Wednesday, July 8, 2020

General update

Just a quick update, as, I've noticed my last post was some time ago. Basically I've not had the time to write, as I've been taking some personal time. There are things I'd like to look at, including but not limited to...

The Hungarian minority party in Serbia
Results of the Russian referendum
Polish presidential election (Jul 12th)
Singapore election (Jul 10th)
Polling for the election in Croatia
And lastly, pending the results on Jul 12th, the elections in Galicia and the Basque Country.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Election results and more

While the Serbian election turned out mostly as predicted, with SNS winning 191 of the 250 available seats, on 61.6% of the vote, other elections in other countries have provided some interesting results.

Malawi held elections that saw Lazarus Chakwera of the MCP defeat the incumbent president. This follows a botched 2019 election that the President had narrowly "won", that was thrown out by the constitutional court due to irregularities. While it is never good when the courts have to overturn an election because of how dirty it was, it is good to see that the opposition can still win in in these cases.

In Mongolia, the ruling Peoples Party has been re-elected to a majority of similar size that they obtained previously. The party itself is interesting, having transformed into the modern from from the previous ruling Communists. The party maintained a massive share of election seats won to 1996, when the opposition Democrats won. The Peoples Party was then returned in 2000, and ruled until 2012, before returning again in 2016. It is interesting for a former governing communist party to be so electorally popular, and yet, also willing and able to honestly stand aside for opposition victories. This is rare within the former Soviet sphere of influence.

Lastly, update on Israel, and party numbers in cabinet:
14 - Likud 
12 - Hosen 
2 - Labour 
2 - Shas 
1 - UTJ 
1 - Jewish Home 
1 - Gesher 
1 - Derekh Eretz 

As well as the latest polls:
41 - Likud (+5) 
16 - Yesh Atid (-1) 
16 - Joint List (+1) 
11 - Hosen (-3) 
9 - Shas (+-0) 
8 - Yisrael Beiteinu (+1) 
7 - UTJ (+-0) 
7 - Yamina (+2) 
5 - Meretz (+2) 
0 - Labor (-3) 
0 - Derekh Eretz (-2) 
0 - Jewish Home (-1) 
0 - Gesher (-1) 
0 - Otzma (+-0) 

64 - Likud and Allies (+6) 
40 - Non-Arab Opposition (-7) 
16 - Joint List (+1)

Friday, June 19, 2020

Serbia votes on Sunday

On Sunday, Serbia votes for a new Parliament. The governing SNS coalition, lead by president Aleksandar Vucic, is seeking to be re-elected. They obtained a narrow majority in the last election. SNS is a coalition of many different parties; some left-wing, and some right-wing; but they generally average out to being a conservative party with some liberal tendencies. 77% of the seats the coalition holds in Parliament is held by the Serbian Progressive Party (also known as SNS) which is pro-europe and national conservative. SNE's main enemy historically has been DS, a party in the Alliance for Serbia.

The Alliance for Serbia, or SZS, is boycotting the election. They are an alliance of anti-government parties that include member parties with views as diverse as Syndicalism - which some see as 'more marxist than marxism' - and anti-immigration national conservatism. 13 of their 24 seats are held by the Democratic Party, which is generally liberal in nature.

The parties that make up SZS took roughly 11% of the vote in the previous election, and, were polling at or around 11% prior to their announcement of a boycott. Polls at the time consistently had the governing SNS averaging around 50%-55%.

It should be noted that SNS governs with SPS (among others) and that SPS is polling around 10%. No other party has been able to regularly hit 5% in the polls snice 2018, though, PSG and SPAS have come close. It should be noted SPS is the former party of Milosevic.

In the end, none of that matters, as, it is clear SNS will win the election, by a wide margin. It is not for me to say if this is due to an unfair playing field, or due to actual popularity for the party. (But as someone who has seen unfair elections, it is likely a combination of both; SNS would win the election even with a fair playing field, with a significant plurality, and enough coalition partners to continue; but probably not with a majority of their own.) Regardless, the outcome is known in advance, and unless there's some totally unexpected result, I will not be commenting on the results themselves.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Ireland to have new Coalition government

A draft agreement has been signed between FF, FG, and the Greens. This will bring to a close the process started by the results of the February 8th election. The coalition will have 84 seats, giving it a majority. As a result the incoming Dail will be as follows:

84 - Government
37 - Fianna Fail
35 - Fine Gael
12 - Greens

75 - Opposition
37 - Sinn Fein
6 - Labour
6 - Social Democrats
5 - Solidarity-PBP
1 - Aontu
20 - Independents

1 - Speaker

The draft agreement spells out some of how the government will operate. While the agreement itself does not mention it, it appears as though FF leader Micheal Martin will take over as Taoiseach (PM) very shortly, and in 2022, the FG leader (currently Leo Varadkar) will then take over and serve out the remainder of the term.

Nothing in the draft agreement jumps out at me as being particularly notable; but it is a long agreement and I may have missed parts of it. What I have noticed is that things such as public transit and social support payments for welfare and disability are being protected from cuts.

Additionally, the draft agreement itself is still being finalized, with the final agreement to be released shortly.

Regardless, this will bring in a new stable government for Ireland.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Black Lives Matter

I've not had much to say this week. I had planned a post on police reform to follow on from my previous post. The reality is that I'm not the one who should be listened to right now. Bluntly, it is African Americans and other oppressed minorities who deserve the stage.

As such, today, I offer that stage to Dave Chappelle

Friday, June 5, 2020

Policing London - series on police history

With the murder of George Floyd by a Police officer in Minneapolis, there has been a lot of focus on the idea of "Police" recently.

As such, I wanted to share this video series, about an hour long (50 minutes plus a 25 minute endcap) made by the guys at Extra Credits for their Extra History series.

The playlist is here:

and, if I've gotten all the embedding right, you can watch it here:

(if not, click the playlist link to watch the videos)

Monday, June 1, 2020

reminder of an old post

Just a quick reminder of this post I made in 2016:

here's a quote to catch your attention:

When police were caught on TV assaulting a protester by hitting her on the head with a baton, Joh gave them a pat on the back. The protesters, enemies of 'order', were the bad guy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Potential upcoming elections with possible dates.

The following are the upcoming elections in 2020 that could hold my interest. Due to Covid-19, it is quite possible some of them may be rescheduled. 


20th - Sri Lanka
21st - Serbia
24th - Mongolia


5th - Croatia


22nd - Northern Territory (Australia)
?? - Falklands Electoral Referendum


6th - New Caledonia Independence Referendum
6th - Hong Kong Legislature
19th - New Zealand (plus Referenda)


11th - Lithuania
17th - Australian Capital Territory
25th - Chile Referendum
26th - Saskatchewan
31st - Queensland
?? - Georgia (country)
?? - Montenegro


1st - Belize
?? - North Macedonia


7th - Ghana
?? - Myanmar
?? - Bolivia
?? - Italy (Referendum)
?? - Singapore
?? - Jamaica

Note that there is no guarantee I am covering all of them, but the ones I do cover, will likely come from the above list. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

My opinion - rebalancing taxes

Here in Ontario, and generally, across Canada, there are three major ways that governments take in taxes. Income taxes, Consumption or Sales taxes, and Property taxes.

At this time, the Federal government charges the most in Income tax. 15% is the lowest rate, and 33% is the highest (as of 2019). Ontario does charge income taxes, but its lowest rate is 5%, and its highest is 13%, roughly.

Sales taxes are mostly charged by the province (8%) vs the federal government (5%)

And property taxes, while they vary wildly, are charged by cities. Toronto for example charges 0.44% for its residential rate while the province charges 0.15% for education (roughly)

This means that, while multiple levels of government charge multiple taxes, that, in majority, most income taxes go to the feds, most sales taxes go to the province, and most property taxes go to the municipalities.

This needs to change.

The federal government has more power to be economically flexible than any province does. Due to its size, and its position as the 'national' government, it gets the best interest rates, and it can dictate fiscal policy. It is extremely flexible when comes to money, and can sustain and pay off a debt better than any other level of government.

Municipal governments are the opposite. They tend to be much weaker when it comes to economic flexibility. Provinces meanwhile are in the middle.

As such, I propose a change.

Income taxes should go, by in large, to municipalities. Both the Federal government, and Provincial governments, would collect income taxes, but cities should be collecting large amounts of income tax. This tax would be charged where it is earned. There would be rules for instances such as uber, where you may earn income in multiple municipalities, but for jobs tied to physical locations, the income tax would go to the municipality in which it is earned. This would help larger cities deal with the natural consequence of being the main employment hub for nearby areas, and the increase costs on infrastructure and public transit that this brings.

Consumption/Sales taxes meanwhile, would only see a slightly change. Just as all 3 levels of government would be now charging income tax, all 3 levels will take in sales taxes. In general, the current balance, with the provinces taking in the lions share, would remain as it is.

Property taxes, however, would now become Federal. Like the above, all three levels of government would be able to take in property taxes, but the federal government would charge the largest share. This will help to better balance rural vs urban needs, as we are constantly seeing rural government services wind down due to lack of money. Property taxes, charged on a single uniform federal rate, will re-balance the tax burden to discourage the endless suburban sprawl that has only recently slowed down thanks to tough provincial policies.

The overall tax take would not change, but how much of each tax is paid would likely see a shift. Property taxes would likely go up while income taxes go down. As such, those owning large amounts of property, or owning particularly expensive property, would end up paying more. The poor, weather rural or urban, would likely not see much of a change in terms of overall taxes paid, as the slight increase in property taxes would be offset by less income taxes. The rich however would see a rural-urban split, as the new more uniform property taxes will discourage more rural, and larger estate, in favor of smaller, more urban homes. Lower income tax rates on the rich in cities (fueled by the fact that cities tend to concentrate high-income earners, and thus, cities can afford to have lower income tax rates) would help attract them to the cities. Meanwhile the rural poor, who are often hurt by urban-friendly policies (such as counting a car against you when applying for welfare) will be helped by this re-balance

Friday, May 22, 2020

My Opinion - Trump

I generally like to steer clear of my opinion when writing posts here, but, I thought it might be time for me to start laying out where I stand on certain issues. As such, lets look at Donald Trump.

I am going to start by looking at his policies.

Immigration was his big policy, and this is the issue where I've most changed my views. Stories of farmers begging for temporary workers to be brought in from outside the country when tens, if not hundreds of thousands of recently unemployed workers sit nearby, have done what years of borderline racist conspiracy theories have failed to do - highlighted the problem with our current immigration system. It is not fair to the unemployed in the developed world to keep them out of an available job, and it is even less fair to the people we bring in from other countries, to force them to work jobs that are considered so awful, that nobody in the country will do it. What we really need to do is connect the unemployed with people looking for such labour.

Trade is another issue where there has been a massive change, and frankly, is also one I support. Like the above, it is about outsourcing work to other countries so we can get cheap goods. Trump is not all about closing off trade, but rather, re-balancing things to keep more jobs in the US. My own experience trying to get a job has lead to me agree that there need to be a re-balance of the low-skill and low-wage jobs back towards the developed world. In fact, it tends to be people in the low-skill workforce that support these policies, and the reason is obvious. When you can't get a job, and can't feed your family, something has gone wrong and needs to be fixed.

International affairs, related to both of the above, is another place Trump has made his mark. Again, it is a place I agree with him. He's stood up to China and told them to knock off the nonsense. Ever since Xi came to power in China, he has been acting in a tough and somewhat ruthless manner in foreign affairs. Trump is now showing him what a United States that does the same looks like. It is a country that does not "play nice." Trump is looking out not for the world, but for the USA, and frankly, that's what a good leader should do; look out for their own country. I admit that he takes it too far sometimes, and that a balance is key, a balance that many previous US Presidents have gotten wrong. The US in particular has been seen as the 'leader' of the world for some decades, and that has its own costs. Trump is finally saying that the US is not the 'leader' of the world, and is shedding those costs. Even though I am not american, I can respect that, and understand that, and support that.

Domestically, I find little I can agree with Trump on. One problem is that it tends to be domestic issues where he changes his mind every week. Frankly, I suspect he does not really care much about domestic issues (which is fine, everyone has their own policy focus, including your favourite political leaders) and so lets other power brokers under him (IE the Republican Party) make those decisions, knowing it keeps them happy and in line. One big problem is that a lot of his domestic agenda gets tied up with Trump-the-person. As such...

Lastly, I want to look at his personality.

Trump. Is a motherfucking asshole. And I don't use those words lightly. In fact, this is the first blogpost where I've ever said fuck. With good reason. Trump's personality is so disgusting and deplorable that he has no business in office, whatsoever. I would rather vote for the "Murder Teddy Party" whose entire platform is about murdering me, than someone as big of a dick as Trump. Frankly, I find myself unable to respect people who think that his bullying is not a problem, or, can be tolerated because he is able to provide X, Y, or Z. I think it's a huge part of why I've lost faith in democracy, lost faith in humanity, and now think humanity is not worth saving. When you vote for someone who will lie to your face, and then claim the very next day he did not do so despite being presented with video evidence to the contrary, you weaken society itself. You tell people that it is fine to lie, to cheat, to abuse the system, to abuse power, and to step on those weaker than you. You tell people that power is justification. You tell people that as long as you get what you want, you can do anything, no matter how malicious. You tell people that it is okay to abuse your power for your own personal gain. You enable those who use power for their own personal gain. You encourage people to use power for their own personal gain. Official power. Unofficial power. Societal power. Mental power. Physical power. Physical power like violence. You enable those who use violence to get what they want. You enable those who use violence to bend others to their will. You enable those who use violence to force their views on others. You enable force. You endorse force. You suggest force. You encourage force.

It's not a new idea. Force to get what you want. Tiberius Gracchus, Maximilien Robespierre, and Vladimir Lenin all supported it, and actually convinced their populations that it was a great idea. And it did lead to change. Drastic change. Caesar. Napoleon. Stalin.

So that is what I think of Trump. Like Gracchus, Robespierre, and Lenin; a man who has some good ideas, some ideas I support. And like Gracchus, Robespierre, and Lenin, a man who will lead to a new Caesar, a new Napoleon, or a new Stalin.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Election season could slowly start again

As nations start to better understand the impact that Covid-19 is having on various activities, we may start to see more and more places re-open to the idea of holding elections. I will, of course, cover this when it happens.

More importantly for this blog, my Twitter account has not been un frozen!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Israeli government sworm in

Cabnet: (33)
14 Likud
12 Hosen
2 Labor
1 Jewish Home
1 Shas
1 Gesher
1 Derekh Eretz

36 Likud
15 Hosen
9 Shas
2 Labor
2 Derekh Eretz
1 Gesher
1 Jewish Home

16 Yesh Atid-Telem
15 Joint List
7 Yisrael Beiteinu
5 Yamina
3 Meretz
1 Labor

Labor has decided to split its members without kicking the rebels out of the party. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

16MAY2020 update

Government inches closer to formation. The Jewish Home party has now joined the Likud faction, and thus gained a Cabinet position.

Such things have been complicated for me to explain before, so, I made a table to help make sense of it all:

Trends continue as last described (IE; FdI continues to slowly rise, and so forth)

Lastly, if you want to see a scarily realistic comedy about life in a small political party, go find youtube playlist "PLvE1s8x_e83hu35YrC2yJaSXX9TktsYBC" under "/playlist?list=" at ""

It's a finnish comedy, and has subtitles, but too many of the jokes in it I've seen play out in my time in small parties here in Canada. I highly recommend it. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

07MAY2020 updates and thoughts

Israel and Ireland are still waiting to form a government.

Ireland is taking the usual path, but slowly. FF, FG, and the Greens have all formed a basic agreement, and will be going into coalition together (unless something totally unexpected happens). The three parties have 37, 35, and 12 seats respectively, and took 22.2%, 20.9%, and 7.1% of the vote respectively. This is a total of 84 seats, and 50.3% of the vote. A key part of the coalition agreement includes a 7% reduction in greenhouse gases. This would still be a narrow majority, as the other members would hold a combined 75 seats (the speaker traditionally is not counted with either side). Within those 75 seats are 19 Independent members, many of whom already generally support the incoming government; thus with or without a formal agreement with these members, government will have a bit of extra elbow room on votes.

Israel is taking a non-traditional path. The coalition is ready and willing to take office, but the court is examining the deal itself. I tend to focus on places with systems similar to that in use in Canada, or the UK; and Israel clearly has a system that takes elements from elsewhere. As such, I won't pretend to fully understand all the nuance in what is going on, only that everything is expected to be settled by the end of the month, and the new government sworn in.

I am still, of course, keeping an eye on events elsewhere. One interesting thing that has caught my eye is that Lega in Italy is dropping in the polls during this crisis, and M5S is rising. Salvini is a much better 'salesman' than any of his opponents, and it seems quite likely that voters who drifted from M5S to Lega during their coalition government, are now realizing that M5S is still where they want to be, and that Lega is not what they expected. This thus puts the next election in play, as the combined M5S-PD-IV vote is hovering around 40%, while the Lega-FI-FdI vote is closer to 45%, meaning that smaller parties could determine the winner.

In Japan, the ruling LDP is down in the polls. Interestingly, unlike previous times they've dropped, the vote seems not to have gone to the main opposition party, and instead, is going to their coalition partners, Komei.

Beyond that, there are not many countries to follow. Canadian polling is useless without regional breakdowns; I do not follow US politics on the blog; the UK recently had an election and there is thus little point to covering what amount to small movements in the polls. The same is true for South Korea. I am following Germany, they just are not doing anything different from my last post. Info about Italy is above, as is Ireland, Israel, and Japan. South Korea voted recently, as did Spain. Norway, Iceland, does not vote until the fall of 2021. Sweden 2022. Denmark, Poland, Finland until 2023. Belgium until 2024. The Netherlands does go in the spring of 2021, but given the current situation, polling won't tell the whole story until the end of this year.

There are other countries that I'll peak in to from time to time, but in general, there's nothing exciting coming up. The little that is, has been delayed indefinitely.

Lastly, virus talk.

One thing to keep in mind is that one of the fastest ways to learn how to deal with the situation correctly, is by dealing with the situation incorrectly. This is how and why the longer this goes on, the more we learn what we can get away with. From what I understand, the virus spreads easiest among people who are crammed together indoors and talking. This means things like church, the theatre, going out for dinner, bars, and similar venues, are likely to remain closed for extended periods. While things like the barbers (only 2 people needed), outdoor sports (outside), the park (spaced out), and retail stores (little/no talking), are likely to re-open first.

Keep in mind, I am not a doctor by any means, and all of this is just what I've picked up from what I've read. I could easily be wrong.

Basically, the problem is being too close to people who have their mouth's open while there's no wind to blow anything away.

This includes a lot of social activities, but, means many social activities could resume.

One thing I also want to address is how "big" of a deal this is, and will be in hindsight. How "world-changing" will Covid-19 end up being when we look back decades from now.

My guess is that it will easily be on of the three top events since the end of WW2. Likely, it will top that list.

The collapse of the USSR had a major impact in many countries, but, there are others where it had little to no impact. The 9/11 attacks had a similar regional impact. The 2008 great recession is another possible candidate as well. Despite these, I think that in hindsight, Covid-19 will end up being seen as far more impactful in all sorts of various places across the world.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Personal: Why I've changed my views on immigration

At record unemployment levels, some (farmers come to mind) still demand bringing in people from out of the country.

That's it. It's just that simple for me.

Keep in mind that I am on disability, and have been unable to find a job for some time. This helps explain why. I have few to no useful skills; and as someone with Autism, likely need a bit more attention to help me get used to any new job. Additionally, I've never worked a physical job (the closest being fast food) and so would need even more help. It's quite likely that a lot of the unemployed who could work at these farms have some similarities.

That'd mean not only would the Farmers need to spend more time and effort getting us up to speed, but they'd likely have to pay us more too.

Instead, they wish to bring in workers they can mistreat and underpay.

Yea, Naw.

It never hit me before how widespread of a problem we had. These sort of actions help bring down wages at the lower end of the spectrum, and, help to encourage unemployment in the country.

Maybe it's about time we start to look at how to help those in our own country. Maybe it's about time we bring in programs to help people, financially, move from areas with high unemployment to areas with low unemployment. Maybe it's about time we ask ourselves who we, as a society, should focus on helping.

My views on other issues have no changed. Bernier is still insane. I'm not going to start backing the Tories, especially when many of their members are nuts. I will, however, start demanding that programs to help the less well off be moved way up the priority list for the parties I plan to support.

I'm on ODSP. There are those worse off than me. Want my vote? Tell me how you are going to help them, and give me ironclad guarantees they are your priority.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Russia vs China.

It's often said, either directly or through implication, that Russia and China are allies, and, together, are enemies of the West.

In fact, the actions of these two countries does show, not only antagonism towards 'western' countries, but a degree of cooperation between them.

Do not, however, mistake this for a solid long-term alliance. China and Russia both are playing the game of Realpolitik, and in that game, the two have some very different goals. Russia, and it's predecessor the Soviet Union, through it's actions, often showed it was not (at least, under most of it's leaders) looking for world domination. What the Soviet Union (and, especially leaders like Stalin) wanted was a massive world-spanning empire. They wanted to demarcate between "mine" and "not-mine" the same way European powers did in the late 1800s. While some Soviet leaders clearly were looking to expand the Soviet system across the globe, most, as seen by their actions, did not seem to want this.

The US, however, has (at least since WW2) always been looking for "world domination." They desire to be the banking hub, the cultural hub, and the political leader of the planet. Sure, some Presidents have focused on some of these while ignoring others, but in general, the US ideology has always been that "Our system is Freedom. Freedom is good. Therefore everyone should use our system."

Unlike Russia, China has been playing politics in this style as well. The problem with this - for Russia - is there will come a day when China wants things that harm Russia. The problem for Russia is that all signs indicate, when that day comes, China, not Russia, will get what it wants.

Russia still likes to think of itself the way the Soviets did, in that victorian mindset. Russians still view their country as a mighty empire, worthy of respect, and full of prestige. China is too busy with practical politics to bother with that nonsense. China effectively humors Russia, but that will not last.

We are starting to see the first signs of the split when it comes to the 2020 US Presidential election. China would benefit greatly from a pro-trade President, while Russia is simply happy with a weaker America, and if cutting US-China trade will make a weaker USA, Russia will support that.

I don't see Russia and China parting ways any time soon. Despite that, it will happen, likely within the next three decades. When it does, Russia will learn it's holding a far weaker hand of cards than it thought it did.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

New Israeli Coalition

Israeli Politics and its love for last minute deals has brought us a new coalition that has some unexpected elements. The coalition will look like this:

From the Right wing
37 - Likud (Includes 36 Likud members and 1 Gesher member)
9 - Shas
7 - UTJ

From the Left wing
17 - Blue and White (Includes 15 Hosen and 2 Derekh Eretz members)
3 - Labor

This is a total of 73 members. Cabinet will be equally balanced between the Right and Left. Netanyahu will be Prime Minister until November 2021, at which time Gantz will take over, and rule to April of 2023.

The Opposition will be as follows:

16 - Yesh Atid-Telem (Includes 13 Yesh Atid members and 3 Telem members) [Liberal]

15 - Joint List (Coalition of Hadash [5], Ra'am [4], Balad [3], and Ta'al [3]) [Pro-Arab]

7 - Yisrael Beiteinu [Centrist]

6 - Yamina  (Includes 3 New Right, 2 National Union, and 1 Jewish Home member) [Secular Zionist]

3 - Meretz [Progressive]

This is a total of 47, representing parties from all over the spectrum. Outside of a nearly-insignificant chance that either Meretz or Yisrael Beiteinu would choose to work with Yesh Atid-Telem, it is unlikely that the opposition would find any common ground or willingness to work with each other in the next election.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Daily Update - 20APR2020

Quick updates on situations around the world: While Ireland continues to slowly approach a coalition government, Israel seems headed in the opposite direction after Bibi and Gantz have broken off their talks. The Knesset appears ready to pass anti-netanyahu laws with respect to his corruption charge. Since Israeli Politics loves their last second deals, I'll keep you up to date on how all of this plays out.

I also want to quickly address traffic, physical car traffic. I've often had a hard time explaining when and where lanes should be added to highways, as, 19 out of 20 proposals to add lanes to highways, only make things worse, not better. The answer is as follows:
Add lanes to highways if...
1 - You see, during this pandemic, on google maps traffic view, the area has traffic, and keeps having regular traffic problems, and,
2 - This problem is not caused by a temporary issue, such as construction, or car crashes, and,
3 - All approaches to this problematic area are shown in green (IE low/no traffic), and,
4 - All exits to this problematic area are also shown in green.
I've not been able to compile a full list of such areas, but right now, in new york city, there is a grand total of one (1) area that qualifies; Harlem River Dr under Willis Ave Bridge. I'll be keeping an eye on if this is a repeating problem, but if so, I would support an extra lane between 135th and 120th streets.

Back to politics; I'm going to quickly look at a number of countries and how things are going in terms of polls.

France: The most recent Presidential poll is from October, it had Macron beating Le Pen, 55 to 45. There's some thought Macron has handled the virus poorly, and when polls resume, it may even show Le Pen in the lead.

Germany: the CDU (and CSU) have shot up in the polls due to the Covid response. Polls suggest the following could happen in an election; note, this includes many overhang seats:

287 CDU (+41)
128 SPD (-25)
121 GRN (+54)
75 AfD (-19)
60 LNK (-9)
38 FDP (-42)

Italy: I've also compiled a simple poll based projection for Italy:

160 Lega (+65)
145 PD (+33)
98 M5S (-129)
95 FdI (+63)
48 FI (-56)
24 IV (+24)
30 Others (+-0)

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Daily update - 16APR2020

Given my lack of access to twitter, I thought it would be wise to transition to daily updates here.

This BBC story crossed my plate. It's about how Hokkaido in Japan beat back Covid early on, but now there is a resurgence after lockdowns were lifted.

It refers to the fact that South Korea decided to do a ton of testing, while Japan declared such testing a waste of resources. The article states Japan has "now had to change its tune a bit"

During a crisis, especially a novel (new) one, there is no playbook. Imagine if you will that aliens, the size and shape of small household drone toys, invaded your house. How would you fight them off? If I asked a dozen people, I'd get a dozen answers. We won't know until we look at those dozen houses after the fight, who was right.

Covid is like that, but even more difficult. It takes 5 days for symptoms to appear. It takes (it seems) 2 weeks for an infected person who will die from covid, to die from covid. This delay makes actions difficult. Beyond that, data takes time to collect. Tests take time to perform, time to process, and time to report. Those figures take time to build a trend. Even then, because every country has slightly different standards, that data takes time to interpret. Once fully interpreted, the news needs to get out, but it is crowded by news stories about all the other steps in the process. The dissemination time for this data only adds to the lag.

Even with the best, fastest, most accurate data, with the best interpretations, it can take one to two full weeks to get a handle on what is happening. That means that countries, today, on April 16th, are reacting to how things were on April 1st. And that's considering a case where everything is working.

It was a completely valid view that you could beat this without extensive testing. Now that we have updated data, nobody thinks this way anymore. At the time these decisions were made, however, this was still a valid strategy.

By June, maybe the end of June, we (the world) will have a good idea for what actually works and what actually does not work when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus. We may even have early data on how to properly end a lockdown; but full proper data on how to end a lockdown will not be available until after a number of countries do it wrong.

The good news is that one we get this stuff down, we can use it against future novel virus outbreaks. Unlike SARS, Covid-19 is traumatic enough that it will stick with most people for decades. We will, eventually, get ahead of this, but, it will take time, and mistakes will be made along the way.

Both countries continue to slowly bumble towards a coalition. I will update if/when things change. In Israel in particular things seem to swing between "the talks are breaking down" and "the talks are going well" daily, if not hourly, but unless the talks end - either in an agreement or without an agreement - things simply continue.

Election results are in!

180 - DPK (government, liberal)
103 - UFP (main opposition, conservative)
6 - JP (progressive)
3 - OD (pro-DPK, progressive)
3 - PP (liberal)
0 - PPL (liberal)
0 - KEP (conservative)
0 - ORP (far-right)
5 - Independents

Roughly what I projected in my previous post; which isn't bad for a formula that is literally just X²

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Updates and Twitter

Israel and Ireland inch closer to coalition agreements. In Israel it seems likely the government will consist of Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition, but adding Benny Gantz's Hosen party, and likely members of Derekh Eretz and Gesher as well. Ireland looks set for a FF-FG 'grand' coalition, and the coalition document seems to have been written specifically to get support from both the Green party and Labour. a FF-FG coalition would be 8 seats short of a majority; Labour has 6 seats and the Greens have 12. A number of Independents could also be brought on board.

South Korea meanwhile is holding elections today. Covid has slowed down in the country, with only 27 new cases reported yesterday out of a total of 10,591 cases. Should South Korea be able to pull off the election without a spike in cases it could see other elections around the world, especially ones currently under delay, take place. Info about the election follows below in this post.

First, however, I want to let everyone know that I've been locked out of my Twitter account. Twitter seems to think I'm a robot, and to prove I'm not, it wanted me to click a "I am not a robot" button, which was easy, and to receive a text message from them, which, unfortunately, is impossible as I have no cell phone.
I've been debating a twitter break for a while now, so, am not in any particular rush to unlock the account, but am working to unlock it, and, even if I have to borrow someone elses cell phone, I will do so. I will, eventually, be back on twitter.

Back to South Korea.

There are two main parties contesting the election. the Democratic Party, which is centrist and somewhat left; and the United Future party, which is Right-Wing and Conservative.

Both parties have also set up satellite parties in order to abuse a loophole in the election system regarding the distribution of proportional seats. The country will elect 253 members via first past the post, 30 via a traditional proportional list, and 17 via a parallel list. The effect of these 'fake parties' is to bump the number of parallel seats to 47, and eliminate the traditional PR seats.

The United Future party is expected to win about 15 of the PR seats, while the Democratic Party will win 14. To be more specific, their satellite parties will win these seats. What is interesting is that the Open Democrats will win 6. They are a semi-satellite party of the Democratic Party, made up of members who feel the party has gone too far to the right in recent years, and wish to push it back in a more progressive direction. I will be counting them as a separate party, but will otherwise be counting all satellite parties as simply part of their home party.

The progressive Justice Party is expected to take about 6 seats, while the liberal Peoples Party will take 3. One seat each will be won by the conservative Korea Economic Party, the far right Our Republican Party, and the centrist Party for People's Livelihoods.

This is what polls suggest for the 47 proportional seats.

The First Past The Post seats are harder to project without a specific projection spreadsheet. In its place, a simple formula will be used of simply squaring the popular vote, and using that to determine the share of seats won. It is very rough, but generally gives results that are at least in the ballpark of reality. Doing so, and adding in the list seats, suggests the following final result:

195 - DPK (government, liberal)
85 - UFP (main opposition, conservative)
9 - JP (progressive)
6 - OD (pro-DPK, progressive)
3 - PP (liberal)
1 - PPL (liberal)
1 - KEP (conservative)
1 - ORP (far-right)

This would give the government a majority, an increase from its current minority status, and see it gain roughly 70 seats, while the main opposition would see a loss of around 40 seats. The biggest losers would be the PPL, whose predecessor parties took over a quarter of the vote in the PR list in the last election.

Monday, April 13, 2020

update: Israel and Ireland are close to deals

Just a heads up that both Israel and Ireland may be within 24 to 72 hours of a final coalition deal.

Friday, April 3, 2020

update: no new developments

As usual, things continue with no change in course. Countries are flattening the curve, while the numbers still grow. Politically too, we await answers.

On the Coronavirus, it has now spread to every mainland country that is not extremely isolated. Countries that remain are all very isolated with little outside travel (compared to other countries) excepting only Lesotho, which, benefits from being surrounded by south africa, and thus, is able to piggyback off of their measures with their help.

Beyond this, only island nations remain covid free. With places like the Falklands and Bonaire now having cases, only 7 non-pacific islands remain free of cases. Added to the 8 nations including nations with limited recognition) that are reporting 0 cases right now, this puts the plurality of covid-free nations being pacific island nations at 16.

In terms of Politics, Government formation negotiations continue in Israel and Ireland.

Polls in Italy have been mostly stable, but Lega has fallen a few points, and the far right FdI party has gained as a result.

In Germany, things, again, remain stable, but the CDU has gained, as can be expected for any government seen to be managing things. This same bump can be seen in Canada, the UK, and even Russia, where voters are putting just a few extra points behind incumbent governments in polls.

As such, there's not much to say, at least, until things change.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The numbers as I understand them.

With a fully functional healthcare system that is not overwhelmed, 1% of people with Covid, die. 

With a system that is overwhelmed, that number rises. It's unclear how high, but a ceiling is 10%. 

2/3rds of those who die from Covid would have died at some other point in 2020 from other health issues.

The rate of ICU care per case is relatively stable across the world, and can be used to estimate the amount of undertesting and underreporting.

Every location will differ, as, start times were different; but we will reach the inflection point on or around easter.

If everyone behaves and sticks to social distancing, we can be out of this by early may

Everyone is not behaving

If you are under 65, your chances of dying from Covid are low.

Things with low chances still happen.

Things with low chances still have low chances to happen even if they happen sometimes.

China has under-reported. 

Italy has under-tested.

Iran seems to have managed to do both.

When all is said and done, the US will have been the worst impacted, both in terms of actual infections/deaths and reported infections/deaths.

Remember. This is just my understanding of what I read. I am not a doctor. I am not even a mathematician. Don't take health advice from a political blog. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Some Israel clarity

The new Bibi-Benny coalition seems to be forming up, and the numbers are getting a bit more solid. Here is what I've determined based on media reports:

36 - Likud (Netanyahu)
17 - Blue and White (Gantz)
9 - Shas
7 - UTJ
6 - Yamina
75 - government

17 - Yesh Atid-Telem (Lapid)
15 - Joint List
7 - Yisrael Beiteinu
6 - Labour-Meretz

If I understand all the moves...

Yesh Atid and Telem are leaving Blue and White, and forming their own coalition.
2 Telem members are leaving Telem to create Derech Eretz, and sit with Blue and White.
1 Blue and White member is leaving to sit with Yesh Atid.
1 Yesh Atid member is leaving to sit with Blue and White.
1 Gesher member is joining Blue and White.

If I understand the new Cabinet, it will have
9 Likud members
1 Shas member
1 UTJ member
1 Yamina member
12 Blue and White members
which doesn't seem quite right, so, I will continue to try to nail down this number.

Lastly, it's unclear what Labour is going to do. There are some reports they too would want to join the Government; if so, it would almost certainly be under the Blue and White umbrella. Politically, however, it would make more sense for them to join with Yesh Atid-Telem. If Meretz could be brought on board, the 4 parties could create a broad progressive opposition coalition.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Places without covid-19

North Korea, East Asia, 25.5 million.
Supposedly free of the virus, yet, also, supposedly had one or two imported cases. It is generally thought that their outbreak started near the same time as in China, and their lockdown measures have flattened the curve there. There may have been as many as 10,000 infected, but this is a wild ballpark guess on my part.

Turkmenistan, Central Asia, 5.8 million
Along with Eritrea (which has a confirmed case) and North Korea, this is one of the three most repressive dictatorships in the world. They claim to be covid free, but have shut all borders and clamped down on the media. Additionally, internal travel control measures have been reported.

Tajikistan, Central Asia, 8.9 million
The poorest former soviet republic, Tajikistan may not be as authoritarian as Turkmenistan, but they also report no cases. Unlike the above two, that claim as at least somewhat credible, even if doubtful. The lack of any social distancing may mean that should any clear and confirmed cases pop up, it would spread quite fast.

Yemen, Middle East, 28.5 million
In the midst of a civil war, its almost impossible to think that Yemen has 0 cases, but, quite probable that its broken health system has simply yet to register one. Regardless, the movement restrictions imposed by the civil war situation likely means any spread would be localized and somewhat slow.

South Sudan, East-Central Africa, 12.6 million
Like Yemen, this country faces civil war, and, like Yemen, is officially reporting 0 cases.

Western Sahara, North-West Africa, 500,000 people
Like South Sudan and Yemen, this is a place of civil strife, with most of the country administered by Morocco. Like Sudan and Yemen, they officially claim 0 cases.

Antarctica, South, 1,106 people
Our first entry on the list from a place we can fully trust the numbers. All below entries have numbers that are also trustworthy. Little travel is done to/from the continent, especially in the southern winter, which just started.

Botswana, Southern Africa, 2.3 million
Like most other entries on the list below, there's simply not much to say about this country at this time.

Lesotho, Southern Africa, 2.2 million
Surrounded by South Africa, which does have cases

Malawi, Southern Africa, 18.6 million
Slowly increasing worry about Covid, as the country is in an election process.

Burundi, Central Africa, 10.9 million
One of the poorest countries on earth.

Sierra Leone, Western Africa, 7.5 million
Last non-island on our list.

Self governing Islands, Island-nations, and Island territories, that are supposedly covid free, are as follows:

Indian Ocean:
Comoros (800,000)
Kerguelen (130)

South Atlantic:
Sao Tome and Principe (200,000)
St. Helena and Tristan da Cunha (5000)
Falklands (3000)
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (30)

North Atlantic:
Bonaire (20,000)
St. Pierre and Miquelon (6000)

Pitcairn Islands (67)
Tonga (100,000)
Niue (2000)
American Samoa
Samoa (55,000)
Tokelau (200,000)
Wallis and Futuna (15,000)
Tuvalu (10,000)
Norfolk Island (2,000)
Vanuatu (300,000)
Solomon Islands (600,000)
Nauru (15,000)
Marshall Islands (55,000)
Kiribati (120,000)
Micronesia (100,000)
Northern Mariana Islands (55,000)
Palau (22,000)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Israel update

There appears to be an unexpected deal on government.

After s constitutional kerfuffle about the Speakership of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) it seems Benny Gantz has been sworn in to that job on an interim basis. He, his party, and 3 others from Blue and White, are joining the existing pro-Bibi bloc in a coalition government. This means Blue and White are splitting apart, as the remaining members join the opposition.

As such, Parliament will look like this:

36 - Likud (Netanyahu)
17* - Resilience (Gantz)
9 - Shas
7 - UTJ
6 - Yamina
75 - government

15 - Joint List
13 - Yesh Atid
7 - Yisrael Beiteinu
6 - Labour-Meretz
3 - Telem
1 - Gesher

* = Includes one Independent, and two Telem members of Blue and White that are following the Resilience party into Government.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

What I would do (covid)

Some have been asking me what I would do in place of some of the big decision makers. While part of that answer is based on exactly which decision maker I'm replacing, the general rules are the same:

Everything that's now being done plus...

Lock down everything by law. Only allow the standard exceptions to continue to run (grocery stores, pharmacies, drug stores, gas stations, car mechanics, and the like) I would look at things like restaurant delivery staying open, but, until I'm done looking, they close like everyone else.

Arrest hoarders who refuse to donate their supply, and confiscate their supply. (specifically Masks, and Hand Sanitizer in particular) Have charged [with new laws if needed]

Reduce maximum group size to 1. The only exception is if you are already locked down with the individuals in question.

Remove the exemption to go out of your house for exercise. This is being abused and causing spread.

Reduce transit to meet the new level of demand by essential workers.

Instruct people who report symptoms but where those symptoms are not life threatening to shelter in place for 14 days. Testing, if there is any capacity for it, will come to them as opposed to the opposite.

Accept clinical diagnosis, and redirect testing to stopping the spread VS testing people we are already pretty sure are positive.

Immediate payments to all Canadians ages 18 and up of $300 to help with the crisis, to be paid out Monday the 23rd, or, at the latest, Tuesday the 24th. This would replace any GST top up.

Begin the process of mobilizing the army. Consult with the Generals as to the best way to ensure army members remain safe (IE, social distancing) and allow the Generals free reign over military base property to ensure social distancing is done.

Once mobilized, use military logistics to bolster food delivery. The ideal scenario being nobody stepping foot out of their house for 14 days straight while military brings all the items you need to your door for free.

Set the start date for all of this to be tomorrow (Monday the 23rd) with an enforcement grace period, ending the 24th.

Set the end-date for the lockdown to be April 30th, with the note that if we are able to get control of the virus, the end-date could be pushed to an earlier date.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Quick update on politics

Politics is effectively frozen in most countries. Poll changes that occur now may not stick. I do want to note that there was a single poll where M5S touches FdI, but, I will look into that more when things begin to normalize.

Two countries are still forming a government, Ireland and Israel. Ireland looks set for a FF-FG coalition, possibly with Independent and maybe even Green support. Israel is looking like a B&W-Likud coalition is possible with Gantz as Prime Minister. If there is movement on either, I will post.

Note as well that Elections around the world are changing their schedules.

I've compiled a list of Elections that were scheduled before September that we would or could have covered, and their current status:

Elections that have been delayed:
French municipal elections (2nd round) on March 22nd
Italy Referendum on March 29th (Reducing seats in Parliament)
Sri Lankan elections on April 25th (Parliament)
British council elections on May 7th (some regions)

possibly could be delayed:
South Korea's April 15th elections (Parliament)
Russia's April 22nd Referendum (Putin's Constitutional changes)
Bolivian Election on May 3rd (General)
Italy's regionals on May 31st (Some regions)
Australia's Northern Territory election on August 22nd (Parliament)

possibly not delayed (due to lack of infections in area):
Falklands Referendum on March 26th (Electoral Reform)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

two approaches, and why take the other

There are those who are saying we should reduce the measures we've been using to manage covid. In short, that we should simply let people get sick.

This is not a viewpoint I support.

I want to explain why some people have this viewpoint. It's actually quite simple.

The worst case scenario is that no matter what we do, we can't actually contain Covid. That even if we lock down every city in every country on the face of the planet, that it will continue to spread, and, in the end, the number of fatalities will be the same. The only difference, in this worst case scenario, is that the economy could implode to "civilization ending" levels.

Again, I do not support these ideas. I am explaining why some people hold them as I've seen confusion from the majority as to how some people could think this way.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

How to Parliament without infecting everybody

Given the title, some might be expecting a long, drawn out, complex and complicated post, detailing the byzantine procedures needed. That's not the case.

Instead, look at how parties, right now, present bills to the floor that all of their members agree on. Simply, they discuss it beforehand.

Normally, just their caucus will. That means a Liberal bill will see all the Liberal MPs discuss it, offer ideas, suggestions, improvements, and so forth, and finally settle on a bill that all, or at least most of them, are happy with.

I am, of course, grossly over-simplifying. That's part of what I do on the blog, give you the basics. The fact remains, however, that this same process is how you can draft a bill with multi-party support.

We've seen this in Federally already, as Parliament shut down earlier. We've seen this in provinces that have needed quick legislative action. We've seen this around the world. In short, governing parties are inviting opposition parties into those discussions before the bill is even finished. The result is that the bills presented already have all-party support. And as such, the actual floor vote becomes less important.

This brings me to Quorums. BC is looking at this. The Quorum in the House of Commons is 20. That means any time 20 MPs are in the commons, they can pass legislation. You do not need all 338 seats filled.

In fact, if you keep 1 out of every 8 MPs home, you can have the following:

19 Liberals
15 Tories
4 Blocquiests
3 Dippers
1 Green

This mirrors the current party makeup in the house, but at a 1/8th ratio. It has 42 members, more than enough to ensure 20 are on the floor in the event someone has to use the restroom. It allows for MPs to present the concerns they have and get it on the record, and it gives them plenty of physical room between one another for social distancing.

In short, we do not need to abandon either our Parliamentary System or our Social Distancing recommendations. We can do both, if, with some perhaps strange modifications.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Go watch this video (gov reactions to covid)

Everyone should go watch this video by CGP Grey: Rules for Rulers

It will help you understand government reactions to Covid. 

To oversimplify, in a Democracy, your "keys" are your voters.

That means, for Justin Trudeau, his "keys" are the 5.9 million people who voted for the Liberal Party of Canada. For Doug Ford, it is the 2.3 million who voted for the Ontario PC Party. For Donald Trump it is the 63 million who voted for him to become President. 

Keep in mind that this is all in the context of government reactions to covid. These may not be the "keys" in other contexts, but in this context, it is. 

Remember that voters of all sorts vote for candidates of all sorts. Trump had a roughly 10 point advantage among senior citizens, but that means million upon millions of senior citizens voted for his opponent. Poor people, Rich people, Men, Women, The Old, The Young, Single people, Parents, Minorities, Immigrants, Catholics, Hindu voters, etc etc etc, all end up voting for all candidates in differing amounts. You may end up with only a small portion of these voters, but, your voters will include some of all of them.

And it is to their voters that these politicians speak.

When Boris Johnson does a press conference on Covid, he is speaking primarily to the 14 million people who voted for him. The reason he can do this, is simply, that while their priorities may differ, those 14 million do indeed represent the full population, but, not in the same quantities. 

This is why an announcement from Trump will sound very different than an announcement from Trudeau. Both will suggest the same things - IE wash your hands, social distancing, do not hoard - but they'll phrase it very differently. Neither is wrong, or right, they are simply both speaking to their voters. 

Beyond that, keep this in mind:

All governments are listening to the experts right now.

That is why the UCP's Jason Kenny, the NDP's John Horgan, the CAQ's Francois Legault, the PC Party's, Doug Ford, and the Liberal's Stephen McNeil, all are telling their voters and thus their citizens to do very similar things. 

No man rules alone. All around the democratic world, experts are making the big decisions with the approval of elected representatives. The only difference here is that because different voter bases have different priorities, the reactions, while similar, will still differ in specific ways. Many asian countries, for example, are explicitly limiting families to having only one person allowed out a day, while western countries have not done much of this.

Opposition parties around the world are doing the exact same thing; generally supporting the government's plan, but also offering some soft criticism of things they feel the government isn't quite getting right. This includes opposition parties from all across the spectrum, responding to governments from all across the spectrum. It is simply the nature of politics. 

In short, everything that's happening is happening for a reason, and it's impossible to say, right now, who has got it "wrong" and who has got it "right". Different countries are reacting at different speeds with different methods. The curve of cases and infections in Japan is drastically different from that in South Korea, and both are drastically different from China; and these are three countries with - compared to the west - similar cultures, and which - compared to the US and EU - border one another. Once this is all said and done we'll be able to see who did what right, and, in hindsight, it will be clear who should have acted but failed to. 

Simply; this is not the time for politics. There will be plenty of time for politics later.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Covid 19 and the curve

I made a graph:

This was done by hand, but, it shows what I consider some important "pivot points" in the 'curve' of infections of coronavirus.

I hope this will help people understand why certain things are being done. With the graph in mind, I'm going to write this post in the form of Questions and Answers.

Q: Why close schools and sport events and other meetings?

A: To keep the explosion as flat as possible, which, in turn, reduces the mountain climb, and thus, greatly reduces the total number of cases. Even a single day saved during the ramp up can reduce total cases by 40%. In China's case, a 40% drop would mean 32,000 of the 80,000 never get sick.

Q: Why does Pivot Point 1 matter?

A: It tells us a good time to start social distancing. Considering the exponential growth, a 40% reduction of two days could have saved china an additional 19,000 on top of the 32,000 they already saved from above.

Q: Why does Pivot Point 2 matter?

A: It tells us the current methods are working. Pivot Point 2 will not be reached until either the current methods work, or, such a massive number in the population are infected that there are simply not enough uninfected humans left to keep things going. Reaching Pivot Point 2 means this will eventually be contained so long as current measures are kept in place.

Q: Why does Pivot Point 3 matter?

A: That is the "peak" of the "curve" that people want to "flatten". Note how it falls roughly in the middle of the outbreak. When you see that 'flatten the curve' diagram, Pivot Point 3 is right at the tippy top of both curves.

Q: Why does Pivot Point 4 matter?

A: In a way it does not, but it does indicate a virus effectively under control. Once you reach this stage you might look at loosening some restrictions, but keep your eye out that you don't end up with a new outbreak.

Q: Where are all the countries on the graph?

A: Hard to say, but from what I can gather, it is as follows:

Plateau: China

Slow Down: South Korea, Sweden*, Denmark, Japan

Mountain Climb: Italy, Iran*, Switzerland, Netherlands,

Explosion: Spain*, Germany*, France*, Norway*,

Ramp Up: Ontario, potentially Quebec, as well as the United States, United Kingdom,

Long Tail: most canadian provinces

These are the 15 most infected countries by number. You can roughly gauge whee your country is by looking at your national stats and comparing them to the above.

* = Numbers are so close, they could actually be one stage up or down pending how things go over the next few days.

Q: What can I do to help?

A: What you are doing now, likely. Don't hoard, wash your hands, share any supplies you do have with those in need, and be considerate. Also go out less. a lot less.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Potential break due to covid 19

Note that as more and more places get shut down due to coronavirus, politics in many places is being put on hold. As such, there may be a break in posts due to the spread of covid 19.

The only thing I'm currently keeping my eye on is Israeli negotiations on a government. Be aware that it may come down to having a small number of MKs from Pro-Gantz parties end up supporting Bibi and giving him a majority.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Malaysia Drama

Thursday February 20th. 2020. Malaysia.

Key Players:

Mahathir Mohamad. Current Prime Minister. Member/Chairman of BERSATU, part of PH.

Anwar Ibrahim. Expected Successor. Member/Leader of PKR, part of PH.

Azmin Ali. Current Economic minister and Deputy leader of PKR, part of PH.

Muhyiddin Yassin. Current Minister of Home Affairs, and President of BERSATU.

The King AKA The Tang di-Pertuan Agong. Abdullah of Pahang. In office for 13 months.

Ismail Sabri Yaakob. Current leader of the opposition. Leader of UMNO, part of BN.

Key Parties:

BN Barisan National, "governing alliance" In government from 1955-2018

PH Pakatan Harapan, "opposition alliance" formed in opposition to BN, currently government (2018-2020) as of the 20th of February, 2020.

UMNO Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu (United Malays National Organization) - lead party of BN. Excepting the monarch, all key players were once members of this party.

BERSATU Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Malaysian United Indigenous Party) - prominent party in PH, party of Mahathir Mohamad and Muhyiddin Yassin.

PKR Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People's Justice Party) - Anwar Ibrahim's party.

GS Islamic party. formerly allies of PKR. Currently (as of Feb 20th 2020) a 3rd party, in neither the PH government or the BN opposition.

This day ends without incident.

To better understand what happened and how we need to go back in time, to...

Historical Events.

In 1955, UMNO, as part of the Alliance party, won the first elections in Malaysia, which had recently become an independent country; previously, it was a UK colony. The Alliance would win that election with near 82% of the vote. In the following election, and the one in 1964, the alliance would take over half the vote. In 1969, they'd retain a majority of seats, but be reduced to 48.4% of the vote. As such the Alliance would merge itself into BN, along with some opposition parties. BN would then win the next 8 elections in a row with over half of the vote, having a low of 53.4% in 1990. 

Mahathir Mohamad served as UMNO leader and Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003. From 1993 to 1998, Anwar Ibrahim served as his Deputy Prime Minister. Anwar and Mahathir ended up butting heads, and Anwar ended up being removed from office and charged with corruption and sodomy. It is widely considered, including by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, that this was a political set-up. 

Anwar's conviction would later be overturned by the courts in 2004, with his ban on running for office ending in 2008. Anwar thus planned to run in the 2008 elections, however, the date of the elections was moved up so that Anwar could not run. As a result, his wife lead PKR into the election. 

The results were the worst ever for BN. 51.4% of the vote, and slightly under 60% of the seats. Only the Alliance's election in 1969 was worse. When Anwar's ban on office ended, he entered Parliament in a by-election and became Leader of the Opposition.

This would lead to the Prime Minister resigning in April of 2009 and being replaced with Najib Razak. 

Sunday May 5th. 2013. Malaysia.

The election would see BN win a majority of seats, 133 in the 222 seat chamber. BN, however, would only take 47.4% of the popular vote, while PKR and its allied parties (PKR, DAP, GS) would take 50.9% of the vote. This would be followed by protests and accusations of gerrymandering. Najib would thus remain Prime Minister. His Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, would also remain in office. 

Najib would later become embroiled in the 1Malaysia scandal, and during the scandal, in 2015, Muhyiddin would criticize his response. Muhyiddin would be dropped from cabinet, and a year later, would be removed from the UMNO party. Mahathir, despite having been retired for over a decade, also strongly criticized Najib. Muhyiddin would then work with Mahathir to set up a new party, BERSATU. 

As a result, BERSATU joined with the PKR, along with the DAP (PKR's ally in the 2008 election) formed PH, a new opposition alliance.

Wednesday May 9th. 2018. Malaysia.

For the first time in its history as an Independent country, the UMNO and its alliance, BN, lost a general election. PH, with its many members parties, formed the new government. PH won 48.3% of the vote compares to 33.8% for BN. Mahathir Mohamad thus again became Prime Minister. Unlike in 2013, Anwar could not run as he had again been charged with sodomy. This was quickly pardoned when the new government took office and it was announced that after a year fears - widely expected to be 2 years - Mahathir would step down and let Anwar become Prime Minister. This brings us back to...

Friday February 21st. 2020. Malaysia.

Anwar and Mahathir meet along with other high-ranking members of PH to discuss the timeline of Mahathir's handing over of power to Anwar. The meeting got quite heated and it was agreed Mahathir would hand power over after the APEC 2020 meeting in Malaysia in November. Mahathir however, had other plans.

Sunday February 23rd. 2020. Malaysia.

As with any insider clash, there are factual disputes. What seems to be emerging is that Mahathir had planned, in November, to step down, but, then form a coalition with UMNO and remain in power. This would have bilked Anwar out of the Prime Ministership that he had been promised. It seems that given the current crisis, Mahathir decided to move the date up from November, to now.

On the morning of the 23rd, 3 important meetings were held. (Top members of) BERSATU met at their HQ. Part of (the top members of) UMNO and (top members, etc) of PAS in Pahang, while the UMNO's legal brass met Kuala Lumpur. PAS' MPs would later meet in the Parliament. Rumors started to spread that an alternative government was in the works. Anwar himself released a statement on facebook accusing the plotters of treachery. 

Monday February 24th. 2020. Malaysia.

Azmin was tossed from PKR. He has been important at one of the meetings, in particular noe with Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the UMNO leader. 9 other MPs joined Azmin who created a new political bloc in Parliament.

Mahathir, meanwhile, announced his resignation, and resigned from his position within the BERSATU party. The party itself, now under Muhyiddin, withdrew from PH. Mahathir was appointed Interim PM. The King then announced he would meet, individually, with every single MP in Parliament, to see who had support to be Prime Minister. This would take two full days, the 25th and 26th. 

Tuesday February 25th. 2020. Malaysia.

Following the first interviews, UMNO announced that it would see dissolution and a new election. Apparently, the party rejected the terms Mahathir offered. 

Wednesday February 26th. 2020. Malaysia.

Mahathir addressed the nation, and announced his refusal to work with UMNO. Meanwhile, PH announced they were nomination Anwar to be the new Prime Minister. 

Thursday February 27th. 2020. Malaysia.

The King announced, through the Prime Minister, that nobody had majority support, and thus, on March 2nd, Parliament would vote on the matter. 

Friday February 28th. 2020. Malaysia.

A meeting of Monarchs was held. Malaysia is a Federation, and each state (though not every state) has it's own King. One of them gets selected to serve for a few years as the Federal King. This meeting was joined by the Chief of Defence and the Chief of Police. 

Meanwhile, the Speaker of Parliament announced that the supposed March 2nd meeting was not going to take place, as it did not adhere to standing orders. This was followed by an announcement in the evening by the King that he would meet with the leaders of all the parties to discuss who has majority support.

BERSATU then announced that Muhyiddin Yassin has majority support. UMNO and other parties would come out in support for this as well. Azmin and his allies, too, backed this. 

Saturday February 29th. 2020. Malaysia.

Muhyiddin announces the formation of the new PN alliance (Perikatan Natsional). Members of that alliance are UMNO and other BN members, BERSATU, and PAS. This would make the move similar to what happened when The Alliance became BN, with BN now becoming PN.

That evening, the King announced he too felt Muhyiddin had majority support, or, at least, was most likely to command it. Mahathir then released a list of 115 MPs (A majority) who he claimed supported him. The King however announced that this list was effectively void, and that the only way to overturn the decision was a non-confidence vote in Parliament. 

Sunday March 1st. 2020. Malaysia.

Mahathir announced that the King refused him an audience, and that he felt betrayed at the moved of Muhyiddin. Muhyiddin was shortly after sworn in as the new Prime Minister. 

Monday March 2nd. 2020. Malaysia.

Addressing the nation, Prime Minister Muhyiddin announced he had not planned to become Prime Minister, and that he thanked Mahathir for his service. 

Wednesday March 4th. 2020. Malaysia.

The Speaker of Parliament announced that at the request of the Prime Minister, the Parliament will next meet on May 18th, instead of March 9th as previously planned.

Tuesday March 10th. 2020. Malaysia.

While writing this post, Muhyiddin announced his new cabinet. Najib has congratulated him on the new cabinet, and seems pleased with it. Azmin Ali is the new most senior minister, in a cabinet without any Deputy Prime Minister. There are four senior ministers in total, including Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

So. What is...

Teddy's Take.

I believe Muhyiddin when he says he didn't plan this. From what I can gather and read, it seems on the 20th of February, he had no plans to become Prime Minister before the end of the year.

Instead, if I am reading between the lines properly, it seems Azmin Ali was 'supposed' to be the one to do it.

That Mahathir, in November, would announce that he's forming a new government, a national unity government, without UMNO but with nearly every other party, and, that this new government would need a new leader, and that person would be Azmin Ali. 

Azmin, however, seems to have gone off script. I think he smelled blood and realized he could take it all if he acted now, and did so with the blessing of UMNO. Azmin, however, ended up outplayed by Muhyiddin.

It seems Mahathir and Anwar both played a blocking role for Azmin, thus allowing Muhyiddin to stroll on by un-noticed. He then got all the puzzle pieces in order to take the job for himself. 

I don't think Mahathir ever intended to allow Anwar to become Prime Minister. All throughout this government, I think Mahathir always planned to betray Anwar. Frankly, I felt that when I covered the 2018 election. 

Monday, March 9, 2020

Thoughts - Economic consequences of Covid19

I'm quite surprised Oil has fallen as quickly and deeply as it did. The benchmark for Alberta oil is generally seen as Western Canadian Select, but that data is hard to come by (the best I could do was find a 13 hour delayed price). WTI, or West Texas Intermediate, is a fairly good benchmark that can be used in its place.

On Friday, WTI traded at $41.28

It opened Monday at $32.12. It fell to $27.72 before recovering and stands at $30.84 as of the writing of this post.

It is quite likely that once the virus passes, that prices will return to normal, but this could take months after the crisis ends, and even then, the virus could continue to spread for many months.

I'll be keeping an eye on all of this and how the impacts from it play out.

Note that my long post on the Malaysian drama is nearing completion, and should be up tomorrow morning.

Sunday, March 8, 2020


One thing I like to do from time to time here on this blog is to ensure people freak out about things at an appropriate level. As such I'd like to discuss Covid-19, the Coronavirus.

Lets parse this article suggesting 1.9 MILLION people in Ireland could get sick.

Here are some key passages:

you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person, within 1-2 metres, to be considered at-risk or a close contact.


Around 80% of cases of Covid-19 are a mild to moderate illness

Now lets look at some numbers: This graph shows death rates in China from Coronavirus.

Note that while China has a highly developed healthcare system with quality care options, it still can not match the kind of care offered in North America, Europe, or other OECD countries. Keep in mind that studies have shown that youth malnutrition can impact health as an adult, and that 50-60 years ago, China was still recovering from the disastrous "Great Leap Forward"

In short; if you are under the retirement age, your chances of dying from Coronavirus are low.

If you are over that age, however, you need to take note.

This, however, does not only apply to the elderly, it applies to those who know elderly people, like you and me. I am 35, and while I have asthma, I am otherwise healthy when it comes to the Coronavirus and my potential to get sick. There has not been any link yet showing asthma carries a higher death risk (I looked for this yesterday) and I am confidant that even if I get a full on infection, I will still be here blogging a month later.

My father, however, is 75. I am much more concerned that if I get sick, I could pass it on to him.

So, what am I doing as a response?

For starters, I've looked up the actual symptoms. The two big ones are fever and a dry cough.

I've also looked up transmission. For example, yesterday I saw a man at the grocery store who was coughing a lot. Need I be concerned? In short; no. My biggest risk in that case would be him coughing on something directly. Short of that, unless I planned on having an extended conversation with him, the statistics show that my chances of being infected from him are extremely low. Additionally, in the previous week, 5,000 people in Ontario had the flu, minimum. The number with Covid-19 stands at 23, also a minimum. I also live 90 minutes north of Toronto. Ergo, this man almost certainly simply had the flu.

In short, the proper response is to do two things. First, to keep up to date on information, and second is not to panic - IE assume everyone around you will drop dead.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Israel Drama

Final results of the election are as follows:

36 - Likud*
33 - B&W
15 - Joint List
9 - Shas (Orthodox)*
7 - UTJ (Orthodox)*
7 - Left
7 - Yisrael Beiteinu
6 - Yamina*

The loss of 1 seat from the Bibi coalition is significant as it makes it much less likely that he can find a way to peel off the needed MKs to form a government. Additionally, there are now a majority of members from parties that support a new law that would make it impossible for someone charged with corruption - such as Bibi - to serve as Prime Minister. 

This both has the potential to solve the deadlock, by removing Bibi from the picture, which would likely lead to a Likud-B&W coalition, but it could also force Bibi's hand, making him want a 4th election to save his skin. 

This will likely take days, week, or even months to play out. Regardless, I will keep you all updates as news develops. 

Friday, March 6, 2020

Thoughts - I make google maps

I don't mean I provide the service, I mean, I draw lines on them.

This for example is my attempt at drawing the Trump Peace Plan for Israel. I was supposed to come back to it, to fine tune it, but I never did.

This was, more or less, the spanish proposal for the borders of the US during the Revolutionary war.

This is just me being silly and making an uber belgium for fun.

This is me trying to pin down the location of Indonesia's new capital.

Just wanted to share, as, this is sometimes what I spend my time on.

I'm working on two posts, one for Malaysia and one for Israel, as new information in both has shown that things have taken a dramatic turn.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Thoughts - US (Sanders/Biden)

Delegate estimate (Dem)
1749-2249 Biden 
1550-2050 Sanders 
120-240 Other 

General election estimate (EV and popvote for candidate)
Sanders 240-295 (47-51) 
Biden 200-255 (45-49)

In short; in the general election, the best Biden can do, is lose. He can get 255 EV's at most. 

Sanders can win (295) but, he could still lose (240).

Frankly I put the odds of Sanders winning the general at 40% or 33%, while Biden's chances are under 1%.


This depends on there being no major change. If, for example, US coronavirus cases hit 50,000, that'd be a major change. 

In short; Trump is very likely to be re-elected given how things are currently going. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Israel - late results

With 97% of ballots counted, results are as follows:

36 - Likud*
32 - B&W
15 - Joint List
10 - Shas (Orthodox)*
7 - UTJ (Orthodox)*
7 - Left
7 - Yisrael Beiteinu
6 - Yamina*

The fundamental math, however, does not change, with 59 pro-bibi members, out of a needed 61 for a majority. 

This result is devastating for the left parties. Labour is down to 3 MKs, Meretz to 2, Gesher to 1, and Tair Golan, member for the Democratic Union. 

If my understanding is correct, the Joint List will see 5 Hadash MKs, 4 UAL MKs, 3 Balad MKs, and 3 Ta'al MKs. 

Contrast this with 13 seats for the Joint List in Sep 2019 and 2015, 10 seats for the arab parties in 2019 and 2006, 11 in 2013 and 2009, and 8 in 2003. Going back we get 10 (1999), 9 (96), 5, 6, and so forth (all equally small or smaller) and this is the largest win by arab parties in the history of Israel. 

Monday, March 2, 2020

Israeli election - early results

With 7% of votes in, it seems clear no party has come near the threshold, parties are either well past, or well below it. Exit polls suggest the following:

37 - Likud*
32 - B&W
16 - Orthodox Parties*
15 - Joint List
7 - Left
7 - Yisrael Beiteinu
6 - Yamina*

This would give Bibi's coalition, marked with Asterisks (*), 59 seats, short of the 61 they need for an absolute majority.

It is quite possible that parties will gain or lose a seat, or two in the cases of the larger parties, from the exit poll projections. Regardless, this is widely in line with my earlier projection from yesterday, including a final result for Bibi of 59.

As such my conclusion is the same as I presented there, it should be easy enough for him to find 2 other members to give him the majority he needs. There are a few ways he can do this.

The easiest is to peel off some constituent party from one of the coalitions. For example, the Joint List is, itself, made up of 4 parties. If he could convince one of them to sit with him and leave the Joint List, he gets his majority. Of course, the Joint List consists of Arab and far Left parties, none of its constituent members would ever support Bibi. Instead, he'd likely go after members of the Left parties (Labour, Meretz, and Gesher) and members of Blue & White (Lapid's Yesh Atid, Gantz's Resilience, Moshe Ya'alon's Telem, or Independent Gabi Ashkenazi) or he could simply try to appeal to individual members of those parties, or members of Yisrael Beiteinu.

Of these, the most likely is Telem. They should have 3 or 4 seats, pending the results, and the Telem party itself split from Likud. While Ya'alon does not seem to like Bibi, and vice versa, it is possible that Bibi can make an offer that is too lucrative for Ya'alon to simply turn down.

An alternative strategy, might be to try to form a government with minority support. He could do this by convincing some members or parties to simply abstain when it comes to voting in a new government. While this has never happened as a result of an election in Israel, it is possible.

The election result basically solves what has been the problem that caused 3 elections in a row by supporting Likud and its coalition. While they do not have a majority, it is somewhat clear that voters have indicated their willingness for Bibi to continue in government. Any 4th election would thus likely only strengthen Bibi's position be giving him and his allies additional seats.

I will follow this up later with the official final results as well as looking at what the results mean for the various parties.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Israel elections tomorrow

Israel goes to the polls tomorrow, and trends seem to favour Likud. 

Assuming the current polling trend prior to the polling blackout continues, we could be looking at a result something like this:

Likud - 37 
Blue & White - 32 
Orthodox - 15 
Joint List - 14 
Left - 9 
Yamina - 7 
Yisrael - 6

A note of caution, however, that we have indeed seen, in the past, the trend headed into the polling blackout, actually be reversed. As such, it could be Blue & White that comes out with 37 seats and Likud with 32. 

If Likud does come out ahead, this will; put Bibi tantalizingly close to his majority. 37+15+7=59. This would mean it would only take two people from other parties to peel off to support Bibi in order to get him a majority. 

Malaysia's new PM sworn in

The new Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, comes from the same party (BERSATU) as Mahathir Mohamad, the previous PM.

I'll make a short tangent here to explain something. Mahathir was PM previously, from 1981-2003. Anwar Ibrahim, who I mentioned in my previous post, was Deputy PM under him, and expected to be his successor. He was fired from that post and tossed from the party instead.

Anwar's successor was Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, He then became Prime Minister. His Deputy was Najib Razak, who then became Prime Minister. Until he was fired, and tossed from the party, Muhyiddin Yassin was his Deputy Prime Minister.

Due to being fired from the former ruling party, Muhyiddin Yassin is technically from Mahathir Mohamad's party, but it is not questioned that the former ruling UMNO fully endorses him now, at least, as Prime Minister (Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was Deputy Prime Minister after Muhyiddin Yassin, now leads the party, and seems keen on keeping that job)

It is not clear just yet how the new numbers in Parliament will shake out. It seems the government is a coalition of 93 members, 39 from UMNO, 30 from BERSATU, 18 from PAS, and 6 others. There seems to be a C&S agreement from 19 members, mostly from the Sarawak parties, but there are some disputes about this. If all 19 back the government, this gives them a total of 112, contrasted with 110 opposition members, 94 of which are from the PH alliance.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Thoughts - Israel

Trends suggest Likud is now ahead of Blue and White; I'm tracking this, but it looks, maybe, just possibly, bibi could get his majority.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

New post type: Commentary

In my effort to post more, I'm going to expand into general commentary on various issues.

Today's commentary: The Syrian civil war has gone on for a long time. There are very few civil wars of this type, that have lasted this long. By this type I mean where certain areas are held, long term, by one of the various forces (Idlib has been in rebel hands from the start)

Monday, February 24, 2020

Malaysia Shocker

In surprise news, Malaysia's PM has resigned.

Those who know about the country, might be wondering why this is a surprise, as, it had been planned since the last election, for Mahathir to resign at about this time and for his successor, Anwar, to take over. After all, Anwar's party is what really won the last election, and without Anwar's support, Mahathir could have never become PM (again). In fact, if not for the false charges against Anwar, he would have simply become PM himself.

The surprise is that it seems Mahathir wants to form a coalition with the previous ruling party and shut Anwar out of office.

A month ago, the new ruling coalition had 129 seats; 26 of which belongs to Mahathir's party. Now, it has 92 seats, after Mahathir's party, and 11 members of Anwar's own party, have peeled off to join the opposition.

This would make the second time that Mahathir has bilked Anwar out of the Prime Ministership.

The decision making power over who will form the next government now seemingly goes to the Sultan. Malaysia has an interesting monarchy. Like Canada, it is a confederation, but unlike Canada, each member state has its own King, or Sultan (one state calls their Sultan the Raja and another the Yamtuan Besar, while the federal Sultan is known as Yang di-Pertuan Agong; but in colloquial conversation, the word 'sultan' is used for all). The person who holds the federal Sultan position is elected among the 9 provincial sultans for a term of 5 years. Interestingly, the previous Sultan was the first to step down early, after serving only 3 years. The current Sultan, who has served slightly over a year, is the sultan of Pahang, the largest (physically) province on the Mainland, and the 4th smallest by population.

I will keep you updated as news develops.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Is Sanders the new McGovern?


I should define something though. What is "McGovern".

Is "McGovern" George Stanley McGovern, born 1922, who won the 1972 Democratic nomination for President? Is McGovern the guy who grew up in South Dakota, and went on to represent that state as a Senator for nearly 20 years? Is McGovern the guy who was the target of the activities outlined in the Watergate scandal? Is McGovern the left-wing progressive who is famous for being so left wing?


McGovern is the guy who couldn't gain traction in the election of 1972.

Being a Senator, being from South Dakota, being a left-wing progressive, none of that, is related to why he couldn't gain traction.

What is?

Is it when he said he was 1000% behind Eagleton? Is it when he Fired Eagleton?

No. It's when he did both.

You can do one. Or the other. And be fine. You can not do both. Why? Simple:

You appear weak.

Lets go on a tangent and look at presidential polling. Comparing where they start, in the summer, and where they end, in November.

Lets look at 1964. In June, Johnson lead Goldwater 77 to 18. By the time of the election, Johnson only won 61 to 38.

In 1980, Carter lead Reagan 39-32 in June, but lost 51-41 in November. Pre-summer polling had Carter way up at 62%.

1988 had Dukakis lead the summer 47-41, but he would lose 53-45. Dukakis would lead right up to the infamous "Tank Photo" after which he dropped and stayed low.

In 1992, Ross Perot actually lead in June, 39 compared to 31 for Bush and 25 for Clinton. Perot would lose badly, in part, because he dropped out.

Polls can move, quite a bit, during an election. In fact, McGovern was behind 53-37 in June, which is something that could be made up during the election. It was not. Why? Simple:

He looked weak.

Look at what happened to Corbyn over Brexit. He ended up not being able to take a single solid position and looked weak as a result. His personal likability plummeted after that decision. Why? Was it because people disagreed with the policy? Quite the opposite, the policy was actually somewhat popular. So why did he stall in the polls and lose the election?

He looked weak.

This is something that the incumbent US President used during the 2016 Republican nomination. Jeb went from the front runner, to "low energy". Why?

He looked weak.

Is Sanders the new McGovern?


Sanders does not look weak.