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Bob Broughton's Blog: A travel guide to Cuba

I made a visit to Cuba in January, 2015. I relied heavily on Lonely Planet: Cuba. This publication is a bit too friendly to the current government of Cuba, so I’m taking the trouble here to provide my version of The Real Story.

First, I did not go to Varadero or any of the all-inclusive resorts. I didn’t spend a single night in a regular hotel. This is not what the government wants. They want to transport you from the airport to one of the all-inclusives, and transport you back to the airport a week later. That way, you have (Read more…)

Bob Broughton's Blog: Interview with Cuban dissident economist Marta Beatriz Roque

Marta Beatriz Roque is the founder of the Cuban Institute of Independent Economists, and a prominent Cuban dissident who has been in and out of prison several times.

Robert Broughton: You recently had a visit from a group of Democratic U.S. Senators and Members of Congress: Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Michigan), Sen. Dick Durbin (Illinois), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Maryland 8th), and Rep. Peter Welch (Vermont at-large). What message did you have for them?

Marta Beatriz Roque: I told the Congressmen (Senators and Representatives) that whether I agreed or not [with (Read more…)

Bob Broughton's Blog: My brief survey of Mexican food

Now that I’ve lived in Mexico for over two years, here’s some culinary discoveries I’ve made.

Coctel de camarones (shrimp cocktails): Shrimp and avocado in a spicy red sauce. I’ve learned that the difference between the good ones and the not-so-good ones is, the not-so-good ones are made with ketchup. The best ones I’ve found in Guanajuato are in the Embajadores Park (see picture). The best one I’ve found in Mexico was in the Old Town of Mazatlan.

Cerdo (pork): There’s something that they do when they cook pork that makes it melt in your mouth. (Read more…)

Mind of Dan: Bah Humbug!

Physicists who want to protect traditional Christmas realize that the only way to keep from changing Christmas is not to observe it.

(via xkcd)

That is all.

Things Are Good: So Many Blogs About Sustainability!

Site like Things Are Good which cover good news about the environment, people, and politics aren’t that rare. When we started this site nearly 10 years ago there were few options to find places that cover good news. That has since changed.

Recently the folks over at AHAALiving did a round up of just Canadian blogs covering sustainability issues.

So we get our thrift shop-sourced knickers all knotted up in the best possible way when we find a good sustainability read online. We’re always looking out for the next David Suzuki (we need so many of them), and we truly (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Sonnet 103

Alack! what poverty my Muse brings forth, So begins Shakespeare’s sonnet number 103 (I started rereading the sonnets recently because, well because it’s Shakespeare, damn it all, and what other reason would anyone need?). It’s a sentiment I well know. The impoverished Muse thing, I mean. There are three dozen pieces in draft mode I’ve […]

calgaryliberal.com: Shutting down the blog.

Turns out a job doesn’t leave much time for blogging. And a 65-75 hour a week job makes it even tougher to fit in the time to write. Also, I find I’m writing all day, every day. So the urge to write more all night too isn’t that much of a driving force. There is, after […]

Bob Broughton's Blog: Mexico initiates major high-speed rail project

On August 16, Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transport (SCT) Gerardo Ruiz Esparza and Governor Jose Calzada Rovirosa of the State of Querétaro announced the tender for a high-speed passenger rail line between Mexico City and Querétaro, a city of one million people 218 km. northwest of Mexico City. There are five or six potential bidders, and the bids are expected in four months.

The cost of the project is estimated at $3.2 billion. The train will travel at 300 km./hour, making the travel time 58 minutes. The one-way fare is expected to be $24. Trains will run (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: FOAD #Tarsands

With the mountain of evidence piling up against dirty tarsand bitumen extraction, those who’ve sucked on the oilpatch teat too long to maintain any perspective, are desperate to save face.

Some think saving face means making fun of mine.

@saskboy New compelling evidence that saskboys goatee is a climate change denier. @JJRossi_ k I'm done now. http://t.co/yVjz20y1Lk— FWC (@welloiledgun) August 09, 2014

Federal government has spent $40 million in promoting the #oilsands: study ht.ly/A7NZ2 cc @CleanEnergyCan http://t.co/RsqMfOXKlJ— Vancouver Observer (@VanObserver) August 09, 2014

@saskboy @JJRossi_ @Fitzzer777 I am (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Cardiac Canada Day

[This is written August 2nd, 2014, but published July 1st, 2014, as it wasn't possible for me to write a first-hand account of this year's Canada Day.]

Canada Day started out like many other vacations spent in the city, with me volunteering an hour at a community booth. I was a bike valet from 11:00 a.m. to noon, watching peoples’ bikes for them. Soon after noon I rode off to find a few minutes of adventure before planning to return home to my girlfriend’s, where we were taking the kids over to a local park to meet another (Read more…)

Bob Broughton's Blog: My Tienanmen Square experience

The current media coverage of the 25th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre has brought back some memories for me. I walked around Tienanmen Square one month after this event.

No, I do not go around looking for trouble. The trip that took me through Beijing was part of a trip that had been planned for a long time. I had been living in Oslo, Norway for three years, and wanted to return to Vancouver by traveling by rail from Oslo to Stockholm, by ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki, by rail from Helsinki to Hong Kong, then flying from Hong (Read more…)

Bob Broughton's Blog: Virginia Intermont College closes its doors

Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, VA held its final graduation ceremony in May 4, 2014. The school had been in financial trouble for a while. The beginning of the end came in 2013, when the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) terminated the school’s accreditation. Although nobody ever confused VI with Harvard, this action was not taken because of academic standards. Instead, the problem was that VI had an unsustainable economic model. What this meant was, most of the school’s revenue was coming from student tuition, and not from endowments and donations.

The SACS decision became a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Read more…)

Art Threat: Transform This: iconic Johnny Cash photo used to protest Saskatchewan university cuts

Things may soon be looking grim for many students and faculty at the University of Saskatchewan.

The Saskatoon-based institution is looking to slash up to $25 million from its operating budget. In a restructuring process the administration has branded TransformUS, the UofS is currently determining “university priorities”, after which they plan to “eliminate or reduce programs or services which rank as having lower priority”.

Many members of the university community have been vocal in their opposition to the planned cuts, arguing that the process lacks transparency and damages the traditional role of a post-secondary institution. Two open letters express (Read more…)

Art Threat: Should artists be able to pay taxes with artwork?

As income tax filing deadlines approach across North America, many Mexican artists will be counting canvases instead of pay stubs. In Mexico, a country that has lost over $870 billion to tax evasion and money laundering, hundreds of artists aren’t required to pay a dime in tax. Instead, they pay the government with artwork.

For decades the federal Mexican government has allowed artists to take part in their Pago en Especie (Payment in Kind) program, which allows them to pay their federal income taxes with their own artwork.

For artists in the program, tax math is incredibly simple. If they (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: ConCalls: No Charges Despite New Prescott #RoboCon Information

After giving some immunity to a man who either lied to me, or to Elections Canada’s investigators, Canada’s election agency has no new charges to announce against the perpetrators of 2011′s Guelph or national election fraud robocalls.

Andrew Prescott’s information fingers the already charged Michael Sona, and the exiled Ken Morgan who is living in Kuwait. Prosecutors will have to decide if he is telling them the truth, or if he was telling me the truth when he told me in an email conversation he’d asked me to share on my blog last year:

Feel free to think whatever you (Read more…)

Art Threat: Revolutionary singer banned from Egyptian arts festival

Mohamed Mohsen, an Egyptian musician who became popular during the country’s 2011 uprising, was prevented from performing at the Cairo Opera House during an arts festival this past week.

Known for his political songwriting, Mohsen says he was given the boot by representatives of the Egyptian president’s office who escorted him out of the building shortly before he was to take the stage, due to unspecified “security concerns”. Interim President Adly Mansour was in attendance, along with military chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

This year marked the long awaited return of the Eid el-Fan, which was introduced by President (Read more…)

Art Threat: Banksy video asks that we stand #WithSyria on third anniversary of conflict

This week marks the third anniversary of the crisis in Syria, and a new campaign involving Banksy asks that we stand in solidarity with Syrians.

#WithSyria asks the public to place pressure on political leaders to “do everything they can to make this the last anniversary marked by bloodshed.” The campaign takes graphic inspiration from Banksy’s iconic Balloon Girl, which was reworked into a young Syrian refugee and placed into a video featuring Idris Elba and English alternative rock act Elbow.

“Banksy’s iconic “Girl with the Red Balloon” is a picture of hope,” explains the #WithSyria website. “The red (Read more…)

Art Threat: Michelangelo’s David takes up arms in American gun ad

An American weapons manufacturer is the subject of outrage in Italy — but this international offensive lies strictly within the cultural realm.

ArmaLite, an Illinois-based small arms engineering firm, has bestowed indignity upon Michelangelo’s David by using the classical sculpture as a prop in a rifle advertisement.

The tacky advert has incensed Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini, who made his displeasure public on Twitter yesterday: “The advertisement image of David armed offends and infringes the law.”

The ad itself is nearly a year old, having first been tweeted by ArmaLite itself as part of an promotional campaign last (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: 100,000 thank yous

Last week, I passed 100,000 unique views on this blog – in slightly over two years since it was started. Not large by any means, given that some sites easily get that in a month. But a personal milestone for me.* Thank you, gentle readers, for coming here, for spending time with my humble scribblings**, […]

Art Threat: Contest: Win swag from Rhymes for Young Ghouls!

Rhymes for Young Ghouls, the debut feature film by Canadian director Jeff Barnaby that garnered well-deserved praise on the film festival circuit this year, including a top ten film nod from TIFF, is opening this month at theatres in Canada’s three largest cities.

The movie is currently screening in Toronto at Cineplex (Younge & Dundas) and Vancouver’s Vancity Theatre, and kicks off in Montreal on February 28 at the Cineplex Forum and Ex-Centris.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls tells the grim story of an Aboriginal teenager who plots revenge against a sadistic Indian Agent, all the while guided by (Read more…)

Art Threat: Feminist Art editing marathon creates 100 new Wikipedia entries

Less than 13 percent of Wikipedia contributors are female, an uncomfortable imbalance that skews the content that is found on the tremendously popular resource.

Last week nearly 600 volunteers around the planet stormed Wikipedia in a marathon effort to put a dent in this disparity by adding 100 new pages about women artists, and contributing new content to roughly 80 others.

The Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon, which was largely coordinated by the fantastic folks at Eyebeam, trained hundreds of new contributors on Wikipedia guidelines and culture before setting them loose to beef up content related to contemporary art and (Read more…)

Art Threat: Pinko cyclists rejoice: Rob Ford film on the way

It was inevitable: a Rob Ford movie is coming soon to a theatre near you.

Just one week after the book release of Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, by Toronto Star journalist Robyn Doolittle, Canadian production company Blue Ice Pictures have snapped up the film and television rights to the story.

“If you tried to make this story up, people would think it was over the top,” Doolittle said in a statement. “The Rob Ford investigation is something I’ve been working on for more than two years. It’s something I’m obviously very invested in. It’s so much more (Read more…)

Art Threat: Skinny Puppy bills US military for music use in torture

The U.S. military is using a Vancouver band’s music to torture prisoners at Guantanamo Bay — and the artists are working to make sure they pay for it.

Electro-industrial act Skinny Puppy has learned through a former guard at Gitmo that inmates would be drowned in their unsettling sounds for up to twelve hours at a time — or until they literally crapped their pants.

Skinny Puppy co-founder cEvin Key spoke to CBC’s As It Happens about the situation, which the band is strongly opposed to. They plan on sending the American government a bill for $666,000 — an (Read more…)

Mind of Dan: We made it to the Galapagos

Be perfectly honest, do I have something on my face?

Mind of Dan: Our time in Baños was well spent

Paragliding at sunset one day and looking out over the Amazon the next.

The Amazon, shortly after a downpour

Paragliding at sunset