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  • Scott Wheeler writes about past eminences of Toronto, people like Conn Smythe and Raymond Massey.
  • Joanna Slater writes in The Globe and Mail about the symbolism of Confederate--and other--statuary in Richmond, former capital of the South.

  • Reuters reports on a Vietnamese businessman abducted by his country from the streets of Berlin. Germany is unhappy.

  • Jeremiah Ross argues at VICE that very high levels of tourism in New York City are displacing native-born residents.

  • Looking to protests most recently in Barcelona, Elle Hunt in The Guardian looks at ways to make mass tourism more affordable for destinations.

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  • Dangerous Minds points readers to Cindy Sherman's Instagram account. ("_cindysherman_", if you are interested.)

  • Language Hat takes note of a rare early 20th century Judaeo-Urdu manuscript.

  • Language Log lists some of the many, many words and phrases banned from Internet usage in China.

  • The argument made at Lawyers, Guns and Money about Trump's many cognitive defects is frightening. How can he be president?

  • The LRB Blog <"a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2017/08/03/lynsey-hanley/labour-and-traditional-voters/">notes that many traditional Labour voters, contra fears, are in fact willing to vote for non-ethnocratic policies.

  • The NYR Daily describes a book of photos with companion essays by Teju Cole that I like.

  • Of course, as Roads and Kingdom notes, there is such a thing as pho craft beer in Vietnam.

  • Peter Rukavina notes
  • Towleroad notes a love duet between Kele Okereke and Olly Alexander.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy seems unconvinced by the charges against Kronos programmer Marcus Hutchins.

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  • 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.

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  • Beyond the Beyond links to a US military science fiction contest.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly notes that journalism is meant to offer criticisms of the president.

  • Crooked Timber has an open forum about the inauguration.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos from seminal 1980-era London club Billy's.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper reporting on a superflare on brown dwarf EPIC 220186653.

  • A Fistful of Euros' features Doug Merrill's meditations on 2009 and 2017.

  • Language Log looks at the etymology of the Vietnamese name "Nguyen."

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at Donald Trump's desire for a military parade.

  • The LRB Blog looks at Donald Trump as a winner.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a book on the economics of skyscrapers and notes a skyscraper boom in China.

  • Steve Munro looks at buses and their distribution on TTC networks.

  • Transit Toronto looks at how Exhibition Place work will complicate multiple bus routes.

  • Window on Eurasia notes low levels of Russian productivity, shares a Russian argument as to why Russia and the United States can never be allies in the long term, looks at counterproductive Russian interference in Circassian diaspora institutions, and shares argument suggesting Trump's style of language explains why he wants to forego complicated multilateral negotiations for bilateral ones where he can dominate.

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  • Bloomberg notes concerns over Northern Ireland's frontiers, looks at how Japanese retailers are hoping to take advantage of Vietnam's young consumers, examines the desperation of Venezuelans shopping in Colombia, looks at Sri Lankan interest in Chinese investment, suggests oil prices need to stay below 40 dollars US a barrel for Russia to reform, observes that Chinese companies are increasingly reluctant to invest, and suggests Frankfurt will gain after Brexit.

  • Bloomberg View gives advice for the post-Brexit British economy, looks at how Chinese patterns in migration are harming young Chinese, suggests Hillary should follow Russian-Americans in not making much of Putin's interference, and looks at the Israeli culture wars.

  • CBC considers the decolonization of placenames in the Northwest Territories, notes Canada's deployment to Latvia was prompted by French domestic security concerns, and looks at an ad promoting the Albertan oil sands that went badly wrong in trying to be anti-homophobic.

  • The Inter Press Service considers the future of Turkey and looks at domestic slavery in Oman.

  • MacLean's looks at China's nail house owners, resisting development.

  • The National Post reports from the Colombia-Venezuela border.

  • Open Democracy considers the nature of work culture in the austerity-era United Kingdom, looks at traditions of migration and slavery in northern Ghana, examines European bigotry against eastern Europeans, and examines the plight of sub-Saharan migrants stuck in Morocco.

  • Universe Today notes two nearby potentially habitable rocky worlds, reports that the Moon's Mare Imbrium may have been result of a hit by a dwarf planet, and reports on Ceres' lack of large craters.

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  • Bloomberg notes the decline of Japan's solar energy boom with falling subsidies, suggests 1970s-style stagflation will be back, looks at how an urban area in Japan is dealing with overcrowding, looks at Russia-NATO tensions, and examines how Ireland is welcoming British bankers.

  • Bloomberg View looks at the return of Russian tourists to Turkey, notes Russia is not suffering from a brain drain, looks at the Brexit vote as examining the power of the old, and argues the Chilcot report defends Blair from accusations of lying.

  • CBC reports on the end of Blackberry's manufacturing of the Classic.

  • The Globe and Mail notes that, once, gay white men were on the outside.

  • The Independent describes claims that refugees in Libya who cannot pay their brokers risk being rendered into organs.

  • The Inter Press Service describes the horrors of Sudan and looks at how Russia will use Brexit to fight sanctions in the European Union.

  • MacLean's reports on the opening up of the Arctic Ocean to fishing and looks at Winnipeg support for Pride in Steinbach.

  • The National Post reports on the plague of Pablo Escobar's hippos in Colombia, looks at Vietnam's protests of Chinese military maneuvers, and examines Turkey's foreign policy catastrophes.

  • Open Democracy notes the desperate need for stability in Libya.

  • The Smithsonian reports on how video games are becoming the stuff of history.

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  • Bloomberg notes a report of Egypt's discovery of the wreckage of the crashed EgyptAir jet, reports on the visit of a IMF team to Mozambique, and looks at Vietnam's success in capturing Southeast Asian trade with the European Union.

  • Bloomberg View notes that Donald Trump's candidacy can mean bad things for the Republican Party.

  • CBC looks at how a top export from Tibet is a parasitic fungus, and looks at controversy over a CSIS evaluation of diaspora communities and terrorism.

  • MacLean's looks at the wife of the Orlando shooting.

  • The National Post notes the retraction of an ASEAN statement about maritime borders with China.

  • Open Democracy carries an ill-judged radical Brexiteer's statement. All I can say is that socialism in one country is not likely, certainly not with the Tories in charge.

  • The Toronto Star notes the fears of tax authorities that Conrad Black might abscond without paying his taxes.

  • Universe Today notes the discovery, in a Swedish quarry, of a type of meteorite no longer present in the solar system.

  • Wired reports on the second LIGO discovery and notes the import of The Onion in times of trouble.

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  • The Atlantic notes the import of the assassination of the head of the Taliban.

  • The BBC observes Spotify has more revenues, but is still not making money.

  • Bloomberg suggests Brexit would embolden central European populists and slow down growth, and looks at Coca Cola's end of production in Venezuela.

  • Bloomberg View suggests a new class of educated Chinese professionals will hurt middle-class wages.

  • The CBC notes the lifting of the mandatory evacuation order for northern Alberta oil sands camps.

  • Daily Xtra looks at the importance of Facebook in spreading knowledge to PrEP.

  • Gizmodo notes the proliferation of cephalopods in the world's oceans.

  • The Miami Herald describes how desperate Venezuelans are turning to urban gardening.

  • The National Post looks at Kevin O'Leary's interest in Canadian politics.

  • The Toronto Star reports on the lifting of the American arms sales embargo against Vietnam.

  • Wired notes Grindr can still be hacked to identify users' locations.

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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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  • The Atlantic's James Parker explains the unique power of the lyrics of David Bowie.

  • Asia Times notes how the Korean Wave is an issue among some Vietnamese, who remember South Korean military atrocities during the Vietnam War.

  • The Toronto Star looks at the legacy of Toronto's Hammy the Hamster.

  • Northeasternontario.com explores the legacy of northern Ontario's Highway Book Shop.

  • The Inter Press Service features an opinion piece on the need to decolonize education, starting from the Rhodes Must Fall movement in South Africa.

  • Open Democracy describes, from the Russian and the Ukrainian perspectives, just how badly Russia-Ukraine cultural relations have fallen since 2014.

  • Vulture features an insightful interview with RuPaul on, among other things, drag and contemporary gay culture.

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The Los Angeles Times' Brittany Woolsey looks at how Orange County is trying to boost Vietnamese representation on the county's police force, the better to promote good communal relations.

The most recent example of the need for better relations occurred just weeks ago, when police and other officials sought help from the Vietnamese community in the search for three inmates who had escaped from the Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana and were believed to be hiding in Little Saigon: Jonathan Tieu, Bac Duong and Hossein Nayeri. The men, considered dangerous, were eventually recaptured.

In the Westminster Police Department, seven of its 87 officers are Vietnamese, Vu said. Of those seven, three are set to retire in the next few years. Since 1999, the department has had as many as eight full-time Vietnamese American officers and one reserve officer.

In Garden Grove, four out of 155 police officers are Vietnamese, according to the agency.

"We do have calls for service where we do need a Vietnamese-speaking officer to help translate," said Lt. Bob Bogue, who has been with the Garden Grove Police Department for 29 years. "We come across that probably on a weekly basis. We do have civilian Vietnamese employees that can come out and help, and we also have a translation service, but if we can get our numbers of police officers up in the Vietnamese population, it will help us in our service to the public."
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  • blogTO notes that an abandoned Toronto power plant is set to become an arts hub, despite being unreachable by transit at present.

  • Crooked Timber argues against letting the Paris attacks lead to an anti-refugee backlash.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes a new study of the complex WASP-47 planetary system.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes the search for Archean-like atmospheres.

  • Far Outliers follows a Soviet soldier in Afghanistan who became a Muslim convert.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that the company bought by a man who increased the price of a drug used to treat an AIDS-related infection hugely is now suffering major losses.

  • Language Log comes up with an origin for the Chinese word for pineapple in Vietnamese.

  • Steve Munro updates readers on the Port Lands development.

  • Torontoist notes how a Toronto critic of Gamergaters has been smeared as a terrorist implicated in the Paris attacks.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the deep divisions of Russia's Muslims over ISIS.

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CBC's Chris Corday writes about a group of military veterans I've often had sympathies for. Canada was not involved in the Vietnam War, not as an active combatant. Why did these people go? I feel sorry for their suffering, but they could have easily made different choices.

At only 17 years old, B.C.'s Rob McSorley knew he wanted to go to war, and it didn't matter if it wasn't in a Canadian uniform.

Now, 45 years after his death in the jungles of Vietnam, his sister is finally learning how much he mattered to the American soldiers with whom he served.

June-Ann Davies says in 1968, her brother was tired of school at Templeton Secondary in East Vancouver, and decided joining the military would cure his boredom.

The war in Vietnam was still raging and Canada wasn't officially participating, but McSorley was determined to be at the heart of it.

"I think he wanted adventure, which he could get out of the U.S. military as opposed to the Canadian military," said Davies, who now lives in Kamloops, B.C.

McSorley's parents tried to reason with him: He wasn't an American, and it was actually illegal for him to fight in a war that didn't formally involve Canada.

But McSorley was going to Vietnam, with or without their support.

"When they were putting up a bit of a fight, that's when he said, 'Well, you either sign the papers, or I'm going anyways and I'll lie about my age,' " Davies recalled.


What say you?
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Jennifer Kay's Assoicated Press report about how Toronto-resident Kim Phuc, famous as a victim of American napalm in the Vietnam War, is undergoing new therapy to deal with lasting pain from her scars.

In the photograph that made Kim Phuc a living symbol of the Vietnam War, her burns aren’t visible — only her agony as she runs wailing toward the camera, her arms flung away from her body, naked because she has ripped off her burning clothes.

More than 40 years later she can hide the scars beneath long sleeves, but a single tear down her otherwise radiant face betrays the pain she has endured since that errant napalm strike in 1972.

Now she has a new chance to heal — a prospect she once thought possible only in a life after death.

“So many years I thought that I have no more scars, no more pain when I’m in heaven. But now — heaven on earth for me!” said Phuc upon her arrival in Miami to see a dermatologist who specializes in laser treatments for burn patients.

Late last month, Phuc, 52, began a series of laser treatments that her doctor, Jill Waibel of the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute, said will smooth and soften the pale, thick scar tissue that ripples from her left hand up her arm, up her neck to her hairline and down almost all of her back.
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The power couple in question, described by Bloomberg's John Boudreau, is not Vietnamese. Even so, that they have such an apparently high-profile position says much.

Since their December arrival in Vietnam, U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius and his husband have become the most prominent gay couple in the Southeast Asian country.

Osius and Clayton Bond landed with their toddler son shortly before the government abolished its ban on same-sex marriage. Now the couple, who recently adopted an infant girl, find themselves ambassadors of the nascent LGBT rights movement spreading across the country.

“A lot of young people have reached out to me on Facebook, to say: ‘We are happy to see somebody who is gay and is happy in his personal life but also has had professional success’,” Osius said in an interview. “I don’t think of it as advocating as much as supporting Vietnamese civil society in doing what it is already doing.”

The Communist government’s revised marriage law, while not officially recognizing same-sex marriage, and its tolerance of pride events has made Vietnam a leader in gay rights in Southeast Asia, potentially opening up opportunities to attract the tourist “pink dollar” and business executives seeking a more tolerant environment.

Yet young gay Vietnamese say they can be ostracized in a patriarchal society in which heterosexual marriage and parenthood are seen as the path to happiness. The legal changes also sit oddly in a country that more broadly curbs political dissent, Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in an e-mail.
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The National Post's Matthew Fisher notes how China is, among other things, building artificial islands in the South China Sea to support its claimed maritime boundaries against Southeast Asian neighbours. Remarkable process, dubious goals.

To support part of its brazen — some might say preposterous — claim to about 85 per cent of the South China Sea, Beijing is building artificial islands on tiny outcroppings, atolls and reefs in hotly disputed waters in the Spratly Archipelago.

To do so, the Chinese have been using formidable seaborne dredges to haul up huge amounts of sand and coral from the ocean floor, and bulldozing what is brought to the surface onto at least six of the far-flung lumps of rock.

The growing outposts are part of a chain of more than 700 islets, none of which rises more than four metres above sea level. The string of promontories is closest to the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei, in that order. But it is China, with a coastline more distant than any of the others, that has seized and is expanding on scraps of what little high ground there is.

[. . .]

To back what it says belongs to China, Beijing has been expanding islets in waters that are clearly within the 200-mile (320-km) exclusive zone of the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. It has also sent its coast guard to prevent Chinese boats being arrested for illegal fishing and to warn off fishing boats and sailors from countries with territorial claims.

The Chinese actions seriously complicate an already murky legal situation. There is no clear definition or consensus in maritime law about when or if a piece of rock that rises just above the surface can become part of a country’s sovereign territory through expansion by artificial means.
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Shuan Sim's International Business Times article about thousands of cats caught from smugglers makes for distressing reading.

Police in Hanoi saved thousands of cats from potentially becoming barbecue after seizing a truck in Northern Vietnam carrying more than 3 tons of live cats smuggled in from China. While the cats will have to be culled in accordance with local laws, officers on Thursday indicated reservations about saving the cats bound for restaurants, only to have to kill them anyway.

"After receiving a tip, we searched the truck and discovered the cats inside," Cao Van Loc, deputy chief of police in Hanoi's Dong Da district, told German press agency dpa on Wednesday. "The owner, also the driver, said he bought the cats at the border area of Quang Ninh province," Loc said, adding that all of the cats were from China.

Photos and videos from the local An Ninh Thu Do newspaper showed the cats crammed into wooden crates with their limbs and tails sticking out. Loc told dpa that local laws dictate smuggled goods – that includes the cats – have to be destroyed. But the next day he told Agence France-Presse that they were undecided on killing the cats because there were so many. Loc said the driver will be fined around $350 for transporting goods without the correct documents.

The smuggling of cats from China into Vietnam is on the rise, according to local media reports, as cat meat has grown in popularity in recent years. Known locally as “little tiger,” cat meat is usually fried or barbecued, and served with rice wine at festive occasions or eaten as a snack in Northern Vietnam. Cat meat is seen as a delicacy and is typically eaten at the start of each lunar month, unlike dog meat, which is eaten at the end, according to AFP.
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CNBC's Nyshka Chandran suggests that the Greater Mekong Subregion, uniting southwesternmost China with mainland Southeast Asia, may become a major manufacturing region as Chinese wages rise while the region integrates. It might be worth considering this in the context of China's potential emergence as an immigration destination, with Southeast Asian countries being plausible sources of migrants.

What will come in the future?

"With China's industrial heartland in the coastal regions of the Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta facing increasing pressures on competitiveness due to rising labor costs, the GMS offers considerable potential as an alternative location for the establishment of low cost manufacturing," Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said in a note last week.

Biswas estimates the region's combined gross domestic product (GDP) at $1.1 trillion this year, larger than in Indonesia, Southeast Asia's most populous country. By 2015, the region is forecast to grow 6.2 percent and hit a combined GDP of $3 trillion by 2024. The area currently accounts for less than 5 percent of global manufacturing in value-added terms, but IHS notes that infrastructure is key to realizing the region's potential.

"If infrastructure connectivity is strengthened in Southeast Asia to allow high-speed rail networks and modern roads to link provinces such as Yunnan in southern China to the Indian Ocean via Thailand and Myanmar, this could significantly improve freight logistics...and create significant opportunities for the development of major ports and free trade zones in Thailand and Myanmar, boosting their economic development as entrepots."

While China still enjoys retains its reputation as the world's leading production center, its slowing economy and double-digit wage increases are causing foreign firms to look to Asia's frontier economies.
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  • Claus Vistesen's Alpha Sources considers the arguments for thinking stock markets will continue on their current course.

  • Centauri Dreams notes the discovery of eight potentially Earth-like worlds by Kepler, as does The Dragon's Gaze.

  • Crooked Timber considers the future of social democracy in a world where the middle classes do badly.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks at a redesigned American anti-missile interceptor.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that same-sex marriage in Vietnam is no longer banned, but it is also not yet recognized.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reacts to reviews of bad restaurants favoured by the ultra-rich.

  • The Planetary Society Blog's Emily Lakdawalla provides updates on Japan's Akatsuki Venus probe and China's Chang'e Moon probe.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the immediate impact of political turmoil last year in Crimea on the peninsula's demographics.

  • Mark Simpson suggests that straight men want attention from gay men as validation.

  • Spacing Toronto reviews The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling.

  • Torontoist looks at a Taiwanese condo tower that featured on-tower gardening.

  • Towleroad and Joe. My. God. both note that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami has told its employees it might fire them if they comment favourable about same-sex marriage.

  • Why I Love Toronto really likes downtown restaurant 7 West.

  • Window on Eurasia notes turmoil in the Russian intelligence community and a higher density of mosques than churches in the North Caucasus.

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  • Al Jazeera shares Sarah Kendzior's argument that the disappearance of shopping malls will not mean the automatic return of downtowns in many cities, and notes the migration of many young Americans--including Vietnamese-Americans--to a booming Vietnam.

  • Business Week observes that in higher education, China wants more people with vocational degrees and fewer academics, while comments that the use of Minnan dialect by China's spokesperson to Taiwan isn't doing much to encourage reunification.

  • The CBC shares the request of American retailer target to its customers to please leave their guns home, and notes a finding in Québec that penalized Wal-Mart for closing down a store there after its workforce became unionized.

  • National Geographic notes evidence from an Archaeopreryx fossil that feathers evolved before flight, and comments on the cultural and other issues that make fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa so difficult.

  • Universe Today notes there are no lunar seas on the far side of the Moon because of the heat of the Earth in the Moon's early days reached only the near side, and comments on the evidence of asteroid impacts on the surface of Vesta.

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