Monthly Archives: July 2015

From the Tour de France to invasions: Facts and Opinions this Week

The stage map is seen on the back of the helmet of the Reuters motorbike driver as he rides during the 7th stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Livarot to Fougeres, France, July 10, 2015. Photographing the Tour de France cycling race comes with highs and lows: the buzz from capturing just the right image, the tedium of long journeys, the painstaking set-up of equipment, the breath-taking scenery. Reuters photographers have worked not only to capture the thrills and spills on the roads and mountain passes. They have also shot a set of pictures showing their own quirky view from behind the scenes as they travelled through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      PICTURE 2 OF 36 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY "ON THE SIDELINES - THE TOUR DE FRANCE"  SEARCH "SIDELINES TOUR" FOR ALL PICTURES

Photographing the Tour de France cycling race comes with highs and lows: the buzz from capturing just the right image, the tedium of long journeys, the painstaking set-up of equipment, the breath-taking scenery. Click here for a photo gallery by Reuters photographers, showing their own quirky view from behind the scenes as they travelled through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

The stories that mattered to us this week range from the passing of EL Doctorow to invasions — the army of King Crabs descending on Antarctica and the British invasion of American pop. We feature a photographer’s view of the Tour de France, and an expert examination of how American psychologists colluded in torture. F&O International Affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe casts his mind forward to the election approaching in Taiwan’s precarious democracy, while F&O columnist Tom Regan looks at the man with the toupee who aspires to be America’s next president. Brian Brennan’s rather quirky Brief Encounter this week is about John Mortimer.

My interview with John Mortimer, in the lobby of a Calgary hotel, was supposed to last only 15 minutes because Mortimer had several more appointments that day. But that changed when I asked him my first question: “If John Mortimer the award-winning journalist was sent to interview John Mortimer the playwright and novelist, what kinds of questions would he ask?’ “Mr. Brennan, I think we should go and have lunch,” Mortimer replied. “Do you like to drink wine?”

Writing as if for Dear Life: John Mortimer, by Brian Brennan (paywall)

My interview with John Mortimer, in the lobby of a Calgary hotel, was supposed to last only 15 minutes because Mortimer had several more appointments that day. But that changed when I asked him my first question: “If John Mortimer the award-winning journalist was sent to interview John Mortimer the playwright and novelist, what kinds of questions would he ask?’ “Mr. Brennan, I think we should go and have lunch,” Mortimer replied. “Do you like to drink wine?”

Battling the Brit Invasion: the fight for American pop independence. By John Covach

This is the 50th anniversary of the British invasion of the US  – at least, in music. The biggest hits on the American pop charts had come from British bands since The Beatles’ pivotal first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in February 1964. The British success was significant enough to force a revolution in American pop music.

Behind the Scenes at the Tour de France. By Reuters photographers

While Tour de France riders cover about 3,350 kilometres we “suiveurs’” (followers) drive about 7,000 kilometres to report on the race, moving from town to town, hotel to hotel, press buffet to press buffet …  Reuters photographers share their experiences, in images.

Remembering EL Doctorow, America’s conscience. By Michael Wutz

 Photo by Mark Sobzcak, Creative CommonsEL Doctorow, who died this month, will be missed. Over the course of almost six decades, Doctorow wrote himself into the canon of American literature. Together with his contemporaries Toni Morrison and Philip Roth, he embodied the virtues of a classical storyteller rendering cultural diagnoses in ambitious and lyrical narratives. 

How a US psychologists’ association colluded in torture. By  J Wesley Boyd

The fact that the United States resorted to torturing prisoners – many of whom are innocent, or in the words of the Senate Report on torture, “wrongfully detained” – will likely go down as one of America’s most egregious ethical lapses. The fact that a major health care association, the American Psychological Association, colluded in this lapse is unconscionable.

 

Beijing bristles as Taiwan prepares to elect pro-independence opposition By Jonathan Manthorpe (paywall)

 

Taiwan’s voters are preparing for a rocky ride as they appear set to elect an opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration dedicated to preserving the independence of the island and its 23 million people. If the voters in next year’s presidential election do what they are now telling pollsters they intend, the result will excite anger in Beijing and send a frisson of anxiety through the corridors of power in Washington.

Trump is America’s conservative zeitgeist in a bad toupee. By Tom Regan

Enormous wealth is not the only reason for Donald Trump’s popularity, despite what Beltway pundits referred to as his “erroneous steps.” In fact it might be these “errors” that are behind his surge to the top of the Republican presidential sweepstakes. Trump has captured the zeitgeist of the time in a bottle, at least the zeitgeist of conservative Republicans tired of what they consider namby-pamby, middle-of-the-road, Republican presidential candidates.

Hundreds of metres below the surface of the freezing ocean surrounding Antarctica, the seafloor is teeming with life. The animals living there have no idea that an army is on the brink of invading. Read The march of the king crabs: a warning from Antarctica, by Kathryn Smith. Photo Kathryn Smith © 2015

Hundreds of metres below the surface of the freezing ocean surrounding Antarctica, the seafloor is teeming with life. The animals living there have no idea that an army is on the brink of invading. Read The march of the king crabs: a warning from Antarctica, by Kathryn Smith. Photo Kathryn Smith © 2015

The march of the king crabs: a warning from Antarctica. By Kathryn Smith

Hundreds of metres below the surface of the freezing ocean surrounding Antarctica, the seafloor is teeming with life. The animals living there have no idea that an army is on the brink of invading their tranquil environment. The army is composed of king crabs. Until 2003, there were no crabs in this fragile Antarctic ecosystem. Now, driven by warming waters, their arrival heralds a major upset

Amazon at 20: evil overlord or positive for publishers? By Simon Rowberry

Amazon is 20 years old this month. And despite this pervasive narrative of the evil overlord milking its underlings for all their worth, Amazon has actually offered some positive changes in the publishing industry over the last 20 years. Most notably, the website has increased the visibility of books as a form of entertainment in a competitive media environment. This is an achievement that should not be diminished in our increasingly digital world. 

Bound, hooded captives, being flown to Guantanamo. United States Department of Defence photo

 How a US psychologists’ association colluded in torture. By  J Wesley Boyd

The fact that the United States resorted to torturing prisoners – many of whom are innocent, or in the words of the Senate Report on torture, “wrongfully detained” – will likely go down as one of America’s most egregious ethical lapses. The fact that a major health care association, the American Psychological Association, colluded in this lapse is unconscionable.

In Case You Missed It: 

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Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O provides journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising including “branded content,” or solicit donations from causes. Check our CONTENTS page for new works, refreshed each Friday. Subscribe by email to our free FRONTLINES blog. 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.

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope

Great Reads, Gripping Images: Facts and Opinions this Week

 

It’s been, as it often is in these times, a heavy week in the world — and so let’s begin on the lighter side of life. We offer a gorgeous photo essay about an Italian revival of silk worms, Brian Brennan’s Brief Encounter column with Barry Morse, and Jim McNiven’s baseball yarn.

An Italian Renaissance — of Silkworms, a photo essay by Alessandro Bianchi of Reuters

Decades after the last silk mills in Veneto, Italy, were shuttered, budding silkmakers – “sericulturists” – are spinning a new niche for high-quality material. 

Critiquing the Critics: Barry Morse, Brian Brennan, Brief Encounters column (paywall)

I wanted to talk to Barry Morse about Lieutenant Gerard, the dogged detective he had played for four seasons in The Fugitive, one of the biggest TV hits of the 1960s. But Morse wanted to talk about theatre critics; ill-informed theatre critics. He’d suffered at the hands of a few.

The Yankee Origins of Baseball, Jim McNiven: Thoughtlines column

America’s Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, is a standard tourist trap: an attraction surrounded by a large number of related souvenir shops and restaurants. In the 1930s, the baseball establishment accepted Cooperstown as the place where Abner Doubleday supposedly devised the rules of the game in 1839. The attribution of Doubleday as baseball’s inventor was made on very improbable evidence, however. The Abner Doubleday — and there could have been more than one living in upstate New York at the time — was a noted Civil War general, but in 1839 had been a cadet at West Point and unable to leave its grounds.

In more weighty matters:

Beijing collides with China’s new community of human rights lawyers, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs column (paywall)

The recent assault by President Xi Jinping on China’s community of human rights lawyers may be too late to insulate the Communist Party against a coming storm. There is a tacit acknowledgement by the party that China’s swelling community of about 300 human rights lawyers, their associates and like-minded advocacy groups have become a serious challenge to the one-party state. 

Are countries legally required to protect from climate change? By Sophia V. Schweitzer, Ensia  

On June 24, 2015, a court in The Hague ruled that greenhouse gas reduction is a state obligation. This marks the first time the issue has been legally declared a state obligation, regardless of arguments that the solution to the global climate problem does not depend on one country’s efforts alone. Here’s what that could mean for the rest of the world.

Iran, nuclear waste, and Fukushima. By Penney Kome

Unfortunately, one thing that two years of US+5 negotiations with Iran did not achieve is to remove the most urgent nuclear threat to the world: the fact that the world contends with every scrap of radioactive nuclear waste generated since Enrico Fermi’s first controlled chain reaction in 1942 – some 250,000 glowing toxic tons of used fuel alone. 

What the Iran nuclear deal does, and does not, mean. By Scott Lucas

Iran and the 5+1/E3+3 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) have at last completed a comprehensive nuclear agreement after years of discussions and threats of conflict. The deal sets out requirements for keeping Iran’s nuclear programme from producing nuclear weapons, and establishes a timeline for lifting sanctions that have pushed the country to the brink.  But how can the complexities of the 139-page document be understood, especially amid the already charged argument between those who support and those who oppose the deal?

 Ethnic groups flee as Syrian Kurds advance against Islamic State. By Humeyra Pamuk

 Cemal Dede fled his home in a remote Turkmen village in Syria after warplanes from the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State bombed the house next door. He had no idea he wouldn’t be coming back. Dede says the Kurdish YPG militia did not let his family of seven return to Dedeler near the Turkish border, telling him it was now Kurdish territory and Turkmens like him had no place there.

The Banality of Ethics in the Anthropocene. By Clive Hamilton

Among the great crimes of the 20th century the most enduring will surely prove to be human disruption of the Earth’s climate. Duty to the truth and the obligation to avoid actions that harm others are powerful principles firmly rooted in the universal framework of legal and ethical codes. Yet before the enormity of what humankind has now done, I cannot help feeling that these grand constructions are frail and almost pathetic. Let me explain why.

Notebook: Secret IMF staff report shocks Greece deal, by F&O

“Greece’s debt can now only be made sustainable through debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far,” the staff of the International Monetary Fund said in a report released Tuesday, hours after Monday’s controversial agreement between Greece and 18 partners on a third bailout for the indebted country. The Debt Sustainability Analysis noted it was published without the input or approval of the organization’s executive board.

Updated: Our coverage earlier this week of the arrival of the New Horizons spacecraft near Pluto. See  Monica Grady’s essay, Up close with Pluto plus our blog post with a photo gallery, recommended reads, and NASA’s video.

Elsewhere on the Internet:

The conviction by a German court of Oskar Groening marks the last of the major trials from the Nazi era. The”Bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” now aged 94, was sentenced to four years for his role in the murder of 300,000 people — his job included sorting seized money. His trial is expected to be the last of the big court cases from the Nazi era. In a comment evocative of Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil” term, used in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem, German judge Franz Kompisch said Groening’s choice to be a bureaucrat instead of a fighter did not mitigate his guilt.”I don’t want to call you a coward, Mr. Gröning, but you took the easier path, and stayed in your desk job,” said the judge. Reports here by Deutsche WelleHaaretz; Reuters

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Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O provides journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising including “branded content,” or solicit donations from causes. Check our CONTENTS page for new works, refreshed each Friday. Subscribe by email to our free FRONTLINES blog. 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. 

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope

Pluto: Notably quotable

New Horizons will capture night images from Pluto by the reflected light of its moon Charon. NASA

The New Horizons mission is designed to capture night images from Pluto by the reflected light of its moon Charon. NASA

On Tuesday July 14 the New Horizons passed the dwarf planet Pluto in the Kuiper Belt, capturing our first images of an object named for an underworld god but until now perhaps best known as the name of a cartoon dog.

What is so exciting about Pluto?  British Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences Monica Grady answers in Up close with Pluto

UPDATE July 17: NASA released a video of images from Pluto:

 

Notably quotable:

Brett Gladman, xxx

Planetary astronomer Brett Gladman. Photo: UBC

Anything and everything on NASA’s New Horizons site.

“Clyde Tombaugh will pass within 7,800 miles of the icy world he discovered 85 years ago.  His ashes are flying on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on humanity’s first journey to Pluto.” — Associated Press on NY Times site. 

“My other vehicle is on its way to Pluto.” — Brett Gladman is the Canada Research Chair in planetary astronomy at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in  Q&A: What New Horizons could tell us about Pluto and the Kuiper Belt

“On the morning of March 14, 1930, Falconer Madan, a former librarian at the University of Oxford’s library, was reading a newspaper article about the discovery to his 11-year-old granddaughter, Venetia Burney, over breakfast, David Hiskey explained for Mental Floss in 2012. Madan mused that he wondered what the planet might be called, and Venetia chimed in, “Why not call it Pluto?” The name of an underworld god seemed appropriate for a celestial body orbiting the cold, dark reaches of space.” — Smithsonian, How Pluto Got Its Name

“(US presidential contender Jeb) Bush’s quarter doesn’t quite have the probe to itself: New Horizons is also carrying a small container of the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the American astronomer who discovered Pluto. Other probes have curious payloads of their own: NASA’s Juno probe, which will reach Jupiter in 2016, is carrying three LEGO figurines depicting the Roman king of the gods for whom the planet is named, his wife, Juno, and astronomer Galileo Galilei. And according to Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign, his class ring from Texas A&M University has been to space, carried on the Space Shuttle by fellow Aggie Michael Fossum. Jeb Bush’s pocket change is currently hurtling past Pluto, Politico. 

“A remarkable half-century of planetary reconnaissance will end on 14 July, when the New Horizons spacecraft swoops past Pluto. The flyby comes 50 years to the day after Mariner 4 flew past Mars and returned the first image from another planet. Stamatios “Tom” Krimigis, the former head of the space department at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, had a hand in both missions, as well as in visits to all the other worlds in the solar system. An expert in planetary magnetospheres, Krimigis has seen it all. But he is not yet done: His instrument on Voyager 1 is now plumbing interstellar space, and he is planning on being a part of Solar Probe Plus, a spacecraft that will visit the sun’s corona.” — Pluto caps one man’s odyssey, Science Magazine

Last but not least, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking congratulates the New Horizons team: It’s 15 years since the first successful mission to Mars. Now the solar system will be further opened up to us…. the revelations of New Horizons may help us to understand better how our solar system was formed. We explore because we are human and we want to know.”

 

 

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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.

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope Tagged , |

F&O Monday headlines

When the earth shakes under our feet we flee click-bait sites to seek informed, smart analysis. Suggestions for authoritative information on today’s breaking news:

A protester holds a banner in Greek colors in front of the parliament building during an anti-austerity rally in Athens, Greece, June 29, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

A protester holds a banner in Greek colors in front of the parliament building during an anti-austerity rally in Athens, Greece, June 29, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

On Greece and the European Union: Wire service reporting is often as neutral as it gets. Here’s Reuters:  Greek Debt Crisis 2015,  Live updates on the debt crisis in Greece.  For varied perspectives, including pieces by scholars and the main players go to Social Europe: “Where Now For Greece?. France has played a key role, at some risk to its relationship with Germany. Read Le Monde (in French) Crise Grecque or, in English, France24. Here is Deutsche Welle’s page in English, Greece bailout – live updates.   Guardian Eurozone Crisis reporting has been fully resourced and is up to date. Many commerce sites approach all stories from an assumption the  “free” market is always right. Some reading: Bloomberg;  Financial Times; Economist, Alexis Tsipras’s U-turn.

F&O’s Jonathan Manthorpe has a firm grasp on the back story. Read his column, The Greek tragedy: a drama with many villains and no heroes. (Cllick here for the required subscription or $1 day pass to our site required). Excerpt: 

There is no shortage of villains in this Greek tragedy.  It hasn’t helped matters that the advent of the euro has been a huge boon for the EU’s industrialized economies, especially Germany. Because the euro includes dud or semi-functional economies like Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland, the international market place marks the currency’s value down against other hard currencies like the U.S. dollar. The result is that German exports are 50 per cent cheaper, by some analysis, than they would be if the country still used its former currency, the deutchmark.

On Iran, our analysis:

 Hardliners prepare to sink Iranian nuclear deal, by Jonathan Manthorpe (sybscription or $1 day pass required)

With a deal on Iran’s nuclear program in the offing, hardline opponents in Washington and Tehran are sharpening their teeth and honing their claws to a razor’s edge. In both capitals, the deal — nearly 20 years in the making — faces being derailed by intransigent political ideologues with little long-term vision.

The end is NOT nigh, by Tom Regan (by donation)

It’s enough to give a person permanent hypertension.  Russian president Vladimir Putin likes to flex his military muscles more than a steroid pumped-up body builder. China wants to challenge the United States for dominance in Asia. North Korea’s top leadership is, well, crazy. Al-Qaeda and ISIS are messing up the Middle East and threatening citizens around the world. And what ISIS and Al-Qaeda aren’t doing to destabilize the region, Iran is. It looks like the world is more dangerous that it has ever been for Uncle Sam, and Canada.  Except that … it’s not. 

Looking ahead this week, look waaay up, to the heavens. Pluto has put a spell on the global imagination. Why? Start here: This is Why You Have Not Seen A Bunch of Images of Pluto This Weekend: American Geophysical Union. At about 7:50 AM Tuesday, New York time, the New Horizons probe will pass about 12,500 km from Pluto, and the most sophisticated set of instruments ever put in deep space will record high resolution images of the dwarf planet.

NASA

NASA

Our own fresh sheet includes, in Commentary:

Jonathan Manthorpe International Affairs  column: Hardliners prepare to sink Iranian nuclear deal (Subscription)

Tom Regan’s Seeking Orenda on When religious liberty undermines freedom (by donation)

Brian Brennan’s Brief Encounter: Singing for the Godfather: Al Martino (Subscription)

In Dispatches:

Srebrenica, digging for the dead, fighting denial, with a photo essay

UN: World’s poorest need $160 per year 

Explainer: tumult in China’s casino stock market 

In Case You Missed It, in Commentary:

Jim McNiven on Telegraphy, Radio, Utopia and You (by donation)

John Keane on Why we should still read Democracy in America 

Deborah Jones (yeah, that’s me): If Slaughterhouses had Glass Walls … 

Francis X Clooney on  Forgiveness: the first step in reconciliation 

Penney Kome: On wanting to fit in and Rachel Dolezal 

Philip Loring: Wanted: A new story of humanity’s place in the world. 

ICYMI, in Dispatches:

The World’s Largest Electronic Waste Dump, in images

Nicholas Winton, the British Schindler, dies at 106 

World’s favourite bookstores ranking shows enduring market. 

U.S. court affirms equality of same sex marriage

China’s Dog Meat Festival, in Images 

Pope Francis throws down the gauntlet

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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.

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , |

Facts and Opinions that matter this week

 

Hardline, intransigent political ideologues are preparing to sink the Iran deal, writes Jonathan Manthorpe. (Paywall) Lotf Allah Mosque in Iran. quixotic54 via Flickr, Creative Commons Lotf Allah Mosque in Iran. Photo credit quixotic54 via Flickr, Creative Commons

Hardline, intransigent political ideologues are preparing to sink the Iran deal, writes Jonathan Manthorpe. (Paywall) Lotf Allah Mosque in Iran. quixotic54 via Flickr, Creative Commons Lotf Allah Mosque in Iran. Photo credit quixotic54 via Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Among the many items that caught our attention this week was the award of a Canadian stamp to short story master Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. The stamp was released on Monro’s birthday, July 10. It features a photograph of the writer by her daughter Sheila, a sample her handwriting, and vintage images of Wingham, Ont., the small town in which Munro was born. (Canada Post.)

F&O reported on Monro’s  Nobel prize in 2013:  Alice Munro, Master. For more about Munro’s impact on literature, read Alice Munro: Nobel a victory for the neglected short story, by Beth Palmer, in our Ex Libris section.

 Here are our newest offerings:

alice_munro_stamp

A Canada Post stamp was issued July 10, on her birthday, in honour of short story master Alice Munro, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature. The stamp was designed by Marcio Morgado and Paul Haslip of HM&E Design.

 Explainer: tumult in China’s casino stock market, by Michele Geraci

When I teach stock market investment to my Chinese students, I always remind them that the Shanghai stock exchange should be thought of more as a casino, rather than as a proper stock market. In normal stock markets, share prices are – or, at least, should be – linked to the economic performance of the underlying companies. Not so in China, where the popularity of the stock market directly correlated with the fall in casino popularity.

Column: ardliners prepare to sink Iranian nuclear deal: International Affairs column, by Jonathan Manthorpe (paywall)

With a deal on Iran’s nuclear program in the offing, hardline opponents in Washington and Tehran are sharpening their teeth and honing their claws to a razor’s edge. In both capitals, the deal — nearly 20 years in the making — faces being derailed by intransigent political ideologues with little long-term vision.

Column: When religious liberty undermines freedom, by Tom Regan

It’s pretty hard to underestimate the role that religion has played in promoting progressive ideals over the years. But that’s only one side of the coin. Far more often, religion has also been used as one of the main curbs on freedom – of person, of thought and of gender.

Dispatch: UN: World’s poorest need $160 per year. By Joseph D’Urso 

Just $160 per year for each person living in extreme poverty would eradicate world hunger by 2030, the United Nations said, recommending the money should be delivered through both cash transfers and “pro-poor” investments. Eliminating hunger is one of the U.N.’s sustainable development goals, new objectives set to replace the eight expiring U.N. Millennium Development Goals. 

Dispatch: In Srebrenica, digging for the dead and fighting denial 20 years later. By Daria Sito-Sucic and Maja Zuvela, Reuters 

Tens of thousands of people will gather at a cemetery near Srebrenica in Bosnia on July 11 to mark the 20th anniversary of Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two, still tortured by voices of denial and a seemingly endless search for the dead. Abandoned by their U.N. protectors toward the end of a 1992-95 war, 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed by Bosnian Serb forces over five July days, their bodies dumped in pits then dug up months later and scattered in smaller graves in a systematic effort to conceal the crime.

Column: Singing for the Godfather: Al Martino, by Brian Brennan (paywall)

He had made a big splash when he played the role of the troubled wedding singer Johnny Fontane in the movie The Godfather. But Al Martino had no particular desire to do another film when he came to Canada in 1975 to perform the easy-listening pop favourites that had kept him going throughout the hard-rock explosion of the mid-sixties and early seventies.

Recommended elsewhere:  

For an unearthly view of our home, seen as no one has ever seen it before, visit Japan’s New Satellite Captures an Image of Earth Every 10 Minutes, a stunning New York Times multimedia feature. It’s  based on unprecedented images released this week by the Japanese Meteorological Agency, captured by Japan’s new Himawari-8 satellite. 

July 11 was the 25th anniversary of Canada’s Oka Crisis, a lethal standoff between First Nations defending a traditional burial ground against plans to extend a golf course by a town in the province of Quebec. Here are two pieces that capture the time and the issues at stake:  

Behind the lines: Invisible scars left by Oka Crisis 25 years later. Mohawk journalist Dan David reflects on his time during Oka Summer, CBC.

Canada in Crisis, July 1990, PEN Canada, President’s report by John Ralston Saul: “press freedom is not only a right in a democratic society. It is also an obligation.” PEN Canada archives

Last but not least, RIP Omar Sharif, who died this week at age 83.

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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.

See our CONTENTS page for new work — refreshed each Friday and occasionally as stories are posted. 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.

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope

Facts and Opinions of the week

 

Nicholas Winton, aged 101, holds flowers while sitting on a stage after the premiere of the movie "Nicky's family" which is based on his life story in Prague January 20, 2011.     REUTERS/Petr Josek

Read about Nicholas Winton, rescuer of 669 children from the Nazis, who died July 1 aged 106. Above, he was photographed after the 2011 premiere of the movie “Nicky’s family” which is based on his life story in Prague. REUTERS/Petr Josek

There is no shortage of villains in this Greek tragedy, writes Jonathan Manthorpe, as Greece and Europe brace themselves for the Greek referendum on Sunday.  “It hasn’t helped matters that the advent of the euro has been a huge boon for the EU’s industrialized economies,” he adds. Read his new column, The Greek tragedy: a drama with many villains and no heroes  (subscription required).

Here’s a good backgrounder on the Greek crisis: Nine things to know about Greece’s IMF debt default, by Andre Broome.

 

As America celebrates July 4, we highly recommend John Keane on why Alexis de Tocqueville remains a must-read. In his Seeking Orenda column, Tom Reagan ponders the (major) differences between the US and Canada.

On July 1 Nicholas Winton, known as the “British Schindler,” died, aged 106. His passing is a chance to recall his own remarkable rich life — and the  rich lives of the 669 children he rescued from the Nazi ovens in World War II. 

Before you toss that old phone or laptop, browse this photo-essay about Guiyu in China’s Guangdong province, long amongst the world’s largest electronic waste dumps, by Tyrone Siu of Reuters.

The title of Jim McNiven’s new Thoughtlines column sums it up: Telegraphy, Radio, Utopia and You.

In Arts, Brian Brennan’s Brief Encounter this week features two Irishmen: the Minstrel Boys, Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy (subscription required.) If you haven’t heard of them, you’re not Irish at heart. As another writer summed up, “America had Elvis and Britain had The Beatles. Ireland had Makem and Clancy.”

In case you missed it, recent great reads on F&O include::

Our feature package on the Magna Carta: the “Great Charter” at 800

ProPublica’s Abrahm Lustgarten’s terrific series on the drought afflicting the American West, Killing the Colorado: America’s historic western drought. His stories include:

While DSK’s scandals just don’t seem to end, this time, he was acquitted. Read Former IMF head Strauss-Kahn acquitted in French vice trial

In science, and especially if you’re undergoing medical tests, you’ll want to read Left in the Brain: Potentially Toxic Residue from MRI Drugs, by Jeff Gerth.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope