From the Tour de France to invasions: Facts and Opinions this Week

The stage map is seen on the back of the helmet of the Reuters motorbike driver as he rides during the 7th stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Livarot to Fougeres, France, July 10, 2015. Photographing the Tour de France cycling race comes with highs and lows: the buzz from capturing just the right image, the tedium of long journeys, the painstaking set-up of equipment, the breath-taking scenery. Reuters photographers have worked not only to capture the thrills and spills on the roads and mountain passes. They have also shot a set of pictures showing their own quirky view from behind the scenes as they travelled through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      PICTURE 2 OF 36 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY "ON THE SIDELINES - THE TOUR DE FRANCE"  SEARCH "SIDELINES TOUR" FOR ALL PICTURES

Photographing the Tour de France cycling race comes with highs and lows: the buzz from capturing just the right image, the tedium of long journeys, the painstaking set-up of equipment, the breath-taking scenery. Click here for a photo gallery by Reuters photographers, showing their own quirky view from behind the scenes as they travelled through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

The stories that mattered to us this week range from the passing of EL Doctorow to invasions — the army of King Crabs descending on Antarctica and the British invasion of American pop. We feature a photographer’s view of the Tour de France, and an expert examination of how American psychologists colluded in torture. F&O International Affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe casts his mind forward to the election approaching in Taiwan’s precarious democracy, while F&O columnist Tom Regan looks at the man with the toupee who aspires to be America’s next president. Brian Brennan’s rather quirky Brief Encounter this week is about John Mortimer.

My interview with John Mortimer, in the lobby of a Calgary hotel, was supposed to last only 15 minutes because Mortimer had several more appointments that day. But that changed when I asked him my first question: “If John Mortimer the award-winning journalist was sent to interview John Mortimer the playwright and novelist, what kinds of questions would he ask?’ “Mr. Brennan, I think we should go and have lunch,” Mortimer replied. “Do you like to drink wine?”

Writing as if for Dear Life: John Mortimer, by Brian Brennan (paywall)

My interview with John Mortimer, in the lobby of a Calgary hotel, was supposed to last only 15 minutes because Mortimer had several more appointments that day. But that changed when I asked him my first question: “If John Mortimer the award-winning journalist was sent to interview John Mortimer the playwright and novelist, what kinds of questions would he ask?’ “Mr. Brennan, I think we should go and have lunch,” Mortimer replied. “Do you like to drink wine?”

Battling the Brit Invasion: the fight for American pop independence. By John Covach

This is the 50th anniversary of the British invasion of the US  – at least, in music. The biggest hits on the American pop charts had come from British bands since The Beatles’ pivotal first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in February 1964. The British success was significant enough to force a revolution in American pop music.

Behind the Scenes at the Tour de France. By Reuters photographers

While Tour de France riders cover about 3,350 kilometres we “suiveurs’” (followers) drive about 7,000 kilometres to report on the race, moving from town to town, hotel to hotel, press buffet to press buffet …  Reuters photographers share their experiences, in images.

Remembering EL Doctorow, America’s conscience. By Michael Wutz

 Photo by Mark Sobzcak, Creative CommonsEL Doctorow, who died this month, will be missed. Over the course of almost six decades, Doctorow wrote himself into the canon of American literature. Together with his contemporaries Toni Morrison and Philip Roth, he embodied the virtues of a classical storyteller rendering cultural diagnoses in ambitious and lyrical narratives. 

How a US psychologists’ association colluded in torture. By  J Wesley Boyd

The fact that the United States resorted to torturing prisoners – many of whom are innocent, or in the words of the Senate Report on torture, “wrongfully detained” – will likely go down as one of America’s most egregious ethical lapses. The fact that a major health care association, the American Psychological Association, colluded in this lapse is unconscionable.

 

Beijing bristles as Taiwan prepares to elect pro-independence opposition By Jonathan Manthorpe (paywall)

 

Taiwan’s voters are preparing for a rocky ride as they appear set to elect an opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration dedicated to preserving the independence of the island and its 23 million people. If the voters in next year’s presidential election do what they are now telling pollsters they intend, the result will excite anger in Beijing and send a frisson of anxiety through the corridors of power in Washington.

Trump is America’s conservative zeitgeist in a bad toupee. By Tom Regan

Enormous wealth is not the only reason for Donald Trump’s popularity, despite what Beltway pundits referred to as his “erroneous steps.” In fact it might be these “errors” that are behind his surge to the top of the Republican presidential sweepstakes. Trump has captured the zeitgeist of the time in a bottle, at least the zeitgeist of conservative Republicans tired of what they consider namby-pamby, middle-of-the-road, Republican presidential candidates.

Hundreds of metres below the surface of the freezing ocean surrounding Antarctica, the seafloor is teeming with life. The animals living there have no idea that an army is on the brink of invading. Read The march of the king crabs: a warning from Antarctica, by Kathryn Smith. Photo Kathryn Smith © 2015

Hundreds of metres below the surface of the freezing ocean surrounding Antarctica, the seafloor is teeming with life. The animals living there have no idea that an army is on the brink of invading. Read The march of the king crabs: a warning from Antarctica, by Kathryn Smith. Photo Kathryn Smith © 2015

The march of the king crabs: a warning from Antarctica. By Kathryn Smith

Hundreds of metres below the surface of the freezing ocean surrounding Antarctica, the seafloor is teeming with life. The animals living there have no idea that an army is on the brink of invading their tranquil environment. The army is composed of king crabs. Until 2003, there were no crabs in this fragile Antarctic ecosystem. Now, driven by warming waters, their arrival heralds a major upset

Amazon at 20: evil overlord or positive for publishers? By Simon Rowberry

Amazon is 20 years old this month. And despite this pervasive narrative of the evil overlord milking its underlings for all their worth, Amazon has actually offered some positive changes in the publishing industry over the last 20 years. Most notably, the website has increased the visibility of books as a form of entertainment in a competitive media environment. This is an achievement that should not be diminished in our increasingly digital world. 

Bound, hooded captives, being flown to Guantanamo. United States Department of Defence photo

 How a US psychologists’ association colluded in torture. By  J Wesley Boyd

The fact that the United States resorted to torturing prisoners – many of whom are innocent, or in the words of the Senate Report on torture, “wrongfully detained” – will likely go down as one of America’s most egregious ethical lapses. The fact that a major health care association, the American Psychological Association, colluded in this lapse is unconscionable.

In Case You Missed It: 

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