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  • The Big Picture shares shocking photos of the Portuguese forest fires.

  • blogTO notes that, happily, Seaton Village's Fiesta Farms is apparently not at risk of being turned into a condo development site.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a new starship discussion group in Delft. Shades of the British Interplanetary Society and the Daedalus?

  • D-Brief considers a new theory explaining why different birds' eggs have different shapes.

  • The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas commits himself to a new regimen of blogging about technology and its imports. (There is a Patreon.)

  • Language Hat notes the current Turkish government's interest in purging Turkish of Western loanwords.

  • Language Log's Victor Mair sums up the evidence for the diffusion of Indo-European languages, and their speakers, into India.

  • The LRB Blog notes the Theresa May government's inability post-Grenfell to communicate with any sense of emotion.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen wonders if the alt-right more prominent in the Anglophone world because it is more prone to the appeal of the new.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw wonders if Brexit will result in a stronger European Union and a weaker United Kingdom.

  • Seriously Science reports a study suggesting that shiny new headphones are not better than less flashy brands.

  • Torontoist reports on the anti-Muslim hate groups set to march in Toronto Pride.

  • Understanding Society considers the subject of critical realism in sociological analyses.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russia's call to promote Cyrillic across the former Soviet Union has gone badly in Armenia, with its own script.

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  • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith talks about "cis", "trans", and the non-obvious meaning of this classification.
  • The Big Picture shares photos of a recent sailing festival in Boston.

  • blogTO reports on the trendy charcoal-black ice cream of a store across from Trinity Bellwoods.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of a "runaway fusion" drive.Crooked Timber wonders how a bad Brexit agreement could possibly be worse than no Brexit agreement for the United Kingdom.
  • D-Brief warns of the possibility of sustained life-threatening heat waves in the tropics with global warming.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers how sociology majors are prepared, or not, for the workforce.

  • Language Hat links to a wonderful examination of the textual complexities of James Joyce's Ulysses.

  • The LRB Blog looks at how British big business is indebted to the Conservatives.

  • Marginal Revolution reports on China's emergent pop music machine.

  • Steve Munro reports on the latest on noise from the 514 Cherry streetcar.

  • The NYRB Daily has a fascinating exchange on consciousness and free will and where it all lies.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on a successful expedition to Argentina to examine Kuiper Belt object MU69 via occultation.

  • Peter Rukavina celebrates Charlottetown school crossing guard Dana Doyle.

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  • Crooked Timber enthuses over the remixing, or remastering, of arguably the Beatles' most iconic album.

  • Far Outliers notes the Albanian language's alphabet struggles in the wider geopolitics of Albania.

  • Joe. My. God. notes an American soccer player opted to quit rather than to wear a Pride jersey.

  • Language Hat notes a new online atlas of Algonquian languages.

  • The NYRB Daily argues that Theresa May's election defeat makes the fantasy of a hard Brexit, at least, that much less possible.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia's concern at the dissipation of the prestige of its language and script its former empire, especially in Ukraine.

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  • blogTO notes that the old HMV store in the Dufferin Mall is now a fidget spinner store. This has gone viral.
  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about her week in Paris.

  • Centauri Dreams notes one paper examining the complex formation of the dense TRAPPIST-1 system.

  • Far Outliers reports from early 20th century Albania, about how tribal and language and ethnic identities overlap, and not.

  • Language Log notes efforts to promote Cantonese in the face of Mandarin.

  • The LRB Blog wonders if May's electoral defeat might lead to the United Kingdom changing its Brexit trajectory.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that cars have more complex computer programming these days than fighter jets.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that the counter-cyclical Brazilian fiscal cap still makes no sense.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is edging towards an acknowledgement of its involvement in the Ukrainian war.

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  • Anthony Easton at MacLean's writes in defense of Nickelback, one of Canada's most popular bands if not a critical darling.

  • Also in MacLean's, Stephanie Carvin notes that the new foreign and military policies announced by the Canadian government could still fall short.

  • Bloomberg View's Stephen L. Carter considers the idea of the just war through the lens of Wonder Woman.

  • Nuclear energy, it seems, will be India's answer to global warming in the era of Trump.

  • Qataris, Bloomberg notes, are trying to deal with their island country's state of siege.

  • Airbus may pull its production plants from the United Kingdom unless the country keeps single market access.

  • Refugees, Lynne Olson notes at National Geographic, helped save the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

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  • Centauri Dreams notes new studies suggesting the flares of red dwarf stars damage potentially habitable planets.

  • The Crux notes that the wild apple is going extinct.
  • D-Brief notes that recent high winds in Europe helped push energy prices there to negative territory.

  • The Frailest Thing considers Neil Postman's thoughts on the intersection of mass media and childhood.

  • Inkfish argues in favour of accidental wetlands in urban areas.
  • Language Log looks at the trope of the repeated character in some recent Chinese advertising.

  • The LRB Blog considers the costs, environmental and otherwise, to the United States' leaving the Paris climate agreement.

  • Marginal Revolution wonders what assumptions about deep history the news of Homo sapiens' longer history overturn.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, in the area of energy costs, mid-20th century Uruguay was worse off than New Zealand.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at polling on Russian opinions about the Russian Far East and its future.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell is skeptical about Jeremy Paxman's claims about privacy in modern journalism.

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  • The Atlantic notes the chance that China might manage to supplant the United States under Trump as a guarantor of the world order.

  • In an older article, The Atlantic noted Mexico's potential to be a spoiler for the United States. Being less wealthy and powerful than the US is not the same as not being wealthy and powerful.

  • DW notes that there is the possibility of an entente between China and the EU, to sustain the multilateral order.

  • Spiegel Online notes that the Turkey of Erdogan these days is starting to fall out with its NATO partners.

  • Open Democracy argues the alienation of Europeans of Turkish background from liberal democracy has roots in Europe.

  • Also at Open Democracy, Nick Mullens argues that negatively stereotyping Appalachians leads only to their doubling-down on coal.

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  • The Big Picture shares photos of the South Sudanese refugee exodus into Uganda.

  • blogTO shares an ad for a condo rental on Dovercourt Road near me, only $1800 a month.

  • Centauri Dreams reports on the idea of using waste heat to detect extraterrestrial civilizations.

  • Crooked Timber uses the paradigm of Jane Jacobs' challenge to expert in the context of Brexit.

  • The LRB Blog reports on the fishers of Senegal and their involvement in that country's history of emigration.

  • The Planetary Society Blog shares an image comparing Saturn's smaller moons.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy comes out in support of taking down Confederate monuments.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Chechens are coming out ahead of Daghestanis in the North Caucasus' religious hierarchies, and argues that Putin cannot risk letting Ukraine become a model for Russia.

  • Arnold Zwicky looks at various bowdlerizations of Philip Larkin's famous quote about what parents do to their children.

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  • Anthropology.net reports on new evidence that Homo naledi may have used tools, buried their dead, and lived alongside Homo sapiens.
  • Centauri Dreams remembers an abortive solar sail mission to Halley's Comet.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the "Apache" dancers of France.

  • Cody Delistraty writes about Swedish futurist Anders Sandberg and his efforts to plan for humanity's future.

  • At the Everyday Sociology Blog, Karen Sternheimer talks about her day as a sociologist.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the good news that normal young HIV patients can now expect near-normal life expectancies.

  • Language Hat looks at a recent surge of interest in Italian dialects.

  • Language Log looks at the phenomenon of East Asians taking English-language names.

  • The LRB Blog considers the dynamics of the United Kingdom's own UDI.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the existential issues of a growing Kinshasa still disconnected from the wider world.

  • Steve Munro notes that Metrolinx will now buy vehicles from France's Alstom.

  • The New APPS Blog uses Foucault to look at the "thanatopolitics" of the Republicans.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at Trump's constitutional crisis.

  • Out There considers the issues surrounding the detection of an alien civilization less advanced than ours.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the United States' planetary science exploration budget.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at Argentina's underrated reputation as a destination for foreign investment.

  • Progressive Download shares some thinking about sexual orientation in the context of evolution.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the success of wind energy generation on the Island.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the dynamics of Rome.

  • Window on Eurasia shares a lunatic Russian scheme for a partition of eastern Europe between Russia and Germany.

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at the SPECULOOS red dwarf observation program.

  • The Crux examines VX nerve agent, the chemical apparently used to assassinate the half-brother of North Korea's ruler.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the inhabitants of the Tokyo night, like gangsters and prostitutes and drag queens.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines Donald Trump's tepid and belated denunciation of anti-Semitism.

  • Language Log looks at the story of the Wenzhounese, a Chinese group notable for its diaspora in Italy.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the by-elections in the British ridings of Stoke and Copeland and notes the problems of labour.

  • The Map Room Blog shares a post-Brexit map of the European Union with an independent Scotland.

  • Marginal Revolution reports that a border tax would be a poor idea for the United States and Mexico.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at the art of the medieval Tibetan kingdom of Guge.

  • Otto Pohl notes the 73rd anniversary of Stalin's deportation of the Chechens and the Ingush.

  • Supernova Condensate points out that Venus is actually the most Earth-like planet we know of. Why do we not explore it more?

  • Towleroad notes Depeche Mode's denunciation of the alt-right and Richard Spencer.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi considers the question of feeling empathy for horrible people.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the thousands of Russian citizens involved with ISIS and examines the militarization of Kaliningrad.

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New Europe's Andy King reports on how iconic British insurance firm Lloyd's of London, in an effort to ensure that it can offer continuity of services to its European Union clients post-Brexit, has begun to shift jobs out of London to EU destinations. Ireland and Malta are apparently fronrunners.

After three centuries, the Lloyds of London will no longer be “of London.” The company is moving its headquarters, its CEO Inga Beale confirmed on Friday.

Talking to Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Beale confirmed that following Prime Minister May’s announcement last Tuesday, Lloyds was going ahead with its contingency plan.

Many insurance companies will be moving a big part of their operations, since passporting rights and licensing are key to the sectors’ business in Europe. Lloyds stands to lose as much as 11% of its premiums that come from Europe or little under 1bn Euros.

Lloyd’s was founded three centuries ago in London and is moving ahead because a licensing process could take more than a year. What Lloyd’s want to avoid is what the industry calls “cliff’s edge trap,” in which the service provider cannot move soon enough to ensure continuity of service.
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BBC's Damien McGuinness reports from Berlin about how two Brexiteers' address to a conference of German business leaders, intended to secure decidedly United Kingdom-friendly terms, managed instead to fail. The profound misunderstanding of German intentions and German interests is almost painful to read about.

The distinguished audience members were too polite to heckle. But the eye rolling, frowns and audible tutting made it quite clear how the Brexiteers' message was going down with German business leaders.
Owen Paterson, a former minister and Conservative MP, and John Longworth, co-chair of Leave Means Leave, came to Berlin on Saturday with a clear mission - to persuade German business leaders to lobby Chancellor Angela Merkel to give Britain a good trade deal.

They should have been on safe territory.

The two men are confident, witty speakers with impressive business and free-trade credentials.

Mr Longworth is a former head of the British Chamber of Commerce. Mr Paterson's years spent trading in Germany meant he could open his address with a few remarks in German - which drew an appreciative round of applause - and a well-judged joke about multilingual trade.

But it turned out they had entered the lion's den.

The laughter from the audience quickly turned to sniggers as they heard the UK described as "a beacon of open, free trade around the world".

Westminster's decision to leave the world's largest free trade area does not look like that to Germany.
When Europe was blamed for spending cuts and a lack of British health care provision, there were audible mutters of irritation from the audience.
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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly calls on journalists to stand up to Trump.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at exocomets.

  • Language Log shares an ad from the 1920s using the most vintage language imaginable.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money talks about globalization as a mechanism for concentrating wealth at the top of the elite.

  • The LRB Blog talks about the ghosts of the Cold War in the contemporary world.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen argues that Germany has its own responsibility in transatlantic relations.

  • The New APPS Blog looks at the importance of administrative law.

  • The NYRB Daily celebrates John Berger.

  • Savage Minds proposes a read-in of Michel Foucault in protest of Trump's inauguration on the 20th.

  • Towleroad reports on the latest statistics on the proportions of LGBT people in the United States.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at the continuing depopulation of the Russian Far East and examines the shift to indigenous naming practices in Kyrgyzstan.

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The Guardian's Helena Smith reports on the prospects for peace and eventual reunification in Cyprus. I only hope that the negotiating parties will not decide to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

After 18 months of intensive negotiations to settle inter-ethnic divisions, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akıncı will attempt to finesse the details of a peace deal in Geneva this week by poring over maps and discussing territorial trade-offs before tackling the potentially explosive issue of security.

Asked if he was optimistic as he arrived at the UN’s European headquarters on Monday morning, Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader, said: “Ask me when we are finished.”

For an island the finer skills of peacemakers has long eluded, the talks are seen as a defining moment in the arduous process of resolving what has long been regarded as the Rubik’s cube of diplomacy.

On Sunday, the new UN secretary general, António Guterres, described the talks as a historic opportunity. In Nicosia officials on both sides of the buffer zone spoke of “the best and last chance” for a settlement. Other experts described the talks as the endgame.

“This is the final phase of the final phase,” said Hubert Faustmann, a professor of history and political science at the University of Nicosia. “It will be the first time since 1974 that Turkey and the Greek Cypriots will hold direct talks at the negotiating table.”

A week of fierce horse-trading lies ahead before Greece, Turkey and former colonial power Britain – the island’s three guarantors under its post-independence constitution – convene on 12 January to address the issues of troop presence and security in an envisioned federation. Both are seen as crucial to ensuring 1974 is never repeated.
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The National Post carried Joseph Wilson's Associated Press article reporting on a failed effort by well over a thousand Africans to storm the fences separating Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.

More than 50 Moroccan and Spanish border guards were injured repelling around 1,100 African migrants who attempted to storm a border fence and enter Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta, Spanish authorities said Sunday.

A regional government spokesman told The Associated Press that 50 Moroccan and five Spanish border guards were injured early on Sunday when the large group of migrants tried to enter Spain.

The spokesman said two migrants managed to reach Spanish soil. Both were injured in scaling the six-metere-high border fence and were taken to a hospital by Spanish police. He spoke anonymously in line with government policy.

A further 100 migrants climbed the fence, but Spanish agents sent them directly back to Morocco.

[. . .]

Hundreds of sub-Saharan African migrants living illegally in Morocco try to enter Ceuta and Melilla, Spain’s other North African enclave, each year in hope of getting to Europe.

Most migrants who try to cross are intercepted on the spot and returned to Morocco. Those that make it over the fences are eventually repatriated or let go.
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  • blogTO notes that the Toronto real estate market is now the most unaffordable of any in Canada.

  • The Big Picture shares photos of melting Antarctica.

  • Crooked Timber considers the economic benefits of open borders, and the costs.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of posters from Paris in 1968.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the problems of legal education in California.

  • The New APPS Blog thinks poorly of South Carolina's Republicans.

  • Marginal Revolution wonders if China will do better than the United States at dealing with air pollution.

  • The NYRB Daily considers the collection of Neapolitan Christmas crèches.

  • Palun looks at seasonal affective disorder in northern Estonia.

  • Peter Watts wishes his readers happy holidays.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the distribution of the populations of the US, Canada and Europe by latitude.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy compares concerns over Muslim immigration to opposition to Turkish membership in the EU.

  • Window on Eurasia argues populism will not lead to structural change and suggests Putin's policies are a consequence of his fatigue.

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At Transitions Online, Martin Ehl writes about how central European disinterest in the Dalai Lama maps onto an increasingly pragmatic pursuit of Chinese investment.

In this way, the October visit of the Dalai Lama – who was the main star of the 20th edition of the Forum 2000 conference, founded by late President Vaclav Havel – was also a test of Havel’s legacy in the former Czechoslovakia. That humanitarian approach is today confined to almost hidden corners of the local political scene, only revived from time to time by small groups, usually consisting of NGO activists, and lately by Kiska. In mainstream politics, it gets almost completely forgotten.

Lastly, the episode illustrates in broader strokes the emerging relationship between Central Europe and China. For the last couple of years, China has crafted its policy toward Europe, and the weak and often Eurosceptic Central European governments have seemed an ideal gateway for Chinese money and political influence. China could thereby reach the wider European Union, which, due to the refugee crisis and Brexit, looks weaker than ever in the last 20 years.

The job, however, isn’t easy for Chinese diplomats in Prague, Bratislava, or Warsaw (the Dalai Lama also briefly visited Wroclaw, without meeting any government official there). They have to exert maximum effort, show off their supposed powers to influence investment, and gain leverage over local politicians. But the real work in leaning on the locals is done by the businessmen who have cultivated business and political ties in China as relations have warmed. That’s not so tough when the United States, a traditional ally, seems so far off, the EU looks to be in disarray, and Russia plays old, familiar Soviet power games.
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The Globe and Mail carried James Davey's Reuters report noting the conflict between the country of Iceland and the British-based food retailer of the same name. I have to admit to being surprised, still, that the name of a country could have been so appropriated by an unrelated business.

British supermarket chain Iceland Foods is sending a delegation to “The Land of Fire and Ice” in an effort to resolve a legal dispute over the trademark registration of the word “Iceland”.

Iceland Foods, whose 22,000 employees would be equivalent to almost 7 per cent of Iceland the country’s population, said it was urgently seeking a meeting after the north Atlantic island said last week it had taken legal action against the retailer.

Reykjavik said Iceland Food’s Europe-wide registration had often left Icelandic firms unable to describe their products as Icelandic and it had asked the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EU-IPO) to invalidate it.

Iceland Foods said on Tuesday it wanted “to lay out constructive proposals for resumption of the peaceful co-existence between the company and country that had prevailed for the previous 46 years.”

The supermarket, which is best known for its frozen foods, said it had a long history of friendly relations with Iceland, which lies about 800 km (500 miles) northwest of Scotland and has a population of 329,100.
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  • blogTO recommends five neighbourhoods for people looking for apartments.

  • False Steps' Paul Drye describes a failed European-Russian project for a manned capsule.

  • Language Log looks at the oddity of English pronunciations of words in foreign languages, like placenames, with no connection to how these words are pronounced in English.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is critical of the coverage given to Trump and Clinton, finding it biased against the latter.

  • Marginal Revolution suggests that seasteading has a future.

  • The NYRB Daily suggests Israeli colonization will mean the end of the traditional lifestyle of Palestinian Bedouin.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on the spread of the red fire ant in Australia.

  • Peter Rukavina describes the unusual round boundaries of the Island village of Crapaud.

  • Savage Minds shares a lovely timeline of the history of anthropology.

  • Torontoist looks at the origins of human rights law in Ontario.

  • Window on Eurasia argues Russia's position as the Soviet successor state hampers its ability to engage with Communism, and reports on Belarus' concern at the dominance of local television by Russian imports.

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For the past couple of winters, I've been feeling as if I live in a foreign country.

Canadians self-define their country as a northern one, verging on the Arctic. This is true, and yet, most of the major population centres of Canada--the great Windsor-Québec City corridor, the Maritimes, Vancouver, Winnipeg, even--are concentrated in the extreme south of the country. In terms of latitude, all of these cities are located considerably further to the south than many European cities we think of regularly, not just as peers but as warmer destinations. It is the Gulf Stream that keeps Europe warm, that gives Tallinn (for instance) the chance to enjoy a climate significantly more clement than the northern Manitoba port of Churchill.

This has been changing in the past couple of years. It hit me most strongly last year, just before Christmas, when I went out for lunch with a friend (hi Mark!). He was wearing bike shorts, and comfortable wearing them. Why not? It was 15 degrees out. Afterwards, I got out of the TTC at Spadina station and just stood for a moment, looking at the Annex around me. It was 4 o'clock, and starting to get dark, and yet it was warm.

Canada, unlike Europe, doesn't have a Gulf Stream. It does share in the greenhouse effect that is already contributing to record winter highs in the Arctic, and elsewhere.

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