January 4th, 2010

[META] Blogroll Additions

Welcome four more blogs to my blogroll!

  • First is 80 Beats, a group blog based out of Discover magazine's website with a general science theme.

  • Next is Rebecca's A Rusty Little Box, a Tumblr-based blog that contains photos, original art, and assorted notes.

  • Vancouver journalist Douglas Todd's The Search is a penetrating study into religion in the 21st century postmodern world.

  • Finally, there's Michael Steelworthy's blog. A graduate student at Halifax's Dalhousie University, this is a library-heavy blog that also demonstrates some of the applications of library studies.

Go, read!

[LINK] Some Monday links

Here's the blogs roundup post that you didn't get New Year's day morning.

  • 80 Beats' reports the sad news that the Spirit Mars rover may well not escape its sand trap, and that its voyage will be done after six years.

  • Andrew Barton points out that the so-called "ancient" vanished races which feature in science fiction so often are actually quite young, sometimes gone only for thousands of years versus millions or billions.

  • Centauri Dreams writes about using solar sails to decelerate space probes.

  • Daniel Drezner points out that the Aughts were actually a great decade for much of the world, as economic growth and civil society blossomed.

  • At A Fistful of Euros, Edward Hugh wonders if Spain's economy is actually deteriorating while the other economies of the Eurozone are recovering.

  • Gerry Canavan reproduces the now-famous chart mapping health care expenditures onto lifespans, showing the United States as being quite, quite inefficient.

  • Marginal Revolution's Alex Tabarrok considers the flawed economic models that led some economists to predict that the Soviet economy would outstrip the American under Communism.

  • The Pagan Prattle goes over the various predictions of apocalypse made by religious nutters that didn't come true last year.

  • Spacing Toronto's Sean Marshall looks at the Toronto neighbourhood of Agincourt a standalone community that got assimilated over the 20th century.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy's Ilya Somin reviews a book examining the causes behind the Roman Empire's collapse
  • (political instability at the highest levels was key) and Kenneth Anderson writes about what he sees as the Untied States' need to reiterate its right to act against non-state threats.

[DM] "How emigration made Barbados rich"

I've a post up taking a look at a recent series of posts by Noel Maurer at his blog examining how the mass migration of Barbadians to work on the Panama Canal in the first decade of the 20th century helped push the country into the First World by the first decade of the 21st century, with suggestions as to the relevance of Barbados' example to other countries in the century ahead.

[LINK] "Adoptions resume at Toronto Humane Society"

I'm pleased, quite pleased. These animals need, and deserve, homes regardless of--indeed, because of--the Toronto Humane Society's current disarray.

The Toronto Humane Society will resume animal adoptions on Monday, more than a month after it was closed amid allegations of animal cruelty.

"We are excited to be starting adoptions at the River street location that these animals are being given the opportunity to find new, forever homes," said Humane Society spokesman Ian McConachie.

About 100 cats and 25 dogs will be available for adoption when the facility opens. And all adoptions are being cleared by veterinarians and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The OSPCA took over the shelter in November after uncovering alleged cases of animal neglect.

"The process of co-existing with the Toronto Humane Society management has been working really well because we have a common goal - to find these animals their forever homes," said OSPCA senior inspector Kevin Strooband.

Five senior Humane Society officials are facing animal cruelty charges. Among those charged were the society's president and its chief veterinarian. As part of their bail conditions they're still barred from the premises.

[LINK] "Drone attacks: challenging some fabrications"

Might some Pakistanis in Waziristan be happy American robots are killing Taliban? Farhat Haj's Daily Times article, forwarded to me by Dave from Facebook, makes a reasonably convincing case.

There is a deep abyss between the perceptions of the people of Waziristan, the most drone-hit area and the wider Pakistani society on the other side of the River Indus. For the latter, the US drone attacks on Waziristan are a violation of Pakistani’s sovereignty. Politicians, religious leaders, media analysts and anchorpersons express sensational clamour over the supposed ‘civilian casualties’ in the drone attacks. I have been discussing the issue of drone attacks with hundreds of people of Waziristan. They see the US drone attacks as their liberators from the clutches of the terrorists into which, they say, their state has wilfully thrown them. The purpose of today’s column is, one, to challenge the Pakistani and US media reports about the civilian casualties in the drone attacks and, two, to express the view of the people of Waziristan, who are equally terrified by the Taliban and the intelligence agencies of Pakistan. I personally met these people in the Pakhtunkhwa province, where they live as internally displaced persons (IDPs), and in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

I would challenge both the US and Pakistani media to provide verifiable evidence of civilian ‘casualties’ because of drone attacks on Waziristan, i.e. names of the people killed, names of their villages, dates and locations of the strikes and, above all, the methodology of the information that they collected. If they can’t meet the challenge, I would request them to stop throwing around fabricated figures of ‘civilian casualties’ that confuse people around the world and provide propaganda material to the pro-Taliban and al Qaeda forces in the politics and media of Pakistan.

[. . .]

The reason why these estimates about civilian ‘casualties’ in the US and Pakistani media are wrong is that after every attack the terrorists cordon off the area and no one, including the local villagers, is allowed to come even near the targeted place. The militants themselves collect the bodies, burry the dead and then issue the statement that all of them were innocent civilians. This has been part of their propaganda to provide excuses to the pro-Taliban and al Qaeda media persons and political forces in Pakistan to generate public sympathies for the terrorists.

[. . .]

The people of Waziristan are suffering a brutal kind of occupation under the Taliban and al Qaeda. It is in this context that they would welcome anyone, Americans, Israelis, Indians or even the devil, to rid them of the Taliban and al Qaeda. Therefore, they welcome the drone attacks. Secondly, the people feel comfortable with the drones because of their precision and targeted strikes. People usually appreciate drone attacks when they compare it with the Pakistan Army’s attacks, which always result in collateral damage. Especially the people of Waziristan have been terrified by the use of long-range artillery and air strikes of the Pakistan Army and Air Force. People complain that not a single TTP or al Qaeda member has been killed so far by the Pakistan Army, whereas a lot of collateral damage has taken place. Thousands of houses have been destroyed and hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed by the Pakistan Army. On the other hand, drone attacks have never targeted the civilian population except, they informed, in one case when the funeral procession of Khwazh Wali, a TTP commander, was hit.