Monthly Archives: March 2016

Fresh: Facts, and Opinions, this week

An actor performs during William Shakespeare's theatre play "Hamlet" at the Jerusalem Centre for the Performing Arts in this file photograph dated December 11, 2008. REUTERS/ Eliana Aponte/files

Scan of Shakespeare’s Grave Suggests Skull Missing, reports Reuters. Above, an actor performs during William Shakespeare’s theatre play “Hamlet” at the Jerusalem Centre for the Performing Arts in this file photograph dated December 11, 2008. REUTERS/ Eliana Aponte/files

 

A still image taken from security camera footage shows people running for safety as shots are fired at the beach resort in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Etoile du Sud Hotel via Reuters TV ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.

People running for safety as shots are fired at the beach resort in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Etoile du Sud Hotel via Reuters TV 

The West’s racist response to terrorism, by Tom Regan. Column

It was a horrible attack. The terrorist gunmen walked up and down the beach, slaughtering men, women and children with each step they took. In one case, a small child begged for his life only to be murdered by the gunmen. A deaf child in the water, who others tried to warn of the danger, was also gunned down.  In the end at least 20 people lay dead, including two soldiers from a group who had arrived to confront the al-Qaeda terrorists. But I’m guessing you don’t know about this attack. That’s because it happened in the Cote d’Ivoire.

 

“Feeling the Bern”,  by Rod Mickleburgh  Column

The 74-year old, white-haired politician advanced to the podium, and the roof nearly came off the Hudson’s Bay High School gymnasium. No wonder. For nearly four hours, thousands of us had been standing in line, braving a cold, miserable rain, without even knowing whether we would be among the 5,000 or so lucky enough to make it inside. As the cheers continued to cascade down from the packed, rickety benches of the high school gym, Bernie Sanders leaned forward and shouted in his hoarse, Brooklynese. “All I can say is: WHOA!”

Party dissent in China as time for a new mandate for Xi nears, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs  Column

China’s leader Xi Jinping is facing serious criticism from within the ruling Communist Party as the time approaches when he must be reconfirmed as party boss and the country’s president. Since being selected by the party at the end of 2012 for China’s two top posts, Xi has raised hackles by using an anti-corruption drive to remove his political rivals, fostering an unseemly cult of personality, ramping up censorship and suppressing of dissent, and grasping more personal power than any leader since Mao Zedong.

Reuters

Reuters

UN Court Finds  Karadžić Guilty in Bosnia Genocide Trial. By Thomas Escritt and Toby Sterling  Report

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, the most senior political figure to be convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, was sentenced to 40 years in jail by U.N judges who found him guilty of genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and of nine other war crimes charges.

How aspirin does more than kill pain. By Emma Young   Report

Inflammation in our bodies is being linked with more diseases. Can a simple anti-inflammatory drug like aspirin really help keep us healthier?

Scan of Shakespeare’s Grave Suggests Skull Missing. By Reuters Arts report

Shakespeare’s skull is likely missing from his grave, an archaeologist has concluded, confirming rumors which have swirled for years about grave-robbers and adding to the mystery surrounding the Bard’s remains.

Brussels Attacks: 30 Killed, Islamic State Claims Responsibility. By Philip Blenkinsop and Francesco Guarascio

Islamic State claimed responsibility for suicide bomb attacks on Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train in the Belgian capital March 22, 2016, which killed at least 30 people, with police hunting a suspect who fled the air terminal.

Brussels Attacks: Deadly Circles of Terror. By Sebastian Rotella

Over the past several months, Belgian counterterror officials told me they were working nonstop to prevent an attack and that the danger had never been so high. Today, March 22, 2016, their worst fears came true when coordinated bombings struck the airport and a subway stop in Brussels.

In Case You Missed It, stories earlier this month:

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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 by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

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 Tagged , , , , , , , |

Balkanization and the Radovan Karadžić verdict

Radovan Karadzic attends a Bosnian Serb parliament session in Pale in this May 1993 file photo. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic/Files

Read the report: UN Court Finds Karadžić Guilty in Bosnia Genocide Trial. Above, Radovan Karadzic attends a Bosnian Serb parliament session in Pale in this May 1993 file photo. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic/Files

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić  was convicted and sentenced today by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. The U.N judges found him guilty of genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, and of nine other war crimes charges.

Read the Reuters news report on F&O, with a photo-essay: UN Court Finds  Karadžić Guilty in Bosnia Genocide Trial, by Thomas Escritt and Toby Sterling.

© Deborah Jones 2011

Clamber seven stories up the broken stairs of the “sniper’s nest” of Mostar, a former department store/office building. Stand at the corner overlooking the modern part of the town. Screw the long lens onto the camera. Aim at the hollowed out buildings that used to house offices, homes, schools. Consider the hearts and minds of of those who sat here before, looking through not a lens but a sight. © Deborah Jones 2011

Karadžić is the most senior political figure to be convicted in the tribunal  — but  in some ways this is only another chapter in the larger sage of the Balkans conflicts. There are dozens of accused from the former Yugoslavia, some convicted, others whose cases are winding their way through the tribunal.

“The justice process is not yet finished,” noted a statement from the prosecutor’s office. “Too many victims in the former Yugoslavia are still waiting for justice. And too many families still do not know the fate of their loved ones.”

No one, I wager, can legitimately claim to understand the Balkans; novelist and diplomat Ivo Andrić perhaps came close. The lands — some as rugged as any on earth — have been contested for as long as humans have inhabited them, and the communities are complicated by religion, rivalry and bitter history.

The so-called Balkans Conflicts of the ’90s, as the eastern communist bloc crumbled and the former Yugoslavia disintegrated, was horrific. We see the evidence of that in the documents and testimony before the tribunal, but also in the shattered walls,  ravaged earth, and traumatized people.

Everywhere through Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska to the north lie tombstones. Buildings are still hollowed out from the war. Almost nothing is free of damage left by weapons.

“It was a village war,” said the owner of the bed and breakfast where I stayed in Mostar in the winter of  2011. He was a 20-something Muslim who called himself “The Turkman,” and he talked about roaming freely through the whole village as a kid, pointing across the river at the new part of town. His family sent him to safety in Germany throughout the conflict. When I met him, he had just recently returned to help them start a tourist business.

His hostelry was a sign that Mostar, and the region, was showing signs of economic life.

Yet, still, he said, no one of the different religious communities in tiny Mostar dared cross the borders of the other communities, though until the conflict they had been friendly.

Gravestones filled all of the yards along the street in the Muslim area, bombed-out buildings dotted the town.

“A village war is the worst,” he said.

 

© Deborah Jones 2011

The superhighway from Croatia into Bosnia. © Deborah Jones 2011

Reconstruction, paid for by international donors, was well underway when I was there. Yellow buses with the flag of Japan, which paid for them, provided public transit in towns. Heavy equipment was at work throughout the countryside building roads. The famous bridge of Mostar, the Starry Most, was a tourist draw after being refurbished by money from the United Kingdom. Even ancient roadside villages, such as Počitelj in Bosnia, right, housed little cafes and signage in multiple languages for the tourists they hoped would eventually come.

Počitelj, Bosnia. © Deborah Jones 2011

Počitelj, Bosnia. © Deborah Jones 2011

Rebuilding the physical structures might be the least challenging remedy to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

Fixing  people is harder. Will the justice now being meted out at the Hague, along with time,  repair the extreme social damage?

Deborah Jones

 

Here’s some recommended reading, for history and context:

Non-fiction: Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History, by Robert D. Kaplan. Also his Reader’s Guide to the Balkans, New York Times, 1993

Fiction, The Bridge on the Drina, by Nobel-winning author Ivo Andrić, 1945. From Wikipedia: The Bridge on the Drina revolves around the town of Višegrad in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge over the Drina river. The story spans about four centuries during the Ottoman and subsequently Austro-Hungarian administrations of the region and describes the lives, destinies and relations of the local inhabitants, with a particular focus on Muslims and Orthodox Christians living in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Fiction, The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obreht, 2010. From Wikipedia: “It’s a family saga that takes place in a fictionalized province of the Balkans. It’s about a female narrator and her relationship to her grandfather, who’s a doctor. It’s a saga about doctors and their relationships to death throughout all these wars in the Balkans.”

Fiction: The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway, 2008. From Wikipedia: “The novel is set during the siege of Sarajevo in the mid-1990s and explores the dilemmas of ordinary people caught in the crisis.”

Links:

UN Court Finds  Karadžić Guilty in Bosnia Genocide Trial, by Thomas Escritt and Toby Sterling.

Tribunal convicts Radovan Karadžić for crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, press release, United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

The Cases, United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia: Karadžić is one of dozens of accused from the former Yugoslavia, some convicted, others transferred, others whose cases are winding their way through the tribunal.

Watch the March 24 verdict:

 
Related works on Facts and Opinions:

A woman cries near coffin of her relatives who were victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, at the Memorial Centre in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina July 10, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A woman cries near coffin of her relatives who were victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, at the Memorial Centre in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina July 10, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Bosnia divided two decades after peace deal, by Daria Sito-Sucic, November 21, 2015  Report

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

In Srebrenica, digging for the dead and fighting denial 20 years later, By Daria Sito-Sucic and Maja Zuvela, Reuters July, 2015.

POTOCARI, Bosnia ( Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people will gather at a cemetery near Srebrenica  …

Ruling on Srebrenica may affect UN peacekeeping By Regina E Rauxloh, University of Southampton, The Conversation,August 1, 2014

A Dutch civil court in the Hague ruled that the relatives of some 300 men and boys killed after being evicted by Dutch peacekeepers from the Potočari compound could receive compensation from the Dutch state.

 

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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 by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

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

The Attacks on Brussels

An injured man lies at the scene of explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ketevan Kardava/Courtesy of 1tv.ge/Handout via Reuters

An injured man lies at the scene of explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ketevan Kardava/Courtesy of 1tv.ge/Handout via Reuters

At least 30 people were killed and scores injured in terrorist attacks on Brussels today, March 22. Reports and analysis on Facts and Opinions, listed below, provide the crucial information as well as the deep context.

Rescue workers treat victims outside the Maelbeek underground station, in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/RTL Belgium via Reuters TV

Rescue workers treat victims outside the Maelbeek underground station, in Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/RTL Belgium via Reuters TV

But first, a note. Soon, if they have not already, critics will complain that those of us in developed countries pay undue attention to horrific events in our own realms, while ignoring the horrific events in less familiar, sometimes less developed, places. There is truth to such allegations — but the critics are wilfully ignoring human reality. Horror, or terror, if you prefer, is not an abstract concept. It is a response of the gut, a wrenching of the soul, and no matter where it happens when we have been in a place that has been ravaged, when the faces of the stricken are familiar to us, we respond fully.

Many of us have passed through the Brussels airport hit by attackers today, on business with the nearby European Union headquarters, as tourists, as travellers. In recent years I spent two days roaming the halls that were bombed today, stranded there by mechanical problems on my scheduled flight. It is easy to look at the photos in F&O’s pages, and imagine myself there. Or, almost worse, to imagine the people I know who live or spend time in Brussels.

The critics who call on us to pay equal attention to all benighted places in the world do have a point: all troubles of the world cry for attention. But there is a a larger point: we are all connected. The goal is not to wallow emotionally in all the various horrors, or give equal time everywhere like automatons. The goal is to minimize, and then eliminate, their complex causes.

Deborah Jones

Here are two pieces about today’s attacks, and more from our archives that provide context:

A soldier is seen at Zaventem airport after a blast occurred, in Belgium March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jef Versele/Handout via Reuters

A soldier after a blast at Zaventem airport, Belgium, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jef Versele/Handout via Reuters

Brussels Attacks: 30 Killed, Islamic State Claims Responsibility. By Philip Blenkinsop and Francesco Guarascio

Islamic State claimed responsibility for suicide bomb attacks on Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train in the Belgian capital March 22, 2016, which killed at least 30 people, with police hunting a suspect who fled the air terminal.

Brussels Attacks: Deadly Circles of Terror. By Sebastian Rotella

Over the past several months, Belgian counterterror officials told me they were working nonstop to prevent an attack and that the danger had never been so high. Today, March 22, 2016, their worst fears came true when coordinated bombings struck the airport and a subway stop in Brussels.

From F&O’s Archives:

  1. Why the Paris attackers were based in Molenbeek, by Martin Conway, University of Oxford. Analysis
  2. Paris, Pilots and our rhetoric around ISIS, SHELDON FERNANDEZ, Essay
  3. Why ISIS is winning, with America’s help, TOM REGAN: Summoning Orenda Column
  4. Soldiers patrol Brussels, raids lead to arrests, GABRIELA BACZYNSKA & PHILIP BLENKINSOP  Report
  5. The View From Counterterror’s Front Lines , SEBASTIAN ROTELLA, ProPublica  Report
  6. Suicide Bombing: history’s least successful military tactic, JONATHAN MANTHORPE, International Affairs Column
  7. Our selective grief: Paris, Beirut, Ankara, and Syria, TOM REGAN: Summoning Orenda Column
  8. France vows “merciless” response, Reuters  Report
  9. Notebook: IS claims responsibility, world reacts, Reuters  Report
  10. Scores killed in Paris attacks,  Reuters, Report & Photo-gallery

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, OUR FRESH SHEET THIS WEEK:

FINDINGS: 

Rob Ford, who achieved global infamy as the controversial, attention-seeking, and drug-addicted former mayor of Canada’s largest city, died today. Here’s a F&O column I wrote about him during his heyday in 2013, and here’s a link to the Canadian Press report on his death. Here’s a recommended read: Toronto journalist John Lorinc looked beyond his infamy – and avoided mawkish mouthings about the death of a young father — to  praise Ford’s unintended gift to his city. Go to Spacing’s site to read Rob Ford, 1969-2016: A legacy he never intended, by John Lorinc.

America’s National Public Radio takes a look at how a new Pew study on lifelong learning plays out in real-life: For Adults, Lifelong Learning Happens The Old Fashioned Way, by Elissa Nadworny, NPR.

Last but not least, this is a great read for nature lovers: Parrots Are a Lot More Than ‘Pretty Bird’, Natalie Angier, The New York Times. Excerpt:

“Dr. Masello is one of a small but unabashedly enthusiastic circle of researchers who study Psittaciformes, the avian order that includes parrots, parakeets, macaws and cockatoos. For all their visual splash and cartoon familiarity, parrots have long been given scientific short shrift in favor of more amenable subjects like, say, zebra finches or blue tits. …. go to Angier’s story 

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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 by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

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, that matter this week

 

14637661370_ed01aa8a15_k copyTrump or no Trump, the Democrats are going to win in the fall. Tom Regan, F&O Columnist

I’m tired of all the handwringing about Donald Trump. Yes, he’s bringing out a lot of new white voters, particularly angry white men. Yes, more Republicans are showing up to vote in the primaries than Democrats are. Yes, Trump is the “unexpected factor” that no one saw coming. Yes, underestimating Trump in the coming fall, as Republicans did last fall, is the greatest danger the Democrats face. It doesn’t matter one bit.

FORTALEZA, Brazil — Leaders announce a BRICS development bank at Brazil summit. Left to right: President of Russia Vladmir Putin, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, President of China Xi Jinping, President of South Africa Jacob Zuma. Photo: Russian government, public domainBRICS turning to rubble. Jonathan Manthorpe, F&O Columnist  Report

The leadership chaos in Brazil and South Africa is a timely reminder for emerging economies that unless they also press ahead with political, administrative, judicial and social reform they are doomed. The prospects for the BRICS —  Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — don’t look rosy, and in every case it is because the governing regimes failed to use their growing economic wealth as a tool to fuel political, administrative, judicial and social reform.

A refguee holds a message, "Thank you EU for closing the border" during a protest asking for the opening of borders at a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, Greece, March 18, 2016.   REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

A refguee holds a message, “Thank you EU for closing the border” during a protest asking for the opening of borders at a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, Greece, March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

EU, Turkey, seal controversial deal to return migrants. By Humeyra Pamuk and Gabriela Baczynska  Report

 The European Union sealed a controversial deal with Turkey on Friday intended to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara. The accord aims to close the main route by which a million migrants and refugees poured across the Aegean Sea to Greece in the last year before marching north to Germany and Sweden.

The Radcliffe Camera of the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. © Deborah Jones 2008

Electronic or on calf skin, knowledge never more threatened. By Richard Ovenden, University of Oxford  Arts report

Information is constantly under attack. A current debate around the longstanding use of vellum (a parchment made using calf skin) for printing key legislative documents highlights the continued concern over this. But books and manuscripts have been the targets of thieves for millennia.

Egypt finds clues that Queen Nefertiti may lie behind Tut’s tomb. By Reuters. Report

Egypt has unearthed further evidence that a secret chamber, believed by some to be the lost burial site of Queen Nefertiti, may lie behind King Tutankhamun’s tomb, Egypt’s antiquities minister said on March 17. There is huge international interest in Nefertiti, who died in the 14th century B.C.

Quagga mussels in fish trawl. Lake Michigan, August 2006. Photo NOAA‘Smeary’ Lake Erie — progress, and setbacks. Brian Bienkowski  Report

The Great Lakes  — with 84% of North America’s surface fresh water and about 21% of the world’s supply — have benefited mightily from cleanup and research. However, from plummeting prey fish populations to poopy Michigan rivers, grave threats to the region’s ecosystems remain.

How do you mine Bitcoin – and is it still worth it? By Paul Levy   Report

Most people are bamboozled by Bitcoin,  but there are definitions of Bitcoin that even a five-year-old could understand. Bitcoin is an online form of money – each one is currently worth around £290. So, when you read “cryptocurrency”, think digital gold. Think virtual money.

Vancouver, looking west toward English Bay and the city's West Side, left. Photo by Gavin Kennedy, Copyright 2013

Sustainability needs academics, outside Ivory Towers. By Anthony D. Barnosky, Elizabeth A. Hadly, and Paul R. Ehrlich  Expert Witness

Until recently, Earth was so big compared with humanity’s impacts that its resources seemed limitless. But that is no longer the case. Thanks to rapid growth in both human population and per capita consumption, we are now on the edge of irrevocable damage to our planetary life support systems. If we want to avoid locking in long-lasting impacts, it is imperative that we quickly solve six intertwined problems: population growth and overconsumption, climate change, pollution, ecosystem destruction, disease spillovers and extinction.

Academics can change the world – if they engage with it. By Savo Heleta, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University  Expert Witness

Research and creative thinking can change the world. This means that academics have enormous power. But, as academics Asit Biswas and Julian Kirchherr have warned, the overwhelming majority are not shaping today’s public debates. Instead, their work is largely sitting in academic journals that are read almost exclusively by their peers.

And to wrap up the week, a video from Doctors Without Borders summarizing Syria’s five-year agonizing war:

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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 by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

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

FINDINGS: The best of reporting on Donald Trump

by Sarah Smith, ProPublica

If elected president of the United States, Donald Trump has promised to “open up” libel laws so he can sue news organizations like they’ve “never got sued before.” While the First Amendment is still intact, ProPublica compiled a list of some articles he might have his eye on.

Trump’s Bad Bet: How Too Much Debt Drove His Biggest Casino Aground

The Washington Post, January 2016

In 1988, when Donald Trump took control of the Taj Mahal (the Atlantic City hotel-casino, not the Indian palace!), he promised to finance his operation without junk bonds. Banks, he said, would line up to give him loans. They didn’t. So, Trump took on the junk bonds he said he wouldn’t need, and the hotel-casino sank into debt. By 1991, the Taj Mahal declared bankruptcy, the first of several for Trump. The move affected Trump’s personal finances more than he’s indicated on the campaign trail—and left bitterness in Atlantic City.

For Donald Trump, Lessons From a Brother’s Suffering

New York Times, January 2016

In 1999, Donald Trump’s nephew, Fred Trump III, had a son born with cerebral palsy. It was yet another tragedy for Fred. Eighteen years earlier, his father Freddy (older brother to Donald) died of alcoholism at age 43. At first, the Trump family said they would pay for the infant’s medical bills, but when it was revealed that Donald’s father had cut the boy’s side of the family out of his will, Donald stopped covering his medical treatment. His parents sued, and Donald Trump told the Times the suit was settled “very amicably.”

He’ll Take the Low Road: Trump’s Tortured History With Scotland

The Atlantic, December 2015

In 2012, Trump opened a golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland, (“the world’s greatest golf course,” per its website), in part to rebuild ties with his mother’s native country. When a wind farm went up around the course, Trump wrote to the head of the Scottish government decrying the wind farms. He claimed his motivation was “to save Scotland.” He took his fight all the way to the U.K. Supreme Court—which in December blocked his efforts to shut off the wind turbines.

Donald Trump Billed His ‘University’ as a Road to Riches, But Critics Call it a Fraud

The Washington Post, September 2015

Trump University, which started in 2004 but never actually got licensed, promised get-rich-quick guidance in hotel ballroom workshops. One three-day workshop cost $1,495; a “Gold Elite” package, which came with a certificate and a picture with a life-size poster of Donald Trump, cost one man $34,995. The workshops led to three lawsuits against Trump alleging fraud, including one brought by the New York attorney general in 2013 for $40 million that’s still pending.

Ex-Wife: Donald Trump Made Me Feel ‘Violated’ During Sex

The Daily Beast, July 2015

In the early 1990s, when Trump and his first wife Ivana were going through an acrimonious divorce, Ivana said under oath that Donald had raped her once. She later clarified her position to a book author, saying that she did not mean “rape” in a “literal or criminal sense,” but did feel violated. When the Daily Beast asked Trump to comment on these allegations last summer, (not long after he called Mexicans “rapists”), Michael Cohen, special counsel for the Trump Organization, threatened The Daily Beast reporter and said (incorrectly), “You cannot rape your spouse.”

TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald

Timothy L. O’Brien, October 2005

Timothy O’Brien’s 2005 book on Donald Trump estimated that the businessman was worth between $150 million and $250 million—not, as he claimed, somewhere around $3.6 billion to $6 billion. Trump sued O’Brien in 2006 for defamation. In a 2007 deposition, Trump explained that he calculated his net worth based on his feelings. Trump lost his last appeal 2011. Last week, Trump acknowledged he had no case. “I did it to make his life miserable, which I’m happy about,” he said.

After 15 Years in Court, Workers’ Lawsuit Against Trump Faces Another Delay

The New York Times, June 1998

A class-action lawsuit filed against Donald Trump in 1983 alleged that Trump owed $4 million to a union welfare fund for Polish workers—about 200 of whom were allegedly undocumented—who worked on Trump Tower. One of the witnesses described 12-hour days in hazardous conditions. Trump said he didn’t know about the workplace environment, or that there were undocumented workers. The case was delayed for years, finally settled in 1999 and sealed. Trump did not comment on a 2015 Daily Beast article about the litigation.

Short-Fingered Vulgarian

Spy Magazine

The now-defunct Spy magazine came up with the moniker “short-fingered vulgarian” to describe Trump and used it multiple times from the late 1980s to early 1990s. (It has reemerged with a vengeance in the 2016 election.) Spy magazine cofounder Graydon Carter told Politico that Trump sent him photos as recently as April, his fingers circled, with a note: “See, not so short.”

Angered by Attack, Trump Urges Return of the Death Penalty

The New York Times, May 1989

Donald Trump took out full page advertisements in four New York newspapers on May 1, 1989 calling for the execution of black and Hispanic teenagers who had been arrested in the so-called Central Park jogger case. “The 600-word ad came a few weeks after a female jogger in Central Park was sexually assaulted and beaten. “I want to hate these muggers and murderers,” Trump wrote in the ad. “They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” The teenagers were later exonerated and awarded $41 million in a settlement with New York City.

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You might also be interested in these stories published on Facts and Opinions:

The sound of white noise, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda, F&O, column

Sometimes, when I’m driving late at night to pick up my wife at a train stop, or on my way to some event in Washington (about an hour from where I live) I turn on conservative talk radio. Just to listen to the other side. And the angry voices fill my car.

Dancing with the devil, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda, F&O, column

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 wthat 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.

Fox News Facebook page

The art of manipulating campaign coverage, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda, F&O, column

Who is manipulating whom in media coverage of United States politics? American media manipulates the way they tell stories in order to increase eyeballs and produce a narrative that suits their tastes. But politicians then manipulate the media into creating those narratives and building on them, despite what is actually going on in the campaign.

The Donald Trump meme: nostalgia for a fantasy, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda, F&O, column

Remember when women and minorities knew their place? Illegal immigration was unheard of? Men all had good jobs? Everybody believed in the same God? (Or at least the same version.) Kids respected their parents? Terrorism was a word that kids learned about in college when studying European history? America was the most powerful nation in the world? No, you don’t remember? Then you’re likely not a Donald Trump supporter.
Stuart Anthony/Flickr/Creative Commons

Stuart Anthony

Ad research may explain Donald Trump’s appeal. By Jon D. Morris & Taylor Wen, September, 2015

Politics and advertising are closely intertwined. Like a good advertisement, a good politician needs to present a compelling case for why the voter should check his or her box on the ballot over all the other options. Here, Donald Trump excels.

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For curious people who think: Facts, and Opinions, that matter

Brain food for your week: Facts, and Opinions, that matter. Enjoy.

Reports:

The Dunblane massacre at 20: how Britain rewrote gun laws. By Peter Squires

Thomas Hamilton walked into Dunblane Primary School, near Stirling, Scotland on March 13 1996, armed with four legally-owned handguns and over 700 rounds of ammunition. In three to four terrible minutes, he fired 105 shots killing 16 children and their teacher, and wounding 15 more children. His last shot killed himself. In the 20 years since Dunblane, a great deal has been learned about preventing gun violence.

German economist challenges orthodoxy, inequality, by Noah Barkin

REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Marcel Fratzscher, in contrast to many of his German counterparts, does not believe the German economy and the rules-based governance – Ordnungspolitik – that has shaped it since World War Two is a model that others should emulate.

Trying (and Trying) to Get Records From America’s “Most Transparent Administration” By Justin Elliott Report

Documents are the lifeblood of investigative journalism, but these problems aren’t of interest only to reporters. America’s  Freedom of Information Act is supposed to deliver on the idea of a government “for and by the people,” whose documents are our documents. The ability to get information from the government is essential to holding the people in power accountable.

Undersea Mining: scientists race to the bottom first, by Brooke Jarvis, OnEarth

Ask oceanographer Craig Smith what the Clarion-Clipperton Zone of the Pacific is like beneath all that water, and he’ll describe a strange undulating world far beyond the reach of sunlight, populated by an enormous array of bizarre-looking creatures, both huge and tiny, known and unknown. And he’ trying to get to them before the underwater miners.

Beyond silicon: the search for new semiconductors, by Thomas Vandervelde

Our modern world is based on semiconductors. But  silicon – used in all manner of computers and electronic gadgets – has its technical limits, particularly as engineers look to use electronic devices for producing or processing light. The search for new semiconductors is on.

Orcas: the whales with a dam problem. Photo: Minette Layne

Orcas: the whales with a dam problem. Photo: Minette Layne

Whales with a Dam Problem, by Chelsey B. Coombs

The only resident population of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest befuddle biologists, because their numbers seem to be stuck at around 80 individuals. The stagnation, recent research shows, may largely come down to the fact that these orcas are picky eaters whose primary food source—salmon—are having population problems of their own.

Arts:

RIP George Martin, the Fifth Beatle. By Mike Jones

George Martin was so integral a part of the Beatle’s story that he was called “the Fifth Beatle.” – a moniker that, in the 1960s, was also given to their then manager Brian Epstein. In both instances, the accolade is richly-deserved – without Epstein the Beatles would have not won a recording contract, and without Martin they would not have made records.

Man Booker International 2016 Longlist. By Deborah Jones

Household, pseudonymous and new names are included in the longlist of 13 books in line for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize, released March 10.

Commentary:

 View of the entrance to the Bosphorus from the Sea of Marmara, as seen from the Topkapı Palace. Photo Gryffindor/Wikipedia


Manthorpe: the prospect of war between Russia and Turkey is troubling. Above, the Bosphorus. Photo: Gryffindor/Wikipedia

Russia and Turkey eye each other with guns drawn, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs Column

Of the many disaster scenarios that could spring from the civil war in Syria, the prospect of war between Russia and Turkey is by far the most troubling.

The sound of white noise, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda  Column

Sometimes, when I’m driving late at night to pick up my wife at a train stop, or on my way to some event in Washington (about an hour from where I live) I turn on conservative talk radio. Just to listen to the other side. And the angry voices fill my car.

Out of Time: Daylight (Saving) Delusions, by Deborah Jones, Free Range   Column

Listening to rain lashing windows as I moved through the house changing time, I wondered, Do we think we’re magicians, able to “save” daylight any more than we can conjure an end to a storm?

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Posted in All, Current Affairs

Weekender: Matters of Facts, and Opinions

Ruth Hopkins writes from Pollsmoor Prison in the Western Cape of South Africa: International Women’s Day on March 8 turns the spotlight on the fate of women, in particular their achievements and the slow pace of progress. An often overlooked group are women prisoners. Their needs, views and struggles barely figure in feminist discourse, let alone in the mainstream debate in society. F&O is pleased to publish a series of drawings by a prisoner who, for security reasons, goes by the name Palesa. Read  her story, Filth, disease, sex and violence for South African female inmates.

© Palesa 2016

© Palesa 2016

 

 

By David Shankbone - David Shankbone, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3321001The battle for Israel’s religious soul, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda column

One story going largely unnoticed amid the  circus-like atmosphere of the Republican presidential primary campaign has serious consequences for Canada and the United States, and for many of their Jewish citizens: the struggle over the the definition of what it means to be a Jew in Israel.

Oil slump devastates Venezuela, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs column

Venezuela’s grey and featureless President, Nicolas Manduro, the default successor to that preening, strutting rooster Hugo Chavez, is set to become the first head of government felled by tumbling oil prices. It’s just a matter of who gets their boot lined up first to kick him out the door.

The proposed Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay power station consists of a large artificial lagoon formed by a sea wall, with water allowed in and out through underwater electricity turbines. Electricity is harvested from the difference between low and high tides.The proposed Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay power station consists of a large artificial lagoon formed by a sea wall, with water allowed in and out through underwater electricity turbines. Electricity is harvested from the difference between low and high tides.

Can clean power plants be things of beauty? By Nicole Porter

Just as we marvel at Roman aqueducts or Victorian railways, so we could design power plants, solar panels, turbines and other infrastructure to be beautiful additions to the landscape. As we move away from ugly coal and gas, we have a great chance to celebrate low carbon energy with imaginative new designs.

The Referendum That Might Have Headed Off Flint’s Water Crisis. By Alec MacGillis, ProPublica

The tragic lead poisoning of the Flint water supply in Michigan is a study in bureaucratic bungling, racial inequity and national media inattention. But the fallout from the crisis has obscured another lesson: There are consequences when those in power are able simply to circumvent the public will.

A volunteer (2nd L) gives away goods to stranded refugees and migrants, most of them Afghans, who find shelter on Victoria Square in Athens, Greece, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

EU fate at stake on muddy Greek border. By Lefteris Papadimas and Renee Maltezou

A transit camp is the most dramatic sign of a new crisis tearing at Greece’s frayed ties with Europe and threatening its stability.  The European Union’s most enfeebled state is suddenly being turned into what Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calls a “warehouse of souls”.

Brazil’s Lula detained in corruption probe, Rousseff objects. By Brad Haynes and Anthony Boadle

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was briefly detained for questioning in a federal investigation of a vast corruption scheme, fanning a political crisis that threatens to topple his successor, President Dilma Rousseff. A two-year-old graft probe has centred on the state oil company Petrobras, rocked Brazil’s political and business establishment, and deepened the worst recession in decades in Latin America’s biggest economy.

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Posted in Current Affairs