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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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  • Centauri Dreams remembers Ben Finney, this time from the angle of a man with an interest in space colonization.

  • Crooked Timber wonders what will happen to the Anglo-American tradition of liberalism.

  • Dangerous Minds imagines the VHS tapes of Logan and Stranger Things.

  • Far Outliers notes the Soviet twist on Siberian exile.

  • Inkfish notes that Detroit is unique among cities in being a good place for bumblebees.

  • Marginal Revolution wonders if modern Germany really is a laboratory for innovative politics.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at José Maria de Eça de Queirós, the "Proust of Portugal".

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw updates his readers on his writing projects.

  • Torontoist reports on how Avi Lewis and Cheri DiNovo have advocated for the NDP's Leap Manifesto.

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Bloomberg reports on the geopolitics of Chinese investment in Portugal's Azores.

Portugal is welcoming non-military Chinese engagement in the Azores to help develop the logistical and research potential of the mid-Atlantic island chain.

The growing Chinese influence on the archipelago is worrying Washington as the U.S. reduces its military presence at the Lajes Field air base on the island of Terceira. A series of senior Chinese officials -- including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang -- have used the island as a stop-over on trips to Latin America, as China seeks to expand its footprint overseas and safeguard economic interests.

In a Bloomberg Television interview in Macau on Tuesday, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said that while his nation -- a NATO member -- would continue to honor its defense pact with the U.S., he also wants to see better use of the Azores. The islands are “very important both logistically in the Atlantic Ocean but also in terms of technology and research, in the field of climate change and deep water research,” he said.

“The military use of the American base at this moment is not on the table, what is on the table is for EU institutes, American institutes and Chinese institutes to reuse infrastructure for scientific research purposes,” said Costa, 55. “It’d be a huge waste not to use that infrastructure. We need to reuse that infrastructure, and if you are not going to use it for the military purpose, why not scientific research?”
Close all those tabs. Open this email.

Lajes Field -- located 2,290 miles (3,690 kilometers) east of New York and about 1,000 miles west of Lisbon -- had served as a key link between the U.S. and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Middle East. During the Cold War, the base played a crucial role in tracking Soviet guided missiles and ballistic missile submarines in the region. It also supported U.S. airlift missions to Israel in the 1970s.
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Guilherme Leite Gonçalves and Sérgio Costa's Open Democracy essay looks at the changing functions of the port of Rio de Janeiro. In some of its broad outlines, the story that it tells is familiar.

The port district of Rio de Janeiro is one of the areas most affected by urban interventions connected to the August 2016 Olympics. Until very recently, business groups, politicians, investors and the mainstream media saw the port district as a devalued and degraded space, isolated from the rest of the city. In fact, the entire region had low market value and was of little interest for real estate investments, commercial transactions and services. Even the port itself was of little significance when compared to other Brazilian ports. Therefore, the region was located “outside” the process of capitalist accumulation.

This situation changed completely in November 2009. About a month after Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the Olympics, the Porto Maravilha project became public. This project catalyzed actions and economic, political and cultural expectations, restructuring the entire port district in order to create value.

Contrary to appearances, this phenomenon is not new. It is a new venue for a history that repeats itself. In its various stages, the port of Rio de Janeiro was marked by different landmarks of capitalist dynamic that both repelled and attracted spaces, processes and market relations, according to the needs of accumulation. This is a history marked by actors, forces and social pressures alternating in a continuous movement of commodification, decommodification and re-commodification – of people, goods and activities.

Since Rosa Luxemburg, in fact, Marxist political economists have realized that the accumulation of capital is not limited to a purely economic process between capitalists and workers in the production of surplus value. Seeing as only a relative portion of the surplus value can be appropriated in this internal transit, the system must make use of a non-capitalist “outside” to completely appropriate it.

Accordingly, the system makes use of explicit non-economic violence, including colonial or imperial policies, dispossessions, bloody legislation etc. There is, in other words, a repeated primitive accumulation throughout the history of capitalism. This repetition is required by capitalist expansion itself, which must commodify not yet commodified spaces in order to develop.

The various historical stages of this phenomenon are evident in the port district of Rio de Janeiro, as this space is incorporated in and uncoupled from a process that transforms socially constructed spaces into merchandise.

From its creation until the nineteenth century, the port took part in the classical patterns of primitive accumulation by integrating Brazil into world capitalism through the outflow of sugar, then gold and coffee, in addition to the inflow of manufactured goods and a contingent of about two million Africans that were kidnapped, enslaved and traded. This port received the highest number of enslaved Africans in the entire American continent. The right to provide such service was restricted to a private contractor: the Governor’s brother.

However, since its beginnings, the physical space of the port was itself integrated into various forms of accumulation. The first major traffic increase took place in the early seventeenth century and was connected to the outflow of sugar. In 1618, this traffic led Governor Rui Vaz Pinto to publish a legal decree establishing the use of black slaves to load and unload ships. It was clearly a mechanism meant to take over the space to create value, as only slaveholders were able to load goods in the port. This decree also represented the beginning of regular stevedoring services and established their legal system, namely the privilege or monopoly, since the right to provide such service was restricted to a private contractor: the Governor’s brother.
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  • Bloomberg looks at Argentina's push for renewable energy, reports on Rosatom's interest in developing South Africa as an entry into the African nuclear market, writes about China's opposition to anything remotely like separatism in Hong Kong, and looks at Poland's demand for an apology for Bill Clinton critical of the new government.

  • Bloomberg View notes the importance of honest statistics in Brazil, and calls for American arms sales to a friendly Vietnam.

  • CBC notes new Conservative support for a transgender rights bill and reports on how Ontario's climate policy will hit Alberta's natural gas exports.

  • Gizmodo notes Portugal has just managed to power itself entirely on renewable energy for four days.

  • The Inter Press Service describes the Middle Eastern refugee crisis.

  • The National Post looks at a proposed New York State ban on declawing cats.

  • Open Democracy reports on Norway's EU status via a left-leaning Norwegian, looks at the life of Daniel Berrigan, and notes the emergent Saudi-Indian alliance.

  • Universe Today describes the circumstellar habitable zones of red giants.

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In July of 2005, I blogged about the little-known fact that there seems to have been a Portuguese colony on Cape Breton Island.

Some scholars think that the Portuguese followed up these voyages with an attempt to found a colony, a theory which is associated with the name of João Alvares Fagundes. A native of the town of Viana, Portugal, Fagundes probably explored the south coast of Newfoundland in 1520, and may have entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence - though some scholars do not think he went so far west. He received a captaincy to the lands which he had found and then, some think, began to implement plans for a Portuguese colony in the New World.

The story is that, finding Newfoundland too cold, the settlers found another location further to the west. Samuel Eliot Morison (1978) thought that the colony was established at Ingonish, Cape Breton, and other locations have been suggested. Robert McGhee (1991), for instance, has suggested Mira Bay, between Glace Bay and Louisbourg. It is thought that the colony failed because of the hostility of local Natives. Whether this story is true cannot be established, given the evidence currently available.


Harald E. L. Prins' 1996 ethnography of the Mi'kMaq, The Mi'kmaq: Resistance, Accomodation, and Cultural Survival, goes into greater, confirmatory, detail.

In 1525, navigator Joao Alvarez Fagundes and some entrepreneurs from the port city of Viana, Portugal, formed an expedition to found a colony on Cape Breton Island -- at the edge of Mi'kmaq country. Commissioned by Portugal's kind, their "large ship and a caravel" sailed to the Azores Islands just west of Portugal (where ten families of settlers came on board) then crossed the Atlantic to the Bahamas, and coasted north until reaching Cape Breton. It seems they established their settlement somewhere on the island's north side, at Glace Bay or St. Anne Bay, "where there are many people and goods of much value and many nuts ... whereby it is clear the soil is rich" (Souza 1570, in Biggar 1911: 195-97)." (45)


Prins goes on to explain that in 1525, a Portuguese mariner named Estevan Gomez went to Cape Breton in search of the Northwest Passage. When he failed to find it, he captured a few dozen Mi'kMaq and took them back to Portugal as slaves. The Mi'kMaq were freed upon arriving in Lisbon, as free people unjustly taken into custody by trickery, though Prins notes that no one made provisions for their return to their homeland. Much later, Samuel de Champlain said that "rigour of the season and the cold made [the Portuguese] abandon their settlement." Perhaps a more important factor in explaining the collapse of the Portuguese effort was the understandable outrage of the Mi'kMaq remaining at the enslavement of their relatives and friends, and their successful sacking of the Portuguese settlement.

Charles A. Martijn's 2005 article in Newfoundland and Labrador Studies, "Early Mikmaq Presence in Southern Newfoundland: An Ethnohistorical Perspective, c.1500-1763", hints in footnote 37 at the particular hostility of the Mi'kmaq in Cape Breton.

The fierce character of the Mi'kmaq was remarked by Europeans through the centuries. Jean Alfonse claimed that the short-lived Portuguese colony established on Cape Breton Island in the 1520s was wiped out by "the natives of the country [who] put an end to the attempt, and killed all of those who came there".12 The Norman merchant, Etienne Bellenger, who undertook a trading voyage to the Maritimes in 1583, noted about the Natives there that "in divers places they are gentle and tractable. But those about Cape Briton and threescore or fowerscore leagues Westward are more cruell and subtill of norture than the rest. And you are not to trust them but to stond upon your gard" (Quinn 1962: 341).


Is this mistrust the main legacy of the Portuguese settlement?

There are scattered mentions of it elsewhere on the Internet. I find passing mention of it elsewhere, in mentions
here and here and here and here in antiquarian texts from the late 19th century. Ken Donovan's 2009 "Precontact and Settlement: Ingonish and Northern Cape Breton From the Paleo Indians to the 18th century", available at Academia.edu to members, suggests Ingonish on the northeast coast of Cape Breton as a possible location, with a history of European presence dating back to the earliest exploitation of local fisheries.

The fate of the Mi'kmaq first enslaved then stranded in Portugal, as reported by Prins, continues to strike me. What happened to them? It would be nice if these individuals could prosper, even make their way back home, but I think I'm right to fear for the fates of terribly vulnerable and immunologically naive people. The nature of their experience is one I can scarcely imagine.

From an alternate history perspective, meanwhile, the potential for a Portuguese presence in Cape Breton is obvious. If Gomez hadn't decided to abduct dozens of locals to sell as slaves, the region of Canada might well be Lusophone to this day. At the very least, a Portuguese colony that survived the 1520s might have had a limited function as an outpost supporting Portuguese fisheries on the Grand Banks. Perhaps it could have persisted after Spain's 1580 takeover of Portugal, perhaps it would have fallen to another power. (France? England? The Dutch?) Regardless, a permanent European presence in continental North America almost a century early would have had huge repercussions for the entire continent.
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In a brief post at Demography Matters, I linked to Paul Krugman's blog post specilating about demographic debt spirals and to the blog's past speculations on the topic in relation to Portugal.
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Bloomberg's Caroline Hyde reports on the start of an initiative to make the Portuguese capital of Lisbon a high-tech startup centre, a European version of San Francisco. Certainly that would hit the city's relatively cost of living, but it might also save the Portuguese economy. If this works, mind.

Picture a city with an iconic golden bridge, trams, bronzed surfers and a vibrant technology industry. San Francisco? Definitely. But what about Lisbon?

The Portuguese capital already has the bridge, trams and surfers. Now it's starting to show off its tech strength too, with a raft of startups in Lisbon catching the attention of international investors.

Uniplaces was founded three years ago and finds accommodation for students across 38 countries. It has won backing from renowned angels such as Alex Chesterman, founder of Zoopla, and European venture capital firms including Octopus Investments.

Andre Albuquerque, head of growth at Uniplaces, thinks the Lisbon-San Francisco comparison is a valid one. "It's a booming environment and I see a lot of similarities from the energy of the people who are in both cities."
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In a Guardian opinion piece, one Lucia Kula notes the extent to which the Angolan oil boom has transformed the Portuguese-Angolan relationship, but wonders about the durability of this.

In 2011 there were 21,563 Angolans in Portugal, compared to 100,000 Portuguese living in Angola. The attraction is clear, the same reason why people have always moved: to make a better life for themselves and the families they leave behind. In this case, Portuguese escaping austerity and high unemployment have been heading to Angola, currently enjoying a boom.

Angola’s economy, tethered tightly to the oil industry, may lack diversity. But oil (which accounts for more than 70% of government revenue and over 90% of exports) and diamonds helped give Angola 15% growth at its height between 2002 and 2008. Even when the rate dropped to 8-10% in 2012, it was doing much better than Portugal, whose economy shrank by 3% in the same period. The government’s decision to invest heavily in Angola’s banking sector saw its assets grow from $3bn in 2003 to $57bn by 2011, ranking it third after South Africa and Nigeria in sub-Saharan Africa.

With growing wealth has come a flurry of foreign investment and acquisitions of Portuguese banks and media outlets. Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the Angolan president José Edudardo dos Santos and Africa’s first female billionaire, has bought up shares in several Portuguese banks, such as Banco BIC and Banco BIP, Portugal’s fourth largest bank. The infiltration is so comprehensive that in June 2015 al-Jazeera called the media buyout “reverse colonialism”.

The change in fortunes has not only been visible on a balance sheet but in the attitudes of Angolans: proud of our presence in Portugal, proud of the fact we have the upper hand over our former coloniser. Angolans are visiting Portugal more often, and are even buying second homes. Away from home, the narrative about Angola is also changing, with Angolans enjoying the praise and admiration of strangers. Whenever people learn I am Angolan, the response is almost always: “You guys are really doing well, right?”

But is this progress credible? The petrodollars have started to trickle down; entirely new towns are being built; and plans are being developed for large shopping centres. But this is as much as most Angolans have seen of this new economic growth. Angola has the world’s highest death rate for children under five; in 2013 36% of the population lived below the poverty line, and unemployment was at 26%.
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  • blogTO notes that this year, the Canadian National Exhibition will host more high-calorie culinary atrocities.

  • Centauri Dreams considers the final pass of Cassini around Saturn's Dione.

  • Crooked Timber considers the opportunity costs of war.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks at the war in Donbas.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw notes the Chinese-led revival of the Silk Road as a trans-Eurasian rail route from Poland.

  • Spacing describes the funiculars of Portugal.

  • Torontoist celebrates Summerworks.

  • Towleroad reports on Zachary Quinto's arguments about safer sex techniques.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy advances an argument against immigration restrictions.

  • Why I Love Toronto shares more local Toronto craftsmakers.

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The New York Times' Raphael Minder writes about the return of the Azorean diaspora, as tourists, to their homeland. This is something I see first-hand: the quoted former parliamentarian used to represent my neighbourhood.

Before a recent religious procession here, a wooden statue of the Holy Christ of Miracles was draped in a new cape, but with a distinctly non-Portuguese twist: images of Canadian maple leaves were woven into its silk and velvet embroidery.

The leaves were more than just a token offering for one of Portugal’s most important feast days, but a reminder of how this archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic has spawned a far-flung and influential diaspora, concentrated in the United States and Canada, whose ties home remain vital even generations later.

About a million North Americans were born in or descend from the Azores — four times the current population of these islands. Each year, thousands of former residents return to the Azores for the feast day in May to give thanks to the Christ of Miracles for helping them on their travels.

“This is the feast that symbolizes the hardship of the islands that they left and their opportunity to give thanks for having managed the difficult journey,” said Mario Silva, the cape’s donor, a former politician who was the first Portuguese-born member of the Canadian Parliament.

[. . .]

“I don’t think there’s another place in Europe with a diaspora that has kept such an intense relationship with the U.S.,” said Gonçalo Matias, director of the Migration Observatory, a Lisbon-based institute that monitors Portuguese migration.
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I've noted in the past that the Portuguese economy, at best stagnant, depended heavily on the income earned by Portuguese migrants in oil-rich Angola. Now that the Angolan economic boom has ended, Henrique Almeida and Joao Lima write for Bloomberg about the Portuguese now left with no options.

If there’s one thing Paulo Goncalves has learned about markets and economics over the past couple of years, it’s that he can run, but he can’t hide.

The 51-year-old left Portugal for oil-rich Angola in 2010 to escape rising unemployment a year before Portugal sought an international bailout and the economy plunged into recession. After doing well working in construction, the oil price started declining and he stopped getting paid. Now he’s back home and after six months of looking found a job that pays the same as what he earned 20 years ago and a fifth of his money in Angola.

“I had a good salary in Angola, but the money stopped coming in,” said Goncalves, who now lives in Quinta do Conde, a town in the southern suburbs of Lisbon. “Now I can’t find any decent jobs in Portugal.”

The countries hardest hit by Europe’s debt crisis saw waves of emigration in recent years, as Irish, Spanish and Greeks sought respite from record rates of unemployment. The Portuguese headed to former colonies such as Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer. Caught between a job without pay or a job not paying enough, Goncalves now epitomizes the dilemma facing thousands of his compatriots.

The government in Lisbon now fears the difficulties of an estimated 115,000 Portuguese nationals in Angola may prompt many to return home to a job market that has yet to recover.
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Frank Jacobs of Strange Maps has an enlightening post looking at Macaronesia, the collection of North Atlantic islands off the European and African coasts that includes the Portuguese Azores and Madeira, the Spanish Canaries, and the independent and ex-Portuguese Cape Verde islands. I wrote about this 2005, there noting how despite its independence Cape Verde was moving as quickly as poissible towards the European Union and its Macaronesian peers. The very idea of the region, Jacobs argues, is still obscure.

In its most common definition, Macaronesia consists of four island groups, belonging to three different countries: the Azores, the Madeira Islands [5] (both Portuguese possessions), the Canary Islands (Spain), and the independent archipelago of Cape Verde.

The name refers to the Fortunate Islands, a.k.a. the Islands of the Blessed (makaron nesoi), situated by ancient Greek legend beyond the Pillars of Hercules, in the Atlantic Ocean. As is the case with Atlantis, the precise mix of fact and fiction is hard to untangle in the case of the Fortunate Islands.

Perhaps those Greek legends were based on actual knowledge of the Canaries or other nearby islands. But their location beyond the horizon of the Greek world provided them with mythical qualities: island paradises rich in fowl and flowers, last resting place of heroes. According to Pliny the Elder, the only drawbacks were the “putrefying bodies of monsters, which are constantly thrown up by the sea.”

In later centuries, the Greek legends of happy faraway lands beyond the sea were conflated with similar Celtic legends (Avalon, Tir na nOg), with Viking explorations of Vinland and even with the Antilles.
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I have a post up at Demography Matters where I suggest that the cat island can point us towards the future rewilding of the depopulating rural world.
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Outlook India's Vivek Menezes writes about how the Indian state of Goa, once a Portuguese enclave, has flirted with the idea of being a Singapore-like city-state.

At that very beginning of decolonisation in Asia, the Portuguese dictator Salazar found a lot to like in what was happening in the British-ruled port city — its new Legislative Council included only six (later nine) elected seats out of twenty-five, and only British subjects were eligible to vote. Meanwhile the colonial system remained dominant. Salazar figured this an excellent model for the four-centuries-old Estado da India Portuguesa.

Even after the Council yielded to a fully-elected Assembly, and the UK Parliament passed the 1958 State of Singapore Act accepting the establishment of an independent state, Salazar still looked for a Singapore-type solution to the increasingly thorny Goa crisis, as Nehru and Krishna Menon grew progressively restive about the last colonial "pimple disfiguring the face of India". The Portuguese dangled promise of a NATO port at Mormugao to his allies, and it took a Russian veto to stymie the US/UK-led United Nations resolution demanding withdrawal of Indian troops after their mercifully bloodless takeover in 1961.

In the immediate aftermath of Indian annexation, the Goan freedom fighter (he famously got into a fistfight with the colonial Governor General) António Anastásio Bruto da Costa led a group demanding "Goan Goa" with "full sovereignty" to be achieved via "natural right to a plebiscite." This "third force" also looked to Singapore as a model of what might be possible in Goa.

With those political questions resolved, visions of Singapore continue dancing in the minds of a very wide range of contemporary observers of India's smallest state. As India Today — the national media outlet that gets Goa most consistently wrong — ludicrously put it in 2013, "the steady march of urbanisation, experts predict, will turn tiny Goa into a Singapore-like city state miraculously untouched by the woes of overpopulation and urbanisation."

Why these supercharged fantasies for famously laid-back Goa? Perhaps the promise of manageable size, with per-capita GDP and human development statistics dramatically higher than the neighbours? Both Singapore and Goa are centuries-old pockets of globalisation, with relatively cosmopolitan leanings. If it could happen there, it could logically follow that it can also happen here.
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  • Al Jazeera notes that Tunisia is still on the brink, looks at the good relations between Indians and Pakistanis outside of South Asia, suspects that a largely Armenian-populated area in Georgia might erupt, and reports on satellite imagery of Boko Haram's devastation in Nigeria.

  • Bloomberg notes that a North Korean camp survivor caught in lies might stop his campaign, reports on Arab cartoonists' fears in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo, notes the consequences on Portugal of a slowdown in Angola's economy, and notes that the shift in the franc's value has brought shoppers from Switzerland to Germany while devastating some mutual funds.

  • Bloomberg View warns about anti-immigrant movements in Europe and notes that Turkey's leadership can't claim a commitment to freedom of the press.

  • The Inter Press Service notes Pakistani hostility to Afghan migrants, notes disappearances of Sri Lankan cartoonists, and looks at HIV among Zimbabwe's children.

  • Open Democracy is critical of the myth of Irish slavery, notes the uses of incivility, and observes that more French Muslims work for French security than for Al-Qaeda.

  • Wired looks at life in the coldest town in the world, and notes another setback in the fight for primate rights.

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Third-generation Lusophonia at Dufferin and Dupont

Not my best photo at all, this 2010 picture of the door of the Casa do Alentejo Portuguese Canadian cultural centre at Dufferin and Dupont shows that, whatever the wounds of the war of independence, by 2010 wounds healed enough for Guinea-Bissauans to celebrate their independence there.

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