A gorgeous visualization of 200 years of immigration to the US – Vox

Great data visualization and Canadian version would be comparable, although the post 1960s mix would be somewhat different:

It’s easy now to assume that Mexico has always been among the main sources of immigration to America. But as this wonderful chart by Natalia Bronshtein shows, that’s not even close to true.

200 years immigration

(Natalia Bronshtein)

Bronshtein pulled 200 years of government data to put together the visualization. There’s an interactive version on her website: you can hover over any color, at any point, and see the exact number of immigrants who became residents from that country in that decade.

But taken as a whole, the chart tells a very clear story: there are two laws that totally transformed immigration to the United States.

The first, the National Origins Act of 1924 (a capstone on a series of anti-immigration bills passed in the few years before that), set very strict quotas on immigration to America from any country — and especially strict quotas on any country that wasn’t in western or northern Europe. (Immigration from Asia was, for the most part, simply banned.) That’s the bottleneck you see in the graph.

The second, the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, demolished the old quota system. But instead of just turning the clock back to the dawn of the 20th century, the 1965 law created a completely different era of immigration to the US from all over the world — and especially from Latin America and Asia. None of the colors that are dominant on this chart up until the 1920s are dominant from the 1970s onward. Once large-scale immigration to the US was restored, the face of it looked totally different.

Source: A gorgeous visualization of 200 years of immigration to the US – Vox

Federal ‘unmuzzling’ has gone beyond government scientists with scrapping of Harper-era system

The real test will come when someone ‘screws-up’.

There will still be need for coordination and heads-up. But most public servants have the sense of what is appropriate and what it not:

The Liberal government has scrapped the elaborate system Conservatives were using to organize central message control within the government, replacing it with… nothing, according to the Privy Council Office.

It’s not just the scientists who’ve been unmuzzled. Anyone in the government who wants to organize a public event, or speak at one — and anyone who wants to talk to journalists — is affected by this change in policy.

The PCO, which acts as a support to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet, confirmed the shift this week.

Under this government, it is no longer using documents called “Message Event Proposals,” which came into practice under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, to vet events and media requests across the federal government. The documents “have not been replaced with something new,” said spokesperson Raymond Rivet.

“The PCO’s new communications process looks like another positive step,” said Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.

The union represents about 57,000 government scientists and other professionals, mainly at the federal level of government. It has been one of the most vocal advocates for the government “unmuzzling” its scientists.

Though she said there’s clear support for science from the Liberal government, Daviau warned that policies and directives are always at the whim of the government of the day, noting a “chill” under Harper.

“A lot of work needs to happen so that science is never silenced again by a federal government. What we need now is to safeguard it from future attacks and ensure we are consistent across government departments,” Daviau said.

Despite the shift at PCO, Rivet noted some departments might still use Message Event Proposals or similar products internally.

“Departments and ministers are responsible for their own communications, though co-ordination remains important,” said Olivier Duchesneau, a spokesperson for Trudeau. Some inquiries are still flagged to the PCO when more than one agency or department is involved, Rivet added.

Duchesneau said the government is basing its communications on the concept of “government by cabinet,” though he didn’t comment specifically on the scrapped Harper-era system.

Source: Federal ‘unmuzzling’ has gone beyond government scientists with scrapping of Harper-era system | National Post

Clinging to Our ‘Roots’ – The New York Times

Interesting reflections on ‘roots’ by Christy Wampole:

A desire for roots and rootedness may be acquiring a new importance in the new global tangle, where certainties are hard to come by. But I wonder sometimes if this root-oriented thinking actually causes many of the problems whose solutions we can’t seem to find. Think of your own roots and how much of your identity relies on them. How many things that trouble or anger you relate in some way, if only peripherally, to this rootedness? If you were to suddenly discover that you were mistaken about your roots, would you trade in your Lederhosen for a kilt? How negotiable is your sense of self? How much do your roots determine your actions? What if you’d been born with someone else’s roots, say, those of your enemy?

Each person will have different answers to these questions. And yet there is something universal about rootedness as well. All people seek a context into which they may enfold themselves. If we truly are wired for connectedness, we’ve gotten our wish in a sense; our unprecedented system of networks has shrunk the globe and at least offered the possibility for new kinds of continuity and growth. But it remains to be seen how this connectivity will be reconciled with individual identities, with old brands of embeddedness, and with nostalgia for the first garden.

Source: Clinging to Our ‘Roots’ – The New York Times

A New ‘Roots’ for a New American Era – The Daily Beast

Good piece on ‘Roots’ and how a reboot needs to reflect the current era:

As the great literary and cultural critic Leslie Fiedler noted time and again, Americans only valorize the Other when we know he or she is thoroughly vanquished; The Last of the Mohicans could only be written after the Indians were thoroughly contained in or effectively banished from upstate New York. At the same time that white ethnics were transforming their downscale heritages into sources of pride (Polish Power, anyone?), black Americans in the post-Civil Rights era were doing the same thing: finding a source of cultural power in a history of exclusion and oppression.

Prior to Roots, Haley was best-known as the amanuensis of Malcolm X, compiling an “autobiography” based on interviews conducted between 1963 and Malcolm’s assassination in 1965. In What Was Literature?: Class Culture and Mass Society (1982), Fiedler writes that Roots was for Haley a natural extension of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which combined elements of Booker T. Washington’s gospel of segregationist self-sufficiency and the confrontational politics of the Black Power movement into a message of militant uplift.

Yet Fiedler notes that Roots, despite Haley’s attempt to write a “final Happy Ending” in which African Americans become professors and government functionaries and world-famous authors, replicates the same irresolvable racial tensions that fueled earlier novels such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman (which became the basis on D.W. Griffith’s execrable The Birth of a Nation), and Gone With The Wind. “Scenes of rape and flagellation are as essential to [Haley’s] vision as to that of Mrs. Stowe or Thomas Dixon, or Margaret Mitchell, though his victims are, of course, always black,” writes Fiedler.

Though the brutalization of his ancestors, especially at the hands of slave owners, means that Haley is himself part white, he cannot acknowledge that part of his ancestry. Try as he might, Fiedler argues, Haley doesn’t offer a way out of an unbridgeable gap between the races. Instead, he describes the lurid, racist fantasies from the victims’ point of view.

Roots 2016

History Channel

That of course is no small accomplishment and the fact that Roots—the book and the miniseries—made black history visible to white America en masse explains its success. White ethnics especially, who often clashed with blacks in the restricted neighborhoods to which both were remanded by zoning and custom, could understand a far deeper and long-suffering oppression lived out in the golden streets of America.

So here we are now, in the 21st century, eight years into the presidency of a mixed-race president, in a country where the percentage of foreign-born residents is rapidly approaching figures last seen in the 1910s and ’20s. On a profound level, we are more at peace with one another than ever before. For 20 years, the Census has included a “multiracial” category to accommodate  basic reality and support for interracial marriage approaches 100 percent (even same-sex marriage, unthinkable even just a generation ago, pulls 60 percent or more approval, with the number bumping each year).

Yet in a commencement speech at Howard University, Barack Obama observed that even as things have markedly improved for African Americans since he himself graduated college, his “election did not create a post-racial society.” To be sure, there is much work to be done. Black men are six times as likely to be incarcerated as their white counterparts and the unemployment rate for blacks is twice that for whites. The rise of Donald Trump is fueled in no small part by grievances among poor whites who are the one group in America whose lifespans are actually shrinking. Black protestors, especially on college campuses, are at times more inflamed than the Black Panthers ever were — despite objectively better conditions compared to 45 years ago in terms of opportunities.

We have stuck in a dialectical conversation where the horrors of our racial past have been represented poignantly and memorably. What we need now is work that shows how most Americans—black, white, and every other type—have moved beyond to a world that, while replete with problems, allows us to be kinder and better to one another.

Source: A New ‘Roots’ for a New American Era – The Daily Beast

Islamic Terrorism Is A Form Of Islam And We Can’t Deny It, Says Salman Rushdie

Worth noting, and there is a difference what words intellectuals and writers may use and those that governments may use:

However, Rushdie has contended, that, ““If everybody engaged in acts of Islamic terrorism says that they’re doing it in the name of Islam, who are we to say they’re not? I mean now of course what they mean by Islam might well not be what most Muslims mean by Islam. But it’s still a form of Islam and it’s a form of Islam that’s become unbelievably powerful in the last 25 and 30 years.

He goes on to talk about ‘this liberal spirit of appeasement’, ‘of political correctness’.

He explains that it is true that several Muslims in America and Western Europe are actively discriminated against, putting them in a position of economic disadvantage and one needs to talk about ending discrimination. However, he adds, religious ideas held by them necessarily doesn’t become legitimate because they belong to economically or racially disadvantaged people in countries like America.

He adds that when free speech is shut down, minority communities are the ones who suffer the most. So they should actively promote the need to let free speech remain truly ‘free’ and if some criticism of their own religious ideas have to faced in the process, so be it. “It comes with the territory,” says Rushdie.

“Most of the oppression of Muslims in the world right now is carried out by other Muslims, you know. Whether it’s the Taliban in Afghanistan or, you know, the Ayatollahs in Iran or wherever it might be. But to say that this is not Islam is to misname the problem. The problem is that there’s been a mutation in Islam, which has become unusually virulent and powerful. And it needs to be dealt with, but in order to deal with it we have to first call it by its true name,” he says.

Source: Islamic Terrorism Is A Form Of Islam And We Can’t Deny It, Says Salman Rushdie

Because it’s 2015 … Implementing Diversity and Inclusion – My latest ebook

because-its-2015_pdf__page_1_of_59_Over the past months, as many of you know, I have been doing a series of articles on the 2015 election, Cabinet and other senior appointments, along with baseline data for the public service, Governor in Council and judicial appointments by which to measure the government’s implementation of its diversity and inclusion commitments.

I have integrated and updated these in mini-book form, available as a free download from:

iPad/Mac version (iBooks)

Windows version (PDF)

I hope you find this compilation and the reference data it provides of interest and use.

The description is below.



Because it’s 2015 … Implementing Diversity and Inclusion

Canada’s 2015 election provided a sharp contrast between the social cohesion focus of the Conservative party and its use of identity politics, and the Liberal party’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion. This was not only reflected in policy and language but in candidate recruitment, with the Liberals having the largest number of visible minority candidates, although Conservative and NDP numbers also increased.

The overall voting shift to the Liberals was particularly strong among new Canadian voters, reflecting a mix of the overall shift to the Liberals in this election, perceived anti-immigrant bias and identity politics, and lack of support for Conservative restrictive citizenship and immigration policies.

In power, the Liberals implemented their diversity and inclusion commitment through the establishment of a Cabinet Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, Cabinet and Parliamentary Secretary appointments, Ministerial mandate letters and initial Senate appointments. They also set expectations for other senior appointments.

This short book provides data and related analysis with respect to the election results, political representation and leadership positions, and establishes the 2016 baseline for senior public servants, Governor in Council and judicial appointments by which to judge the Government’s implementation.

With over 40 charts and tables, Because it’s 2015 … is an invaluable reference for those interested in Canadian politics and diversity. iPad optimized.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Political Institutions
  3. Public Service Impact
  4. Governor in Council Appointments
  5. Judicial Diversity
  6. Concluding Observations

The End of Second Languages Is Near – The Daily Beast

The strengths and limitations of electronic translation tools:

Remember all those warnings that learning a second language would be a great asset in your future? It seems that years after your regrets about not paying attention and learning Spanish, technology has finally caught up and proven them wrong.

Tech company Waverly Labs is taking pre-orders for the kind of device you’d have seen in a space epic 30 years ago: a tiny smart earpiece, called “Pilot,” that real-time translates one language into another. Speak Spanish, hear English. Get it?

For decades, it’s been the work of science fiction to imagine a tiny earpiece translating someone’s words from another language to your own in real time. But in the last few years we’ve breached plenty of technological barriers to quick translation. Think of the dozens of languages available with Google’s translation tool, or the multiple apps that can translate signs, menus, and text in real time by using the camera on a smart device.

And all this without a live translator. This is just the latest in a series of technological advances in translation. The result: knowing the other language is unnecessary if you have the right tools.

For years it’s been a major boon in business to know a second language—and for the sake of relationships, it may still be. But it looks like in a few years you’ll be able to attend a German cocktail hour and know what’s being said, or make that trip to France and understand directions.

But the idea that a small earpiece and a couple of phone apps can turn that intimidating interaction into something casual (and that you can one day talk to Italian, Chinese, Indian, and Russian businesspeople without learning a word of their language) makes this hurdle a lot shorter.

That’s good news, especially for the U.S., because Americans aren’t great with second languages. About a quarter of Americans speak a second language conversationally, while the rest of the world’s polyglot numbers go above 50 percent.

It’s not a true closure to the gap though. There’s still interpersonal significance to the idea that you can speak to someone in their native language without some apparatus doing the heavy lifting—and if that person doesn’t speak your language, you can’t get by on one earpiece alone.

Furthermore, those same international businesspeople that you might envision working for or with want you to be fluent, not to buy an earpiece. There are countless studies and data points out there showing how much more valuable you are to a company as someone who can interact in two or more languages, and that’s not going to change within five or 10 years of a new Bluetooth earpiece hitting the market.

Still, it’s a lot less work than something like Rosetta Stone, because it doesn’t actually require you to learn anything—just to plug and play. And while multimillion dollar deals require fluency, those little emergency interactions on the street when you’re totally lost in a foreign city, or have your passport stolen, or don’t understand the taxi driver—those are all great occasions where technology can take over.

With the ubiquity of cellphones, particularly smartphones, increasing worldwide, it doesn’t look so touristy to hold up your phone to a sign to translate it. And tossing an earpiece in before jumping on a conference call might make your life a lot easier if there are non-English speakers speaking.

The final question then is one of perception: How bad does it look to let technology do the work? You would never write a formal business proposal and let Google do the translating work: it would lose grammar, craft, and it would miss idioms. Maybe then a few months or years of language study is good just so you don’t have one of those embarrassing misunderstandings where you tell someone they’re pregnant instead of smart.

Waverly Labs shows the Pilot smart earpiece as bridging the gap between an affectionate couple that experienced love at first sight, but never shared a common language. And as wonderful as the “thank god for technology” moment is, wouldn’t you rather be the kind of romantic that learns another person’s native tongue for them?

Opinion: Mass immigration cause of demand for housing

Herbert Grubel on the impact of immigration on the Vancouver housing market (overall immigration not just the wealthy).

While I agree with his characterization of many of the interest groups supporting continued high levels of immigration, his reference to the “silent majority” is left undefined: is it code for ‘old-stock’ Canadians or a more inclusive concept that includes many second generation new Canadians who face similar affordability issues (see Chinese real estate investors are reshaping the market):

The other alternative is curtailing mass immigration, which is the responsibility of the federal government. Such curtailment will not take place since federal politicians are pressured to maintain present policies by the many beneficiaries of mass immigration: the construction industry, real estate agents, employers hiring immigrants to keep labour costs low and increase profits, retailers benefiting from increased sales, the owners of land and homes whose capital gains depend on high demand by immigrants, the members of the immigration industry (lawyers, consultants, providers of adjustment assistance, teachers of English as a second language and others who are paid by government to serve immigrants), members of immigrant communities wanting to increase their economic and political influence, and immigrants who want to have their parents and grand-parents join them.

There are also Canadians who enjoy more abstract benefits from mass immigration: socially conscious people who want to do good and get satisfaction from seeing immigrants escape poverty in their home countries, and making Canada a globally admired multicultural society. Politicians whose re-election chances are increased by catering to these do-gooders and who, ironically, gain status and self-esteem by designing and financing at taxpayers’ expense policies for the assistance of those suffering from the high costs of housing.

Because of the politics surrounding building rules and immigration policies, Vancouver’s young will continue to suffer from the high and increasing costs of housing. Many will leave Vancouver. Some will live in the basement of their parents’ home or share accommodations with others, postponing and often forgoing marriage and having children.

However, eventually the silent majority of Vancouverites who do not benefit from mass immigration may vote for changes in federal policies. This will happen once this silent majority becomes aware of the negative effects on their own well being caused by mass immigration: fiscal deficits resulting in higher taxes; lower wages and incomes per person; traffic congestion, pollution, scarcity of family physicians, hospital beds and university places and diminishing returns from multiculturalism.

Source: Opinion: Mass immigration cause of demand for housing | Vancouver Sun

Germany’s AfD Party and Its Anti-Islam Platform – The Atlantic

Good analysis of the demographics of the right-wing vote:

The party’s beginnings weren’t quite so dramatic. The AfD started out in 2013 with a Ph.D.-riddled member list and a wonky Euroskeptic manifesto that could have lulled a caffeinated squirrel into a midday nap. It called for empowering national governments to ditch the euro, limiting state bailouts, and mandating national referenda for certain EU policies, alongside scintillating stipulationsabout European Central Bank maneuvers and alternative funding for renewable-energy subsidies. Yet the huge influx of predominantly Muslim refugees in the past year, along with incidents such as the infamous New Year’s Eve assaults on women by men seeming mostly to be of North African descent, has helped radicalize group. Last month’s manifesto not only declared Islam incompatible with German legal and cultural values, but also endorsed a ban on burqas and the call to prayer.

The AfD’s founder Bernd Lucke, an economics professor, left the party last summer, condemning rising xenophobia. Many other founding members have likewise defected. So who are the new supporters that helped the party to its best-ever election performance a few months ago? Which people, specifically, want to kick Islam out of Germany?

Demographically, surveys show, AfD supporters fit a certain loose profile. First, despite having a woman at the helm in the figure of Frauke Petry (as well as trigger-happy aristocrat Beatrix von Storch, who has advocated using deadly force illegal migrants at the border, as deputy party chief), AfD supporters are predominantly male. In January, one poll found 17 percent of male respondents nationwide would vote for AfD in a hypothetical immediate election, while only 2 percent of women would. In the March regional elections in the state of Sachsen-Anhalt, 27 percent of male voters chose AfD, as compared to 18 percent of female voters. As the German daily Die Zeit pointed out, that means AfD support follows roughly the same pattern as support for the intensely anti-Islamic pan-European movement PEGIDA (“Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West”).

Theories abound as to why and to what extent men are more likely to vote for far-right or xenophobic platforms than women—a pattern that holds with Trump supporters in the United States, as well as voters for Austria’s far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer, who just barely lost that country’s election this week. But few political scientists doubt that the trend exists in some form. “That’s one finding that we all agree on,” said David Art, a political-science professor at Tufts University who studies comparative politics and right-wing extremism.

A second trend in AfD demographics involves class. Originally, professors, journalists, and business leaders dominated the party, with over half the founding members in 2013 sporting a “Dr.” in front of their names. Surveys around the March 2016 elections in three German states, however, showed the AfD drawing about a third of its support from laborers, and another third from individuals currently unemployed. Those with “higher education” were in the minority. That’s not to say that AfD supporters are entirely uneducated, or that no one with a university degree continues to support the once doctorate-led party. But in general, said Kai Arzheimer, a political-science professor at the University of Mainz who has become the go-to expert on voter behavior in the AfD, “it’s people who have done Realschule, which doesn’t qualify you for entering a university, but is still quite a respectable degree.”

Third comes age. “[AfD supporters] are youngish to middle-aged,” said Arzheimer. “Interestingly, voters over 60 seem to shy from voting for the AfD because they’re still tied to the Christian Democrats,” Merkel’s center-right party.

… What all these voters seem to share, say the experts studying them, is intense concern about immigration and Islam—issues with extraordinary capabilities for generating strange bedfellows. “Suddenly the far-right is pro-Jewish because it’s anti-Muslim,” said Lenka Bustikova, a political scientist at Arizona State University who has studied far-right movements further east in Europe. “Suddenly with the [influx] of refugees you have this new twist: You are for Western gender rights because you think the Muslims are cavemen. It’s going to be interesting to watch.”

Source: Germany’s AfD Party and Its Anti-Islam Platform – The Atlantic

Tories unfairly targeted Muslims during election, supporter tells convention

Jenni Byrne still in denial mode?

A Muslim Conservative supporter took to the floor of the federal Tory convention in Vancouver to accuse her party of unfairly targeting Muslims during the failed 2015 election campaign.

Urz Heer, who hails from the riding of Brampton South in the Toronto area, told Conservative Party executive director Dustin van Vugt that the party made her feel like an outsider.

The Tories came under fire during the 2015 campaign for vowing to ban people from wearing the niqab head covering during citizenship swearing-in ceremonies and for pledging to consider barring public servants from donning the same garb at work.

 “This party worked actively and aggressively against my people,” Ms. Heer said as some fellow Conservatives disputed what she was saying.

“It did,” she said. “It didn’t differentiate who Muslims were versus the enemy.”

She said Conservative tactics spurred Muslims to vote against the Tories in the election, Ms. Heer said.

“For the first time I felt like I didn’t belong here and this was my country,” the Conservative delegate said.

Former Conservative campaign manager Jenni Byrne, also attending the Vancouver party convention, defended the campaign’s conduct. The Tories also promised late in the campaign to set up a tip line so Canadians could report allegations of “barbaric cultural practices.”

Ms. Byrne noted that Mr. Harper’s announcement in early October last year that his government would consider a ban on niqabs in the public service followed a court decision on the headgear.

A day before the Conservative Leader’s statement, the Federal Court of Appeal had rejected the Tory government’s request that its ruling on the unlawfulness of barring the garb from citizenship ceremonies be put on hold while it sought leave to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

“In terms of the barbaric cultural practices or the niqab debate, the campaign had absolutely no choice but to speak on it, the [former] prime minister had choice but to speak because there was a court ruling midway through the campaign. It wasn’t that it was a campaign choice. It was: we had to react to a court case,” Ms. Byrne said.

Source: Tories unfairly targeted Muslims during election, supporter tells convention – The Globe and Mail