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3 Quarks Daily
80 Beats (Andrew Moseman, Brett Israel)
A BCer in Toronto (Jeff Jedras)
Acts of Minor Treason (Andrew Barton)
Andart (Anders Sandberg)
Alpha Sources (Claus Vistesen)
Amitai Etzioni Notes (Amitai Etzioni)
Amused Cynicism (Phil Hunt)
'Aqoul (The Lounsbury, Eerie and Matthew Hogan)
Arctic Progress (Anatoly Karlin)
Aufbau Ost (Melanie K.)
Bad Astronomy (Phil Plait)
BAGnewsNotes (Alan Chin, Nina Berman, and John Lucaites)
Bear Left
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BlueJacket 1862
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Bow. James Bow.
Broadsides (Antonia Zerbisias)
Burgh Diaspora (Jim Russell)
A (Budding) Sociologist's Commonplace Book (Dan Hirschman)
Gerry Canavan's blog
Castrovalva (Richard R.)
Centauri Dreams (Paul Gilster)
Charlie's Diary (Charlie Stross)
City of Brass (Aziz Poonawalla)
Crooked Timber
Crossing Toronto (Nick Merzetti)
.:czalex:. (czalex)
[daily dose of imagery] (Sam Javanrouh)
Daniel Drezner
The Dragon's Tales (William Baird)
Draxblog III (Dragan Antulov)
The Early Days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod)
Eastern Approaches (Economist blog)
Economic Woman (Allison Martell)
Francesca Elston
Emergent Urbanism (Mathieu Helie)
English Eclectic (Paul Halsall)
Eszter's Blog (Eszter Hargittai)
Everyday Sociology Blog
Extraordinary Observations (Rob Pitingolo)
False Positives (Ian Irving)
Far Outliers (Joel)
A Fistful of Euros
t h e FORVM
Future Babble (Dan Gardner)
Neil Gaiman's Journal Gay Guy, Straight Guy
Gene Expression (Razib et al)
GeoCurrentsEvents (Martin Lewis and Asya Pereltsvaig)
Global Sociology
The Glory of Carniola (Michael Manske)
Dan Goodman's journal
Grumpy Academic
Halfway Down the Danube (Douglas Muir et al.)
The Head Heeb (Jonathan Edelstein)
Hobson's Choice (James R. MacLean)
How to learn Swedish in 1000 difficult lessons (Francis Strand)
Hunting Monsters and inuit bikini scarlet carwash
Infinite Recursion (Stephen Degrace)
Inkless Wells (Paul Wells)
Intuitionistically Uncertain (Michel)
The Invisible College (Nicholas Li, Richard Norman, Otto Spijkers and Jason Strother)
Itching for Eestimaa (Guistino)
Ivor Tossell on the Web
Jim's Occasional Journal of Sorts (Jim Rittenhouse)
Joe.My.God (Joe)
Johnny Pez's blog
Karl Schroeder's blog
Keep Your Coils Clean (Patrick Banks)
Kieran Healy's Weblog
La Grande Anse (Yuri Dieujuste)
Language Hat
Language Log (Mark Liberman et al.)
Larkvi.com weblog (Sean Winslow)
law21.ca (Jordan Furlong)
Lawyers, Guns, and Money
The Long Game (Matt Warren
The Long View (John J. Reilly)
Lost & Found (Erin Gallé)
Love and Fiction (Clifford)
The Map Room (Jonathan Crowe
Marginal Revolution (Tyler Cowen)
Marginalia (Peteris Cedrins)
Mark MacKinnon's blog
Mark Simpson
mathewingram.com/work (Mathew Ingram)
Maximos' Blog (Russell Darnley)
Michael's Bloor-Lansdowne Blog
Michael in Norfolk: Coming Out in Mid Life More Words, Deeper Hole (James Nicoll)
murderingmouth (Mark Kratt)
Networks, Complexity, and Relatedness (Patti Anklam)
The Naked Anthropologist (Laura Agustín)
New APPS blog (group blog)
Nissology PEI (Hans Connor)
No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) (Peter Watts)
Normblog (Norman Geras)
The Numerati (Stephen Baker
Open the Future (Jamais Cascio)
Otto's Random Thoughts (J. Otto Pohl)
Outsourced (Nick Moles)
The Pagan Prattle (Feòrag)
Passing Strangeness (Paul Drye)
patrickcain.ca (Patrick Cain)
pencilprism (Jen Tse) Personal Reflections (Jim Belshaw)
Photosapience Daily (Jerrold)
Pollotencheg (Ukrainian demography blog)
The Power and the Money (Noel Maurer)
Progressive Download (John Farrell)
Purse Lip, Square Jaw (Anne Galloway)
Quiet Babylon (Tim Maly)
Registan (group blog)
Russian Demographic Live Journal (Ba-ldei Aga)
A Rusty Little Box (Rebecca)
Savage Minds
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The Search (Douglas Todd)
Sharp Blue (Richard Baker)
Siberian Light (Andy Young)
The Signal
Slap Upside the Head (Mark)
Some Ramblings from Mr. Gueguen
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Michael Steeleworthy
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Strange Maps
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Supernova Condensate
Tall Penguin
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Technosociology(Zeynep Tufekci)
The Tin Man (Jeff)
Towleroad (Andy Towle)
The Undercover Economist (Tim Harford)
Understanding Society (Daniel Little)
Volokh Conspiracy
A Voyage to Arcturus (Jay Manifold)
Wasatch Economics (Scott Peterson)
Wave Without A Shore (C.J. Cherryh)
The Way the Future Blogs (Frederik Pohl)
Weird is Relative (Zarq)
Whatever (John Scalzi)
Window on Eurasia (Paul Goble)
Wis(s)e Words (Martin Wisse)
Words & Pictures (Mark Dandridge)
The Yorkshire Ranter (Alex Harrowell)
The Zeds (Michael Steeleworthy)
Zero Geography (Mark Graham)

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Thursday, October 1st, 2015
5:54 pm - [LINK] "Scientists Tantalized as Dawn Yields Global Mineral and Topographic Maps of Ceres"
Universe Today's Ken Kremer describes the progress made by Dawn in mapping dwarf planet Ceres. I am very fond of mapping celestial bodies, myself.

Slowly but surely the mysteries of dwarf planet Ceres are being peeled back layer by layer as NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbits lower and lower and gathers detailed measurements that have now yielded global mineral and topographic maps, tantalizing researchers with the best resolution ever.

The Dawn science team has been painstakingly stitching together the spectral and imaging products captured from the lowest orbit yet achieved into high resolution global maps of Ceres, released today Sept. 30, by NASA.

“Ceres continues to amaze, yet puzzle us, as we examine our multitude of images, spectra and now energetic particle bursts,” said Chris Russell, Dawn principal investigator at the University of California, Los Angeles, in a statement.

The color coded map above is providing researchers with valuable insights into the mineral composition of Ceres surface, as well as the relative ages of the surface features that were a near total mystery until Dawn arrived on March 6, 2015.

The false-color mineral map view combines images taken using infrared (920 nanometers), red (750 nanometers) and blue (440 nanometers) spectral filters.

More, including maps, at the site.

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5:52 pm - [LINK] "The Rise & Fall of Monosexuality"
I would be intensely curious as to what you think of Mark Simpson's essay.

‘There is no middle ground – you are either het­ero­sexual or homosexual.’

Until quite recently, this state­ment was regarded as com­mon sense. More than this, it was a kind of widely-shared art­icle of quasi reli­gious faith, as pre­script­ive as it was descript­ive. An Eleventh Commandment.

Heterosexuality was the default, nor­mal, right, set­ting and any­thing that strayed from that was homo­sexu­al­ity. That is to say: sin­ful, wrong, ill, odd, hil­ari­ous, niche.

This het­ero­centric, essen­tially mono­sexual world-view was not just con­ven­tional wis­dom for many straight people. It was also shared by sur­pris­ingly large num­ber of (usu­ally older) gay people, who some­times regard bisexu­al­ity as a kind of heresy, or at least a cop out. What’s not straight must be gay, oth­er­wise you’re just kid­ding your­self and let­ting the side down.

But com­mon sense can change. And art­icles of reli­gious faith can fall. There has been a revolu­tion in atti­tudes in recent years that has shaken sexual cer­tain­ties to the core. Compulsory het­ero­sexu­al­ity, and the idea that any ‘devi­ation’ from it is homo­sexual, is no longer so com­puls­ory. People have lost their faith in monosexuality.

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5:50 pm - [LINK] "Saudi-Iran Spat Grows as Arms Intercept Follows Hajj Crush"
Bloomberg's Alaa Shahine and Glen Carey report on the intensification of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry.

The confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalated on Wednesday, as the kingdom said it foiled an Iranian arms shipment to Yemeni rebels and the Islamic Republic again hit out over last week’s fatal Hajj stampede in Mecca.

The Saudi-led military coalition said it seized an Iranian boat carrying weapons bound for Yemen. The boat was held in the Arabian Sea with a cargo that included anti-tank weapons as well as missile launchers, the coalition said in a statement. There was no comment from Iranian officials.

Hours later, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continued Iran’s attacks on Saudi Arabia over its handling of the stampede near the holy city of Mecca, in which hundreds of pilgrims were killed. Failure to return the bodies of Iranian victims, he said, would be met with a “tough and severe” response from his country.

The two nations are on the opposite ends of some of the Middle East’s bloodiest conflicts from Syria to Yemen. The confrontation between Shiite power Iran and Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia dims hopes that Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers sealed in July could help resolve other crises.

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5:48 pm - [LINK] "Trial of Ukrainian pilot accused of murdering Russian journalists begins"
The Guardian's Alex Luhn reports from Russia about what seems to be a Russian show trial of a Ukrainian pilot.

The murder trial of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko has begun despite international condemnation and accusations that the charges have been fabricated for political purposes.

Savchenko – the best known Ukrainian citizen currently being held in Russia – is accused of directing artillery fire that killed two Russian journalists, Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin, during fighting in eastern Ukraine. She faces 25 years in prison on charges of murder, attempted murder and illegally crossing the border.

Savchenko and some western countries have said she should be considered a prisoner of war. The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe approved Savchenko as a member of the Ukrainian delegation in January, a position that entitles her to international immunity from prosecution.

Prosecutors at the trial in Donetsk in the Rostov region of Russia said on Tuesday that Savchenko, the first female military pilot in post-Soviet Ukraine, was working as a spotter for Ukrainian forces near Luhansk in June 2014. Motivated by “hatred and hostility towards … the civilian population of Luhansk region”, they said she called in an artillery strike on a rebel checkpoint where civilians and journalists were present. Investigators have claimed she was later detained after she crossed into Russia as a refugee without documents.

Savchenko has denied the charges and said she was captured by rebels in June 2014 and handed over to Russian authorities. Dressed in a Ukrainian folk costume and looking healthier than after her 80-day hunger strike earlier this year, Savchenko told the court that her case had been fabricated by the investigative committee.

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5:46 pm - [LINK] "What is Putin thinking? How Russia could shake up Syria crisis."
Christian Science Monitor staff writer Peter Grier describes the profound uncertainty regarding Russia's intervention in Syria.

Russian airstrikes are expected to turn up the dial of Syria’s civil conflict, intensifying the chaos that has uprooted millions and split the nation into warring cantons, while complicating Washington’s efforts to find a political solution. The possibility of United States and Russian warplanes operating for different purposes in the same space is similarly unsettling.

And at the moment, there doesn’t appear to be much the Obama administration can do. The US strategy of building a force of moderate Syrian rebel fighters has flopped, and Russia has real national interests in Syria – including a naval base.

US policy appears to have created an opening for Russia to intervene in Syria, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has strutted through it.

The question is whether Putin has a vision of what’s supposed to happen next, or whether he’s winging it. In the answer to that question could come a stinging rebuke to Russian adventurism or an American reappraisal of its own strategy.

But for now, Russia’s endgame is not at all clear.

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5:43 pm - [LINK] "On Twitter, Bernie Sanders’s supporters are becoming one of his biggest problems"
Terrell Jermaine Starr describes in the Washington Post the decidedly unhelpful ways in which some Bernie Sanders supporters on social media are behaving--shall we say--non-constructively with people concerned about his record on racial issues.

Earlier this month, I announced on Twitter that I planned to report on the disconnect between Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and black voters. Immediately, some of Sanders’s self-described supporters raided my mentions with patronizing tweets.

Over the past few months, Sanders’s predominately white backers have used Twitter to target any black activist or journalist who dares question the candidate’s civil rights record. The battle reveals a long, simmering racial divide in the progressive movement that continues to go unacknowledged. If Sanders wants to win black voters, he’ll need to address it.

A series of Gallup polls this summer found that Sanders has a +13 favorability rating among African Americans, compared with Hillary Clinton’s +68 favorability rating. There are many reasons for Sanders’s poor polling with African American voters: his unknown name, the limited diversity of his home state, his shaky response to interactions with Black Lives Matter protesters. But the social media battles have shown that Sanders’s supporters also have become a major hurdle for the candidate in building a positive image with the black electorate.

The online clashes between some of Sanders’s white supporters and black voters came to a head after protesters interrupted the senator’s speech at Netroots Nation in July, demanding he speak candidly about police brutality. His defenders took their anger to the Web, with condescending blog posts and combative tweets that have continued unabated since[.]

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11:42 am - [PHOTO] Dufferin Gate Loop, 11:16 pm
Dufferin Loop, 11:16 pm #toronto #dufferinstreet #night #dufferinloop #ttc

I snapped this nighttime picture of the Dufferin Gate Loop, southern terminus of the 29 Dufferin route, while about to return from my failed attempt to see the lunar eclipse.

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Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
11:54 pm - [DM] "On Population Matters, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the United Kingdom"
At Demography Matters, I address the hostility of the British charity Population Matters to the idea of resettling Syrian refugees in the United Kingdom. I find the critics rather more believable than the charity itself.

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11:10 pm - [REVIEW] Melissa Scott, Proud Helios
As I mentioned before, starting in the late 1980s and continuing into the mid-1990s, I bought Star Trek tie-in novels consistently. I bought only the tie-in novels of shows actively running. I stopped buying Star Trek: The Next Generation novels at #37 or so, while with Deep Space Nine I never got past #10. Proud Helios, #9, may in fact have been the last one that I bought. It was not a bad place to stop: high points rarely are.

Melissa Scott's Star Trek novel, as noted on its Wikipedia page, is a novel about space pirates.

When asked why she wanted to write a Star Trek novel, Scott commented, "Partly, I think, it's the simple fact that when you encounter a world and characters that you enjoy, you want to be a part of it, too. In a TV series, that temptation is particularly strong, because, after all, it is a series. There are people out there who contribute the stories, create the world, and there's always the possibility that you can become one of them. In my case, because I came to Trek from the Blish novelizations, and was acutely conscious of how the written versions compared to the actual episodes, the idea of writing not screenplays but novels was very appealing. Plus, of course, I'm a better novelist than I am a screenwriter!"

Scott remembers how she got the assignment to write Proud Helios. "John Ordover approached me, knowing I was a Trek fan as well as an established SF writer in my own right, and asked if I'd be interested in doing a book in the DS9 universe. I really liked the series, particularly the constraints of keeping the show to the single station (this was early in the show's evolution), so I jumped at the chance. I asked if he had any guidelines, any stories he particularly wanted to see, or any he didn't, and he said, no, not really, he'd leave that up to me. So I went home, mulled it over and came up with the proposal that became Proud Helios. I sent it to John, who called me back almost at once, laughing. He'd promised himself that he wouldn't do any stories with space pirates--- and here I'd sent him one he wanted to use[."]

Re-reading the used copy I bought here in Toronto, Proud Helios still stands out as a good novel. Set in the third season as the pirate ship Helios ventures desperately from Cardassian space towards the Bajoran wormhole, this is a fast-moving and well-written novel, with believable antagonists and many nice little character moments that shows Scott understood the show's characters nicely. There felt like things were at risk, always an achievement in tie-in novels contemporary with the show. I also looked coming across the notes of queerness in the novel, particularly the smuggler couple Tama and Möhrlein.

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7:49 pm - [BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • At Antipope, Charlie Stross starts a discussion about the consequences of satellites getting knocked down. How would a newly satellite-less world cope?

  • Centauri Dreams looks at red dwarfs and the challenges of their potentially habitable exoplanets.

  • The Dragon's Gaze considers ways to detect the spectral signatures of rocky impacts on young stars.

  • The Dragon's Tales considers why nuking Mars in the aim of terraforming will not work.

  • Language Hat considers languages with royal and commoner registers.

  • Languages of the World starts a consideration of the links between genes and history and language.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the popularity of Planned Parenthood.

  • Marginal Revolution thinks the added pollution from the Volkswagen fraud had a trivial negative effect.

  • pollotenchegg maps Russian language use in 1926 Ukraine.

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6:06 pm - [WRITING] "Sometimes amateur writers need a professional opinion"
The Globe and Mail's Kate Taylor had an essay on writing that I've been paying attention to lately.

Urjo Kareda, the artistic director at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre from 1982 until his death in 2001, was famous for many things. One of them was his commitment to reading every offering that every aspiring playwright ever sent his theatre. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, he read as many as 500 unsolicited scripts a year.

He responded to the writers, too, delivering honest assessments of their scripts in what could be notoriously sharp-worded letters. Kareda had previously worked as theatre critic at the Toronto Star and clearly didn’t believe in mollycoddling dramatists – or deceiving would-be dramatists as to their chances.

His reading probably didn’t uncover any hidden gems; the various new play development programs he established at Tarragon were surely far more important to the theatre’s artistic success. But if Kareda’s approach to unsolicited material was inefficient, it was also admirable. It suggested a commitment to the idea of playwriting and to the community of playwrights that extended far beyond the needs of his individual company; it suggested he felt it was his duty, as a salaried cultural arbiter, to acknowledge all those unpaid aspirants in need of cultural arbitration.

When HarperCollins announced recently that it would close its website Authonomy Sept. 30, I didn’t mourn the forum to which writers could post unpublished manuscripts for peer review; instead, I mourned the professional spirit of Urjo Kareda. A handful of published, bestselling authors whose work was first discovered on Authonomy are apparently deeply saddened by its demise, but the site sounds as though it was mainly a way to get the slush pile to read the slush pile. Self-publishing, print-on-demand and the fan-fiction phenomenon have eroded the distinction between amateurs and professionals in the literary industries, but every so often you get a small reminder that sometimes you need to send in a pro.

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6:04 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Coun. John Filion's Rob Ford book to hit shelves in October"
CBC shares the news from the Canadian Press.

The antics of Coun. Rob Ford have inspired yet another book — this time written by a fellow city councillor.

Random House Canada says John Filion's The Only Average Guy: Inside the Uncommon World of Rob Ford will examine "what drives him, why he acts the way he does, what's important to him."

Filion was a journalist before entering municipal politics, and Random House says he developed an unlikely camaraderie with the wildly unpredictable councillor from Etobicoke, Ont.

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6:02 pm - [LINK] "What Content Bubble? Business Insider Scores Huge Sale"
Wired's Julia Greenberg describes the online journalism boom.

The eight-year-old media startup was acquired today by German publishing giant Axel Springer. The deal values Business Insider at $442 million, almost $200 million more than what The Washington Post sold for in 2013 and well above the $315 million AOL paid to acquire The Huffington Post in 2011. In the current frothy market for content, BI’s deal feels like one of the bubbliest yet.

Axel Springer will pay $343 million to acquire 88 percent of the company; it already owns a 9 percent stake. Jeff Bezos’ personal investment company Bezos Expeditions will hold the remaining shares. Henry Blodget, the co-founder, editor-in-chief, and chief executive of Business Insider, will remain at its helm.

The sale price may sound high, but Axel Springer, one of the biggest media companies in Europe, seems to be looking to the future. The company is the owner of German newspapers Bild and Die Welt; the acquisition illustrates the more traditional conglomerate’s desire to expand its influence in online news. The company has also invested in digital news startups Mic, Ozy, and NowThis Media as well as Politico’s European branch. It has also backed virtual reality startup Jaunt and news reader app Pocket.

“Combining our forces will allow us to unlock growth potential and expand Business Insider’s portfolio to new verticals, new locations and new digital content,” Axel Springer chief executive Mathias Döpfner said in a statement.

Axel Springer is not the only traditional media company that has been aggressively looking at—and investing in—more nimble digital upstarts that appeal to a younger audience. American media giant NBCUniversal has invested millions in BuzzFeed and Vox Media, while Hearst has funded Complex, Refinery 29, and BuzzFeed.

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6:00 pm - [LINK] "Iran Seeks $150 Billion to Target 8 Percent Annual Growth"
Bloomberg's Kambiz Foroohar notes Iranian aspirations for booming post-sanctions growth.

Iran needs $150 billion of investment to reach 8 percent growth a year and lower youth unemployment, President Hassan Rouhani said in an address to Iranian-Americans in New York on Saturday.

Last year, Iran created 700,000 new jobs, short of the 800,000 needed for new entrants to the job market, said Rouhani, who is in New York to address the United Nations General Assembly. He was appealing to the Iranian diaspora for greater involvement in the country.

Iran and six world powers reached an historic agreement on July 14 in Vienna to curb Iranian nuclear ambitions in exchange for the easing of international sanctions. The accord survived a 60-day review by the U.S. Congress and is now being examined by the Iranian parliament.

In another part of his speech, Rouhani said Iran offered stability in a region that had witnessed wars, revolutions and natural disaster.

“In the past we used to export oil; now we export security,” Rouhani said. “Many countries in the region look to Iran’s help to defeat terrorists.”

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5:59 pm - [LINK] "India, Bangladesh to Swap Land in End to Decades-Old Border Spat"
Bloomberg reports on the much-needed rectification of the India-Bangladesh border.

At midnight, India and Bangladesh will swap pockets of territory strewn along their 4,100-kilometer frontier to end one of the world’s biggest border disputes.

Residents of the border enclaves have lived stateless for 68 years, an anomaly dating back to Britain’s hasty partition of the subcontinent. They plan to light 68 candles, release 68 balloons and explode 68 firecrackers to celebrate the settlement, said Habibur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Lalmonirhat, a northern district that borders with India.

“They will become citizens of their choice,” he said by phone from the district. Boundary pillars demarcating the enclaves, known as the British Pillars, will be removed.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina’s administrations had ratified the deal in Dhaka in June to swap 111 Indian enclaves for 51 Bangladeshi ones. Ending the dispute will help boost bilateral trade in the world’s least integrated region.

The enclaves are islets of territory completely encircled by the other nation, sometimes several times over. These include what’s probably the world’s only counter-counter-enclave -- a piece of India inside Bangladeshi territory inside an Indian enclave inside Bangladesh.

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5:56 pm - [LINK] "Diamond Trafficking Fuels Central African Republic Violence"
Ilya Gridneff and Jean-Louis Gondamoyen's Bloomberg article is terribly depressing.

Illicit trafficking of diamonds in the Central African Republic has helped finance a more than two-year conflict, which has flared up again as the fiercest bout of fighting in the capital in a year has left more than 50 people dead, Amnesty International said.

Traders who have bought diamonds worth “several million dollars” failed to investigate if the beneficiaries are armed groups who carry out executions, rape and looting, the London-based rights group said Wednesday in a report. Local companies could soon begin exporting stockpiled gems that may have been mined by child laborers and avoided taxes.

“The international community is not doing what it needs to address what’s happening in CAR,” Lucy Graham, a legal adviser at Amnesty, said by phone.

Bangui has been paralyzed by clashes less than a month before elections meant to restore stability after the ouster of President Francois Bozize by anti-government militias in March 2013, leading to retaliatory attacks. A spike in violence began Sept. 26 after a Muslim man was found killed, sparking a march on the presidential palace that was dispersed, the looting of buildings and a breakout at the central prison.

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5:55 pm - [LINK] "Migrants find a new route to Norway, through the Arctic on bicycles"
The Arctic route described last month by the Associated Press' Matti Huuhtanen is more of a novelty than a common route.

As Europe grapples with record-breaking numbers of migrants, a trickle of asylum seekers from Syria and the Mediterranean region have found an unlikely route: Through Russia to a remote Arctic border post in Norway, partly on bicycles.

Police Chief Inspector Goeran Stenseth said Monday that 151 people have crossed the border this year near the northeastern Norwegian town of Kirkenes, 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) northeast of Oslo.

He said that most of the migrants are from Syria, with some from Turkey and Ukraine, and that they mainly cross in motor vehicles although some have resorted to arriving on bicycles because the Storskog border post is not open to pedestrians, in line with a Norwegian-Russian border agreement.

"There have been about 100 during the past two months, at least 50 in July and looks like August will be much the same," he told The Associated Press. "But the conditions will be bad soon. It's getting colder by the day ... Soon no one will be able to bike, that's for sure."

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5:53 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "To remember the Galleria Mall is not to hate change"
I liked Edward Keenan's Toronto Star article about the Galleria.

My esteemed colleague John Semley recorded a video column for thestar.com this week, pithily taking the vinegar out of “people who lament the passing of so-called ‘vintage Toronto,’” including the “tacky, gaudy neon stretches of Yonge St.,” and the “iconic eyesore Honest Ed’s.” The occasion for his comments was that some of us had been pouring one out and saying a few kind words in anticipation of the likely redevelopment of Galleria Mall, near Dufferin and Dupont.

“Nostalgia is fine and everything, but there’s a certain phoniness in shedding crocodile tears for a halfway rundown strip mall that most of us only went to to smirk about how halfway rundown it is.” Instead, he says “good riddance” and suggests we all need to “embrace newness.”

Now, I can’t be sure Semley is talking about me here. But as perhaps the only mainstream newspaper columnist to have recently written a remembrance of Galleria Mall — and as someone who has written lovingly in the past about Yonge St. neon, Honest Ed’s, and Captain John’s, among other passing eyesores — I figure I might as well make a point of clarification. Because whenever I write about memories of a place to mark a significant change, I get responses from people that are variations of “good riddance”: Why you getting sentimental about that ugly, unloved relic, Keenan? What do you want to do, freeze the city in amber? Save some junky old restaurant or store? Why do you hate change?

The thing is, I love change. I think that the mark of a living, growing city is that it’s constantly evolving, constantly being reinvented, as new generations and new immigrants make their own marks atop the footprints of those who came before.

I just also like noticing change — taking note of things, especially landmarks, that have been an odd or familiar or interesting part of the city as they’re about to disappear. I think of it like a little retrospective slideshow played at a graduation ceremony: we’re moving on to bigger and better things, and we’re happy about that, but we sure had some moments there in that place we’re leaving behind, didn’t we?

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2:13 pm - [URBAN NOTE] Vjosa Isai in the National Post on making Old City Hall a mall and museum
Vjosa Isal's report caught my attention.

In at least five years, visitors at Toronto’s Old City Hall could be greeted not by metal detectors at a security screening checkpoint, but shiny new storefronts. The former city hall building could be transformed into a mall, according to a city staff report.

Toronto’s Government Management Committee is set to consider the report next Monday, which proposes tenant options for the heritage property after provincial and municipal courts clear out by Dec. 31, 2021.

Real estate brokerage firm Avison Young was hired to analyze the space and market, and recommended that plans for the historic building at Bay Street and Queen Street West be implemented within five years “in order to generate and maintain market interest”.

“The results of the analysis concluded that the highest and best use for Old City Hall would be conversion to a retail centre that contains a mix of food service, leisure, event and civic uses,” it said, with part of the space possibly reserved for management and city offices.

The city’s suggested base rental rate is $41 per square foot, not including maintenance and operating costs.

See also Kelly Korducki's Torontoist post.

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10:22 am - [PHOTO] Ephemera of Leningrad, Gadabout Vintage, Toronto
Ephemera of Leningrad #toronto #leslieville #ephemera #leningrad #sovietunion #stpetersburg #russia #cyrillic

Leslieville's Gadabout Vintage ((1300 Queen Street East) has a vast collection of knick-knacks, including this thing, a box with a photo of a statue of Peter and Catherine.

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