Monthly Archives: June 2015

Journalism that Matters: Greece

Pensioners line-up outside a branch of the National Bank of Greece hoping to get their pensions, in Athens, Greece June 29, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Pensioners line-up outside a branch of the National Bank of Greece hoping to get their pensions, in Athens, Greece June 29, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

The world is holding its breath with Greece on the knife-edge deadline on its €1.6 billion loan repayment due to the IMF. its stalemate with its international creditors, and upcoming referendum, could make Greece the first advanced economy to default to the fund in its 71-year history. It might also be the first nation to benefit from crowd-funding, as an  Indiegogo campaign gets rolling. Here is the essential reading:

EU makes last ditch effort to save Greek bailout. By Renee Maltezou and Lefteris Papadimas, Reuters 

 EU authorities made a last-minute offer to salvage a bailout deal that could keep Greece in the euro as the clock ticked down on Tuesday, with Germany warning that time had run out to extend vital credit lines to Athens. With billions of euros in locked-up bailout funds due to expire at midnight, the European Commission urged Greece to accept the proposed deal, while holding out hopes that some tweaks could still be possible. If no agreement is reached, Greece will default on a loan to the IMF, setting it on a path out of the euro with unforeseeable consequences for the European Union’s grand currency project and the global economy.

Nine things to know about Greece’s IMF debt default, by André Broome

Greece is set to miss the deadline on its €1.6 billion loan repayment due to the IMF. The country’s stalemate with its international creditors and the decision to hold a referendum on its bailout offer means Greece will become the first advanced economy to default to the fund in its 71-year history. Here are nine essential things to know about the default

In fast-moving news about Greece today: 

  • From London  (Reuters) – A bailout fund has been set up for Greece on crowd-funding website Indiegogo. The campaign goal is to raise 1.6 billion euros (1.1 billion pounds), the same amount Greece was expected to fail to pay the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday. 
  • From Athens: (Reuters) – Hours before deadline Tuesday Greece submitted to creditors a new two-year aid proposal calling for parallel debt restructuring.
  • From London (Reuters) – The European Union’s financial system will be able to cope with whatever becomes of Greece’s membership of the euro zone, EU financial services chief Jonathan Hill said Tuesday.

 

Other new work on Facts and Opinions this week includes:

World’s favourite bookstores ranking shows enduring market. 

U.S. court affirms equality of same sex marriage. 

China’s Dog Meat Festival, in Images (Content warning), with a commentary by Deborah Jones, If Slaughterhouses had Glass Walls …  

In Commentary:

Forgiveness: the first step in reconciliation, by Francis X Clooney

Saudi Arabia threatens to run amok, by Jonathan Manthorpe

America’s Obamacare is here to stay, by Tom Regan

Telegraphy, Radio, Utopia and You, by Jim McNiven

Check our CONTENTS page for new work as we post. Subscribe by email to our free FRONTLINES blog. Find evidence-based reporting in Reports;  commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. Some of our original works are behind a paywall, available with a $1 site day pass, or with a subscription from $2.95/month – $19.95/year. If you value journalism, please help sustain us.

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

 

Posted in Current Affairs

Facts and Opinions that matter this week

Here is F&O’s lineup of good reads, for your weekend lingering, or to launch the new week with information that matters. 

New Reports


New Commentary and Arts:

NB:  Check our CONTENTS page regularly for new work as we put it up.

~~~

With no exaggeration, this figure is staggering: one in every 122 humans in the world is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. 

The number of refugees in the world has reached a historic record: some 60 million people are now displaced, said a United Nations report in advance of World Refugee Day today. “If this were the population of a country,” it noted, “it would be the world’s 24th largest.” 

Yet the staggering refugee report, documenting vast harm, was overshadowed by yet another story out of America about a mass murder involving its fetish with guns and ugly historic obsession with fabricated concepts of “race. In our lineup, above, you’ll have noted that Tom Regan has a distinct take on the South Carolina murders — in his column Blame massacres on America’s National Rifle Association. And Jon Stewart inimitably captures  the mood of what is clearly — yet controversially — a “terrorist” attack:

“We have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other and the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal yet we pretend doesn’t exist.”  “I’m confident, though, that by acknowledging it, by staring into that, and seeing that for what it is, we still won’t do jackshit. Yeah. That’s us. And that’s the part that blows my mind.”
“What blows my mind is the disparity of respose between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us, and us killing ourselves….”  

 

In case you missed them:

Elsewhere on web this week:
 
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism published its Digital News Report 2015, and serious journalists around the world —  so weary of the blood-letting, so hoping for news of better times ahead — wept. Buzzfeed is doing very well, though — which is welcome,  so long as you don’t give a fig about consuming junk media, ethical compromises, and overlap between advertising and evidence based information provision (aka,  the old fashioned term”journalism.”) 
 
To mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo Le Monde published — in the English language no less —  a virtual ode to Britain, urging those Brits who are lobbying to leave Europe,  “Messieurs les Anglais, don’t let the sirens of a fake independence pull you away from the continent.” The Guardian rued what might have been, in a column entitled, Napoleon’s dream died at Waterloo – and so did that of British democrats… “No amount of colourful re-enactment this week can conceal the fact that Waterloo was a victory for a reactionary and anti-democratic European order,” wrote Martin Kettle.

Last but not least, a recommendation: A multi-media production about refugees by the UN Refugee Agency.

~~~

We appreciate your interest and ask for your support. Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for selected, slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O provides journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

Check our CONTENTS page for new works each week. Subscribe by email to our free FRONTLINES, a blog announcing new works, and the odd small tale. Look for evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value our  work help sustain us: tell others about us, subscribe, or donate to allow us to continue:

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope

Save our “ruined planet,” urges Pope Francis

 

Pope Francis kisses a baby as he leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi -

Pope Francis kisses a baby as he leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi –

 

Pope Francis, on the eve of the most contested papal writing in half a century, said on Wednesday that all should help to save “our ruined” planet and asked critics to read his encyclical with an open spirit. The document is the Church’s most controversial since Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae enshrined the Church’s ban on contraception. Because he has said he wants to influence a key U.N. climate summit this year, the encyclical further consolidates his role as a global diplomatic player. … Click here to readOn eve of encyclical, Pope Francis appeals for “our ruined” planet, by Philip Pullella

UPDATE June 18: The text of the encyclical, On Care for our Common Home was released Thursday, and can be read here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

~~~

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

Check our CONTENTS page for new works each week. Subscribe by email to our free FRONTLINES, a blog announcing new works, and the odd small tale. Look for evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value our  journalism help sustain us: tell others about us, subscribe, or donate to help us continue our work:

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , , |

The Magna Carta at 800: Who, What, When, Why, How.

Magna Carta: the 800th anniversary of a “Great Charter” that changed the world 

image-20150602-19228-ze8ef9

King John

The rule of law was established at Runnymede, England, on June 15, 1215, via the Magna Carta. As well as clipping the wings of a tyrannical and erratic ruler, the signing of that “Great Charter” inspired and shaped the United Kingdom’s constitution — and eventually democratic systems worldwide.

Here, in our Publica section, is  the lowdown on who, what, when, why, and how —  and speculation about the celebration feast. 

Magna Carta: Enduring freedoms. By John Stanton

The catalyst for Magna Carta was the tyrannical rule of King John and, in particular, his imposition of arbitrary taxes upon the barons. The sealing of Magna Carta marked the first time that the notion that an unelected sovereign should be restrained under law was officially recognised. From then on, the idea that citizens should not be subjected to the arbitrary rule of a tyrannical monarch but instead be ruled and governed upon foundations of accepted legal process and law had a legal foundation. This was, in essence, an evolution of the Aristotlean idea of the supremacy of law in preference to the supremacy of man.

Magna Carta: British royals return to Runnymede. By Michael Holden

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will return on Monday, June 15, to the setting where 800 years ago one of her predecessors accepted the Magna Carta, the English document that put limits on the power of the crown for the first time and laid the foundation for modern freedoms. The Magna Carta, Latin for “Great Charter”, was ratified by King John of England in June 1215, at Runnymede, about 20 miles west of London, after an uprising by his barons. It established certain rights of the English people and placed the monarch under the rule of law. Not only does it form the bedrock of Britain’s constitutional freedoms, it was the basis for the U.S. Bill of Rights, the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Three of its 63 clauses remain on Britain’s statute book.

Magna Carta: fundamentally a financial peace treaty. By Jane Frecknall-Hughes

If you ask anyone what the Magna Carta is all about, you might be told that it is some sort of proto-human rights or constitutional document. This largely results from the fame and after-life of two particular clauses (39 and 40) – and the way the document has been interpreted and used over time. Such principles, though, played no part in its creation in 1215. Then, it was a kind of peace treaty between King John and the barons, and in many ways a financial peace treaty at that.

Magna Carta: a feast fit for kings. By Andrew Jotischky

For such a seminal historical event, Magna Carta is in some respects poorly recorded. We know quite a lot about who the rebel and loyalist barons were and where they came from, and we can reconstruct up to a point their movements in the weeks leading up to the peace treaty that Magna Carta was intended to be. But one of the many things we don’t know is how the barons who forced King John to assent to Magna Carta at Runnymede in June 1215 celebrated when it was all over.

.… click here to read more in Publica 

~~~

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

Check our CONTENTS page for new works each week. Subscribe by email to our free FRONTLINES, a blog announcing new works, and the odd small tale. Look for evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. Some of our original works are behind a paywall, available with a $1 site day pass, or with a subscription from $2.95/month – $19.95/year. If you value journalism, please help sustain us, by spreading the word about us, with a subscription, or even a small donation (see below).

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , , |

Spinning into a northern summer: Facts and Opinions that matter

As we spin into a northern summer, F&O presents a rich reading smorgasbord for the end of one week and the beginning of another.

Dispatches — in Science, Justice, Geo, and Publica — explore how former IMF head Strauss-Kahn was acquitted in French vice trial, consider research suggesting potentially toxic residues are left in the brain from MRI drugs;  and read how drunken monkeys show that it’s only humans go overboard — and why that sheds light on our addictions.

A story with an arguably American perspective asks: Do Europe’s Revolving-Door Prisons Compound Terror Threat? Meanwhile in America,  New Snowden Documents Reveal Secret Memos Expanding Spying

In a setback for public trust in charitable giving, ProPublica’s investigation showed The Red Cross Raised Half a Billion — and Built Six Haitian Homes

If you’re planning to see Jurassic World this month dung beetles may not be top of mind. But look out for them, one scientist suggests, as he answers the questions, What is needed to create a real Jurassic World?

The punishing drought in Western North America is top of mind, for anyone who knows we’re all affected by food security, one of the world’s largest economies, and climate change. These two pieces, part of a major investigation by ProPublica, that explain some of the back story:  Killing the Colorado: Water Rights and the Right to Waste and How US dollars fund the water crisis.

In Commentary, read ecological anthropologist Philip Loring’s call for a new story of humanity’s place in the world. 

Money flight impoverishes the poorest countries writes F&O international affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe, following up on his much-discussed earlier column about Vancouver real estate (this one’s public access): Vancouver: not mind-numbingly boring, but vacuously vain.

F&O Seeking Orenda columnist Tom Regan recalls his own wrenching introduction to sex ed, and in light of the protests in some North American jurisdictions over teaching children, writes, It’s time to start teaching “sexuality education” in kindergarten.

In Arts, F&O Arts writer Brian Brennan’s new Brief Encounter is about an unforgettable actor: From “Brief Lives” to “Game of Thrones”: Roy Dotrice

In case you missed them, do check out recent thought-provoking pieces:   Digital Domesday: surveillance and serfdom,  Regenerative capitalism: ‘the Great Work of our time’, and Mike Sasge’s Verbatim on The prescriptive World Happiness Report.   And recent good reads in in our Arts section include Photographic manipulation: trickery, art, or illusionism, Joyce Thierry Llewellyn’s review of a new television series,  Befuddled by Between,  and a brief about the latest international Booker: ‘Monumental’ generates prize for Hungary’s Krasznahorkai.

Last but not least, apologies to readers who were unable to find us online last Sunday. A surge in readership crashed the web site for a day; we have since added more room to expand, and we thank you for your interest in our work. We’re a small boutique outfit, doing something very different in the raging floods of new globalized media, and we appreciate your support. I would also appreciate your feedback: email me at djones AT factsandopinions.com.

— Deborah Jones   

~~~

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

Check our CONTENTS page for new works each week. Subscribe by email to our free FRONTLINES, a blog announcing new works, and the odd small tale. Look for evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. Some of our original works are behind a paywall, available with a $1 site day pass, or with a subscription from $2.95/month – $19.95/year. If you value journalism, please help sustain us, by spreading the word about us, with a subscription, or even a small donation (see below).

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope