Monthly Archives: September 2016

F&O’s Fresh Sheet

Grandchildren of former Israeli President Shimon Peres lay a wreath on the grave of their grandfather during the burial ceremony at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Grandchildren of former Israeli President Shimon Peres lay a wreath on the grave of their grandfather during the burial ceremony at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Shimon Peres funeral joins Israeli, Palestinian leaders — briefly. By Jeffrey Heller and Jeff Mason

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) during the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem September 30, 2016. Amos Ben Gershom/Government Press Office (GPO)/Handout via REUTERSIsraeli and Palestinian leaders shook hands during a brief chat and U.S. President Barack Obama gently reminded them of the “unfinished business of peace” at the funeral Friday of Shimon Peres, the last of a generation of Israel’s founding fathers.

 SHIMON PERES: Israeli nationalist first, peacemaker second, by Maria Holt  Analysis

Shimon Peres, often described as “the last of Israel’s founding fathers”, was popular in Israel and abroad, but his record in office was by no means unblemished. His reputation as one of the 20th century’s great peacemakers needs to be put in perspective.

Putin, Grand Master of the Great Game, awaits next opponent, by Jonathan Manthorpe  Column

When the new United States president moves into the Oval Office early next year, at the top of her foreign policy priorities will be what to do about Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s tribe and an absence of poetry, by Tom Regan   Column

When did the men in America – white men in particular – lose their sense of poetry? When did they stop being aware of the ebb and flow of life all around them, and lose that spark that separates those who are merely alive from those who are actually living? When did they settle on violence, brutality, and a nasty churlishness?

The Canadian roots of the indigenous equality rights declaration, by Penney Kome   Column

Article 44 of the 2001 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The wording closely echoes Section 28 of Canada’s 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms: “Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.”

A boy prepares to jump off a rock into the waters of the Osman Sagar Lake near the southern Indian city of Hyderabad May 29, 2011. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder/File Photo

REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder/File Photo

Toxic Indian lake is cost of cheap drugs, by Zeba Siddiqui  Report

Centuries ago, Indian princes would bathe in the cool Kazhipally lake in Medak. Now, critics say, hundreds of drug firms, lax oversight and inadequate water treatment has created a giant Petri dish for anti-microbial resistance in the storied waterway.

Rosetta completes space mission with a bang, by  Victoria Bryan  Report

The Rosetta spacecraft ended its historic mission, crashing on the surface of the dusty, icy comet it has spent 12 years chasing in a hunt that has provided insight into the early days of the solar system and captured the public’s imagination.

Reporting on child deaths leads to Indian mica mining crackdown, by Nita Bhalla and Jatindra Dash  Report

Authorities in India have raided mica mines, arrested traders and begun steps to regulate the underground industry, local officials said, after a Thomson Reuters Foundation expose revealed a cover-up of child deaths in illegal mica mining.

On Capitalism and “Bullshit Jobs” by David Graeber   Essay

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would have advanced sufficiently by century’s end that countries like Great Britain or the United States would achieve a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. Why did Keynes’ promised utopia never materialise?

 

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope

Facts, and Opinions, that matter this week

 

More Food No Answer to Africa's Hunger. Above, a Malawian subsistence farmer surveys her maize fields in Dowa near the capital Lilongwe, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

More Food No Answer to Africa’s Hunger. Above, a Malawian subsistence farmer surveys her maize fields in Dowa near the capital Lilongwe, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Fresh works on Facts and Opinions this week:

Bush’s War on Terror Unending, by Jonathan Manthorpe   Column

Fifteen years ago George W. Bush launched the “War on Terror.” It was an incalculable strategic mistake, and there is no end in sight.

Rage over Racism: America Asked For It, by Tom Regan  Column

Many years ago, I was waiting in Boston’s Park Street T-station on my way to Cambridge, when a group of African-American teenagers came down the stairs. They were a swarm of loud, boisterous kids. I had a white person’s reaction. I felt myself tense. I moved away from the group. I gripped my luggage bag tighter. Honestly, I was a bit afraid. Then suddenly I caught myself.

Healing the Divide: Israelis help ill Palestinians, by Shaul Adar  Magazine

Every day, hundreds of Israeli volunteers drive ill Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to hospitals in Israel. Shaul Adar joins them on the road and learns why they see their neighbourly help as a step on the journey to peaceful coexistence.

More Food No Answer to Africa’s Hunger, by Alex Whiting

Thousands of people demonstrate against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in the centre of Brussels, Belgium September 20, 2016. Reuters/Eric Vidal

Thousands of people in Belgium demonstrate against new trade deals on September 20, 2016. Reuters/Eric Vidal

As a young university student of agriculture, Edie Mukiibi believed the latest hybrid seeds which promised bumper crops were the answer to improving the lot of maize farmers in his part of Uganda.  But the consequences were “terrible”, he said.

EU Bids to Seal Canada trade Pact as US Prospects Dim, by Philip Blenkinsop and Tatiana Jancarikova  Report

EU ministers took steps to approve a contentious free trade deal with Canada, while France and Austria demanded that talks towards a similar agreement with the United States should stop. Both deals have triggered demonstrations.

Is the Environment Stuck in US Journalism’s Basement? by Peter Dykstra   Analysis

Environmental journalism has reached a certain maturity: Decades of quality, often courageous and ground-breaking reporting on life-or-death issues, an imperfect-but-enviable record of accuracy, and at least a dozen Pulitzer Prizes to show for it in the U.S. But some see another view.

Recommended elsewhere:

Here’s a photo essay that no one should miss: Ethiopia, Albania, Australia, Finland, Peru and Spain are portrayed in a stunning production in Sunday’s  New York Times Magazine.

British Guardian writer George Monbiot takes on car culture this week in a piece titled, Carmageddon Beckons. Excerpt: “Global car production has almost doubled in ten years. The number of cars on Earth is expected to rise from 1.2bn to 2bn by 2035. Carmageddon beckons: a disaster for the climate, public health and our quality of life. Yet it is still treated as an indicator of economic success. We are told that this is about choice. But surely there should be a hierarchy of choice: the choice of whether or not to suffer a premature death should take precedence over our choice of transport ….

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Posted in Current Affairs

Findings

Our regulars at F&O are taking a breather this Labour Day, to savour the last of summer and brace for the passage into fall and winter — a snowy and cold one, if the Farmer’s Almanac has anything to say about it.

Our journal is a trove of thoughtful, informative and sometimes delightful stories — as those who browse our Dispatches and Commentary and Features well know. But when you’re done here, for now, we have some recommendations elsewhere:

The Hive is inspired by scientific research into bee health. Designed by Wolfgang Buttress, it was originally created as the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, and is now installed at Kew Gardens in London.  The installation is made from thousands of pieces of aluminium which create a lattice effect and is fitted with hundreds of LED lights that glow and fade as a unique soundtrack hums and buzzes around you. Photo: Kew Gardens

The Hive, a current installation at London’s Kew Gardens, was inspired by scientific research into bee health and designed by Wolfgang Buttress for the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo.
The lattice effect is created with thousands of pieces of aluminium and hundreds of LED lights that glow and fade as a unique soundtrack hums and buzzes. Watch the video below, and read about it in a Toronto Star piece, here.  Photo: Kew Gardens

For the Big News file, the Guardian reports on the announcement by the United States and China — the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases — that they’ll formally ratify the Paris climate change agreement. This is significant because, as the Guardian notes, “If the Paris agreement comes into force this year as hoped, it means the nearly 200 governments party to it will become obliged to meet emissions-cutting pledges made before the deal last December.”

Frances Bula’s piece, Miner to missionary: The Ross Beaty story Ross Beaty, is a good tale about someone who, instead of resting on their laurels (and millions), is trying to make a difference. Beaty, writes Bula, ” was one of mining’s giants before taking a green turn eight years ago to become the face of British Columbia’s alternative energy sector. He’s finding both his new industry–and his controversial new message for a “no-growth” way of life–a tough sell.”

American Indians are gathering from throughout the country in rural North Dakota, to protest construction of a $3.7 billion pipeline on the plains. As the New York Times points out in a useful who/what/where/why, a web of 2.5 million miles of pipelines crisscrosses the country. This one has become a flash point, especially for aboriginal people. Perhaps, as High Country News writes, it’s because “social media and broad anxieties over climate change are bringing more publicity.”

As regular readers may have observed, F&O strives to avoid giving the oxygen of publicity to one unspeakable American presidential contender. I’ll break that tradition, briefly, to suggest anyone watching the cage fight of American politics might almost find pity in their hearts for He Who Should Not Be Named after reading this pithy work by author and radio personality Garrison Keillor, in the Chicago Tribune, “When This if Over, You Will Have Nothing That You Want.”  Indeed.

Last but not least: as the Paralympics proceeds in Rio, shamefully unsung compared to the massive attention bestowed on the Olympics , have a read of this thoughtful plea by Olympian  Deidra Dionne: The Olympic model is broken: An open letter to Thomas Bach‘You understand that a $900 per diem is not the norm,’ right?” Dionne writes. Well, no. If he understood, the IOC would be a different beast.

 

 

Posted in All, Gyroscope