Matters of Facts, and Opinions, this week

Monarch butterflies cover a tree Photo by Bfpage/WikipediaCC BY 3.0
Monarch butterflies cover a tree Photo by Bfpage/WikipediaCC BY 3.0

To Protect Monarch Butterfly,  A Plan to Save the Sacred Firs. By Janet Marinelli  Report

Mexican scientists are striving to plant oyamel fir trees at higher altitudes in an effort to save the species, as well as its fluttering iconic winter visitor — the migrating monarch butterfly — from the devastating effects of climate change.

The Middle East: Meltdowns, Crises and Daesh. By Simon Mabon   Report

As we approach the fifth anniversary of the Arab Uprisings, it’s hard to remember the days of popular protests, of democratic revolutions and of dreams of a better future that rocked the Middle East in 2011. Nearly five years on, tensions between rulers and the ruled have exploded across the region – and the ensuing struggles for survival have continued to take all manner of ugly forms.

REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Migrants to Europe via sea top one million in 2015. By Sebastien Malo  Report

More than one million refugees and migrants braved the seas in 2015 seeking sanctuary in Europe, nearly five times more than in the previous year. About half who made the perilous journey came from war-torn Syria, while Afghans accounted for roughly a fifth, said a United Nations agency.

© Deborah Jones 2014

Fireworks: our prettiest pollutant. By Gary Fuller  Report

Fireworks are great fun. We all enjoy guessing the colours of the rockets before they ignite in the sky, hearing the explosions echo off nearby buildings, or writing our names in light with hand sparklers. But there is an environmental price to pay.


Farewell, Dal Richards

DAL RICHARDS: The bandleader who almost lived forever. By Rod Mickleburgh

How often do you get to shake hands and say ‘hello’ and ‘thanks’ to a living legend? Vancouver’s King of Swing had a gig every New Year’s Eve for 79 years, which, as the whimsical Richards never tired of pointing out, must be some kind of world record.

Auld Lang Syne changed en route to world domination. By Kirsteen McCue

Auld Lang Syne was famously written by the Scottish national bard, Robert Burns. What is less well known is that the melody was not the one he intended. The one that became famous was first attached to the song in the late 1790s and Burns, who died in 1796, knew nothing about it.


Disneyfied Star Wars an iconic kids’ flick. By Penney Kome

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: as the sun rises, the camera pans in on a droid rolling across barren dunes, burbling and tweeting to itself, on an errand to deliver a crucial message to the Resistance.  Spoiler alert: in some ways, The Force Awakens is a mirror image to the very first Star Wars movie, the 1977 space opera that was so fresh and inspiring that it became the only movie I’ve ever paid money to see in a theatre three times.


The racist in the mirror, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda column

He’s there. Every day. Staring back at me. A white, late middle-aged man …  He is, of course, me. I am the very personification of white male privilege. I am a racist.

Class war returns, this time as a global issue, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs column

Many mature democracies, previously characterised by the broad social harmony that defines equitable societies, are being sucked into a new world order. We are entering a world in which most wealth, and with it political power, is in the firm grasp of a tiny minority of people who have acquired their status either by luck, imagination, skill, or — in far too many cases — feral instincts. This is a shift in the structure of human society with very real and unappetizing implications.

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