Archive for the 'Politics' category

Science in Canada: Save PEARL, The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory

Sep 26 2017 Published by under Canada, climate change, Politics, Science in Canada

Deja vu all over again. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Canadian science under the Harper government from 2006 to 2015 was a horrific era of cuts and closures and muzzling and a whole lot of other attack on science.

One of the most egregious was the threat to close the PEARL arctic research station. (PEARL website) Fortunately, the outcry was so fierce that the Harper government extended PEARL's funding for five years. Well, guess what? The five years is up and PEARL is threatened with closure once more.

Canadian science under the Justin Trudeau Liberals has shown signs of improvement, but has a ways to go.

One way for them to show their commitment to science (and to the environment and fighting climate change) would be to restore funding to PEARL and establish it as a permanent laboratory.

The fine folks at Evidence for Democracy have a campaign running whereby you can send a letter toScience Minister Kirsty Duncan asking to restore that funding.

The link is here.

The descriptive text from the E4D campaign site is here, including a great description of the importance of PEARL:

Canada’s high Arctic research station, The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) will be closed in 2018 because its funding is being cut.

Surprised? So are we.

The federal government has made it clear that science and climate change are two of their top priorities, so why are they closing this key research station?

With the impacts of our changing climate already being felt in Canada and around the world, investing in climate science is a necessary part of ensuring that our decisions and actions around climate change mitigation and adaptation are based on up-to-date science and evidence.

PEARL is one of only a handful of high Arctic research stations in the world. From its scientifically strategic location in Canada’s high arctic, PEARL is able to investigate crucial environmental issues like ozone depletion, airborne spread of pollutants and monitor high Arctic climate changes.

After over a decade of internationally recognized scientific research, PEARL is at risk of closing.

PEARL, along with six other climate change and atmospheric research projects were all funded by the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research Program (CCAR). Money for the CCAR program runs out this year and the federal government did not announce any new funds in the 2017 budget. Without immediate new funding, all of these research programs are expected to end.

But it’s not too late to save PEARL and Canadian atmospheric climate science! Join us in asking the government to:

  • Invest $1.5 million per year to make PEARL a national laboratory
  • Provide a well supported and stable funding environment for climate research in Canada by reinstating a funding model for climate science similar to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS) that was cut by the Harper government.

Given the Government’s commitment to addressing climate change, investing in climate and atmospheric science should be at the forefront of funding priorities.

With climate science under attack in the US, Canada has an opportunity and a responsibility to be international leaders on climate science. This starts by making sure PEARL and the other CCAR-funded projects aren’t shuttered.

The government has supported a new northern research center, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), which is a valuable asset to Canadian polar knowledge. But there is no indication that any atmospheric or climate change research will be untaken at CHARS. Also CHARS is located 1200 km south of PEARL, so it simply can’t replace the high arctic data collected at PEARL.

Shutdown preparations at PEARL have already begun, we need urgent action to save this essential research station.

Send a message to the Minister of Science today.

The text of the letter to Minister Duncan:

Dear Minister Duncan,

Thank you for making science and climate change priorities for your government.

I am concerned that Canada’s high arctic research station, The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) is set to close at the end of this year unless its funding is renewed.

PEARL, along with the other projects funded by the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research program, conduct crucial research into important issues like ozone depletion, airborne spread of pollutants and changes to our climate.

Without new funding, we risk losing these facilities in the Arctic. This will jeopardize data continuity, productive collaborations between academic and government scientists, and recruitment of new researchers into the field.

I urge you to ensure that Canada continues to be a global leader in climate science by:
- Investing $1.5 million per year to make PEARL a national laboratory that could be overseen by Polar Knowledge Canada or Environment and Climate Change Canada; and
- Providing a well supported and stable funding environment for climate research in Canada by reinstating a funding model for climate science similar to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS) that was cut by the Harper government.

These investments are a necessary complement to the other arctic and climate change research your government is investing in. While the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) is a valuable asset to Canadian stewardship of polar science, there is no indication that any atmospheric or climate change research will be undertaken there, nor does its location (1200 km south of PEARL) allow for the same high arctic data collection currently taking place at PEARL.

The funding of PEARL and the other CCAR projects are an essential part of ensuring that our decisions and actions around climate change mitigation and adaptation are based on up-to-date science and evidence.

I'm working on a readings list post about PEARL and hope to have that up within the next few days.

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The Trump War on Science: Daring blindness, Denying climate change, Destroying the EPA and other daily disasters

The last one of these was in mid-June, so we're picking up all the summer stories of scientific mayhem in the Trump era. The last couple of months have seemed especially apocalyptic, with Nazis marching in the streets and nuclear war suddenly not so distant a possibility. But along with those macro-level issues, Trump and his cronies are still hammering away at climate change denial, environmental protection, research funding and public health issues. As exhausting as it seems -- and this is part of the plan -- amongst all of us opposed to Trump, we need to keep track of a wide range of issues.

If I'm missing anything important, please let me know either in the comments or at my email jdupuis at yorku dot ca. If you want to use a non-work email for me, it's dupuisj at gmail dot com.

The selections are by no means meant to represent a comprehensive account of everything written about science and science-related over the last few months. I'm not aiming for anything than complete or comprehensive. For example, there are probably hundreds of articles written about climate-change related issues over that period, but I'm just picking up what I hope is a representative sample.

The last time around was a bit more thematically organized rather than chronologically. I'm trying the later organizational method this time around to see if I can get a sense of which I prefer or which seems more useful.

This post covers from approximately mid-June, 2017 up to August 31, 2017. The fact that most days -- even in the summer -- there are multiple things to report is terrifying.

A few general resources:

 
And now the full list:
 

 

As usual, if there are any errors in the above list or if I've missed anything significant, please let me know in the comments. If you'd prefer not to comment, you can let me know via email at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or my non-work email dupuisj at gmail dot com.

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The Trump War on Science: EPA budget cuts, More on climate change, The war on wildlife and other recent stories

Jun 16 2017 Published by under climate change, Politics, Trump war on science

Another couple of weeks' worth of stories about how science is faring under the Donald Trump regime. If I'm missing anything important, please let me know either in the comments or at my email jdupuis at yorku dot ca. If you want to use a non-work email for me, it's dupuisj at gmail dot com.

The selections are by no means meant to represent a comprehensive account of everything written about science over the last couple of weeks. I'm aiming for something representative rather than complete or comprehensive. For example, there are probably hundreds of articles written about the Paris Climate Agreement over the past few weeks and I've only chosen a few for this list.

By the way, the idea that this long list of items is from just a little over two weeks is astounding to me. And by astounding, I mean terrifying.

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The Donald Trump War on Science: Pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and other recent stories

May 31 2017 Published by under Politics, Trump war on science

For people who are wondering why I'm not doing more of my patented chronologies or collections of posts, the answer is pretty simple. There's so damn much going on it's hard for me to find the time and mental energy to bring it all together. I'm currently working on posts covering the Trump budget proposal as well as the story about the various issue with the Environmental Protection Agency. I'm not sure when I'll get to complete those, but in both cases the story is on-going. I'm also hoping to do an update on the March for Science post.

I may also compile the story around Paris Agreement and climate change.

In the meantime, here's some of the reporting from the last week or so, quick and dirty. I'll try and do these quicker posts more frequently. I'm saving the links anyway to include in the larger posts, so collecting on the blog shouldn't be too hard to get to.

If I've missed anything significant from the last week or so, please let me know in the comments or at jdupuis at yorku dot ca.
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Here's a list of my previous blog posts concerning the Trump War on Science:

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My remarks at the Toronto March for Science

Many thanks to the organizers of this past weekend's March on Science here in Toronto. They invited me to be part of the amazing roster of speakers for the event. I was honoured to take part and offer some of the lessons I've learned in the course of my various listing projects over the last number of years, especially the epic chronology of the Harper years.

There's a nice video summary here and a CTV News report where I'm interviewed here. A couple of additional media stories are here and here and here.

My fellow presenters were Master of Ceremonies Rupinder Brar and speakers Dawn Martin-Hill, Josh Matlow, Tanya Harrison, Chelsea Rochman, Aadita Chaudhury, Eden Hennessey and Cody Looking Horse.

Here's what I had to say:

Hi, my name is John and I’m a librarian. My librarian superpower is making lists, checking them twice and seeing who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. The nice ones are all of you out here marching for science. And the naughty ones are the ones out there that are attacking science and the environment.

Now I’ve been in the list-making business for quite a few years, making an awful lot of lists of how governments have attacked or ignored science. I did a lot of work making lists about the Harper government and their war on science. The nicest thing I’ve ever seen written about my strange little obsession was in The Guardian.

Here’s what they said, in an article titled, How science helped to swing the Canadian election.

“Things got so bad that scientists and their supporters took to the streets. They demonstrated in Ottawa. They formed an organization, Evidence for Democracy, to bring push back on political interference in science. Awareness-raising forums were held at campuses throughout Canada. And the onslaught on science was painstakingly documented, which tends to happen when you go after librarians.”

Yeah, watch out. Don’t go after libraries and librarians. The Harper govt learned its lesson. And we learned a lesson too. And that lesson was that keeping track of things, that painstakingly documenting all the apparently disconnected little bits and pieces of policies here, regulations changed there and a budget snipped somewhere else, it all adds up.

What before had seemed random and disconnected is suddenly a coherent story. All the dots are connected and everybody can see what’s happened. By telling the whole story, by laying it all out there for everyone to see, it’s suddenly easier for all of us to point to the list and to hold the government of the day accountable. That’s the lesson learned from making lists.

Let’s travel back in time to the spring of 2013…..

And as an aside, when I say government of the day, I do mean “of the day.” Back when I started my listing project, I was under no illusion that the previous Chretien/Martin regime was perfect when it came to science. They had their share of budget cuts and muzzling and all the rest.

But back in 2013 what I saw the government doing wasn’t the run of the mill anti-science that we’d seen before. Prime Minister Harper’s long standing stated desire to make Canada a global energy superpower revealed the underlying motivation but it was the endless litany of program cuts, census cancellation, science library closures, regulatory changes and muzzling of government scientists that made up the action plan. But was it really a concerted action plan or was it a disconnected series of small changes that were really no big deal or just a little different from normal?

That’s where making lists comes in handy. If you’re keeping track, then, yeah, you see the plan. You see the mission, you see the goals, you see the strategy, you see the tactics. You see that the government was trying to be sneaky and stealthy and incremental and “normal” but that there was a revolution in the making. An anti-science revolution.

Fast forward to now, April 2017, and what do we see? The same game plan repeated, the same anti-science revolution under way. Only this time not so stealthy. Instead of a steady drip, it’s a fire hose. Message control at the National Parks Service, climate change denial, slashing budgets and shutting down programs at the EPA and other vital agencies. Incompetent agency directors that don’t understand the mission of their agencies or who even want to destroy them completely.

Once again, we are called to document, document, document. Tell the stories, mobilize science supporters and hold the governments accountable at the ballot box. Hey, like the Guardian said, if we did it in Canada, maybe that game plan can be repeated too.

I invited my three government reps here to the march today, Rob Oliphant, Josh Matlow and Eric Hoskins and I invited them to march with me so we could talk about how evidence should inform public policy. Josh, of course, is up here on the podium with me. As for Rob Oliphant from the Federal Liberals and Eric Hoskins from the Ontario Liberals, well, let’s just say they never answered my tweets.

Keep track, tell the story, hold all of them from every party accountable. The lesson we learned here in Canada was that science can be a decisive issue. Real facts can mobilise people to vote against alternative facts.

Thank you.

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My new job: CEO of the United States National Parks Service Library System

You know, I'm the best librarian. Just the best. My collection is huge. The very very best collection. Such a great collection. I love collecting. I'm very good at bibliographic instruction. Nobody does bibliographic instruction like me. Students love it. I can talk for hours. I have long, beautiful book stacks. Look at those book stacks, are they small book stacks? I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee you.

And since I'm the best librarian, my pal The Donald, the President of the United States, has hired me to be the Chief Executive Officer for the National Parks Service Library System.

We all know how much he loves books, right?

Now I know that following my various job changes over the years seems a bit wearying, even for me, especially since I can't seem to stick with anything for more than a year. Every April, like clockwork, there seems to be a new announcement. Whether it's a group blog for revolutionary librarians, Chief Science Librarian for the Canadian Federal Government, launching a new journal, IJUST-CANT or JAPE.

Before making this historic announcement, I definitely wanted to get a management team into place. A better group of people could not be found to make the National Parks Services Library System great again! I am so proud to name my new team!

Chair of the Board: Yevgeny Zamyatin
Associate Director: Winston Smith
Associate Director, Branch Libraries: Aldous Orwell
Head of Collections, Fiction: Emmanuel Goldstein
Head of Collections, Non-Fiction: Julia O'Brien
Head of Reference Services: Offred Atwood

What's JOB ONE you ask? Making our collections great again! To that end, I am directing our Heads of Collections to immediately and with full force to set our collections budget to zero dollars. We will no longer be purchasing any materials for our libraries and will only be relying on our deal-making abilities to fill our shelves with freebies from all the most famous American and foreign authors. You'll love these books. You'll love them like you've never loved a book before.

As of this moment, we will only be stocking books by the following authors:

  • Donald Trump
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Ann Coulter
  • Roger Stone
  • Sean Hannity
  • Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.
  • Michael Savage
  • Bill O'Reilly
  • David Horowitz
  • Glenn Beck (classic books only)
  • Sarah Palin
  • Rush Limbaugh

Effective immediately, anyone who can prove they have read the timeless classic, The Art of the Deal, will be allowed free entrance into any National Park.

All music CDs held by our libraries will be by Ted Nugent. No exceptions. Except for whoever it was that sang at the inauguration. What's-their-names.

I'm still looking for people to appoint as Heads of the various individual branch libraries in the various national parks, although I will personally be based at Badlands National Park and will serve as the head of that library.

As mentioned earlier, we will be removing all books currently in stock and replacing them with new improved ones. Here's a list of all the books we will be removing from our collections.

I'd also like to mention a few more recent books which we will not be acquiring for our collection. Don't read these books. They are fake news books.

As usual, I'm happy for suggestions about what books we should not purchase for our libraries!

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Here's a list of my previous blog posts about how Donald Trump is going to make science and libraries great again!

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Documenting the Trump War on Science: The Muslim and refugee ban is a terrible idea

Feb 22 2017 Published by under Politics, Trump war on science, Uncategorized

US president Donald Trump's Executive Order 13769, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, is a terrible idea for many different reasons and has been widely condemned. Banning people due to their refugee status, religion or national origin has no place in a civilized society. while it has been overturned in court, it appears that Trump is going to try again with a new Order.

The purpose of this post isn't to go into the details of the Executive order or to analyse the myriad reasons why it's a terrible idea, but rather to share a detailed cross section of commentary and analysis as to why the ban is a terrible idea for the United States' scientific culture and practice in particular. The main reason is that it curtails the free flow of people and ideas in general and affects the individual lives of many innocent scientists at all career levels.

Below is a selection of readings, in no particular order. While this list isn't meant to be comprehensive, if I've missed something important either in terms of whole issues or particular items, please let me know in the comments or at dupuisj at gmail dot com.

General Commentary

 

Individual Stories & Other Impacts

 

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Previous Donald Trump War on Science Related Posts

The posts are all tagged here.

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The Trump War on Science: Is the March for Science too political or not political enough?

Feb 13 2017 Published by under Politics, Trump war on science, Uncategorized

Is the March for Science (and all it's satellite marches) too political or not political enough?

The text on their website gives a sense of where the organizers are coming from:

SCIENCE, NOT SILENCE

The March for Science is a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community. Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists, and the incredible and immediate outpouring of support has made clear that these concerns are also shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.

ON APRIL 22, 2017, WE WALK OUT OF THE LAB AND INTO THE STREETS.

We are scientists and science enthusiasts. We come from all races, all religions, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all abilities, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all political perspectives, and all nationalities. Our diversity is our greatest strength: a wealth of opinions, perspectives, and ideas is critical for the scientific process. What unites us is a love of science, and an insatiable curiosity. We all recognize that science is everywhere and affects everyone.

Science is often an arduous process, but it is also thrilling. A universal human curiosity and dogged persistence is the greatest hope for the future. This movement cannot and will not end with a march. Our plans for policy change and community outreach will start with marches worldwide and a teach-in at the National Mall, but it is imperative that we continue to celebrate and defend science at all levels - from local schools to federal agencies - throughout the world.

In other words, not explicitly political in the sense of taking one political party's (the Democrats) side versus the other (the Republicans and President Trump). But political implicitly in the sense that there is an indirect acknowledgement ("Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists") that if Hilary Clinton had won the election, there would be no talk of a March for Science.

Personally, I'm not sure if I know exactly where I fall on that original question, but I'll quote my own blog post, More on what US scientists can learn from the Canadian War on Science, to give a sense of where my thinking is headed:

My advice? Don't bring a test tube to a Bunsen burner fight. Mobilize, protest, form partnerships, wrote op-eds and blog posts and books and articles, speak about science at every public event you get a chance, run for office, help out someone who's a science supporter run for office.

Don't want your science to be seen as political or for your "objectivity" to be compromised? Too late, the other side made it political while you weren't looking. And you're the only one that thinks you're objective. What difference will it make?

Don't worry about changing the other side's mind. Worry about mobilizing and energizing your side so they'll turn out to protest and vote and send letters and all those other good things.

Worried that you will ruin your reputation and that when the good guys come back into power your "objectivity" will be forever compromised? Worry first about getting the good guys back in power. They will understand what you went through and why you had to mobilize. And they never thought your were "objective" to begin with.

Proof? The Canadian experience. After all, even the Guardian wants to talk about How science helped to swing the Canadian election? Two or four years from now, you want them to be writing articles about how science swung the US mid-term or presidential elections.

So, yes, I'm definitely tending towards more rather than less direct, explicit acknowledgement of the subtext of the march: People who favour evidence-based decision making are terrified that the Trump regime will "Make American Great Again" by turning back the clock to an era when industry called all the shots in terms of environmental protection. Not only that, but it will also "turn back the clock" to a situation that has never really existed: government by random fiat rather than any even vague pretense about what the truth is or what the evidence shows, scientific or otherwise.

But it's fair to say that organizers fear that being too explicit about the implicit will turn people off. Better to be vague and "Yay! Science!" rather than explicitly anti-Trump.

Some of the explicit messages that have already presented themselves?

  • Don't deny climate change
  • Don't muzzle scientists
  • Don't restrict EPA scientists ability to communicate their research
  • Don't deregulate environmental protection
  • The Muslim and refugee bans are horrible for lots of reasons, and bad for science is one of them
  • Net neutrality is a good thing
  • Don't put incompetent people in charge of science-based departments

And those are the explicit messages that the Marchers could glean from the first week or so of the Trump era.

At the end of the day, it's hard to know which way to go. Will a less explicitly political message result in a larger march due to its positive messaging and naturally bigger tent approach? Or a smaller march due to having not so much to rally around or get really worked up over? There's no way to know. The only hints from the Canadian experience is that the advocacy was pretty explicitly anti-Harper from the beginning and at the end of the day, it was able to give the anti-Harper forces one more thing to rally around. One way or another, I'll definitely be participating in the Science March Toronto. If you have a march near you, you should consider taking part. Staying on the sidelines seems like the worst option at this point.

The question: Non-partisan and "Yay! Science!" Or explicitly political and pointedly going directly and specifically after President Trump, his policies and his administration. (if not necessarily in the name of a particular political party)?

I'm including a quick and dirty, fairly random assortment of readings on the March for Science below, coming from both sides. If I've missed anything really important, let me know in the comments or at dupuisj at gmail dot com.

 

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Previous Donald Trump War on Science Related Posts

The posts are all tagged here.

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More on what US scientists can learn from the Canadian War on Science

Feb 05 2017 Published by under Politics, Trump war on science

I've been thinking a lot about this the last week or so, with media appearances already out there and more to come. The list of links I've amassed is quite impressive, a significant number to add to the post highlighting Sarah Boon's advice. But that was a week or so ago, which seems like an eternity in Donald Trump years. So perhaps it's time to take another look at the issues around science advocacy and politics in the Canadian context.

My advice? Don't bring a test tube to a Bunsen burner fight. Mobilize, protest, form partnerships, wrote op-eds and blog posts and books and articles, speak about science at every public event you get a chance, run for office, help out someone who's a science supporter run for office.

Don't want your science to be seen as political or for your "objectivity" to be compromised? Too late, the other side made it political while you weren't looking. And you're the only one that thinks you're objective. What difference will it make?

Don't worry about changing the other side's mind. Worry about mobilizing and energizing your side so they'll turn out to protest and vote and send letters and all those other good things.

Worried that you will ruin your reputation and that when the good guys come back into power your "objectivity" will be forever compromised? Worry first about getting the good guys back in power. They will understand what you went through and why you had to mobilize. And they never thought your were "objective" to begin with.

Proof? The Canadian experience. After all, even the Guardian wants to talk about How science helped to swing the Canadian election? Two or four years from now, you want them to be writing articles about how science swung the US mid-term or presidential elections.

Oh yes, back up and store your data in a safe place. If you're a government scientist or strongly connected to government funding, you might want to do you online advocacy on the anonymous side of things.

Most of the posts are post-election but there are a few from the Donald Trump president-elect period. The pre-election and pre-presidency posts are first in the list, followed by items from the last two weeks.

If I've missed anything important, please let me know in the comments or at dupuisj at gmail dot com.

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The Donald Trump War on Science: Week 1: How bad could it be?

Jan 30 2017 Published by under Politics, Trump war on science, Uncategorized

How bad could it be? On so may fronts, the first week or so of the Donald Trump administration was the shit show to end all shit shows.

But we're only going to talk about the science stuff here.

As the more astute observers among my readership will observe, I still haven't updated the Pre-Inauguration Edition of this post. Nor should this post really be considered a true beginning to tracking the post-inauguration devastation that the Trump administration will wreck on science, technology, the environment and public health. I'm hitting the high lights here with a more complete accounting to come with the first real chronology post. As well, some of the actions I list below may have been reversed in the days after they were suggested or inacted, but I still include them because the intention to do something negative still counts.

But it's a start. It's a wake-up call.

Note: This post will eventually be rolled into the first real chronology of the Trump presidency and science, which I expect to post probably in February or March sometime. My plan is also to disconnect lists of commentary from lists of incidents. In the pre-inauguration post, there are together, which is partly the reason why it's taking me so long to update. What I will be doing is bare bones lists of commentary fairly frequently and updating the list of incidents only occasionally. Or at least that's the plan.

Here is a list of the damage done during the first week of the Donald Trump presidency.

 

As usual with these posts, I rely on you, my readership, to catch the things I'm missing. Please let me know in the comments or via email at dupuisj at gmail dot com. Any incidents I report need to be documented in some form on the open web, either a media report or some sort of blog post or something. Suggestions to beef up the "more" sections of each item will definitely be welcomed, especially the ones where I haven't added to much additional information.

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