Vancouver

VANCOUVER—The line was 30 deep before 6 a.m. at the Venezuelan consulate in downtown Vancouver, the only location in western Canada for ex-pats to vote in their presidential election Sunday. By noon more than 600 Venezuelans had stood in the short hallway, marked the labyrinthine bingo-card-like ballot and dipped a pinky tip in a well of blue ink on a wooden stool.

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In the April 5 edition of The New Republic I published an essay called “The Thought Police” on Islamist campaigns to suppress independent thinking, as described in a Hudson Institute human rights report by Paul Marshall and Nina Shea. My essay listed a great number of reformers from Muslim backgrounds who have come under threat or have actually been attacked, with the names drawn largely from Marshall and Shea’s study. I mentioned in passing that Irshad Manji, a Muslim writer from Vancouver, Canada, had been threatened.

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A few weeks ago, a wolf in sheep’s clothing prowled the White House lawn. The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Washington, D.C. to sign a boring trade agreement with President Barack Obama. The details of the deal aren’t important—they’re so staid and sensible that I’ll leave it to the reader with a masochistic bent, or severe insomnia, to Google them. A quick glance at their mildly laudable contents will probably reinforce the American predilection to view Canada as a sleepy enclave of bureaucratic good government and tepidly left-wing policies.

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On July 13, the Canadian anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters posted what they called “Memo One” on their site under the newly minted hash tag #OCCUPYWALLSTREET: “Are you ready for a Tahrir moment?

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Vancouver houses the only “safe injection site” in North America, where drug addicts can shoot up with clean needles. Thanks in large measure to the clinic’s free needles and antiretroviral medication that lessens infectiousness, Vancouver’s HIV infection rate among drug injectors has decreased in the past decade. Now the city is embarking on a pilot program to give out clean and unused crack pipes, which addicts often share, and usually construct themselves out of whatever they can find.

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Republican Scott Brown beat Democrat Martha Coakley by five points in the senatorial contest to succeed Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. But, in William Delahunt’s congressional district, Brown beat the lady by 20 points. This was not good news for Delahunt, not good news at all. He’s serving his seventh House term in a state delegation that is all Democratic (which, alas, it won’t be come Election Day 2010). The tenth C.D. has been Democratic since Gerry Studds won it in the seventies, and Studds held the seat for nearly a quarter-century.

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Mitt Romney, Dove

Mitt Romney's book is an attempt to build up some tough guy foreign policy street cred for the GOP primary. Now all that work may be undone: Republican politician Mitt Romney was physically threatened by a violent passenger on an Air Canada flight leaving Vancouver this morning. Mr. Romney, who has been in Vancouver since Friday for the Olympic Winter Games, did not respond to the attack. Instead, he allowed the airline crew to deal with the incident, according to his spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. Mr.

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With Republican prospects for 2010, and just maybe 2012, trending upward, it’s worth noting that Mitt Romney, the insiders’ front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, has announced a publicity tour for his upcoming book, No Apology. He'll begin with two stops in (surprise!) Iowa in March. Team Romney has tried to suppress in advance any comparisons between the Mittster’s round of book signings and that of Sarah Palin. “We’re not going to match her crowd size or sales.

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Trading Places

Thirty years ago, the mayor of Chicago was unseated by a snowstorm. A blizzard in January of 1979 dumped some 20 inches on the ground, causing, among other problems, a curtailment of transit service. The few available trains coming downtown from the northwest side filled up with middle-class white riders near the far end of the line, leaving no room for poorer people trying to board on inner-city platforms. African Americans and Hispanics blamed this on Mayor Michael Bilandic, and he lost the Democratic primary to Jane Byrne a few weeks later. Today, this could never happen.

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Death Grip

In June 2004, I went door to door in a white, working- class neighborhood of Martinsburg, West Virginia, a small blue-collar town in decline. There, I found voters disillusioned with both the Iraq war and the flagging economy. But, when I returned five months later-- the Sunday before the election--I had difficulty digging up anyone who didn't plan to vote for George W. Bush.

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