New on F&O

August wilt, as the harvest nears. © Deborah Jones 2014
Wilting in August, with the harvest in sight. © Deborah Jones 2014

Happy Monday, world. Here’s our lineup of new work on Facts and Opinions:

In Arts:

The Fan Dancer: Sally Rand. By Brian Brennan (subscription required*)

Lauren Bacall

My assignment was to interview a 71-year-old grandmother who danced nude while waving a couple of big white ostrich-feather fans like the veils of Salome. She had been a star in 1933 when she created a sensation at the Chicago World’s Fair, but now she seemed more of a curiosity. A 1972 article in The Village Voice had been headlined, “What do you say to a naked 68-year-old lady?”  What indeed?

Between glamour and intimacy: Lauren Bacall 1924-2014. By Sean Cubitt

She was 19 when she began work on To Have and Have Not, directed by the seasoned and successful Howard Hawks from a Hemingway story. Delivering a husky-voiced duet with Hoagy Carmichael, she glances across a crowded bar room at Bogart, chin down, eyes looking up through her fringe: the look. Unlike older screen sirens like Mae West and younger like Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall never asserted her sexuality. It simply grew out of her roles …

In Commentary:

China’s Xi launches his own Cultural Revolution. By Jonathan Manthorpe (subscription required*)

Xi Jinping is not content with being the most powerful leader of China since Mao Zedong. He also wants to play God. Xi’s ruling Communist Party announced last week it will write its own version of “Chinese Christian theology” to ensure adherents abide by the country’s party-imposed political culture. The attempt to take control of religion in China is part of a broad campaign by Xi to establish “cultural security.” The aim is to outlaw and control all foreign influences that might undermine the communists’ one-party rule.

The Future of the Global University System, Part 3.  By Jim McNiven

As with electronic journalism, music, entertainment and books, the challenge to anyone wishing to provide global university education is how to monetize it. Nobody can predict how the global university system will look in the future, but it is not hard to see that one will emerge in the great by-and-by.

Wetlands are crucial to natural security. © Deborah Jones 2014

Stop Digging! By Chris Wood (subscription required*)

It’s one of those authorless pieces of universal wisdom: When you find yourself at the bottom of a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.  If we try to save every pond and copse that was there when we were kids, we’ll lose them. Either all of them or enough that it won’t matter. No net loss, is something we might actually be able to do. The alternative is to keep digging.

Michael Brown, Ferguson and the nature of unrest. By Garrett Albert Duncan

Many Americans share president Barack Obama’s sentiment regarding the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This is clearly indicated in the deeply felt hurt experienced by so many and the massive swell of moral support people of all backgrounds offered to the young man’s parents in recent days. But to suggest that all, or even most, Americans feel the same would be severely misleading.

In Expert Witness:

Who is a journalist? What is journalism? By Stephen Ward

The ‘democratization’ of media – technology that allows citizens to engage in journalism and publication of many kinds – blurs the identity of journalists and the idea of what constitutes journalism. It is not always clear whether the term “journalist” begins or ends. If someone does what appears to be journalism, but refuses the label ‘journalist’ is he or she a journalist? If comedian Jon Stewart refuses to call himself a journalist, but magazines refer to him as an influential journalist (or refers to him as someone who does engage in journalism) is Stewart a journalist?

In Dispatches: 

Six Days in Ferguson: Voices from the Protests. By Lois Beckett

On the afternoon of Saturday, August 9, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, 18-year-old Michael Brown. The killing sparked immediate protests in Ferguson which was followed by a heavily militarized police response that drew national condemnation. Here is a day-by-day chronology of what happened in Ferguson, drawn from the best reporting by journalists and witnesses on the ground.

WWI helped win British women the vote. By Nicoletta Gullace

At the outbreak of World War I, British women had tried and failed to push through suffrage legislation almost 20 times. Women had been utterly excluded from all the major reform bills of the Victorian era, and frustration had mounted to the point where Emmeline Pankhurst and her supporters adopted a militant campaign that got more and more violent in the years before the war. The 1918 Representation of the People Act  enshrined the idea that citizenship should be conferred upon those who served their country. And as both the suffragists and the suffragettes went to great lengths to show, women had undeniably done just that.

Photo by Roberto Carlos Pecino via Flickr, Creative Commons

Toxins in everyday products affect fetuses. By Jake Jacobs

After decades of use in some of the most well-known hygiene and cleaning products in our bathrooms and kitchens, concerns about the safety of triclosan – an anti-germ chemical used in products including Colgate Total toothpaste – means it is being phased out by some manufacturers and in some countries. But it is still widely used, despite research that suggests it – and some other antibacterial and antifungal products – could pose a serious risk to our health and potentially to unborn foetuses.

Who are the Yazidis? By Christine Allison

In 1918, the Yazidis of Sinjar mountain received an ultimatum from Ottoman forces – to hand over their weaponry and the Christian refugees they were sheltering, or face the consequences. They tore it up and sent the messengers back naked. The Sinjaris are the “Highlanders” of the Iraqi Yazidis – tough and proud. After suffering terrible casualties and appealing to the allied forces for help they were able to survive the subsequent attack and live out the war in their mountain homeland. 


Geli Ali Beg waterfall in Kurdistan. Photo: Ara Qadir, Creative Commons

*Facts and Opinions is a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, sustained entirely by readers: we do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.  Why? If you’d like to support our journalism, for $2.95 (the price of a cheap brew) you can subscribe to F&O for a month. If that breaks your budget, a one-day pass is $1. A subscription is required for most, but not all, F&O original work.