Here are the events that led to today’s arrests in Halifax. A group of protesters exercised their right to assemble peacefully and petition their government for redress of grievances by camping out in the Halifax Parade ground. City burghers found the demonstration unruly, distasteful, and inconvenient. Seizing on the central role the Parade Grounds traditionally plays in Halifax's Remembrance Day observances, Mayor Peter Kelly demanded the protesters vacate the area before November 11. Showing more strategic accumen than one might have been inclined to expect, the OccupyNS protesters negotiated respectfully with veterans’ groups and HRM officials, and voluntarily withdrew to Victoria Park, a...

Earlier this week, various blogs and media outlets reported that Beijing was experiencing frightful levels of air pollution. To document the crisis, China hand James Fallows cited what he called "the indispensable (and highly controversial)" Twitter feed @Beijingair, which produces hourly readings of  fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in Beijing. On Monday, @Beijingair showed readings in excess of 300 µg/m3, contributing to conditions the US EPA characterizes as "hazardous," and warranting "health warnings of emergency conditions." What caught my attention was Fallows's assertion that the @BeijingAir feed is "the only known source of PM 2.5 readings in China." That is astounding: one PM2.5...

  Remember the kerfuffle when the Province of Nova Scotia's official sex guide for seventh graders, called Sex? A Healthy Sexuality Resource, was unveiled in 2004? Some school boards refused to distribute the guide because, of course, knowledge encourages teen sex and ignorance prevent it. That's the guide's chaste cover, at right. Want to know how a sensible country does sex education? Check out this sex ed kit for kids of comparable age in a European country. From the outside, the kit looks like this: And inside:   The sensible country is Finland. Click here for a translation of the news story describing it. The paper...

A report last week in the prestigious scientific journal Nature revealed that the hole in the ozone layer over the Arctic was the largest ever recorded—comparable for the first time to the man-induced hole that appears every year in the ozone layer over the Antarctic. But when reporters asked Canadian scientist  David Tarasick, who was involved in the study, to explain its findings, Environment Canada refused to let him speak. [caption id="attachment_8689" align="alignright" width="150" caption="David Tarasick, muzzled by Environment Canada"][/caption] Environment Canada scientist David Tarasick, whose team played a key role in the report published Sunday in the journal Nature, is not being...

Early last month, Contrarian revealed that Nova Scotia's Chief Electoral Officer had deliberately made her latest report of political donations harder to use by publishing them in an image-based PDF format whose text could neither be searched nor copied and pasted into another document. With help from hacker-readers, Contrarian republished the data in the searchable, text-grab-friendly format McCulloch used for previous years' reports. I'm not done with this topic. Several generous readers have converted the open PDF file we published into an Excel database file, thus enabling much broader use of the interesting political data it contains. I will post that Excel CSV...

Contrarian finds itself in the awkward position of having received 30,000+ hits for  a throwaway post about an MP who airbrushed* a modest trace of cleavage from her official Parliamentary photo. The two complaints I've received have  not dissuaded me from my initial judgment the story was both funny and peculiar enough to be worthy of posting. In the interests of equal time, though, here is an alternative view from Edmonton restaurateur and local food activist Jessie Radies: The only reason you find someone airbrushing their cleavage funny, is because you are not a women with cleavage. I've done exactly the same thing. Go for a...

The Globe and Mail says Scarborough-Rouge River MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan, 29, might be "the most compelling of the new crop of young NDP MPs." She's the first Tamil-Canadian MP, and so has become the de facto standard-bearer for thousands of Canadians who have felt defeated – militarily, in their country of birth, and politically, in their new home. As a 29-year-old woman from political cultures – both Canadian and Sri Lankan – in which older men make most of the decisions, she exudes the poise, organizing skills and confidence of an old-school political veteran. How awkward for Contrarian, then, to report alert reader...