Monthly Archives: November 2016

Matters of Facts, and Opinions: Castro, Trump, Burma, Nepal

Fidel Castro is dead, age 90. Read our report, fact box, and analysis. Above, People look at a picture of Cuba's former President Fidel Castro during the opening of the exhibition "Fidel" in Havana, Cuba, August 12, 2016.  REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Fidel Castro is dead, age 90. Read our report, fact box, and analysis. Above, People look at a picture of Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro during the opening of the exhibition “Fidel” in Havana, Cuba, August 12, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Notebook: Our journalism boutique this week offers reports and analysis on Fidel Castro’s death; Jonathan Manthorpe on Burma (also known as Myanmar); Tom Regan on past American Fascism; an essay on  democratic awakening by Emily Lacika, and a report on Nepal as the set of a real-life, grim, Game of Thrones.

Fidel Castro, Dead at 90: A Life in Photos, by Marc Frank and Nelson Acosta  Report/Photo essay

Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied U.S. efforts to topple him, died Nov. 25, 2016. He was 90. A towering figure of the second half of the 20th Century, Castro stuck to his ideology beyond the collapse of Soviet communism and remained widely respected in parts of the world that had struggled against colonial rule.

Fidel Castro, The Facts, compiled by Reuters

Cuban revolutionary and its former president Fidel Castro died, age 90, on Friday November 26.  Following are some facts about former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and quotes from his friends and foes.

Fidel Castro: Anachronism and Achiever, With Tarnished Legacy, by Mark Beeson   Analysis

Twentieth-century political icons don’t get much bigger than Fidel Castro. His death will reignite debates about his place in history and the revolutionary ideas he epitomised.

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A girl showers her sister at the displacement camp for earthquake victims at Chuchepati in Kathmandu, Nepal, September 19, 2016. Picture taken September 19, 2016. To match Insight NEPAL-QUAKE/POLITICS Thomson Reuters Foundation/Navesh Chitrakar  - RTST7C9

Game of Thrones leaves Nepalis Cold. Above, a girl showers her sister at a displacement camp for earthquake victimsThomson Reuters Foundation/Navesh Chitrakar

Ethnic Cleansing Roils Burma’s Democracy Transition, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs columnist

Burma’s 50 million people languished under a most vile military dictatorship for 50 years, but that has not made them a tolerant and open-handed society. The country’s military is in the middle of a scorched earth operation against the one million minority Muslim Rohingya in Burma’s north-western Rakhine state that United Nations officials and international human rights agencies have called “ethnic cleansing.”

American Fascism: We’ve Been Here Before, by Tom Regan  Column

America, for all its talk of the love of liberty and equality, has long had a fascination for fascism and the rule of the autocrat, especially at times of economic trouble and cultural upheaval. Fascism of the kind offered by Donald Trump appeals, as a bromide against the problems of the day.

Wake-up: How the 2016 Election Changed One American Voter, by Emily Lacika

My U.S. post-election emotions have run the gamut: sadness, anger, anxiety, vindictiveness, shame. American politics is big on rhetoric about democracy, but it often falls short, especially this year when the candidate who won fewer votes has captured the White House. Sixty two million other Americans voted the same way I did, and lost –and now we are working together.

Game of Thrones in Himalayas Leave Nepalis Cold, by Nita Bhalla and Gopal Sharma

Constant feuding between a myriad of political parties has fuelled political turmoil and weak governance in Nepal, delaying efforts to rebuild the country of 28 million people despite an outpouring of aid, analysts said. Ongoing political instability in a country which has seen 24 governments in 26 years has stymied reconstruction efforts.

In case you missed them, some recent works:

China's President Xi Jinping (2nd L) and Peru's second Vice President Mercedes Araoz (L) walk after he and his wife Peng Liyuan (2nd R) arrived for the 2016 APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Lima, Peru November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

Read: Pacific Rim Leaders Scramble in Trump Trade Era, and Manthorpe’s analysis, Trump victory rattles Asia. Above, China’s President Xi Jinping (2nd L) and Peru’s second Vice President Mercedes Araoz (L) walk after he and his wife Peng Liyuan (2nd R) arrived for the 2016 APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Lima, Peru November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

Science wars in the age of Donald Trump, by Andrea Saltelli &  Silvio Oscar Funtowicz, Expert Witness

If Brexit signified the end of facts, what does the election of Donald Trump tell us? Apparently, a new battle in the history of the science wars. But the alleged “end of facts” is the result of a superficial understanding of the deeper crisis in the role of science and expertise.

Pacific Rim Leaders Scramble in Trump Trade Era, Reuters, by Rosalba O’Brien and Mitra Taj  Report

Leaders of Pacific rim nations scrambled to find new free-trade options on Friday as a looming Donald Trump presidency in the United States sounded a possible death knell for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Trump victory rattles Asia, analysis by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs columnist

It was extraordinary to see Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe take a detour on his flight to Peru for the Asia-Pacific summit next week, in order to scurry to New York to seek an audience with Donald Trump. That Abe would put himself through this distasteful encounter speaks volumes about the fear and dread with which not only Japan, but much of Asia, contemplates the ascension of Trump on January 20.

American Fascism: We’ve Been Here Before, by Tom Regan  Column

America, for all its talk of the love of liberty and equality, has long had a fascination for fascism and the rule of the autocrat, especially at times of economic trouble and cultural upheaval. Fascism of the kind offered by Donald Trump appeals, as a bromide against the problems of the day.

Canada’s dark time might be closer than you think, by Tom Regan   Column

After the election of 2015, Canadians probably thought they were safe from the kind of racism and bigotry that has gripped the United States after the election of Donald Trump. Well, I’m sorry to break your little “we’re so great” bubble. Vigilance is needed in Canada, too.

How should you grieve? by Andrea Volpe, Loose Leaf essay

I first learned about complicated grief while riding the subway in Boston, where I read an advertisement recruiting participants for a study. By then, I’d been a widow for about a decade.

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Facts, and Opinions, this week

Leonard Cohen walks to the stage as he is inducted during the 23rd annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York March 10, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Leonard Cohen walks to the stage as he is inducted during the 23rd annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York March 10, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

We focus this week on three main events: F&O marks Remembrance Day this year with a photo-essay by Greg Locke, thoughts on the poppy by Alex Kennedy, and a feature by Jonathan Manthorpe on the WWII Battle for Hong Kong. We have a story about Canadian poet, rocker and mystic Leonard Cohen, who died this week, age 82. And of course we report on America’s gut-reaching election, which ended as divisively as it began: see our reports on its medieval carnival aspects, the forgotten class who rose up in anger, and columns by Penney Kome, Jim McNiven, and Tom Regan. Details:

Reports:

Leonard Cohen, Poet, Rocker, Mystic, Dead at 82, by Alex Dobuzinskis  Report

Leonard Cohen, rock music’s man of letters whose songs fused religious imagery with themes of redemption and sexual desire, earning him critical and popular acclaim,  died on November 10, age 82

The US election as Medieval Carnival, by  Anastasia Denisova  Report

The consumption of fast food media advances fast politics, the swift, screaming and scandalous sort of politics that is so tempting to share and receive “likes” for. So the real winner of this election, in fact, is the viral state of mind.

US Election: Revenge of the Forgotten Class, by Alec MacGillis, ProPublica   Report

Donald Trump’s stunning win Tuesday, defying all the prognosticators, suggested there were many people so disconnected from the political system that they were literally unaccounted for in the pollsters’ modeling, which relies on past voting behavior.

Commentary:

Remembering War, by Greg Locke  Photo essay

I can’t do Remembrance Day anymore. Just don’t have it in me. I don’t mean it to be disrespectful.

Canadians and the Battle for Hong Kong, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs   Column

On this day 75 years ago, 1,975 men, and two female nurses, of the Royal Rifles of Canada and the Winnipeg Grenadiers were steaming across the East China Sea in the New Zealand liner-turned-troop ship, SS Awatea. This small rough-hewn and makeshift expeditionary force was bound for the British colony of Hong Kong.

Poppy: medicine, or opiate? by Alex Kennedy  Loose Leaf 

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Protesters walk during a protest in Chicago. REUTERS/Kamil Krzacznski

Protesters walk during a protest in Chicago. REUTERS/Kamil Krzacznski

America’s Dark Hour, by Tom Regan  Column

We were wrong. So very wrong.  We thought there was no way that Americans would elect a man so totally unfit to be president.

Welcome to Trumpland, by Penney Kome   Column

President Donald J Trump? The mind reels. The gorge rises. In vain, many political observers have searched for a saving grace.

Changes in Attitudes: The Best, and Worst of Times, by Jim McNiven  Column

To be Dickensian, it is the best of times and it is the worst of times. There is a lot of speculation that maybe America’s new President won’t really do what he said he would do. I wouldn’t bet on that.

 

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Notebook:

Events elsewhere you might have missed include, in no particular order:  Daesh (Islamic State) left behind death and mayhem as it was ousted from Mosul. (Reuters) In Marrakech Morroco is hosting the latest round of climate talks, COP22 (UN). A science report suggests high levels of Vitamin D arelinked to better odds of surviving breast cancer. The European Union’s top diplomat received the International Democracy Prize for peace and democracy globally (Deutsche Welle), and space junk fell on a Myanmar jade mine. (Deutsche Welle)

Finding:

Canada’s National Film Board pays homage to Leonard Cohen with this documentary, Ladies and Gentlemen, Leonard Cohen, which follows him on a visit back to his home of Montreal at age 30.

Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Leonard Cohen , Donald Brittain & Don Owen, National Film Board of Canada

And, as we also did last year, we recommend Leonard Cohen’s reading of the John McCrae poem In Flanders Fields.

Last but not least, Leonard Cohen’s Closing Time:

Posted in Current Affairs