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  • Centauri Dreams looks at the potentially deadly effect of the stellar flares of red dwarfs on potentially habitable exoplanets.

  • Charley Ross notes the strange 1957 disappearance of William ad Margaret Patterson from their Texas home.

  • D-Brief notes the evidence for a second planet at Proxima Centauri, a super-Earth Proxima C with a 215 day orbit.

  • Tom Yulsman of ImaGeo shares shares photos of the active Sun.

  • The argument made by Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns and Money that Americans were learning to love Obamacare and Republicans wanted to take it away before they got used to it ... well.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that, and why, restaurant servers in Maine wanted their minimum wage lowered. (Tips.)

  • Roads and Kingdoms shares the story of Na De Fo, a rare Korean restaurant in Mexico City.

  • The NYR Daily looks at how Macron might try to "California-ize" France, and whether he could pull this off.

  • Unicorn Booty notes studies noting bisexuals have a lower quality of life than gays, and wonders why. (Stigma is an issue.)

  • Window on Eurasia notes that global warming, by leading to permafrost melt, is literally undermining the infrastructure of Russia.

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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly considers the various challenges of being an independent person.

  • Centauri Dreams considers the possibility of a Mars-mass planet in the Kuiper belt.

  • Dangerous Minds notes how the 5Pointz warehouse of NYC, once a graffiti hotspot, has been turned into a condo complex that at best evokes that artistic past.

  • Language Log explores the etymology of "sang", a descriptor of a Chinese subculture of dispirited youths.

  • The LRB Blog reports on a Border Patrol raid on the No More Deaths encampment in Arizona, a camp that helps save migrant lives in the desert.

  • The Strange Company blogs about the mysterious 1829 disappearance of Judge John Ten Eyck Lansing from New York City.

  • Unicorn Booty describes three gay Muslim immigrants terrified of the implications of President Trump.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers pros and cons to the idea of religious arbitration.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the Qatar crisis is worsening Sunni/Shia tensions among the Muslims of Russia.

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  • Language Hat blogs about appearances of Nahuatl in Los Angeles, in television and in education.
  • Language Log talks about "Zhonghua minzu", meaning "Chinese nation" or "Chinese race" depending on the translation.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that Canada, with inelastic production, might have a marijuana shortage come legalization/
  • In the NYR Daily, Christopher de Bellaigue wonders if Britain--the West, even--might be on the verge of a descent into communal violence.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the accessibility of VIA Rail's data on trade arrivals and departures.

  • Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel notes that, in the far distant starless future, the decay of binary brown dwarf orbits can still start stars.

  • Torontoist shares photos of the Dyke March.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Tatarstan's tradition of bourgeois and intellectually critical nationalism could have wider consequences, in Russia and beyond.

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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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  • Centauri Dreams reports on asteroid P/2016 G1, a world that, after splitting, is now showing signs of a cometary tail.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers outrage as a sociological phenomenon. What, exactly, does it do? What does it change?

  • Joe. My. God. reports on a new push for same-sex marriage in Germany, coming from the SPD.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines the Alabama government's disinterest in commemorating the Selma march for freedom.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at Oxford University's attempt to recruit white British male students.

  • At the NYRB Daily, Masha Gessen warns against falling too readily into the trap of identifying conspiracies in dealing with Trump.

  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of Muslims in Crimea according to the 1897 Russian census.

  • Savage Minds takes a brief look at ayahuasca, a ritual beverage of Andean indigenous peoples, and looks at how its legality in the United States remains complicated.

  • Elf Sternberg considers the problems of straight men with sex, and argues they might be especially trapped by a culture that makes it difficult for straight men to consider sex as anything but a birthright and an obligation.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers how the complexities of eminent domain might complicate the US-Mexican border wall.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on protests in Russia and argues Belarus is on the verge of something.

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  • Antipope's Charlie Stross wonders if the politics of Trump might mean an end to the British nuclear deterrent.

  • Centauri Dreams shares Andrew LePage's evaluation of the TRAPPIST-1 system, where he concludes that there are in fact three plausible candidates for habitable status there.

  • Dangerous Minds shares the gender-bending photographs of Norwegian photographers Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.

  • The Extremo Files looks at the human microbiome.

  • Language Hat links to an article on Dakhani, a south Indian Urdu dialect.

  • The LRB Blog looks at policing in London.

  • The Map Room Blog notes that 90% of the hundred thousand lakes of Manitoba are officially unnamed.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the remarkable Akshardham Temple of New Delhi.

  • The Planetary Society Blog notes how citizen scientists detected changes in Rosetta's comet.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer provides a visual guide for New Yorkers at the size of the proposed border wall.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to a paper taking a look at the history of abortion in 20th century France.

  • Torontoist looks at the 1840s influx of Irish refugees to Toronto.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the research that went into the discovery of the nucleus of the atom.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on Belarus.

  • Arnold Zwicky shares photos and commentary on the stars and plot of Oscar-winning film Midnight.

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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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The Globe and Mail's Robert Fife reports on the problems facing North American integration, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland promising not to desert Mexico, at least not on multilateral issues whatever these might be.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland assured Mexico on Tuesday that Canada will not strike a bilateral deal with Washington in negotiations to revamp the 1994 North American free-trade agreement. During a panel discussion with Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray, Ms. Freeland sought to dampen concerns that the Trump administration would seek bilateral talks with each of its NAFTA partners.

Ms. Freeland stressed that it is too early to even talk about what might be up for renegotiation since the Senate has not yet confirmed commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, who will head the trade negotiations, and Robert Lighthizer, the nominee for U.S. trade representative.

“There is no negotiating process yet initiated. In fact, the United States does not even have a team in place to begin those negotiations. So let’s not put the cart before the horse,” she said when asked if Canada was prepared to throw Mexico under the bus to protect this country’s interest from President Donald Trump’s America-first trade policy.

“But we very much recognize that NAFTA is a three-country agreement, and if there were to be any negotiations, those would be three-way negotiations.”At the same time, Ms. Freeland said there will be bilateral issues that Canada and the United States will want to discuss separately – something Mr. Videgaray conceded would happen when it comes to Mr. Trump’s plans to build a wall to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drug smuggling from Mexico.

“We understand that there are some issues that, by nature, are strictly bilateral to the U.S.-Canadian relationship … just as Canada acknowledges we have a bilateral relationship with the U.S. and I am sure [Ms. Freeland] would prefer to stay away from some of those aspects of that.”
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I share in the relief of Canadians generally that, as reported by CBC News, Trudeau's meeting with Trump apparently went without incident, with no warnings of threats to Canadian economic interests. (Yet?)

The much-anticipated meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday did much to assuage fears of Canadian businesses wary of the prospect of a trade war.

After a formal greeting between the two leaders followed by meetings, the White House and the Prime Minister's Office issued a joint statement on Monday reaffirming the strong bonds between Canada and the U.S.

"No two countries share deeper or broader relations than Canada and the United States," the statement read, making note of the two countries' "shared economic interests," including the $2 billion in trade that flows between the two every day.

That's a much different tone than the one witnessed on the campaign trail, when Trump repeatedly attacked the North American Free Trade Agreement that governs commerce between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Mexico has been the frequent target of Trump's ire, but Canadian businesses and commentators in Canada had concerns that the new president would also seek to tighten the trading border to the north. Much is written about how key the U.S. is to Canada's economy, but 32 states claim Canada as their largest export market, shipping $267 billion worth of goods and services north, BMO economist Michael Gregory said.
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  • blogTO reports on the history of Toronto's Wellington Street.

  • Dangerous Minds introduces me to the grim American gothic that is Wisconsin Death Trip. What happened to Black River Falls in the 1890s?

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to hypotheses about KIC 8462852, one suggesting KIC 8462852 has four exoplanets, another talking about a planet's disintegration.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to a paper modeling the mantles of icy moons.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at small city NIMBYism in the Oregon city of Eugene.

  • The LRB Blog reports on toxically racist misogyny directed towards Labour's Diane Abbott by Tory minister David Davis, "misogynoir" as it is called.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on the elections in Indonesia, a country increasingly important to Australia.

  • Peter Rukavina describes how the builders of his various indie phones, promising in their own rights, keep dropping them.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer is optimistic that NAFTA will survive mostly as is.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy examines the ruling against Trump's immigration order on the grounds that its planners explicitly designed it as an anti-Muslim ban.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the treaty-based federalism of Tatarstan within Russia is increasingly unpopular with many wanting a more centralized country.

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MacLean's shares Kevin Carmichael's argument that there are sound reasons for Canadian negotiators to not sacrifice Mexico out of the desire to stabilize trade relationships with the United States of Donald Trump. Ignoring the ethical concerns of dropping a partner and the question of whether this tactic could actually work, the considerable and growing value of Canadian-Mexican trade is not to be ignored.

The months ahead will feature a lot of what I call, “Little Canada.” By that I mean the impulse to narrow Canada’s world view to what goes on in the United States, which I mentioned in a piece on January 27. As if on cue, Evan Solomon documented unofficial Ottawa’s willingness to abandon Mexico if doing so would allow Canada to protect its “special” relationship with the United States. Solomon spoke to Derek Burney, the former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. who helped negotiate NAFTA. “The U.S. war of words with Mexico is dangerous, and Burney, among others, is convinced the first thing that Canada has to do is abandon the Three Amigos relationship,” Solomon wrote at Maclean’s on January 30. He quoted Burney as saying the following: “We should not indulge in ridiculous posturing—like getting together with Mexico to defend our interests, when Canada has very different economic interests than Mexico. It is a fundamental error to conflate them.”

Are the economic interests of Canada and Mexico really so different? Both are middle powers that depend on access to international markets because their populations are either too small (Canada) or too poor (Mexico) to consume all the goods and services they are capable of producing. Economic gravity pulls most of what they sell into the United States. But the post-War commitment to more-the-merrier trade agreements has created a system in which smaller countries can trade under rules that aren’t entirely skewed in favour of the two or three biggest players.

Much of what Trump has proposed to do on trade would violate the terms agreed at the World Trade Organization, but it is possible the new president may not care. Suing the U.S. at the WTO would take years, and Trump, who has called the Geneva-based trade watchdog a “disaster,” could follow through on his threat to quit it. “He may believe (possibly correctly) that the next day, trade ministers will be lining up in Washington to negotiate bilateral FTAs, ready to accept U.S. terms, thus handing him another victory,” Oonagh Fitzgerald, director of the international law program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), and Hector Torres, a member of the International Monetary Fund’s executive board, wrote in an op-ed on January 30. (Disclosure: I am a senior fellow at CIGI.)

Clearly, it would be a mistake for Canada to go out of its way to pick a fight with the White House. But Trudeau also is making a mistake by failing to contain talk that Canada’s interests are best served by becoming Trump’s patsy. Mexicans are “perplexed by some of the recent calls in Canada for ‘dumping’ Mexico from NAFTA and negotiating a bilateral deal with Washington,” Andrés Rozental, a former Mexican deputy foreign minister, wrote in the Globe and Mail on January 27. “This is both short-sighted and a mistake. If NAFTA is torn apart, Canadian investment and trade with Mexico will be adversely affected, as will the overall relationship.”
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Business Insider's Christopher Woody reports on what sounds like a disastrous first phone call between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, filled with insults and threats up to and including a threat to invade Mexico. I would hope that someone around Trump would prevent him from going nearly so far, but I fear that some people around him would want something catastrophic to happen to US-Mexican relations for their own purposes.

During a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Friday, US President Donald Trump disparaged Mexico and threatened to use military force against the drug trade, according to Dolia Estevez, a journalist based in Washington, DC.

In an interview with the Mexican news outlet Aristegui Noticias, Estevez, who cited sources on both sides of the call, said, "It was a very offensive conversation where Trump humiliated Peña Nieto."

[. . .]

"I don't need the Mexicans. I don't need Mexico," Trump reportedly told the Mexican president. "We are going to build the wall and you all are going to pay for it, like it or not."

Trump hinted that the US would force Mexico to fund the wall with a 10% tax on Mexican exports "and of 35% on those exports that hurt Mexico the most," Estevez wrote in Proyecto Puente.

Before the call, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was considering a tax on imports from Mexico to pay for the wall.

[. . .]

Trump "even suggested to [Peña Nieto] that if they are incapable of combatting [narco trafficking] he may have to send troops to assume this task," she said.
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  • blogTO notes concerns in Church and Wellesley about a spike of reported anti-gay violence.

  • Crooked Timber looks at the shambolic mess that is the Republican healthcare plan.

  • Language Hat links to an article concerned with the question of how to try cracking the Indus Valley script.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the malevolence and incompetence of the Trump Administration are record-breaking.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that the proposed border tax on Mexican imports is likely workable for all the major actors.

  • Strange Maps examines with maps how families of landowners centuries old still own huge swathes of downtown London.

  • Une heure de peine's Denis Colombi examines, in French and in the French political context, the idea of a guaranteed minimum income.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy shares Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus" welcoming refugees to American shores.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the concerns of one Tatar historian that Russian federalism is being undermined and looks at the consequences of Putin's chat with Trump.

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  • blogTO notes the rapid expansion of A&Ws across Toronto's neighbourhoods.

  • Centauri Dreams reports that none of the exoplanets of nearby Wolf 1061 are likely to support Earth-like environments, owing to their eccentric and occasionally overclose orbits.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper looking at high-temperature condensate clouds in hot Jupiter atmospheres.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on Trump's unsecured Android phone.

  • Language Log reports on Caucasian words relating to tea.

  • The LRB Blog notes the emerging close links connecting May's United Kingdom with Trump's United States and Netanyahu's Israel.

  • Marginal Revolution shares an interview with chef and researcher Mark Miller and reports on the massive scale of Chinese investment in Cambodia.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the idea of choosing between the Moon and Mars as particular targets of manned space exploration.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at the mechanics of imposing a 20% tax in the United States on Mexican imports. (It is doable.)

  • The Russian Demographics Blog reports Russian shortfalls in funding HIV/AIDS medication programs.

  • Supernova Condensate warns that Trump's hostility to the very idea of climate change threatens the world.

  • Towleroad shares the first gay kiss of (an) Iceman in Marvel's comics.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the constitutional problems with Trump's executive order against sanctuary cities.

  • Window on Eurasia argues Ukraine is willing to fight if need be, even if sold out by Trump.

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CBC News' Katharine Starr and Tyler Buist report on the warnings of former Mexican congressman that Trump is bound to turn on Canada, and that Canada and Mexico should not allow themselves to be divided in maintaining a common front. His rationale makes sense, but I fear the ensuing trade war.

A former Mexican congressman and founding member of the Mexico based think tank; the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations, is warning Canada that while Trump may look on Canada favourably now, it won't last.

"It's just a matter of time before this administration turns its eyes towards Canada. [Trump] will find some excuse to turn on Canada," Agustin Barrios Gomez said Wednesday in an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

Barrios Gomez made his comments the same day President Donald Trump moved on his campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S., Mexico border. Trump signed executive orders to jump-start construction of a border wall and block federal grants to immigrant-protecting "sanctuary cities."

[. . .]

When it comes to those talks on reworking NAFTA, Barrios Gomez said Canada should not cut Mexico loose to strike its own trade deal, but rather both nations must present a united front to the Trump administration.

"I don't think appeasement is the way to go [for Canada]," he said, calling it "the Neville Chamberlain approach" in reference to the British prime minister's appeasement policy towards Hitler's Germany.

"I think it would be a grave mistake if Canada did not act on principle, because when you sacrifice your principles for short-term gain, you end up losing both," said Barrios Gomez.
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The Los Angeles Times' Don Lee is one of the many, many sources to note the potential for a complete implosion of the Mexican-American economic relationship. What else can be said but that this risks the long-term economic future of North America?

"I think it's very dangerous -- dangerous economically and dangerous politically," said Timothy Wise, a globalization and Mexico-economy expert at Tufts University, referring the possible pullout.

Under NAFTA, which also includes Canada, any of the three countries can exit from the agreement after giving six months' notice. Trump had threatened during the campaign to walk away from NAFTA and to impose tariffs of 35% on Mexican goods coming into the U.S.

On Thursday, the White House proposed a complicated 20% tax on sales by U.S. companies of imported goods from Mexico and other nations to help pay for the wall.

Since his election, Trump and top economic officials have spoken frequently about their desire to renegotiate the 23-year-old pact, which many across the political spectrum believe needs to be revised and updated.

But Trump's early actions as president to crack down on illegal immigration and his insistence that Mexico pay for a wall across the southern border were met with tough responses from Peña Nieto and other Mexican officials, some of whom indicated that Mexico was prepared to leave NAFTA if there weren't clear benefits for their nation.
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  • blogTO notes that Uniqlo will be giving away free thermal clothing tomorrow.

  • James Bow shares his column about the importance of truth.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly shares with us her mid-winter walk.

  • Centauri Dreams reports about cometary water.

  • Dangerous Minds shares German cinema lobby cards from the 1960s.

  • Language Hat talks about dropping apostrophes.

  • Language Log reports about lexical searches on Google.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the latest from Trump.

  • The NYRB Daily shares a review of an Iranian film on gender relations.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes the ongoing gas price protests in Mexico.

  • Spacing links to some articles about affordable housing around the world.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes Germany's abolition of a law forbidding insults to foreign heads of state.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that stable Russian population figures cover up a wholesale collapse in the numbers of ethnic Russians, and looks at the shortages of skilled workers faced by defense industries.

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The Toronto Star's Maria Jimenez interviews former Mexican congressman Agustin Barrios Gomez on the subject of how Mexico should deal with President Trump.

How are Mexicans reacting to Trump’s threatening carmakers not to open plants in Mexico?

Mexicans are still shell-shocked. The idea that the U.S. is now a mercantilist predator is taking a long time to sink in. People wanted to think it was campaign rhetoric, but the cancellation of the Ford plant in San Luis Potosi is bringing it home for a lot of people.

How can the Mexican government and business community counteract Trump’s refrain that the North American Free Trade Agreement is costing the U.S. jobs?

North America is competing with other regions of the world and fully 40 cents of every dollar the U.S. imports from Mexico comes from content produced in America. (Parts often cross the border several times while U.S. and Mexican factories work together to finish a product).

North America is competitive only insofar as we act as a team. Beggar-thy-neighbour policies act in detriment to everyone in the three countries.

What do independent studies conclude about the benefits of NAFTA?

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 14 million Americans have jobs that are a direct result of trade with Canada and Mexico. Mexico is the No. 1 or No. 2 export market for 23 U.S. states, including Texas and California.
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The Guardian's David Agren describes how Donald Trump's opposition to American trade with Mexico is likely to hurt this smaller but quickly developing country's industrial sector.

[E]conomists and Mexican politicians have warned that Trump’s tantrums portend further economic problems as companies shy away from the public shaming that could come with investment in the country.

Federico Estévez, a political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, said that danger for Mexico was not a potential trade war, but the chilling effect Trump’s words would have on foreign investment.

“They’ll be careful about their capital expansion programs in a place like Mexico because Trump will jawbone them – not in private: in public,” he said.

Much of the foreign direct investment in Mexico has gone to the car industry, which took hold in states such as San Luis Potosí and sent GDP growth in the region soaring above 5% per year.

The industry’s roots in Mexico date back over decades – for years Volkswagen produced the Beetle in the state of Puebla – but the sector has grown steadily since the 1980s, to the point that most of the world’s major automakers have opened plants in the country.

“One of the main advantages automakers have in Mexico is high productivity and low wages in these plants. That’s attractive,” said Harley Shaiken, a geography professor at the University of California at Berkley, who studies the Mexican auto industry. An average car factory worker in Mexico earns around $8 an hour, compared to the $60 an hour that Ford spends on a US employee, including pay and benefits.

“You have mega transnational companies that are able to earn a lot of their investment in Mexico, in part because productivity is high and wages are depressed.”
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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly considers the quiet power of the candle.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining horseshoe patterns in protoplanetary disks.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks at the impact of human civilization on the Amazonian rain forest and looks at the negative impact of a 6th century volcanic eruption on the Maya.

  • Language Log notes that "dumpster fire" is the American Dialect Society's word of the year for 2016.

  • Towleroad notes Kiesza's new single.

  • Transit Toronto notes service changes for the TTC.

  • Understanding Society looks at the Black Panther movement.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell examines the irresistible force of negative campaigning.

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