In an announcement that surprised absolutely no one, the Ontario Auditor General announced that Metrolinx had wasted $436M with it’s incessant waffling over the past 10 years. Some highlights include: Adding completely unnecessary stations to Line 2 for political reasons, the constant and ridiculous farce that is the Scarborough subway plan and the Sheppard subway extension, and the terrible contracts signed to build the Eglinton Crosstown. I have no words. On the off chance that any city councillor or Metrolinx official is reading this, please, please stop reading high school newspapers and get your damn act together. [CBC]
Angry about the horrifying state of our city infrastructure? Well be ready to add jealousy to that list of emotions, because the tiny european Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has decided to make all it’s public transit free. When the policy takes effect in 2020, Luxembourg will be the first country in the world to have a free public transit system. Interestingly, Saron Gebresellasi, a former Toronto mayoral candidate proposed doing the exact same thing for the TTC.
[The Irish Times]
Don’t get too distracted in that European daydream, because the Toronto Police Department has recently announced that pedestrian deaths have increased significantly since last year, with 38 pedestrians dying in preventable accidents after being struck by cars. Stay safe out there.
Spotify has released their final statistics for 2018, and topping the charts for total streams is Toronto rapper Drake, receiving an unprecedented 8.2 Billion streams on Spotify. Drake also posted Spotify’s most streamed album with Scorpion, and their most streamed song with God’s Plan. He is now Spotify’s Most Streamed Artist of All Time. To paraphrase Tuscan Leather, his life is a completed checklist.
We end off this week with a goodbye to George Herbert Walker Bush, who passed away on November 30th at the age of 94. Bush had a long career in government, serving as a congressman, an ambassador, the Director of the CIA, Vice President to Ronald Reagan, and finally as President of the United States from 1989 to 1993. He was known for signing the NAFTA agreement, overseeing the end of the Cold War, and presiding over the first Gulf War. He had an excellent sense of humour, and no matter their disagreements on policy, was well loved by politicians on both sides of the isle. He will be missed.
The biggest diamond ever found in North America was recently discovered in the Diavik Mine in the Northwest Territories. The 552 Carat Fancy Yellow Diamond is the size of a chickens egg, making quite the fashion statement, though the companies which found it, Dominion Diamond Mines and the Rio Tinto Group, are apprehensive to provide an actual value at this time. [Financial Post]
2 Detained Canadians
In retribution for the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wangzhou for financial crimes in Vancouver, China detained two Canadians on suspicion of “engaging in activities that endanger the national security of China”. The two detainees are Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who went on leave to work with a think tank, and Michael Spavor, and entrepreneur who lives near the North Korean border, and has worked to further North Korea’s ties with the rest of the world. Both Canadian and US diplomats are working to secure their release. [CTV News]
5.3 Million Refugees
According to a recent UN report, 5.3 Million Venezuelans will have fled their country by 2019, in what is the biggest migration in South American history. The neighboring country of Colombia will bear the greatest burden, accepting 2.2 million refugees by the end of 2019. Venezuela has been wracked with hyperinflation and famine in recent years, with the country’s currency being so worthless it’s used for clothing, and just a loaf of bread costing several months wages. [The Washington Post]
68 Jailed Journalists
For the third year in a row, Turkey has jailed the more journalists than any other country, with 68 journalists behind bars. Journalists have been jailed on “terrorism” charges, for propagating “false news”, or, to strip away the euphemisms, for speaking against the state. Arrests of journalists have spiked around the world since 2016, when US President Donald Trump was elected, launching continuous attacks on his own domestic press, and encouraging others to do the same.
5000 Personnel, 3000 Reservists
The small balkan nation of Kosovo recently voted to establish a national army of 5000 personnel and 3000 reservists. NATO, which currently maintains a presence of 4000 troops in the nation, believed the move could be destabilizing, and neighboring Serbia, which Kosovo declared independence from in 2008. Only time will tell what the future holds for Kosovo, which still hasn’t achieved recognition at the UN. [CBC]