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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at enormous, explosive Wolf-Rayet stars, and at WR 124 in particular.
  • The Big Picture shares heart-rending photos of Rohingya refugees fleeing Burma.

  • Centauri Dreams considers the potential of near-future robotic asteroid mining.

  • D-Brief notes the discovery of vast cave systems on the Moon, potential homes for settlers.

  • Hornet Stories exposes young children to Madonna's hit songs and videos of the 1980s. She still has it.

  • Inkfish notes that a beluga raised in captivity among dolphins has picked up elements of their speech.

  • Language Hat notes a dubious claim that a stelae containing Luwian hieroglyphic script, from ancient Anatolia, has been translated.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the question of preserving brutalist buildings.

  • The LRB Blog considers how Brexit, intended to enhance British sovereignty and power, will weaken both.

  • The Map Room Blog notes that the moons and planets of the solar system have been added to Google Maps.

  • The NYR Daily considers how the Burmese government is carefully creating a case for Rohingya genocide.

  • The Power and Money's Noel Maurer concludes, regretfully, that the market for suborbital travel is just not there.

  • Visiting a shrimp festival in Louisiana, Roads and Kingdoms considers how the fisheries work with the oil industry (or not).

  • Towleroad reports on the apparent abduction in Chechnya of singer Zelimkhan Bakayev, part of the anti-gay pogrom there.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that rebuilding Kaliningrad as a Russian military outpost will be expensive.

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  • Bulgaria and Macedonia have at last signed a treaty trying to put their contentious past behind them. Greece next?

  • The legacies of Stalinist deportations in Moldova continue to trouble this poor country.

  • The plight of the ethnic Georgians apparently permanently displaced from Georgia has been only muted by time.

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  • blogTO lists some interesting things to do and see in Toronto's American neighbour, Buffalo.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly strongly defends contemporary journalism as essential for understanding the world.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money rightly takes issue with the claim identity politics hinders the US left. Remember New Deal coalitions?

  • Marginal Revolution notes just how expensive it is to run Harvard.

  • Otto Pohl notes the upcoming 76th anniversary of the Soviet deportation of the Volga Germans.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer reports on the remarkably fluent code-switching between English and French of some Washington D.C. subway riders.

  • Strange Maps notes rival food and fabric maps of India and Pakistan.

  • Tricia Wood at Torontoist argues that, for environmental and economic reasons, Ontario needs high-speed rail.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Tatarstan has done a poor job of defending its sovereignty from the Russian government.

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CBC News' Nil Köksal reports on the continuing, sad, and politically necessary search in Cyprus for the graves of the many Cypriots killed in that island's recent history of ethnic war.

There were 84 skeletons, all in one place.

It wasn't the first, or the last, mass grave Ceren Ceraloglu would search, but the feeling of standing over that particular pit, with its staggering number of victims, has stayed with her.

A field archaeologist with the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus, Ceraloglu has been sifting through the most painful parts of her island's past.

It's not the kind of work this mother of triplets imagined she'd be doing when she was studying archaeology in university. But it's become a calling.

Not just because the excavations aim to return the remains of those killed in the conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots to their families, but because scientists from both communities work side by side, every day.

There is no room for conflict here.
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  • Centauri Dreams looks at the SPECULOOS red dwarf observation program.

  • The Crux examines VX nerve agent, the chemical apparently used to assassinate the half-brother of North Korea's ruler.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the inhabitants of the Tokyo night, like gangsters and prostitutes and drag queens.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines Donald Trump's tepid and belated denunciation of anti-Semitism.

  • Language Log looks at the story of the Wenzhounese, a Chinese group notable for its diaspora in Italy.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the by-elections in the British ridings of Stoke and Copeland and notes the problems of labour.

  • The Map Room Blog shares a post-Brexit map of the European Union with an independent Scotland.

  • Marginal Revolution reports that a border tax would be a poor idea for the United States and Mexico.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at the art of the medieval Tibetan kingdom of Guge.

  • Otto Pohl notes the 73rd anniversary of Stalin's deportation of the Chechens and the Ingush.

  • Supernova Condensate points out that Venus is actually the most Earth-like planet we know of. Why do we not explore it more?

  • Towleroad notes Depeche Mode's denunciation of the alt-right and Richard Spencer.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi considers the question of feeling empathy for horrible people.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the thousands of Russian citizens involved with ISIS and examines the militarization of Kaliningrad.

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  • The Big Picture shares photos from a Newfoundland where the cod fisheries are recovering.

  • blogTO notes the bars which will be screening the final concert of The Tragically Hip.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a paper finding that KIC 8462852 has been fading noticeably in recent years.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes the detection of circumpulsar disks.

  • Language Hat looks at the International Phonetic Alphabet.

  • The Map Room Blog notes Australia's updating of its GPS maps.

  • Otto Pohl notes the 75th anniversary of the Volga German deportation.

  • Torontoist has a lovely map of High Park.

  • Window on Eurasia argues Russia is likely to heat up the war in Ukraine by posing as a peacekeeper.

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  • blogTO celebrates High Park.

  • Marginal Revolution celebrates the life and achievements of Benedict Anderson.

  • Out of Ambit's Diane Duane shares a beautiful map of the Atlantic seaboard of the United States that she hand-drew in 1980.

  • Towleroad discusses the mechanics of a same-sex couple's wedding.

  • Transit Toronto notes upcoming meetings to discuss the future of transit in the Toronto area.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at anti-Americanism in the Russian elite and suggests Ukraine should recognize the expulsion of Circassians and other Caucasians.

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  • Bloomberg notes Petrobras' dismissal of rumours it is threatened by the impeachment, observes that many Europeans expect a chain reaction of departures if the United Kingdom leaves, notes that a return to high economic growth in Israel will require including the Palestinian minority, and
    looks at Panamanian efforts to convince the world that the country is not a tax haven.

  • The Globe and Mail remembers Mi'kMaq teacher Elsie Basque, and looks at how Mongolia is trying to adapt to the new economy.

  • Bloomberg View states the obvious, noting that an expected event is not a wild swan.

  • CBC notes Rachel Notley's tour of Fort McMurray.

  • The Inter Press Service notes the denial of everything about the Rohingya.

  • MacLean's looks at further confusion in Brazil.

  • Open Democracy notes a push for land reform in Paraguay and looks at the devastation of Scotland's Labour Party.

  • Wired notes the dependence of intelligence agencies on Twitter, proved by Twitter shutting an intermediary down.

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  • blogTO notes that, this summer, there will be a play in Toronto about Target Canada's demise set in an old Target store.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of women using boxy early 1980s office computers.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to one paper suggesting most super-Earths are mini-Neptunes and to another noting the odd disk of L1455 IRS1.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks at the huge problem of corporate debt in China.

  • Joe. My. God. notes a new Indonesian ban on "effeminate" men from television.

  • Language Hat notes German/Polish ethnolinguistic tensions in late medieval Poland.

  • The Map Room Blog shares a link to posters of the New York subway.

  • The Planetary Society Blog introduces readers to the new Lightsail 2 cubesat.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at the terrible housing shortage in the coastal United States, especially the most desirable areas of said.

  • Torontoist notes York University's construction of new dorms.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that the continuation of Western sanctions against Russia depends on Ukraine's continued reforms.

  • Arnold Zwicky takes issue with Wordpress' categorization system, from a linguistic perspective.

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  • blogTO answers the question of why Toronto has "Lower" streets.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes how exoplanets can lose their exomoons if they orbit too closely.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes differences in American and Chinese rhetoric about nuclear weapons.
  • Geocurrents looks at Chavacano, a rare Spanish-based creole language in the Philippines.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the problems of unionization in the South, concentrating on non-white minorities in a region where state governments are dominated by white supremacists of one kind or another.

  • Personal Reflections considers visual language.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer wonders what, if the Democratic Party candidate loses the 2016 American president election, the postmortem would look like.

  • Spacing Toronto examines the downtown Toronto micronation known as the Republic of Rathnelly, created in the centennial year of 1967.

  • Torontoist notes Glad Day's donation of hundreds of books to Toronto's new LGBTQ youth shelter, while Towleroad notes how the hom of an anti-gay church in New York City's Harlem can be made into a similar one.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia will be found culpable in The Hague for ethnic cleansing of Georgians in 2008, and notes Putin's misrepresentation of historic demographics in Ukraine.

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At Open Democracy, Arzu Geybulla notes how all opposition in Azerbaijan, and to Azerbaijan, is being traced to the "Armenian lobby". In this environment, no dissent is possible.

Conspiracy theories are no stranger to resourceful leaders. They can consolidate political power, cultivate the image of an external enemy and reduce their responsibility for the nation's ills. And in the ex-Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, conspiracy theories help keep incumbent president Ilham Aliyev in power.

According to these conspiracies, Azerbaijan has two main enemies: the Armenian lobby and the jealous west. As the former is often said to finance the latter, these two enemies become one: an omnipresent and all-powerful ‘Armenian lobby’. This powerful structure has become a commonly used weapon in the hands of the authoritarian leadership of Azerbaijan to crack down on dissent. By referring to all of its critics both at home and abroad as Armenian, pro-Armenian, and representing Armenian interests, the authorities have created a quick conspiracy formula for muzzling independent voices by labelling them as traitors.

In Azerbaijan, Armenia wasn’t always used as a political tool—at least, not as much as today. Between 1988 and 1994, the two countries fought a bitter war over the mountainous area of Nagorno Karabakh. The ceasefire that ended the conflict in 1994 failed to maintain a buffer zone.

Casualties on the front line continue to this day, and the failure to reach an agreement between the two states to this day leaves the territory administered as an unrecognised state under Armenian protection. Thousands of civilians have been displaced. Warlike rhetoric has significantly increased over the years and, these days, it is the rubber stamped government policy in both Armenia and Azerbaijan.
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  • blogTO looks at Toronto's north/south-divided streets.

  • The Dragon's Gaze suggests that there might be lightning in protoplanetary disks.

  • The Dragon's Tales considers way to make gasoline a biofuel.

  • Far Outliers notes the breakdown of interethnic relations in the late Soviet South Caucasus into war.

  • Joe. My. God. let George Takei explain why he stayed in the closet.

  • Language Hat likes the poetry of Pasternak.

  • Language Log notes a bizarre clip from 1930s New York City featuring a boy scout speaking Cantonese.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting that economists overlooked the rise of the 1% because of sampling issues and argues that power couples worsen economic inequality.

  • Cheri Lucas Rowlands shares photos from Paris in December.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes unhelpful reactions to the decline of Russian as a language of wider communication.

  • Window on Eurasia notes turbulence in the Russian Orthodox Church (1, 2) and suggests the Donbas is likely to evolve into a second Chechnya.

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Language Hat highlighted a Far Outliers note about the demographics of the capital cities of the independent South Caucasus, after Thomas de Waal.

The three main capital cities of the region have their own distinct histories. A century ago, neither Tbilisi (Tiflis), Baku, nor Yerevan had a majority population of Georgians, Azerbaijanis, or Armenians, respectively. Tbilisi can lay claim to being the capital of the Caucasus, but its Georgian character has been much more intermittent. For five hundred years it was an Arab town, while the older city of Mtskheta was the old Georgian capital. Then, in the medieval period, the city was taken over by the Armenian merchant class. They were the biggest community in the nineteenth century and finally left en masse only in the 1960s. Famous Tbilisi Armenians have included the world chess champion Tigran Petrosian and the filmmaker Sergei Parajanov. Baku became a cosmopolitan city with many different ethnic groups from the late nineteenth century. Russian became its lingua franca. Garry Kasparov, the Jewish Armenian world chess champion, who was born in Baku but is unable to return there because of his Armenian roots, describes his nationality as “Bakuvian” (Bakinets in Russian). Baku only turned into a strongly Azerbaijani city with the end of the Soviet Union, the Nagorny Karabakh war, and the mass emigration of other national groups.

By contrast, up until the First World War, Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, had a Persian flavor and a Muslim majority population. Its major landmark was a blue-tiled mosque, and there was no big church. Von Haxthausen wrote, “In Tiflis, Europe and Asia may be said to meet, and the town has a divided aspect; but Erivan is a purely Asiatic city: everything is Oriental, except a few newly-built Russian houses, and occasionally Russian uniforms in the streets.” More Armenians lived in Tiflis, Baku, Shusha, and Van. Yerevan became an Armenian city only after the mass flight of Armenians from the Ottoman Empire and of Azerbaijanis from eastern Armenia in 1915–18.
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  • blogTO notes the plans to build a large park under the western Gardiner.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at Pluto.

  • The Dragon's Tales goes to Syria.

  • Far Outliers reports from a despairing Siberian village.

  • Geocurrents notes that most Moravians live in Tanzania.

  • Joe. My. God. notes Ireland's marriage laws have gone into effect.

  • Language Log looks at the spread of the shawm, a musical instrument, across Asia.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes David Frum's proposal to ethnically cleanse Muslims from Europe.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer considers the prospects for a widened French war in Syria, noting that despite the popularity of intervention France cannot do much more.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy is critical of the European Union's policy requiring the labeling of goods made in the West Bank.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the growth of barriers hindering the departure of Russians and looks at Stalin's rivalry with Hitler in the Balkans and elsewhere.

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  • blogTO looks at atypically-named TTC subway stations, the ones named not after streets.

  • Centauri Dreams examines the protoplanetary disk of AU Microscopii.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks at China's nuclear submarine issues.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog examines the intersections between game theory and water shortages.

  • Far Outliers notes the travails of Buddhism in Buryatia and the decline of Russia's Old Believers.

  • Geocurrents looks at rural-urban--potentially ethnic--divides in Catalonia.

  • Savage Minds examines controversies over tantra in contemporary Tibetan Buddhism.

  • Torontoist notes that the TCHC is only now investing in energy-saving repairs.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests contemporary Syria could have been Ukraine had Yanukovich been stronger, notes Belarusian opposition to a Russian military base, and notes discontent among Russia's largely Sunni Muslims with the alliance with Iran and Syria.

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Aykan Erdemir reports.

A belated commemoration — 60 years late, in fact — was held on September 6 at Istanbul’s Panagia Greek Orthodox Church. It was in memory of the victims of the 1955 pogrom targeting the Polites, short for Konstantinoupolites, namely the Greeks of Istanbul.

This was the first divine liturgy-cum-memorial service ever to remember what’s known in Turkey as “the events of September 6 and 7.” In what some refer to as the “Kristallnacht in Constantinople,” 71 churches, 41 schools, eight newspapers, more than 4,000 stores and 2,000 residences were looted or destroyed overnight. The human toll and suffering were even more catastrophic, with more than 30 dead, 300 injured and 400 raped. As one Greek Orthodox community leader recently argued, the greatest damage of the pogrom was to the ideal of equal citizenship in Turkey, not only for the Polites but also for the country’s other non-Muslim minorities.

The 1955 pogrom was not a clash of civilizations pitting Muslims against Christians. On the contrary, amid rising Turkish-Greek tension over the future status of the then British colony of Cyprus, the riots were carefully planned by the Turkish government to cleanse Istanbul of the approximately 100,000 Polites, who were excluded from the Turkish-Greek population exchange of 1923-24. Chauvinist thugs, as history has repeatedly demonstrated, happen to be an imperfect tool for social engineering. As one assailant told a Greek Orthodox victim of the 1955 pogrom, the thugs had permission “not to kill but only to break things.” By the time martial law and curfew were declared in Istanbul the next day, however, the death toll exceeded 30. Of the stores looted by the out-of-control mobs, only 59 percent belonged to the targeted Polites, with the remaining establishments belonging to the Armenians and Jews.
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Transitions Online hosts an article by one Antonela Riha looking at how the Serbian mass media chose not to cover the massacres following the fall of Srebrenica, and why.

[B]y merely browsing the most influential dailies and weeklies, such as Politika, Vecernje Novosti, Politika Ekspres, Nasa Borba, NIN, Vreme, Duga, and Intervju, as well as news programs (Dnevnik) produced by TV Belgrade, it becomes clear that the majority of media in Serbia did not pose any questions or investigate the events in the war regions. For them, Srebrenica was merely another episode of the war in which victims were taken for granted and were no longer counted.

Serbian public broadcaster RTS took literally what Milosevic said about being interested only in achieving a “just peace” and having nothing to do with the Serbs across the Drina River. The most popular TV show of the most powerful media house, TV Belgrade Evening News at 7:30 (Dnevnik), did not include a single video from Srebrenica or any other war zone until 30 July.

On 11 July 11, TV Belgrade commenced its news program with a report on the visit of Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic to some harvesters. It was only on the following day that TV Belgrade viewers would learn that something was going on some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Serbian border: in the 11th minute of the news they could hear Yasushi Akashi, special UN envoy to Bosnia and Herzegovina, saying the UN was not going to intervene in Srebrenica, and UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali saying UN peacekeepers were not going to retreat from Bosnia.

For days, several minute-long packages were broadcast in the middle of the news, with international officials announcing various peace solutions and a conference of the major outside powers leading the negotiations, with images of EU envoy Carl Bildt, Akashi, and another UN envoy, Thorvald Stoltenberg, sharing the settee with Milosevic. There were no sound bites from any of the players, with only statements being read to viewers.

Nor was there a single statement from or footage of a Bosnian Serb official, either soldier or civilian. The only frame showing Srebrenica that was broadcast during those 20 days was a video playing in the background of a TV comment by Tatjana Lenard on 23 July that featured the landscape of the town and UN vehicles, which could have been filmed at any time.
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I blog at Demography Matters about the upcoming ethnic cleansing of people of Haitian ancestry from the Dominican Republic.
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  • blogTO notes the bizarre Evan Solomon scandal at CBC.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on the nascent planetary system of HD 169142, which includes a Nemesis-class exoplanet distant from its star.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to a paper suggesting that the very young Titan had a much denser atmosphere.

  • Far Outliers notes that as late as the 1830s, New Mexico was arguably a Comanche dependency as much as it was a Mexican territory.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes how political strategists who call on the Democratic Party to reach out to southern whites are missing much.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that India's cities, unlike China's, are not that significantly more productive than rural areas.

  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the apparent appearance of a groove on the latest Pluto pictures.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer explains the Mexican midterm elections.

  • Spacing links to a fascinating review of the politics and construction of museums in China.

  • Window on Eurasia is skeptical about the viability of Russian imperial nationalism and suggests that Russia's past expansions, if they are to be durable, rely on ethnic cleansing.

  • Zero Geography looks at the wages of digital workers worldwide and finds noteworthy patterns.

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More, via Al Jazeera America's Betsy Kulman, on the plight of Bhutanese refugees in the United States. I fully expect similar psychological issues among Bhutanese refugees elsewhere in the world, including in Canada.

[Som] Subedi is one of almost 76,000 Bhutanese refugees who have come to the U.S. since 2008. He’s now a naturalized American citizen, who helps Bhutanese refugees adjust from life in a refugee camp to life in Portland, Ore.

Suicide is not usually associated with Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan nation of legendary beauty that measures its success in gross national happiness. But Subedi and the other Bhutanese refugees are not technically Bhutanese, according to the country’s government. Known as Lhotsampas, their ancestors migrated to Bhutan from Nepal in the 17th century. And in the 1990s, more than 100,000 of them – one-sixth of the country’s population – were trucked out of Bhutan as part of its “one-nation-one people” policy, effectively an exercise in ethnic cleansing. They’re now one of America’s fastest-growing refugee populations.

They’re also committing suicide at a rate higher than any other refugee group in America, according to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. For every 100,000 Bhutanese refugees, 24.4 commit suicide, almost double the rate of 12.4 for the general population. Twenty-one percent of Bhutanese in America are also depressed, nearly three times the national rate. According to the Wall Street Journal, since November 2013, there have been seven known cases of Bhutanese refugees taking their own lives.

“It’s an epidemic,” Subedi said.

The suicide rate in the camps in Nepal is similar to the rate among resettled Bhutanese in America, according to the CDC. But Subedi believes the promise of the American dream is part of what’s killing his people. Many are excited to leave the Nepalese camps, where a generation of children have been born and raised in legal limbo with “no hope,” “no future” and “no identity,” said Subedi. But he said many Bhutanese refugees arrive in America believing there’s “money in the streets,” and instead end up isolated, unemployed and in debt.


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