Month: February 2013

Harper Versus Trudeau 2015


Eight candidates will be on stage this weekend in Halifax for the fourth in the series of leadership debates. This debate is unnecessary because as we head for home in mid-April conclusion, one fact is undeniable: Justin Trudeau has won it. Many people believe that Canadian politics is broken and Justin Trudeau is the only Liberal candidate who can fix it by giving a new generation of Canadians something to believe in. I’ve seen him connect with the young people in our communities and with citizens across Canada. He has what it takes to make a great Liberal leader and an exceptional Prime Minister.” Access to education for all Canadians and a system where all people of Canada’s rights are protected is much needed in all regions of Canada.9_stephen_harper_canada_prime_minister
Trudeau has raised more money than all of his opponents combined. He has attracted fans all over-even in Western Canada. Two years ago he was criticized for blaming the country’s problems on Albertans controlling the political agenda in a 2010 French-language television show that resurfaced again this past week. Moreover, Trudeau has upset older Liberal with his stance on foreign ownership in the energy sector and the now defunct gun registry law. As you remember Trudeau stated having a firearm is an important facet of Canadian identity. A statement so outdated it could only be placed in the period of Canadian history known as the war of 1812 or The Louis Riel rebellion of 1870. He went on to state that we will continue to look at ways of keeping our cities safe and making sure that we do address the concerns around domestic violence that happen right across the country, in rural as well as urban areas in which, unfortunately, guns do play a role.” “But there are better ways of keeping us safe than that registry which is, has been removed,” Trudeau said.
Today we have a more experienced, young vibrant Trudeau is his willingness to listen to his advisors and the pleas of respected communities across Canada. This abode well for the new leader who will be well prepared to face Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the 42nd Canadian federal election, which is tentatively scheduled for October 19, 2015, in accordance with the Canada Elections Act which requires that a general election be held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following polling.
So what should Trudeau bring to the table to defeat such a formidable opponent has Prime Minister Harper. Harper arguably being or will one day be considered in the same category has Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Diefenbaker, Lester B Pearson and the hard drinking Sir John A Macdonald. We will quickly analyse Harpers resume and identify what Trudeau could do to continue to gain support. Most people give conservatives the credit for backing up their promises. These promises back up were human smuggling law, wheat board, the long-gun registry, the omnibus crime bill and the copyright bill. Moreover, Canada is a known foreign affairs power and Harper is also given credit for steering us through the economic recession a recession which I would state has been around since the early 1990s. Furthermore, Harper has been scandal free. To continue Harper has cleaned up the demonic monster known as ‘Immigration Canada. Harper Conservatives are ramming through major reform of Canadian immigration law as part of Bill C-50. The major reform would establish categories, set the number of applications and establish an order for processing applications, among other things. bribes are legend in immigration circles, and one of the major purposes of the Conservative bill is to break down internal resistance to reform.
We’ll always have preferred immigrants but this country will still open doors to not so lucky immigrants who qualify and deserve a chance to make a future within the Dominion. My Canadian political history studies have taught me that immigration policy has failed to allow enough skilled economic immigrants to enter Canada at a time when demand is high. Indeed, total immigration into Canada has been all but frozen at 250,000 or less a year for almost two decades. Of that, only about 37,000 arrive in Canada with trades that were needed in 2011, showing a trend that favoured a wealthy foreigner wanting to migrate to Canada. I use the word migrate because most Canadians realize that rich foreigners migrate with privileges and the not so wealthy along with refugee cases immigrate with tension and apprehension from middle to lower class citizens who feel they run the economy down and keep the hourly rate of labour jobs down at a record low.
Harper’s most popular achievement will be evidenced by 2015-showing that an increase of immigrants to Canada from a set margin of 250000 per year to 300000 per year-including an increase in skilled workers, such as mechanics, computer operators, labourers, truck drivers, skilled oil workers, and labourers for the oil sands and Northwest territory mining along with construction workers. These decisions which seem more middle class and liberal politics-these changes present Prime Minister Harper has a formidable champion of the people at the current moment. Looking into the future I see Harpers Conservative coming out strong pressing the issue trying to force the liberals into the ropes looking for a first round knockout.
What does the formidable young challenger have to do offset these powerful right hands? Justin Trudeau would have to gain support from young voters, gain support from new citizens or workers working contract worker with an agency. Furthermore he would have to look at lowering car insurance premiums for people over the age of 60 and restructuring the way the law is read for certain driving offences such as no yield along with devising a new bill to red-direct funding into the retiree pocket. Baby boomers people born from the years 1946 to1964, they would welcome such a bill along with seniors born before WW11 or during that period. The counter punches the rope a dope.
Trudeau will counter-punch Harper’s successful C-50 bill and immigration policies by bringing attention to their needs. University students don’t need reduced tuition increased tuition serve to alleviate the cost of provincial taxes due to education. It serves to keep good professors in Canada and to upgrade the curriculum at every level of post graduate education. For example, implementing, a mandatory woman study credit in order to graduate from any program in college or university. Women have struggle hard to be men’s equal in the business world and culturally and on the world sphere we would be recognized as a society in the forefront of human rights and betterment of women and superior standard of living for all mankind.
The Liberals would help students more and their cause if they supported a new bill extending legal aid services to administrative issues dealing with college and university students with documented grievance against their respective institute. At York University they have a free service funded from students tuition this service is provided by the YFS ….however; the lawyer representing you can only give you advice he cannot represent you in court. The other so-called credible service is CLASP; CLASP is an interdisciplinary Student Legal Aid service society, with students from OSGOODE Hall Law School and the School of Social Work. Under the supervision of lawyers and the community outreach counselor, students give client referrals, summary advice and representation. This representation is limited-then again would a student really feel comfortable having a representative defend him who attended university or is currently at the university he or she holds a grievance against. Legal aid for full and part time students is the best plan. The government could raise tuition an extra 50 dollars on every student in Canada to cover expenses.
During the middle rounds of this heavy weight fight the Liberals could really go on the offense with some hard jabs and upper cuts to the Conservatives mid-section hoping to slow them down. Stop them from coming in so boldly by looking closely at the practices and policies of credit card companies and employment agencies. After all most of the new citizens, landed immigrants, and students just graduating from respected programs. They have the misfortune to be hurt by labor laws in respect to contract workers and the policy of credit card companies. Justin trudeau
For example BMO master card provides full protection on their credit cards for an annual or monthly fee. If you were to lose job or you were injured your monthly balance would be paid by insurance up to 24 months. What they fail to tell you about this security package is once you are employed by an agency or you are hired to perform contract work-even after a year or more working for the same company you cannot be covered. I wonder how many agency workers’ pay this fee not realizing the only coverage you have is upon your death where company writes off balance. It should be law that all credit card companies expose their hidden fees and clauses who wants to pay for a service that does not protect your interests.

Liberals believe that government has a critical role to play in helping Canadians save for their retirement security. Through the creation and strengthening of the Canada Pension Plan, we have consistently worked to support Canadians who wish to retire in dignity and economic security. There is more that must be done. Canadians aren’t saving enough for retirement, and three-quarters of Canadians in the private sector having no registered pension plan. With growing household debt, increasing financial burdens from school-aged children, and the cost of caring for our aging parents, saving for retirement has become even more of a challenge – and not an urgent priority for the Harper government. Liberals have put forward a credible plan to protect the pension savings of Canadians whose companies have gone bankrupt, and would establish a voluntary Supplementary Canada Pension Plan to help more Canadians use our trusted national pension plan to save for their retirement. The previous statement was retrieved from Liberal website….
What else could be done? Let’s look at a credit where a Grandparent or parent pays tuition for a grandson/daughter or family member. 1 year to 10 years of tuition was paid for by parent or guardian. The guardian or parent could claim that money back at the age of 75 or reinvest that money in mutual fund, stocks a retirement home in a cheaper country with warm climate etc….. The catch if you claim a lump sum at the age of 75 you would receive 70% of what you invested in sibling’s education with interest or take 50 % and invest other 50% in mutual funds and other government bonds. Good ideas you tell me better yet tell your local MP?

The failure to yield law entails many positive points however, the right of way on entering highway from private road 139. (1) Every driver or street car operator entering a highway from a private road or driveway shall yield the right of way to all traffic approaching on the highway so closely that to enter would constitute an immediate hazard. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 139 (1). This is where the law has a grey area which opens the door for insurance scams and other crimes related to fraud. Imagine a busy street and passing traffic allows you to enter the road, however, someone driving too fast in the left turning lane to avoid traffic loses control and clips the front end of your car which is sitting idle in the road waiting to turn left. This law should be looked at closely for example, if the driver of car that hit person leaving private property was in left turning lane to turn left into private property then the person leaving private property should be at fault. It does not matter if he/she is given entrance into street by oncoming traffic. However, if driver of car is using left turning lane to beat traffic and merge ahead at the following lights or tune left at Next Street then he should be at fault. I hope I have not confused on this point please comment on this point if I lost everyone. The way the law is situated the driver leaving private property is still at fault if the other driver does not have proper insurance or any insurance. Stranger though monthly payments can double after an incident like this and we only have to thank no fault insurance. We could also look at reduced insurance for all seniors with good driving records.
Who knows who will win this highly anticipated match-up? The election is a little less than two years away. In two years another challenger might rise from the ranks of NDP. At the moment the clear cut big boy for Harpers crown is Justin Trudeau. I feel he has earned all the attention and accolade he’s learned to admit mistakes and listen to advisors. Harper has done a lot for Canada on a worldwide scale any one of the two parties who read this article and take my advice seriously could win the election. Any outside party such as the ever falling in popularity NDP or obscure Green party, Bloc Quebecois, Independent Conservative or Independent could gain a substantial amount of following and recognition for the future. Who would I support and who do I expect to see in the big fight. I believe Justin deserves to go up against Prime Harper, nonetheless, I support is candidacy for leadership of the once powerful liberals. I admire is charisma and intelligence obviously inherited from his iconic father Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and is free spirited mother Dame Margaret Trudeau. Justin has raised this party from the fires of hell to the heavens of respectability. The Liberals stand a better chance of victory with Justin. I say again whichever party reads this article carefully and seriously considers these reforms that would be the party in control of Canada’s fortunes for years to come. I feel Liberals stand more to gain reviewing these policies…If the Conservatives looked at any of my ideas and implemented into their agenda they would once again attract young voters from all of Canada including young people who were raised Liberals, NDP or chose not to vote because they felt their vote would not count because of the area they lived.


writer Courtney Duncan


The Battle Over Richard III’s Bones…And His Reputation Rival towns are vying for the king’s remains and his legacy now that his skeleton has been found 500 years after his death.


Richard III may have died unloved king, humiliated in death, tossed naked into a tiny grave and battered by history. But with two British cities trying to claim the last Plantagenet king’s remains 500 years after his death, maybe his reputation is finally turning a corner.
The discovery of his remains last fall (and the confirmation of the results this week) was the culmination of a four-year search instigated by Phillipa Langley of the Richard III Society. Both the search and the discovery were unprecedented: “We don’t normally lose our kings,” says Langley.
But it’s perhaps not too surprising that Richard’s bones were misplaced. Richard gained and lost the crown of England during the tumultuous Wars of the Roses period (1455-1487). It is a notoriously difficult period to keep straight: The country lurched from civil war to civil war in a series of wrestling matches between two branches of the Plantagenet house, the York’s and the Lancaster’s.
Richard was the Duke of Gloucester and a York; his brother, Edward IV, had taken the throne from the Lancastrian king, Henry VI. When Edward died in 1483, he left Richard in charge as regent to his 12-year-old son, to be Edward V. But in June 1483, just before the boy’s intended coronation, Richard snatched the crown off his nephew’s head by claiming that the child was illegitimate. The boy and his younger brother were both packed off to the Tower of London—and were never seen again.
In the meantime, Richard III had his own usurpers to deal with. The Lancaster’s were out of the picture, but there was another upstart claimant on the scene, Henry Tudor. Two years and two months after he was anointed king, Richard faced a faction of Tudors at the Battle of Bosworth on August 22, 1485. He lost and was killed, only 32 years old. The Wars of the Roses were over, the Plantagenet house was swept aside, and the Tudors were on the throne. Richard’s battered body was brought back to nearby Leicester, where it was handed over to the Franciscan friars and quickly dumped into a small grave at the Grey friars Church.article-0-06FF97AF000005DC-698_468x485
Given that they could barely keep a king on the throne in all this, keeping track of him after he was dead was probably even more difficult—especially since the new regime didn’t want to keep track of him. Henry Tudor, now Henry VII, feared that Richard’s burial site would become a rallying point for anti-Tudor, so its location was kept quiet. When Henry VIII created the Anglican Church in the mid-16th-century, breaking off from the Vatican, England’s missions were dissolved; the friary was taken apart stone by stone and Richard’s grave was lost with it. Rumors even spread that his bones were dug up and thrown into a river.
The man too would have been forgotten, if not for the Bard himself. William Shakespeare, who always turned to history for a good plot, turned Richard III into one of the most sinister villains ever in his The Tragedy of Richard III.
It wasn’t hard: Richard III already had a bad reputation, especially according to the Tudor historians. His ignominious end and hurried burial was thought fitting for a villain who allegedly murdered his two young nephews to steal the crown; killed his wife to marry his niece; had his own brother drowned in a barrel of wine; and murdered all and sundry who dared challenge him.
In Richard III, Shakespeare further embellished the tale, doing nothing for Richard’s reputation. He opens his play by having Richard III himself claim that he was so ugly, dogs barked at him, and declaring: “And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover… I am determined to be a villain.”
Before the first act is over, he’s killed his brother and Henry VI, and goes on to murder the two young princes. Shakespeare also turned Richard’s scoliosis-curved spine into a hunchback, furnishing him with a limp that he might not have had and a withered arm that he definitely didn’t have, just to reinforce the point. Of course, Shakespeare’s depiction of Richard III is about as historically accurate as any period film Hollywood ever produced—dramatized to a point just past recognition. But on the other side, there are the Ricardians, who see the much-maligned king as a victim of Tudor propaganda.
The Richard III Society was founded in 1924 to “strip away the spin, the unfair innuendo, Tudor artistic shaping and the lazy acquiescence of later ages, and get at the truth”. He didn’t kill his nephews, or his brother or Henry VI, and he didn’t kill his wife—that’s all the stuff that historians in the pay of the Tudors wanted everyone to believe. Moreover, according to the society, wise Richard III instituted a number of important legal reforms, including the system of bail and, rather ironically, the presumption of innocence before guilt; he was also a great champion of the printing press.
So finding his bones, for the Richard III Society, was in part about reclaiming the king from history’s rubbish pile. Langley, armed with “intuition” that his remains weren’t destroyed and historical research, determined that what was now a parking lot owned by the Leicester Council was in fact the site of the lost church and grave. In August 2012, digging began—with permission and help from Leicester—and a cross-disciplinary team of experts from the University of Leicester spent days painstakingly excavating the area.
What they found, in just three weeks, was the body of a man they believed to be Richard III. And on February 4, the university confirmed that the skeleton was indeed the last Plantagenet king. Not only did he fit the physical description depicted in historical sources—the famously curved spine, the product of the onset of scoliosis at age 10; slim, almost feminine—but his DNA matched that of two descendants of the king as well.
Their findings also confirmed that Richard III was killed rather gruesomely—he was felled by one of two vicious blows to the head, including one from a sword that nearly sliced the back of his skull off. The team found 10 wounds to his body in total, including a “humiliation” stab wound to his right buttock and several to his trunk that were likely inflicted after his death; there was also evidence that his hands had been bound.

This fits with the traditional story that after the king was killed, he was stripped naked and slung over a horse to be brought to Leicester. Though he was buried in a place of honor at Greyfriars, in the choir, he was dumped unceremoniously in a quickly dug and too small grave, with no coffin or even a shroud—a deficiency that both the cities of Leicester and York would now like to redress.
Leicester, the city of his death, has the trump card. In order to dig up the car park, the University of Leicester had to take out a license with Britain’s Ministry of Justice, basically a permit that detailed what they would have to do if they found any human remains. The exhumation license dictates that they must bury the bones as close to where they found them as possible, and do so by August 2014; this license was upheld Tuesday by the Ministry of Justice.
Leicester Cathedral is a handy stone’s throw away from the car park and it’s been designated as the new burial site. It has been the home of a memorial to Richard since 1980. Canon David Monteith of Leicester Cathedral is still a bit in shock over the discovery and the flurry of interest in it. “It’s the stuff of history books, not the stuff of today,” he says, laughing, adding too that they only found out the body was Richard’s the day before the world did. Though a spring 2014 burial is possible, it will be some time, he said, before plans to inter the king are firmed up, “Lots of things have to happen.”8664396
Among those things will be finding an appropriate place to put him: The cathedral is small, but busy, and Monteith is aware that the king’s bones will become a tourist attraction. (Henry Tudor’s fears were apparently well-founded) Another issue will be what kind of service (Richard’s already had a funeral) an Anglican church should give to a Catholic king who died before the formation of the Church of England. And finally, there’s the question of who will pay for the burial and improvements.
But while the Cathedral makes its plans, the northern England city of York is putting in its own claim for the king’s remains. On Wednesday, York sent letters, signed by the Lord Mayor, city councilors, and civic leaders, and backed by academics and descendants of Richard III, to the Ministry of Justice and the Crown. It’s unclear how long the process might take; again, this is all pretty unprecedented.
The York complainants pointed out that Richard grew up just north of York, became Lord President of the Council of the North there, spent a lot of time and money in the city, and granted favors to the city while he was king. York also claims that Richard wanted to be buried in York Minster Cathedral, where he was building a chantry for 100 priests.cathedral
“The city is very keen to have the man have his living wish fulfilled,” says Megan Rule, spokeswoman for the city, adding that York loved Richard III even as forces converged to remove him from power. “York people were loyal to him then and remain so.”
Leicester, however, dismisses York’s claims. City Mayor Peter Soulsby says, “York’s claim no doubt will fill a few column inches in the Yorkshire Post, but beyond that, it’s not something that anybody is taking seriously. The license was very specific, that any interment would be at Leicester Cathedral… It’s a done deal.”
Moreover, the city of Leicester is already planning a multi-million-pound educational center around the king’s car park grave: In December, the City purchased a former school building adjacent to the site for £800,000 to turn into a museum detailing the history of Leicester, with a big focus on Richard’s part in it. The center is expected to be complete by 2014, handily in time for Richard’s reburial.
It’s also easy to dismiss the fight over his remains as two cities wrestling over tourists. Leicester has already debuted a hastily put together exhibition on the king and the discovery. But the debate has tumbled into a minefield of regional loyalties—though this is ancient history, it can feel very current. As Professor Lin Foxhall, head of University of Leicester’s archeology department, notes, “You get these old guys here who are still fighting the Wars of the Roses.”
The Richard III Society’s Phillipa Langley is staying out of the debate about where Richard’s remains should go—though she can understand why Leicester and York both want him. “They’re not fighting over the bones of a child killer—for them he was an honorable man,” Langley says. “This guy did so much for us that people don’t know about. They’re actually fighting for someone who the real man wants to be known, that’s why they want him.”
Others, however, are more skeptical about this whitewashed version of Richard and about what impact the discovery will have on his reputation. “What possible difference is the discovery and identification of this skeleton going to make to anything? … Hardly changes our view of Richard or his reign, let alone anything else,” grumbled Neville Morley, a University of Bristol classics professor, on his blog.
“Bah, and humbug.” Peter Lay, editor for History Today, wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian on Monday declaring that the claim that the discovery rewrites history is overblown, and that the jury is still out on Richard’s real character—at the very least, he probably did kill the princes. And historian Mary Beard prompted a fierce 140-character debate on Twitter this week after she tweeted, “Great fun & a mystery solved that we’ve found Richard 3. But does it have any HISTORICAL significance? (University of Leicester over promoting itself?))”.
Langley, however, is still confident that this discovery will have an impact. “I think there’s going to be a major shift in how Richard is viewed,” she says. “It’s very satisfying; it’s been a long time coming.”

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What Damage could be caused by a massive solar storm.


On Wednesday, NASA released an image of a series of enormous sunspots snapped by at the Solar Dynamics Observatory, an orbiting telescope. The sunspots—the dark spots in the center of the image—are estimated to be larger in diameter than six Earths placed next to each other.
These sunspots pose no inherent danger—they’re merely temporary areas of intense magnetic activity that inhibit the sun’s normal convection currents—but, on occasion, the unstable area around a sunspot can trigger an unusually large solar flare (below), flinging streams of radiation outward from the sun. And a big enough solar flare can lead to an alteration in solar wind significant enough to set off a geomagnetic storm here on Earth, with the potential to short the circuitry on satellites and disrupt our telecommunications infrastructure worldwide.

To be clear, such a scenario seems unlikely to occur from this current set of sunspots— indicates there is just a 15% chance of X-class flares at the moment, the minimum level necessary to knock out satellites and ground-based communications technologies. But we decided to take this opportunity to imagine just how far-reaching the effects of a massive solar flare would be in today’s ultra-connected world.
It so happens that at least once during recorded history, a solar event of this magnitude did occur: the solar storm of 1859. On September 1 and 2 of that year, the largest geomagnetic storm in recorded history occurred, causing aurorae (the northern and southern lights) to be visible around the world. The Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser wrote:
Those who happened to be out late on Thursday night had an opportunity of witnessing another magnificent display of the auroral lights…The light appeared to cover the whole firmament, apparently like a luminous cloud, through which the stars of the larger magnitude indistinctly shone. The light was greater than that of the moon at its full, but had an indescribable softness and delicacy that seemed to envelop everything upon which it rested.
Of course, the massive solar storm also caused damage, triggering telegraph malfunctions (even giving operators electrical shocks) and causing some telegraph pylons to suddenly spark and catch fire.
A much smaller solar storm occurred in 1989, knocking out power throughout much of Quebec for over 9 hours, disrupting communications with several satellites in orbit and interfering with the broadcast of short-wave radio in Russia. Aurorae were reportedly visible as far south as Florida and Georgia; given the ongoing Cold War and the fact that many had never seen this phenomenon before, some feared that a nuclear strike was in progress.
How did solar activity 93 million miles away lead to such destruction? These types of storms are the result of a sudden coronal mass ejection (CME)—a massive burst of solar plasma (electrons, protons, and ions) that is hurtled out into space—which often occurs alongside particularly large solar flares.
The solar wind is a continuous stream of charged particles thrown out from the sun towards earth, but a particularly large CME can lead to a big enough surge in the speed and energy of the particles to disrupt the magnetic field surrounding Earth. This, in turn, causes aurorae and the disruptions to our telecommunications equipment, which rely upon electromagnetic forces.

If a CME as large as the one that triggered the 1859 storm were to occur today, the consequences could be devastating. Given the increase in our reliance on electricity and telecommunications (even since 1989), the effects would certainly be far more significant than malfunctioning telegraph pylons.
It’s hard to appreciate just how many aspects of modern life rely on technologies that could be affected. As Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics told National Geographic in 2011, ”Every time you purchase a gallon of gas with your credit card, that’s a satellite transaction.” A giant storm could disrupt our GPS systems, communication with planes in flight and other crucial satellite-based technologies.
But the biggest concern, experts say, would be disruptions to our power grid—as a 2011 OECD report (PDF) on the impacts of solar storms points out, “Electric power is modern society’s cornerstone technology on which virtually all other infrastructures and services depend.” A surge in solar wind can blow out power transformers by melting their copper windings, and especially in highly interconnected regions (such as the East Coast), transformer failures can trigger cascading effects, spreading power outages over wide areas.
One analysis looked at a 1921 storm—which was ten times more powerful than the 1989 event—and estimated that if it occurred today, it would leave some 130 million people without power, potentially affecting water and food distribution, heating and air conditioning, sewage disposal and a host of other aspects of the infrastructure we take for granted daily. The total cost of an even larger storm, such as the 1859 event, could be enormous: an estimated $1 to $2 trillion in the first year alone, and a total recovery that could take 4 to 10 years in total.images
The good news is that CMEs large enough to trigger a disruptions like the 1859 storm are rare–for the most severe damage to occur, a CME has to be directed in such away that Earth receives the brunt of the blast. Fortunately, solar activity occurs in a cycle with a duration of roughly 11 years, during which all kinds of solar activity (including the number of sunspots, the frequency of flares and the level of mass ejections) fluctuate from high to low and back to high again. However, we’re near the peak of the cycle, which NASA predicts will occur this fall.
Both NASA and the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center monitor solar activity and issue warnings when CMEs and other alterations in the solar wind occur. The SWPC’s current 3-day forecast predicts no storms over the weekend, despite this new enormous sunspot.
If a massive CME were spotted, such 3-day forecasts give us some lead time: there are some measures electric utilities could take to protect their equipment, such as quickly disconnecting transformers. Polar flights, which travel at the highest altitudes, could be rerouted to avoid contact with damaging solar particles, and some satellites could be switched into a safe mode to minimize damage. Here on Earth, at the very least, we’d have some time to prepare for potential power blackouts and other problems.

Posted By: Joseph Stromberg — Astronomy-Solar- System

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Lost Tribes of Amazon


On a cloudless afternoon in the foothills of the Andes, Eliana Martínez took off for the Amazon jungle in a single-engine Cessna 172K from an airstrip near Colombia’s capital, Bogotá. Squeezed with her in the tiny four-seat compartment were Roberto Franco, a Colombian expert on Amazon Indians; Cristóbal von Rothkirch, a Colombian photographer; and a veteran pilot. Martínez and Franco carried a large topographical map of Río Puré National Park, 2.47 million acres of dense jungle intersected by muddy rivers and creeks and inhabited by jaguars and wild peccaries—and, they believed, several isolated groups of Indians. “We didn’t have a lot of expectation that we’d find anything,” Martínez, 44, told me, as thunder rumbled from the jungle. A deluge began to pound the tin roof of the headquarters of Amacayacu National Park, beside the Amazon River, where she now serves as administrator. “It was like searching for the needle in the haystack.”Lost-Tribes-of-the-Amazon-riverbank-village-5
Martínez and Franco had embarked that day on a rescue mission. For decades, adventurers and hunters had provided tantalizing reports that an “uncontacted tribe” was hidden in the rainforest between the Caquetá and Putumayo rivers in the heart of Colombia’s Amazon. Colombia had set up Río Puré National Park in 2002 partly as a means of safeguarding these Indians, but because their exact whereabouts were unknown, the protection that the government could offer was strictly theoretical. Gold miners, loggers, settlers, narcotics traffickers and Marxist guerrillas had been invading the territory with impunity, putting anyone dwelling in the jungle at risk. Now, after two years’ preparation, Martínez and Franco were venturing into the skies to confirm the tribe’s existence—and pinpoint its exact location. “You can’t protect their territory if you don’t know where they are,” said Martínez, an intense woman with fine lines around her eyes and long black hair pulled into a ponytail.
Descending from the Andes, the team reached the park’s western perimeter after four hours and flew low over primary rainforest. They ticked off a series of GPS points marking likely Indian habitation zones. Most of them were located at the headwaters for tributaries of the Caquetá and the Putumayo, flowing to the north and south, respectively, of the park. “It was just green, green, green. You didn’t see any clearing,” she recalled. They had covered 13 points without success, when, near a creek called the Río Bernardo, Franco shouted a single word: “Maloca!” Lost-Tribes-of-the-Amazon-map-2
Martínez leaned over Franco.
“Donde? Donde?”—Where? Where? She yelled excitedly.
Directly below, Franco pointed out a traditional longhouse, constructed of palm leaves and open at one end, standing in a clearing deep in the jungle. Surrounding the house were plots of plantains and peach palms, a thin-trunked tree that produces a nutritious fruit. The vast wilderness seemed to press in on this island of human habitation, emphasizing its solitude. The pilot dipped the Cessna to just several hundred feet above the maloca in the hope of spotting its occupants. But nobody was visible. “We made two circles around, and then took off so as not to disturb them,” says Martínez. “We came back to earth very content.”
Back in Bogotá, the team employed advanced digital technology to enhance photos of the maloca. It was then that they got incontrovertible evidence of what they had been looking for. Standing near the maloca, looking up at the plane, was an Indian woman wearing a breechcloth, her face and upper body smeared with paint.
Franco and Martínez believe that the maloca they spotted, along with four more they discovered the next day, belong to two indigenous groups, the Yuri and the Passé—perhaps the last isolated tribes in the Colombian Amazon. Often described, misleadingly, as “uncontacted Indians,” these groups, in fact, retreated from major rivers and ventured deeper into the jungle at the height of the South American rubber boom a century ago. They were on the run from massacres, enslavement and infections against which their bodies had no defenses. For the past century, they have lived with an awareness—and fear—of the outside world, anthropologists say, and have made the choice to avoid contact. Vestiges of the Stone Age in the 21st century, these people serve as a living reminder of the resilience—and fragility—of ancient cultures in the face of a developmental onslaught.Lost-Tribes-of-the-Amazon-Safiama-and-wife-16
For decades, the governments of Amazon nations showed little interest in protecting these groups; they often viewed them as unwanted remnants of backwardness. In the 1960s and ’70s Brazil tried, unsuccessfully, to assimilate, pacify and relocate Indians who stood in the way of commercial exploitation of the Amazon. Finally, in 1987, it set up the Department of Isolated Indians inside FUNAI (Fundação Nacional do Índio), Brazil’s Indian agency. The department’s visionary director, Sydney Possuelo, secured the creation of a Maine-size tract of Amazonian rainforest called the Javari Valley Indigenous Land, which would be sealed off to outsiders in perpetuity. In 2002, Possuelo led a three-month expedition by dugout canoe and on foot to verify the presence in the reserve of the Flecheiros, or Arrow People, known to repel intruders with a shower of curare-tipped arrows. The U.S. journalist Scott Wallace chronicled the expedition in his 2011 book, The Unconquered, which drew international attention to Possuelo’s efforts. Today, the Javari reserve, says FUNAI’s regional coordinator Fabricio Amorim, is home to “the greatest concentration of isolated groups in the Amazon and the world.”
Other Amazon nations, too, have taken measures to protect their indigenous peoples. Peru’s Manú National Park contains some of the greatest biodiversity of any nature reserve in the world; permanent human habitation is restricted to several tribes. Colombia has turned almost 82 million acres of Amazon jungle, nearly half its Amazon region, into 14.8 million acres of national parks, where all development is prohibited, and resguardos, 66.7 million acres of private reserves owned by indigenous peoples. In 2011 Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed legislation that guaranteed “the rights of uncontacted indigenous peoples…to remain in that condition and live freely according to their cultures on their ancestral lands.” Lost-Tribes-of-the-Amazon-Jose-de-Garcia-3
The reality, however, has fallen short of the promises. Conservation groups have criticized Peru for winking at “ecotourism” companies that take visitors to gape at isolated Indians. Last year, timber companies working illegally inside Manú National Park drove a group of isolated Mashco-Piro Indians from their forest sanctuary.
Colombia, beset by cocaine traffickers and the hemisphere’s longest Marxist-Leninist insurgency, hasn’t always succeeded in policing its rainforests effectively either. Several groups of Indians have been forcibly assimilated and dispersed in recent years.

Today, however, Colombia continues to move into the vanguard of protecting indigenous peoples and their land. In December, the government announced a bold new plan to double the size of remote Chiribiquete Park, currently 3.2 million acres in southern Colombia; the biodiversity sanctuary is home to two isolated tribes.
Franco believes that governments must increase efforts to preserve indigenous cultures. “The Indians represent a special culture, and resistance to the world,” argues the historian, who has spent three decades researching isolated tribes in Colombia. Martínez says that the Indians have a unique view of the cosmos, stressing “the unity of human beings with nature, the interconnectedness of all things.” It is a philosophy that makes them natural environmentalists, since damage to the forest or to members of one tribe, the Indians believe, can reverberate across society and history with lasting consequences. “They are protecting the jungle by chasing off gold miners and whoever else goes in there,” Franco says. He adds: “We must respect their decision not to be our friends—even to hate us.”
Especially since the alternatives to isolation are often so bleak. This became clear to me one June morning, when I traveled up the Amazon River from the Colombian border town of Leticia. I climbed into a motorboat at the ramshackle harbor of this lively port city, founded by Peru in 1867 and ceded to Colombia following a border war in 1922. Joining me were Franco, Daniel Matapi—an activist from Colombia’s Matapi and Yukuna tribes—and Mark Plotkin, director of the Amazon Conservation Team, the Virginia-based nonprofit that sponsored Franco’s overflight. We chugged down a muddy channel and emerged into the mile-wide river. The sun beat down ferociously as we passed thick jungle hugging both banks. Pink dolphins followed in our wake, leaping from the water in perfect arcs.
After two hours, we docked at a pier at the Maloca Barú, a traditional longhouse belonging to the 30,000-strong Ticuna tribe, whose acculturation into the modern world has been fraught with difficulties. A dozen tourists sat on benches, while three elderly Indian women in traditional costume put on a desultory dance. “You have to sell yourself, make an exhibition of yourself. It’s not good,” Matapi muttered. Ticuna vendors beckoned us to tables covered with necklaces and other trinkets. In the 1960s, Colombia began luring the Ticuna from the jungle with schools and health clinics thrown up along the Amazon. But the population proved too large to sustain its subsistence agriculture-based economy, and “it was inevitable that they turned to tourism,” Franco said.
Not all Ticunas have embraced this way of life. In the nearby riverside settlement of Nazareth, the Ticuna voted in 2011 to ban tourism. Leaders cited the garbage left behind, the indignity of having cameras shoved in their faces, the prying questions of outsiders into the most secret aspects of Indian culture and heritage, and the uneven distribution of profits. “What we earn here is very little,” one Ticuna leader in Nazareth told the Agence France-Presse. “Tourists come here, they buy a few things, a few artisanal goods, and they go. It is the travel agencies that make the good money.” Foreigners can visit Nazareth on an invitation-only basis; guards armed with sticks chase away everyone else.
In contrast to the Ticuna, the Yuri and Passé tribes have been running from civilization since the first Europeans set foot in South America half a millennium ago. Franco theorizes that they originated near the Amazon River during pre-Columbian times. Spanish explorers in pursuit of El Dorado, such as Francisco de Orellana, recorded their encounters—sometimes hostile—with Yuri and Passé who dwelled in longhouses along the river- Later, most migrated 150 miles north to the Putumayo—the only fully navigable waterway in Colombia’s Amazon region—to escape Spanish and Portuguese slave traders.
Then, around 1900, came the rubber boom. Based in the port of Iquitos, a Peruvian company, Casa Arana, controlled much of what is now the Colombian Amazon region. Company representatives operating along the Putumayo press-ganged tens of thousands of Indians to gather rubber, or caucho, and flogged, starved and murdered those who resisted. Before the trade died out completely in the 1930s, the Uitoto tribe’s population fell from 40,000 to 10,000; the Andoke Indians dropped from 10,000 to 300. Other groups simply ceased to exist. “That was the time when most of the now-isolated groups opted for isolation,” says Franco. “The Yuri [and the Passé] moved a great distance to get away from the caucheros.” In 1905, Theodor Koch-Grünberg, a German ethnologist, traveled between the Caquetá and Putumayo rivers; he noted ominously the abandoned houses of Passé and Yuri along the Puré, a tributary of the Putumayo, evidence of a flight deeper into the rainforest to escape the depredations.
The Passé and Yuri peoples vanished, and many experts believed they had been driven into extinction. Then, in January 1969, a jaguar hunter and fur trader, Julian Gil, and his guide, Alberto Miraña, disappeared near the Río Bernardo, a tributary of the Caquetá. Two months later, the Colombian Navy organized a search party. Fifteen troops and 15 civilians traveled by canoes down the Caquetá, then hiked into the rainforest to the area where Gil and Miraña had last been seen.
Saul Polania was 17 when he participated in the search. As we ate river fish and drank açaí berry juice at an outdoor café in Leticia, the grizzled former soldier recalled stumbling upon “a huge longhouse” in a clearing. “I had never seen anything like it before. It was like a dream,” he told me. Soon, 100 Indian women and children emerged from the forest. “They were covered in body paint, like zebras,” Polania says.
The group spoke a language unknown to the search party’s Indian guides. Several Indian women wore buttons from Gil’s jacket on their necklaces; the hunter’s ax was found buried beneath a bed of leaves. “Once the Indians saw that, they began to cry, because they knew that they would be accused of killing him,” Polania told me. (No one knows the fate of Gil and Miraña. They may have been murdered by the Indians, although their bodies were never recovered.)
Afraid that the search party would be ambushed on its way back, the commander seized an Indian man and woman and four children as hostages and brought them back to the settlement of La Pedrera. The New York Times reported the discovery of a lost tribe in Colombia, and Robert Carneiro of the American Museum of Natural History in New York stated that based on a cursory study of the language spoken by the five hostages, the Indians could well be “survivors of the Yuri, a tribe thought to have become extinct for more than half a century.” The Indians were eventually escorted back home, and the tribe vanished into the mists of the forest—until Roberto Franco drew upon the memories of Polania in the months before his flyover in the jungle.

A couple of days after my boat journey, I’m hiking through the rainforest outside Leticia. I’m bound for a maloca belonging to the Uitoto tribe, one of many groups of Indians forced to abandon their territories in the Colombian Amazon during the rubber atrocities early in the past century. Unlike the Yuri and the Passé, however, who fled deeper into the forest, the Uitotos relocated to the Amazon River. Here, despite enormous pressure to give up their traditional ways or sell themselves as tourist attractions, a handful has managed, against the odds, to keep their ancient culture alive. They offer a glimpse of what life must look like deeper in the jungle, the domain of the isolated Yuri.
Half an hour from the main road, we reach a clearing. In front of us stands a handsome longhouse built of woven palm leaves. Four slender pillars in the center of the interior and a network of crossbeams support the A-frame roof. The house is empty, except for a middle-aged woman, peeling the fruits of the peach palm, and an elderly man wearing a soiled white shirt, ancient khaki pants and tattered Converse sneakers without shoelaces.
Jitoma Safiama, 70, is a shaman and chief of a small subtribe of Uitotos, descendants of those who were chased by the rubber barons from their original lands around 1925. Today, he and his wife eke out a living cultivating small plots of manioc, coca leaf and peach palms; Safiama also performs traditional healing ceremonies on locals who visit from Leticia. In the evenings, the family gathers inside the longhouse, with other Uitotos who live nearby, to chew coca and tell stories about the past. The aim is to conjure up a glorious time before the caucheros came, when 40,000 members of the tribe lived deep in the Colombian rainforest and the Uitotos believed that they dwelled at the center of the world. “After the big flooding of the world, the Indians who saved themselves built a maloca just like this one,” says Safiama. “The maloca symbolizes the warmth of the mother. Here we teach, we learn and we transmit our traditions.” Safiama claims that one isolated group of Uitotos remains in the forest near the former rubber outpost of El Encanto, on the Caraparaná River, a tributary of the Putumayo. “If an outsider sees them,” the shaman insists, “he will die.”
A torrential rain begins to fall, drumming on the roof and soaking the fields. Our guide from Leticia has equipped us with knee-high rubber boots, and Plotkin, Matapi and I embark on a hike deeper into the forest. We tread along the soggy path, balancing on splintered logs, sometimes slipping and plunging to our thighs in the muck. Plotkin and Matapi point out natural pharmaceuticals such as the golobi, a white fungus used to treat ear infections; er-re-ku-ku, a treelike herb that is the source of a snake-bite treatment; and purple flowers whose roots—soaked in water and drunk as a tea—induce powerful hallucinations. Aguaje palms sway above a second maloca tucked in a clearing about 45 minutes from the first one. Matapi says that the tree bark of the aguaje contains a female hormone to help certain males “go over to the other side.” The longhouse is deserted except for two napping children and a pair of scrawny dogs. We head back to the main road, trying to beat the advancing night, as vampire bats circle above our heads.
In the months before his reconnaissance mission over Río Puré National Park, Roberto Franco consulted diaries, indigenous oral histories, maps drawn by European adventurers from the 16th through 19th centuries, remote sensors, satellite photos, eyewitness accounts of threatening encounters with Indians, even a guerrilla from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia who had seen the Indians while on a jungle patrol. The overflights, says Franco, engendered mixed emotions. “I felt happy and I also felt sad, maybe because of the lonely existence these Indians had,” he told me on our last morning in Leticia. “The feelings were complicated.”Lost-Tribes-of-the-Amazon-Jitoma-Safiama-8
Franco’s next step is to use the photographs and GPS coordinates gathered on his flights to lobby the Colombian government to strengthen protection around the national park. He envisions round-the-clock surveillance by both semi-assimilated Indians who live on the park perimeter and rangers within the park boundaries, and an early warning system to keep out intruders. “We are just at the beginning of the process,” he says.Lost-Tribes-of-the-Amazon-Jose-de-Garcia-3
Franco cites the tragic recent history of the Nukak tribe, 1,200 isolated Indians who inhabited the forests northwest of Río Puré National Park. In 1981, a U.S. evangelical group, New Tribes Mission, penetrated their territory without permission and, with gifts of machetes and axes, lured some Nukak families to their jungle camp. This contact drove other Nukak to seek similar gifts from settlers at the edge of their territory. The Indians’ emergence from decades of isolation set in motion a downward spiral leading to the deaths of hundreds of Nukak from respiratory infections, violent clashes with land grabbers and narco-traffickers, and dispersal of the survivors. “Hundreds were forcibly displaced to [the town of] San José del Guaviare, where they are living—and dying—in terrible conditions,” says Rodrigo Botero García, technical coordinator of the Andean Amazon Project, a program established by Colombia’s national parks department to protect indigenous peoples. “They get fed, receive government money, but they’re living in squalor.” (The government has said it wants to repatriate the Nukak to a reserve created for them to the east of San José del Guaviare. And in December, Colombia’s National Heritage Council approved an urgent plan, with input from the Nukak, to safeguard their culture and language.) The Yuri and Passé live in far more remote areas of the rainforest, but “they are vulnerable,” Franco says.
Some anthropologists, conservationists and Indian leaders argue that there is a middle way between the Stone Age isolation of the Yuri and the abject assimilation of the Ticuna. The members of Daniel Matapi’s Yukuna tribe continue to live in malocas in the rainforest—30 hours by motorboat from Leticia—while integrating somewhat with the modern world. The Yukuna, who number fewer than 2,000, have access to health care facilities, trade with nearby settlers, and send their kids to missionary and government schools in the vicinity. Yukuna elders, says Matapi, who left the forest at age 7 but returns home often, “want the children to have more chances to study, to have a better life.” Yet the Yukuna still pass down oral traditions, hunt, fish and live closely attuned to their rainforest environment. For far too many Amazon Indians, however, assimilation has brought only poverty, alcoholism, unemployment or utter dependence on tourism.
It is a fate, Franco suspects, that the Yuri and Passé are desperate to avoid. On the second day of his aerial reconnaissance, Franco and his team took off from La Pedrera, near the eastern edge of Río Puré National Park. Thick drifting clouds made it impossible to get a prolonged view of the rainforest floor. Though the team spotted four malocas within an area of about five square miles, the dwellings never stayed visible long enough to photograph them. “We would see a maloca, and then the clouds would close in quickly,” Eliana Martínez says. The cloud cover and a storm that sprang up out of nowhere and buffeted the tiny plane, left the team with one conclusion: The tribe had called upon its shamans to send the intruders a message. “We thought, ‘They are making us pay for this,’” Franco says.

For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of WWII


Siberian summers do not last long. The snows linger into May, and the cold weather returns again during September, freezing the taiga into a still life awesome in its desolation: endless miles of straggly pine and birch forests scattered with sleeping bears and hungry wolves; steep-sided mountains; white-water rivers that pour in torrents through the valleys; a hundred thousand icy bogs. This forest is the last and greatest of Earth’s wildernesses. It stretches from the furthest tip of Russia’s arctic regions as far south as Mongolia, and east from the Urals to the Pacific: five million square miles of nothingness, with a population, outside a handful of towns, that amounts to only a few thousand people.

When the warm days do arrive, though, the taiga blooms, and for a few short months it can seem almost welcoming. It is then that man can see most clearly into this hidden world—not on land, for the taiga can swallow whole armies of explorers, but from the air. Siberia is the source of most of Russia’s oil and mineral resources, and, over the years, even its most distant parts have been overflown by oil prospectors and surveyors on their way to backwoods camps where the work of extracting wealth is carried on.

Thus it was in the remote south of the forest in the summer of 1978. A helicopter sent to find a safe spot to land a party of geologists was skimming the treeline a hundred or so miles from the Mongolian border when it dropped into the thickly wooded valley of an unnamed tributary of the Abakan, a seething ribbon of water rushing through dangerous terrain. The valley walls were narrow, with sides that were close to vertical in places, and the skinny pine and birch trees swaying in the rotors’ downdraft were so thickly clustered that there was no chance of finding a spot to set the aircraft down. But, peering intently through his windscreen in search of a landing place, the pilot saw something that should not have been there. It was a clearing, 6,000 feet up a mountainside, wedged between the pine and larch and scored with what looked like long, dark furrows. The baffled helicopter crew made several passes before reluctantly concluding that this was evidence of human habitation—a garden that, from the size and shape of the clearing, must have been there for a long time.

It was an astounding discovery. The mountain was more than 150 miles from the nearest settlement, in a spot that had never been explored. The Soviet authorities had no records of anyone living in the district.

The Lykovs lived in this hand-built log cabin, lit by a single window “the size of a backpack pocket” and warmed by a smoky wood-fired stove.karpagafia1
The four scientists sent into the district to prospect for iron ore were told about the pilots’ sighting, and it perplexed and worried them. “It’s less dangerous,” the writer Vasily Peskov notes of this part of the taiga, “to run across a wild animal than a stranger,” and rather than wait at their own temporary base, 10 miles away, the scientists decided to investigate. Led by a geologist named Galina Pismenskaya, they “chose a fine day and put gifts in our packs for our prospective friends”—though, just to be sure, she recalled, “I did check the pistol that hung at my side.”

As the intruders scrambled up the mountain, heading for the spot pinpointed by their pilots, they began to come across signs of human activity: a rough path, a staff, a log laid across a stream, and finally a small shed filled with birch-bark containers of cut-up dried potatoes. Then, Pismenskaya said,

beside a stream there was a dwelling. Blackened by time and rain, the hut was piled up on all sides with taiga rubbish—bark, poles, planks. If it hadn’t been for a window the size of my backpack pocket, it would have been hard to believe that people lived there. But they did, no doubt about it…. Our arrival had been noticed, as we could see.

The low door creaked, and the figure of a very old man emerged into the light of day, straight out of a fairy tale. Barefoot. Wearing a patched and repatched shirt made of sacking. He wore trousers of the same material, also in patches, and had an uncombed beard. His hair was disheveled. He looked frightened and was very attentive…. We had to say something, so I began: ‘Greetings, grandfather! We’ve come to visit!’

The old man did not reply immediately…. Finally, we heard a soft, uncertain voice: ‘Well, since you have traveled this far, you might as well come in.’

The sight that greeted the geologists as they entered the cabin was like something from the middle ages. Jerry-built from whatever materials came to hand, the dwelling was not much more than a burrow—”a low, soot-blackened log kennel that was as cold as a cellar,” with a floor consisting of potato peel and pine-nut shells. Looking around in the dim light, the visitors saw that it consisted of a single room. It was cramped, musty and indescribably filthy, propped up by sagging joists—and, astonishingly, home to a family of five:

The silence was suddenly broken by sobs and lamentations. Only then did we see the silhouettes of two women. One was in hysterics, praying: ‘This is for our sins, our sins.’ The other, keeping behind a post… sank slowly to the floor. The light from the little window fell on her wide, terrified eyes, and we realized we had to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Agafia Lykova (left) with her sister, Natalia.
Led by Pismenskaya, the scientists backed hurriedly out of the hut and retreated to a spot a few yards away, where they took out some provisions and began to eat. After about half an hour, the door of the cabin creaked open, and the old man and his two daughters emerged—no longer hysterical and, though still obviously frightened, “frankly curious.” Warily, the three strange figures approached and sat down with their visitors, rejecting everything that they were offered—jam, tea, bread—with a muttered, “We are not allowed that!” When Pismenskaya asked, “Have you ever eaten bread?” the old man answered: “I have. But they have not. They have never seen it.” At least he was intelligible. The daughters spoke a language distorted by a lifetime of isolation. “When the sisters talked to each other, it sounded like a slow, blurred cooing.”

Slowly, over several visits, the full story of the family emerged. The old man’s name was Karp Lykov, and he was an Old Believer—a member of a fundamentalist Russian Orthodox sect, worshiping in a style unchanged since the 17th century. Old Believers had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great, and Lykov talked about it as though it had happened only yesterday; for him, Peter was a personal enemy and “the anti-Christ in human form”—a point he insisted had been amply proved by Tsar’s campaign to modernize Russia by forcibly “chopping off the beards of Christians.” But these centuries-old hatreds were conflated with more recent grievances; Karp was prone to complain in the same breath about a merchant who had refused to make a gift of 26 poods [940 pounds] of potatoes to the Old Believers sometime around 1900.

Things had only got worse for the Lykov family when the atheist Bolsheviks took power. Under the Soviets, isolated Old Believer communities that had fled to Siberia to escape persecution began to retreat ever further from civilization. During the purges of the 1930s, with Christianity itself under assault, a Communist patrol had shot Lykov’s brother on the outskirts of their village while Lykov knelt working beside him. He had responded by scooping up his family and bolting into forest.Lykov-mountain

Peter the Great’s attempts to modernize the Russia of the early 18th century found a focal point in a campaign to end the wearing of beards. Facial hair was taxed and non-payers were compulsorily shaved—anathema to Karp Lykov and the Old Believers.
That was in 1936, and there were only four Lykovs then—Karp; his wife, Akulina; a son named Savin, 9 years old, and Natalia, a daughter who was only 2. Taking their possessions and some seeds, they had retreated ever deeper into the taiga, building themselves a succession of crude dwelling places, until at last they had fetched up in this desolate spot. Two more children had been born in the wild—Dmitry in 1940 and Agafia in 1943—and neither of the youngest Lykov children had ever seen a human being who was not a member of their family. All that Agafia and Dmitry knew of the outside world they learned entirely from their parents’ stories. The family’s principal entertainment, the Russian journalist Vasily Peskov noted, “was for everyone to recount their dreams.”

The Lykov children knew there were places called cities where humans lived crammed together in tall buildings. They had heard there were countries other than Russia. But such concepts were no more than abstractions to them. Their only reading matter was prayer books and an ancient family Bible. Akulina had used the gospels to teach her children to read and write, using sharpened birch sticks dipped into honeysuckle juice as pen and ink. When Agafia was shown a picture of a horse, she recognized it from her mother’s Bible stories. “Look, papa,” she exclaimed. “A steed!”

But if the family’s isolation was hard to grasp, the unmitigated harshness of their lives was not. Traveling to the Lykov homestead on foot was astonishingly arduous, even with the help of a boat along the Abakan. On his first visit to the Lykovs, Peskov—who would appoint himself the family’s chief chronicler—noted that “we traversed 250 kilometres [155 miles] without seeing a single human dwelling!”

Isolation made survival in the wilderness close to impossible. Dependent solely on their own resources, the Lykovs struggled to replace the few things they had brought into the taiga with them. They fashioned birch-bark galoshes in place of shoes. Clothes were patched and repatched until they fell apart, then replaced with hemp cloth grown from seed.

The Lykovs’ mountain home, seen from a Soviet helicopter.
The Lykovs had carried a crude spinning wheel and, incredibly, the components of a loom into the taiga with them—moving these from place to place as they gradually went further into the wilderness must have required many long and arduous journeys—but they had no technology for replacing metal. A couple of kettles served them well for many years, but when rust finally overcame them, the only replacements they could fashion came from birch bark. Since these could not be placed in a fire, it became far harder to cook. By the time the Lykovs were discovered, their staple diet was potato patties mixed with ground rye and hemp seeds.

In some respects, Peskov makes clear, the taiga did offer some abundance: “Beside the dwelling ran a clear, cold stream. Stands of larch, spruce, pine and birch yielded all that anyone could take…. Bilberries and raspberries were close to hand, firewood as well, and pine nuts fell right on the roof.”

Yet the Lykovs lived permanently on the edge of famine. It was not until the late 1950s, when Dmitry reached manhood, that they first trapped animals for their meat and skins. Lacking guns and even bows, they could hunt only by digging traps or pursuing prey across the mountains until the animals collapsed from exhaustion. Dmitry built up astonishing endurance, and could hunt barefoot in winter, sometimes returning to the hut after several days, having slept in the open in 40 degrees of frost, a young elk across his shoulders. More often than not, though, there was no meat, and their diet gradually became more monotonous. Wild animals destroyed their crop of carrots, and Agafia recalled the late 1950s as “the hungry years.” “We ate the rowanberry leaf,” she said,

roots, grass, mushrooms, potato tops, and bark, We were hungry all the time. Every year we held a council to decide whether to eat everything up or leave some for seed.

Famine was an ever-present danger in these circumstances, and in 1961 it snowed in June. The hard frost killed everything growing in their garden, and by spring the family had been reduced to eating shoes and bark. Akulina chose to see her children fed, and that year she died of starvation. The rest of the family were saved by what they regarded as a miracle: a single grain of rye sprouted in their pea patch. The Lykovs put up a fence around the shoot and guarded it zealously night and day to keep off mice and squirrels. At harvest time, the solitary spike yielded 18 grains, and from this they painstakingly rebuilt their rye crop.

Dmitry (left) and Savin in the Siberian summer.
As the Soviet geologists got to know the Lykov family, they realized that they had underestimated their abilities and intelligence. Each family member had a distinct personality; Old Karp was usually delighted by the latest innovations that the scientists brought up from their camp, and though he steadfastly refused to believe that man had set foot on the moon, he adapted swiftly to the idea of satellites. The Lykovs had noticed them as early as the 1950s, when “the stars began to go quickly across the sky,” and Karp himself conceived a theory to explain this: “People have thought something up and are sending out fires that are very like stars.”

“What amazed him most of all,” Peskov recorded, “was a transparent cellophane package. ‘Lord, what have they thought up—it is glass, but it crumples!'” And Karp held grimly to his status as head of the family, though he was well into his 80s. His eldest child, Savin, dealt with this by casting himself as the family’s unbending arbiter in matters of religion. “He was strong of faith, but a harsh man,” his own father said of him, and Karp seems to have worried about what would happen to his family after he died if Savin took control. Certainly the eldest son would have encountered little resistance from Natalia, who always struggled to replace her mother as cook, seamstress and nurse.

The two younger children, on the other hand, were more approachable and more open to change and innovation. “Fanaticism was not terribly marked in Agafia,” Peskov said, and in time he came to realize that the youngest of the Lykovs had a sense of irony and could poke fun at herself. Agafia’s unusual speech—she had a singsong voice and stretched simple words into polysyllables—convinced some of her visitors she was slow-witted; in fact she was markedly intelligent, and took charge of the difficult task, in a family that possessed no calendars, of keeping track of time. She thought nothing of hard work, either, excavating a new cellar by hand late in the fall and working on by moonlight when the sun had set. Asked by an astonished Peskov whether she was not frightened to be out alone in the wilderness after dark, she replied: “What would there be out here to hurt me?”

A Russian press photo of Karp Lykov (second left) with Dmitry and Agafia, accompanied by a Soviet geologist.
Of all the Lykovs, though, the geologists’ favorite was Dmitry, a consummate outdoorsman who knew all of the taiga’s moods. He was the most curious and perhaps the most forward-looking member of the family. It was he who had built the family stove, and all the birch-bark buckets that they used to store food. It was also Dmitry who spent days hand-cutting and hand-planing each log that the Lykovs felled. Perhaps it was no surprise that he was also the most enraptured by the scientists’ technology. Once relations had improved to the point that the Lykovs could be persuaded to visit the Soviets’ camp, downstream, he spent many happy hours in its little sawmill, marveling at how easily a circular saw and lathes could finish wood. “It’s not hard to figure,” Peskov wrote. “The log that took Dmitry a day or two to plane was transformed into handsome, even boards before his eyes. Dmitry felt the boards with his palm and said: ‘Fine!'”

Karp Lykov fought a long and losing battle with himself to keep all this modernity at bay. When they first got to know the geologists, the family would accept only a single gift—salt. (Living without it for four decades, Karp said, had been “true torture.”) Over time, however, they began to take more. They welcomed the assistance of their special friend among the geologists—a driller named Yerofei Sedov, who spent much of his spare time helping them to plant and harvest crops. They took knives, forks, handles, grain and eventually even pen and paper and an electric torch. Most of these innovations were only grudgingly acknowledged, but the sin of television, which they encountered at the geologists’ camp,

proved irresistible for them…. On their rare appearances, they would invariably sit down and watch. Karp sat directly in front of the screen. Agafia watched poking her head from behind a door. She tried to pray away her transgression immediately—whispering, crossing herself…. The old man prayed afterward, diligently and in one fell swoop.

The Lykovs’ homestead seen from a Soviet reconnaissance plane, 1980.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of the Lykovs’ strange story was the rapidity with which the family went into decline after they re-established contact with the outside world. In the fall of 1981, three of the four children followed their mother to the grave within a few days of one another. According to Peskov, their deaths were not, as might have been expected, the result of exposure to diseases to which they had no immunity. Both Savin and Natalia suffered from kidney failure, most likely a result of their harsh diet. But Dmitry died of pneumonia, which might have begun as an infection he acquired from his new friends.

His death shook the geologists, who tried desperately to save him. They offered to call in a helicopter and have him evacuated to a hospital. But Dmitry, in extremis, would abandon neither his family nor the religion he had practiced all his life. “We are not allowed that,” he whispered just before he died. “A man lives for howsoever God grants.”

The Lykovs’ graves. Today only Agafia survives of the family of six, living alone in the taiga.
When all three Lykovs had been buried, the geologists attempted to talk Karp and Agafia into leaving the forest and returning to be with relatives who had survived the persecutions of the purge years, and who still lived on in the same old villages. But neither of the survivors would hear of it. They rebuilt their old cabin, but stayed close to their old home.

Karp Lykov died in his sleep on February 16, 1988, 27 years to the day after his wife, Akulina. Agafia buried him on the mountain slopes with the help of the geologists, then turned and headed back to her home. The Lord would provide, and she would stay, she said—as indeed she has. A quarter of a century later, now in her seventies herself, this child of the taiga lives on alone, high above the Abakan.

She will not leave. But we must leave her, seen through the eyes of Yerofei on the day of her father’s funeral:

I looked back to wave at Agafia. She was standing by the river break like a statue. She wasn’t crying. She nodded: ‘Go on, go on.’ We went another kilometer and I looked back. She was still standing there.

The Contributions of Women to the political economy.



Political economy refers to different, but related, approaches to studying economic and political behaviours in reference to other fields such as law, education, health, social environment and gender. The fundamental driving force of political economy is economic progress in relation to the division of labour and the development of science. Labour within our society is a fascinating and diverse theme because the role of women as changed so much since the early 1600s. Themes such as scientific evolution, politics, religion, indigenous cultures and European cultures have all influenced the political economy on a global scale.

The study of women and their contributions to the political economy is a diverse topic, in that much has changed since the 1600s  “In the 1600s, there were two cultures in Ontario: hunter gatherer bands in the north, and horticultural, tribally organized Native people in the south.”[i] The hunter gatherer society was influenced by the fur-trading of New France, whereas the tribal horticultural bands were influenced by the British who colonized their territory by building large cities and farms.huntergatherers

Britain and France believed in the theory of mercantilism. Mercantilism is an economic theory that there is a fixed amount of wealth in the world and that a nation’s prosperity depends on its success in accumulating its wealth by exporting more than it imports. “From the 1500s to the 1700s in Canada, mostly European men and Native people engaged in fur trading, hunting and gathering, horticulture and agriculture.”[ii] The Europeans were bewildered by the less than hierarchical order of the indigenous people, which included easy divorces, sexual freedom, polygamy and equal work status. It was the native women who played a vital role in the fur trade. Without the Indian women, the Europeans would not have survived the harsh winters of the north.

“For most of the 1700s, Native people were treated with the cautious respect accorded allies in war and partners in trade.”[iii] This changed when the colony of New France was ceded to Britain in 1763. The system switched from mercantilism to an industrial society. This was a period where villages were established and most of the people married someone form their village or community. In this period there were Catholic villages and Protestant villages, farming and trading villages.fall_of

European society had always subjugated women. Women were not given equal opportunities and equal pay when working with men. A woman’s contribution on the farm was considered important to the economic survival of the family; however, women were subjected to sexual harassment and brutal beatings. As the century progressed, two major economic changes occurred. “Small scale subsistence farming was gradually replaced with large-scale, high-volume commercial agriculture and employment based at or near the home was replaced by work in large factories. With the advent of commercial expansion in the nineteenth century, work and family life became increasingly separate.”[iv] This was the start of an urban and industrialised workforce that witnessed the influx of new immigrants.

Industrialization created controversy because it reiterated a caste system that is still practiced around the globe today. Industrialization limited the opportunities for women in the work sector. In this period, it became demeaning for married women to labour for wages. Working class women would save every penny for their future wedding. Upon marriage, women were considered to be inferior to men and women became the property of their husbands. Women could not hold a job nor was she allowed to vote.

Canada gained its independence in 1867 and motherhood was still regarded as women’s main profession. “New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote.”[v] By the 20th century, women in most nations won the right to vote and increased their education and job opportunities. The famous five were five Alberta women, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy, and Louise McKinney. Nellie McClung is best remembered in Manitoba for her achievements in getting Manitoba to become the first province to allow women the right to vote and achieve provincial office in Canada. “Nellie McClung was one of the Famous Five—five Alberta women who petitioned the government of Canada to expand the legal definition of the word person to include women. Ottawa refused, but the five persevered, appealing to London. Eventually, they won their case; in 1929.”[vi]

We need to understand the key explanations of women, work and family within the political and economic sphere. Originally, native women were equal to their partners in the economic and political system. The migration of Europeans to North America changed the social and economical structure of the state. Mercantilism soon gave way to an agrarian system that evolved into an industrialized society. British North America was formed after 1793 and British laws dominated society. For the next 124 years, women were servile to men in Canada. It was women such as Nellie McClung who earned political, social and economical freedom for the women of Canada.

“The simplest and least threatening version of feminism is to ask for what is seen in North America as simple fairness. Even lots of Americans who would never, ever think of themselves as actually being feminists nonetheless expect fairness for women”[vii] Women have achieved many equality rights in the workplace. “For example employers have to accommodate women who are pregnant. It is also illegal for an employer to ask a woman if she is pregnant.”[viii] Society has come a long way, from a century ago, and we have made many positive changes. Today more men can handle the position of nurturing a baby. Finally the economic position of women can only improve because they are now more educated and pre-conditioned to survive a world that is based on many social laws.

An important factor in analysing the social laws implemented between men and women is gender analysis. Gender analysis indentifies the inequality between men and women. Gender analysis is based on the premise that women and men should be treated in the same way. Gender analysis is based on two key components-gender equity and gender equality. “Gender equity takes into consideration the differences in women’s and men’s lives and recognises that different approaches may be needed to produce outcomes that are equitable.”[ix] Gender equality is based on the human rights code which declares equality for all people regardless of race, sex and religion.

By using the Gender Analysis article as an analytical guide, there will be a comparison between the article titled, “Baby Bust: Declining birth rates in Canada to Toronto Star article titled, “Opinion Babies make comeback – except in Canada. These two articles are closely related because they try to find a solution to the problem of declining birth rates in Canada. More importantly one can get a better understanding of why some regions have a higher or normal birth rate compared to others.

The article Baby Bust by Ginette Petipas-Taylor shows concern for the declining birth rates in Canada. The author uses government statistics to depict the situation in Eastern Canada. Eastern Canada has the lowest birth rate in Canada. “The average age for a woman to give birth in Canada is 30 years old. This is a significant increase from a generation ago in the 1970s when the average age to give birth was 24 years of age.”[x] By using the gender analysis article as a guide one realizes that women in Canada are taking advantage of all the equality that life as to offer. Women are marrying at a later age because they would like to start a career. This is the major reason for a lower birth rate in the bigger cities.womens_liberation_photograph_shouting1

Within the rural areas of the eastern region the decline in birth involves unemployment and young people migrating to bigger cities across the country in search of career opportunities. The writer is under the assumption that women would like to have more children, however high taxes and inadequate maternal leave programs in provinces such as Ontario, makes the prospect of having large families difficult. Women also fear the repercussion of taking too much time off work to have a child.

In the Toronto star article titled, Babies make comeback – except in Canada, the writer Carol Goar, praises the plan implemented by Premiere Jean Charest.  The province of Quebec spends upwards of 45% more than other provinces to support families. “Critics call Quebec’s approach costly social engineering. But the majority of citizens support their government’s family policies because they make life easier for parents and safeguard the province’s francophone identify.”[xi]  Carol Goar believes that women across Canada would opt for large families, but the benefits in provinces such as Ontario and British Columbia are not equal to the top countries of the world. Carol Goar believes that the Gender analysis law has many flaws. Goar suggests that the system used in Quebec should be the system used across the province of Canada.

Gender Analysis is understood as giving the female sex an equal opportunity to compete in every sector of life. Both articles indicate that certain regions do have a higher birth rate. However, both writers fail to identify that in the indigenous regions of the Northwest Territories and on reservations, high birth rates continue because of drug dependency, rape, alcohol and low self esteem. Both writers fail to explain that the native population and to smaller extent provinces such as Newfoundland, New Brunswick and PEI. These regions are not considered desired regions for economic growth. A more accurate analysis would be to chart the pregnancy rate in relation to ethnic groups, religious faith and social background.  clip_image002

All the articles defined equality. Equality is, at the very least, freedom from adverse discrimination. Gender analysis is a process of constant and flexible examination. In the 1950s, the role for women was almost exclusively housewife after marriage. Women today have more opportunities to rise in the financial world. This means that women are getting married at a much older age and some women are choosing not to have children. This is a tough task for our government, because the problem of declining birthrates is more than economics.







[i] Deborah Davidson,  SOCI 3860 6.0 A&B Women, Work and Family “Family Histories” (Toronto, Ontario: 2009),pg12

[ii] Ibid….pg13

[iii] Ibid….pg14


[iv] Ibid….pg18

[v] (accessed November 28th 2009)

[vii] Deborah Davidson,  SOCI 3860 6.0 A&B Women, Work and Family “Family Histories” (Toronto, Ontario: 2009),pg7


[xi] (accessed November 30th 2009)


James Micheal Curley Good, Bad or Ugly mayor ?



This a picture of the writer of this essay/article…..Courtney Duncan a handsome black fellow.




The term “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” seems appropriate as a depiction of James Curley. The people of Boston desired change in the early twentieth century, but the nature of that change differed depending on whom one spoke to. The Irish poor wanted a politician who could represent their interests and provide them with jobs and important social welfare services. [I] The Yankee sentiment wanted a government that was

“honest”, efficient, and could preserve their ‘Brahmin heritage’. By the nineteen hundreds these conflicting aspirations could be linked to ‘Irish Democratic-poor, versus the ‘Republican Yankee-rich. Curley, the son of Irish immigrants from County Galway, was born in Boston on the twentieth of November eighteen seventy four. James Micheal Curley

   The family lived in an overcrowded slum known as “ward seventeen”. [II] His father died when he was twelve years old, forcing him to leave school. He held a variety of jobs but his true calling was politics. For that reason, the essay examines his terms as Mayor of Boston, in particular the effect on “Democrats” and characterization of him as villain or hero. Any examination of these issues finds answers mired in political mobilization, deception and intimidation.   

   In nineteen fourteen James Curley served his first of four terms as mayor. He was colorful, and an out-spoken hero to the poor ethnic minorities, which at this time could now identify with the mayor’s lower-class upbringing. The other popular Irish-American candidates were the stock of ‘upper-middle class Irish-democrats’. The Fitzgerald’s and Kennedy’s were uniting Irish gentry with the Anglo-Saxon elite and making their brand of politics more alluring to the upper-class. James Curley then became the favorite of roughly seventy percent of the ethnics living in Boston. This group was a representative of the middle to lower income families in the city of Boston. The other 30 per cent which, could be identified as Yankee-Elite, considered this man a criminal who would steal, lie and use any tactics to manipulate things in his favor.                      

   In the early nineteen hundreds the city of Boston consisted of variousethnic groups, which were almost tribal in behavior. The dominant group was the “Irish”, who clung fiercely to the power they had secured from the old “Yankee” establishment. The Irish-Americans were well represented in the political scene around

Boston. The most influential political figures were Thomas “Tip” O’Neill and mayors John “Honey” Fitzgerald  and James Curley. The last mentioned, James Curley has been credited with engineering the scheme of political mobilization of the ethnic people of Boston.  With so many distinguished and better- educated “democrats” in Boston, why did James Curley become so powerful? This ambitious man understood the pluralist theory. [III]  In the early part of the century, the elite members of the ‘Democratic-Party believed in superior education and the social grooming of party members. They believed that they could obtain respect and achieve recognition if the party could be more palatable for the  Anglo-Saxon elite.          

   James Curley who always identified himself with the struggles of the poor, very quickly took control of the affairs of the lower-class people in the city. This man was a brilliant public speaker who stirred deep emotions in the blue collared workers. When he lectured he reminded his own people of their rough past. He spoke of the days when the British rulers had enforced illiteracy through the penal laws, which denied Catholics the right to attend certain schools. He also promised the poor economic benefits and social amenities, to be financed with heavy taxes from the rich living in Boston. [IV] SaccoVanzettiDemo1

  The political mobilization engineered by Curley, took on the characteristics of “nationalism and fascism”. This new found nationalism could be felt in all the neighborhoods of Boston. James Curley’s main target was the snobbish upper-class from the area known as “The Back Bay”. As described in the novel “Rascal Kings” he describes them as having maids, kitchenettes, dogs and no children. This was a reminder that his people were beating the blue bloods in the population race. [V] The mayor wasinstilling value in numbers, as opposed to wealth. This ploy was successful in achieving political power for the mayor but it also gave the poor and middle-class hope for the future.  

   Political mobilization did have its downside, in that it resembled fascism. The Italian fascist leader Mussolini was a friend of the mayor. Moreover,political mobilization and the hatred of the Republicans, very quickly formed segregated neighborhoods, which fueled various forms of racism. The mayor’s attack on the rich “Democrats  and Republicans” also had the effect of splitting the Irish people into various groups.                          

James Honey Fitzgerald Kennedy's Grandfather former Mayor Boston
Honey Bun as the ladies called him withdrew from race in 1914 and James Micheal Curley became mayor for first of 4 terms..1914-18. 22-26, 30-34 and a final term 1946-50….James Honey Fitz…was mayor 1906-08, 1910-14

   The political mobilization of the ethnic dwellers in Boston enabled the“Mayor” to gain power, but his deceptive character belied his good name. This is personified in lies, insolence and theft The year “Curley” won his first term as mayor, the very popular John “Honey” Fitzgerald was forced out of the running. The year was 1914 and Fitzgerald was convinced not to run for governor of the state of Massachusetts, but rather for the office of “Mayor of Boston.” This infuriated “Curley” who was a very good friend of “Fitzgerald” .[VI] James Curley decided to leak information tothe press about “Fitzgerald” and a cigarette girl. Furthermore he sent letters to his opponent’s wife and gave a speech exposing the old mayor’s affair. In the end “Fitzgerald” decided to drop out of the race and “Curley” became mayor for the first time.                     


    The new mayor did a lot for the community but he also did a lot for himself. On numerous occasions the city council investigated the private dealings of the new mayor. In the historical novel titled, “The A Boston Political Irish History” the author “Thomas H O’Connor” states that, “contractors who wanted lucrative city public works project had to pay mayor” He also discusses the mayor financing his new mansion built in “Jamaica Boston,” [VII] with funds diverted from his post. The finance commission also found out about land deeds written by the mayor and his yacht was owned by Edmund C Dolan. In this century, these would be the actions of a very corrupt mob boss.

     The Yankee Republicans who feared the mayor, quickly decided to passlegislation to keep his power in check. The most important law passed by the Republicans was that any mayor of the city could not serve more than four successive terms. The upper-class gentries of catholic and protestant heritage were embarrassed that a poor criminal could become the leader of this beautiful city. They quickly came to realize how deceptive and cunning this man could be. He would hire the poor people to shovel snow and he would hire blacks to work in some government positions around the city. On the other side of the card, he would refuse to back Irish-Democrats  in the city. He often supported Republicans  for certain nominations. This tactic always kept his enemies off- guard and gave him time to plan the next move. The mayor had respect of the poor but he will always be scrutinized by the upper-class for his deceptive and intimidating character. Middleborough Police



     This intimidating nature, which seemed very cruel at times, very nearlylost him an election in 1929. He was heavily favored to win his third term as mayor of the city, but he decided to use a radio appearance to defame a school committee member who had spoken out against him. This tactic was savage and cruel, because his adversary was a popular civic volunteer and mother. [VIII] The reporters and politicians spoke of hishumble birth and lack of class. They claimed he could never act like a gentlemen. This was the beginning of the 1930s and the ‘Irish people were now characterized as Americans’. The 1930s would produce the first Irish candidate for president of this beautiful country. The ethnic bashing of the early 1900s was a thing of the past, but the mayor evidently was proving that good breeding is inherited, not learned.                     


     The mayor was a tough and out-spoken man who resembled and actedlike a mob boss. This man was from another era and he brought that hatred of the rich to the table. Moreover he could be characterized as a 20th century “Robin Hood”. He was a very intimidating figure in Boston politics. Many people he hired feared for their jobs if they did not follow his instructions. For example the policemen he hired could have lost their jobs, if they did not support his social gatherings or dances.  It is also recorded that the mayor ordered voters to vote early and often. On a few occasions votes for the deceased were submitted. [IX] Many of the poor voted out of fear, because James Curley recruited some of the toughest men from the slums to back him up or do his dirty work. He was also known for throwing a good left hook at political opponents and people who just got in his way. The intimidation was an excellent ploy in the early years but it really tarnished his image in the twilight of his career.                      


       This was never more evident than during his last term as ‘mayor in1949, when he was jailed for mail fraud. While he was in jail, city clerk “John Hynes” took over for him as a temporary mayor. On his early release from jail, his response was ‘I have accomplished more in one day than the five months of my absence! This was the inconsiderate man the poor to middle-class Irish had come to live with. He did not care whom he hurt. That year he lost a friend and an election to the same man he insulted.                     

      James Curley was the prototypical “snake in the grass”. He was extremely intimidating because he had city funds at his disposal, to hurt his enemies and to make himself look good. This man routinely paid out bribes to newspaper writers to write stories in his favor, or to hurt an opponent. These actions only proved that the man needed to be replaced very quickly.                        

      As the modern era of baby-boomers evolved, people like Curley became obsolete. The country of America was a Democratic power, with Irish people in full control of the city of Boston. The days of the un-educated catholic were a thing of the past. This group was now competing for white collared work. The colorful and handsome John F Kennedy with his impeccable education was a leader for all people and causes. Thus the country was growing tired of political mobsters like “James Curley” and the ‘Irish population had branched out to other parts of America.’ Also, this great city was no longer the city for immigrants to call home. That title was now bestowed on places such as “Los Angeles  and New York”. The legend and all he stood for, had sucked the blood out of every immigrant in the city. The ones he had helped were now the middle and upper class citizens who had grown tired of the old “man” tactics.                       

     As we have seeing James Curley’s political style, which he never changed to accommodate the masses will always be a thorn in his side. He often would not support popular democrats such as {Morice} Tobin, Al Smith and later John Kennedy. As stated in Jack Beatty “The Rascal Kings”. James Curley would never support fellow Irish candidates. This resulted in Massachusetts democrats being stunted in their development in the 1930s. James Curley was not educated or refined. The political battlefield was his only chance to succeed. Moreover he used the support of the poor to become rich and successful. Many politicians of his era and ethnicity eventually became more suitable and honorable men in the early 1900s Democratic movement.                    

“who stole people’s money” politics during the early 20th century politicans were the most corrupt of any era in American History

     To sum up would I consider James Curley, “The Good, the Bad or the Ugly”? He could be called The Good for securing jobs for the poor Irish population of Boston, although this was not done out of altruism. The poor votes were his meal ticket to a position from which he chose to steal. He could be considered the Bad for his shady, left hook and two jail terms. Finally he could be termed the Ugly for his dirty politics, his moral shortcomings and his destructive attitude toward the people he represented, the fledging Democratic Party and the Irish community of Boston itself.   



Written by

Courtney Duncan.




[I]Boston, Historical Journals of Massachusetts, winter 2004 , pg#10,

[IV] Jack Beatty, The Rascal King (Don Mills Ontario,1992),p.24

[V] Jack Beatty, The Rascal King (Don Mills Ontario, 1992)

[VII] Thomas H. O’Connor, The A Boston Political Irish History(Northeastern University Press 1995),p.192-94

[IX] Joseph F. Dinneen, The Purple Shamrock(New York 1944) pg 165