Facts and Opinions that matter this week


Hardline, intransigent political ideologues are preparing to sink the Iran deal, writes Jonathan Manthorpe. (Paywall) Lotf Allah Mosque in Iran. quixotic54 via Flickr, Creative Commons Lotf Allah Mosque in Iran. Photo credit quixotic54 via Flickr, Creative Commons
Hardline, intransigent political ideologues are preparing to sink the Iran deal, writes Jonathan Manthorpe. (Paywall) Lotf Allah Mosque in Iran. quixotic54 via Flickr, Creative Commons Lotf Allah Mosque in Iran. Photo credit quixotic54 via Flickr, Creative Commons


Among the many items that caught our attention this week was the award of a Canadian stamp to short story master Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. The stamp was released on Monro’s birthday, July 10. It features a photograph of the writer by her daughter Sheila, a sample her handwriting, and vintage images of Wingham, Ont., the small town in which Munro was born. (Canada Post.)

F&O reported on Monro’s  Nobel prize in 2013:  Alice Munro, Master. For more about Munro’s impact on literature, read Alice Munro: Nobel a victory for the neglected short story, by Beth Palmer, in our Ex Libris section.

 Here are our newest offerings:

A Canada Post stamp was issued July 10, on her birthday, in honour of short story master Alice Munro, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature. The stamp was designed by Marcio Morgado and Paul Haslip of HM&E Design.

 Explainer: tumult in China’s casino stock market, by Michele Geraci

When I teach stock market investment to my Chinese students, I always remind them that the Shanghai stock exchange should be thought of more as a casino, rather than as a proper stock market. In normal stock markets, share prices are – or, at least, should be – linked to the economic performance of the underlying companies. Not so in China, where the popularity of the stock market directly correlated with the fall in casino popularity.

Column: ardliners prepare to sink Iranian nuclear deal: International Affairs column, by Jonathan Manthorpe (paywall)

With a deal on Iran’s nuclear program in the offing, hardline opponents in Washington and Tehran are sharpening their teeth and honing their claws to a razor’s edge. In both capitals, the deal — nearly 20 years in the making — faces being derailed by intransigent political ideologues with little long-term vision.

Column: When religious liberty undermines freedom, by Tom Regan

It’s pretty hard to underestimate the role that religion has played in promoting progressive ideals over the years. But that’s only one side of the coin. Far more often, religion has also been used as one of the main curbs on freedom – of person, of thought and of gender.

Dispatch: UN: World’s poorest need $160 per year. By Joseph D’Urso 

Just $160 per year for each person living in extreme poverty would eradicate world hunger by 2030, the United Nations said, recommending the money should be delivered through both cash transfers and “pro-poor” investments. Eliminating hunger is one of the U.N.’s sustainable development goals, new objectives set to replace the eight expiring U.N. Millennium Development Goals. 

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

Tens of thousands of people will gather at a cemetery near Srebrenica in Bosnia on July 11 to mark the 20th anniversary of Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two, still tortured by voices of denial and a seemingly endless search for the dead. Abandoned by their U.N. protectors toward the end of a 1992-95 war, 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed by Bosnian Serb forces over five July days, their bodies dumped in pits then dug up months later and scattered in smaller graves in a systematic effort to conceal the crime.

Column: Singing for the Godfather: Al Martino, by Brian Brennan (paywall)

He had made a big splash when he played the role of the troubled wedding singer Johnny Fontane in the movie The Godfather. But Al Martino had no particular desire to do another film when he came to Canada in 1975 to perform the easy-listening pop favourites that had kept him going throughout the hard-rock explosion of the mid-sixties and early seventies.

Recommended elsewhere:  

For an unearthly view of our home, seen as no one has ever seen it before, visit Japan’s New Satellite Captures an Image of Earth Every 10 Minutes, a stunning New York Times multimedia feature. It’s  based on unprecedented images released this week by the Japanese Meteorological Agency, captured by Japan’s new Himawari-8 satellite. 

July 11 was the 25th anniversary of Canada’s Oka Crisis, a lethal standoff between First Nations defending a traditional burial ground against plans to extend a golf course by a town in the province of Quebec. Here are two pieces that capture the time and the issues at stake:  

Behind the lines: Invisible scars left by Oka Crisis 25 years later. Mohawk journalist Dan David reflects on his time during Oka Summer, CBC.

Canada in Crisis, July 1990, PEN Canada, President’s report by John Ralston Saul: “press freedom is not only a right in a democratic society. It is also an obligation.” PEN Canada archives

Last but not least, RIP Omar Sharif, who died this week at age 83.


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