Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016

“O Canada” Goes Gender-Neutral

The True North is still strong and free, but now it includes everyone.

Canadian lawmakers have voted to change the country’s national anthem to make the lyrics gender neutral, a move that comes as the new Liberal government focuses on being more inclusive toward women.

The bill would change the English version of O Canada to remove the words “in all thy sons command” and replace them with “in all of us command”.

It must be nice to live in a place where that’s something worth doing something about.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Short Takes

Senate confirms Eric Fanning, first openly gay Secretary of the Army.

TSA apologizes, promises hundreds of new staffers at O’Hare.

Senate passes bill to allow 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia.

Human error, high speed blamed for deadly train wreck in Philadelphia last year.

Better late than never: Court orders Mississippi school district to desegregate.

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau introduces bill to protect transgender rights.

The Tigers beat the Twins 7-2.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stamp of Approval

As Bryan notes, while some people are upset that the U.S. Treasury is replacing one of America’s worst presidents on the $20 bill with a woman worthy of being honored, Canada is boldly going where no postcard has gone before.

When Star Trek first aired on TV decades ago, the crew members of the Enterprise were in the midst of a five-year mission “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Lately, however, its well-known characters have been going to a place where many people have gone before — onto stamps being pasted on envelopes mailed by Canadians.

Canada Post has been rolling out a series of Star Trek-themed stamps, one at a time, in honour of the iconic TV show’s 50th anniversary.

I think they’re trying to make up for sending us Justin Bieber and Ted Cruz.  It’s a start.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Short Takes

Nine dead from 6.4 earthquake in Japan.

Canada proposes a physician-assisted suicide law.

Microsoft sues U.S. over gag orders on search warrants.

Coal in the red: Peabody Energy files for Chapter 11.

R.I.P. Anne Jackson, legendary actor on stage and screen.

The Tigers beat the Pirates 7-4.

Friday, March 11, 2016

He Shoots, He Scores

President Obama had some fun last night during his toast to Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau at the state dinner at the expense of Ted Cruz:

“We see this in our current presidential campaign.Where else could a boy born in Calgary run for president of the United States?” Obama asked in an allusion to Cruz whose eligibility to run for the White House has been called into question by Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

“Where else would we see a community like Cape Breton, Nova Scotia welcoming Americans if the election does not go their way?” Obama asked. “And to the great credit of their people, Canadians from British Columbia to New Brunswick have, so far, rejected the idea of building a wall to keep out your southern neighbors. We appreciate that. We can be unruly, I know.”



Short Takes

President Obama welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to the White House.

Michigan Gov. Snyder released more e-mails related to Flint’s water crisis.

Trump supporter charged with assaulting protestor.  (Yes, he was wearing a brown shirt.)

Senate votes 94-1 to pass bill to combat drug abuse.

Brazil seeks to arrest ex-president for graft.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

Calgary Stampede

There are a lot of reasons Ted Cruz should be kept as far away from the Oval Office as possible, and the question of his “natural born” status is way down there on the list.  After all, if Barack Obama can be born in Hawaii and no one has problem with that, then… oh wait.

Anyway, now the Republicans are beginning to raise the issue of Mr. Cruz’s citizenship status more as a way to tweak his nose — he’s universally despised by his fellow Senate members — than a serious question about his eligibility to actually serve in office.  It sounds like they’re having fun with it.

So we’re entitled to savor some schadenfreude now as Cruz himself gets caught in the birther web. Donald Trump’s questioning of Cruz’s status as a natural-born American and, therefore, his eligibility to be president is rough justice. Cruz, like Trump, has stoked the fires of resentment and xenophobia, so it’s entirely fitting that he gets burned.


Like Cruz foe John McCain (the 2008 Republican presidential nominee said Cruz’s eligibility is a “legitimate question”), Democratic leaders have been happy to see Cruz twist in the wind. “I do think there is a distinction between John McCain being born to a family serving our country in Panama and someone born in another country,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Thursday.

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald

But there may be something worth looking into back up in Canada.  In 2013 TPM found documentation that Ted Cruz’s mother was a registered voter in Calgary, Alberta.

TPM shared an electronic copy of the document with Sen. Cruz’s office when it originally obtained the document in 2013. Cruz’s then-communications director, Sean Rushton, emphasized that the document is not a record of people who actually voted in any election. He further pointed out that the document itself provides notice that “applications for corrections,” “deletions from,” and “additions to” the list may have been necessary.

“At least one other error is evident on its face: the name of Sen. Cruz’s father is misspelled,” Rushton told TPM in his 2013 statement. “Regardless, Mrs. Cruz has never been a Canadian citizen, and she has never voted in any Canadian election.”

TPM eventually decided not to publish an article based on the document at the time, in part because Cruz was not yet a candidate for president. TPM decided to revisit the story earlier this week as rival Donald Trump renewed his skepticism about Cruz’s eligibility, moving the story to the center of the campaign, and was prepared to publish this evening.

Then late Friday afternoon, published an article about the same document TPM had shared with Cruz’s office in 2013, a voter list for the southern district of Calgary, alongside a lengthy, exclusive statement from the Cruz campaign.

Jason Johnson, Cruz’s chief campaign strategist, said in the statement that candidate’s mother “was never a citizen of Canada.” He added that she could not have been a Canadian citizen at the time her son was born because of residency requirements. Eleanor Cruz was born in Delaware, while her ex-husband, Rafael Cruz, was born in Cuba, obtained Canadian citizenship while living in Calgary and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in the mid-2000s.

The document in question is a voter list of individuals who lived in the southern district of the city of Calgary, were over the age of 18 and were Canadian citizens, thus eligible to vote.

In accordance with the Canadian Election Act, such lists were compiled in the 1970s by a pair of officials, called enumerators, who went door-to-door together in an electoral district to ascertain the name, address and occupation of any person qualified to vote. The statute states that enumerators who “willfully and without reasonable excuse” added a name to the list “of any person who is not entitled to have his name entered thereon” forfeited pay for their services and were be subject to other punishments.

Another election official, called a returning officer, then reviewed the list. The statute states that the returning officer could not certify the document if he believed the list contained the name of any person who shouldn’t be included. The document obtained by TPM was certified in Calgary by a returning officer.

In 2013, a Canadian elections official told TPM that in the process of compiling the list, enumerators asked people to affirm that they were Canadian citizens.

“So when they knock on doors, they ask them: are you Canadian citizens, are you 18 years of age or older, and are you a resident in this facility and how long have you been living here?” Drew Westwater, the director of election operations and communications for Elections Alberta, told TPM. “If they meet all that criteria then they add them to the list, take their name and addresses and anyone else who’s living there. And they ask, is anyone else living here a Canadian citizen 18 years of age or older? And if they are, then they take their names from them at the door. And that’s the way it worked in those days.”

The Raphael and Eleanor Cruz listed on the document clearly appear to be Cruz’s parents. The spelling of Cruz’s father’s name is anglicized to “Raphael” rather than the correct spelling “Rafael” and his occupation is listed as self-employed; at the time, the Cruzes worked in the oil industry running a seismic data-processing business.

To confirm the Cruzes’ identity, TPM cross-referenced the address listed for the couple on the southern district voter list with Calgary city directories for the years 1971-1974.

Most of the directories listed the Cruzes as living at the northwest Calgary address where it’s been reported that Ted Cruz was born. The address listed for the couple in the 1973 city directory matched the address on 1974 voter list and further listed both Cruzes as executives of the data-processing firm.

According to phone books from 1971, 1972 and 1973, Cruz’s parents were the only individuals with the surname Cruz living in Calgary.

There’s no proof that Mrs. Cruz ever voted in an election in Canada, but showing up on a voter list at least raises the question as to what she was doing on it.

If the schadenfreude fits, enjoy it.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

End Of The Line

Via TPM:

TORONTO (AP) — The company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S Gulf Coast has asked the U.S. State Department to pause its review of the project.

TransCanada said Monday a suspension would be appropriate while it works with Nebraska authorities for approval of its preferred route through the state. The move comes before the Obama administration was widely expected to reject it.

Historically low oil prices have also undercut the financial logic of the project.

Note that the company asked for a suspension, not a full-out okay-we-give-up, but they might as well; it’s like when a candidate pulling in .05% of the vote in a poll decides to “suspend” their campaign.  It sounds temporary, but it’s over.

And the earth breathes a small sigh of relief.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wow, Canada

Canada tosses the Conservatives out.  Via the Toronto Star:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

That title, which seemed improbable a mere 11 weeks ago, is now set to become a reality after the Liberals’ historic, come-from-behind election result, besting incumbent Conservatives and hopeful New Democrats in one of the country’s longest and costliest elections.

“Canadians from all across this great country sent a clear message tonight. It’s time for change in this country my friends, real change,” Trudeau said in Montreal.

“A positive, optimistic hopeful vision of public life isn’t a naive dream. It can be a powerful force for change.”

The election ushers in a new era for Canada as Trudeau was swept to power on a vow to change how Canadians were governed and a commitment to end what he branded as the Conservatives’ divisive style of politics.

Preliminary results had the Liberals at 185 seats, comfortably more than the 170 seats needed for a majority government in the expanded 338-seat House of Commons. It’s a stunning rebound for a party that had been knocked down to 34 seats in the 2011 election and left for dead.

The Conservatives won 101 seats, the New Democrats 41, the Bloc Québécois 10 and the Green Party had one seat, won by leader Elizabeth May.

The day was a humiliating loss for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, who has served as prime minister since 2006, and a crushing night for NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

Harper, who had led his Conservatives to three successive victories, immediately signalled he would be stepping down as leader and instructed the Conservative party to appoint an interim leader and launch a process to select a new leader, according to a party statement.

Let’s hope that this sets an example for their neighbor that’s planning on an election in the near future.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Election Day

Canadians go to the polls today to elect a new Parliament.  Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has held the office for nine years, is in deep enough trouble that he’s been campaigning with Rob Ford, the former mayor of Toronto, who left office under a cloud of cocaine.

The tea-leaf readers are saying that the Liberals under the leadership of Justin Trudeau will win enough seats to oust Mr. Harper but not enough to have a majority, so he will have to form some kind of coalition with the New Democratic Party, which is, on the U.S. scale, the socialist party.

If you’re voting in Canada, here’s a handy map to find your riding.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Reading

Ted Cruz Is Dangerous — Simon Maloy at Salon on the Texas senator’s over-the-top rhetoric.

You’ve probably noticed by now, but Ted Cruz can sometimes be a bit melodramatic. The junior senator from Texas and 2016 candidate has been known to worry out loud about “tens of millions Americans dying” at the hands of Iranian sci-fi weaponry. He has a habit of calling the sitting president as a sponsor of terrorism. And when he was asked for his reaction to the first 2016 Democratic primary debate earlier this week, Cruz let rip with a characteristic mix of hair-on-fire nonsense.

“It was more socialism, more pacifism, more weakness and less Constitution,” Cruz said to a crowd of Iowa supporters. “It was a recipe to destroy a country.” Cruz hadn’t actually seen the debate, as the Dallas Morning News noted, so to cover all the bases he shifted from describing the Democrats as feckless weaklings to authoritarian dictators-in-waiting. “We’re seeing our freedoms taken away every day and last night was an audition for who would wear the jackboot most vigorously,” he told reporters. “Last night was an audition for who would embrace government power for who would strip your and my individual liberties.”

That’s inflammatory rhetoric for a semi-credible major party presidential candidate to be tossing around. And while it’s easy to dismiss this stuff as posturing and pandering for the hardcore conservative voters that form Cruz’s base, there’s a deeper significance to it, as Ed Kilgore rightly points out:

Cruz is one of those presidential candidates (along with Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee for sure; the exact position of several others is unclear) who claim the Second Amendment gives Americans the right to revolutionary violence against their own government if it engages in “tyranny” or doesn’t respect our rights.

This is an argument Cruz makes with some frequency: you need guns to protect yourself against government tyrants. And there he is on the campaign trail describing the opposition party candidates as would-be tyrants, fitting themselves for jackboots. His response to this summer’s Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage was to describe it as “the very definition of tyranny.” His official statement on the arrest of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis for refusing to do her job declared that “judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny.” He opposed Obama’s executive order on immigration by invoking “despotic executives” and “unaccountable monarchs.” If you hear all this, and you also hear Ted Cruz say you need a gun to ward off tyranny, you have to start to wonder when people begin putting two and two together.

Why Hillary Clinton’s E-mail Problem Won’t Go Away — AJ Vicens at Mother Jones explains.

Sen. Bernie Sanders delivered one of the most enthusiastic applause lines of the first Democratic presidential debate when he came to Hillary Clinton’s defense over her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. After CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Clinton about her upcoming testimony in front of Congress related to her emails, she offered the same answer she has repeatedly given in response.

“I’ve taken responsibility for it,” she said. “I did say it was a mistake.” She then employed her recent campaign strategy of linking the criticism of her email setup to the heavily politicized House Select Committee on Benghazi, which she described as “basically an arm of the Republican National Committee.”

But before everybody moved on, Sanders weighed in. “I think the secretary is right,” he said. “And that is, I think the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” Clinton smiled and thanked him, and the crowd roared its approval.

But some Americans are not sick and tired of her damn emails, and they want to hear more. The Republican members of the Benghazi committee and FBI investigators, who are currently looking into how classified material ended up on the server, are well-known examples. But there are also 32 separate lawsuits related to public-records requests for the disputed emails from Clinton and some top staffers during her time as secretary of state.

These requesters range from media outlets to Republican activists. Many of the suits are focused on specific foreign policy issues that she was likely to have addressed while secretary of state. Just last week, a federal judge denied a State Department request to assign a judge to coordinate all the cases. The State Department argued that because the cases are at various stages in front of 17 different judges, the situation was rife with “confusion, inefficiencies, and advantages given to some requesters at the expense of others.”

In denying the State Department’s request, the judge said there was already informal coordination to try to limit conflicting orders and search requirements, and also expressed doubt that the records would continue to be produced on schedule if a coordinating judge were to be assigned.

So, for now, the State Department and other government agencies will continue to manage each case individually.

Trudeaumania 2.0 — Jeremy Keehn at The New Yorker reports on the ascent of Justin Trudeau in the Canadian campaign.

For nearly a decade, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has confounded many observers’ view of Canada as an open and pluralistic society with an idealistic global face. Its perceived sins have included opposing abortion funding in developing countries, stridently backing Israel, and oil-drenched climate villainy. Its diplomatic posture has at times been belligerent, and even militaristic. To some, the country has come to seem practically un-Canadian.

Harper, who has led the Conservative Party (and its antecedent) since 2002, called this year’s election earlier than expected, in early August, setting the date as this Monday, October 19th. His gamble with the long campaign—it will be more than double the length of the previous two—was that the Conservatives could use their considerable fundraising advantage to beat back the threat posed by the traditionally progressive New Democratic Party, led by Thomas Mulcair, which held just under a third of the three hundred and eight seats in Parliament at dissolution, and the Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau, which had barely a tenth. At the outset, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s poll average showed the Conservatives and N.D.P. in a dead heat, with the Liberals five points back. Since then, the campaign has wound through stretches of scandal (the fraud trial of a Conservative senator), sorrow (the publication of a photo of a Syrian toddler who died en route to Europe, and whose family had hoped to immigrate to Canada), more scandal (the departures of candidates and apparatchik from several parties, most memorably a former repairman who’d been filmed peeing in a client’s coffee mug), and xenophobia (by the Conservatives, following a court decision allowing women to wear the niqab during citizenship ceremonies).

Toward the end of September, the polls began a shift that has crystallized in the campaign’s final days. The N.D.P.’s support began to plummet, and the Liberals, who were decimated in the last election, in 2011, under Michael Ignatieff, began to vie with the Conservatives for the lead. In the past week, the Liberals have jumped ahead, and they now sit above thirty-five per cent, four and a half points clear of the Conservatives and twelve ahead of the N.D.P. A substantial contingent of Canadians will vote for whomever offers the best chance to defeat Harper, and that bloc appears to be coalescing behind Justin Trudeau, who was feeling confident enough this week that he asked voters to give the Liberals a majority.

A Liberal victory would be an operatic turn in a long-running Canadian psychodrama. No leader played as great a role in fostering the perception of a pluralistic and idealistic Canada than Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre, who was Prime Minister for the better part of sixteen years, starting in 1968. Canada officially adopted bilingualism and multiculturalism during his tenure, forerunners to his crowning achievement: the patriation, in 1982, of the Constitution, which ended the U.K.’s legislative power over the country and included passage of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a bill of political and civil rights. (A 2012 study published in the New York University Law Reviewfound that the Charter is now the constitutional document most emulated by other countries.) Trudeau, a self-confident public intellectual, was also among the most galvanizing leaders that Canada has had. Writing in The New Yorker in 1969, Edith Iglauer described the elder Trudeau’s maiden election campaign as Liberal leader: “His every quip made the headlines, and he was photographed dancing in the streets and kissing his way across the country…. Trudeau’s charm produced a nationwide reaction so powerful that it was given a name of its own—‘Trudeaumania.’ ”

 Doonesbury — College chumps.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Holiday

To some, today is Columbus Day. In some places, school is out and it’s a holiday. Not in Miami-Dade County, though, which means I’m at work, and to some people, celebrating the arrival of Christopher Columbus is seen as not necessarily a good thing.

In Canada, it’s Thanksgiving Day. That means they get a six-week jump on Christmas shopping. I am sure they are thrilled to be inundated with jingling bells and heralding angels before the leaves are off the maples.

Anyway, enjoy the holiday if you celebrate it.

Canadian Thanksgiving