There are more than 285 competitive bagpipe bands in the United States, made up of thousands of pipers and drummers. Bands are divided into grades based on skill: Grade 5 is the lowest, akin to Little League; Grade 1 is the majors. In May 2014, the Massachusetts-based Stuart Highland Pipe Band was promoted to Grade 1, and next month they'll be facing off against other top-level bands in Glasgow at the annual World Pipe Band Championships. But first, the Stewies made their North American debut at the premier level at a competition in Ontario: Blowhards: On the road, down the bottle, and across the border with Boston’s greatest competitive bagpipe band. [more inside]
The Local Eyes Project is an effort to explore the Americas through the eyes of 12 local residents in Canada, the United States, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil, by sending them a disposable camera and asking them to take "travel photos." [more inside]
Gone With A Trace (pop-up audio warning): a 20-min. audio documentary about photographer Richard Misrach (previously) and the objects he finds along the US/Mexico border, which are then turned into musical instruments by Guillermo Galindo. There's an accompanying photo slide on cbc's The Current site.
"International fast food behemoth Burger King Worldwide Inc. confirmed Tuesday that it will pay about $11 billion to buy Canadian chain Tim Hortons Inc., which sells coffee, donuts, and other breakfast food fare. The deal would merge America's second-largest burger chain, which is valued at nearly $10 billion, with the Canadian equivalent to Dunkin' Donuts, which is valued at more than $8 billion. It would also move the new company's headquarters to Canada, where corporate taxes are significantly lower." [more inside]
First world war – a century on, time to hail the peacemakers "On the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, we should remember those who tried to stop a catastrophe" [more inside]
John Morillo of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, will apparently not turn down a dare, even if it causes an international incident and racks up fines in the five figures. For instance, if you tell him he can't swim from Windsor to Detroit across a busy shipping lane, he'll do it (with the assistance of eight beers). And he'll swim back, too, as evidenced by the fact that the U.S. Coast Guard found him on the Canadian side. As Morillo said, "If I’m going to be in the paper, I’d at least like them to say I actually made it, even though I got in trouble and everything." [more inside]
PhotosNormandie is a collaborative collection of more than 3,000 royalty-free photos from World War II's Battle of Normandy and its aftermath. (Photos date from June 6 to late August 1944). The main link goes to the photostream. You can also peruse sets, which include 2700+ images from the US and Canadian National Archives.
Are Social Impact Bonds a good way to invest in public services? "Imagine a contract where private investors are paid by the government if there's a decrease in homelessness or convicts re-offending. It's a an idea that's taking shape in the UK and some US states. And now the Canadian government is considering piloting social impact bonds. Critics say it's a way of governments shirking their responsibilities." CBC's "The Current" reports. [more inside]
Today marks the release of the film Argo, about the effort to smuggle out six Americans from Iran after the fall of the shah. The film is based on the actual events of the Canadian Caper, during which the Canadian embassy and staff in Iran sheltered the six Americans and, in cooperation with the CIA, provided Canadian identities and passports for the six. They were then smuggled out under the ruse of being part of the film crew for a science fiction film based on Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light. [more inside]
The history of the Sikh Diaspora in USA and Canada goes back to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897. Emerging as a casteless alternative to the ongoing Hindu Muslim wars in India, the Sikhs have always been known as a martial tribe, their prowess and courage respected by the British and others alike. Colloquially addressed respectfully as Sardarji, the men take Singh (lion) as their middle name while the women bear the name Kaur (princess). This custom further confirmed the equality of both genders as was the tradition set by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. The first Sikh Organization was The Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society organized in the spring of 1912. [more inside]
The true name of the man most famously known as Lord George Gordon Gordon will likely never be known. His name, though false, will nevertheless live in history for pulling one of the great advance-fee cons of all time, swindling in 1872 over a million dollars out of Jay Gould, most unscrupulous of all the robber barons and no stranger himself to a long con. Gould's quest for revenge would nearly lead to a military invasion of Manitoba by the Minnesota state militia. [more inside]
The U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border agreement is wide-ranging in its impact. Indeed, Prime Minister Harper referred to it Wednesday as "the most significant step forward in Canada-U.S. co-operation since (NAFTA)". This deal promises regulatory alignment (including the food and automotive sectors), quicker border crossings for business or travel (with pre-clearance options), and "screened once, accepted twice" cargo. Perhaps the biggest concern for Canadians however are the changes this agreement could have for their privacy. [more inside]
"There are no national standards or regulations regarding forensic pathology and practices vary widely from place to place."
The Hardest Cases: When Children Die, Justice Can Be Elusive A joint investigation by PBS Frontline, ProPublica and NPR has found that medical examiners and coroners have repeatedly mishandled cases of infant and child deaths, helping to put innocent people behind bars. (Via. (Article contains descriptions of children that have been killed by abuse. May be disturbing / triggering to some readers.) [more inside]
For the first time in their freely-traded history, the Australian Dollar, the Canadian Dollar and the US Dollar are all within a penny of parity.
Are the Rules That Determine Who Can Donate Blood Discriminatory? Canadian AIDS researchers Dr. Mark Wainberg and Dr. Norbert Gilmore say that while the ban on blood donation from men who have sex with other men may have been ethically and scientifically justified in the 1980's, it no longer makes sense. (CMAJ.) Even though the US FDA reaffirmed their long-standing ban in 2007, they plan to revisit the policy in June. [more inside]
The Rise and Fall of Frank Ma, Last of New York's Asian Godfathers: How a Chinese immigrant became a crime lord, ordered a hit that left the wrong men dead, sparked a 16-year international investigation and finally landed in prison for the rest of his life.
"You can not come back to Canada until you have been criminally rehabilitated." Ann Wright, who had 29 years of military and govt service, resigned in protest on the eve of the Iraq War from her position as deputy ambassador to Mongolia. In this hour long talk, she discusses her story and the story of several others from various countries who resigned in protest. Her new book, Dissent: Voices of Conscience, details the story of 24 people who resigned in protest. [more inside]
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is proposing new rules regarding passenger pre-screening both domestically and internationally. Interestingly, this includes flights that overfly the continental US without ever touching the ground. [more inside]
Animated population pyramids project a steady increase in the median age. England and Wales. United States. Canada. China. Japan. "The number of older persons has tripled over the last 50 years; it will more than triple again over the next 50 years." [pdf] There will be a shortage of workers to support the retired and disabled. The looming crisis has been predicted for years. Proposed solutions include robots and immigration. [previously, previously]
Canadian authorities have arrested US President George W. Bush and charged him with offences under Canada's War Crimes Act. Says (Canadian Prime Minister) Paul Martin: “This decision was not made lightly. But, it was also a decision that was impossible not to make. The United States is not outside the rule of law, and cannot expect to get an unlimited “free pass”. This decision puts a grave strain upon both our nations, and I urge calm and restraint from our American neighbours, as well as from Canadians. I have met with the cabinet, and with our colleagues in the House. This is a time of great crisis for us as a nation. But as people, we will survive this test. Earlier I enacted the Emergency War Powers Act. This is necessary to guarantee our domestic security. This is not a time for panic, for lawlessness, for anything other than a responsible and sobre focus on what lies immediately ahead.”
After reading that beef has been recalled from my local grocery store, I spent some time reading Mad Cow USA a book written back in 1997 but not widely published because of fears of repercussions under the Texas food disparagement act. AlterNet has an article written by one of the book's authors summarizing some of the key points of the book. Some claim that only ground beef is infected, while others claim that's bull. mad-cow.org has a lot of good information on the topic, and it seems the powers that be are going to blame Canada.
U.S. loses faith in Canada "We would be there for Canada, part of our family. And that is why so many in the United States are disappointed and upset that Canada is not fully supporting us now," says Paul Cellucci, U.S. ambassador to Canada. As pro-US sentiments from prominent Canadian figures are harshly criticized while blatant (and rather tasteless) anti-US remarks go more or less ignored by the government, has the relationship with our longtime friends up north been irreversibly soured?
An important breast cancer test is now unavailable in British Columbia because of the American company which holds the relevant patent. The B.C. Cancer Agency has been forced to stop the tests after legal threats by Utah-based Myriad Genetics Inc., which has a patent on two genes that can signal whether a woman may develop hereditary breast cancer. I think this is a perfect example of why patenting genes is a terrible idea. Via Slashdot.
AMERICA THE WEIRD VISITING THE U.S. IS LIKE LANDING ON ANOTHER PLANET. But we still like ya...
A common dollar for Canada and the U.S.? With the Euro unit of currency slowly coming into common use, it's only natural for other continents/countries to follow suit. How would this affect the national identity of Canada? Is this a sensible thing to do? What are the benefits and deficiencies of such a plan?