Facts, and Opinions, this week

 

Arcelia Leandro poses for a picture at the kitchen of her house, while she waits for the power to return, during a power cut in Puerto Ordaz in Bolivar state, Venezuela, April 12, 2016. Although their nation has one of the world's biggest hydroelectric dams and vast rivers like the fabled Orinoco, Venezuelans are still suffering water and power cuts most days. The problems with stuttering services have escalated in the last few weeks: yet another headache for the OPEC nation's 30 million people already reeling from recession, the world's highest inflation rate, and scarcities of basic goods. President Nicolas Maduro blames a drought, while the opposition blames government incompetence. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins SEARCH "SERVICES TANK" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES

Arcelia Leandro poses for a picture at the kitchen of her house during a power cut in Puerto Ordaz in Bolivar state, Venezuela. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

When governments go rogue, fail, or are toppled by forces outside their control, things break down. Quickly, ordinary people suffer. Venezuela, once oil-rich and the fat cat of Latin America, is in trouble: the government is fighting for its political life and declared a state of emergency on Friday. The Americans are eyeing it with concern.

To put the politics into context, in this weekend’s lineup F&O offers a photo essay from Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela,  that shows what happens on the ground when basic services like electricity and water are interrupted.

Also in our good reads for the week, Jonathan Manthorpe predicts a Donald Trump presidency in the US will wake up Canada, which has for too long relied on its southern neighbour. Two French academics analyse how American democracy is broken; Tom Regan writes on the disgraceful quality of North America’s media, and we take you to the town of Cremona, Italy, a town renowned for its violin makers. And our long read, we offer a tale that touches on life after death — post-mortem sperm donation.

Happy reading, and thank you for your interest in and support of our boutique journalism.

Before you continue: please know that reader-supported Facts and Opinions is employee-owned and ad-free. We are on an honour system and survive only because readers like you pay at least 27 cents per story.  Contribute below, or find more details here. Thanks for your interest and support.

Venezuela’s struggle to keep the lights on, by Reuters

Residents of Venezuela’s southern city of Puerto Ordaz enjoy pleasant views of the Orinoco and Caroni rivers and are a half hour’s drive from one of the world’s biggest hydroelectric dams. Yet most days they suffer water and power cuts.

Canada’s Navy: Dying From Neglect, by Jonathan Manthorpe, F&O International Affairs columnist

HMCS Toronto flies a Canadian flag in the Arabian Gulf during Operation Altair with the US Navy, a 2004 mission to monitor shipping in the Arabian Gulf. Photo by MCpl Colin Kelley, Canadian Armed ForcesOne highly desirable result of an isolationist Donald Trump presidency is that it would expose in short order the philosophical, economic, political and moral corruption that has been at the heart of Canadian defence policy since the year dot. Trump says he wants to jettison those allies who are freeloading on the United States and its taxpayers. By any measure, Canada is the worst freeloader of the whole lot.

Trump and Clinton prove America’s voting system is broken. By Michel Balinski and Rida Laraki

Democracies everywhere are suffering. Voters protest. Citizens don’t vote. Support for the political extremes are increasing. One of the underlying causes, we argue, is majority voting as it is now practiced, and its influence on the media.

Commercial journalism can’t die fast enough, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda columnist

They say we get the government we deserve. The same is true of media. If so, then we are a stupid, shallow people, easily manipulated, poorly informed and a greater danger to democracy that any al-Qaeda or ISIS fighter. Commercial media – almost all cable TV news networks, most “news” websites and many, many papers – pay little more than lip service to quality journalism in the second decade of the 21 century.

Cremona — Italy’s City of Violins, by Stefano Rellandini. Photo-essay

Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy.

Magazine:

Dead man’s sperm, by Jenny Morber

When the partners of men who have died to try and have their babies, they enter the legally and ethically fraught world of post-mortem sperm donation.  Some countries have laws in place. Some don’t. Some are permissive. Some aren’t. It’s a global mess.

In case you missed these:

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