Monthly Archives: November 2015

Matters of Facts, and Opinions, this week

Catholic nuns pray during a mass by Pope Francis, as rain falls in Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 26, 2015.REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Catholic nuns pray during a mass by Pope Francis, as rain falls in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, November 26, 2015.REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

What deserves attention, in this crazy and constant flood of distractions? That, always, is F&O’s  top question. Our aim to offer a journalism boutique of the best, most interesting, stories –to earn a regular spot in your travels through the web. Here are our new reads for the weekend; on Monday, we’ll have a series for the climate summit in Paris. If you have comments or suggestions,  please drop me a line at djones AT factsandopinions.com. Thanks for your interest and support.

 

Paris, Pilots and our rhetoric around ISIS. By Sheldon Fernandez

The day after the atrocities in Paris I found myself pacing in my Toronto apartment, a split consciousness, my Facebook feed saturated with conflicting responses to the carnage.

U.S. Space mining law dangerous and potentially illegal. By Gbenga Oduntan

An event of cosmic proportions occurred on November 18 when the US congress passed the Space Act of 2015 into law. The legislation will give US space firms the rights to own and sell natural resources they mine from bodies in space, including asteroids.

Catholic confusion over the troublesome Pope, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs columnist

For faithful Catholics, the whole point of the Pope and the Vatican is that they should be pillars of certainty in a troubled and troubling world. But as Argentinian Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio approaches the end of his third year as Pope Francis, the relationships between the Pontif and his cardinals — the Princes of the Church – and the standing of the management of the Vatican – the Curio – are all beset by uncertainty and confusion.

Catastrophe will result if climate summit fails — Pope. By Philip Pullella and George Obulutsa

World leaders must reach a historic agreement to fight climate change and poverty at upcoming Paris talks, facing the stark choice to either “improve or destroy the environment”, Pope Francis said in Africa on Thursday.

Belgian soldiers and police patrol in central Brussels on November 22, 2015, after security was tightened in Belgium following the fatal attacks in Paris. REUTERS/Yves Herman

REUTERS/Yves Herman

Why the Paris attackers were based in Molenbeek. By Martin Conway

Just as during the German invasions of 1914 and 1940, war, it seems, is coming to France through Belgium. If one follows the logic of the statements of various French political leaders since the bloody attacks in Paris on November 13, Belgium has become the base from which Islamic State has brought the conflicts of the Middle East to the streets of Paris.

The Painting That Saved My Family From the Holocaust by Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica

Seventy-seven years ago, my grandmother left her fourth-floor apartment in Munich carrying a painting by Otto Stein, a modestly popular German artist. Earlier that month, the Nazis had launched a nationwide pogrom against Germany’s Jewish minority, a rampage in which gangs of men burned stores, schools and synagogues. In the aftermath of what became known as Kristallnacht, the Gestapo rounded up hundreds of Jewish men and sent them to the Dachau concentration camp. Among them was my grandfather, Jakob Engelberg.

How I watched Lee Child write a Jack Reacher novel. BAndy MartinLee Child. Photo courtesy of author, © Sigrid Estrada

Nobody really believes him when he says it. And in the end I guess it is unprovable. But I can put my hand on heart and say, having been there, and watched him at work, that Lee Child is fundamentally clueless when he starts writing. — British professor Andy Martin, who spent much of a year with author Lee Child as he wrote the 20th novel in his Jack Reacher series.

RETURN TO F&O’S TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Facts and Opinions, a journalism boutique of words and images, is independent, non-partisan and employee-owned. F&O is funded by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. You are welcome to try one story at no charge. If you value our work, please support us, with at least .27 per story. Click here for details.  Real journalism has value. Thank you for your support. Please tell others about us, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on 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. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

Posted in All, Gyroscope

Findings: the best of the web

Susan MacLeod: Amid heated debate about taking Syrian refugees, two points of view emerge in conversation at a Canadian nursing home reflects two points of view. The woman on the left is 107, and descended from United Empire Loyalists who fled to Canada from the U.S.; the woman on the right is 98 and came to Canada at age three from inner-city London with her family. © Susan MacLeod 2015

Amid heated debate about taking Syrian refugees, two points of view emerge in conversation at a Canadian nursing home. The woman on the left is 107, and descended from United Empire Loyalists who fled to Canada from the U.S.; the woman on the right is 98 and came to Canada at age three from inner-city London with her family. — Susan MacLeod © 2015

You’ve read F&O’s latest work, I assume? (If not, may I respectfully remind you, here, of the essential stories on our Contents page?)

We’d also like to share with you some findings elsewhere on this marvel of a web –starting with the image above by Canadian artist Susan MacLeod, drawn in response to heated debate in the West over taking Syrian refugees.

You might appreciate:

World Philosophy offerings, Oxford University Press

The ultimate Thinky trove: For World Philosophy Day earlier this month, Oxford University Press  collated some of its most popular research across various disciplines, and have made them available to download until January 1, 2016. Click here to find works at no charge ranging from Rousseau and Hobbes, to short introductions to topics, to Public Health Ethics….

This is why they hate us: The real American history neither Ted Cruz nor the New York Times will tell you, by Ben Norton, Salon, November 18, 2015

We talk democracy, then overthrow elected governments and prop up awful regimes. Let’s discuss the actual history … “Regime change” is not a phrase you hear discussed honestly much in Washington, yet it is a common practice in and defining feature of U.S. foreign policy for well over a century. … read This is why they hate us (you will leave F&O)

State of Terror — What happened when an Al Qaeda affiliate ruled in Mali. By Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, July 1, 2013

Extremists attacked a hotel in Mali on Friday, taking hostages before a bloodbath ensued. Mali’s context was eloquently captured by Jon Lee Anderson in the New Yorker in 2013.  From the New Yorker: “In 2012, Islamist extremists seized the north of Mali, ruling until French troops intervened. “However remote Mali may seem to Westerners, its travails exemplify the security problems posed by neglected places in the age of Islamist terror.” …. read State of Terror at the New Yorker (you will leave F&O’s site)

‘The Statue of Liberty Must Be Crying With Shame.’ By Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, Nov.  21, 2015

I wonder what (anti-refugee politicians) would have told a desperate refugee family fleeing the Middle East. You’ve heard of this family: a carpenter named Joseph, his wife, Mary, and their baby son, Jesus. According to the Gospel of Matthew, after Jesus’ birth they fled to save Jesus from murderous King Herod (perhaps the 2,000-year-ago equivalent of Bashar al-Assad of Syria?). Fortunately Joseph, Mary and Jesus found de facto asylum in Egypt  .… read The Statue of Liberty Must Be Crying With Shame (you will leave F&O)

Last but not least, Tracy Chapman’s new greatest hits album celebrates a quietly powerful legacy, promises PBS.
 

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Facts and Opinions, a journalism boutique of words and images, is independent, non-partisan and employee-owned. F&O is funded by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. You are welcome to try one story at no charge. If you value our work, please support us, with at least .27 per story. Click here for details.  Real journalism has value. Thank you for your support. Please tell others about us, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on 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. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope Tagged , , |

Sunday reads on F&O

Ron Hynes Greg Locke © 2015

Newfoundland singer-songwriter and musical legend, Ron Hynes, died Nov. 19. Ron Hynes Greg Locke © 2015

Ron Hynes: the man of 1000 songs departs for Cryer’s Paradise. By Greg Locke

Newfoundland singer-songwriter and musical legend, Ron Hynes, died Nov. 19. He was 64. In an ironic coincidence there was a power failure in downtown St John’s around the same time. Across the bar I heard someone say, “I guess Ron turned the lights out when he left.” Hynes’ music and writing marks a generation that began with Newfoundland’s cultural renaissance.

Bosnia divided two decades after peace deal. By Daria Sito-Sucic

A metal capsule containing over 20,000 wishes for the future was stored away in a Sarajevo museum, to mark the 20th anniversary of the peace deal that ended the Bosnian war but left the country deeply divided and dysfunctional.

Suicide Bombing: history’s least successful military tactic, by Jonathan Manthorpe

The latest terrorist tactics adopted by the Islamic State show the group heading toward political irrelevance and self-destruction.  Suicide attacks have been used throughout the history of warfare — and they have an unrivalled record of total failure. They have never worked either as a last-ditch defence or as an offensive tactic aimed at overwhelming the opponent.

Amid the furor over refugees seeking asylum, we offer two essays:

Gate A-4, by Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been detained four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well — one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

Remembrance and Refugees, by Rod Mickleburgh

Two days before the numbing atrocities of Paris, I went to the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the Japanese-Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park. After the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, bowing our heads in remembrance on that sun-bathed morning feels light years away. Yet, looking back, as hearts harden towards welcoming desperate Syrian refugees, the event seems to take on a deeper meaning.

 

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Facts and Opinions, a journalism boutique of words and images, is independent, non-partisan and employee-owned. F&O is funded by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. You are welcome to try one story at no charge. If you value our work, please support us, with at least .27 per story. Click here for details.  Real journalism has value. Thank you for your support. Please tell others about us, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on 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. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope

Facts, and Opinions, this week

The Eiffel Tower in mourning on November 14, via Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo.

The Eiffel Tower in mourning on November 14, via Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo.

F&O ranges this week from extremist attacks to Starbucks’ red cups; from the trouble with America’s news media to HONY; from the science behind picky-eating cats, to how Jihadi John — reportedly killed  — came to be.  Find essential facts, and analysis that  goes behind the headlines and off the beaten track:

Focus on the Paris attacks:

Police patrol near the Eiffel Tower the day after a series of deadly attacks in Paris , November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

REUTERS/Yves Herman

Our selective grief: Paris, Beirut, Ankara, and Syria
TOM REGAN: Summoning Orenda Column

France vows “merciless” response
Reuters  Report

Notebook: IS claims responsibility, world reacts
Reuters  Report

Scores killed in Paris attacks
Reuters, Report & Photo-gallery

Reporter's notebookWhy people distrust news media, Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda column

The reason the media consistently ranks so low on surveys of public trust (particularly among young people) is that we don’t give the public reason to trust us.

The Man Who Would be Dickens: Emlyn Williams. Brian Brennan, Brief Encounters column (*subscription)

Ellyn Williams in 1973. Photo by Allan warren, Creative Commons/Wikimedia

In 1951, at age 46, Emlyn Williams carved out a new career touring the world with his one-man show, Emlyn Williams as Charles Dickens.

Unpacking the backpack of Christian privilege, Penney Kome, Over Easy column

So Starbucks has won 2015’s first “War On Christmas” prize, by offering seasonal red, green and white paper coffee cups that some evangelicals deem not Christmasy enough. And it’s only the beginning of November!

Science: Why cats are fussy and dogs will eat most anything.

Science: Why cats are fussy and dogs will eat most anything.

Why cats are fussy, and dogs will eat most anything. By Hannah Rowland

Research suggests cats possess the genes that protect vegetarian animals from ingesting poisonous plants.

 ‘JIHADI JOHN’: how one man became the Islamic State symbol. By Scott Lucas

Mohammed Emwazi became a symbol of a complex conflict – a shorthand for the evil threatening the West as well as those in Syria and Iraq.

Niyantha Shekar Follow Brandon "Of all the photographs in your book, which one do you feel like looking back on right now?" "The woman under the umbrella." - - - The caption under the photo Brandon picked reads: “When my husband was dying, I said: ‘Moe, how am I supposed to live without you?’ He told me: ‘Take the love you have for me and spread it around.’” - - - Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York has inspired to me to walk around with my camera, talk to people and share their stories. I’ve just started, but it’s already been so rewarding.

Niyantha Shekar, CC

BRANDON STANTON, Humans of New York: beyond journalism headlines. By Karin Wahl-Jorgensen

In the fall of 1915, New York photographer Brandon Stanton – best known for his project Humans of New York (HONY) – documented the human stories behind the migrant crisis, in partnership with the United Nations Refugee Agency.

 

Recommended elsewhere:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made public the new federal government’s Ministerial Mandate Letters — essentially the terms of each appointment to cabinet. They are a contrast  to the extreme partisanship of Canada’s previous government: one instructs a minister to create a non-partisan, merit-based process to advise on Senate appointments. There are surprisingly detailed instructions: orders to re-open coast guard facilities in St. John’s and Vancouver. And they promise sweeping change, from banning crude oil tankers off Northern British Columbia to electoral reform. One unexpected pledge will be welcome be every journalist: to engage with journalists as “professionals who, by asking necessary questions, contribute in an important way to the democratic process.”

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Last but not least, on Saturday –hours after the terror massacres in Paris — German musician Davide Martello  rolled his mobile piano to a street near the city’s Bataclan music hall, and played John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

 

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Facts and Opinions, a journalism boutique of words and images, is independent, non-partisan and employee-owned. F&O is funded by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. You are welcome to try one story at no charge. If you value our work, please support us, with at least .27 per story. Click here for details.  Real journalism has value. Thank you for your support. Please tell others about us, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on 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. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

Posted in Gyroscope

Attacks rock France

A general view of the scene that shows rescue services personnel working near the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015.   REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A general view of the scene that shows rescue services personnel working near the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

PARIS (Reuters) – France was rocked by multiple, near simultaneous attacks on entertainment sites around Paris on Friday evening and French media said at least 60 people were killed and hostages were being held in a concert hall in the capital.

The apparently coordinated gun and bomb attacks came as the country, a founder member of the U.S.-led coalition waging air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert for terrorist attacks ahead of a global climate conference that opens later this month.

Western security sources said they suspected an Islamist militant group was behind the carnage. … Continue reading Scores killed in Parisian attacks, hostages held

 

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , , |

In Remembrance

Canada’s Legion Magazine commissioned a video to mark the centenary of the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, read by Leonard Cohen.

ICYMI, from F&O archives:

Far from Flanders Fields  Deborah Jones, Free Range column

It’s at Ypres that my imagination falters, along with my tenuous grasp of poet John McCrae’s identity, and interest in the tiresome debate over the merits and meanings of his poem In Flanders Fields. It’s because of Ypres I am unable to imagine a man with the sensitivity of a poet and the intelligence of a physician harbouring “romantic” notions of war in the conditions of 1915 trench warfare.

Why I prefer to remember Remembrance Day. Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda column

We don’t have much of a tradition of military service in my family, but what we do have is meaningful. One of my uncles fought in the Second World War for Canada and saw some pretty serious action. My father-in-law, an American, was a lifetime aviator, and flew for the US Air Force in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. So I’ve always considered November 11th an important day to observe.  But when it comes to whether I celebrate Canada’s Remembrance Day, or America’s Veterans Day, I almost always prefer the former over the latter. The reason may be a semantic one but it’s an important one. … read more

World and War.  Deborah Jones, Free Range column

Every person who fought in World War I is now dead – and yet no one alive today is unaffected. The war consumed much of the globe for, arguably, decades. Many contend that the unresolved conflicts of the “Great War” re-ignited to become the conflagration we call World War II, then set in motion events from the Cold War to today’s Middle Eastern conflicts. A century after it began, I am most astonished at the hubris.

Body counts disguise true horror of what wars do to bodies. By Tom Gregory  Report

Every year on Remembrance Day, we pause to look back on old wars and recount the tallies of the dead, including 16 million killed in the first world war and 60 million in the second world war. And every day, news reports use body counts to highlight the human costs of war: from Syria, where the United Nations has estimated more than 191,000 people have been killed up to April this year, to Ukraine, where the latest estimates are of at least 3,724 people killed (including 298 on Flight MH17). But simply counting the bodies of those killed in war may not actually help us understand the death and destruction caused by war. Instead, my worry is that they end up erasing the violence inflicted on each of the bodies of those affected by war, and numbing our emotional responses to the deaths of others.

A philosopher asks: what do we owe the dead? Janna Thompson  Essay

Remembrance Day is an occasion when people are supposed to remember and honour those who died in their nation’s wars. But why should we believe that this obligation exists? The dead are dead. They can’t be gratified by our remembrance or insulted by a failure to honour them. Those facts do not prevent us from thinking that we have duties to the dead. Most of us believe we ought to remember people who made sacrifices for our sake. Most of us believe we ought to keep promises made to the dead, to protect their reputations from malicious lies and to fulfil their bequests.  … read more

From our vaults:

One Canadian Soldier: My son is readying for war. Deborah Jones, Free Range

9/11: Good, Evil, and Other. Deborah Jones, Free Range

 

Last but not least, Remembrance, a photo-essay by Greg Locke and Deborah Jones, of Remembrance Day, 2014, in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Vancouver, British Columbia:

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Facts and Opinions, a journalism boutique of words and images, is independent, non-partisan and employee-owned. F&O is funded by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. You are welcome to try one story at no charge. If you value our work, please support us, with at least .27 per story. Click here for details.  Real journalism has value. Thank you for your support. Please tell others about us, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on 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. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

Posted in Gyroscope

A finding, and F&O’s lineup

A camp near Sittwe can only be accessed by sea with boats transporting supplies . Photo: Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO, Rakhine State, Myanmar/Burma, September 2013

A sea change is underway in Myanmar/Burma. Watch for our coverage of the election in this weekend’s edition; following up on the report now on F&O, Myanmar’s abuses yield ready supply of slaves. Above, a camp near Sittwe can only be accessed by sea with boats transporting supplies . Photo: Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO, Rakhine State, Myanmar/Burma, September 2013

From our Findings file: for thinky types and policy wonks, the Disruptive Innovation Festival — site here — might be of interest. From November 2 – 20, mostly online but also in physical locations around the world, the annual festival “brings together entrepreneurs, designers, industry, makers, learners and doers to explore and respond to the changing economy.”

Sponsored by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in the U.K., topics range from the sweeping, such as the circular economy, to the specifics, such as energy-efficient cooling with charcoal.   The videos remain online for anyone to watch, free, at their leisure. Here’s a taste from 2014, of previous festival highlights:

In case you missed it: our latest lineup of new works on Facts and Opinions:

Last but not least, don’t miss the Google Doodle today, on Hedy Lamar.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 10.34.53 AM

Facts and Opinions relies on the honour system: enjoy one story at no charge, and if you value our independent, no-spam, no-ads journalism collaboration, please chip in, at least two bits, or make a sustaining donation. Click here for details.

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , , |

Trade, Elvis, Chalabi, priest abuse, VW, global unknowns — and World Indigenous Games: F&O this week

World Indigenous Games, a photo-essay by Ueslei Marcelino

Ahead of the Summer Olympics in 2016, Brazil is host to a new event – the World Indigenous Games.

Ahmed Chalabi: Death of a Salesman, by Jonathan Manthorpe, F&O International Affairs column

Ahmed Chalabi is lucky he died this week. Had he lived longer, he would have faced yet more charges that he is personally responsible for Middle East death and destruction.

Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d'Arcy James, Michael Keaton and John Slattery in 'Spotlight.' Publicity Photo: Kerry Hayes, © Open Road Films

Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Keaton and John Slattery in ‘Spotlight.’ Publicity Photo/Kerry Hayes © Open Road Films

Priest sex abuse: before Boston, there was Newfoundland, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda columnist

It was a bombshell: a local paper printed an exposé on sexual abuse by Catholic religious figures. No, I’m not talking about the story of the new film “Spotlight.”

The Feeling of Being Displaced All the Time: Andy Williams. Brian Brennan’s Brief Encounter (*subscription)

Andy Williams cracked open his fourth bottle of beer and pointed it at my notebook. “What’s this story you’re writing going to be about anyhow?” he asked. “You’re not looking for dirt, are you?”

Known Unknowns in Global Economics, by Jim McNiven, Thoughtlines column

As a global society we are slowly beginning to explore a couple of the ‘known unknowns’ that need to be managed right.

VW took corporate ethics industry to the brink. By Kelly Kollman & Alvise Favotto, University of Glasgow

The Volkswagen emissions scandal undermines claims that corporations care about being benign and useful participants in society.

Trade ministers from a dozen Pacific nations in Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministers meeting post in TPP Ministers "Family Photo" in Atlanta, Georgia October 1, 2015. REUTERS/USTR Press Office/Handout

Trade ministers from a dozen Pacific nations in Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministers meeting  in Atlanta, Georgia October 1, 2015. REUTERS/USTR Press Office/Handout

Trans-Pacific Partnership details released. By Krista Hughes and Matt Siegel.

The long-awaited text of the landmark Pacific trade deal reveals details of a pact aimed at freeing up commerce in 40 percent of the world’s economy — and criticized for opacity.

Myanmar’s abuses yield ready supply of slaves. By Penny Green,  Alicia de la Cour Venning & Thomas MacManus.

Myanmar’s historic election raises both hopes for democracy, and fears for worsened discrimination and violence bordering on genocidal against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.

Welcome to Facts and Opinions. We rely on the honour system: enjoy one story at no charge, and if you value our independent, no-spam, no-ads journalism collaboration, chip in at least two bits. Click here for details.

Recommended elsewhere:

Terror in Little Saigon, by A.C. Thompson, ProPublica/Frontline.

In the 1980s five Vietnamese-American journalists were killed in what the FBI suspected was a string of political assassinations. They garnered little attention, until now, as ProPublica and Frontline investigate. …  read Terror in Little Saigon, on ProPublica’s site

Last but not least, Elvis Presley is still breaking records nearly four decades after his death. Official Charts reported Nov. 6 that “If I Can Dream,” a collection of Elvis classics reworked by the British Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, topped the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart this week. Have a listen:

Posted in Current Affairs

White House decision on Keystone pipeline

Photo of an Alberta oil rig by Greg Locke, Copyright 2014

Alberta oil rig. Greg Locke © 2014

UPDATED: The U.S. rejected the final phase of the Keystone pipeline, President Barack Obama announced at his Friday morning press conference.  “The State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States,” said Obama in a statement, adding “I agree.”

TransCanada Corp.’s application for the Keystone XL pipeline, shipping oil from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries in the southern U.S., hit a wall earlier this week when Obama rejected the company’s 11th hour request to suspend a review of the pipeline’s final construction phase.

The pipeline is partly symbolic at this point; as the tortured application process wound its way through  America’s Byzantine politics, much of the oil that Keystone would carry has already found alternate ways south, through existing pipelines and via rail. But Obama’s decision is a key signal on how serious America is about climate change, leading up to the Paris summit in a few weeks.

Links below. Drag the counter to the 51 second mark to replay the live announcement from the White House here:

Excerpts, via @WhiteHouse Twitter feed :

  • “The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.”
  • “A bipartisan infrastructure plan…could create more than 30 times as many jobs/year as the pipeline”
  • Our businesses created 268,000 new jobs last month…the unemployment rate fell to 5%.
  • “The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers. In fact, gas prices have already been falling steadily”
  • “Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security.”
  • “We’ve doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas by 2025.”
  • “We’ve…multiplied the power we generate from the sun 20 times over.”
  • “America has cut our total carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.”
  • “America is leading on climate change with new rules on power plants”
  • “We’ve got to come together…to protect the one planet we’ve got while we still can.”
  • “If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now.”

Statement from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, emailed:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today issued the following statement on the Keystone XL pipeline decision by the United States:

“The application for a cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project was turned down by the United States Government today. We are disappointed by the decision but respect the right of the United States to make the decision.

“The Canada-U.S. relationship is much bigger than any one project and I look forward to a fresh start with President Obama to strengthen our remarkable ties in a spirit of friendship and co-operation.

“We know that Canadians want a government that they can trust to protect the environment and grow the economy. The Government of Canada will work hand-in-hand with provinces, territories and like-minded countries to combat climate change, adapt to its impacts, and create the clean jobs of tomorrow.”

Links:

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Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , , , |