Canada changed in 2015, and Marshall McLuhan’s global village did too : Part I .. Paris, Alabama, Baltimore, Havana

Dec 18th, 2015 | By | Category: In Brief

President Barack Obama, our counterweights person of the year 2015 : “Negotiating a better price for his Kailua rental house” in Hawaii, where he will return for the holiday season this year, December 18 – January 2 (from the White House website, “2015 Obama Hawaii Vacation Photos.”)

We’re almost done with 2015. And we’ve divided our year-end review for what an editors general meeting has just decided will be our second last year of publication into four parts.

We’re using two different main sources for each part.

On the global village we’ve selected a dozen photos from the sample of Associated Press “top news images of 2015” posted on the CTV News site.

For the home and native land here in Canada we’ve selected one of our own counterweights articles for each month of the year.

The four parts into which we’ve divided our selections are chronological.

For our Canadian domestic articles from this site they follow the four financial quarters.

Marshall McLuhan (r) with Woody Allen in Annie Hall, 1977.

But the CTV sample of Associated Press top international news images does not cover every month of the year. (February and September are missing!) We’ve also supplemented our dozen images from this source with two photos from India News Bulletin, and one each from CBC News and the Calgary Herald.

Finally, we’re covering the global village up front on our home page. For the more domestic news from our own articles readers can click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll below.

To anticipate an ultimate conclusion, all editors present at the general meeting agreed that we have some vague initial sense of 2015 as a seminal year.

And Part I for Marshall McLuhan’s global village begins immediately below :

(1) France in 2015 had two grim encounters with what, in deference to American right-wing fanaticism, might be called fascist Islamo terrorism (or as a former Liberal Party of Canada leader has recently written, in the NewYork Review of Books, “jihadi nihilism”). The first was “The Charlie Hebdo Massacre in Paris” on Tuesday, January 7.

Our first AP photo (and accompanying caption) for the seminal year 2015 shows “French riot officers patrol in Longpont, north of Paris, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. Scattered gunfire and explosions shook the city as its frightened yet defiant citizens held a day of mourning for 12 people slain at the Paris newspaper Charlie Hebdo … (AP Photo/Thibault Camus).”

(2) Meanwhile, back in the USA it was a year of old memories. As just one sign there were echoes of the 1960s (which some of us still remember all too well).

In our second AP photo (and accompanying caption) : “A large crowd moves in a symbolic walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Selma, Alabama, to mark the 50th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday,’ a civil rights march in which protestors were beaten, trampled and tear-gassed by police at the bridge. (AP Photo/Butch Dill).”

(3) In what remains of whatever there is of a global “hegemon” today, 2015 also saw freshly troubling signs that some thorny American domestic issues from the 1960s still linger on, even under the first African American president.

Our third AP photo shows one case in point : “A protester throws a tear gas canister back toward riot police after a 10 pm curfew went into effect in the wake of Monday’s riots following the funeral for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray suffered a spinal injury in police custody and later died. (AP Photo/David Goldman).”

(4) There were some hopeful signs of change in progressive new directions this year too. Some had roots in the later days of 2014 — and the continuing too widely under-appreciated subtle talents and sheer practical achievements of US Democratic President Barack Obama (supplemented by defiant good global vibrations from the likes of the socialist president of the Fifth French republic, 1958–????).

In our fourth and final AP news image (and caption) in Part I of our four-part series : “Fidel Castro shakes hands with French President Francois Hollande … in Havana, Cuba, Monday, May 11, 2015. Hollande is the first French leader to visit the island nation in more than a century and also the first Western leader to travel to Cuba since the surprise announcement in December of a rapprochement between Washington and Havana. (AP Photo/Alex Castro).”

And again, for Part I of our modest but energetic and important-to-us Canadian counterpart to all this, from our own counterweights archives, click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll below! Or not, of course, of course …

Whatever you do, happy year-end holidays 2015, and stay tuned for Parts II, III, and IV of our allegedly insightful second-last year-end review! (And, say what you like : it has at the very least been an interesting year.)

* * * *

Here is Part I of the particular Canadian (+ North American) branch of our year-end review, from the counterweights archives for the first quarter of 2015:

(1) “Standing up for Canadian flag’s 50th birthday .. and Sarah Palin, Emma Holten, migrants to Canada and USA” … Jan 31st, 2015 …  By Citizen X and ending with, right at the start of the year : “Anyway, ave atque vale (“hail and farewell”), via con dios, till we meet again, etc, etc, etc, etc. And don’t forget : VOTE IN THE CANADIAN FEDERAL ELECTION OF 2015, PROBABLY ON OCTOBER 19.”

Lester Pearson and John Diefenbaker — two Canadian prime ministers of the 1960s, who disagreed about a Canadian flag.

For us at any rate something happened in Canada in 2015, and it finally goes beyond the replacement of the Stephen Harper Conservatives with a parliamentary majority and 39% of the cross-Canada popular vote by the Justin Trudeau Liberals with a parliamentary majority and 39% of the cross-Canada popular vote. (Even if all of us here were more than happy to see the end of Mr. Harper in Ottawa on October 19.)

One larger sign was the appearance (at least in Canada) of the Calgary-born-and-raised Hollywood comedy writer Rob Cohen’s 90-minute documentary Being Canadian in September 2015. (Even if it has earned a rating of only 5.9 out of 10 on IMDb, and the most apt review by Noah R. Taylor says it “feels like a rough cut, or a really good home movie,” full of “basically Dad jokes” that illustrate “why comedy writers need editors.”)

“Standing up for Canadian flag’s 50th birthday” was at least one of our attempts to contribute to the same current this year, starting as early as January 31. We didn’t quite notice at the time that Canada was getting its new independent-country flag in 1965 just as events like  ‘Bloody Sunday’ were exploding on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. But thinking about our year-end review has raised the matter now, and it may be worth thinking about further …

The lovely Emma Holten, in a consensual mood?

Meanwhile, “Standing up for Canadian flag’s 50th birthday” raised another deep enough question : “What kind of country celebrates its 150th birthday in 2017, but only the 50th birthday of its beloved flag in 2015 … And/or, that is to say, just what kind of a country is it that takes 98 years to come up with a flag ????”

With any luck we will come a little closer to an answer in 2016 … and regardless Canada will go on, and on, and on … (Oh and btw, we should also mention the “Consensual nude photo apostle, Emma Holten from Denmark,” who has happily helped make this article one of the year’s most recurrently popular on the counterweights site!)

(2) “Can the security card give Harper Conservatives new life in Quebec?” … Feb 14th, 2015 …  also by Citizen X.  The story of practical politics in 2015 at the federal level in Canada was all about waiting for the election that finally did come on Monday, October 19. And as early as Valentine’s Day there was polling data which almost presciently foreshadowed the outcome.

To start with,  the Harper Conservatives would finally do better in Quebec than ever before. And  playing “the security card” to the historic side of the province that once voted for the man at the centre of “Conrad Black’s biography of Maurice Duplessis” had something to do with this.

At the same time, doing at least better than before in Quebec would finally not be at all enough to stop the Justin-Trudeau-rock-star juggernaut.

And as Citizen X was advising counterweights readers as early as Valentines Day : “Before Conservative supporters start buying too many party hats, they might want to ponder the very latest poll results from Forum Research, just out yesterday, and taken this past Monday and Tuesday.  This ‘public opinion survey found the Liberals have 39% support, compared to 32%  for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives …  The Opposition NDP are at 17% .’”

These February 14 polling numbers were surprisingly close to what did finally happen on October 19 — Liberals 39.5%, Conservatives 31.9%, NDP 19.7%. And this finally did have a lot to do with what the Valentines Day Citizen X called Justin Trudeau’s “some kind of vague charisma that no other party leader shares.”

X at this point speculated as well that “Thomas ‘Tom’ Mulcair and the New Democrats in Quebec might still stage a dramatic comeback. Perhaps early in the summer …” [Even if he also mistakenly thought this might take place “when something happens internationally to improve the global glamour of some (but not all) old social democratic ideals.”]

(3) “Citizen X on Canada and the Great Golden State .. as observed from the north end of Monterey Bay” …  Mar 30th, 2015 …  by the Counterweights Editors (and Citizen X)! For a while now, the counterweights editors in Toronto have regularly visited their technical support staff currently ensconced south of the border.

Garden of former counterweights support staff headquarters in Palo Alto, California. It will prove a nest egg for further adventures.

This has given us (like many other traveling Canadians) some regular face-to-face contact with the land of the American cousins who keep sneezing and giving us colds, etc.

The first of our two adventures of this sort in 2015 focused on the Golden State of California, with special reference to the City of Santa Cruz — “on the northern edge of Monterey Bay, about 32 mi (51 km) south of San Jose and 75 mi (120 km) south of San Francisco … part of the 12-county San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Combined Statistical Area” (otherwise known as the Bay Area or even Silicon Valley or even just Northern California, etc ).

Our March 30 report on all this focused on three things about the Golden State :

* while not all that vast geographically, it actually has somewhat more people than the home and native land — “approximately 38.8 million people” compared to “all of Canada at 35.7 million!” in current round numbers.

* “what the US Census Bureau calls Latinos now account for 39% of the state’s population, compared with ‘38.8% white non-Hispanic, 13% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 5.8% black non-Hispanic, and less than 1% Native American.’ This makes California ‘only the second state, behind New Mexico, where whites are not the majority and Latinos are the plurality.’”

* “The big key current issue in California that Bill Maher says everyone ought to be talking about is drought.”

Meanwhile, Citizen X wrote “‘A verse of 52 lines in four parts’ under the title ‘Great Golden State … (As observed from the north end of Monterey Bay)’”… And this tried to summarize something about the 2015 mood in the City of Santa Cruz (population c. 63,000).

“Warriors star Steph Curry, his wife Ayesha, and ... Toronto’s own ... rap star Drake were spotted at the In-N-Out Burger in Alameda, Calif. on Wednesday, December 16, 2015. (Courtesy Latrell Conley/@iloveyoutrell_).”"

Neither X nor the editors noted that, eg, “in 2003, the Santa Cruz City Council became the first City Council in the US to denounce the Iraq War. The City Council of Santa Cruz also issued a proclamation opposing the USA PATRIOT Act … As a center of liberal and progressive activism, Santa Cruz became one of the first cities to approve marijuana for medicinal uses.”

But we have done that just now.

X did end his verse with “As the shoreline curves around toward the north, / And I wonder what world history will bring forth next / In the land of the Golden State Warriors.”

As of Friday morning, December 18, 2015 we can now report that “Splash Bros. score 68, Warriors rebound from first loss with blowout.” (Or the Warriors were astonishingly undefeated for their first 24 games this 2015–2016 NBA season, and have now recovered after their first tragic loss! Stay tuned here, as everywhere else this year.)

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