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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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My Feedly feed pointed me to a provoactive article by Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog written by one Matt Novak, "New Zealand Could Have Been Part of the United States". The title sounds sensationalistic, but Novak does make the good point that the young British colony of New Zealand in the mid-19th century did have very close ties with the United States.

New Zealand became a British colony in 1841, but white emigration to the island nation, which was inhabited by the native Maori people, didn’t really surge until gold was discovered in 1861. The gold rush saw New Zealand’s population explode in the 1860s from roughly 99,000 at the start of the decade to 256,000 by 1871. The gold rush brought plenty of Californians, and the colony became inundated with a relatively small but rowdy bunch of Americans who didn’t acknowledge any allegiance to the United Kingdom.

As historian Gerald Horne explains in the 2007 book The White Pacific, “When gold was discovered in Otago in 1861, it was the New Zealanders who attracted attention from California to the point where there was very temporary talk of New Zealand becoming a part of the United States. In both England and New Zealand it was widely believed that an independent New Zealand would gravitate toward the U.S. sphere.”

If the small colony of New Zealand had sought independence from Britain in the 1860s or 70s, Americans could well be calling it a territory, or even a state. After all, there were just 33 American states in 1860.

The New Zealand gold rush also happened to coincide with the beginning of the American Civil War. After the war, there was a Confederate diaspora to the South Pacific—former slave owners in the Southern United States who kept up the slave trade in places like Fiji and Australia. Former American Confederates fled to places like New Zealand, which itself had outlawed slavery, but was just a short hop away from where the trade of human beings was still tacitly accepted.

Anywhere from 60,000 to 120,000 slaves were brought to Australia to work in sugar and cotton fields there between the 1860s and 1900, despite the fact that the country officially forbade slavery. Trade skyrocketed between the United States and New Zealand in the second half of the 19th century as a result of this increased activity by Californians and Confederates in the South Pacific—traders trafficking in both the gold rush of human beings, driven by British and American demand for cheap cotton, and the literal gold rush.


These certainly were close links. For the United States to have been able to challenge British rule in New Zealand, however, would imply a United States with a much stronger navy relative to the British Empire than OTL. Too, there would be plenty of closer targets in the British Empire for the United States to aim for--Canada, to start, and the Caribbean if the United States had the appetite. Notwithstanding the significant American influence in Polynesia, a United States that was able to take over New Zealand would be a much bigger naval power than OTL.

Is there a scenario that could give us an American New Zealand? What would it involve? With minimal divergences, I could only imagine a United States that had waged a successful war against the British Empire in concert with other great powers. A Franco-American alliance, maybe? A peaceful handover is more difficult to imagine still, though perhaps if the United Kingdom thought it could not secure these islands passing it to an ally might be imaginable. Another possibility I can imagine would involve Americans actually preempting the British and the French in extending their sovereignty over the homeland of the Maori, something perhaps involving early whalers.

What would work? As importantly, what would an American New Zealand look like? I am afraid that, if the paradigm applied to the indigenous peoples of the American West was applied here, the Maori might encountered significantly worse outcomes than in our history.
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CBC News' Shane Ross describes the substantial and growing population of Buddhist nuns on Prince Edward Island. Clearly, things have changed since I have lived there.

Prince Edward Island is becoming home to a growing number of Buddhist nuns, who say the Island is a comfortable place for them to practise their spirituality.

Four years ago, 13 Buddhist nuns moved to the Island from Taiwan. Today, there are 134 at their home on the Uigg Road in eastern P.E.I.

In the next couple of years, they hope to attract about 100 more and move to a new building that will be modelled after a traditional Chinese temple.

"Canada has a great acceptance of different cultures and religions," said Yvonne, one of the nuns at what is called the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute.

"It is a very good environment to practise and study here, that's why it will attract more nuns from other countries."

The majority are from Taiwan, but some are from Singapore, New Zealand, United States and Canada. The average age is 25.
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Emma O'Brien's Bloomberg article notes that New Zealand has resumed its position as a place to hide from the world.

When Hong Kong-based financier Michael Nock wanted a place to escape in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, he looked beyond the traditional havens of the rich to a land at the edge of the world, where cows outnumber people two-to-one.

Nock, the founder of hedge fund firm Doric Capital Corp., bought a retreat 5,800 miles away in New Zealand’s picturesque Queenstown. In the seven years since, terror threats in Europe and political uncertainty from Britain to the U.S. have helped make the South Pacific nation -- a day by air away from New York or London -- a popular bolthole for the mega wealthy.

Isolation has long been considered New Zealand’s Achilles heel. That remoteness is turning into an advantage, however, with hedge-fund pioneer Julian Robertson to Russian steel titan Alexander Abramov and Hollywood director James Cameron establishing multi-million dollar hideaways in the New Zealand countryside.

“The thing that was always working against New Zealand -- the tyranny of distance -- is the very thing that becomes its strength as the world becomes more uncertain,” Nock, 60, said by phone from Los Angeles during a recent business trip.

Nock’s 2-hectare (5-acre) estate is named “Giverny” after artist Claude Monet’s iconic home and garden in northern France, and the “funny old farmhouse” is surrounded by ponds and mature plants, he said. Nock is converting a barn into an art studio on the property, which overlooks Queenstown’s Shotover River -- a fast-flowing, turquoise stretch of water that tourists speed down on jet boats and whitewater rafts.
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  • Bloomberg talks about Poland's problems with economic growth, notes that McMansions are poor investments, considers what to do about the Olympics post-Rio, looks at new Japanese tax incentives for working women, looks at a French war museum that put its stock up for sale, examines the power of the New Zealand dairy, looks at the Yasukuni controversies, and notes Huawei's progress in China.

  • Bloomberg View is hopeful for Brazil, argues demographics are dooming Abenomics, suggests ways for the US to pit Russia versus Iran, looks at Chinese fisheries and the survival of the ocean, notes that high American population growth makes the post-2008 economic recovery relatively less notable, looks at Emperor Akihito's opposition to Japanese remilitarization, and argues that Europe's soft response to terrorism is not a weakness.

  • CBC notes that Russian doping whistleblowers fear for their lives, looks at how New Brunswick farmers are adapting to climate change, and looks at how Neanderthals' lack of facility with tools may have doomed them.

  • The Globe and Mail argues Ontario should imitate Michigan instead of Québec, notes the new Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix, and predicts good things for Tim Horton's in the Philippines.

  • The Guardian notes that Canada's impending deal with the European Union is not any model for the United Kingdom.

  • The Inter Press Service looks at child executions in Iran.

  • MacLean's notes that Great Lakes mayors have joined to challenge a diversion of water from their shared basin.

  • National Geographic looks at the elephant ivory trade, considers the abstract intelligence of birds, considers the Mayan calendar's complexities, and looks at how the young generation treats Pluto's dwarf planet status.

  • The National Post notes that VIA Rail is interested in offering a low-cost bus route along the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia.

  • Open Democracy notes that the last Russian prisoner in Guantanamo does not want to go home, and wonders why the West ignores the Rwandan dictatorship.

  • TVO considers how rural communities can attract immigrants.

  • Universe Today suggests sending our digital selves to the stars, looks at how cirrus clouds kept early Mars warm and wet, and notes the discovery of an early-forming direct-collapse black hole.

  • Variance Explained looks at how Donald Trump's tweets clearly show two authors at work.

  • The Washignton Post considers what happens when a gay bar becomes a bar with more general appeal.

  • Wired notes that the World Wide Web still is far from achieving its founders' dreams, looks at how news apps are dying off, and reports on the Univision purchase of Gawker.

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  • Beyond the Beyond's notes the imminent end of Moore's law.

  • Centauri Dreams imagines what a stellified gas giant might look like.

  • D-Brief notes Ceres' lack of large craters and looks at how New Zealand is declaring war on invasive fauna.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at Venus analog Gliese 832d.

  • Joe. My. God. notes intensifying scrutiny of Trump's Russian links.

  • Language Log looks at the portmanteaux used in the Japanese language.

  • The LRB Blog notes Erdogan's many voices.

  • Marginal Revolution argues that slow economic growth will not undermine the Chinese system.

  • Steve Munro looks at the effects of construction on the 501 Queen.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the final landing site of the Rosetta probe.

  • pollotenchegg maps wages across Ukraine.

  • Savage Minds reports how war can fragment families, looking to Ukraine.

  • Transit Toroto notes GO Transit's adding of new double-decker buses.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers the thesis that Trump is a consequence of the breakdown of traditional political parties.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Daghestan's restriction of movement of "potential" criminals.

  • The Yorkshire Ranter searches for a statistical link between austerity and Brexit.

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  • Bloomberg considers wind power off of Long Island, looks at Odebrecht's progress despite high-level arrests, and notes New Zealand's criticism of China's maritime expansionism.

  • Bloomberg View notes that Germany is a country thoroughly opposed to genocide.

  • The CBC notes the Tragically Hip tickets have sold out, and looks at ice melt in Antarctica.

  • MacLean's notes the mounting of a monument in Moncton to the three RCMP officers recently killed there.

  • The National Post notes that Iraqi Kurds want to be armed, looks at how Calgary is a center for language change in Canadian English, and looks at how Australians want Canada to take in refugees.

  • Wired looks at the Louvre's defenses against flooding.

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  • Bad Astronomy notes the literally cosmic homophobia of Louie Gohmert.

  • The Big Picture notes a Chinese factory set to make a fortune off of making masks of the American presidential candidates.

  • blogTO notes the raising of the Trans and Pride flags at Toronto City Hall, marking the beginning of Pride month.

  • Crooked Timber notes the racism that erased the genealogy of African-Americans.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that Britain's NHS has rejected PrEP again.

  • Language Log notes the sensitivity of the local version of the name "Pikachu" in Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong.

  • The LRB Blog reports from the scene of an active volcano in Nicaragua.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that witchcraft apparently does hurt economic progress.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer wonders why New Zealand and Uruguay, with such similar economies, saw such substantial economic divergence after 1950.

  • Peter Rukavina reports on an interesting Asian food store in Charlottetown.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes a Russian claim that condoms cause HIV transmission.

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  • Al Jazeera looks at the rejection of political Islam by Tunisia's Ennahda party.

  • The Australian Broadcasting Corporation notes the ambition of Zambia to become a major food-exporting country.

  • Bloomberg notes the negative impact of booming immigration on the New Zealand economy, observes Ireland's efforts to attract financial jobs from London-based companies worried by Brxit, reports on the elimination of Brazil's sovereign wealth fund, and notes a lawsuit lodged by Huawei against Samsung over royalties.

  • Bloomberg View notes that Russia can at least find domestic investors, and worries about the politicization of the Israeli military.

  • CBC reports on the Syrian refugee who has become a popular barber in Newfoundland's Corner Brooks, notes the sad news of Gord Downie's cancer, and wonders what will happen to Venezuela.

  • Daily Xtra writes about the need for explicit protection of trans rights in Canadian human rights codes.

  • MacLean's notes Uber's struggles to remain in Québec.

  • National Geographic notes Brazilian efforts to protect an Amazonian tribe.

  • The National Post reports about Trudeau's taking a day off on his Japan trip to spend time with his wife there.

  • Open Democracy wonders what will become of the SNP in a changing Scotland.

  • The Toronto Star looks at payday lenders.

  • Wired examines Twitter's recent changes.

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The Globe and Mail carries Wayne Cole's Reuters article noting that, contra Brexit proponents in the United Kingdom, there really is little to no interest in the wider Commonwealth in renewed close trade relations. If anything, Britain inside the European Union is a more valuable trading partner.

Britain’s entry into the Common Market in 1973 was widely considered a betrayal at the time, upending decades of tradition and a host of tariff agreements. Australia was especially hard hit and resentment still lingers.

“The 1970s were a bloodbath for the dairy industry,” said Stephen Henty, a dairy farmer in the Australian state of Victoria. “There was no market for calves, so we were forced to shoot calves and bury them because they weren’t worth anything.”

But that was then.

“We were pretty much tied to the U.K.’s apron strings and when they pulled the pin, we suffered,” he added. “We have a lot more markets where our products are sold into now. The U.K. leaving the EU wouldn’t have any impact this time.”

Just a glance at trade flows speaks volumes. Britain takes only 2.5 per cent of Australia’s exports, China more than 31 per cent. Around 5 per cent of New Zealand’s exports go to Britain, while Canada sends less than 3 per cent of its export there.

The detachment goes both ways, with Canada 19th on the table of export destinations for Britain and Australia a rung behind.

That might mean there is room for growth, but it is not clear what they would trade in. Australia’s biggest single export is iron ore, but Britain has no steel industry.
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The Globe and Mail's Ann Hui reports on the popularity of Commonwealth visa-free travel, here and abroad.

A majority of Canadians support the right – along with Australians, New Zealanders and Britons – of residents to have unrestricted travel between the countries without the need for visas, a new poll has found.

According to the poll commissioned by the Britain-based Royal Commonwealth Society, 75 per cent of Canadians believe that residents of the four Commonwealth countries should have an arrangement similar to the European Union, which allows citizens to travel freely to live and work in member countries. The poll, conducted by Nanos Research, is part of the group’s ongoing efforts to promote greater mobility between the countries.

The results showed 82 per cent of New Zealanders, 70 per cent of Australians and 58 per cent of Britons also support the idea. The survey of 1,000 Canadians was conducted in late January.

Tim Hewish, the society’s policy director, said the group plans to lobby politicians in Ottawa in the coming months. “It’s the responsibility of elected governments to respond to these types of responses from their citizens,” he said.

Currently, Canadians require a visa for all travel to New Zealand and Australia. Canadians visiting Britain for work or study, or on trips longer than six months, also require a visa.
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I blog at Demography Matters about how British interest in a very limited liberalization of migration in the Commonwealth is a poor, politically appealing, substitute for the gains from European Union migration.
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Wired's Margaret Rhodes writes approvingly of the current front-runner to replace New Zealand's national flag.

The new flag uses a silver fern frond as its primary motif, instead of the Union Jack, and keeps the four stars that decorate the bottom right corner of the current design. The official alternative flag has quite a campaign behind it: Lockwood has a robust website about the design, complete with information on voting and donating. As for the silver fern, it’s a known icon in New Zealand with roots that trace back to the Māori, the country’s indigenous Polynesian populaton. Māori legend has it that the silver fern once helped hunters and warriors find their way home, by reflecting the moonlight and creating a path through the forest.

On his site, [designer Kyke] Lockwood writes, “the fern is an element of indigenous flora representing the growth of our nation. The multiple points of the fern leaf represent Aotearoa’s,”—the indigenous name for the island country—“peaceful multicultural society, a single fern spreading upwards represents that we are all one people growing onward into the future.” That last bit is some saccharine symbolism, for sure, but that’s hardly uncommon with flag design.

That said, it’s also a smart design. According to experts in vexillology, the study of flag design, a good flag is one you can both recognize immediately and draw from memory. The frond, as a piece of graphic design, makes both possible. It’s almost like a Matisse cut-out in this way: it has a child-like simplicity, but character that won’t be found on another nation’s flag.
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Savage Minds features a guest post by one Paul Tapsell reflecting on his personal life and his professional career, as someone of Maori background in a rapidly changing New Zealand.

The greatest challenge of being an anthropologist is being me. From one decade to the next I have been a cross-cultural island of self-consciousness, framed by the cross generational memories of wider kin. Wisdom comes in many forms, but as I tell my students, at least those who turn up to class, it cannot be found on the Internet. Somewhere between my father’s Maori generation of desperately trying to be English and my children’s reality of being overtly Maori you find… me.

Raised in the tribally alienated rural heartlands of Waikato naivety (built on 19th century confiscations at gunpoint), my view of the world was one of barefoot summers by the ocean, while the rest of the year was underpinned by frosts, fog, rugby and ducking for cover in a rurally serviced school surrounded by affluent dairy farms and horse studs. Right from the start teachers placed me neither at the front or the back of the classroom. Kids in the front were mostly fourth generation descendants of English settlers, while at the back were the ever sniffling Maori who had no shoes and walked five miles to school across farmlands, one steaming cow pat to the next. And there I was, from age five, placed right in the middle, on the boundary between a white-is-right future and an uncivilised dark skinned past.

Weekends provided respite, often spent with my grandmother while dad mowed an acre of lawn on our tribal property back in Rotorua. She used taonga (ancestral treasures) to instil in me a deeper understanding of the proud history to which Maori belonged, decades before these stories found their way into mainstream classrooms. Taonga either at her museum or off the mantelpiece made history all the more real to me, especially when performed during death rituals on my ancestral marae (community villages) of Maketu and Ohinemutu.

Life in the 1960s-70s seemed so simple, so straightforward. You were either Maori (dark like dad) or English (lily white like mum). If you were Maori, society deemed you dirty, lazy and only good for fixing roads or driving buses. Whereas if you chose to be English, no matter your skin colour, you could participate in a national ideology of being “one people”, but only so long as you played by the rules. I did not play by the rules. My very left wing Irish grandmother filled my head with a whole different way of seeing the world. For her, colonial New Zealand was extremely unjust and Maori had been royally screwed by the English. She kept the home fires alight, becoming the most feared” Maori” in our village. In 1915 her husband and twenty-five other kinsmen had fought for God and Empire on foreign soil, killing indigenous people of another land in the name of an English King, but for what? To return home as second rate citizens, shot to pieces, and dig ditches on lands now owned by wealthy farmers? No, her world was now here.


This changes.

More, at the site.
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The Dragon's Tales linked to a report from the University of Otago, in New Zealand, looking at the historic impact of hunting on that country's unique bird life.

An international research team led by University of Otago scientists has documented prehistoric "sanctuary" regions where New Zealand seabirds survived early human hunting.

The researchers used ancient-DNA analysis, radiocarbon dating and computational modelling to reconstruct population histories for prehistoric seabirds around coastal New Zealand.

Dr Nic Rawlence, who carried out the genetic study, says the team found a very distinctive pattern, where shag/mapua (Leucocarbo chalconotus) populations from the Stewart Island region were little affected by human hunting, but mainland populations were rapidly decimated.

"There was a loss of more than 99% of their population size within 100 years of human arrival. These once heavily-hunted mainland populations now occupy only a fraction of their prehistoric range, having never really recovered," Dr Rawlence says.

The study suggests that the mainland populations survived on just a few rocky islands off the South Island's east coast.
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  • D-Brief reports on some highly unusual formations, including more bright spots and a pyramid (?), found on Ceres.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining the effect the activity of our own sun would have on the discovery of Earth.

  • Joe. My. God. quotes Jim Parsons on how he never quite came out.

  • Language Log reports on multilingualism in China.

  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the question over state debt in Greece is extending moral hazard to private debt.

  • Steve Munro notes how the TTC has to balance spending on infrastructure and on operations.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reflects on what the Australian equivalent to the New Zealand haka might be.

  • Spacing Toronto wonders why carding refuses to die.

  • Window on Eurasia argues Ukraine should press Russia harder on Crimea.

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  • The Cranky Sociologists consider a series of controversial videos examining issues of racism and discrimination in Auckland.

  • Crooked Timber's Chris Bertram argues that European countries are responsible for migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers the international market in surrogate mothers.

  • The Frailest Thing considers desire in the world of things, and examines the connections between machine work and the value of people.

  • Kieran Healy notes the often wild guesses made by Americans at the population size of the United States.

  • Language Hat notes the dislike of Russian aristocrats for the Russian language, and maps London's different languages.

  • Language Log takes issue with a map of the languages of the world in regards to China, and looks at Cantonese usage in Hong Kong.

  • Languages of the World considers Google Translate.

  • Marginal Revolution examines China's ideological spectrum and notes a New Zealand database that can predict outcomes for young people.

  • The New APPS Blog argues in favour of citing unpublished papers and praises the bravery of migrants.

  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of refugees in the Ukrainian government-controlled Donbas.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at recent fertility increases in post-graduate American women.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog examined the changing nature of migration to and from Russia, looks at the demographic experiences over Belarus, considers the Russian HIV epidemic, and examines the link between fertility and economic shocks in the United States.

  • Savage Minds examines a new book on the Bougainville conflict, looks at racism in Baltimore, and reacts to the earthquake in Nepal.

  • Towleroad and the Volokh Conspiracy note that, properly analyzed, the data of Regnerus actually contradicts his claims about same-sex parents.

  • Zero Geography looks at the hidden biases of geodata.

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  • Alpha Sources' Claus Vistesen argues that as a result of various factors including shrinking populations, economic bubbles are going to be quite likely.

  • blogTO argues that Toronto's strip clubs are in trouble.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly wonders who is going to pay for journalism in the future.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at ringed Centaur objects.

  • Crooked Timber's Daniel Davies describes his family's recent experience in New Zealand. Want to find out how the Maori are like the Welsh?

  • D-Brief notes the return of wood bison to the United States.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting Alpha Centauri Bb is a superdense world.

  • The Dragon's Tales note Indonesia's upset with Chinese claims to the South China Sea.

  • Far Outliers reports on how NGOs feed corruption in Cambodia.

  • Language Hat links to a gazetteer of placenames in Jamaica.

  • Language Log's Victor Mair looks at some Sino-English constructions.

  • Marginal Revolution points to its collection of Singapore-related posts.

  • The Planetary Society Blog considers Cassini's footage of Saturn's F ring.

  • The Power and the Money hosts Will Baird's argument that the Ukrainian east will soon see an explosion of violence.

  • Spacing Toronto and Torontoist look at the architectural competition for the Toronto Islands ferry terminal.

  • Torontoist reports on Martin Luther King's 1962 visit to Toronto.

  • Towleroad notes a raging syphillis epidemic among gay men in New York City's Chelsea neighbourhood.

  • Window on Eurasia notes changes in the Islam of Tatarstan, notes Russia's transition towards totalitarianism, observes Russian claims of Finnish meddling in Karelia, and looks at polls suggesting Ukrainians fear Russia but do not trust the European Union.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell describes what seems to have been a shambolic attempt to co-opt the English Defense League somehow. (I don't understand it. All I can figure out is that.

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  • 3 Quarks Daily writes about the ways in which Cuba, and Havana, have been seen in the American imagination.

  • Antipope Charlie Stross solicits suggestions as to what he should print with a 3-D printer.

  • Crooked Timber is alarmist about the United States, making comparisons to Pakistan and to Weimar Germany.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining the simulated atmospheres of warm Neptunes.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that Russians are leaving France without their Mistral carriers and that Russia is talking about building its own space station.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that an Argentine court has given an orangutan limited rights.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that transgendered workers now have legal protection in the United States.

  • Marginal Revolution reflects on the new Nicaragua Canal and is skeptical about Cuba's economic potential.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw links to an essay examining how New Zealand set the global 2% inflation target.

  • The Search looks at one effort in digitizing and making searchable centuries of book images.

  • Towleroad looks at Taiwan's progress towards marriage equality and notes the refusal of the archbishop of Canterbury to explain the reasons for his opposition to equal marriage.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the different effects of the collapse in oil prices on Russia's different reasons, looks at language conflicts in the Russian republics, and observes the revival of Belarusian nationalism.

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Stuff.co.nz's Jess McAllen shared the news that a New Zealand pastor told a gay Christian to kill himself. Later in the article, the pastor appears to cheerfully admit to having sent the message and actually having prayed for this.

A gay man who sent an email about his new book promoting gay-friendly religion was told by a church pastor to kill himself.

Jim Marjoram said he emailed 400 Auckland churches about his book, It's Life Jim, which details his many decades of struggling with being a gay Christian.

The response was "deathly silent" - apart from one email yesterday from Pastor Logan Robertson at Westcity Bible Baptist Church.
"We are not interested in your filthy lifestyle or book," Robertson wrote.

"Romans 1 clearly says God has rejected homos and they are worthy of death. You cannot be saved.

"I pray that you will commit suicide, you filthy child molesting fag."

Marjoram posted the text on his Facebook page. From there, it was also posted it to social forum Reddit, and the image went viral.

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