Facts, and Opinions, this week

Dump the Olympics, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda columnist

There comes a time in life when all good things must come to an end. This is certainly true of the “modern” Olympics with one small change – the Olympics are no longer a good thing.

South African politics see tectonic shift, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs columnist

South African voters delivered the most stinging rebuke to the party of Nelson Mandela since it led the country out of apartheid a quarter century ago. The messianic reputation of the African National Congress is crumbling under the weight of administrative incompetence and endless corruption scandals.

By United States Senate - http://www.kaine.senate.gov/about, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24544383

Tim Kaine. Official portrait, United States Senate

US Democrats watch their language, as bilingualism grows, by Penney Kome, Over Easy columnist

The current election shows that the U.S. is joining the rest of the world, becoming a place where it’s an advantage to know at least two languages.

Squib: Rude but Necessary Questions for Americans, by Deborah Jones, commentary

Rude and necessary questions for Americans include this: which action by United States leaders is more disrespectful of a nation’s men and women in uniform?

Japan remembers Hiroshima, by Kiyoshi Takenaka  Report

Japan marked the 71st anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Saturday as its mayor urged world leaders to follow in U.S. President Barack Obama’s footsteps and visit, and ultimately rid the world of nuclear arms.

Found Elsewhere:

The annual State of the Climate report this week confirmed that 2015 surpassed 2014 as the warmest year since at least the mid-to-late 19th century. The findings show, yet again, that we are cooking the earth, and no one who is paying attention thinks it will end well, at least not for the human species. Cockroaches, or bacteria that like acidic water maybe. Not humans.

George Monbiot was rightfully in full dudgeon about the climate issue this week: “What is salient is not important. What is important is not salient. The media turns us away from the issues that will determine the course of our lives, and towards topics of brain-melting irrelevance. ….. Arctic sea ice covered a smaller area last winter than in any winter since records began. In Siberia, an anthrax outbreak is raging through the human and reindeer populations because infected corpses locked in permafrost since the last epidemic in 1941 have thawed. India has been hammered by cycles of drought and flood, as withering heat parches the soil and torches glaciers in the Himalayas. Southern and eastern Africa have been pitched into humanitarian emergencies by drought. Wildfires storm across America; coral reefs around the world are bleaching and dying.”

“A national instinct that small government is always better than large government is grounded not in facts but rather in ideology and politics,” reports a group of American scholars. ” The evidence throughout the history of modern capitalism “shows that more government can lead to greater security, enhanced opportunity and a fairer sharing of national wealth.” Eduardo Porter of the New York Times takes that report and runs with it, in a piece entitled The Case for More Government and Higher Taxes.

“This is an extraordinary time to be a woman,” wrote American president Barack Obama, in an essay for the women’s magazine Glamour, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like.” “The progress we’ve made in the past 100 years, 50 years, and, yes, even the past eight years has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as President but also as a feminist.”

“Waste people. Rubbish. Clay-eaters. Hillbillies. Two new books that reckon with the long, bleak history of the country’s white poor suggest their plight shouldn’t have caught the rest of the country off guard.” That’s the intro to a new ProPublica feature on America’s election, ‘White Trash’ — The Original Underclass,” by Alex MacGillis. It’s a great read if you’re not already fed up with American politics.

Millions will be discomfited by two items in science news this week. First, flossing may be a waste of time concluded an investigation by intrepid AP reporter Jeff Donn, with much expert agreement. If this is right, we have wasted hours or even days of our lives doing an unpleasant task because we were long told flossing was good for us. The second item is that research has cast doubt on the usefulness of sunscreen. It may work, researchers say, but add they just don’t know — meaning  none of us knows if sunscreen makes us safe in the sun.


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