Daily Archives: November 6, 2020

9 New Books We Recommend This Week – The New York Times

Posted: November 6, 2020 at 8:59 am

PIRANESI, by Susanna Clarke. (Bloomsbury, $27.) Clarkes long-awaited second novel is a haunting study of confinement and solitude. Piranesi lives in a house of many halls, filled with statues and flooded periodically by tides; within his meticulous journal entries lies the mystery of his strange and beautiful world, and of the curious figures who inhabit it. That Clarke herself has wrestled for years with an elusive illness further illuminates the secluded world of Piranesi, which so thoroughly captures the isolation of this moment, Amal El-Mohtar writes in her latest science fiction and fantasy column. But I dont want to risk reducing the plenitude of this novel to allegory: It is rich, wondrous, full of aching joy and sweet sorrow.

BLAND FANATICS: Liberals, Race, and Empire, by Pankaj Mishra. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) In a collection of essays written since 2008, Mishra challenges Americas conception of itself and urges the country to rethink its place in the world. His goal is to shake up settled liberal assumptions and force a reckoning with capitalism and imperialism. Theres enough truth in Mishras alternative history for it to stand as a useful corrective to the Grand Narrative that still maintains a firm grip on the imagination of many in the West, Damon Linker writes in his review. As a goad to liberal self-criticism, Mishra is well worth reading.

A LOVERS DISCOURSE, by Xiaolu Guo. (Grove, $26.) A romance blossoms in London between a Chinese graduate student and an Australian-German landscape architect. Set against the backdrop of the Brexit debate, Guos novel presents a vivid and mischievous survey of cultural difference and the perplexing questions that love demands. What propels the book forward is in part the sense of suspense that hangs over the nascent relationship: Has our heroine made an enormous mistake? our reviewer, Marcel Theroux, writes. But theres also something compelling about the breadth of the world the narrator inhabits. Its capacious enough to touch on moments of real darkness, while somehow managing to be mordant, funny and, ultimately, life-affirming.

UNDAUNTED: My Fight Against Americas Enemies, at Home and Abroad, by John O. Brennan. (Celadon, $30.) The former director of the Central Intelligence Agency recounts his career as Americas spy chief while lashing into Donald Trump for disparaging the intelligence community. Brennans memoir presents a rich portrait of his unusual life, which took him from a working-class New Jersey neighborhood to a position as a Middle East specialist who met with kings and presidents and witnessed the rise of Al Qaeda, Charlie Savage writes in his review. His reflections on his long and momentous career are a worthy addition to the available history of the post-9/11 era.

CONDITIONAL CITIZENS: On Belonging in America, by Laila Lalami. (Pantheon, $25.95.) In her deeply felt first nonfiction book, Lalami recounts her disillusionment in the wake of becoming an American citizen 20 years ago. As an immigrant, an Arab and a Muslim, she argues, she understands what its like for a country to embrace you with one arm and push you away with the other. Reviewing the book, Sonia Nazario writes that conditional citizens, in Lalamis account, are not allowed to dissent or question the choices of their government; if they do, they are viewed with suspicion, their allegiance to their new country questioned. Lalami shows how our nations schizophrenia toward immigrants Immigrants built this great country! We are a nation of immigrants! Immigrants bring disease, crime and rob us of our jobs! can give conditional citizens whiplash as they are simultaneously regarded as Americas best hope and its gravest threat.

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"This Land Is Your Land": The truth behind the song The Review – University of Delaware Review

Posted: at 8:59 am

Courtesy of npr.org/THE REVIEW This Land is Your Land is an oft-remembered patriotic tune. But how much do you really know about it?


Can you fill in the blank?

This land is your land, this land is __ ___.

If you have lived in the United States of America for a certain amount of time, it is likely that you can recognize this song at the drop of a hat. Ingrained into memories with each passing Independence Day barbecue, political rally and campfire sing-along, This land is your land by Woody Guthrie seemingly seeps with American patriotism or does it? The history behind one of Americas favorite songs is far more complex than it may seem.

While politics and music have frequently overlapped throughout American history, according to university professor Philip Gentry, the trend of writing overtly political or partisan folk style music started roughly in the 1930s. It emerged out of what is called the Popular Front a broad coalition of different political groups, some being communists, socialists and liberals.

The American left had made a concerted effort to adopt more populist aesthetics and culture as part of their organizing efforts, Gentry says.

According to Gentry, it was around this time that the left side of the political spectrum very purposely took advantage of populist music, that being folk music, in order to relate to the average American.

The most famous example of this would be the Seeger family. Charles Seeger and Ruth Crawford Seeger were modernist American musicians who composed in what Gentry called an ultra modern, avante garde fashion. Being the committed leftists they were, they made a shift away from modernism into folk music. Charles Seegers son is Pete Seeger, famed American folk singer and friend to the late Woody Guthrie. Another example would be Aaron Copeland, who also started his career in a very extravagant, modernist style. When the 1930s hit, his style shifted into something that, while not folk, was far more populist.

To be clear, the lefts shift into populist music was not something necessarily welcomed by society. It was during this time that WWII was still ongoing and America had allied itself with the USSR in order to defeat Nazi Germany. According to Gentry, this allyship was a tenuous relationship at its very best. As WWII came to a close, there was what Gentry described as a sense of dividing the world between these two superpowers.

They were worried that there were too many left wing people in the American government and that they were secretly working for the Soviet Union, Gentry says of the perspective of most anti-communists at the time.

Gentry made clear that while this may have been the case for some people in the U.S. government, the government mostly consisted of leftover liberals from the Roosevelt administration who were uninvolved in any sort of treason. Gentry also states that this feeling of paranoia of communism was further perpetuated in reaction against the New Deal, put forward by Franklin Roosevelt, and by the fact that in the late 1940s, the communists achieved victory in China.

So if there was sort of a feeling amongst the United States of losing parts of the world to communism, Gentry says. And there was this sort of sense that communism was insidious. That it wasnt like fighting the Nazis where you went into battle. It was something that would sneak in and come to you and your home. That it might brainwash you in some fashion.

And from this fear rose McCarthyism, a campaign against alleged communists in the U.S. government and other institutions carried out under Senator Joseph McCarthy. It was during this time that McCarthy, as well as numerous other government officials, produced a series of hearings and investigations.

Various famed actors, authors, producers, entertainers and musicians especially folk singers were blacklisted during this time for suspected communist involvement.

Given that the folk music scene was an extremely political space at the time, the mainstream music industry tried to distance itself from folk music out of fear of persecution and stigmatization. It was during the 1940s that the mainstream music industry started going through a transition of which folk music, which varied stylistically across the country, would undergo a process of consolidation, so that, essentially, all music consumed by more rural audiences would be put into one category.

In fact, according to Gentry, prior to 1949, Billboard had a music chart titled Hillbilly Records. In search for a less offensive and more inclusive name, the company briefly considered coming up with a name that included the word folk in it. However, out of a desire to distance themselves from the left, they titled it Country and Western, giving rise to the popular music genre many know today.

Folk singers, including Guthrie, emerged from the aforementioned Popular Front. As times passed in the 1940s, the folk revival moved to very urban areas, creating a juxtaposition between a very liberal movement and McCarthyism.

The folk revival moves to very urban areas, Gentry says. Woody Guthrie himself moved to New York City because hes having trouble getting played on radio stations and other markets. So he ends up as part of this revival in New York City with people like Pete Seeger, Lead Belly, the Lomax family and all those sorts of people. So its really out of that that This Land Is Your Land merges.

Woody Guthrie originally wrote This Land is Your Land in 1940 when he first arrived in New York City from Oklahoma. The song was written as a parody of God Bless America, which dominated the airwaves at the time.

God Bless America was written by Irving Berlin, famed composer and lyricist of many smash hits such as White Christmas and Theres No Business Like Show Business.He was also part of what was called Tin Pan Alley, a collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the airwaves at the time.

According to Gentry, Guthrie and many of his folk acquaintances most likely took issue with the commercialized and jingle-ized form of music that was God Bless America, inspiring him to parody it.

I think they found it kind of nativist and jingle-istic in a lot of ways, Gentry says. I think it was also just really omnipresent as a form of commercial pop music that you couldnt escape.

According to Gentry, Guthrie never necessarily prescribed a political alliance that in turn inspired him to parody the song.

[Guthrie] was never actually like a doctrinaire ideological member of a specific organization or something like that, Gentry says. I think it was more intuitive to sort of like anger at the nationalism of rah rah America.

Gentry went on to explain that another issue that people on the left seemed to take with the song was the blatant nationalism of the song in combination with the religious message.

The left position on that is, first of all, often anti-nationalist, Gentry says, describing the left political perspective of the time. Like God doesnt bless countries. [Like even] if youre religious, he doesnt bless specific countries in that sense. Its like nation states are not exactly a spiritual formation.

Some of the lyrics to Guthries original version of the song included:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.The sign was painted, said Private Property.But on the backside, it didnt say nothing.This land was made for you and me.

While this verse was recorded in 1944 by Moses Asch, it was never released. In fact, this version of the song was almost lost until it was once again unearthed in 1997.

Additionally, there were even more radical verses that Guthrie wrote but never officially recorded. This verse was scribbled on a loose-leaf sheet of paper found in the archives of Guthries daughter:

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple,by the relief office I saw my people.As they stood hungry,I stood there wondering if God blessed America for me.

Additional removed lyrics include:

Nobody living can ever stop me,As I go walking that freedom highway;Nobody living can ever make me turn backThis land was made for you and me.

Gentry explains that these lyrics may not have been necessarily removed for a nefarious reason. At the time, folk music was being adopted as childrens music for educational purposes a process that the Seegers were involved in. Therefore, in order to be more child-friendly and universal, it could be likely that these verses were naturally phased out of the song.

However, later in Guthries life, he was blacklisted just as he began experiencing symptoms of Huntingtons Disease an illness that would lead to his demise. His close friend, Pete Seeger, was denounced as a communist and blacklisted as well. The Weavers, a folk quartet, lost their recording contract, could not book concerts and their recordings could not be played on the radio.

Treatment of folk singers at the time had a deep impact on the folk revival with groups such as the Kingston Trio trying to avoid any political or social commentary in an attempt to achieve success without being labeled as communists.

Guthrie died in 1967 from complications of Huntingtons Disease. In the time since, Pete Seeger, alongside Guthries son, Arlo, have made a point of singing This Land is Your Lands more radical verses. In fact, at the 2008 inauguration of President Obama, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger and Tao Rodrguez-Seeger sung this song with many of its radical verses intact.

Gentry explained that even today, many political campaigns will identify with music, though partisanship may not be as obvious from the lyrics of the song.

But I think it is sometimes not legible in interesting ways, Gentry says, explaining that partisanship of the music may not be obvious to various audiences.

However, some songs are so closely affiliated with campaigns that it is hard to ignore the correlation. For example, when Hilary Clinton campaigned in 2016, a song that played frequently at her events was Fight Song by Rachel Platten. When Bill Clinton ran for office in 1992, Dont Stop by Fleetwood Mac was often played at his events.

So there is tons of political music happening out there, Gentry says. I think it suffuses the popular music charts in a lot of ways. But it doesnt always mark itself legibly in the way that a left wing folk ballad of the 60s said I am political, but theres lots of other ways for music to be political.

Gentry also makes an interesting point about music once it leaves its maker. He notes that the Trump campaign has recently been playing Macho Man by the Village People a gay club anthem from the 70s at their rallies. Another song often played at Republican rallies is Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen, which takes a very critical look at the de-industrialization of the Reagan era. The original intent by the creators of either of these songs do not necessarily correlate with the message of the campaigns but are nonetheless frequently played.

Thats how music works, Gentry says. The people who write them arent in charge of them after theyre done.

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Land, buildings from shuttered college campus to be auctioned – wcia.com

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Posted: Nov 5, 2020 / 01:08 PM CST / Updated: Nov 5, 2020 / 01:08 PM CST

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) After a permanent closing earlier this year, MacMurray College officials are readying a property auction next week thats aimed at covering some of the troubled institutions debt.

The auction slated for November 12 is the second auction the college has had since announcing in March that insufficient funding, declining enrollment and rising costs prompted its board of trustees to vote on closing the school for good in May.

Items like furniture and other memorabilia were auctioned off earlier this fall; now up for bid are 18 land tracts and buildings on the 60-acre campus. Available for viewing online already, the outdoor auction starts at 10 a.m. that Thursday morning.

The tracts were organized based on potential reuse for educational purposes or other uses by community groups, according to a press release from the college.

And while officials acknowledged the onset of the coronavirus pandemic didnt help matters for the 174-year-old college, they emphasized the decision to close was in the making long before 2020.

In 2015, former president Colleen Hester and the board of trustees retired certain, traditional liberal arts majors in an effort to draw more students in for market-aligned majors.

By 2018, the Higher Learning Commission decided to take MacMurray off academic probation noting the colleges success in building enrollments and significantly increasing fundraising.

But after continued crunching of the numbers, the schools board of trustees decided that MacMurray had no viable financial path forward. Officials had created a plan to change the colleges business model by adding more professional degree programs and drawing in more nontraditional students, but werent able to raise enough money to implement the changes.

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New deer zones, early dove season and the return of sandhill crane hunting – alreporter.com

Posted: at 8:59 am

Over the next few weeks, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management will hold public hearings on the regulated closures of three coal combustion residuals storage sites, commonly referred to as coal ash ponds.

While ADEM receives high marks from federal regulators and businesses within Alabama, there is always a certain skepticism that surrounds environmental issues both on the left and the right side of the political spectrum.

Recently,APR spoke with ADEM Director Lance LeFleur to understand the process and how the public could be assured that steps taken would lead to a safe and effective outcome.

I know that theres skepticism about government, LeFleur said. And its healthy to have skepticism about government, state governments, local government, federal government. Skepticism is part of how we operate. But LeFleur wants the public to know that ADEMs first purpose is Alabamians health and safety.

Our mission is to ensure for all Alabamians a safe, healthful and productive environment, LeFleur said. Its a mission that ADEM and its nearly 600 employees take very seriously.

LeFleur says while there are many competing sides to the issues that arise from coal ash disposal, ADEM must focus on science and the laws.

According to LeFleur, there are two primary issues that must be addressed when closing coal ash ponds: avoid threats of spills into waterways or onto land, and preventing and cleaning up groundwater contamination from arsenic, mercury, lead and other hazardous elements that may leach from the coal ash.

EPA does not classify coal residue as hazardous waste, but LeFleur says that all closures must ensure dangerous elements are not leaching down into the groundwater.

I think theres pretty much unanimous opinion that these coal ash ponds need to be closed; they need to be closed properly, said LeFleur. And we need to clean up the groundwater thats in place.

He says that the entire process will take decades, but the power companies have committed to safely closing the coal ash ponds. We are dealing with power companies that are going to be around for a long time. And they, they are obligated to get the result right, said LeFleur.

Public Service Announcement

Alabama currently has 14 regulated CCR units at eight sites throughout the state. They are comprised of 10 unlined surface impoundments, one lined landfill, one lined surface impoundment all closed, and two lined landfills still in operation.

Public hearings are a significant part of the permit granting process, according to LeFleur, and ADEMs website allows any individual to review every document and comment about a coal ash ponds closing.

You can see all of the comments that we received, LeFleur said. Every issue raised during the comment period and written response to comments are available. ADEMs website also includes the closure plans as well as all correspondence between agency and utility companies.

According to ADEM, the purpose of these hearings is to allow the public, including nearby residents, environmental groups, and others, opportunities to weigh in on the proposed permits.

This past summer, Alabama Power, TVA, and PowerSouth held informational meetings in the communities where their affected plants are located to explain their proposed groundwater cleanup plan including the CCR unit closure component and answer residents questions, said LeFleur.

Closing a unit requires months of planning with ADEM engineers to make sure all procedures are followed correctly. Federal rules for closing CCRs have only been around since April 2015, when EPA released final measures for management and disposal of CCRs from electric utilities. In 2018, ADEM issued its state CCR rule, which closely tracks the federal regulations.

Under both Presidents Obama and Trump, the EPA has allowed for coal ash sites to be closed by two methods closure in place and by removal.

Alabamas utilities have chosen the cap in place method. Some environmental groups prefer removal. But estimates say that moving CCRs from Alabama Powers Plant Barry would take around 30 years with trucks leaving the site every six minutes.

Regardless of which method of closure is used, that process will take a couple of years to accomplish at these sites, said LeFleur. If its kept in place, the material has been de-watered then pushed together to create a smaller footprint, and then that will be covered with an impervious cover.

The objective, according to ADEM, is to protect the groundwater and the environment from pollution.

Power providers and environmentalists seem to agree there isnt a perfect solution. Public hearings are to ensure that community voices and those of environmentalists are heard.

This entire process is designed to stop contamination to groundwater and future contamination to groundwater; those are the most important facts now, said LeFleur. There are always political issues, you know, at least two sides, and sometimes theres three, four or five sides. We focus on science and the laws. Thats what we do.

While ADEM has its critics, it receives a high rating from the EPA, and an annual survey by the Alabama Department of Commerce finds that it gets top marks from business and industry in the state.

ADEMs first public hearing on coal ash permits will be held Tuesday, Oct. 20, for Alabama Powers Miller Steam Plant in west Jefferson County. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the West Jefferson Town Hall. Other upcoming hearings are Thursday, Oct. 22, for Plant Greene County located in Greene County and Oct. 29 for Plant Gadsden in Etowah County.

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Duke political experts sound off as world waits for 2020 election results – The Progressive Pulse

Posted: at 8:59 am

As the world continued to watch election results Wednesday, Duke University experts in politics, election integrity and constitutional law gathered to discuss one of the strangest and most hotly contested elections in U.S. history.

In a virtual press event WednesdayMac McCorkle, a veteran Democratic political consultant and professor at Dukes Sanford School of Public Policy, said this years results showed the continued failure of polling to accurately capture the mood of the electorate or predict election-day results. Democrats saw comfortable leads in polls on national and state races that didnt materialize on election day in some cases leading to what appeared to be major upsets.

Polling is in crisis, McCorkle said.

Born in an era when there were three television networks and most people could be reached through their land-line telephone, McCorkle said pollsters have been trying to adjust with things like online polls but getting an accurate sample has become harder. Thats particularly true when a historically disruptive candidate like President Donald Trump is in the mix, McCorkle said.

I think theres a false precision assumption about polling that weve simply have to get rid of, especially on the Democratic or the liberal side, McCorkle said.

Exit polling is even less reliable, McCorkle said.

A series of assumptions about turnout and demographics didnt pan out, McCorkle said leading to some surprises and disappointments for Democrats.

The idea that high turnout is always good for Democrats in North Carolina particularly in federal elections continues not to have much strong evidence, McCorkle said.

In this years historically high turnout election, McCorkle said, Democrats did much more poorly than they had hoped losing ground in some areas and pulling out slim victories in others.

Some of those erroneous assumptions are around race, saidGuy-Uriel Charles,a professor of law at Duke Law School and director of the Duke Law Center on Law, Race and Politics.

Theres a coalition, what people used to call the rainbow coalition, that people thought meant there was going to be some hegemonic dominance of the Democratic party, Charles said.

Some of that has happened, Charles said, with places like Georgia and Texas that were not considered competitive four years ago being competitive this year. But what this election shows is that racial and ethnic groups are not monolithic, Charles said. Latinx votes in Florida, for instance, broke for Trump in sufficient numbers to deliver him some important parts of Florida.

In the Southwest states of Arizona and Nevada, where Biden held slim leads Wednesday, different Latinx populations appear to have given him the edge.

To talk about Latino Voters I think begins to betray a type of now cultural, political and identity ignorance,' Charles said.

Trump also made headway among Black voters, Charles said men and women. While those gains werent large, Charles said, it tells against he idea that voters of color will join with liberal whites to create a demographic wave that will predict Americas political future.

Many people feel Trump comes across as a racist and would therefore have a limited appeal to any non-white voters, Charles said. But this years election wasnt the full repudiation of Trump as a racist that many hoped to see, Charles said.

It wasnt a full repudiation by whites, but also not a full repudiation by people of color, Charles said. That complicates our racial narrative.

The experts agreed that despite the elections close results, baseless charges of fraud from the president and threats to get the Supreme Court to stop the counting of or throw out certain ballots, this years election has been more normal than abnormal.

Absentee and early voting ballots being counted the day after the polls close or even over the next week is not only not fraud or the legal basis for changing results, the experts said. In fact, its not even unusual. The president might not like the results, they said but he has to have a legal basis for contesting them, even if the Supreme Court has a new conservative majority.

You cant just walk into the federal court and say I lost,' Charles said. You have to have a legal basis for saying theres a law that has been violated that undermines our constitutional rights, therefore you have to provide a legal remedy.

Judith Kelley,dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke, said some of the baseless claims and authoritarian rhetoric from the White House should be of concern for any mature democracy. The president claiming victory prematurely, that the only way he could lose is if there is massive fraud, claiming the process is rigged before it has even begun and suggesting he might stay in office beyond what is constitutional are all red flag, she said.

Weve had a number of things that are unusual for mature democracies, Kelley said.

The United States is one of the oldest established democracies in the world, Kelley said but other democracies have surpassed the U.S. in terms of swiftly holding elections through completely non-partisan processes that give their people a great deal of confidence in the system.

It may be time, at some point, for a renovation of the American democracy, Kelley said.

Despite all of that, Kelley said, Americans can feel good about how election day played out little to no civil unrest or violence and large and complicated systems seeming to work as they should despite historic turnout during an international pandemic.

But the process will continue to work, this week, slower than many would like.

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Member of Ford’s Greenbelt Council resigns over plans to destroy protected wetland – National Observer

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A member of the Ontario Greenbelt Council resigned Wednesday in protest of the provinces move to fast-track a development that would destroy a protected wetland.

The site is part of the Lower Duffins Creek wetland complex, located east of Toronto near Pickering, Ont. On Friday, Premier Doug Ford's government issued a special provincial order to approve plans to build on the 54-acre wetland, which is the size of about 40 football fields.

I have simply had enough, wrote Linda Pim, an environmental biologist and land-use planner whom the previous Liberal government appointed to the Greenbelt Council in 2018, in a resignation letter dated Nov. 4.

I cannot in all conscience continue to sit on the Greenbelt Council which has provided you with its best advice on urban and regional planning issues in the Greenbelt and the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) advice which seems to me to have not been given due consideration.

The council is an expert panel that advises the government on issues related to the Greenbelt, a swath of protected land surrounding the Greater Toronto Area that Ford has pledged not to develop. The wetland is not part of the Greenbelt, but it has been designated as provincially significant and isnt supposed to be developed.

Pim has more than 40 years of experience, with roles inside the Ontario government and at non-profit environmental groups. She has also been a commissioner the Niagara Escarpment Commission, an arms-length government agency.

This has been my lifes work, environmental protection, Pim said in an interview with Canadas National Observer.

I just decided I had to take a stand ... I sort of hope the letter speaks for itself.

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the governments choice to develop the wetland is outrageous.

The resignation "should be a wake-up call (for the Ford government), he added.

When somebody with this much standing in the community resigns, they dont resign lightly or on a whim.

The office of Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark did not directly answer the concerns Pim raised in the letter.

Linda Pims tenure on the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) was not renewed, said Adam Wilson, a press secretary for Clark, in an email.

She knew that as a cross appointment to the Greenbelt Council, she was intended to represent the NECs perspective on the Council for that reason she knew that her expiring appointment on the Greenbelt Council would not be renewed.

Pim said her appointment to the Niagara Escarpment Commission ended in August 2019, but that the government had not told her whether she would be renewed or not for that position. She also said she wasn't expecting to be re-appointed to the Greenbelt Council, as other Green members who came in during the previous government weren't renewed when their terms expired.

I dont have any comment really on what theyre saying, it seems like a bit of a personal attack, she said in response to the statement from Clark's office.

I dont really want to debate this with them. It is what it is.

Clark used a Ministerial Zoning Order, or MZO, a mechanism that allows the government to override the local planning process to make a final decision for land use. They cant be used on the Greenbelt, and they cannot be appealed.

Such orders used to be rare in Ontario, meant only for very specific circumstances. But the Ford government has increasingly relied on them to approve plans from developers, and expanded Clarks power to use them over the summer.

The Greenbelt Council has sounded alarms about the issue, saying MZOs should only be used in exceptional circumstances. And in her resignation letter, Pim said the provinces frequent use of MZOs has deeply concerned me.

The project is a warehouse distribution centre and film studio called Project Lonestar, part of a larger entertainment complex called Durham Live that was approved last year. The province has said Durham Live will create 10,000 new jobs, including 1,500 at the film studio.

The development could have been placed somewhere else, said Tim Gray, the executive director of the green non-profit Environmental Defence.

Its just trying to fool the public into thinking this is a jobs versus the environment thing, he said. Thats just not true.

Wilson said the MZO in Pickering was issued in response to a request from local authorities.

MZOs are a tool that our government uses to get critical local projects, located outside the Greenbelt, moving faster, he said.

While the City of Pickering has indeed supported the project, the mayor of the neighbouring town of Ajax, Shaun Collier, has opposed it alongside environmental groups.

The Lower Duffins Creek wetland complex is at risk, Collier said in a tweet Friday. It is wrong to pave it for a warehouse.

Wetlands play a crucial role in controlling floods and improving water quality. They also naturally absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, a process that can be useful in fighting the climate crisis.

We are in trouble as a province if we are without wetlands, said Oshawa NDP MPP Jennifer French, the opposition critic for infrastructure, whose riding is in the region.

Ontarians need to remember that those wetlands are not just nice places to paddleboard or for birds to live.

Already, development has encroached on wetlands in Ontario. It is well documented that southern Ontario has already lost over three-quarters of its pre- European-settlement wetlands to various forms of development, Pim wrote in her letter.

Although the MZO approves the Project Lonestar plan, it still faces significant hurdles before it can be built, and the protected status of the wetlands could still be a headache.

The project would need a permit from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). But the TRCA has said it doesn't support development in wetlands, particularly in ones with a "provincially significant" designation like the Duffins Creek wetland complex. At the conservation authoritys last meeting on Oct. 23, its board voted unanimously to say so in an official motion.

Natural Resources Minister John Yakabuski has said the province is looking at reclassifying the wetland to drop the "provincially significant" designation, which could make it easier for development to go ahead.

Yakabuski has also asked the TRCA to have a discussion with the developer to come up with an agreement that would allow the company to give compensation either money, or replicating the wetland somewhere else in exchange for the loss of the habitat.

The TRCA and the Ford government appear to disagree on how far along those discussions are: Clarks office said a compensation agreement had been signed, but the TRCA said it had only signed an agreement that would begin discussions, and that nothing has been finalized. (Neither the TRCA nor the government was able to provide a copy of the agreement, as it contained proprietary information.)

The TRCA also said the developer would have to do an environmental impact study before a compensation agreement could be signed. And even then, it would have to be discussed at a public meeting before the TRCA decides whether to approve it.

Theres a lot of high-level what-ifs, said Michael Tolensky, a spokesperson for the TRCA.

If the wetlands are lost, the damage will be permanent, French said.

If we erase all of these wetlands, we cannot replace them, she added. We cannot build a park and say were even.

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P.E.I.’s privacy commissioner to provide recommendations to minister on land report – The Guardian

Posted: at 8:59 am

The findings of an investigation into the Brendel land deal, a transfer of about 2,200 acres of land from a family-owned farm to a corporation linked to the Irving family, will likely not be released publicly for weeks.

Staff of P.E.I.s information and privacy commissioner has confirmed the office will be examining the findings of the investigation, conducted by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC), to determine whether its release would comply with existing privacy legislation.

Maria MacDonald, an adjudicator at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, confirmed P.E.I.s agriculture minister has reached out to the office seeking advice.

"Our short-term plan is to review them, see if we need any more information and then come up with advice or recommendations," MacDonald said of the details of the investigation.

Section 14 and 15 of P.E.I.s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act provides for mandatory exceptions to the release of information of individuals and businesses.

For a business, these exceptions could include information that would reveal trade secrets or could result in financial loss or harm to its competitive position.

For an individual, these exceptions could be deemed an unreasonable invasion of privacy if they include information such as details listed on a tax return, bank account or credit card information or details about an individuals ethnic origin, political beliefs or employment history.

It is unclear how long it will take for staff within the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to review the investigation into the land deal. MacDonald suggested this could take weeks.

Last week, Agriculture Minister Bloyce Thompson announced the investigation had been completed and that there were reasonable and probable grounds that two individuals and one corporation contravened the Lands Protection Act.

Thompson did not name the individuals or corporation involved. He did say one or more of the parties acquired land in excess of the limits restricting land ownership under the LPA.

On Friday, an emailed statement from the Department of Agriculture and Land said the minister would consult with the privacy commissioner about publicly releasing more details.

This report contains information about a number of individuals, read a statement from the department.The minister has written to the privacy commissioner in order to seek guidance on how to best release this report while respecting freedom of information and protection of privacy.

The LPA restricts allowable land ownership of individuals to 1,000 acres and 3,000 acres for corporations. Exceptions for non-arable and leased land could allow individuals to own up to 1,900 acres and corporations to own up to 5,700 acres.

The Brendel land deal occurred without the approval of cabinet, normally required under the Lands Protection Act.

The 2,200 acres of land were transferred from Brendel Farms, a farm owned by the Gardiner family, to Haslemere Farms Ltd. on June 27, 2019. Haslemere Farms Ltd. initially listed members of the Gardiner family as directors.

By July 12, 2019, Haslemere listed Rebecca Irving as its sole director. Rebecca is the daughter of Mary Jean Irving, who was also listed as a director of Indian River Farms.

Haslemere Farms Ltd. later changed its name to Red Fox Acres Ltd.

In March of 2019, the sale of the same 2,200 acres to three farming corporations, including Indian River Farms, was denied by the cabinet of the previous Liberal government.



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The land of the free, the home of the Democrats – The Michigan Daily

Posted: at 8:59 am

And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

- America the Beautiful

September 10, 2005.

The smell of Oscar Meyer bacon filled the air, calling my father and I inside after a morning playing catch out back. My grandfather, upon finishing watering his prize-winning hydrangeas, followed us in to steal some before the plate became empty. The three generations of Johnstone men who might all have been slaves merely 150 years earlier sat at the table before we piled into our rusted black Ford Expedition and took the scenic 45-minute drive to Ann Arbor. Though it was only 11 a.m., I still felt the energy in the 110,000 people of every race, religion and color who steadily filled the stadium. We might have been culturally and politically divided six days of the week, but today, this one Saturday afternoon, for this one moment, we were all on the same team. For the first time, I saw America, and it was beautiful.

We rose to put our hands over our hearts as the Star-Spangled Banner played.


I love this country with every fiber of my being. Now, this does not mean I love the petulant president or his sycophantic cult of personality I do not. Similarly, it does not mean that I worship our slave-owning founding fathers I do not. What this means is that I love the central thesis of this country: the principle on which we were founded. See, while most countries were founded on some ethnic or religious unity, we are unique in that the United States of America was founded on an idea or really, a dream.

The essential theory of this country is that a free multicultural society could grow each and every day to have a more perfect union. At the core of this theory is the principle of freedom.

Freedom is an interesting word, and Ill spare the Samuel Alito-esque pedantic dictionary definition because no technical definition is adequately universal. Freedom is a member of the rare chorus of polysemic words like romance, hope and love that are seemingly empty vessels to which people attach their own beliefs and aspirations. While many find this frustrating, I find it fascinating. The ever-evolving definition of this word tells a complex and uniquely beautiful story about this country, but our relationship with it provides a warning about the direction in which we are headed.

Including the First Amendments five freedoms that Amy Coney Barrett does not know, the word freedom is only used eight times in the Constitution. While that is shocking now, it makes a lot of sense considering that of all presidents who served full terms, our nations first two presidents used the word freedom the fewest times.

In fact, the word first came to national prominence in former President Franklin Roosevelts 1941 State of the Union, where he outlined our four freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. It is remarkable that, amid one of the darkest periods in our countrys history, we not only rallied around the flag, but we rallied around this one word that redefined the American experience. However, this was not the experience for all Americans.

Segregation was rampant, especially in the military. Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps. Black and Hispanic Americans lacked civil rights. Jewish Americans were still a vilified minority. Thus, we have to examine what FDR meant by freedom.

Much like the founding fathers, he meant freedom for white Anglo-Saxons and, sadly, this has been the prevailing narrative throughout American history. This exclusionary definition of freedom has toxified the word for many in our country, especially many liberal Democrats, which is part of the reason why many Republicans believe they have a monopoly over the principle. Thus, it has become something of a dog whistle, and this began with the master of dog whistles: Ronald Reagan.

Reagan, known as the great communicator whose racist war on drugs imprisoned nearly six times more Black Americans than whites used the word freedom more than any other president. However, noting that Reagan was an archconservative who ignored crises facing gays and was propelled to prominence on the back of a white backlash, his freedom is probably not mine. In examining this, it is critical to remember that all freedom comes at a price.

By freedom, Reagan meant limiting government to increase personal freedoms at the expense of poor people who depended on government services. He meant bringing religion into the public square to increase the freedom of Christians despite the imposition on other religions. He meant increasing defense spending to perpetuate capitalism across the world at the expense of the rights of South Americans who were living under brutal dictatorships. He meant increasing the presence of law enforcement to protect the freedom of white people at the expense of the lives of Black people.

Twenty years later, George W. Bush who used the word freedom the third most frequently out of any American president redefined the word to mean freedom from terrorists and other malign actors. However, this came at the expense of not only our personal freedoms (i.e. the Patriot Act) but also the freedom of millions of Iraqis whose country was invaded on a false premise.

While these facts are probably uncomfortable for those who support conservatives, it is important that we face them and accept any complicity: I think that this is the essential lesson of American history. For example, after the enslavement of millions of African-Americans, we fought a civil war, reckoned with the injustice, enfranchised their descendants and one of these descendants became president. That is not patting this country on the back; instead, it is a lesson in what we can do when we redress the grievances of those who were wronged.

With that being said, Democrats need to stop playing rhetorical games by using words like fairness and equality instead of freedom. Former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton used the word freedom less than any president since FDR, preferring to lean toward collectivist themes in their speeches. While I appreciate the sentiment, this strategy is ineffective, as it could turn off rural people and many in the working class with American pride, and flies in the face of our core principles.

Instead, to inspire everyday Americans, Democrats need to apply the rhetoric of Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy, which amplifies freedom and redefines the word. For liberal Democrats, freedom means the right to not only survive in this country but thrive. It means to give everyone the opportunity to succeed. Now, these may come at the expense of rich people having to pay their fair share in taxes or businesses having to abide by additional regulations, but that is still freedom. Our freedom just comes with a different price, and I believe that it is one people are willing to pay.

I love this country with every fiber of my being. I love it not only for what it is but for what it can be. Together, we can move forward united as one, and hopefully, tomorrow, we will. With that, please go out and vote for the candidates who will advance our freedom.

Keith Johnstone can be reached at keithja@umich.edu.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown challenges at all of us including The Michigan Daily but that hasnt stopped our staff. Were committed to reporting on the issues that matter most to the community where we live, learn and work. Your donations keep our journalism free and independent. You can support our work here.

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How will the Liberals’ new immigration targets affect real estate activity in Canada – Mortgage Broker News

Posted: at 8:59 am

Last Friday, Canadas federal government announced an immigration plan for the next three years that some critics are calling pure fantasy. But the Liberals strategy may instead create a dream scenario for the countrys mortgage brokers: a continuation of the sky-high demand that fed this years unexpectedly booming real estate market.

In revealing the plan, Immigration Minister Marco Mendocino said the government intends to welcome more than 1.2 million immigrants to Canada between 2021 and 2023, starting with next years target of 401,000 new permanent residents.

This is an absolutely astonishing number, said Rock Star Real Estate co-founder Tom Karadza during a recent podcast. The target increases by a further 10,000 in each of 2022 and 2023.

The travel restrictions put in place during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic have made hitting 2020s target of 341,000 newcomers virtually impossible. If immigration were allowed to return to normal for the rest of the year, it is estimated that only half the target amount would be reached.

Put simply, we need more workers, and immigration is the way to get there," Mendocino said, adding that the government will be favouring community-based selection models to attract new arrivals to smaller cities and rural regions across Canada.

A rise in rural demand could be a boon to brokers in areas of the country that were only lightly singed by this years blazing origination activity. Regardless of where these newcomers land, Dominion Lending Centres economist Dr. Sherry Cooper says they will be welcome.

All of the growth in the Canadian population in recent years has been in net immigration, Cooper told MBN by email. Keeping those doors open is vital for housing markets. Whether [immigrants] rent or buy, it helps, as there is a glut of rental properties on the market today, the result of both lower immigration and down-on-their-luck Airbnb investors.

RateSpy founder Robert McLister sees immigrants playing more of a role in firming up the economy and rental rates than increasing housing demand in the short-term, at least.

Immigration won't have a large impact on home sales in 2021 because new Canadians take about three years to buy on average, according to Royal Lepage data, McLister says. Most newcomers who buy in 2021 will have already landed a few years ago.

Because a large proportion of immigrants buy homes priced below-average, McLister feels there could be a slight lag in that segment of the market in a few years before it recovers around 2024.

The most pressing question may be whether the new immigration targets will ever be met. McLister and Cooper both have their doubts, as does Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho, who called the Liberal goals "pure fantasy.

"There's just no way that's going to happen, Dancho said, noting that the government lacks a concrete plan for bringing people safely into the country during the pandemic.

NDP MP Jenny Kwan highlighted another roadblock: the thousands upon thousands of immigration applications that were already being processed when the pandemic hit. That backlog has not gone away.

"With over half a year of applications whose processing came to a complete stop, there will be no shortage of requests to be processed next year," she said, adding that applicants are to expect significant increases in processing times for years to come, which were already long before the pandemic."

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Joseph Henrichs study of WEIRD societies – The Economist

Posted: at 8:59 am

That is, Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic

Nov 7th 2020

The Weirdest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous. By Joseph Henrich. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 704 pages; $35. Allen Lane; 30

IT TAKES MORE than a decent constitution to build a democracy, as anyone who has tried to steer a country out of anarchy or tyranny can attest. And it takes more than well-turned commercial laws to make a healthy market economy. For either to happen, certain values must be widely acceptedyet defining them can be tricky.

Joseph Henrich, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, has devised a teasing term to describe societies where rules and values have come together with benign results: Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic. The acronym, WEIRD, neatly makes his point that these attributes, and the mindset that goes with them, are the exception not the rule in human history.

The values that underpin WEIRDness, he writes, include a tough-minded belief in the rule of the law, even at the risk of personal disadvantage; an openness to experimentation in matters of scientific knowledge or social arrangements; and a willingness to trust strangers, from politicians offering new policies to potential business partners. These may not seem original insights, but Mr Henrichs work is distinguished by the weight he places on the extended family as an obstacle to healthy individualism, and on religious norms as the determinant of family obligations. He reinforces this theme with a welter of polling data and sweeping historical arguments, mostly about medieval Europe.

As an example of kin loyalty at odds with modern thinking, Mr Henrich records the experience of democracy-builders in Afghanistan: rural folk could not grasp the idea that they might vote for somebody who was not part of their family. Just as foreign to such outlooks, he says, is the idea that crimes are treated equally regardless of the relationships involved. In medieval China, killing within the family was treated differently from killing a stranger; killing your father was a worse crime than killing a child.

In many accounts of modern history, it was Europes Protestant Reformation that catalysed a more individualist, law-based mentality. Mr Henrichs own emphasis is on the Catholic world from about 1000 onwards. He thinks that, by banning kin-marriage, the Roman church ushered in a more fluid society where people had to look farther afield for spouses.

Here he is not quite convincing, despite the extensive studies he adduces to argue that modern mentalities, even now, are correlated with regions of historic Catholic influence. It seems more likely that the medieval church was negotiating with, rather than moulding, a social reality which was evolving fast as cities emerged. Nor does a ban on marrying cousins imply free marital choice. It can be part of an elaborate system of communally arranged unions.

Mr Henrichs broad point about the values that underpin liberal democracy is stronger, with one big qualification. Hundreds of millions of people live neither in atomistic WEIRD-land nor in kin-obsessed pre-modern societies, but in an interesting limbo, sometimes dynamically and sometimes tragically. Think, say, of a family from a poor, remote part of south-eastern Europe, whose younger members are working and raising children in assorted European cities, while their elders keep the home fires burning in the village. An extraordinary range of roles and attitudes co-exist in three generations.

Or take the South Asian communities in some northern English towns, where the mores of rural Kashmir can persist even in the fourth generation of diaspora life. Tradition-bound as they are, such communities are not untouched by modern British culture. Younger generations grow up somewhere between Mr Henrichs WEIRDness and the harsh security of a regulated rural clan. Some have fun negotiating this terrain, some swing sharply towards either individualism or conformity; a handful react to the confusion by embracing extremism. In any case, WEIRDness need not be an either-or category, whether in medieval Europe or the 21st century.

This article appeared in the Books & arts section of the print edition under the headline "Value judgments"

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