Category Archives: Canadian Journalist

Blog for the discussion of the craft and business of journalism and reporting in Canada

Marg!, Princess Warrior joins the fray

Newfoundland writer, actress and comedian, Mary Walsh, finally chimed in on the Canadian election with her character, Marg! Princess Warrior, this week with her Marg Brings Change campaign. Made famous on This Hour has 22 Minutes, Marg has been smiting politicians with her foam sword for many years and her love for Stephen Harper is legendary.

“Don’t waste time turning in your neighbours on the barbaric Harper hotline; send some real ‘cents’ to Ottawa instead,” advises Princess Warrior Marg Delahunty.

“Prime Minister Harper didn’t want to save Syrian refugees, our right to privacy or democracy, but he did want to save the penny. Unfortunately, like the cent, Harper will take a while to get out of our system so let’s send a load of cents to Ottawa now — and on October 19.”

Joining the ever-increasing crowd of prominent Canadian musicians, writers, artists, scientists, social activists, unions, environmentalists and the millions of Canadians who want change this election, Marg urges Canadians to help her bring change to Harper.

“I’ll give Mr. Harper our two cents,” Marg promises Canadians. In a campaign launched today entitled, Marg Brings Change, the Princess Warrior has created a video calling for Canadians to click on the virtual cent on her website www.margbringschange.ca ; she vows to match every click and every share with a real cent. Later this month Marg will personally deliver everybody’s two cents to Mr. Harper.**

“And vote!” the Princess Warrior commands. “Vote anything but Conservative! Don’t make me come back and smite you!”

**All money will go to aiding Syrian refugees in Canada.

Watch the Video, Click the cent, Share widely and Help Marg bring your two cents to Ottawa!

Visit www.margbringschange.ca

or the Facebook page: Marg Brings Change
https://www.facebook.com/Marg-Brings-Change-1474903259506286/timeline/

Also posted in All, Current Affairs, Gyroscope Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Noteworthy: Davos, Ebola, media matters

Davos Conference Center, Switzerland. World Economic Forum photo via Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Davos Conference Center, Switzerland. World Economic Forum photo via Wikipedia, Creative Commons

The World Economic Forum, AKA the “annual summit for the one per cent,” kicks off in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, tomorrow. Subjects range from bicycles for African kids to global trade, Ebola to climate change, “honey laundering” to oil markets. Switzerland’s tourism industry is delighted at the publicity. Even China’s premier will be there. For the rest of us, well, there’s always online attendance. Click here for the WEF agenda and links to online webcasts.

Speaking of Ebola, there’s (somewhat) good news. The head of the United Nations said progress in fighting the disease in West Africa shows it can be done. The World Health Organization reported that Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone this month reported their lowest tally of new cases since August.

It’s possible to fight the virus, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a UN meeting today, after a trip to the region. But he said to avoid a new surge of cases a regional response will be needed.  In case you missed them, two pieces on F&O add perspective to the deadly virus:

Ebola: the Black Death Revisited. By Ewa Bacon

There is no rational reason to fear Ebola in the developed world, writes Ewa Bacon, because we know the source of contagion and have methods to deal with it.  However, panic has set in.  Image: Plague is defeated -- a detail of the "Column of the Plague" (Pestsäule), in Graben, Vienna, Austria. Photo by Jebulon via Wikimedia, Creative Commons

There is no rational reason to fear Ebola in the developed world, writes Ewa Bacon.  Above: a detail of the “Column of the Plague” (Pestsäule), in Graben, Vienna, Austria. Photo by Jebulon via Wikimedia, Creative Commons

It is not Ebola that is stalking the land, but anxiety and fear. We fear an extinction event. We search the environment and note the loss of plants and animals. We worry as we examine “Martha,” the last ever passenger pigeon. We examine the geological record and note that not even the mighty dinosaur survived the cataclysm of Cretaceous period. Could that happen to us as well? We search history and note some sobering examples of global catastrophes. Few are as renowned as the “Black Death.” Early in the 1300’s Europeans received news of unprecedented diseases raging in the wealthy, remote and mysterious realm of China.

Ebola’s first casualty: clear thinking. By Jonathan Manthorpe (paywall)

The ebola panic overshadows far more deadly diseases. Unfortunately, humans are appalling bad at risk assessment. In recent weeks Ebola has tweaked our primal fears of the first Horseman of the Apocalypse, Pestilence, in the same way as my run in with the Black Death. Politicians, world health officials and the media are near hysteria as they pump out fear-inducing prophecies about the looming pestilential scourge.

What else we’re reading, with a focus on media matters:

Preparing for Fidel Castro’s death – How Florida news organizations plan to cover the Cuban dictator’s passing, by Susannah Nesmith in the Columbia Journalism Review is funny, in a black-humour sort of way. Excerpt:

Every year or so, a rumor bubbles up that the world’s most famous Cuban has this time, finally, truly, died. The local press corps sends crews to Versailles, the iconic Little Havana restaurant where presidential candidates appear to appeal to Cuban American voters and where journalists gather when anything about Cuba might be happening. Pretty early in the news cycle of a Fidel-is-dead rumor, The Associated Press writes a story that essentially says Castro might not be alive but no one on the island says he’s dead. This year, on Jan. 9, the AP’s Havana bureau chief, Michael Weissenstein, wrote that story, noting the rumor that the foreign press was being called to a press conference.

Weissenstein also took to Twitter. “Foreign correspondents now furiously calling each other about supposed press conference, an event not usually kept secret from press itself,” he wrote.

For the schadenfreude file: City of Paris Threatens to Sue Fox News Over False Report, in Rolling Stone report. Excerpt:

The city of Paris has threatened to sue Fox News over an erroneous report the network made claiming Paris had “no-go zones” for police and non-Muslims. The network later apologized for the error.

“When we’re insulted, and when we’ve had an image, then I think we’ll have to sue, I think we’ll have to go to court, in order to have these words removed,” Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo told CNN on Tuesday. “The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced.”

The comments stem from numerous segments Fox aired last week claiming that police and non-Muslims refuse to enter certain areas in France and England out of fear, with one show, Fox & Friends, erroneously showing a map “highlighting” the non-existent zones.

A F&O reader recommends a disturbing report in the Guardian about how British spies are snooping on journalists, whom they hold in similar regard to terrorists: GCHQ captured emails of journalists from top international media. Excerpt:

GCHQ’s bulk surveillance of electronic communications has scooped up emails to and from journalists working for some of the US and UK’s largest media organisations, analysis of documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals. …

One restricted document intended for those in army intelligence warned that “journalists and reporters representing all types of news media represent a potential threat to security”.  

It continued: “Of specific concern are ‘investigative journalists’ who specialise in defence-related exposés either for profit or what they deem to be of the public interest.

The country so concerned about journalists as security threats would be the same Britain whose premier David Cameron joined other world leaders in Paris this month, marching in the massive rally for freedom of expression after the terrorist attacks on the Paris satirical paper Charlie Hebdo.

 

~~~

Help sustain independent, non-partisan and professional journalism by buying a $1 day pass or subscription to Facts and Opinions. An online journal of first-rate reporting and analysis, without borders, F&O is employee-owned, does not carry advertising, and is funded entirely by readers. Click here to purchase a $1 day pass or subscription, from $2.95/month to $19.95/year. Receive free blog emails via the form on FRONTLINES. Please tell others about us.

Also posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope Tagged , , |

Artists call for ban on fracking near national park

FAO-BonneBay_GSL8376

Gros Morne National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bonne Bay, Newfoundland, Canada. Photo by Greg Locke © 2014

Thirty two well known artists sent an open letter to Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper, and  Newfoundland & Labrador Premier Paul Davis, calling on them to establish a permanent buffer zone free of industrial activity around Gros Morn National Park  and UNESCO World Heritage Site on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland.

The area has been the target of many unsuccessful oil exploration attempt over the past two decades. In 2012 a number of companies proposed to conduct hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) drilling right up to the park’s boundaries. Last summer, UNESCO called on Canada to do more to protect the site. There was much public opposition, and in 2013 the proposals failed. There is currently a moratorium on fracking while the provincial government reviews a commissioned industry study.

The artists include musician Tim Baker of Hey Rosetta, authors Lawrence Hill, Lisa Moore, Michael Crummy and Joseph Boyden, astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar, painter Mary Pratt, and actor Greg Malone, who said, “If we can’t protect the most brilliant places in our province and in our country, what are we doing?”

Also posted in All, Current Affairs Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The back story behind New York’s fracking ban

Alberta Gas well

New York banned fracking after investigative journalism revealed risks. Above, a gas well in Alberta, Canada.

 

Careful, evidence-based journalism underpinned New York’s decision Wednesday to ban fracking in the state. This story by the not-for-profit investigative news room ProPublica provides the back story of the state governor’s announcement.

Fracking — the technique of fracturing underground rock by piping in hydraulically pressurized liquid  — has boosted oil and gas extraction around the world. The boom in fracking in the U.S. especially has vastly increased America’s domestic energy supply, and is a factor in the recent plunge in global oil prices. Fracking has also led to conflicts over land use, and is also linked to human health and environmental risks, and earthquakes under some conditions. 

Jurisdictions that have banned or suspended fracking include, as of this posting, several counties and municipalities in other American states; parts of Spain; France; Germany; the Netherlands; Bulgaria; and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec.1 Other jurisdictions have banned or regulated some of the chemicals used in fracking. 

 

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica

When natural gas companies first pressed into New York in 2008, state environmental regulators barely understood the process of “hydraulic fracturing.” On Wednesday, six and a half years after ProPublica first raised concerns that the drilling could threaten both the state’s water supply and its residents’ health, Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned the process across the state.

The ban makes New York, which holds large natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale, the largest and most significant region to bow out of the nation’s energy boom because of concerns that its benefits may be outweighed by the risk. 

The decision comes after a long-awaited report from the state’s Health Department this week concluded that the fracking would pose health risks to New Yorkers. It also follows an exhaustive state environmental review effort that began the day after ProPublica’s first story in July 2008.

Since then, New York has walked an indecisive line on drilling, while an energy boom provoked by advances in fracking technology took much of the rest of the country by storm. Today’s lower oil prices are due, in part, to an oil bonanza in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale that had barely begun when New York first put a temporary halt to new drilling in the state. Likewise, the gas drilling waves that have rippled through states from Pennsylvania and West Virginia to Michigan, North Carolina, Maryland, Texas and Wyoming had yet to run their course.

But by delaying a decision on drilling for so many years, Cuomo also allowed a clearer picture of the impacts and changes that drilling activity would bring to emerge. That clearer picture ultimately dampened the enthusiasm for drilling in New York and validated many of the environmental and health concerns that anti-drilling groups have raised across the country.

Just across the state line from New York’s Southern Tier, where the richest Marcellus gas deposits lie, Pennsylvania landowners dealt with one incident of water contamination after another. They complained of illnesses caused by both the water and new air pollution brought by the drilling. State regulators in Pennsylvania 2013 once enthusiastic boosters of the process 2013 wound up cracking down on drilling companies’ messy practices and strengthening their own environmental laws as a result.

Across the country, similar stories emerged, many of them reported as part of a four-year-long investigation by ProPublica. From Texas and Louisiana to California, drilling waste was being spilled or leaking into drinking water aquifers and high pressures caused by fracking activities were causing wells to leak. Methane gushed from wells and pipelines. And residents’ allegations that the drilling was causing symptoms from nerve disorders to skin lesions and birth defects began to be substantiated through peer-reviewed scientific research.

The potential payoff for such risks 2013 which the drilling industry long maintained were minimal 2013 was that drilling would bring huge economic benefits to rural regions long desperate for new jobs and an injection of economic vigor. That economic promise has been born out across many parts of the country, but in some instances, those who needed the financial benefits most have been denied them.

An investigation by ProPublica earlier this year found that landowners in Pennsylvania who supported drilling and signed leases with drilling companies in order to earn a share of the profits were instead being cheated out their payments, called royalties. In fact, the stories showed, energy companies had withheld royalty payments worth billions of dollars from both landowners and the federal government across states from Texas and Wyoming to Louisiana and Colorado, substantially blunting the prosperity that could come from allowing drilling to proceed.

All of this, it now seems, must have made Cuomo’s decision this week a lot easier. But the ban also reflects the conclusion of a lengthy learning curve for New York State.

When ProPublica reporters, in a joint project with WNYC, first went to Albany to talk with the state’s environment regulators, those officials couldn’t answer basic questions about the process they were poised to permit: What chemicals would be pumped underground near drinking water supplies? Where would the waste be disposed of and did New York have facilities capable of handling it? State officials told ProPublica then that fracking had never once caused pollution to water supplies, and said they were unaware of the hundreds of cases brought to their attention by ProPublica where such damage had indeed taken place.

On the morning of July 23, 2008, then Gov. David Paterson called for those state environment officials to go back to the drawing board in their assessment of the risks of fracking before the state issued any new permits, effectively placing a moratorium on drilling that lasted until now.

Creative Commons

Notes:

1. Wikipedia page: Hydraulic fracturing by country
     Keep Tap Water Safe organization

Further reading on F&O:

Risky Business: The facts behind fracking, F&O Magazine, by Chris Wood (subscription)

F&O NATURAL SECURITY column, by Chris Wood (subscription)

Fracking Water Contamination Feared in California Drought (ProPublica)

Aggressive Tactic on the Fracking Front (ProPublica)

Landowners often losers in deals with U.S. energy companies  (ProPublica)

Drilling for Certainty: The Latest in Fracking Health Studies (ProPublica)

Frack fluids can migrate to aquifers within years, study predicts (ProPublica)

 

Also posted in Current Affairs Tagged , , |

F&O’s first magazine feature wins kudos

Brennan B&W

Brian Brennan

Congratulations to F&O founding feature writer Brian Brennan, whose story Canada’s Mayor — F&O’s first original magazine feature — won Runner-up, Best Feature Article, in the 2014 Professional Writers Association of Canada Awards

Here’s what we said on our Frontlines blog to announce the piece when it was published September 30, 2013:

When river flooding inundated downtown Calgary, it caused billions of dollars in damage and tested the leadership of Naheed Nenshi, a first-term mayor who handled the crisis so adroitly that he attracted national and international media attention. 

How did this former policy wonk and self-styled “brown guy,” a liberal and a Muslim, come out of nowhere to defy the stereotypes?

How did Nenshi become the unlikely leader of Canada’s politically conservative energy capital, at a time when oil companies and environmentalists anxiously await a decision from President Obama on the future of the Keystone XL pipeline? 

We thought it was an excellent piece, good enough for our launch. We’re thrilled that PWAC agrees, and we thank the association and congratulate all of the winners. 

Also posted in All, Gyroscope Tagged , , , , |

Pulitzer Prize for journalism on secret surveillance

The Guardian and the Washington Post newspapers were the big winners of the prestigious Pulitzer Prizes for public service journalism Monday, for their reporting on spying by American security agencies.

Pulizter announced the two news organizations shared the prize for Public Service:

Awarded to The Washington Post for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.

Awarded to The Guardian US for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy.

Here is the complete list of Pulitzer Prize winners:

JOURNALISM:

  • Breaking News Reporting: The Boston Globe Staff
  • Investigative Reporting: Chris Hamby of The Center for Public Integrity, Washington, D.C.
  • Explanatory Reporting: Eli Saslow of The Washington Post
  • Local Reporting: Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay Times
  • National Reporting: David Philipps of The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • International Reporting: Jason Szep and Andrew R. C. Marshall of Reuters
  • Feature Writing — No Award
  • Commentary: Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press
  • Criticism:  Inga Saffron of The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Editorial Writing: Editorial Staff of The Oregonian, Portland
  • Editorial Cartooning: Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer
  • Breaking News Photography: Tyler Hicks of The New York Times
  • Feature Photography: Josh Haner of The New York Times

 LETTERS AND DRAMA:

  • Fiction:  The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)
  • Drama:  The Flick, by Annie Baker
  • History: The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772 – 1832, by Alan Taylor (W.W. Norton)
  • Biography:  Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, by Megan Marshall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Poetry:  3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri (Graywo lf Press)
  • General Nonfiction:  Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, by Dan Fagin (Bantam Books)

MUSIC:

  • Become Ocean, by John Luther Adams, premiered on June 20, 2013 by the Seattle Symphony (Taiga Press/Theodore Front Musical Literature)

 

 

Also posted in All, Current Affairs

Afghan policeman kills photo-journalist, injures reporter

A police commander today shot two journalists covering Afghanistan’s election for the Associated Press, killing German photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus and injuring Canadian reporter Kathy Gannon.  Said an Associated Press statement by Gary Pruitt:

It is with grief and great sadness that I let you know that photographer Anja Niedringhaus has been killed while working in Afghanistan. Anja and Kathy Gannon, regional correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan, were in Khost covering the run-up to the presidential elections in Afghanistan when, it appears, they were targeted and attacked. Kathy survived, but Anja died. Kathy is being treated at a hospital.

Niedringhaus becomes the 26th journalist killed in Afghanistan, according to Reporters Without Borders. On March 21 Agence France-Presse journalist Sardar Ahmad, his wife and two of their three children were among nine people shot dead in a Kabul hotel restaurant.

The two AP journalists were in their own car which was stopped in a convoy, “when a police commander approached the car and looked through its windows,” the New York Times reported from Kabul. “He apparently stepped away momentarily before wheeling around and shouting “Allahu akbar!” — God is great — and opening fire with an AK-47, witnesses and The A.P. said. His shots were all directed at the back seat.”

“Where once reporters and photographers were seen as the impartial eyes and ears of crucial information, today they are often targets,” said the AP statement. “This is a profession of the brave and the passionate, those committed to the mission of bringing to the world information that is fair, accurate and important.  Anja Niedringhaus met that definition in every way. We will  miss her terribly.”

— Deborah Jones

UPDATE, July 23, 2014: Six judges in the Kabul District Court today convicted police unit commander Naqibullah, an Afghan police officer, of of murder and treason in the killing of Niedringhaus and wounding of Gannon. The court sentenced him to death for the murder and to four years in prison for wounding Gannon, the AP reported. The case may yet be appealed and Afghanistan’s president is required to sign off on the execution order.

Further reading:

Anja Niedringhaus’s web site  
Kathy Gannon’s web site 
Associated Press statement 
The Atlantic 2013 feature on Anja Niedringhaus’s photos

Also posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope Tagged , |

F&O Weekend

F&O’s rich selection of reports, analysis and commentary this weekend includes: new Commentary pieces by Chris Wood and Jonathan Manthorpe, and an Arts note on Norway’s choice of a design to memorialize the country’s horrific 2011 slaying. A Dispatch from ProPublica reviews research on the health impact of fracking for natural gas, while in Expert Witness a professor makes a case for thinking smarter — much smarter — about geoengineering and climate change.

Norway’s Void (Public access)

Jonas Dahlberg_Cut_6- Photo-Jonas-Dahlberg-Studio-1024

© Jonas Dahlberg Studio

A “memory wound” was chosen this month by a Norwegian panel to memorialize the 2011 massacre of 77 people, most of them teenagers, by a political extremist. The winning entry in the July 22 Memorial design competition is by Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg. Its several parts are dominated by a void – literally, a slice to be removed from the island where Anders Behring Breivik slaughtered 69 children attending a political camp.

Chris Wood’s new Natural Security column, Eight Simple Rules (Subscription)

She’s looking for love, not to get fracked. These eight simple rules — borrowed from an American sit-com — are addressed to any person (corporate or otherwise) who asks to take my planet out for a date at the mines, the oil well, or the multi-acre Walmart parking lot. By all means, have fun, kids. Come home with a tattoo and a stray dog you found in the street, if you like. Just follow these eight simple rules…

Jonathan Manthorpe: on Malaysian politics, and Chinese Imperialism (Subscription)

Manthorpe writes this week of the conviction of Malaysia’s opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, for sodomy in a clearly politically motivated trial. Will it backfire on the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition? The judicial persecution of Anwar by the government has been going on for 16 years, and yet his public support remains solid. Turning his gaze on Ukraine, Manthorpe examines Russia’s motives for interfering in the Crimea — and concludes that the serious Imperialist threat in the world comes not from Russia, but China.

Drilling for Certainty: The Latest in Fracking Health Studies (Public access)

For years environmentalists and the gas drilling industry have been in a pitched battle over the possible health implications of hydro fracking. But to a great extent, the debate has been hampered by a shortage of science. The science is far from settled — but there is a growing body of research to consider. ProPublica offers a survey of some of that work, in air quality, birth outcomes, and other health risks.

On Geoengineering: a case for sophisticated thinking. By Brad Allenby (Public access)

The failure of the Kyoto Protocol and the underlying process of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has led to substantial interest in geoengineering technologies …  The response of falling back on ideological certainties, romantic visions, and over-simplistic worldviews at some point becomes simply a form of irresponsible denial, because the complexity of the systems within which we are embedded mean that there is no home base, no golden age to return to — and our network of systems continues to evolve, and to reflect the growing dominance of human influence. And it will do so regardless of what stories we tell ourselves to try to avoid our responsibilities. What we can do is, to the best of our ability, rationally and ethically respond to the challenges we face. Geoengineering technologies are a part of the technology response that must be developed, but they are only a part, and as we explore them and their implications we need to be far more sophisticated in how we think about them as technologies, and manage them as part of an increasingly engineered planet.

 

FINDINGS:

Last but not least, here’s a video for a brain break.

Crows are raspers — to songbirds as Vanilla Ice is to Mozart. And yet it was a photo of crow-like birds, sitting on electric wires, that inspired Jarbas Agnelli to write a piece of music using the location of the birds as notes. He notes on the Vimeo site, below, “I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating.” Agnelli credits the composition of the work, Birds on the Wires, to the birds.  The video was a Vimeo staff pick four years ago. It’s worth a fresh listen.

Have a good weekend.

– Deborah Jones

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Also posted in All, Current Affairs, Gyroscope

F&O Weekend

F&O wraps up the week with an eclectic range of slow journalism from the past, present and future:

 Critical Assembly: A Drama Critic Remembers Berlin.

Graff BrennanTwo years before the wall came down, in 1987, historian and author Brian Brennan joined 139 other writers from 40 countries in Berlin, for an international conference on theatre on the 750th anniversary of Berlin’s founding. The meeting was fractious: “it seemed some of us would never agree on where to go for a good plate of liver dumplings, much less agree on how theatre could be made more relevant to our day-to-day lives,” he recalls. And yet, suddenly, theatre critics from around the world came to agreement — on a plea for world peace, “after we had visited the former concentration camp in Buchenwald where Nazis killed thousands of prisoners during the Second World War. Without world peace, we agreed, all this talk about the relevance of theatre would be just so much blather.” (Subscription)

SEAN NOBLE: Dark Money Man for the ‘Kochtopus.

For a brief, giddy moment, Sean Noble — a little-known former aide to a congressman in Arizona, United States — became one of the most important people in American politics, Kim Barker and Theodoric Meyer write in an investigative ProPublica report this week.Plucked from obscurity by libertarian billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, Noble was tasked with distributing a torrent of political money raised by the Koch network, a complex web of nonprofits nicknamed the Kochtopus, into conservative causes in the 2010 and 2012 U.S. elections. (Public access)

Venezuela’s slow-motion coup and a small moment in the story of China and Taiwan

International affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe casts his attention from Asia to South America in two new pieces this week. In Venezuela, he writes, there were hopes when President Hugo Chavez died that “the end of his strutting, belligerent and goading influence would calm the country’s violently polarised politics.” Instead, a “slow-motion coup” is apparently under way. In Asia Manthorpe examines the implications of a historic meeting between China and Taiwan – and finds its import over-rated. (Subscription)

Museums at the Crossroads: a Future for Cultural Institutions

RBCM Student Classroom

Jack Lohman

In an essay, excerpted in F&O‘s Expert Witness section from his new book, museum director and author Jack Lohman issues a warning about the future of our cultural institutions — and why they matter to increasingly cosmopolitan and multicultural societies. He writes: “We have entered another Churchillian “period of danger,” but one of an unprecedented nature. We live in an age of profound cultural transition, a time in which the complexity of our multicultural world confronts us with challenges that have taken on an urgency and intensity quite unlike anything we have experienced in history. It is a time when hardly any of our public institutions are free from having to undergo deep soul-searching as to their meaning and their role…” (Public access)

Commander in Guatemala Massacre of 250 Sentenced to 10 Years.

One part of a complex and grueling saga came to something of an end this week, as a United States federal judge sentenced a former Guatemalan Army officer to the maximum 10 years in prison Monday — but only for immigration crimes. It took the efforts of authorities in three countries — Canada, the United States and Guatemala. As Sebastian Rotella of ProPublica reports, the judge ruled that the ex-commando obtained U.S. citizenship by concealing his role in the massacre of 250 men, women and children in a Guatemalan village in 1982. (Public access)

Have a good weekend.

– Deborah Jones

Use the form to the right to sign up for free email notices of new F&O work, and/or buy a $1 site day pass or a subscription here to support our independent, non-partisan employee-owned journalism boutique.

Also posted in All, Current Affairs, Gyroscope