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  • Crooked Timber links the near-criminal destruction of Grenfell Tower with Thatcherism's deregulations and catastrophes.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes that TRAPPIST-1e is slated to be among the first observational targets of the James Webb Space Telescope.

  • Far Outliers shares Edith Durham's account of an exciting St. John's Day in Albania in 1908.

  • Language Hat looks at a passage from Turgenev.

  • What, the LRB wonders, will Emmanuel Macron do with his crushing victory after the parliamentary elections, too?

  • Marginal Revolution wonders to what extent is Germany's support for Nord Stream consistent with Germany's concerns over NATO and Russia.

  • Ed Jackson's Spacing Toronto article about the need to preserve queer public history in Toronto is a must-read.
  • Torontoist's Alex Yerman notes the new activity of the Jewish left against a conservative establishment.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that modern Russia is repeating the Soviet Union's overmilitarization mistakes, only this time with fewer resources.

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  • 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.

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  • Crooked Timber enthuses over the remixing, or remastering, of arguably the Beatles' most iconic album.

  • Far Outliers notes the Albanian language's alphabet struggles in the wider geopolitics of Albania.

  • Joe. My. God. notes an American soccer player opted to quit rather than to wear a Pride jersey.

  • Language Hat notes a new online atlas of Algonquian languages.

  • The NYRB Daily argues that Theresa May's election defeat makes the fantasy of a hard Brexit, at least, that much less possible.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia's concern at the dissipation of the prestige of its language and script its former empire, especially in Ukraine.

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  • blogTO notes that the old HMV store in the Dufferin Mall is now a fidget spinner store. This has gone viral.
  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about her week in Paris.

  • Centauri Dreams notes one paper examining the complex formation of the dense TRAPPIST-1 system.

  • Far Outliers reports from early 20th century Albania, about how tribal and language and ethnic identities overlap, and not.

  • Language Log notes efforts to promote Cantonese in the face of Mandarin.

  • The LRB Blog wonders if May's electoral defeat might lead to the United Kingdom changing its Brexit trajectory.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that cars have more complex computer programming these days than fighter jets.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that the counter-cyclical Brazilian fiscal cap still makes no sense.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is edging towards an acknowledgement of its involvement in the Ukrainian war.

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  • blogTO looks at deserted Mirvish Village.

  • Crooked Timber reenages with the Rachel Carson and DDT myth.

  • The Crux looks at the Mandela Effect, exploring false memories.

  • Dangerous Minds makes the case for the musical genius of Bobbie Gentry.

  • From the Heart of Europe's Nicholas Whyte recounts his visit to Albania's bunker museum.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Brazil's retirement of its only aircraft carrier.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the extent and speed of events in the Trump Administration.

  • Marginal Revolution engages with a book examining France's carving out a "cultural exception" in international trade agreements.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on the passing of rulership of the Australian micronation of Hutt River.

  • Peter Rukavina shares good advice for visiting museums: visit only what you can take in.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russian Orthodox Church opposition to a certain kind of Russian civic nationality, and argues Russia is losing even its regional superpower status.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell reports on how local councils in the United Kingdom are speculating on commercial property.

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  • blogTO shared photos of the 420 celebrations at Yonge-Dundas Square.

  • Crooked Timber wonders if financial institutions don't prepare for their ends because they don't believe they will end.

  • Maximos' Blog shares a video sampler for the blogger's new book.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer considers talk of reforming investment tribunals.

  • Torontoist reports on a lovely public art project downtown centered on stamps.

  • Towleroad reports on the stringent nature of sharia law in Indonesia's province of Aceh.

  • The Financial Times' The World notes Gove's ludicrous suggestion that the United Kingdom might enjoy the position of Albania vis-a-vis the European Union.

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Bloomberg's Jasmina Kuzmanovic and Gordana Filipovic report on the renewed push in the western Balkans for European Union membership. Certainly it's not as if the western Balkans have any other future.

Former Yugoslav republics and neighboring Albania vowed to resuscitate their drive for European Union integration after the migrant crisis rocked the region and created the worst political rifts between Balkan states since the civil wars of the 1990s.

The heads of state for EU members Croatia and Slovenia and EU outsiders Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania signed a joint commitment to strengthening the stability and prosperity of the region. They also aim to strengthen ties to the U.S. and seek an expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization deeper into the Balkans.

[. . .]

The western Balkans has been stretched by the flood of hundreds of thousands of migrants escaping the violence in Syria as well as refugees from as far away as Afghanistan and Northern Africa. Slovenia and Croatia strained their EU ties after Slovenia declared its intention to build fencing along the two countries’ shared border. The dispute is being echoed across the EU as governments grapple with a crisis on a scale not seen since the 1940s.
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  • blogTO notes an old mansion at Bloor and Sherbourne is being moved to make room for the new.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about her routines and rituals.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes a catalog of nearby stellar systems.

  • Joe. My. God. observes the bizarrely rigid British ban on poppers sales.

  • Language Hat notes the remarkable flexible language used in Albanian bazaars.

  • Language Log notes a politely-worded anti-smoking sign in New York City's Central Park, partly written in Chinese, and how this differs from the standard.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that Central Americans have not benefited from globalized trade agreements, at all.

  • Marginal Revolution notes the underperformance of the white English.

  • The Planetary Society Blog's Emily Lakdawalla examines the small moons of Pluto-Charon.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer announces the introduction of an economic history category.

  • Towleroad notes an anti-trans activist who led the successful fight against an anti-discrimination law, on the grounds that trans people would harass women, himself defended men who took illicit photos of women changing.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the Russian government is trying to present sanctions as the new normal.

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I have a post up at Demography Matters looking at how one image, of a ship in 1991 laden with Albanian refugees, is being misrepresented as something else entirely.

Original on the bottom, of course.
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Bloomberg's Marco Bertacche and Daniele Lepido report on an Albania-based Italian-language television channel, Agon Channel Italia, that is taking advantage of lower costs and a certain degree of cultural familiarity.

More than 20 years after Albanian refugees began arriving on rickety boats in southern Italy, fading Italian television stars are starting a counter-trend, flocking to Albania as the advertising market at home dries up.

[. . .]

Agon, which will beam programming into Italy, is owned by entrepreneur Francesco Becchetti, who said he invested 40 million euros ($50 million) in studios in Tirana, Albania’s capital, where he employs about 500 people.

“If you want to do TV nowadays, the project needs to be viable,” Becchetti said at a press conference in Milan last week. “Even if you pay your Albanian labor force twice the average salary, that still allows you to attract important stars and secure an Italian TV audience.”

Italian broadcasters are cutting costs as the country’s ad market has failed to recover from a 15-year low and its recession enters a fourth year. Mediaset SpA (MS), Italy’s largest private broadcaster, is slashing 450 million euros in costs, while state broadcaster RAI SpA faces budget cuts as part of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s drive to rein in spending and tame Italy’s 2.13 trillion-euro debt.

Agon is one of 400 Italian companies operating in Albania, where more than half of the 3 million population speak at least some Italian due to the countries’ proximity and the ease of picking up Italian TV signals, according to the Italian embassy. Cement maker Italcementi SpA (IT), one of the first foreign investors in Albania after the old regime fell, has a local unit that’s a top 10 company. Intesa Sanpaolo SpA’s Bank Albania, formed through acquisitions, is the country’s third-largest lender.

Almost 500,000 Albanians live in Italy, the second-biggest foreign community, including about 50,000 who fled chaos and a crumbling economy after the country’s communist regime collapsed in 1991. About 20,000 arrived by ship in the port city of Bari on Aug. 8, 1991 alone. The average Albanian salary today is one sixth of the Italian level, according to the country’s statistics institute.
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  • blogTO notes that a party celebrating the end of Rob Ford's term as mayor is being planned for election night at City Hall.

  • Centauri Dreams notes the discovery of secondary targets for New Horizons after it passes Pluto.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper that looks to examine the oblateness or otherwise of some exoplanets discovered by Kepler.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to one paper examining underwater archeology and links to a series debating the question of whether or not there was a human presence 30 thousand years ago at a site in Uruguay.

  • Eastern Approaches reports on the aftermath of a failed claim by Radek Sikorski that Russia made a 2008 proposal on partitioning Ukraine.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a Costa Rican survey suggesting that up to a fifth of Costa Rican police think that harassing GLBT people is OK.

  • Language Hat notes the etymology of the Egyptian title of "khedive", apparently obscure for a reason.

  • Language Log notes a contentious issue in Chinese translation: "rule of law" or "rule by law"?

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at the aftermath of a stunt at a Serbian-Albanian football game.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog considers estimates for Russian losses in Ukrainian fighing.

  • Towleroad notes that Argentina has granted asylum to a Russian GLBT claimant.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that Ukrainian events have awakened Belarusian nationalism.

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  • BlogTO asks what Kensington Market's future is. The consensus in the comments seems to be that it really needs to shake up and clean up.

  • Eastern Approaches notes the cleanish elections in Albania, a country seeking eventual European Union membership.

  • Guest blogger at Lawyers, Guns and Money Colin Snider observes that one interesting thing about the recent mass protests in Brazil is the way that they have mobilized society generally.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen notes that the growth in divorce rates in China is more rapid than the growth in marriage rates.

  • At Maximos Web, the author considers how Bali has been transformed by progress and development.

  • New APPS Blog's Mohan Matthen considers the philosophy and the history of the restaurant.

  • Registan considers the roles of first Russia then a more pragmatic China in helping the United States deal with Afghanistan.

  • Zero Geography's Mark Graham points and links to a new paper of his mapping the appearances of geotagged zombie outbreaks as a marker of social change.

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This Agence France-Presse article speaks to an interesting phenomenon. Is sentiment for a Greater Albanian state including all the major Albanian-populated areas of the western Balkans actually growing?

The leaders of Albania and Kosovo vowed to achieve unity for ethnic Albanians in the region during the centennial celebration of Albania's independence in the Macedonian capital Sunday but said it should be "within EU boundaries".

"Through the European Union we are going to realise the project of our national unity," Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha told some 10,000 people in Skopje.

Berisha insisted that states bordering Albania should not fear this unity.

"I urge all the neighbours to understand that the national unity of Albanians is nothing wrong," he said, cheered by a crowd chanting "Great Albania" and waving Albanian red flags.

His words were echoed by Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci, who said that Albanians in the region, including the minorities in Serbia and Macedonia, were "stronger than ever and should work together."

[. . .]

No incidents were reported during the celebration, which has heightened tensions in Macedonia, prompting police to step up security and Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska to appeal for calm amid fears of possible inter-ethnic violence.

Several incidents had been reported in recent days, with youths setting ablaze the flags of rival communities in Skopje and the Albanian-dominated northwestern town of Tetovo.

A leader of Macedonia's ethnic Albanians and former guerilla leader-turned-politician, Ali Ahmeti, whose party organised Sunday's celebration, also called for respect because "a nation that seeks its rights can not disrespect the rights of others."
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  • The Burgh Diaspora's Jim Russell notes how Brazil is using the Afro-Brazilian majority legacy of the transatlantic slave trade to justify the construction of new transatlantic links with Africa.

  • Crooked Timber comments upon the Irish anti-abortion laws that just cost a woman her life and the homophobia of the Reagan administration that made HIV/AIDS a laughing matter.

  • Daniel Drezner wonders if the ongoing expanding Petraeus scandal will end up diminishing the American public's regard for the military.

  • Eastern Approaches notes that no one in the Balkans seems to be commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the First Balkan War.

  • Far Outlier's Joel quotes from Matthew Restall's Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest to describe how Christopher Columbus was really riding on the coat-tails of Portugal's successful long-range maritime exploration.

  • Geocurrents observes efforts by some Arab Christians in the Levant to revive Aramaic.

  • The Global Sociology Blog reviews Laurent Dubois' Haiti: The Aftershocks of History, highlighting the extent to which Haiti's catastrophes are the products of foreign meddling.

  • At Lawyers, Guns and Money, Erik Loomis maps Detroit. The extent to which the borders of the City of Detroit overlap with African-American majority populations, and to which the sprawl of Metro Detroit is constructed so as to detach the suburbs from any responsibility for the city at their region's center, is noteworthy.

  • The Planetary Science Blog's Emily Lakdawalla reports on Carl Sagan's feminism.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer summarizes what's going on with Uruguay's decriminalization of marijuana for personal use.

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I've a post up where I point out that many of the immigrants coming to Italy are coming from Italy's old colonial periphery. What role does empire play in modern Italian policies and attitudes and the directions of migrants, I wonder.

Go, read.
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  • The Bloor-Lansdowne blog covers the celebration surrounding the reopening of the Bloor-Lansdowne Library.

  • Centauri Dreams covers the possibility that life in the Galaxy might emerge in great, irregular waves as punctuated evolution would hold, reports more signs that water may exist on/inside Enceladus, and suggests that the threat from comets to Earth may be quite exaggerated.

  • Demography Matters co-blogger Aslak Berg points out that better metrics indicate that European fertility is substantially higher than TFRs would indicate.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to Venus exploration proposals and the discovery of evidence of an asteroidal collision with Earth 129 thousand years ago.

  • Edward Lucas reviews a new book by the admittedly problematic Andrew Roberts that makes the point that Germany's loss of the Second World War has everything to do with Naziism and Hitler's erratic nature.

  • A Fistful of Euros covers the news about the expansion of new liberal visa rules to only some Yugoslav successor states, and reports on the growing irrelevance of Kosovar Albanians and Serbians to each other.

  • Language Hat reports on recent neurological discoveries suggesting that brain damage is more likely to damage knowledge of a second language than of a first.

  • Marginal Revolution links to an article claiming that China's also suffering a bubble economy, with commenters disputing the accuracy of foreign reports.

  • Spacing Toronto's Jake Schabas reports about a charming secret garden on Eglinton Street and touches on the history of market gardens.

  • Slap Upside the Head lets us know that a Saskatchewan public marriage commissioner who claimed that he didn't have to perform gay marriages because of his religion lost his case.

  • Torontoist blogs about Hamilton's image-changing efforts, vintage ads about a defunct store chance, and the Bloor-Gladstone Library's revival.
  • Towleroad reports, rather surprisingly, that Albania's president says he wants to push for gay marriage in his country.

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S. Adam Cardais' "Migrants: From Remittance to Pittance" at Transitions Online takes a look at the effect of the global economic downturn on economically essential labour migration in the poorer countries of post-Communist Europe.

The former Soviet Union and post-communist Eastern Europe are filled with immature economies rife with poverty, corruption, and unemployment and lacking any comparative advantage to attract investment. Many have seen large-scale emigration in recent years as workers left for opportunity in Russia or Western Europe. This work force has subsequently become a geographically distant yet vital economic foundation for their home countries – places like Moldova, Tajikistan, or Albania – through the money they send home every year, money that, for their families, can mean the difference between falling below or hovering barely above the poverty line.

[. . .]

In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Moldova and Tajikistan are most at risk. Both have large emigrant populations in Russia (many Moldovans also go to Italy, which is in recession and not expected to be back in the black until 2010, according to a European Commission forecast) and remittances account for more than 35 percent of GDP in each country, making them the world's most remittance-dependence economies, according to the World Bank's Migration and Remittances Factbook 2008. And neither has much to fall back on.

"If you look at places like … Moldova, it's tougher because [remittances] are a large percentage of the economy, but also because there's nothing going on there," said Jon Levy, an analyst at the Eurasia Group global consultancy in New York. "The countries that have these competitive issues should be extremely worried."

Albania is also vulnerable, with money sent home from its emigrant populations in Greece and Italy comprising a hefty percentage of GDP. Likewise in Romania. Around 1.5 million Romanians work in Spain, whose economy will contract next year, according to the EC, and Italy. Many of those jobs are in construction, an especially vulnerable trade in hard times. Banks are already seeing a downward trend in the money they send home.

For further detailed reading on the subject, you might want to check out Ali Mansoor and Bryce Quillin's January 2007 World Bank study Migration and Remittances: Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union.


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