- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly re-introduces herself to her readers.
- Bruce Dorminey shares one man's theory about how extraterrestrials could use exoplanet sightings to build up a galactic communications network.
- Far Outliers shares some unusual Japanese words, starting with "amepotu" for American potato.
- Language Hat takes
- Did the spokeswoman of the NRA threaten to "fisk" the New York Times or threaten something else? Language Log reports.
- Drew Rowsome notes that, compared to San Francisco, Toronto does not have much of a public kink scene.
- Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel examines the quantum reasons behind the explosion produced by sodium metal and water.
- Understanding Society takes rightful issue with The Guardian's shoddy coverage of Dearborn, Michigan, and that city's Muslims and/or Arabs.
- Unicorn Booty notes that Canada is, at last, starting to take in queer refugees from Chechnya.
- Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes the embarrassing support for Jean-Luc Mélenchon for Venezuela. Was opposing the US all he wanted?
- CBC reports on a straight Summerside couple who are painting rainbows around the Island's second city against hate.
- Maureen Coulter writes in The Guardian about Pride week in Charlottetown, the start coinciding with my visit. I can scarcely imagine.
- Katerina Georgieva notes the coming one-year anniversary of the arrival of the Abdulhey family from Syria on PEI.
- Was a U-Boat sunk off the Island coast, by Tignish, in 1943? Millicent McKay reports on the latest search.
- In the Toronto Star, Emma Teitel wonders how long Church and Wellesley will last as a hub as the queer community develops and migrates away.
- Trevor Corkum, also in the Toronto Star, explores the important role of the Glad Day Bookshop in modern Toronto's gay and literary scenes.
- Brian Bradley tells the story of Craig Russell, an early drag queen who became a star and started a still-living cultural tradition of drag performances in Toronto.
- In NOW Toronto, Vaughn Grey tells the story of how he successfully escaped Jamaica to claim refugee status in Toronto.
- Daily Xtra's Arshy Mann and Evan Balgord report on how the Jewish Defense League plans on marching in Toronto Pride. Grand.
- Spacing's Shazlin Rahman reports on the Jane's Walk she organized around sites of significance to Muslims around Bloor and Dufferin.
- The Toronto Star's Nicholas Keung and Raju Mudhar reported earlier this month on the happy reunification of a Syrian couple with their cat.
- Craig S. Smith notes the profound cynicism of Kellie Leitch in using one Syrian refugee's abuse of his wife to criticize the entire program.
- CBC's Carolyn Dunn notes that the story of the Trinh family, boat people from Vietnam who came to Canada, will be made into a Heritage Minute.
- James Jeffrey describes for the Inter Press Service how refugees from Eritrea generally receive warm welcome in rival Ethiopia.
- Lisa Coxon of Toronto Life shares eleven photos tracking Toronto's queer history back more than a century.
- Michelle McQuigge reports for the Toronto Star that the Luminous Veil does save lives. I would add that it is also beautiful.
- In The Globe and Mail, Marcus Gee thinks it makes perfect sense for there to be a dedicated streetcar corridor on King Street.
- Ben Spurr describes a new plan for a new GO Transit bus station across from Union Station.
- Emily Mathieu reported in the Toronto Star on how some Kensington Market tenants seem to have been pushed out for an Airbnb hostel.
- In The Globe and Mail, Irish-born John Doyle explores the new Robert Grassett Park, built in honour of the doctor who died trying to save Irish refugees in 1847.
Justin Ling in VICE tells the story of three gay men who went missing without a trace in Toronto just a few years ago. What happened?
- 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.
- The Big Picture shares photos of the South Sudanese refugee exodus into Uganda.
- blogTO shares an ad for a condo rental on Dovercourt Road near me, only $1800 a month.
- Centauri Dreams reports on the idea of using waste heat to detect extraterrestrial civilizations.
- Crooked Timber uses the paradigm of Jane Jacobs' challenge to expert in the context of Brexit.
- The LRB Blog reports on the fishers of Senegal and their involvement in that country's history of emigration.
- The Planetary Society Blog shares an image comparing Saturn's smaller moons.
- The Volokh Conspiracy comes out in support of taking down Confederate monuments.
- Window on Eurasia suggests Chechens are coming out ahead of Daghestanis in the North Caucasus' religious hierarchies, and argues that Putin cannot risk letting Ukraine become a model for Russia.
- Arnold Zwicky looks at various bowdlerizations of Philip Larkin's famous quote about what parents do to their children.
Torontoist features, as part of its weekly Immigrants in Toronto feature, an interview with El-Farouk Khaki, an out queer Muslim who is also a leading refugee lawyer.
I was born in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. We had to leave when I was seven because my dad had been part of the independence movement. We lived in England for three years before we came to Canada. When we first arrived in Toronto, we were put up in a homestay. It was a Jewish family. And so my first religious service in Canada was actually Purim in a synagogue, and I went to a Jewish school with one of the kids for a week and a half. And that was an amazing experience for me because I have a fairly Semitic nose, and as a Muslim kid in London in the public school system, I was always being teased about it. And so being in a Jewish school, I had nobody teasing me about my nose.
After 10 days, we went on to Vancouver, and that’s where I finished my elementary school, went to high school, university, and law school, but I came back to Toronto in 1989. I came here for work. And I stayed. I was offered a job at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.”
- Beyond the Beyond shares Yves Behar's thoughts on design in an age of artificial intelligence.
- blogTO makes the case for the east end of Toronto.
- The Big Picture shares photos of a family of Congolese refugees resettled in New England.
- Centauri Dreams hosts an essay looking at the prospects for off-world agriculture.
- Dangerous Minds shares photos of the beauty created by graffiti removal.
- The Dragon's Tales looks for signs of possible cryovolcanism on Europa.
- Joe. My. God. shares audio of the new Blondie track "Fun."
- Language Hat remembers the life and career of linguist Leon Dostert.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money argues protest is needed in blue states, too.
- The LRB Blog warns people not to forget about Pence.
- Marginal Revolution considersa trends in the British economy.
- Neuroskeptic shares disturbing findings about the prevalence of plagiarism in science.
- Window on Eurasia notes that Russia does not expect Trump to take all the sanctions down at once.
Dakin Campbell and Hugh Son write for Bloomberg about how Goldman Sachs, an iconic company of transnational American capitalism, has come out against the visa ban. The upcoming shifts in American politics, as old allies break apart, will be interesting to watch.
In a sharply worded message to staff, Lloyd Blankfein, the bank’s long-time head, broke with the Trump administration over its controversial attempt to crack down on immigration. The voicemail, sent Sunday to the firm’s 34,400 employees, pits Blankfein against an administration stocked with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. veterans, including his former No. 2, Gary Cohn, and key Trump adviser Steven Bannon.
Blankfein told employees that President Donald Trump’s executive order, parts of which were blocked by federal courts, is at odds with the firm’s long-held policies on workforce diversity and could disrupt Goldman Sachs’s business. “This is not a policy we support,” the chief executive officer said.
Blankfein joined a growing chorus of executives, notably from the technology industry, expressing displeasure about the order halting immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries. Google Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai slammed Trump’s move in a note to employees Friday, while Microsoft Inc. on Sunday described the order as “misguided and a fundamental step backward.”
Blankfein’s comments put Goldman Sachs, one of Wall Street’s most influential firms, in the unusual position of standing against a signature effort of the new administration. Since former Chairman Sidney Weinberg served in Washington during both World War II and the Korean War, the firm has sent executives into government service, earning it the Government Sachs moniker. It seldom takes a public stand against a sitting president.