- Centauri Dreams looks at two brown dwarf pairs, nearby Luhman 16 and eclipsing binary WD1202-024.
- D-Brief notes a study suggesting panspermia would be easy in the compact TRAPPIST-1 system.
- Far Outliers notes the shouted and remarkably long-range vocal telegraph of early 20th century Albania.
- Language Hat links to a fascinating blog post noting the survival of African Latin in late medieval Tunisia.
- The LRB Blog notes the observations of an Englishman in Northern Ireland that, after the DUP's rise, locals are glad other Britons are paying attention.
- Marginal Revolution notes a study suggesting that refugees in the US end up paying more in taxes than they receive in benefits.
- Spacing reviews a fascinating-sounding new book on the politics and architecture of new libraries.
- Understanding Society examines the mechanisms through which organizations can learn.
- Window on Eurasia talks about the progressive detachment of the east of the North Caucasus, at least, from wider Russia.
- 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.
- D-Brief notes the first-ever use of Einsteinian gravitational bending to examine the mass of a star.
- Language Log announces the start of an investigation into the evolving rhetoric of Donald Trump. Something is up.
- The LRB Blog reports from Tuareg Agadez in Niger, about rebellions and migrant-smuggling.
- Marginal Revolution wonders what is the rationale for the extreme cut-off imposed on Qatar.
- Maximos62 wonders about the impact of Indonesia's fires on not just wildlife but indigenous peoples.
- Personal Reflections notes the irrelevance of the United States' withdrawal from Paris, at least from an Australian position.
- Savage Minds points to a new anthropology podcast.
- Window on Eurasia
- D-Brief considers if gas giant exoplanet Kelt-9b is actually evaporating.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper that considers where to find signs of prior indigenous civilizations in our solar system. (The Moon, Mars, and outer solar system look good.
- Joe. My. God. reveals the Israeli nuclear option in the 1967 war.
- Language Log shares a clip of a Nova Scotia Gaelic folktale about a man named Donald.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the ongoing deportations of Hispanic undocumented migrants from the United States.
- The LRB Blog notes the brittle rhetoric of May and the Conservatives.
- The NYRB Daily mourns the Trump Administration's plans for American education.
- Savage Minds considers the world now in the context of the reign of the dangerous nonsense of Neil Postman.
- Strange Maps shares a map documenting the spread of chess from India to Ireland in a millennium.
- Window on Eurasia argues that the Russian government needs to do more to protect minority languages.
- 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.
- Beyond the Beyond notes an image of a wooden model of Babbage's difference engine.
- James Bow talks about the soundtrack he has made for his new book.
- Centauri Dreams considers ways astronomers can detect photosynthesis on exoplanets and shares images of Fomalhaut's debris disk.
- Crooked Timber looks at fidget spinners in the context of discrimination against people with disabilities.
- D-Brief notes that Boyajian's Star began dimming over the weekend.
- Far Outliers reports on a 1917 trip by zeppelin to German East Africa.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that there is good reason to be concerned about health issues for older presidential candidates.
- The NYRB Daily reports on Hungary's official war against Central European University.
- The Russian Demographics Blog notes the origins of modern immigration to Russia in internal Soviet migration.
- Savage Minds shares an ethnographer's account of what it is like to look to see her people (the Sherpas of Nepal) described.
- Strange Maps shares a map speculating as to what the world will look like when it is 4 degrees warmer.
- The Volokh Conspiracy argues that the US Congress does not have authority over immigration.
- Window on Eurasia suggests Russia's population will be concentrated around Moscow, compares Chechnya's position vis-à-vis Russia to Puerto Rico's versus the United States, and looks at new Ukrainian legislation against Russian churches and Russian social networks.
- Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes how Evelyn Waugh's writings on the Horn of Africa anticipate the "Friedman unit", the "a measurement of time defined as how long it will take until things are OK in Iraq".
- D-Brief shares rare video of beaked whales on the move.
- Dangerous Minds notes that someone has actually begun selling unauthorized action figures of Trump Administration figures like Bannon and Spencer.
- Language Log looks at a linguistic feature of Emma Watson's quote, her ending it with a preposition.
- Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen considers, originally for Bloomberg View, if Trump could be seen as a placebo for what ails America.
- The New APPS Blog takes a Marxist angle on the issue of big data, from the perspective of (among other things) primitive accumulation.
- The Search reports on the phenomenon of the Women's History Month Wikipedia edit-a-thon, aiming to literally increase the representation of notable women on Wikipedia.
- Towleroad notes the six men who will be stars of a new Fire Island reality television show.
- The Volokh Conspiracy finds some merit in Ben Carson's description of American slaves as immigrants.
- Window on Eurasia argues that Belarusians are beginning to mobilize against their government and suggests they are already making headway.
Marcus Gee's extended feature in The Globe and Mail reports on how Shelburne, a farming town far to the northwest of Toronto that I frankly had never heard about before today, is starting to be overtaken by the effects of the Toronto real estate boom. That the return trip to Toronto for commuters is on the order of five hours is apparently not an issue for buyers.
The soaring new office and condominium towers of downtown Toronto have come to stand for the dynamism of Canada’s biggest city. But if you really want to understand the staggering growth of greater Toronto, don’t look up, look out – way, way out. Look at what is happening to tiny Shelburne, fully 100 kilometres from the city centre.
For generations, this was a sleepy farming community where everybody knew everyone. Farmers would drive their cattle down the muddy main street to board trains to Toronto slaughterhouses. Motorists on the road to the ski chalets of Collingwood or the beaches of Lake Huron would pass by with hardly a second thought.
Today, little Shelburne is the second-fastest-growing town in all of Canada.
New census figures show it grew 39 per cent between 2011 and 2016, second only to Blackfalds, Alta., near Red Deer, among municipalities with a population of at least 5,000 and located outside a major metropolitan area.
People from down the road are flocking to Shelburne (its official slogan: “A people place, a change of pace”) to take advantage of the fresh air, open spaces and house prices that are still in the realm of sanity. Some commute all the way to downtown Toronto and back, an odyssey that can take five hours, round trip.
- James Bow calls for an end to the US-Canada Safe Third Country agreement prohibiting people coming from American soil from claiming refugee status in Canada.
- D-Brief reports on the vast array of man-made minerals appearing in what is now being called the Anthropocene Era of Earth.
- Dangerous Minds notes the efforts of the Disco Preservation Society to preserve DJ mixes from 1980s San Francisco.
- Language Log takes issue with Neil DeGrasse Tyson's argument that cryptographers, not linguists, would be needed in Arrival.
- The LRB Blog notes impunity for murderers of civil society activists in Honduras.
- Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen talks about Joyce Gladwell's autobiography Brown Face, Big Master.
- The NYRB Daily celebrates the work of Hercules Segers.
- The Planetary Society Blog is skeptical of the Space X plan to send tourists past the Moon by 2018.
- Supernova Condensate lists 8 things we know about Proxima Centauri b.
- Towleroad reports on new walking tours being offered of gay London.
- Arnold Zwicky engages with a California exhibition comparing paintings with movies.
- blogTO notes a threat to some of Liberty Village's historic buildings through development.
- Centauri Dreams looks at planetary formation around close binary SDSS 1557, which includes a white dwarf.
- False Steps' Paul Drye announces a new book project, They Played the Game, which looks at how different baseball players overlooked in our history might have become stars had things gone differently.
- Language Hat looks at the linguistic differences between the two Koreas.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the exploitation of Syrian refugees by Turkish garment manufacturers.
- The LRB Blog examines the phenomenon of myth-making regarding Sweden.
- The Map Room Blog links to a website sharing the stories of cartographers.
- The NYRB Daily notes the chaos that Trump will be bringing to American immigration law.
- Peter Rukavina talks about his experience as a library hacker.
- Supernova Condensate is optimistic about the potential of Space X to actually inaugurate an era of space tourism.
- 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.
At the National Post, Garry Marr argues, on the basis of the attractiveness of Canada as a destination and the push for all Canadians to acquire property, that the Canadian real estate boom is actually sustainable.
The mayor of Caledon, a town of about 60,000 northwest of Toronto, says government can try all it wants, but the dream of owning a home will persevere.
Allan Thompson should know. His town, like many others that ring around Ontario’s capital, has become a launching site for new communities as people priced out of the core look to the suburbs (or what was once rural) for slightly cheaper housing.
An average new single-family detached home in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) was $1,264,604 in 2016, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association. But housing prices range from an average of $666,220 for a semi-detached home in Durham, northeast of Toronto, to $1.8 million for a detached home just north of the city.
“I remember I had this neighbour who was Portuguese,” said Thompson, who was a Caledon councillor for 11 years before becoming mayor two years ago. “He said to me, ‘For 20 generations back in Portugal, we all lived and rented houses in town. We had our sheep and our goats and our cattle.’ He said to me, ‘I was the first one ever to have a home.'”
That dream of home ownership is central to the escalating prices in Canada’s housing market, especially in larger cities such as Toronto where immigrants tend to settle.
Anthropologist Nadia El-Shaarawi, writing at Savage Minds, describes her experiences interviewing Middle Eastern candidates for refugee status and frames them in the context of the anti-refugee sentiment and exclusionary state structures.
As a volunteer legal advocate working with refugees who were seeking resettlement, I learned to ask detailed questions about persecution. These were the kind of questions you would never ask in polite conversation: Who kidnapped your best friend? Were they wearing uniforms? What did those uniforms look like? Where did they hit you? Did you pay a ransom for her release? How did you identify her body? Questions like these, which refugees are asked over and over as part of the already extreme vetting that they undergo to be granted asylum and resettlement, are personal, intimate, painful. They demand a precise and consistent command of autobiographical detail and the strength to revisit events that one might otherwise want to forget. They try to get to the heart of what happened to a person, what forced them to leave everything behind.
On a more cynical level, these questions try to catch a person in a lie, to identify those who are not “deserving” of refuge. The answers are checked and cross-checked, asked again and again across multiple agencies and organizations. In separate interviews, family members are asked the same questions. Do the answers match up? Do the dates and places make sense? Were you a victim of persecution? Are you who you say you are? While these questions and their answers shape the narrative of an individual resettlement case, there is a way in which they don’t get to the heart of what happened to a person, why someone was forced to flee, cross at least one border to enter another state, and is now seeking resettlement in a third country.
Vetting, extreme or otherwise, is about inclusion and exclusion. But before someone even gets to the arduous, opaque process of being considered for resettlement in the United States, decisions are made at the executive level about who to include in a broader sense. While the Refugee Convention provides protection for any person with a “well-founded fear of persecution” on specific grounds, this has never been the full story of the US refugee program, where a presidential determination each year decides how many refugees will be resettled, and from where. Some die-hard advocates and detractors aside, refugee resettlement has historically had bipartisan support and mostly stays under the radar of public attention, except, it seems, in moments where it becomes a reflection of broader anxieties and struggles over belonging and exclusion.
The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer argues that recent immigration raids in the United States, which have been high-profile but actually have not taken that many people into custody, might be a sort of political theatre for Trump's voters. (Or, they might be more than that.)
So what is the point? Two possibilities.
1.This is just the start of a massively stepped-up program, including those National Guard mobilizations and lots of new federal spending.
2.This is intended to give Trump voters a sense that something dramatic is being done. The terror that it strikes among immigrants is collateral damage. (Or maybe collateral benefit, from Steve Bannon’s point of view.)
Considering that this administration appears to be the opposite of a well-oiled machine in terms of management ability, but does seem to be taking the permanent campaign to a new level, I would bet on the latter. Like the infamous taco bowl tweet from the campaign, this is aimed squarely at angry white voters.
- 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.
- blogTO notes an Instagram user from Toronto, @brxson, who takes stunning photos of the city from on high.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining the limits of exoplanet J1407b's massive ring system.
- The Dragon's Tales notes evidence that the primordial Martian atmosphere apparently did not have carbon dioxide.
- Imageo notes that the California rivers swollen by flooding can be seen from space.
- Joe. My. God. notes that American intelligence agencies are withholding sensitive information from a White House seen as compromised by Russian intelligence.
- Language Hat talks about the best ways to learn Latin.
- Marginal Revolution links to a paper observing a decline in inter-state migration in the United States.
- The NYRB Daily looks at the interesting failure of a public sculpture program in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw notes the remarkable heat that has hit Australia in recent days.
- The Planetary Society Blog reports on the intersection between space technology and high-tech fashion.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at how Argentina gave the Falkland Islands tariff-free access to Mercosur.
- The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the countries likely to be vulnerable to rapid aging.
- Transit Toronto notes the Bombardier lawsuit against Metrolinx.
- Window on Eurasia argues that poor Russian statistical data is leading directly to bad policy.
- Centauri Dreams looks at ongoing research into the sizes of Alpha Centauri A and B.
- Dangerous Minds notes Finland's introduction of a new Tom of Finland emoji.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper speculating as to the fate of icy dwarf exoplanets in white dwarf systems.
- The Dragon's Tales reports on the intensification of the war in Ukraine's Donbas.
- The Everyday Sociology Blog asks readers how they study.
- Language Log looks at the structure of yes-no questions in Chinese.
- The NYRB Daily looks at the consequences of the Trump travel ban.
- The Planetary Society Blog considers impact craters as potential abodes for life.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer does not quite understand renters' fears about new developments in their neighbourhoods.
- The Volokh Conspiracy considers the court ruling against Trump's refugee order.
- Window on Eurasia suggests prospects for long-term economic growth in Russia have collapsed, and notes the sharp fall in real incomes in Asian Russia.
The Toronto Star's Nicholas Keung describes how incoming refugees--not only from Syria--are overwhelming the city's shelter system.
At one Toronto refugee shelter, a family with four kids was asked to give up one of their two rooms for a newly arrived family so both could have a roof over their heads.
At another, in the west end, a family of three stored their luggage in the staff office and spent the night in what’s supposed to be the TV room for other residents.
The recent shelter crunch has even prompted the Romero House, which has four locations in Toronto, to launch a community host program to ask neighbours, friends and supporters to open their homes to accommodate the overflow until a shelter bed is available for those knocking on its doors.
Since the beginning of the fall, the peak season for refugee arrivals, Toronto’s already strained refugee shelter system has been dealing with what some operators call an unprecedented bed shortage. Some operators are even referring callers to shelters in Hamilton.
The system is expected to be further strained with more asylum seekers anticipated to arrive via the United States after the Trump administration’s recent executive order to limit immigration and refugees that is widely viewed by the immigrant communities there as xenophobic.
- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly describes a week in her life as a freelance writer.
- The Dragon's Tales notes how the Indus Valley Civilization did, and did not, adapt to climate change.
- Language Log reshares Benjamin Franklin's writings against German immigration.
- The NYRB Daily follows one family's quest for justice after the shooting by police of one Ramarley Graham.
- The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the Pale of Settlement.
- Torontoist looks at Ontario's food and nutrition strategy.
- Transit Toronto reports on how PRESTO officials will be making appearances across the TTC in coming weeks to introduce users to the new system.
- Window on Eurasia looks at how ethnic minorities form a growing share of Russian emigration, looks at the manipulation of statistics by the Russian state, and suggests Putin's actions have killed off the concept of a triune nation of East Slavs.
Daily Xtra's Dylan C. Robertson looks at how Iranian LGBT refugees who were told by the Canadian government to try the United States have now found themselves hanging, without any place to go.
Mitra’s sanctuary is a mouldy basement in Turkey’s conservative heartland. The microbiology student’s life in northern Iran came crashing down in the summer of 2014, when she was outed as a lesbian. A neighbour beat Mitra, and her parents disowned her. Like thousands of LGBT Iranians, she fled to Turkey.
The 27-year-old now works 14-hour shifts standing upright at a textile factory, before coming home to her transgender partner. The two women sleep on a folding sofa; they have just one plastic chair.
Canada invited both to start a new life 14 months ago, when embassy staff in Turkey started a third-country resettlement application. But our country has now closed its doors, effectively suspending an informal program known worldwide for bringing scores of queer Iranians to safety.
Over the past decade, hundreds of LGBT Iranians have come to Canada, mostly through UN resettlement. But this humanitarian pipeline has dried up as Canadian officials in Turkey focus their resources on bringing Syrians to Canada.
Instead of welcoming them here, Canada has told LGBT Iranians like Mitra to try moving to the US, which President Donald Trump recently closed to all refugees, as well as to Iranians already holding visas.
Many refugees took the advice, and are now languishing in Turkey, unsure whether to try and wait out the US administration or apply to Canada, knowing that they will be sent to the back of line.
“My life is in danger; I can’t go back. If I could, I would. But I can’t,” says Mitra, who agreed to speak with Xtra under a pseudonym. “I’m not Turkish, because I can’t work and study here. I’m nobody.”