50 years ago we walked on the moon, and it transformed life on Earth
Many years ago, I was reading a blog post by a blogger I’d been following for a while. She wrote about a recent struggle with depression and her honest words made such an impact on me. I remember thinking how brave it was for her to tell her story. While I hated that she was […]
Podcast placeholder leading up to July 20
Sea sponges are better than scientists at DNA collection
Honing in on why some people think beets taste and smell like dirt
An AI learned numeracy while being trained for another task
Darwin’s finches are being devastated by beak parasites
Do electric car batteries take more CO2 to make than they save?
Dogs expressive eyebrows make us fall for their cute faces
Your Wi-Fi router could be used to watch you in your home
It’s been been a while since I checked in on my favourite “fearless source of news, opinion, and activism that you can’t find anywhere else”. I was therefore shocked – shocked! – to discover that the Rebel appears in the…
…but far from built. I’ve talked about this before. My opinion is that Trudeau did the right thing by approving the pipeline. You can’t really rule this country if the entire middle bit hates your guts because you took away the…
In our first ever Quirks & Quarks public debate, recorded live in Toronto, astronaut Chris Hadfield, cosmologist Renée Hložek, planetary scientist Marianne Mader and space flight historian Amy Shira Teitel weigh in on whether we should leave space to the robots. An extended podcast edition includes Q&A segments not in the radio broadcast.
I’ve been asked a few times, “Have I read anything you’ve written?” My first smart-ass instinct is to reply, “I don’t know, what do you read?” But I don’t. Because for some people, meeting a writer is surprising. They don’t know what to say and that’s …
Congratulations to Dr. Michael Mann for successfully putting the boots to Winnipeg’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy. They defamed him; he fought back and won. See their grovelling apology below. Bask in their tears. &nbs…
How we’re trying to prove we own the North Pole
Magnetic stimulation may reverse concussion symptoms in the future
25 years of research on the genetics of depression is wrong
Elephants can smell numbers – sort of
Microplastics are everywhere – including in your food and drink
Following every natural disaster, we see television news and online videos of destruction. Images of destroyed homes, cars and trucks flipped over, and boats well inland instead of in the water, show us the massive damage nature can cause. But for the thousands who are living through the seemingly unprecedented number of tornadoes, serious storms, and flooding, it’s not a video. It’s very real. The disasters are leaving thousands of families uprooted, with some losing loved ones.
But after the storms have passed over and the waters have receded, after the news cameras leave and people stop taking videos, the residents are left with not only putting their lives back together, but with the potential of serious illness or injury, after the fact.
While the emergency is occurring, the most important issue is survival. This means taking cover or evacuating. But once the imminent threat has left, other dangers may lurk. From broken water and sewage systems to terrified wild animals, survivors may be exposed to dangers they’ve never faced before.
Infection following a natural disaster is common in many areas. Infections can spread quickly in crowded shelters. People who walk around the disaster area can injure themselves by tripping on debris. They can cut themselves while trying to move things or be hit by material that may still be falling. Frightened pets and wild animals may be driven into unfamiliar territory and may bite.
With so many tornadoes touching down in North America this spring, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the topic. A while ago, I wrote about the connection between national disasters for Sepsis Alliance, an organization I work with. If you would like to read more about the types of infections that could follow a natural disaster, visit Sepsis and Natural Disasters, found on the Sepsis Alliance website.
Right whales are dying from ship strikes thanks to climate change
Supernovae might have been the trigger for our ancestors to descend from the trees
Ancient beer comes back to life using 5,000 year old yeast
People in Washington will soon be able to turn their loved ones into soil
Video games might be just the homework your kids need this summer
The giant beaver did not eat wood, which led to its extinction
Dispersant breaks oil down into droplets, where bacteria break them down further,
Building machine-like biomaterial with key traits of life
Billion-year-old fungus fossils shed light into ancient evolutionary history
How have sharks developed a taste for twittering songbirds?
Finding the beauty in a dreaded subject: calculus
The Erin Weir debacle continues to haunt the federal New Democrats. It underscores party leader Jagmeet Singh’s seeming policy confusion and calls into question his political judgment.
It just won’t go away.
Weir is the Regina MP who was expelled from the NDP caucus last year and barred from running again for the party. His sin? He had dared to defend himself against charges of sexual harassment.
This week, the 37-year-old, lifelong New Democrat conceded that he won’t run under his party’s banner in the fall election. Nor will he run as an independent. He will sit this one out.
The Weir saga began with a 2018 email from NDP MP Christine Moore to fellow caucus members claiming that he had harassed not her but other, unnamed women. Singh almost immediately suspended Weir from caucus, while his office began a search for women willing to complain. Eventually, four were found. Three said Weir stood too close to them when talking and didn’t know when to shut up. The fourth said he had twice yelled at her over the issue of carbon tariffs — once during a policy debate and again later in an elevator.
At another time, these complaints might have been kept in perspective. But in the #MeToo frenzy of 2018, they were viewed as unforgivable political crimes. Weir was ordered to apologize to the “survivors” and take sensitivity training. He readily agreed, but with one exception. He didn’t see why he should apologize to someone for having heated words over a policy issue — even if that someone were female.
When his accuser was quoted anonymously on CBC, Weir responded to media requests for his side of the story. That, it seemed, was truly unpardonable. Singh expelled him from caucus and barred him from running for the NDP in the fall federal election.
In particular, Singh faulted him “for diminishing the finding of harassment by claiming that this was in fact a policy disagreement.” “It’s a bit Orwellian,” Weir told me in telephone interview this week. “If you try to defend yourself, it only proves that you’re guilty.”
In January, the Regina-Lewvan NDP constituency association asked Singh to reconsider and let Weir contest the nomination. Singh refused. Earlier, 68 prominent Saskatchewan New Democrats, including 13 former MPs, made a similar pitch. Singh dismissed that plea as coming from “people in a position of privilege.”
It was a comment that didn’t go over well in Saskatchewan.
The NDP will rue its treatment of Weir. It has been not only unfair but unproductive. A former economist for the Steelworkers Union, Weir has a keen understanding of the political economy of his home province.
On the issue of energy pipelines, for instance, he understands both the need to combat global warming and the dollars-and-cents reality of his constituents.
He favours construction of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta’s tarsands to the Pacific Coast. In part that’s because the pipes for such a project are manufactured in Regina. In part, it’s because “to the extent that we continue to use oil,” pipelines are the safest way to move petroleum.
He says he is baffled that “the current leadership” of his party has taken no position on carbon pricing, given that this issue promises to be central to the October election.
He’s equally baffled that Singh opposes all oil pipelines but appears to favour building new natural gas pipelines in British Columbia. (In fact, the NDP leader has suggested, at different times, that he both supports and opposes a plan to pipe B.C. natural gas to the Pacific Coast for liquefaction and export to Asia.)
Many New Democrats will disagree with Weir on the pipeline question. But he’s right that the party needs to clarify its muddled position.
He’s also right that vigorous debate between those who happen to be men and those who happen to be women shouldn’t automatically be treated as sexual harassment. Such an approach does no sex any favours.
Thomas Walkom is a Toronto-based columnist covering politics. Follow him on Twitter: @tomwalkom
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