- Far Outliers notes how the new Suez Canal helped create a network of coal-using port cities across Eurasia.
- Hornet Stories notes that Serbia's out lesbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic, marched in Belgrade's pride parade.
- Joe. My. God. notes a statement by the Pentagon that transgender troops can still re-enlist for the next few months.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes a fundamentally ill-thought defense of colonialism by Bruce Gilley.
- Marginal Revolutions notes that Swedish support for the far right is linked to perceptions of foreign threats to employment.
- Out There looks at the last days of Cassini at Saturn.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw notes real estate shenanigans in greater Sydney.
- Drew Rowsome has a critical, but positive, review of closeted gay author Frank M. Robinson's autobiography.
- The Volokh Conspiracy sums up the outcome of the controversial monkey selfie copyright case.
- Window on Eurasia suggests that Russian challenges to language legislation in Tatarstan hint at future challenges.
- 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.
- blogTO notes that TTC tunnels will get WiFi in 2018.
- Border Thinking's Laura Augustín shares some of Edvard Munch's brothel paintings.
- Centauri Dreams looks at the latest science on fast radio bursts.
- Dangerous Minds shares some of the sexy covers of Yugoslavian computer magazine Računari.
- Dead Things looks at the latest research into dinosaur eggs.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting that a high surface magnetic field in a red giant star indicates a recent swallowing of a planet.
- Language Log shares an ad for a portable smog mask from China.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money takes issue with the idea of NAFTA being of general benefit to Mexico.
- Torontoist looks at the history of Toronto General Hospital.
- Window on Eurasia is skeptical about an American proposal for Ukraine, and suggests Ossetian reunification within Russia is the next annexation likely to be made by Russia.
- Bad Astronomy reports on the astounding scientific illiteracy of Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci.
- blogTO compiles a list of the best tobagganing hills in Toronto.
- Citizen Science Salon looks at what we can do in the redwood forests.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes a gap in the disk of TW Hydrae.
- Imageo notes that 2016 is the warmest year in the records.
- Joe. My. God. notes that a pride parade protected by police went off in Montenegro.
- Language Hat shares the story of Lazer Lederhendler, a son of Holocaust survivors in Montréal who became one of the leading translators into English of Québec literature.
- Language Log looks at the distant origins of Japanese terms for "dog."
- Marginal Revolution notes the rising popularity of Vladimir Putin on the American right.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at the links between Russia and the "Calexit" movement.
- The Volokh Conspiracy celebrates Saturnalia.
- Window on Eurasia looks at Russia's use of genetics to disentangle the Tatar peoples and argues that the definition of Russians and Ukrainians as fraternal is dangerous to the latter.
- blogTO notes that all TTC streetcars will support Presto by the end of the year.
- Crooked Timber continues its examination of Piketty's thoughts on inequality and social justice.
- The Dragon's Tales reports on German surveillance of Germany's allies.
- Joe. My. God. notes the support of the Pope for the anti-gay marriage movement in Slovenia.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the fundamental economic problems with law school.
- Marginal Revolution notes that genetic testing may be coming to the business floor.
- The Russian Demographics Blog maps population change in Poland over 2002-2011.
- Strange Maps shares a map predicting the liklelihood of white Christmases in the continental United States.
- Torontoist notes the need not to forget non-heterosexual Syrian refugees.
- Window on Eurasia looks at continued Russian emigration from Tuva.
- The Big Picture shares photos from the commemoration in France of the terrorist attacks.
- Centauri Dreams looks, literally, at the atmosphères of hot Jupiters. <
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a report on a model of solar system evolution suggesting the terrestrial planets had to form after Jupiter and Saturn.
- The Dragon's Tales notes one report suggesting a vegetarian diet is worse for the environment.
- Joe. My. God. notes the voting in Slovenia for repealing same-sex marriage has begun.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the peculiar partial transparency of the US-Mexican border.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes the creation of a European border and coast guard.
- Seriously Science reports on a study suggesting straight women would rather get dating advice from gay men than from other women.
- Window on Eurasia suggests the slow-motion disintegration of the Soviet Union is continuing.
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.
At The Balkanist, one Susanna Bitters has a marvelous photo essay examining the unusual but striking monuments to the Second World War built in Yugoslavia.
Remarkable, essays and photos (the author's own) both.
In the Internet age, Partisan monuments, or spomenik, have become as scattered across websites as they have across the Balkans. The presentation of these “space age” marvels depict only their futuresque and crumbling qualities. The bloody memento mori of their origins have become omitted, if they were even known in the first place. The spomenik have effectively receded from the landscape as markers of the Partisan socialist struggle, only to emerge again as beacons of a Brutalist, overreaching, and unrealized future.
At the end of WWII, thousands of spomenik were erected. A majority of them were situated on battle sites, creating a consciously constructed constellation of Partisan struggles across the landscape. They remain scattered across the region, some as simple as a plaque with the names of those killed. You can find them still, tucked onto hilltops and occasionally marked from the road by brown government signs. The early sculptures were representative and, quite frankly, exceedingly dull, telling a careful story in stone and iron. They showed the pores of a postwar world. The subject matter was severe, the construct depressing.
Metal men seemed to sag and fray under the sheer weight of time and death and loss. But when Tito turned from Stalin and cast his gaze on the west, so did the Yugoslavian spomenik. Within the length of the Informbiro Period began the rise of what was later termed “socialist modernism,” in which the horrors of war became an abstraction. The long, laconic, and notionally weary faces looming above the elevated platform at Tjentište, discernible only to the practiced eye. The rapidly shifting sun when ensconced at Kozara, vacillating wildly from dark to light as if to depict the mercurial nature of humanity. The spomenik began to depict not war and conflict, but the struggle for self-determination and the optimistic energy therein.
Remarkable, essays and photos (the author's own) both.
In a photo essay at National Geographic, writer Meghan Collins Sullivan and photographer Ciril Jazbec look at the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on a small unprepared border town in Slovenia.
Rigonce, Slovenia was a quiet, bucolic town on the border with Croatia where farmers tended crops and neighbors greeted each other warmly in the street. That changed last week.
Overnight, the sounds of cows mooing, hens clucking, and tractors turning over the land gave way to the roar of military tanks, the buzz of bullhorns blaring commands in Arabic, and the endless whirring of helicopter blades.
Thousands of migrants—mostly refugees fleeing war and violence in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq—crossed over a bridge from Croatia into the town on their way to Germany and Austria. They had already spent months traveling by boat, train, and foot before reaching this spot. They’re weeks behind a flood of others who had passed through Serbia and Hungary. But when Hungary closed its border with Serbia, these later migrants changed their path, leading them to Rigonce, a town of 176 residents, most of them Catholic. Town officials estimate more than 70,000 migrants have passed through the village.
“This is a catastrophe,” said villager Janja Hribar, 19. “Our cows ran away.”
When they first started to arrive, the migrants streamed down Rigonce’s dusty main street, which is barely wide enough for two cars to pass. It is lined with about 20 houses and a few small gardens of lettuce and cabbage. The migrants discarded trash along the way, leaving the country road littered with plastic bottles, crumpled paper, blankets, and coats. This is a town that’s been a contestant for tidiest village in the county.
- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly describes what it takes to be a professional writer.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering dust in atmospheres.
- The Dragon's Tales notes the study of a medieval Korean star catalogue.
- Language Hat notes a program to translate Mexican writers who write in indigenous languages.
- Steve Munro offers advice on what to do about Smarttrack.
- Marginal Revolution refers readers to Gary Kasparov's new book on politics, criticizing Putin and much else.
- The Planetary Society Blog shares the latest data from Dawn at Ceres.
- Torontoist has a beautiful picture of the Prince Edward Viaduct.
- Towleroad notes a referendum on same-sex marriage in Slovenia.
Fedja Pavlovic at Open Democracy writes about the state of affairs in Montenegro, which includes a crowdfunding campaign against the incumbent.
On 27 September, thousands of Montenegrin citizens, led by the main opposition group (the Democratic Front), gathered in front of their parliament to demand an end to the 26 year rule of Milo Djukanovic’s regime. The resignation of Djukanovic’s government would be followed, it was hoped, by the formation of a transitional, national unity government, whose mandate would be limited to organising the first free and fair elections in the country’s history.
Since then, the protesters have put up tents on a boulevard which has become known as ‘liberated territory’; across the barricades, a thousand policemen in full armor stand guard outside an empty parliament building, on top of which snipers are dispersed. Last Sunday, the Ministry of Interior attempted to disband the assembled crowd, but the protests’ leaders refused to leave the occupied ground until their demands were met.
Anti-Government rallies have also taken place in three other cities – the organisers’ plan is to spread this wave of popular revolt to every municipality in which Djukanovic’s party holds power, thus making the movement nation-wide.
Meanwhile, from our press tent, I have been involved in running an international crowdfunding campaign to support the Montenegrin protests. Without the funds, the logistics or the manpower to mount a credible challenge to Djukanovic, the protests’ organisers have been forced to think outside of the box. Indeed, the prospect of the protests being the first political event of their kind to be sustained by small individual donations (‘citizen-driven and citizen-funded’, as they point out) is as out-of-the-box as it gets.
As partial as I am to this fundraising novelty it appears as though, even at this early stage of development, the protests have brought to the fore a far more pertinent point – one that may contribute to the understanding of the role of elections in authoritarian regimes.
Bloomberg reports on the breakdown in Serbian-Croatian relations over border controls imposed on account of the refugee crisis.
Croatia, an EU member, on Wednesday banned Serb vehicles from entering except those with perishable goods. In retaliation, Serbia blocked imports of Croat products. Croatia also accused Serbia of having directed migrants to its territory since Hungary erected a razor-wire fence to stop the influx. The government in Belgrade rejected the allegation, saying it can’t influence the refugees’ route.
“In order to avoid a further escalation of the new situation Brussels should mediate and civil society organizations in both countries must help,” said Gordana Delic, the director of the Balkan Trust for Democracy. “I believe the situation between Croatia and Serbia has not gone that far yet, that it would be impossible to restore the good neighborly relations”.
Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said his nation “can’t handle such a huge inflow” and urged Serbia to take the “completely reasonable” steps of setting up registration centers and directing some of the refugee toward Hungary.
EU policy chief Federica Mogherini and Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn are in close contact with Zagreb and Belgrade “to try and help them to find a solution together in order to restore trade flows as soon as possible,” Mina Andreeva, a spokeswoman for the 28-nation bloc’s executive, the European Commission, told reporters in Brussels on Thursday. Any trade restrictions must be “proportional, non-discriminatory and limited in time,” she said.
- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly considers what it takes to be a credible journalist.
- Centauri Dreams considers the study of planets orbiting brown dwarfs.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering if Sedna was captured from another star.
- The Dragon's Tales wonders if orbital probes can detect volcanism on Venus.
- A Fistful of Euros' Alex Harrowell points out that the wealthier Africa becomes the larger a source of migrants it will be.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money uses Magic Mike to study the repression of female desire.
- Marginal Revolution reports a study of Scandinavia.
- pollotenchegg maps economic growth over 2004-2014. The east did worse--the Donbas much worse--than the west.
- Spacing Toronto looks at abandoned rail lines and hidden streets in Toronto.
- Window on Eurasia looks at problems in Dagestan, suggests Russian fondness for Soviet symbols without beign aware of Soviet ideology will be a problem, and suggests that the Krajina will be a model for the Donbas republics.
- Centauri Dreams notes how the New Horizons probe is maneuvering into mapping orbits of Ceres.
- Crooked Timber examines the decline of inter-generational mobility and class mobility.
- The Dragon's Gaze reports on Jupiter analog HIP 11915b.
- The Dragon's Tales notes Russian claims in the Arctic and links to a comparison of Chinese and American statements on perceived threats.
- Language Hat reports on a project hoping to map the diffusion of ideas over time.
- Language Log reports on the use of the term "mother" in comparative linguistics.
- Marginal Revolution notes the fragility of Greek foreign trade and examines economic dysfunction in Greece and the former Yugoslavia.
- Registan links to a report of an exile from Kyrgyzstan in Ukraine.
- Window on Eurasia notes how the Russian state has not found Western partners willing to partition Ukraine, unlike Stalin's Soviet Union re: Nazi Germany.
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.
Srdja Pavlović's March Open Democracy essay looks at the continuing internal conflicts in Serbia over the country's orientation.
In an interview for CNN in August 2014, the Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, reiterated that his country "supports and respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and Crimea as a part of Ukraine." He added that at the same time, however, Serbia "did not" impose sanctions against Russia. The Serbian political elite, however, has quickly learned that the time of non-alignment and neutrality belongs to yester-years. Serbia has been reminded time and again by its Western partners of the need to make a choice, and of the fact that the New Cold War reality demands unwavering loyalty. It is also worth noting that Serbia became a member of the Partnership for Peace at the 2006 NATO Summit in Riga.
On the other hand, the government in Moscow is sending a clear message that it does not look benevolently upon Serbia’s EU aspirations. In an interview for the Serbian State Television, the Russian General Leonid Ivashov stated that Serbia in the EU and NATO would be “a catastrophe”. It is reasonable to assume that the pressure from Moscow would only increase over time.
Within the ruling party there seem to be dissonant voices on the issue of choosing between EU and Russia. The President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolić, disagrees with the prime minister about their country’s EU and NATO integration, and favours stronger ties with Russia. Nikolić’s attempt to maintain close relations with Moscow is informed by his understanding of history and the political usability of the memory of the recent confrontation with NATO, as well as the ideology of nationalism to which he wholeheartedly subscribes. He is supported in that by the entire right-wing political block that currently commands the loyalty of a sizable portion of the electorate. President Nikolić is also aided in its pro-Russian stance by the high ranking clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Some analysts, however, interpret his dissent as a tactical maneuver that portrays Prime Minister Vučić as a reform-oriented centrist determined to see Serbia become a part of the EU, and as a politician who is facing stiff opposition. The prime minister, long known as a hot-bloodied nationalist, indeed appears eager to project the image of himself as Serbia’s last chance for salvation and a victim of historical circumstances. Vučić believing in his messianic role notwithstanding, the reality is that criticisms of his policies are few and far between. His standing as the most popular politician in Serbia was built on the perception of his determined fight against deeply rooted corruption even though the results of such struggle are yet to manifest themselves in earnest. Many in Serbia say that Aleksandar Vučić had promised a lot but delivered precious little.
- Centauri Dreams explores Pluto and its worlds.
- Crooked Timber considers the question of how to organize vast quantities of data.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to two papers on exoplanet habitability, noting that the composition of exoplanets influences their habitability and suggests exomoons need to be relatively massive to be habitable.
- Geocurrents notes the inequalities of Chile.
- Joe. My. God. notes an article about New York City gay nightclub The Saint.
- Language Hat links to a site on American English.
- Language Log suggests that the Cantonese language is being squeezed out of education in Hong Kong.
- Languages of the World notes a free online course on language revival.
- Peter Watts of No Moods, Ads, or Cutesy Fucking Icons examines the flaws of a paper on a proto-Borg collective of rats.
- Spacing Toronto looks at the Toronto connection to a notorious late 19th century American serial killer.
- Towleroad notes a study suggesting that people with undetectable levels of HIV can't transmit the virus.
- The Volokh Conspiracy notes the issues of compliance with lawful orders.
- Whatever's John Scalzi likes the ASIS Chromebook flip.
- Window on Eurasia notes the connection between the wars of Yugoslavia and eastern Ukraine, looks at Buryat-Cossack conflict, and notes disabled Russian veterans of the Ukrainian war.
Window on Eurasia summarizes the arguments of a Russian analyst that the friendly Russian-Serbian relationship might break down on account of the Russian state's overly-close relationship with one grouping on the Serbian political spectrum.
Russia and Serbia have a long history of warm and close ties, reflecting their similar situations and especially the propensity of people in each to draw parallels between the Serbian-Croatian wars and the Russian-Ukrainian ones, Kseniya Kirillova says. But despite that, Moscow is on its way to “losing Serbia just as it has already lost Ukraine.”
The reason for that, the US-based Russian analyst says, is that Moscow is overplaying its hand, supporting Serbian nationalists against the Serbian government which has shown itself more than willing to cooperate with Russia but does not want to break all ties with the European Union and the West (ru.krymr.com/content/article/27123352.
[. . .] “It is important to understand,” the Russian analyst says, “that Russia lost Ukraine not after the victory of the Euro-Maidan but only when it began a war against it.” Prior to that, Ukraine did not view Russia as an enemy the way it does now.
Moscow’s “all or nothing” attitude led it to invade Ukraine and it is leading it to back Serbian nationalists against the Serbian government. “The Serbian radicals promise a complete break with the EU, unqualified recognition of the annexation of Crimea and ‘Novorossiya,’ the fullest integration with Russia.”
All these things may be what the Kremlin wants, but they go far beyond what many Serbs do – and that is generating a kind of backlash among them and especially among members of the current government. What such people can see is that its deference to Moscow has only encouraged Moscow to push harder.
Michael Petrou of MacLean's notes the relative success of the Islamic State in finding recruits in Kosovo.
An April report by the Kosovo Center for Security Studies (KCSS) reveals that as of January, some 232 Kosovars have joined Islamist militant groups in Syria and Iraq, a rate of 125 recruits for every one million people living in the country. This is well ahead of Bosnia, which comes in second with 85 recruits per million, and of Belgium, the third-ranked country, with 42 recruits per million.
[. . .]
According to Shpend Kursani, an external research fellow at KCSS and author of the report, most Kosovars still have a positive view of America and NATO. And yet, he says, the majority of Kosovars fighting in the Middle East have joined Islamic State, a militia whose goals include waging war on the West—raising disturbing questions about Islamic State’s ability to penetrate communities that, being broadly secular and pro-Western, would seem to have little reason to support it.
Islamic State’s recruiting success in Kosovo upsets Kosovars who are not sympathetic to the group, or to their fellow citizens who join it. “There’s a sense that people joining Islamic State are betraying in many ways the very nation,” says Florian Bieber, professor of southeast European studies at the University of Graz.
The per capita numbers don’t tell the whole story. Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate from which it split, are Muslim supremacist outfits. Non-Muslims could never join them. When the percentage of recruits is calculated based exclusively on a country’s Muslim population, Kosovo falls lower in rank. It sends about 130 volunteers per one million Muslims in its population—far below several Western European countries, including Finland, which sends some 1,667 recruits per million Muslims, and Belgium, which sends 690.
By this calculation, Kosovo is similar to Bosnia, another Balkan nation with a large Muslim population, which sends 211 recruits for every one million Muslims living there. But Muslim Kosovars are still much more likely to join jihadist groups than Muslims in Albania and Turkey, both Muslim-majority countries. Turkey, which borders Syria and Iraq and is a major transit point for foreign fighters joining Islamic State, sends only eight recruits per million Muslims, barely six per cent of Kosovo’s rate.
The Toronto Star's Jacques Gallant looks in detail at how controversies over church politics and personal behaviour have led to Bishop Georgije Djokic being removed from his position as head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Canada.
The decision came after the gathering listened to accusations for three days, and one day for Djokic’s defence, said Rev. Ljubomir Rajic of All Saints Serbian Orthodox Church in Mississauga.
The allegations against Djokic, head of the church in Canada, have not been made public. Allusions have been made to “indecent behaviour” in Serbian media, which also reported that Djokic denied the allegations.
“The bishop is about 67 years old. He had promised to retire when he reached 65, so probably the best thing he could do is to accept this (decision) and bring peace to the Serbian community by retiring,” said Rajic.
“There’s nothing wrong with retiring at the age of 65. Myself, I can’t wait for that.”
Djokic is reportedly still in Belgrade until the weekend and could not be reached for comment. He retains his title of bishop, according to church officials.