA could be good for Canada too?)

Posted: September 3rd, 2017 | No Comments »

Yesterday down at the beach it almost seemed that the great storms down south were making  some of their way to the northern woods.

I had in any case already started this past Friday before Labour Day 2017 with brief notices from the east and west coasts of the impressive “too much geography” that is Canada today.

From The Guardian in Prince Edward Island on the Atlantic Ocean : “Front-row seat to history: National news agency The Canadian Press marks 100 years.” (And for somewhat more depth see also this more central Canadian article from late 2010 : “Major publishers invest in Canada’s oldest news agency … The owners of The Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and La Presse have invested in The Canadian Press.”)

And then from the Victoria Times Colonist on Vancouver Island this past Friday : “Opinion: Call Trump’s bluff, walk away from NAFTA.” (A thought that regularly occurs to me as well lately. It could actually be good for our northern North American economy … maybe? And for another central Canadian gloss on the attractions of multicultural Canada today see also, on You Tube : “Hot Girls Dancing Gangnam Style in a Toronto Supermarket.”)

Meanwhile, the more serious issue at the back of my mind lies somewhere in the middle of these late August 2017 headlines : “Unmasking the leftist Antifa movement” (Sara Ganim and Chris Welch, CNN) ; “Masked counterprotestors violently drive out right-wing demonstrators at Berkeley rally” (Toronto Star) ; “The Democratic silence on antifa is dangerous” (Chicago Tribune) ; and “Violent demonstrators in Berkeley are thugs, not activists (Los Angeles Times)”.

You can find a more sympathetic view of the “Antifa movement” in “‘They have no allegiance to liberal democracy’: an expert on antifa explains the group … Why a loose network of militant activists is confronting fascists.” This is an interview with Mark Bray, “a historian at Dartmouth College and author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.”

Mr. Bray himself opines : “Will a lot of people see antifa and their methods as a poor reflection of the left? Absolutely. But I also think that these are not people who were going to vote Democrat anyway. If you read the news … you know that Nancy Pelosi has nothing to do with antifa. This group loathes the Democratic Party, and they don’t hide that … So anyone who blames the Democrats for antifa is likely already disposed to vote Republican anyway.”

“Eugene Antifa” (in Oregon).

I am finally myself left with some passages from an article on the late great American “Anti-Fascist” radical democrat and community organizer Saul Alinsky (1909–1972) by my friend Frank Bunting, that first appeared on this site back in the fateful year 2010.

As Bunting explained then : “there was in Saul Alinsky’s concept of building ‘people’s organizations’ none of the ‘glorification of violence’ as a political ‘cleansing force’ that Maurice Cranston saw as a key feature of the New Left  … At one point [in an interview with Playboy] …  Alinsky was talking about organizing tactics that demonstrated all ‘the elements of good organization — imagination, legality, excitement and, above all, effectiveness.’ The Playboy interviewer jumped in with ‘And coercion …’  But Alinsky quickly came back: ‘No, not coercion —  popular pressure in the democratic tradition.’

Frank Bunting concluded with : “In Rules for Radicals Alinsky also stressed, as one recent friendly commentator has put it, ‘that people should not underestimate the room to manoeuvre in democratic systems.’ Alinsky’s community organizing, he urged himself, could only survive in democratic societies underpinned by a working rule of law. Adding the white middle-class mainstream in America to the black ghettoes and Latino barrios was the wave of his radical organizing future.”

Leaders from Lake County United peoples’ organization in Libertyville, Illinois, at meeting on selling 19 acres of local township property for affordable housing, July 2017.

An entire section of Marion K. Sanders’s minor classic of the mid 1960s , The Professional Radical: Conversations with Saul Alinsky (originally in Harper’s magazine), is entitled “The Making of an Anti-Fascist.” Alinsky wore what was once this 1930s-1940s political terminology with serious distinction.

Those who want to wear the same clothes today should take a tip from former US President Barack Obama, and study the legacies of America’s great radical democratic community organizing guru much more closely. That at least is what I think when I hear people like Mark Bray talk about “Anti-Fascism” in Donald Trump’s America of 2017. (O … and Happy Labour Day 2017 too!)

August for the people 2017 : two top 10 lists Canada & global village + CelebJihad.com

Posted: August 23rd, 2017 | No Comments »

At the beach ... where we should all be in August.

TORONTO. AUGUST 22, 2017. It has been a strange-weather summer in the city this year. Right now we’re waiting for yet more rain.

(I spoke too soon. It has just come. And now the question is : when will it come again? Can we go for coffee later, across from the park?)

Meanwhile, it is another what’s-it-all-about-Alfie day here in the office. I sit at my computer, looking out the window at green-leaf trees, a fire escape, tin roofs, and the parking lot next door.

I click on the Toronto Star website, to see what is happening in the alleged great world. My own top 10 current headlines turn out to be (in alphabetical order) :

(1) Boris Spremo, former Toronto Star photographer, dies at 81 ;

(2) Cornwall councillors seek answers as hundreds of Haitian refugee claimants arrive in Ontario ;

(3) ‘Don’t look!’ yells White House staffer as Trump looks at solar eclipse without glasses ;

Looking at solar eclipse without glasses.

(4) Ford, Chinese carmaker consider joining forces for electric cars ;

(5) George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Drake among the stars coming to TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival] in September ;

(6) Incoming governor general Julie Payette drops fight to keep divorce records sealed ;

(7) Indian Muslim men can no longer instantly divorce their wives, top court rules ;

(8) Organized crime in the GTA is undergoing a power struggle, experts say ;

(9) People start hating their jobs at around age 35: survey ;

(10) Why Kathleen Wynne just won’t quit.

Then, somewhere in my internet travels, I bump into an intriguing site I am out-of-it enough not to know about already. It calls itself, in a clearly satirical mode, “the holy Islamic extremist gossip site CelebJihad.com.”

Whatever else, CelebJihad.com combines two things of great interest in the USA today (and/or  “the United States and Canada” too) :

Is this the real Kristen Stewart (or what about the rest of her supposed body, not shown here?)

(a) pornographic images of female celebrities, especially  from what CelebJihad.com calls “Zionist Hollywood” ;

(b) what some call “Islamic terrorists” and others call “jihadis” and the threats they pose to a more free and democratic (or at least peaceful) global village, or wherever else you choose to think you live.

I don’t want to go on here. And I certainly don’t want my wife and her friends thinking that I in any way endorse or recommend CelebJihad.com.

I’d just further note that : “The website started around … 2008, but it only came to the spotlight after it posted topless photos of singer Taylor Swift in 2011. Since then the site has managed to hog the attention with the help of fake photos and hoax articles.”

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Trump “unfit for command”(?), whales in Canadian waters, Brad Wall steps down, & “Our Lady of the Snows, 1911–1921”

Posted: August 12th, 2017 | No Comments »

Meeting of British empire’s Imperial War Cabinet, London, 1917. UK Prime Minister David Lloyd George is front row, fifth from left. Canadian PM Robert Borden is immediately to his right. Second from left, second row is the Maharaja of Bikaner, Ganga Singh, from India.

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. AUGUST 11, 2017. It is getting harder and harder for Canadians who watch US TV to know just what is going on in the American Republic led by President Donald Trump.

Rex Tillerson advises against losing sleep, with what looks like a smile. This may be the right worldly wisdom. But it is also hard not to at least sometimes wonder : Are millions of people actually going to have to die — likely including large enough numbers in and/or from North America — just to comfort the juvenile hearts and minds of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un?

Thoughts like this take wings when we learn from a Keith Olbermann tweet that, as reported in the Wall Street Journal : “Analysts are trying to work out what happens to markets in the event of an all-out nuclear war.” (Olbermann just says “All of them would die #Idiots.”)

Olbermann has also been tweeting : “This mentally unstable man must be removed … 25th Amendment … Impeachment … Any legal means to stop him … Mattis ignoring him.”

l–r : Canada PM Justin Trudeau, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, First Ministers’ Meeting, Ottawa, 2015.

This  reminds us of :“Brinkley: Trump is ‘unfit for command’ … Author and CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley [with a day job at Rice University in Houston, Texas] says the Trump White House is in ‘utter disarray’ and concludes that the president is ‘unfit for command.’ His message: ‘He thinks you can govern by chaos, and it’s not working.’”

Possibly at some other exotic extreme, in Canada our early August TV news reports that the “federal government is ordering large vessels to slow down in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as it tries to protect right whales who frequent the waters … Ten … have died in the gulf since early June … Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Transport Minister Marc Garneau were in Pointe-du-Chene, N.B., Friday to announce immediate temporary measures aimed at preventing further whale deaths.”

For political hardball, Saskatchewan’s once beloved premier Brad Wall has decided to step down. (“It has been and will always be the honour of my working life to serve as Premier of this Province that I love” ; “Stunning departure: Premier Wall announces his resignation.”)

See a Maclean’s article from this past June for deep background (Tammy Robert, “Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall problem.”) And note two helpful pieces on the CBC News site : Kendall Latimer on “Who will replace Brad Wall as Saskatchewan Party leader?” ; and  Éric Grenier on “Brad Wall’s departure highlights changing political landscape of Western Canada.”

“Justine Skye in white.” Compliments TierraAnyeaTv.

Talk about changing political landscapes also reminds us that we have just posted the latest installment of Randall White’s work-in-progress, Children of the Global Village — Canada in the 21st Century : Tales about the history that matters.

If you go to “Long Journey to a Canadian Republic” on the bar above (or just CLICK HERE), you will find a short introduction to this modern history of Canadian democracy, along with the “Prologue : too much geography.”

This is followed by links to the currently completed six chapters in Part I, four  chapters in Part II, and the first three chapters in Part III on the old Dominion of Canada. You will now find as well a link to Chapter 4 of PART III : THE DOMINION OF CANADA, 1867–1963, “Our Lady of the Snows, 1911–1921.”

Once more we caught up with Dr. White and his lovely business manager at the Tim Horton’s across from Kew Gardens in Toronto. He had a few quick thoughts on Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan, as well as Robert Borden as Canadian prime minister, in the second decade of the 20th century, which took in the First World War (in the days before nuclear weapons).

“Saskatchewan,” Dr. White remarked, “was the third most populous province in Canada, after Ontario and Quebec, from 1911 to 1941. Now it’s the sixth most populous province, after Ontario, Quebec, BC, Alberta, and Manitoba. Brad Wall was born in 1965. So you might say all this was before his time. But it was somehow still part of his political career. History can do strange things to politics, even when most people don’t know it.”