What’s the hottest headwear in Montreal on these cold winter days? Surprisingly, it’s not woolen toques or fur hats. Lately, Quebecers wanting to make a fashionable, yet political, statement are wearing kippot covered in the Fleur-de-lis.
The kippot are the brainchild of a young Montreal rabbi who felt it was time for Jewish Quebecers to wear their opposition to Bill 60 not only on their sleeves, but also on their heads.
The province’s ruling nationalist Parti Quebecois, led by Premier Pauline Marois, tabled Bill 60 in the National Assembly in early November. The proposed legislation, also known as the Charter of Quebec Values, would ban the display of religious symbols and the wearing of religious garb by public employees.
“The best way to protest the charter is to wear religious symbols,” says Rabbi Yisroel Bernath. Known as “Montreal’s Hip Rabbi,” he is the spiritual director of Chabad Notre-Dame-de-Grace & Loyola Campus, and the Jewish chaplain at Concordia University.
Bernath, a 31-year-old transplant from Chicago, is astonished at how his Québec Kippa has taken off. Right after Bill 60 was tabled, he made a mock-up image of the skullcap and posted it on his Facebook and Twitter feeds. The link went viral, and people started asking him when he was going to actually make the kippot featuring the provincial symbol.
Initially, the rabbi and his friend Herschel Weil bought some white kippot and ironed on a Fleur-de-lis patch. Soon after, they found a fabric with the appropriate pattern and approached kippa-maker Rhonda Levy, asking her to make a batch of 400 kippot for them.
“I really wanted it to be made locally in Quebec,” Bernath emphasizes.
They had a better picture, but the file size was too big so I used that one instead
Halloween is a controversial day in Australia. The holiday is not traditionally observed there widely, but kids are still aware of it from TV and movies. So, every year, an increasing number of Australian children dress up in costume and go door-to-door for candy, as the grown-ups debate whether they should continue to resist the foreign cultural imposition.
“If any children approach my building, I’m just going to silently admire them from the intercom screen and pretend that I’m not home. I won’t be the only one,” Australian writer Van Badham declared in Wednesday’s Guardian, as part of the annual Australian tradition of refusing to enjoy Halloween. “For people like my mother, it’s a deliberate rejection of the kind of U.S. imperialism that suckered her generation not into witches hats and candy, but Australian participation in the Vietnam war.”
In which John discusses the complicated reasons why the United States spends so much more on health care than any other country in the world, and along the way reveals some surprising information, including that Americans spend more of their tax dollars on public health care than people in Canada, the UK, or Australia. Who’s at fault? Insurance companies? Drug companies? Malpractice lawyers? Hospitals? Or is it more complicated than a simple blame game? (Hint: It’s that one.)
For a much more thorough examination of health care expenses in America, I recommend this series at The Incidental Economist: theincidentaleconomist.com
The Commonwealth Fund’s Study of Health Care Prices in the US: commonwealthfund.org
Some of the stats in this video also come from this New York Times story: nytimes.com
This is the first part in what will be a periodic series on health care costs and reforms leading up to the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, in 2014.
A lesbian couple in Kingston, Ontario, received threatening letters from people claiming ‘Christianity’ as the motive.
Sigh. Must remember my mantra.
To be angered by evil is to partake of it, stupid. - Phrases of Import and Salvation, Chapter IX, The Book of Universal Truths and Other Humorous Anecdotes
Our society has really screwed up priorities.
The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed the appeal of Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford’s much-publicized conflict of interest case—and rightly so in my opinion. No reasons for dismissing the appeal were provided by the court. The dismissal, however, did not seem to surprise legal experts who reportedly say the court only accepted 12 per cent of appeal requests made last year.
Two nights ago a truck transporting fireworks hit a moose on the Trans-Canada highway. The truck then caught fire and that, of course set off the fireworks. Luckily no one was hurt.
Only in Canada, eh.
In a recent interview, Justin Trudeau spoke about looking for the root causes of home grown terrorism when asked what he would do if an event like the Boston Marathon bombing happened in Canada. Apparently that was a mistake. So the Canadian right tells us.
They went ballistic after his comments and are now using his response as validation of their previous claim that Trudeau isn’t mature enough to lead the country. What they really mean is Trudeau isn’t violently right wing enough to lead the country. In their eyes, to be right wing enough means to shoot without asking questions because asking questions about root causes precludes the ability to shoot. The PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, went so far as to condemn the act of ‘committing sociology’ when it comes to terrorist attacks.
TORONTO - Muslims want a safe Canada, too.
That’s what Muhammad Robert Heft, a Muslim community leader in Scarborough, wants his fellow Torontonians to know as the RCMP arrested a Muslim man in the GTA for allegedly plotting a rail attack that would have taken innocent lives. Not only do Muslims in the city condemn the attack, they turned over information in a bid to help foil it.
“There is going to be backlash,” he said, alluding to those who will blame the Muslim community. “But I want to reiterate. Who was the one who tipped the RCMP off? It was our community.”
Heft said Muslim leaders are often criticized for not speaking up or not turning over information about radicalized community members. They are cooperating, he said.
“We have to be on the front lines,” he said. “To either nip it in the bud in the very beginning or co-operate with authorities so they can be brought to justice.”
Heft himself runs an out-reach program for youth who are at risk of being radicalized.
Rehtaeh Parsons was a 17 year old Canadian girl in Nova Scotia who committed suicide last week after being gang raped in 2011, and then being harrassed and bullied ever since. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police conducted an investigation lasting almost a year, and then declined to press any charges, citing a lack of evidence.
The internet “hacktavist” group known as Anonymous (of which I am generally not a fan), says they were able to solve the crime in about two hours:
Scary and unpredictable hackers though they are, they didn’t delve into anyone’s Facebook or email accounts to figure out who the rapists are. People close to the individuals in the case flooded Anonymous accounts with testimony.
Anonymous deduced that the primary rapist in the case shouldn’t be all that hard to catch, since he bragged about the crime and took a picture of himself doing it.
You can read the statement from Anonymous here (or watch the video below), but here are some of their best reasons the case should be re-opened (and can be solved):
Witness testimony – If nothing else, it seems that dozens of teens and adults heard the rapists at least brag about taking part in the Rehtaeh Parsons gang rape.
EXIF data – since a photo of Rehtaeh’s rape was reportedly circulated among hundreds of students, Anonymous wonders if authorities even bothered to check.
The school did nothing – they said they didn’t know, but if child pornography is going viral in your hallways, shouldn’t you know?
Below is the video from Anonymous.
Who failed Rehtaeh Parsons?
Rehtaeh Parsons Suicide: Halifax Teen Kills Herself After Alleged Rape, Online Bullying
Nova Scotia bully case: Province criticized for inaction after teen’s suicide
Angel Rehtaeh (A Facebook memorial page)