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How Did Canada Lose to Norway and Ireland in Its Campaign for a UN Security Council Seat?

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The Basics:   The United Nations was formed in 1945, at the end of World War II.  There were 51 member countries.  Harry S. Truman was President of the USA and the UN's home was established in New York City. The goal of the United Nations is world peace and security. The Security Council is the power center of the UN.  It has five permanent members, the "big" winners of WWII:  the USA, France, the UK, Russia, and China. On a rotational basis, other countries are elected by all 193 members of the UN General Assembly to occupy temporary, 2-year positions in the Security Council. There are currently 10 temporary (non-permanent, 2-year) positions in the Security Council. The permanent members have remained the same since 1945. The non-permanent positions are elected on a geographical basis, so Canada was competing against Ireland and Norway in what is known as the "Weog block" (Western Europe and Others). In the 2020, three-country competition for two Secu

The "We" Vote in Quebec

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Les Patriots  Today is la  Journée nationale des patriotes   in Québec .   (Prior to 2003 it was  Dollard des Ormeaux  Day in celebration of the garrison commander who died fighting the Iroquois [Haudenosaunee]  at the Battle of Long Sault in 1660. Times change.)  In the ROC (the Rest of Canada) today is  Victoria Day  (in honour of Queen Victoria). In popular lore,  les patriots  are remembered as French peasants battling their English overloads.  This version of history is at least partially true; however, some leaders of the rebellion in Lower Canada (today Quebec) were English (notably  Wolfred Nelson  and his brother,  Dr. Robert Nelson ), some  members of the upper class--opposing  les patriots -- were French Canadian seigneurs , and, at the same time (1839), a similar rebellion of English-speaking farmers was taking place against the ruling-elite  Family Compact  in Upper Canada for the same reasons--demanding representational government. In Quebec, history is o

Ethics by Numbers

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Ethics by numbers:   We might imagine that numbers can resolve an ethical dilemma.  Faced with two inescapable ethical choices, A and B: A will cause two deaths and B will cause one.  B seems the obvious ethical choice.  In the real world, ethical choices are rarely so straightforward.  In fact, even in the hypothetical world the choice isn't so clear. Ethics 101 When I was a student in Ethics 101, Professor Glass presented us with this standard thought experiment. You are on a boat cast adrift at sea with six other passengers. You have supplies enough for six people to survive. There is no hope of rescue. If you do nothing all seven people will die. What do you do?  How do you decide the ethical or moral course of action?  The scenario allows only four options: Do nothing. Save yourself. Sacrifice yourself "The greatest good for the greatest number of people." I used this scenario in a number of classes for varying reasons: sometimes as a “ values cl

The Grapes of Wrath

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Number 10 on the list of top 100 novels John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath is number 10 on the Modern Library's list of the 100 Top Novels of the 20th Century.  After a couple of years trying to convince my students of the virtues of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (#6 on the list ), I gave up and substituted the more accessible, single-third-person narrative, not-stream-of-consciousness Steinbeck novel.  In the process of teaching it, my admiration for the novel grew.  But what does "Grapes of Wrath" mean? The title was suggested by Carol Steinbeck It is widely reported that the title was suggested by Faulkner's first wife , Carol Henning Steinbeck . The expression “Grapes of Wrath” comes from the Bible: Revelation 14:19–20 (New Testament) and Isaiah 63 (Old Testament). The expression was re-used in the lyrics of “ The Battle Hymn of the Republic ” written during the American Civil War. "Wrath" means anger  In the si

How the World Ends

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"This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but with a whimper."                                             T. S. Eliot  " The Hollow Men" Asteroids and comets The world will end.  The only questions are how and when.  On average, the earth is struck by an asteroid big enough to reshape if not devastate the planet every 100 million years.  The last major impact was 66 million years ago.  You might want to keep an eye on the sky for the next 34 million years or so.  Sudbury was hit nearly 2 billion years ago, so maybe we in Ontario, Canada, will be spared next time. The Grapes of Wrath Even if you are one of those people who believe that the speck of space dust we all live on, and everything else, was created by a fair-skinned old man with a long beard who made us "in his image and likeness" (though vice versa seems more likely to me), you must still accept that his Angel of Death will eventually cut us down with his sickle and cast us

Why Is the Coronavirus Getting So Much Attention?

Coronavirus disease versus the flu According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine web site , as of February 6, 2020, the Coronavirus disease has caused 2, 810 deaths worldwide.  In comparison, the flu kills between 291,000 and 646,00 people every year.  Why has the Coronavirus gotten so much attention?  According to Dr. Bonnie Henry, a BC Health Inspector, the objective is to contain the virus.  In theory, once it has nowhere to spread, it will be restricted to the animal population from which it first emerged. "The Truth about PHEICs" ( P ublic H ealth E mergency of I nternational C oncern) Containment is a nice idea, but it has become obvious that containment and quarantine haven't been working and generally don't work.  In an opinion piece on the Ebola crisis, entitled " The Truth about PHEICs ," Professor Emeritus Johan Giesecke, writing on behalf of the WHO [ W orld H ealth O rganization] Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards,