The Aga Khan: the singular appeal of a pluralist – The Globe and Mail

Good piece by Janice Stein on the Aga Khan:

Not only Quebec struggles with the contours of pluralism. Canada is redefining the meaning of citizenship in an age when many are citizens of more than one state. What obligations, some Canadians ask, do we have to those who spend most of their time abroad? When at risk abroad, should they be rescued? And what responsibilities fall to those who come to Canada seeking refuge and opportunity? What should “they” learn and be required to do?

Such concerns are new to the debate on pluralism – and come at a time when we, too, are aging and need new faces, new cultures and new talents if we are to flourish.

We may need new immigrants badly, but our approach to pluralism cannot be purely pragmatic. We must, as the Aga Khan has said in the past, recognize that “the other is both present and different, and appreciate this presence – and this difference – as gifts that can enrich our lives.”

The Aga Khan: the singular appeal of a pluralist – The Globe and Mail.

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Vacation Stop

Will be traveling the next few weeks and will restart March 12.

Changing citizenship rule could hurt Canada’s efforts to woo foreign students: observers

Ironic, as the Government has been innovative in attracting foreign students through new categories like the Canadian Experience Class, that no longer counting time as a non-permanent resident student is part of the proposed Citizenship Act revisions. Unclear whether this will have much direct impact on recruitment efforts for international students but that is the fear:

The change is raising some eyebrows as it creates a potential hurdle for those who typically make well-integrated, sought-after immigrants.

“Increasingly international students are seen as a fabulous talent pool for Canada, they’re golden immigrants,” said Jennifer Humphries, a vice-president at the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

“They can be huge contributors to the Canadian society, Canadian economy. If we create roadblocks to them, what will happen could mean that they could get their education in Canada and end up going to work in the U.S.”

Changing citizenship rule could hurt Canada’s efforts to woo foreign students: observers – Canada, Need to know, News & Politics – Macleans.ca.

Your Ancestors, Your Fate – NYTimes.com

A somewhat controversial study by Gregory Clark on how ancestry is the best predictor of success. Much more sophisticated analysis than the pop-culture Amy Chua “Triple Package” theory. Suggests greater policy modesty at the individual and governmental level:

Culture is a nebulous category and it can’t explain the constant regression of family status — from the top and the bottom. High-status social groups in America are astonishingly diverse. There are representatives from nearly every major religious and ethnic group in the world — except for the group that led to the argument for culture as the foundation of social success: white European Protestants. Muslims are low-status in much of India and Europe, but Iranian Muslims are among the most elite of all groups in America.

Family resources and social networks are not irrelevant. Evidence has been found that programs from early childhood education to socioeconomic and racial classroom integration can yield lasting benefits for poor children. But the potential of such programs to alter the overall rate of social mobility in any major way is low. The societies that invest the most in helping disadvantaged children, like the Nordic countries, have produced absolute, commendable benefits for these children, but they have not changed their relative social position.

The notion of genetic transmission of “social competence” — some mysterious mix of drive and ability — may unsettle us. But studies of adoption, in some ways the most dramatic of social interventions, support this view. A number of studies of adopted children in the United States and Nordic countries show convincingly that their life chances are more strongly predicted from their biological parents than their adoptive families. In America, for example, the I.Q. of adopted children correlates with their adoptive parents’ when they are young, but the correlation is close to zero by adulthood. There is a low correlation between the incomes and educational attainment of adopted children and those of their adoptive parents.

Your Ancestors, Your Fate – NYTimes.com.

How to Get a Job at Google – NYTimes.com

Good piece on Google’s hiring practices. Antitheses to how government hires:

To sum up Bock’s approach to hiring: Talent can come in so many different forms and be built in so many nontraditional ways today, hiring officers have to be alive to every one — besides brand-name colleges. Because “when you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.” Too many colleges, he added, “don’t deliver on what they promise. You generate a ton of debt, you don’t learn the most useful things for your life. It’s [just] an extended adolescence.”

Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A. For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers. But Bock is saying something important to them, too: Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.

How to Get a Job at Google – NYTimes.com.

Citizenship: Finding the Right Balance – New Canadian Media

My overall assessment of the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act, with the conclusion being:

The challenge for all governments is how to balance citizenship as a “place,” assuming citizens remain in their country of immigration, and citizenship as a “status,” a more instrumental view of citizenship as a means to secure employment and other rights.

It is hard for any government to craft options that address the diverse needs of people applying for citizenship. Immigrants who choose Canada for economic reasons may have a more instrumental view of citizenship. Providing them with greater flexibility, and encouraging them to choose Canada, without weakening the meaning of citizenship, or providing additional opportunities for citizens of convenience, will always be a challenge. With the longer residency requirements and “intent to reside” provision, Mr. Alexander may be reducing the attractiveness to the more highly skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants.

Mr. Alexander has come down firmly on the side of citizenship as “place.” The emphasis on integrity and streamlined business processes is understandable, with the possible exception of differential treatment of Canadian citizens and dual nationals in revocation. His inattention to fairness issues and citizenship promotion is regrettable. However, taken together, Mr. Alexander’s proposed changes remain largely within the Canadian context of encouraging immigrants to become citizens, and remaining competitive with other countries.

Citizenship: Finding the Right Balance – New Canadian Media – NCM.

Selling the Citizenship Act Revisions

Less print reporting than I would have expected (or at least what came up on my regular media search) on the Minister’s outreach this past week in Winnipeg, Vancouver and Halifax, selling the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act.

From Vancouver with the Chinese Canadian community:

“The government is trying to control too much,” said Vancouver-based Chinese Canadian news commentator Victor Ho, who also edits the Sing Tao Daily. “To make everyone from age 14 to 64 learn English up to a mandatory level, I think the government is trying to interfere too strongly. If a teenager is living here, then he (or she) is already learning the language in schools, and will pick it up. And as for seniors, you can encourage them, but that should really be more of the family’s decision.”

Another hot topic was the end of the immigrant investor program, which offered visas to people with a net worth of at least $1.6 million who were willing to lend $800,000 to the Canadian government for investment across Canada for a term of five years. The change, which would leave 45,000 Chinese millionaires in limbo, was proposed in the new 2014 budget. The decision has angered some in the Chinese Canadian business community, with some people speaking out at a press conference in Chinatown.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander reveals contradictions in citizenship law | Vancouver Observer.

From the Halifax session, focussing on revocation and Lost Canadians:

The government had earlier signaled its intention to strip Canadians of their citizenship if they are involved in terrorist activities abroad, leading critics to say such a provision leaves Canadians vulnerable to false accusations from undemocratic regimes. But Mr. Alexander, speaking at a news conference in Halifax, said the new Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act makes it clear that terrorism convictions would have to be from Canadian courts and the provisions would only apply to people who have dual citizenship. He added that the measure is intended “to be a deterrent to dual nationals who might think of going to fight for extremist groups” in Syria or elsewhere.

High bar to strip citizenship: Minister

Some earlier commentary in the Indo-Canadian Voice, largely description of the proposed changes to citizenship by William MacIntosh, an immigration lawyer:

As long as Canada offers health care and other social benefits, there is a legitimate political question about the tax contribution of the several million Canadians living abroad to pay for those services should they return. The government may say the proposed changes help address the problem, but the changes are window dressing. The real change would come with amendments to tax laws, which would be much harder to sell politically.

Indo-Canadian Voice | Tougher citizenship laws miss mark on expatriate issues.

A. Alan Borovoy: Going to court with Ernst Zündel

An excerpt from Alan Borovoy’s book, recounting his experience on some of the more thorny free speech issues when he was head of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA):

In 1990, a few years later, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on the Keegstra case, and upheld the constitutionality of Canada’s anti-hate law by a narrow margin. When the press asked me for a comment, I noted that, by the time the case reached the Supreme Court, Keegstra had been removed from the classroom, disqualified from the teaching profession, and ousted as mayor of Eckville, Alberta. By then, he was working as a garage mechanic. And so, in addition to the free-speech-chilling implications of the Court’s Keegstra decision, it was gratuitous given all that already had happened.

“In my view,” I said, “he should have been allowed to wallow in the obscurity he so richly deserves.”

A. Alan Borovoy: Going to court with Ernst Zündel | National Post.

Intel’s Sharp-Eyed Social Scientist – NYTimes.com

And now for something completely different.

Interesting article about Intel’s Genevieve Bell, an anthropologist who is Intel’s resident tech intellectual (director of user experience research at Intel Labs), who brings the real world user experience perspective. I liked the analysis of cars and technology as the user experience in many cars leaves a lot to be desired:

As they [Dr. Bell and a colleague] traveled from country to country, asking drivers about how they used every object in their cars, the pair developed a messier counternarrative to the tech-idealized version. Although carmakers have embedded voice-command systems and the like in their vehicles with the idea of reducing distracted driving, the researchers found that when drivers were bored in traffic, they often picked up their hand-held personal devices anyway.

“What became clear was a couple of things: how much technology people bring to cars, how much they were ignoring the technology that was built in, and how much that technology was failing them,” Dr. Bell says.

Intel’s Sharp-Eyed Social Scientist – NYTimes.com.

UK: Baroness Warsi ‘saddened’ by rise in Islamic sectarianism

Good commentary by Baroness Warsi, UK Minister of Faith:

But she added she feared it was also politics masquerading as religion. “There’s a deeply disturbing political element to sectarianism when negative political forces exploit these differences,” she said. “And this approach takes on an even more sinister tone when sect is equated with nationality or loyalty to a particular country.”

Baroness Warsi, who was appointed the first Minister for Faith by the Coalition, revealed that she had been personally targeted by a gang who accused her of “not being a proper Muslim”. “They didn’t approve of me appearing in public without my face covered,” she said. “They reduced my faith to a list of ‘don’ts’, defined only in the negative, defining their faith in terms of what they were against, rather than what they stood for. I believe that this approach is at odds with the teachings of Islam.”

Baroness Warsi ‘saddened’ by rise in Islamic sectarianism – UK Politics – UK – The Independent.