Jan. 14th, 2015

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The CBC had an interesting report Monday: "Psychic experiments conducted on Brandon residential school kids".

One Winnipegger said he was shocked to stumble on a report that shows experiments were conducted on children at Brandon's Indian Residential School in the 1940s.

“This is incredible, especially when you take into account the other studies, medical tests that had been conducted at residential schools,” said Maeengan Linklater.

Linklater was reading "Mysterious Manitoba" by Chris Rutkowski when he saw a passing reference to experiments on extra sensory perception, or ESP, on students at the school in 1941.

A librarian friend found the actual scientific journal article and sent it to him.

The article was published in 1943 by a scientist named A.A Foster.A librarian friend found the actual scientific journal article and sent it to him.

The study was trying to find a better way to test ESP using special cards. The author of the study said the 50 children that participated did so willingly.

“It's not like these kids knew what they were participating in, because if these kids were starving already, a little bit of candy would go a long way,” said Linklater.

The news was also reported last evening on CBC Radio's show As It Happens, host Carol Off interviewing a researcher who pointed out that, even if no one was hurt, that ESP researchers were allowed to use First Nations children in experiments implies that anyone could have had access to them. What harm might have been inflicted?

Mr. Linklater passed the paper on to Ian Mosby, a post-doctoral research fellow at McMaster University in Hamilton and an expert on unauthorized experiments performed on residential school children during the middle decades of the the 20th century.

Although there is no evidence the children were harmed in the ESP experiments, Mr. Mosby tells As It Happens host Carol Off that it's the fact they they were even allowed in to do them that's concerning. "It's bizarre," he says.

Mr. Mosby was last on As It Happens when he discovered that federal research scientists had deliberately withheld vitamins and other nutrients from residential school children in an effort to further nutrition science. There were also experiments with a prototype TB vaccine that may have left some children deaf, he adds.

The challenge, he says, is whether all the information about experiments on residential school children will ever be brought to light.

"I worry that this is just the tip of the iceberg."
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  • blogTO notes that Stollery's at Yonge and Bloor could be demolished soon.

  • Centauri Dreams notes that gyrochronology--using a star's spin rate to calculate its age--works.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at the spacing of planets in exosystems.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that dogs crossed into the Americas only ten thousand years ago.

  • Joe. My. God. notes how Europeans overestimate the size of their Muslim populations.

  • Lanugage Hat considers the question of Timur's languages.

  • The Planetary Society Blog explores the ESA's upcoming JUICE probe to Europa.

  • Otto Pohl finds links between Soviet mistreatment of ethnic Germans and South African apartheid.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes that Chinese are moving en masse to Africa, not Siberia.

  • Towleroad shares video of a crowd bursting into singing John Lennon's "Imagine" at the recent Paris march.

  • Transit Toronto notes the toll of extreme cold on streetcars.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that Pride and Prejudice recently got cited in the US Supreme Court.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi reflects on a cat and his box.

  • Window on Eurasia reflects on the vissicitudes of Karelian identity, ethnic and political, in Russia.

  • The Financial Times' World blog notes that reconciliation is still far off in the former Yugoslavia.

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Bloomberg View's William Pesek notes that Japan is too globalized for Japan Inc. to work the way the current Japanese government wants it to.

There's something very familiar about Shinzo Abe's plans for reviving the Japanese economy. For decades, the government could rely on Japan's biggest companies to serve the national good. Bureaucrats and executives worked hand-in-hand to promote key sectors. In the 1980s, with state help and guidance, Japanese corporations scoured the globe for market share, pouring the spoils back into the economy at home.

Now, Abe seems to expect Japan Inc. to follow a similar script. By driving down the yen 30 percent with an ultraloose monetary policy -- the so-called first arrow of Abenomics -- and greasing the economy with huge fiscal stimulus, the prime minister has boosted the stock market and filled corporate coffers. Executives were meant to return the favor by hiking wages and boosting capital investments.

Twenty years ago, that strategy might have worked. But something new is at play. Japan's corporate champions aren't playing ball -- in part because they're no longer very Japanese.

Take Honda, the subject of a recent New York Times piece making waves in Nagatacho, Tokyo’s Capitol Hill. The story explored the rather odd way Honda headquarters in Tokyo has dealt with a record $70 million fine levied on its U.S. subsidiary: as a strictly American problem beyond the purview of CEO Takanobu Ito. Of course, this reflects a bit of the old duck-and-cover routine Japan Inc. performs whenever bad news hits (recent examples include Sony's hacking case and Takata's airbag recall).

At the same time, Honda's attitude makes sense. In 1979, the automaker became the first Japanese giant to open a production base in the U.S. (initially focusing on motorcycles). Soon, others emulated its decision to build products closer to the customer. This mass migration of jobs involving Toyota, Nissan, Sony, Panasonic and others accelerated in the 2000s as deflation deepened and Japan's workforce aged. Later, offshoring expanded because of high labor costs at home, with Japanese companies opening factories in China, Thailand and elsewhere.

Many of Japan's biggest companies, including Honda, now derive most of their revenues and profits from their overseas affiliates. Rather than imagining themselves as national assets, they're thinking like other transnationals and putting profits and efficiency over government priorities. Abenomics, in effect, is premised on an outdated social contract.
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Al Jazeera's Royce Kurmelovs argues that, despite advancing (and indigenous!) solar energy technology, Australia remains over-wedded to coal.

Within Australia, the industry is supported through subsidies such as the Renewable Energy Target (RET), which requires the government to ensure that 41,000 gigawatt hours of the country's energy is produced by renewable sources by 2020.

The other function of RET has been to promote both large and small-scale investment in renewable projects, which helped grow the Australian renewables sector to become a $20bn industry.

But with a government review of the programme and uncertainties around its future, large-scale investment in renewable energy projects such as wind farms has ground to a halt.

While no government decision has yet been made about the future of the programme, the uncertainty it created effectively caused the bottom to fall out from the industry, slowing its growth.

Meanwhile, smaller-scale investment - such as roof-top solar systems - has so far escaped the same fate as consumers who install such a system could receive an upfront payment.
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Bloomberg's Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov describe how Russia is trying to use the Charlie Hebdo attacks to reset its relations with the European Union.

France’s worst terror attacks in more than half a century show the need for “urgent” cooperation between Russia and the U.S. and Europe, Russia’s top diplomat said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized a continued freeze in anti-terrorist ties imposed over the Ukraine conflict, telling reporters in Moscow today that such a key matter shouldn’t be based on “personal emotions and grievances.”

Lavrov also rejected conditions for a lifting of what he said were “illegitimate” sanctions against his country, including handing joint control of the border between separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine and Russia to Ukrainian forces.

While Russia has condemned the attacks, which started with an assault on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 that killed 12 people, its expression of solidarity hasn’t eased tensions with its former Cold war foes.

Lavrov was the most senior Russian official to join the largest march in French history yesterday in Paris along with leaders from dozens of countries. He said the militants behind the terror spree had ties to Islamists seeking the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who’s also a target of the U.S. and its allies.
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CBC Toronto notes that the condo boom in Toronto is continuing, even as condo sizes shrink.

Toronto's condo boom showed no signs of slowing in 2014, as the number of units rented last year across the GTA increased by 15 per cent from the previous year's level, market research firm Urbanation said Monday.

According to the company, 22,765 condos were rented out across the city via the MLS website — and that figure doesn't include rentals that are arranged privately or through websites such as Craigslist and Kijiji.

The yearly figure is up by 15 per cent from 2013's level, but it's well over twice the level seen as recently as 2010, when there were only about 10,000 condos rented in the city.

That healthy demand for rental units is also pushing up rents, but not by nearly as much. The average rate for a condo rental in the city is now $2.39 per square foot. That's higher than 2013's average of $2.37 but only by about 1 per cent. That pace of growth is well down from the growth of at least four per cent per year seen every year since 2010.

[. . .]

"Over the past year, the average size of units rented has fallen by 1.5 per cent, or 12 square feet to an average of 761 square feet," Urbanation said in a release.
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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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Spacing Toronto's John Lorinc reflects on what the Paris shootings say about urban cosmopolitanism. His arguments that dealing with urban alienation is critical are sound, but his other arguments? I have serious doubts as to the extent to which basic freedoms should be compromised.

I’d argue that Torontonians can and perhaps should adopt a more critical stance towards the drama playing out in Paris. In an extraordinarily diverse city, where almost half of the residents were born outside Canada, freedom of expression must share the urban stage with that grittier, and more workaday, principle known as civic pluralism.

Sure, Section 2 of the Charter enshrines the right. But for cities like Toronto to function and thrive, its residents must constantly seek out ways to co-exist, and therefore deploy language that aims to surmount, or at least mitigate, seemingly irreconcilable differences.

I’m not suggesting that the satirists and columnists start pulling their rhetorical punches in order to cow-tow to murderous thugs. But in an urban centre where so many people from so many backgrounds live cheek by jowl, often in crowded apartment buildings, it’s neither censorious nor heavy-handed to expect that those who speak publicly be mindful of the potential impact of their words or pictures on the people with whom we share buses, emergency rooms and check-out lines.

Why? ISIS and Al-Qaeda both depend heavily on actively recruiting young men and women from Western cities, and it seems obvious to me that urban alienation — along with poverty, youth unemployment and geographic isolation — is a critical pre-condition to the sort of radicalization that leads to disasters such as this one.

Of course, lots of other factors come into play — access to citizenship, services, and education, to name but three obvious ones. Still, at such an anxious juncture, when the federal Tories are pledging to enact heavy-handed security laws to combat what Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week described as a “war,” Torontonians and their civic leaders should do everything possible to the ensure that the members of the city’s newcomer communities feel as if they truly belong here.
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