Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Canada Week: The Softening


It is reported (as of this writing) that fifty people are dead in Istanbul when as many as four suicide-bombers detonated their vests after a shoot-out:

A senior Turkish government official has told The Associated Press all initial indications suggest the Islamic State group is behind the attack at Istanbul's Ataturk airport.

The official also said nearly 50 people were killed in the attack Tuesday at the airport's international terminal and as many as four attackers may have been involved.

More to come. 

The Parliamentary Budget Officer warns what adults already know - that the government's spending is out-of-control

Canada’s total government spending is now on an unsustainable path, according to an independent watchdog.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer said Tuesday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has used up some of the federal government’s room for new spending and tax cuts that could be managed while maintaining the current debt-to-GDP ratio.

Canada’s provinces and other sub-national governments, however, are struggling. A commodities slump and rising health-care spending has worsened their outlook, which was already on an unsustainable path.

Total government sustainability has swung from net even last year to negative 0.6 per cent of gross domestic product — or roughly $11 billion in unsustainable spending annually. Trudeau’s push into deficit financing and reversal of a planned cut to seniors’ benefits are eating up room that balanced out the dour sub-national outlook.

You voted for it, Canada.

Canada lifts visa requirements for Mexicans:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would lift its controversial visa requirement for Mexican visitors before the end of the year, while Mexico said it would end long-standing restrictions on Canadian beef imports.

Because one voters block is not enough.

When will Arabic become the third official language?

Mahmud Kahwaji passed his road test on Monday in Sussex in his second attempt.

"I am very happy," said the Syrian refugee.

Kahwaji said he would usually call other people when he wanted to go somewhere but now he can travel alone.

Zakaria Al Sabagh is another refugee and also passed his road test Monday.

"I need to get a car now and take my family touring to see Canada everywhere and I need to find a job," said Al Sabagh. "I need to start again with my life."

Kahwaji and Al Sabagh are two of several Syrian refugees who already have licences despite not fully learning English yet.

The province offers the written test translated in Arabic and allows a translator during the road test.

The decision to offer the tests in Arabic was made in December by the province.

There is (or was) a reason why the language of majority had to be learned by new immigrants. Now that it's okay to live in culturally and linguistically separate enclaves in one country (that word is used in its loosest sense), the multicultural mosaic can grow and grow!

Speaking of mosaic....

There is more.

As is expected, the stupendously delighted people of New Brunswick get to watch as the powers-that-be contort themselves into unbelievable knots to either ignore hat is going on or excuse it.

My money is on the linguistic gap no one is in a rush to close.

Also: why Western feminists don't fight for Muslim women.

Wynne shuts up parents of autistic children restores some funding for autistic students:

Ontario is restoring some funding for kids with autism age five and older who were removed from a wait list for intensive therapy.

The Liberal government had announced that as part of a new Ontario Autism Program it would stop funding Intensive Behavioural Intervention for kids over four, instead transitioning them to what officials are calling a flexible service.

The government gave parents of children removed from the wait list $8,000 to pay for therapy during the transition period to the new program, but it wasn’t due to roll out until 2018 and parents said that money would only pay for, at most, a few months of therapy.

After a public outcry, the government is announcing today that those parents will be given direct funding – in successive payments of $10,000 – to pay for therapy until their child has a spot in the new program, or if they prefer, access to less intensive services funded by the government.

The government is also speeding up the transition to the new program, with a goal of implementing it in June 2017.

This should come as no surprise:

The federal government has identified a potential source of cash to help pay for Canada’s mounting infrastructure costs — and it could involve leasing or selling stakes in major public assets such as highways, rail lines, and ports.

A line tucked into last month’s federal budget reveals the Liberals are considering making public assets available to non-government investors, like public pension funds.

The Liberals are robbing the very people who plugged for them.

How delightful.

Again - what is the purpose of these forced parades?

I wonder if I’ll live to see gays apologize for violating other people’s rights to privacy and free association, simply for refusing to bake a cake or go along quietly with transgender bathrooms or whatever the next “Salem, not Selma” fad turns out to be. 

I do know there isn’t an annual parade for Emanuel Jaques.

And anyhow, “when you speak to any gay man in Toronto about the case, the first thing they say is the boy was no saint.”

Read the whole thing.

The Benghazi report has been released and it is as damning as when Obama first let J. Christopher Stevens die in Libya:

The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part I:
  • Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began. [pg. 141]
  • With Ambassador Stevens missing, the White House convened a roughly two-hour meeting at 7:30 PM, which resulted in action items focused on a YouTube video, and others containing the phrases “[i]f any deployment is made,” and “Libya must agree to any deployment,” and “[w]ill not deploy until order comes to go to either Tripoli or Benghazi.” [pg. 115]
  • The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff typically would have participated in the White House meeting, but did not attend because he went home to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries. [pg. 107]
  • A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times. [pg. 154]
  • None of the relevant military forces met their required deployment timelines. [pg. 150]
  • The Libyan forces that evacuated Americans from the CIA Annex to the Benghazi airport was not affiliated with any of the militias the CIA or State Department had developed a relationship with during the prior 18 months. Instead, it was comprised of former Qadhafi loyalists who the U.S. had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution. [pg. 144]

So the White House would rather focus on a video than flex its military muscle.

Why haven't the Americans impeached this man? Why?

But... but... Vladimir Putin is our friend!

Russian intelligence and security services have been waging a campaign of harassment and intimidation against U.S. diplomats, embassy staff and their families in Moscow and several other European capitals that has rattled ambassadors and prompted Secretary of State John F. Kerry to ask Vladimir Putin to put a stop to it.

(Sidebar: I'm sure he will, John.)
Once a KGB agent, always a KGB agent.

Despite the hysteria, the world will go on:

Is it any wonder that citizens of one of the greatest and strongest nations in human history would recoil from an international order that was proving mainly that it could enrich an elite without seeming to lift a finger to preserve the nation’s core values and traditions — the very things that had made it great and strong? Is it any wonder that citizens of other great countries are —wondering what loyalty they owe to that same elite? 
This allegiance to the failed experiment that was the European Union is a sort of emotional and political stunting that belies the intellectual bearing those who whine about Brexit pretend to have.

A pig is genetically more similar to a human than an ape but I'm sure people have thought that through:

Asking why an archaic human isn’t evolving from gorillas today is like asking why the children of your cousins don’t look more like you,” said Matt Tocheri, an anthropology professor at Lakehead University and a researcher in the National Museum of Natural History’s Human Origins Program. “Those creatures have been on their own lineage for 10 million years. You can’t go back up that lineage and back down again.”

Even if chimpanzees could suddenly develop the traits of an Australopithecus, they probably wouldn’t want to.

It’s easy to think about evolution as a linear, progressive drive toward greater and greater complexity, something that started with single-celled amoebas and ended with us. But evolution doesn’t have a destination, and even if it did, humans are certainly not it. In many cases, evolution tends to favor simplicity above all else. That’s why creatures that live in caves lose their eyes, and whales – who are descended from terrestrial mammals – have almost no leg bones. Not even intelligence is sacred: sea urchins, which have no central nervous system, evolved from an ancestor with a brain.

“Evolution is about survival under particular conditions, and random mutations,” says Nina Jablonski, a paleoanthropologist at Penn State. “There’s a big element of chance and certainly no element of direction. … Living things are just trying to adapt to the contingencies of life in their environment.”

And yet...

By the turn of the twentieth century, Darwin's Theory of Evolution was already falling out of favour as an explanation for evolution. With good reason. There were two very big holes in the initial theory. One was the explosion of life forms in the early Cambrian period. This seemed to happen with no transitional forms of life leading up to these species. The other was heredity. Darwin proposed that with the natural variations that occur in populations, any trait that is beneficial would make that individual more likely to survive and pass on the trait to the next generation. If enough of these selections occured on different beneficial traits you could end up with completely new species. But Darwin did not have an explanation for how the traits could be preserved over the succeeding generations. At the time, the prevailing theory of inheritance was that the traits of the parents were blended in the offspring. But this would mean that any beneficial trait would be diluted out of the population within a few generations. This is because most of the blending over the next generations would be with individuals that did not have the trait. Mendel had the answer to Darwin's problem. Traits were not blended, but inherited whole. And according to Mendel's laws of inheritance, a trait that might disappear in one generation might reappear in the following generation. Mendel's laws of inheritance was combined with Darwin's original theory to give us our modern Neo-Darwinism.  

When people speak of evolution, do they speak of the theory as it has evolved over time, or Darwin's theory, imperfect but sufficient for people who would rather close their minds than examine the entire issue?

Carry on.

If I were to see snow in July, would that be global cooling?

Leading climate doomsayer Michael Mann recently downplayed the importance of climate change science, telling Democrats that data and models “increasingly are unnecessary” because the impact is obvious.

And now, cool off with facts about gelato:

Although we don’t know the exact origins of gelato, ancient peoples in China and Egypt added fruit and salt to snow to make a primitive cold dessert. Ancient Roman emperors reportedly ate similar desserts, and this type of dessert is one of the myriad of culinary inventions that Catherine de' Medici is credited (rightly or wrongly) with bringing from Florence to Paris upon her 1533 marriage to the future King of France. But the lack of milk (Italians had used water instead) meant that early gelato more closely resembled sorbetto (a.k.a. sorbet).

(Merci beaucoup)

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