Monthly Archives: February 2016

The 88th Oscars: Focus on Hollywood

The cast of the film "Spotlight" react after they won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The cast of the film “Spotlight” react after they won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Host Chris Rock opens the show at the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Host Chris Rock opens the show at the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Catholic Church abuse movie “Spotlight” was named best picture, the top award at Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, reports Reuters’ Jill Serjeant, after an evening peppered with pointed punchlines from host Chris Rock about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that has dominated the industry. … read our stories and photo essay, ‘Spotlight’ wins top Oscar amid night of race-related critiques

F&O’s Oscars package, Focus on Hollywood, includes:

Last but not least … if only the the unvarnished Facts grab you, here are the winners:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The 88th Academy Awards, the highest honours in the movie industry, were handed out a ceremony in Hollywood on Sunday hosted by comedian Chris Rock.

Following is a list of winners in key categories for the awards, also known as the Oscars.

  • BEST PICTURE
  • “Spotlight”
  • BEST DIRECTOR
  • Alejandro Iñárritu, “The Revenant”
  • BEST ACTOR
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
  • BEST ACTRESS
  • Brie Larson, “Room”
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  • Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
  • Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
  • BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
  • “Spotlight”
  • BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
  • “The Big Short”
  • BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
  • “Inside Out”
  • BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
  • “Amy”
  • BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
  • “Son of Saul” Hungary
  • BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
  • “The Hateful Eight” Ennio Morricone
  • BEST ORIGINAL SONG
  • “Writing’s On The Wall” from “Spectre”

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Mary Milliken and Sandra Maler)

~~~

Reader-Supported Facts and Opinions is employee-owned and ad-free. We survive on an honour system. Thanks for your interest and support. Details.

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , , |

Matters of Facts, and Opinions, this week

Reports:

Craig Venter, in 2007. Wikimedia/Creative Commons

CRAIG VENTER: Biotech’s biggest entrepreneur on a quest to delay ageing. By Roger Highfield

Craig Venter wants HLI to create the world’s most important database for interpreting the genetic code, so he can make healthcare more proactive, preventative and predictive. Such data marks the start of a decisive shift in medicine, from treatment to prevention. Venter believes we have entered the digital age of biology. And he is the first to embark on this ultimate journey of self-discovery.

Insight: The road to Aleppo – how the West misread Putin, by Tom Perry, Laila Bassam, Jonathan Landay and Maria Tsvetkova

Last July, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seemed to be losing his battle against rebel forces. Western officials said the Syrian leader’s days were numbered and predicted he would soon be forced to the negotiating table. It did not turn out that way.

Europe’s Migrant Crisis: Where the Dead don’t Count. By Selam Gebrekidan and Allison Martell

International groups track numbers of migrants who drown crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. Last year an estimated 3,800 people died that way. But no one counts the dead of the Sahara. This makes it easier for politicians to ignore the lives lost there, humanitarian workers say.

Arts:

‘Spotlight’ Gets Investigative Journalism Right, by Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica

“Spotlight,” the film based on the Boston Globe’s investigation of the Catholic Church, is a remarkable achievement. The movie, which has been nominated for six Academy Awards including best picture, vividly captures the mix of frustration, drudgery and excitement that goes into every great investigative story.

Dreamworks/Publicity Photo

Bridge of Spies’: The True Story is Even Stranger Than Fiction, by Tim Weiner

Bridge of Spies tries to be true to life. But it reconstructs five grim years in two hours and twenty-one minutes. As it often is, the truth was stranger than its fictional portrayal.

Bagpipe bandits: how the English blew Scotland’s national instrument first, by Vivien Williams

Bagpipe studies has undergone a revival of late –  and it’s emerged that the English were playing the pipes hundreds of years before the Scots got their hands on them.

Photo-Essay

A trainer feeds a tiger at the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok, Thailand, February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES

REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Thailand’s Tiger Temple, by Chaiwat Subprasom

Thailand’s Tiger Temple denies accusations that tigers bred there have been sold on the black market. But the allegations of mistreatment of tigers had dented Thailand’s tourism image, said a spokesman with the Wildlife Conservation Office.

Commentary:

Dancing with the devil, by Tom Regan

The process that led to the creation of the Trump monster began on the day of US President Barack Obama’s inauguration, January 20, 2009. The story has grown of how on that night a group of senior Republicans gathered at a private dinner, and decided to be not “the loyal opposition,” but a destructive and malignant force that would use any means at its disposal to achieve its desired outcome.

SOUTH CHINA SEA (Jan. 15, 2016) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) conducts a live fire gunnery exercise with its 5-inch .54-caliber gun. Curtis Wilbur is on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt.j.g. Jonathan Peterson, Public DomaineChina’s island building in defence of nuclear missile submarines, by Jonathan Manthorpe, F&O International Affairs columnist

China’s island building in the South China Sea shows the challenges awaiting America’s next president. Forget the Islamic State group and the quagmire of the Middle East. Asia and the confrontation with China is where the real threat to North American interests lie. Indeed, the situation is fast approaching something that looks strikingly similar to the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
Déjà Vu All Over Again, by Jim McNiven

The lesson from historical events: do not bet against whatever side the United States is on in a long-run Cold War. It is the acknowledged ‘champion’ of Cold Wars and will not give up its place in the face of Wahhabi/ Salafi/ Al Queda/ Taliban/ Islamic State, etc. pressure any time soon.

 ~~~
Findings:
Elsewhere, two essential essays stand out from the flood of political reporting out of the United States this week:
How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable, by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
He’s no ordinary con man. He’s way above average — and the American political system is his easiest mark ever.
The Governing Cancer of Our Time, by David Brooks, New York Times
“There are essentially two ways to maintain order and get things done in such a society — politics or some form of dictatorship. Either through compromise or brute force. … Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. “

Reader-Supported Facts and Opinions is employee-owned and ad-free. We survive on an honour system. Thanks for your interest and support. Details.

Posted in Current Affairs

Courage, mystery, and death: Facts and Opinions about Harper Lee

U.S. President George W. Bush (R) before awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to American novelist Harper Lee (L) in the East Room of the White House, in this November 5, 2007, file photo. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files

U.S. President George W. Bush (R) before awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to American novelist Harper Lee (L) in the East Room of the White House, in this November 5, 2007, file photo. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files

To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee dies, age 89, by Bill Trott, February 19, 2106

Harper Lee, who wrote one of America’s most beloved literary classics, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and surprised readers with a second book about racial injustice in the U.S. South after living a largely reclusive life for decades, died at the age of 89.

Harper Lee: a life of great courage, by Richard Gray, February 19, 2016

Harper Lee showed real courage throughout her life – not least, by writing a book that went against the tide of majority white opinion in the American South at the time. Her reward for that courage is to be loved by generations of readers, who have discovered – and will continue to do so – that reading her work can change everything.

There’s something mysterious about reviving Harper Lee’s Mockingbird, by Richard Gray (F&O Archives, Feb. 2015)

Every now and then, the writer Josephine Humphreys has suggested, our lives veer from their day-to-day course and become for a short while “the kind of life that can be told as a story – that is, one in which events appear to have meaning”. As the astounding news breaks that she is to publish a second novel, Harper Lee must be feeling like her life has become a story – a story which the meaning of remains just a little hidden and mysterious.

Facts and Opinions is employee-owned and survives on the honour system. Try one story at no charge. If you value expert, no-spam, no-ads, non-partisan, evidence-based, independent journalism, chip in at least two bits per story to ensure we continue. Thanks for your interest and support. Details here.

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , |

Antonin Scalia

U.S. President Reagan and then-nominee Antonin Scalia in 1986. Photo: Bill Fitz-Patrick, White House Photographer

U.S. President Reagan and then-nominee Antonin Scalia in 1986. Photo: Bill Fitz-Patrick, White House Photographer

Updated Saturday Feb. 20

The death on Feb. 13 of Justice Antonin Scalia, leader of the conservative wing of America’s Supreme Court,  may be one of those rare events on which history pivots. And given the court’s oversized influence on world affairs, at a critical time for the environment, finance and human rights, the impact will be global.

Scalia died at a Texas ranch where he was vacationing. He was 79, and the longest-serving justice on the court, appointed when Ronald Reagan was president. Scalia was legendary for acerbic, eloquent, and sometimes sarcastic opinions.

His unexpected death is a blow for the court’s conservative faction. Their majority meant they prevailed in rulings with repercussions far beyond American borders; one world-changing example was this month’s 5-4  ruling against president Barack Obama’s “clean power” efforts to tackle global climate change.

 Scalia was “the most influential justice of the last quarter-century, his influence ramifying far outside the Court,” noted a 2011 New Republic story.   He was unloved by “progressives;” witness the satire site The Onion’s  photo today with the simple headline, “Justice Scalia Dead Following 30-Year Battle With Social Progress.” His “Scalia-isms” are legendary, as shown in Business Insider’s roundup today.

Scalia’s death creates a vacancy on the bench that will allow not only for his replacement (the partisan battle over that has already begun), but alter the nature of America’s top court.

Here are two pieces in Facts and Opinions:

The Supreme Court in Wonderland, by Tom Regan, F&O Summoning Orenda columnist

Once upon a time, long ago and faraway, there was a magical kingdom … And then one day the most amazing thing happened. One of the great judges, Scalia of the Sarcastic Sanctimonious Sentences died quite unexpectedly. While in most cases the death of one of the great judges caused some hubbub, the death of the Scalia resulted in a total hissy fit among the wing nuts and the wing nuts who only liked to drink tea.

Why Is Mitch McConnell Picking This Fight? By Alec MacGillis, ProPublica, report

After word of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death emerged last weekend, it took Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell less than an hour to announce that the Senate would not entertain a replacement before November. “This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” he said. McConnell’s blunt declaration was taken as the starkest exhibition yet of the obstructionism that has characterized the Kentucky senator’s stance toward President Obama and congressional Democrats.

Selected excerpts, from F&O archives and elsewhere, that speak to Scalia’s legacy:

” I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time,” said US President Barack Obama, adding there is time to do so. But he stressed that the day of his death was a day to think of Scalia:

“For almost 30 years, Justice Antonin “Nino” Scalia was a larger-than-life presence on the bench — a brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, incisive wit, and colorful opinions.

“He influenced a generation of judges, lawyers, and students, and profoundly shaped the legal landscape.  He will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court.  Justice Scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy:  The rule of law.  Tonight, we honor his extraordinary service to our nation and remember one of the towering legal figures of our time.”

Statements from the U.S. Supreme Court justices on the death of their colleague. Excerpt, statement of Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: “We are different, we are one,” different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the “applesauce” and “argle bargle”—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh. The press referred to his “energetic fervor,” “astringent intellect,” “peppery prose,” “acumen,” and “affability,” all apt descriptions. He was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader’s grasp.

Justice Scalia once described as the peak of his days on the bench an evening at the Opera Ball when he joined two Washington National Opera tenors at the piano for a medley of songs. He called it the famous Three Tenors performance. He was, indeed, a magnificent performer. It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend.

~~~

U.S. court affirms equality of same sex marriage, by Deborah Jones, June 26, 2015. Excerpt:

In a scathing critique of judicial elites, dissenter Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice, wrote: “the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single South- westerner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans19), or even a Protestant of any denomination.” Scalia added:

“When decisions are reached through democratic means, some people will inevitably be disappointed with the re- sults. But those whose views do not prevail at least know that they have had their say, and accordingly are—in the tradition of our political culture—reconciled to the result of a fair and honest debate. In addition, they can gear up to raise the issue later, hoping to persuade enough on the winning side to think again … That is exactly how our system of government is supposed to work … But today the Court puts a stop to all that.”

~~~

The racist in the mirrorby Tom Regan, F&O Summoning Orenda column, January, 2016:

Justice Antonin Scalia, a longtime opponent of affirmative action, during a recent Supreme Court hearing on the issue, brought up the popular theory in conservative circles that maybe top universities are just too “advanced” for minorities, that they have a better chance of succeeding at less strenuous educational institutes. And so one of the leading legal voices in the United States basically called African-American kids stupid and not as smart as white kids.

~~~

During a 2012 lecture he gave at his alma mater, the University of Chicago law school, Scalia was asked  what advice he would give a law student today, reported the school’s alumni magazine. He replied, “Try to find a practice that enables you to have a human existence. I’m not talking about time for goofing off; I’m talking about time to attend to your other responsibilities—to your family, to your church or synagogue, to your community. All of those are real responsibilities.”

~~~

“It is not the Atmospheric Protection Agency. It’s the Environmental Protection Agency,” Scalia once famously said. In the following video, in 2012, he explains to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute president Shirley Ann Jackson his dissent in a ruling that America’s Environmental Protection Agency had the authority to regulate carbon dioxide.

~~~

Obamacare victory shows failure of Scalia’s conservative revolution. By Robert Schapiro, Emory University, June 2015

Justice Scalia once again failed to win over either Justice Kennedy or Chief Justice Roberts, revealing he is losing the war over the Supreme Court’s heart.

Antonin Scalia’s Legacy, by Nina Tottenburg, NPR:

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded only by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we need a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Visit our Subscribe page for details, or donate below. With enough supporters each paying a small amount, we will continue, and increase our original works like this.

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

Matters of Facts, and Opinions, this week

F&O’s fresh sheet this week includes the eclectic, the interesting, the fun stuff, several thought-provoking essays — and startling or stunning images. Bon appétit.

Riot police arrests a protester after a clash at Mongkok district in Hong Kong, China February 9, 2016.      REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Familiarity with China breeds contempt in Hong Kong, writes Jonathan Manthorpe, F&O International Affairs columnist Above, riot police arrests a protester after a clash at Mongkok district in Hong Kong, China February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

In Arts:

Deepa Mehta, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, director and producer whose work in film has attracted significant recognition, including the Governor General’s award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada. Photo: Simon Fraser University

Deepa Mehta. Photo: Simon Fraser University

Deepa Mehta: pushing boundaries with Beeba Boys

All of Deepa Mehta’s major films have caused controversy, including the latest, Beeba Boys. Just released,  Beeba Boys (kind of a Sikh Sopranos) depicts the stylish, violent  world of  second- and third-generation Indian gang-bangers in metro Vancouver.  The topic is timely, but not one that the local South Asian communities particularly want aired.  Deepa Mehta is used to pushing people’s boundaries.

Schiff sonatas score, Super Bowl blanked. By Rod Mickleburgh

While gazillions tuned into the greatest annual event in the history of the world, aka the Super Bowl, which surpasses even the Eurovision Song Contest in global importance, I sat entranced, with hundreds of others at the packed Vancouver Playhouse, for András Schiff’s virtuoso recital.

In Commentary:

Riot police arrests a protester after a clash at Mongkok district in Hong Kong, China February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Familiarity with China breeds contempt in Hong Kong, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs

The only surprise in the Monday night clashes between Hong Kong police and demonstrators demanding self-rule is that it hasn’t happened before.  In all likelihood the Mong Kok riots herald increasingly violent clashes as Hongkongers vent their frustrations with Beijing’s refusal to keep its promises of political reform and the steady erosion of the territory’s freedoms. The Chinese government has only itself to blame for the alienation of Hong Kong’s seven million people.

    RelatedHong Kong’s Fish Ball Revolution turns bloody
                       Chinese New Year, the world’s biggest consumer festival

You say you want a revolution? By Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda column

You say you want a revolution …  Well, I’m all in. I’m seized with joy at the thought of overthrowing the corrupt U.S. financial establishment. I’m gripped with enthusiasm at the thought of bringing justice and economic security for all Americans. But there might be a few problems …

In Expert Witness: 

Resilience requires rethinking data. By Dawn Wright

If the bad news is that we’re living in a world in which resilience is more critical to survival than ever, the good news is that technology is more than ever providing the tools we need to cultivate resilience. But we need to make sure the tools that allow us to gather and use this information are resilient.  I propose a set of three principles that data generators should subscribe to and governments should adopt.

Reader-Supported Facts and Opinions is employee-owned, and survives on an honour system. Try one story at no charge; chip in at least $.27 apiece for more. If you value no-spam, no-ads, non-partisan, evidence-based, independent journalism, help us continue. Please share our links and respect our copyright.Details.

In Reports:

Illustration: Democracy Chronicles/Flickr

The Executive Pay Cap That Backfired. By Allan Sloan, ProPublica

Wealth, jobs and pay inequality are big political issues in America. A favoured political tool for tackling these problems is the U.S. federal tax code. But trying to legislate corporate behavior and economic fairness — however you define fairness — through the tax system is a lot trickier than it sounds.

Markarian 231, a binary black hole found in the center of the nearest quasar host galaxy to Earth, is seen in a NASA illustration released August 27, 2015. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

Einstein’s gravitational waves detected in landmark discovery. By Will Dunham and Scott Malone

Scientists for the first time have detected gravitational waves, ripples in space and time hypothesised by Albert Einstein a century ago.

Related: Why the gravitational wave discovery matters. By Gren Ireson

The theory of general relativity tied together that what we commonly consider to be separate entities – space and time – into what is now called “space-time”.  Space-time can be considered to be the fabric of the universe.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Recommended elsewhere on the web:

There’s no space for today’s young Einsteins, by Philip Ball, the Guardian
A century ago, general relativity had no obvious “impact”, even though the GPS systems in today’s smartphones rely on it. It didn’t even have a clear goal, except intellectually. If Einstein’s project had relied on a grant application today, it would surely be rejected; probably no young scientist could afford the luxury of contemplating it in the first place. It’s not clear there is a space for Einsteins in modern science any longer.

Last but not least: In Case You Missed It, our Contents page for fresh stories and analysis including about North Korea’s rocket, American politics, the gripping tale about Malaysia’s leader, a corporate-funded mental health initiative, and a stunning Norwegian photo essay.

 

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded only by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we need a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Visit our Subscribe page for details, or donate below. With enough supporters each paying a small amount, we will continue, and increase our original works like this.

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

Facts, and Opinions, that matter this week

The Year of the Monkey begins today, on the Chinese New Year. Photo by Gavin Kennedy, © 2016

The Year of the Monkey begins today, on the Chinese New Year. Above, a monkey at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, in January. Photo by Gavin Kennedy, © 2016

The Year of the Monkey begins today, on the Chinese New Year, and so we begin the year with a report about the new year as the world’s biggest consumer holiday: Chinese New Year, the world’s biggest consumer festival, by Qing Shan Ding.

North Korea is in the news after firing a rocket that left a trail of anger, from the UN Security Council to its neighbours. We have the news report — plus select  columns and reports from our archives for context: North Korean rocket leaves trail of anger, by Ju-min Park and Louis Charbonneau. Related:

In this week’s column Tom Regan follows American politics with a piece about the press: The art of manipulating U.S. campaign coverage.

International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe writes a tale about Malaysia’s prime minister that is so strange it resembles a fictional thriller.  Ghosts Gather at Najib’s Feast is factual, however, and a gripping read.

In “Cause marketing” not clear as a bell, Deborah Jones explains why she’s not on board with #bellletstalk, a wildly successful marketing campaign that’s raised money and awareness for mental health causes in Canada. It is a world leader in a trend we really do need to talk about.

The big news in agriculture and biology this week was a finding, reported in the peer-reviewed journal Science, that seems finally to identify the cause of honeybee colony collapse. It’s us. Stephen John Martin, one of the researchers who made the finding reports, via The Conversation:  Honeybees being killed by a manmade pandemic.

Last but not least, here are four stories that provide what you need to know about Zika: Where did Zika virus come from, and why Brazil?,  Why don’t we wipe mosquitoes off the face of the Earth?Did health agencies fumble Zika response? and a poignant analysis of the problem, Love in the time of Zika.

Start with our Contents page, updated Saturdays or as breaking news warrants, and browse our sections for F&O’s complete trove of stories.

Thanks for your interest. If you value what we do please support us. We rely on you, our readers, to continue, as we do not sell advertising run “sponsored content”  — advertising dressed up to look like journalism, by companies that pay outlets to run it.

Facts and Opinions is employee-owned and survives on the honour system. Try one story at no charge. If you value expert, no-spam, no-ads, non-partisan, evidence-based, independent journalism, chip in at least two bits per story to ensure we continue. Thanks for your interest and support. Details here.

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 our journalism please support F&O –and tell others about us.

 

Posted in Current Affairs

Facts, and Opinions, that matter: from Zika to America’s “Arab Spring”

The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus “a Public Health Emergency of International Concern” today.

The WHO cited a suspected, though not yet scientifically proven, link between infection during pregnancy and microcephaly, the way the disease is spreading to vulnerable people, and the lack of vaccines and tests were also given as reasons.

Zika is spread by common mosquitoes, and is thought to have arrived in the Americas two years ago from areas of Africa where it’s endemic. It’s suspected to be the culprit behind  3,700 babies reportedly born with abnormally small heads —  microcephaly — in Brazil, the country hardest  hit in the Americas.

Said WHO, “A coordinated international response is needed to improve surveillance, the detection of infections, congenital malformations, and neurological complications, to intensify the control of mosquito populations, and to expedite the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines to protect people at risk, especially during pregnancy.

The first priority is control of mosquito populations and preventing mosquito bites in people at risk, especially pregnant women, said the organization.

Read three pieces on F&O that put the Zika emergency in context:

Did health agencies fumble Zika response? By Paulo Prada

It took months for Brazil’s health ministry to recognize the Zika virus had arrived. And so far, the World Health Organization’s hesitant response to the  outbreak –which has created the worst global health scare since Ebola –says much about the difficulties that the WHO and other health authorities face in combating unexpected public health threats. … go to the story

Love in the time of Zika

Where did Zika virus come from, and why is it in Brazil? By Amy Y Vittor

Urbanization, changing climate, air travel and transportation, and waxing and waning control efforts that are at the mercy of economic and political factors have led to these mosquitoes spreading to new areas and coming back in areas where they had previously been eradicated.  … go to the story.

Love in the time of Zika. By Beverley Paterson

Love, sex and babies are the foundation of human existence. Without them the human race ceases to exist. Zika, a virus that few people had heard of a month ago, has suddenly disrupted this normal course of events.  …go to the story.

F&O’s new works this week also include:

Dawn at the scientific base of Ny-Alesund, Svalbard, Norway October 14, 2015. A Norwegian chain of islands just 1,200 km (750 miles) from the North Pole is trying to promote new technologies, tourism and scientific research in a shift from high-polluting coal mining that has been a backbone of the remote economy for decades. Norway suspended most coal mining on the Svalbard archipelago last year because of the high costs, and is looking for alternative jobs for about 2,200 inhabitants on islands where polar bears roam. Part of the answer may be to boost science: in Ny-Alesund, the world's most northerly permanent non-military settlement, scientists from 11 nations including Norway, Germany, France, Britain, India and South Korea study issues such as climate change. The presence of Norway, a NATO member, also gives the alliance a strategic foothold in the far north, of increasing importance after neighbouring Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014. REUTERS/Anna FilipovaPICTURE 03 OF 19 - SEARCH "SVALBARD FILIPOVA" FOR ALL IMAGES


REUTERS/Anna Filipova

Snow, science, solitude: Ny-Alesund, Norway
ANNA FILIPOVA & ALISTER DOYLE Photo-Essay

The Islamic State is a mere shadow of the Assassins’ Caliphate
JONATHAN MANTHORPE, International Affairs Column

America’s ‘Arab Spring’
JIM MCNIVEN, Thoughtlines column

Newspapers their own worst enemy in battle to survive
TOM REGAN, Summoning Orenda Column

Visit  F&O’s Contents page for our recent works, published Saturdays.

~~~

Facts and Opinions is employee-owned, and relies on the honour system: try one story at no charge and, if you value our no-spam, no-ads work, please chip in at least .27 per story, or a sustaining donation, below. Details here. 

 

 

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , , , , , |