Tag Archives: Bernie Sanders

Bernie or Bust? – Smells Like White Privilege 

Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

TOM REGAN: SUMMONING ORENDA
July 30, 2016

On the opening day of the U.S. Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, I invented a drinking game. Every time I saw a black or Hispanic (heck, any person of colour, period) shown by the cable news networks of Bernie Sanders supporters, I would take a swing of beer.

I ended the night stone cold sober.

It was not a surprise. The main reason Bernie Sanders was not up on that podium giving the acceptance speech Thursday night was that he attracted almost no support from African-Americans, and little from Hispanics. The reality is that angry white college students, and angry white anti-trade agitators, and angry white “I’m fed up with the political system” protestors, in a party that bills itself as the party of diversity, ain’t gonna fly – or win you a presidential nomination.

I have written of this lack of enthusiasm among minorities for Sander’s message throughout the primaries, and was eagerly awaiting a more nuanced deconstruction. It came on the Fusion website, in an article written by Terrell Jermaine Star, “How Bernie Sanders Lost Blaczk Voters.” (You could apply the same situation to Hispanic voters):

“(Sanders) appeared not to realize that you can’t deliver the same speech on economic inequality to a room full of black people in Atlanta that you would to a room full of white people in Iowa.

“For African-Americans, he never connected the dots from a practical perspective,” Tara Dowdell, a political strategist who has worked local, state, and federal campaigns, told me. “How would this measurably improve your life? And his colourblind approach to economics ignores the fact that this is the United States of America, where policy and economics and race are tied.”

“Put another way, it takes more than marching with Martin Luther King to win black votes.”

In the end, Bernie Sanders was as gracious in defeat as one could hope for.  He understands the moment, and acted accordingly. And as a Pew Research poll showed this week, 90% of those who backed Sanders are ready to back Clinton over Trump, for obvious reasons. (After the 2008 Democratic Convention, about 40% of Clinton supporters said they would never back Obama … which they did, of course. So Clinton is way ahead of that game.)

But the hard core supporters, the Bernie or Busters, the folks who were never Democrats and probably never will be, the folks who are more natural supporters of Jill Stein, the head of the Green Party, but who had been wooed by Sanders’ progressive ideas, still hate Clinton. Which is fine. But the idea that Clinton, for all her warts, presents the same dangers to the country as does Donald Trump is an idea so detached from reality that it’s in the realm of fantasy fiction.

And it’s a stunning example of elitism and racism – known in the US as white privilege.

This comment, on the readers’ forum at Talking Points Memos, sums up the problem: ““The Bernie or Bust supporters who say they will vote for Trump rather than Clinton can only say so because they won’t be effected much if Trump is elected president.”

Exactly.

In a post on playwright Brad Fraser’s Facebook page, a Canadian wondered why most American liberals were not as upset as foreigners about the DNC’s deliberate campaign to undermine Sanders.

That’s an easy one. We live here. In the end, we don’t care who won, Sanders or Clinton. But if Trump gets elected president, we Americans have to deal with it. The intellectual exercise is fine, but as the father of three girls, who has gay relatives and transgender and Muslim friends, I care about it a lot. Yea, Clinton would not be my first chose either, but when the choice is between a fascist and someone else, you choose the someone else.

And here is where the element of racism creeps in. Not overt racism of the kind trumpeted by Trump. The quiet kind that some white people just accept without even really thinking about it.

When Bernie or Bust supporters say that Clinton cheated, that “not all the votes were counted,” what they are saying is that the millions and millions of votes people of colour cast for Clinton don’t matter;  don’t count as much as their angry white votes. Now, they are not going to want to hear that, but that’s too bad, because that is what it means.

Whether Clinton wins or loses the non-support of the Bernie of Busters really won’t matter. Too many other factors are at play, and as noted above, she already has the support of many Sanders’ people. I also don’t think it will be the Bernie or Busters who will change the Democratic Party. The best thing that Sanders did was blow up the status quo and point the way to needed change. That change will come from the people who want to improve the Democratic Party, not necessarily destroy it.

But until they can find a way to make their message of change resonate with African-Americans and Hispanics – the core of the Democratic Party – their efforts will be full of sound and fury but signify nothing.

Copyright Tom Regan 2016

Contact Tom Regan:  motnager@gmail.com

LINKS

Was The Democratic Primary A Close Call Or A Landslide? FiveThirtyEight
http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/was-the-democratic-primary-a-close-call-or-a-landslide/

How Bernie Sanders lost black voters Fusion:  http://fusion.net/story/323539/how-bernie-sanders-lost-black-voters/

The Sanders movement is bigger than Bernie. Now it must defeat Trump, The Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/26/sanders-movement-bernie-hillary-donald-trump

90 percent of unwavering Sanders supporters plan to vote for Clinton in November, Washington Post:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/07/25/the-democratic-convention-is-chaotic-the-democratic-base-isnt/

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Tom Regan Tom Regan has worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and with the National Film Board in Canada, and in the United States for the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and National Public Radio. A former executive director of the Online News Association in the U.S., he was a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 1991-92. He is based near Washington, D.C.

Return to Tom Regan’s page 

 

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US election: manufacturing the masks

By Aly Song, Reuters
May 28, 2016

The manager of Jinhua Partytime Latex Art and Crafts Factory wearing a mask of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses as he presents products to reporters at his factory's showroom in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, China, May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song

The manager of Jinhua Partytime Latex Art and Crafts Factory wearing a mask of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses as he presents products to reporters at his factory’s showroom in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, China, May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song

There’s no masking the facts. One Chinese factory is expecting Donald Trump to beat his likely U.S. presidential rival Hilary Clinton in the popularity stakes.

At the Jinhua Partytime Latex Art and Crafts Factory, a Halloween and party supply business that produces thousands of rubber and plastic masks of everyone from Osama Bin Laden to Spiderman, masks of Donald Trump and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton faces are being churned out.

Sales of the two expected presidential candidates are at about half a million each but the factory management believes Trump will eventually run out the winner.

“Even though the sales are more or less the same, I think in 2016 this mask will completely sell out,” said factory manager Jacky Chen, indicating a Trump mask.

The firm was already beginning to stockpile the de facto Republican candidate’s mask, he said.

Just like with the sales of the $4-$5 masks, Trump is now running nearly even with Democrat Hillary Clinton among likely U.S. voters ahead of the November election, a Reuters/Ipsos poll from May 11 showed.

That is a big turnaround for the real estate billionaire once considered a fringe figure in the race, but now the Republican party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Trump has been less than positive in his comments about China, asserting that the world’s number two economy had waged “economic war” against the United States, and used crafty business practices to steal American jobs.

China has largely refrained from responding to Trump’s barbs, but Finance Minister Lou Jiwei described him as “an irrational type” in an interview in April.

Such issues are far removed from the Trump mask production line at the factory in Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai.

Asked if he knew whose face he was making, 43-year-old worker Liu Dahua told reporters: “It’s the president of the U.S., right?”.

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Copyright Reuters 2016

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

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Trump and Clinton prove America’s voting system is broken

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.

By Michel Balinski  an Rida Laraki 
May, 2016

Having outlasted all his opponents, Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. Hillary Clinton is closing in on locking up the Democratic nomination.

Clinton and Trump may have won primaries, but are they really representative of what the American people want? In fact, as we will show, it is John Kasich and Bernie Sanders who are first in the nation’s esteem. Trump and Clinton come last.

So how has it come to this? The media has played a big role, of course, but that Trump versus Clinton will almost surely be the choice this November is the result of the totally absurd method of election used in the primaries: majority voting.

This is a strong statement. But as mathematicians who have spent the last dozen years studying voting systems, we are going to show you why it’s justified and how this problem can be fixed.

With majority voting (MV), voters tick the name of one candidate, at most, and the numbers of ticks determine the winner and the order of finish. It’s a system that is used across the U.S. (and in many other nations) to elect presidents as well as senators, representatives and governors.

But it has often failed to elect the candidate preferred by the majority.

In 2000, for example, George W. Bush was elected president because of Ralph Nader’s candidacy. In the contested state of Florida, Bush had 2,912,790 votes, Al Gore 2,912,253 (a mere 537 fewer) and Nader 97,488. There is little doubt that the large majority of those who voted for Nader, and so preferred him to the others, much preferred Gore to Bush. Had they been able to express this preference, Gore would have been elected with 291 Electoral College votes to Bush’s 246. Similar dysfunctions have also occurred in France.

Imagine how different the U.S. and the world might be today if Gore had won.

A quick glance at the U.S. presidential primaries and caucuses held on or before March 1 shows that when Trump was the “winner,” he typically garnered some 40 percent of the votes. However, nothing in that result factors in the opinions of the 60 percent of voters who cast ballots for someone else.

As Trump is a particularly divisive candidate, it is safe to suppose that most – or at least many – of them strongly opposed him. The media, however, focused on the person who got the largest number of votes – which means Trump. On the Democratic side of the ledger, the media similarly poured its attention on Hillary Clinton, ignoring Bernie Sanders until widespread enthusiastic support forced a change.

An election is nothing but an invented device that measures the electorate’s support of the candidates, ranks them according to their support and declares the winner to be the first in the ranking.

The fact is that majority voting does this very badly.

With MV, voters cannot express their opinions on all candidates. Instead, each voter is limited to backing just one candidate, to the exclusion of all others in the running.

Bush defeated Gore because Nader voters were unable to weigh in on the other two. Moreover, as we argue further on, majority voting can go wrong even when there are just two candidates.

The point is that it is essential for voters to be able to express the nuances of their opinions.

Majority judgment (MJ) is a new method of election that we specifically designed to avoid the pitfalls of the traditional methods.

MJ asks voters to express their opinions much more accurately than simply voting for one candidate. The ballot offers a spectrum of choices and charges voters with a solemn task:

To be the President of the United States of America, having taken into account all relevant considerations, I judge that this candidate as president would be a: Great President | Good President | Average President | Poor President | Terrible President

To see exactly how MJ ranks the candidates, let’s look at specific numbers.

We were lucky to find on the web that the above question was actually posed in a March Pew Research Center poll of 1,787 registered voters of all political stripes. (It should be noted that neither the respondents nor the pollsters were aware that the answers could be the basis for a method of election.) The Pew poll also included the option of answering “Never Heard Of” which here is interpreted as worse than “Terrible” since it amounts to the voter saying the candidate doesn’t exist.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 5.53.28 PM

Majority judgment of presidential candidates. Authors provided.

As is clear in the table, right, people’s opinions are much more detailed than can be expressed with majority voting. Note in particular the relatively high percentages of voters who believe Clinton and especially Trump would make terrible presidents (Pew reports that Trump’s “Terrible” score increased by 6 percent since January.)

Using majority judgment to calculate the ranked order of the candidates from these evaluations or grades is straightforward. Start from each end of the spectrum and add percentages until a majority of voters’ opinions are included.

Taking John Kasich as an example, 5 percent believe he is “Great,” 5+28=33 percent that he is “Good” or better, and 33+39=72 percent (a majority) that he is “Average” or better. Looked at from the other end, 9 percent “Never Heard” of him, 9+7=16 percent believe he is “Terrible” or worse, 16+13=29 percent that he is “Poor” or worse, and 29+39= 68 percent (a majority) that he is “Average” or worse.

Both calculations end on majorities for “Average,” so Kasich’s majority-grade is “Average President.” (Mathematically, the calculations from both directions for a given candidate will always reach majorities at the same grade.)

Similarly calculated, Sanders, Clinton and Cruz all have the same majority-grade, “Average President.” Trump’s is “Poor President,” ranking him last.

To determine the MJ ranking among the four who all are rated “Average,” two more calculations are necessary.

The first looks at the percentage of voters who rate a candidate more highly than his or her majority-grade, the second at the percentage who rate the candidate lower than his or her majority-grade. This delivers a number called the “gauge.” Think of it as a scale where in some cases the majority grade leans more heavily toward a higher ranking and in others more heavily toward a lower ranking.

In Kasich’s case, 5+28=33 percent evaluated him higher than “Average,” and 13+7+9=29 percent rated him below “Average.” Because the larger share is on the positive side, his gauge is +33 percent. For Sanders, 36 percent evaluated him above and 39 percent below his majority-grade. With the larger share on the negative side, his gauge is -39 percent.

Majority judgment ranking of presidential candidates. Authors provided

Majority judgment ranking of presidential candidates. Authors provided

A candidate is ranked above another when his or her majority-grade is better or, if both have the same majority-grade, according to their gauges (see below). This rule is the logical result of majorities deciding on candidates’ grades instead of the usual rule that ranks candidates by the numbers of votes they get.

When voters are able to express their evaluations of every candidate – the good and the bad – the results are turned upside-down from those with majority voting.

According to majority judgment, the front-runners in the collective opinion are actually Kasich and Sanders. Clinton and Trump are the trailers. From this perspective the dominant media gave far too much attention to the true trailers and far too little to the true leaders.

Tellingly, MJ also shows society’s relatively low esteem for politicians. All five candidates are evaluated as “Average” presidents or worse, and none as “Good” presidents or better.

But, you may object, how can majority voting on just two candidates go wrong? This seems to go against everything you learned since grade school where you raised your hand for or against a classroom choice.

The reason MV can go wrong even with only two candidates is because it does not obtain sufficient information about a voter’s intensity of support.

Take, as an example, the choice between Clinton and Trump, whose evaluations in the Pew poll are given in the first table above.

Lining up their grades from highest to lowest, every one of Clinton’s is either above or the same as Trump’s. Eleven percent, for example, believe Clinton would make a “Great” president to 10 percent for Trump. Trump’s percentages lead Clinton’s only for the Terrible’s and Never Heard Of’s. Given these opinions, in other words, it’s clear that any decent voting method must rank Clinton above Trump.

However, majority voting could fail to do so.

To see why, suppose the “ballots” of the Pew poll were in a pile. Each could be looked at separately. Some would rate Clinton “Average” and Trump “Poor,” some would rate her “Good” and him “Great,” others would assign them any of the 36 possible couples of grades. We can, therefore, find the percentage of occurrence of every couple of grades assigned to Trump and Clinton.

We do not have access to the Pew poll “ballots.” However, one could come up with many different scenarios where the individual ballot percentages are in exact agreement with the overall grades each received in the first table.

Among the various scenarios possible, we have chosen one that could, in theory, be the true one. Indeed, you can check for yourself that it does assign the candidates the grades each received: reading from left to right, Clinton, for example, had 10+12=22 percent “Good,” 16+4=20 percent “Average,” and so on; and the same holds for Trump.

So what does this hypothetical distribution of the ballots concerning the two tell us?

The first column on the left says 10 percent of the voters rated Clinton “Good” and Trump “Great.” In a majority vote they would go for Trump. And moving to the tenth column, 4 percent rated Clinton “Poor” and Trump “Terrible.” In a majority vote this group would opt for Clinton. And so on.

A hypothetical head-to-head matchup. Authors provided

A hypothetical head-to-head matchup. Authors provided

If you add up the votes in each of these 11 columns, Trump receives the votes of the people whose opinions are reflected in four columns: 10+16+12+15=53 percent; Clinton is backed by the voters with the opinions of columns with 33 percent support; and 14 percent are undecided. Even if the undecided all voted for Clinton, Trump would carry the day.

This shows that majority voting can give a very wrong result: a triumphant victory for Trump when Clinton’s grades are consistently above his!

Voting has been the subject of intense mathematical research since 1950, when the economist Kenneth Arrow published his famous “impossibility theorem,” one of the two major contributions for which he was awarded the 1972 Nobel Prize.

Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794) was a French philosopher and mathematician.

This theorem showed that if voters have to rank candidates – to say, in other words, who comes first, second and so forth – there will inevitably be one of two major potential failures. Either there may be no clear winner at all, the so-called “Condorcet paradox” occurs, or what has come to be called the “Arrow paradox” may occur.

The Arrow paradox is familiar to Americans because of what happened in the 2000 election. Bush beat Gore because Nader was in the running. Had Nader not run, Gore would have won. Surely, it is absurd for the choice between two candidates to depend on whether or not some minor candidate is on the ballot!

Majority judgment resolves the conundrum of Arrow’s theorem: neither the Condorcet nor the Arrow paradox can occur. It does so because voters are asked for more accurate information, to evaluate candidates rather than to rank them.

MJ’s rules, based on the majority principle, meet the basic democratic goals of voting systems. With it:

  • Voters are able to express themselves more fully, so the results depend on much more information than a single vote.
  • The process of voting has proven to be natural, easy and quick: we all know about grading from school (as the Pew poll implicitly realized).
  • Candidates with similar political profiles can run without impinging on each other’s chances: a voter can give high (or low) evaluations to all.
  • The candidate who is evaluated best by the majority wins.
  • MJ is the most difficult system to manipulate: blocs of voters who exaggerate the grades they give beyond their true opinions can only have a limited influence on the results.
  • By asking more of voters, by showing more respect for their opinions, participation is encouraged. Even a voter who evaluates all candidates identically (e.g., all are “Terrible”) has an effect on the outcome.
  • Final grades – majority-grades – enable candidates and the public to understand where each stands in the eyes of the electorate.
  • If the majority decides that no candidate is judged an “Average President” or better, the results of the election may be rescinded, and a new slate of candidates demanded.
  • It is a practical method that has been tested in elections and used many times (for judging prize-winners, wines, job applicants, etc.). It has also been formally proposed as a way to reform the French presidential election system.

It should come as no surprise that in answer to a recent Pew poll’s question “Do you think the primaries have been a good way of determining who the best qualified nominees are or not?” only 35 percent of respondents said yes.

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.

Misled by the results of primaries and polls, the media concentrates its attention on candidates who seem to be the leaders, but who are often far from being deemed acceptable by a majority of the electorate. Majority judgment would correct these failings.

The ConversationCreative Commons

Michel Balinski is an applied mathematician and mathematical economist, “Directeur de recherche de classe exceptionnelle” (emeritus) of the C.N.R.S. , École Polytechnique – Université Paris Saclay.  Rida Laraki is Directeur de recherche CNRS au LAMSADE, Professeur à l’École polytechnique, Université Paris Dauphine – PSL.  This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

You may also be interested in these democracy-related stories:

Canada’s strategic, desperate, election: Anybody But Conservative, by Deborah Jones, Free Range column

The shambles of Canada’s democracy, and paralysis in the face of existential economic, environmental and civil threats to the country I call home, drove me from being a lifelong, carefully non-participatory journalist observer of politics, into activism during this federal election.

Fox News Facebook page

The art of manipulating campaign coverage, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda column

Who is manipulating whom in media coverage of United States politics? American media manipulates the way they tell stories in order to increase eyeballs and produce a narrative that suits their tastes. But politicians then manipulate the media into creating those narratives and building on them, despite what is actually going on in the campaign.

Ideal democracy hears both whispers and shouts. By John Wright

To have a healthy democracy, it is not enough to hold regular elections, or for every person to get one – and only one – vote. At the heart of democracy is the idea that by voting for a particular party, the people confer upon that party legitimate authority to govern. But if a vote is to justify a ruler’s claim to authority, a number of conditions need to be met.

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

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AI chills and thrills, climate pledges, a Nazi haven, children’s lit, and a film about a genius: Facts, and Opinions, that matter this week

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry kisses his two-year-old granddaughter Isabelle Dobbs-Higginson after signing the Paris Agreement on climate change at United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry kisses his two-year-old granddaughter Isabelle Dobbs-Higginson after signing the Paris Agreement on climate change at United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Reports:

Ban Ki-moon (2nd from R), Secretary-General of the United Nations, delivers his opening remarks at the Paris Agreement signing ceremony on climate change as French President Francois Hollande (2nd from L) looks on at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike SegarChina, US, among those pledging to ratify Paris Agreement. By Michelle Nichols & Valerie Volcovici  Report

China and the United States, the world’s top producers of greenhouse gas emissions, pledged to formally adopt by the end of the year a Paris deal to slow global warming, raising the prospects of it being enforced much faster than anticipated. The United Nations said 175 states took the first step of signing the deal on April 22, the biggest day one endorsement of a global agreement.

Focus on Artificial Intelligence

Figure-1The chilling significance of AlphaGo. By Sheldon Fernandez  Magazine

In March, a computer named AlphaGo played the human world champion in a five-game match of Go, the ancient board game often described as the ‘Far East cousin’ of chess. That AlphaGo triumphed provoked curiosity and bemusement in the public — but is seen as hugely significant in the artificial intelligence and computer science communities. Computer engineer Sheldon Fernandez explains why.

The Sunflower Robot is a prototype that can carry objects and provide reminders and notifications to assist people in their daily lives. It uses biologically inspired visual signals and a touch screen, located in front of its chest, to communicate and interact with users. Photo by Thomas Farnetti for Wellcome/Mosaic, Creative CommonsA one-armed robot will look after me until I die. By Geoff Watts Magazine

I am persuaded by the rational argument for why machine care in my old age should be acceptable, but find the prospect distasteful – for reasons I cannot, rationally, account for. But that’s humanity in a nutshell: irrational. And who will care for the irrational human when they’re old? Care-O-bot, for one; it probably doesn’t discriminate.

And from earlier this year:

Product and graphic designer Ricky Ma, 42, gives a command to his life-size robot ''Mark 1'', modelled after a Hollywood star, in his balcony which serves as his workshop in Hong Kong, China March 31, 2016. Ma, a robot enthusiast, spent a year-and-a half and more than HK$400,000 ($51,000) to create the humanoid robot to fulfil his childhood dream. REUTERS/Bobby Yip SEARCH "ROBOT STAR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIESBuilding a humanoid Hollywood Star. By Bobby Yip  Report

The rise of robots and artificial intelligence are among disruptive labor market changes that the World Economic Forum projects will lead to a net loss of 5.1 million jobs over the next five years. Where will they come from? Why, we can make them ourselves. Or at least some of us can, and do.

Reader-Supported Facts and Opinions is employee-owned, and survives on an honour system. Try one story at no charge; chip in at least $.27 apiece for more. If you value no-spam, no-ads, non-partisan, evidence-based, independent journalism, help us continue. Please share our links and respect our copyright.Details.

Commentary:

By Brian McMorrow - http://www.pbase.com/bmcmorrow/image/45156182, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=833719This Week’s Other Birthday, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs  column

Until quite recently, while Queen Elizabeth and her family were celebrating her birthday every April 21, a group of elderly men in south-west Africa were nursing the effects of the birthday toasts they had drunk the night before, to Adolf Hitler,  born on April 20, 1889. The men had been senior  Nazi officials, and had managed to escape capture by the Allies at the end of the Second World War. What is now Namibia offered a lasting sanctuary.

Why Bernie Sanders need to fight on … and surrender, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda Column

It looks like the end is nigh for the Sanders campaign. But it is absolutely necessary that Bernie not give up running. Yes, he should start to encourage his supporters to support Clinton. I am, however, totally in favor of him building up his delegate total and going into Philadelphia in late July demanding that the party’s platform reflect his point of view.

Those Healthy Yankees: Graham and Alcott, by Jim McNiven, Thoughtlines Column

Sylvester Graham and William Andrus Alcott were men of their disease-ridden times, amongst the first American promoters of “health food,” “phys-ed” and temperate living for health in both the here and now — and the afterlife.

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, in the midst of their ICESCAPE mission, retrieves supplies in the Arctic Ocean in this July 12, 2011 NASA handout photo. Kathryn Hansen/NASA via REUTERS/File PhotoAfter Paris climate pact, let’s get personal. By Gwynne Taraska and Shiva Polefka  Loose Leaf salon Column

Reengineering global economic dependence on carbon pollution requires conscious commitment and action from individuals as well as governments and corporations.

Arts:

image-20160421-30266-12jsnvsHow GH Hardy tamed Srinivasa Ramanujan’s genius. By Béla Bollobás   Report

Throughout the history of mathematics, there has been no one remotely like Srinivasa Ramanujan. There is no doubt that he was a great mathematician, but had he had simply a good university education and been taught by a good professor in his field, we wouldn’t have a film about him. Credit is due to GH Hardy.

Why children’s books are serious literature. By Catherine Butler Report

Once a generation, it seems, a cri de coeur goes out, in which a representative of the world of children’s literature speaks with revelatory authority to the literary establishment and makes it reassess the place of children’s books.

Last but not least: alongside the many musical tributes to the American artist Prince, who died this week at age 57, his appearance on the Muppets should not be missed:

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

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Why Bernie Sanders need to fight on … and surrender

TOM REGAN: SUMMONING ORENDA
April, 2016

I’m not going to pretend I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter. I’m not. I’ve explained in earlier columns why I back Hillary Clinton, even though I’m ideologically much closer to Sanders on almost all of the important issues.  After living in the United States for nearly a quarter century, and seeing how the mainstream media, the right-wing echo chamber, never-ending political gridlock, religious politics, and unfettered access to money combine to create a fetid political miasma, I believe that Bernie would be a sitting duck in this fall’s presidential election, regardless of what the polls say right now. The right hasn’t even started to turn its guns on a self-declared socialist. I can see the ads now.

It looks like the end is nigh for the Sanders campaign. After a double-digit loss in New York, and looming double-digits losses in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware, a Sanders win ain’t gonna happen. All the talk by die-hard Bernie supporters of stealing away superdelegates is just that – talk. And Sanders will lose for one main reason – a total inability to connect with minority voters. If he had just drawn even with Clinton with voters in these communities he would be the nominee for sure. But his campaign has mainly appealed to young white progressives, which is an important audience, but without black and Hispanic voters, you will not even get nominated as a Democratic dogcatcher.

(I’m still waiting to see a thorough analysis of why this happened.)

It’s time for Sanders to come to grips with this reality and to start thinking about November. The most important thing is to beat the Republicans, and the Democrats have a golden chance to win back the Senate AND the House because of how the Republican party’s nominating contest has turned into a combination freak show, wrestling cage match and car wreck. It doesn’t matter if it’s Trump or Cruz. Since the GOP contest will probably last until late July, in Cleveland, the Democrats have a golden opportunity to define the terms of the election now, and make a start on defining who the party will be up against.

But that can’t happen if Bernie Sanders and his supporters keep vilifying Clinton. As comedian Patton Oswald, a big Bernie supporter but a realist, said in a recent interview, if you’re a Democrat but you hate Clinton so much you would rather have Trump as president, then, “You’re a fucking child.”

But it is absolutely necessary that Bernie not give up running. Yes, he should start to encourage his supporters to support Clinton. I am, however, totally in favor of him building up his delegate total and going into Philadelphia in late July demanding that the party’s platform reflect his point of view.  He should also pressure Clinton to pick a vice-presidential candidate who reflects his view. Someone like, say, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Warren would be the perfect pick. She is as progressive as Sanders on all the issues that young voters care about. It would be much easier for them to support Clinton if they knew Warren was her backup. She is super intelligent, and fearless. The traditional roll of a vice-president nominee is to say the things about the opponent that a presidential candidate can’t. It’s my opinion that Warren would reduce Trump or Cruz to tears. And heaven help the poor man or woman the GOP pick as their vice-presidential candidate in any debate against her.

Bernie Sanders can bring about change in the Democratic Party in a way that no other candidate has. It’s important that he does so. If the Democrats want to take advantage of the party’s growing support among young people, and the demographic changes in their favor, they need to move forward. Repeating what Barack Obama did is not enough.

That’s why Bernie Sanders needs to both surrender and fight on. It’s time to act. He can both help the Democrats overwhelmingly win the next election, and change the party forever.  I know that would not be the ultimate prize, but it would be a victory not to be sneezed at.

Copyright Tom Regan 2016

Contact Tom Regan:  motnager@gmail.com

Facts and Opinions is employee-owned, and relies on the honour system: try one story at no charge and, if you value our no-spam, no-ads work, please chip in at least .27 per story, or a sustaining donation, below. Details here. 

Tom Regan Tom Regan has worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and with the National Film Board in Canada, and in the United States for the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and National Public Radio. A former executive director of the Online News Association in the U.S., he was a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 1991-92. He is based near Washington, D.C.

Return to Tom Regan’s page 

 

 

 

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded only by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we need a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Visit our Subscribe page for details, or donate below. With enough supporters each paying a small amount, we will continue, and increase our original works like this.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

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Fresh: Facts, and Opinions, this week

An actor performs during William Shakespeare's theatre play "Hamlet" at the Jerusalem Centre for the Performing Arts in this file photograph dated December 11, 2008. REUTERS/ Eliana Aponte/files

Scan of Shakespeare’s Grave Suggests Skull Missing, reports Reuters. Above, an actor performs during William Shakespeare’s theatre play “Hamlet” at the Jerusalem Centre for the Performing Arts in this file photograph dated December 11, 2008. REUTERS/ Eliana Aponte/files

 

A still image taken from security camera footage shows people running for safety as shots are fired at the beach resort in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Etoile du Sud Hotel via Reuters TV ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.

People running for safety as shots are fired at the beach resort in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Etoile du Sud Hotel via Reuters TV 

The West’s racist response to terrorism, by Tom Regan. Column

It was a horrible attack. The terrorist gunmen walked up and down the beach, slaughtering men, women and children with each step they took. In one case, a small child begged for his life only to be murdered by the gunmen. A deaf child in the water, who others tried to warn of the danger, was also gunned down.  In the end at least 20 people lay dead, including two soldiers from a group who had arrived to confront the al-Qaeda terrorists. But I’m guessing you don’t know about this attack. That’s because it happened in the Cote d’Ivoire.

 

“Feeling the Bern”,  by Rod Mickleburgh  Column

The 74-year old, white-haired politician advanced to the podium, and the roof nearly came off the Hudson’s Bay High School gymnasium. No wonder. For nearly four hours, thousands of us had been standing in line, braving a cold, miserable rain, without even knowing whether we would be among the 5,000 or so lucky enough to make it inside. As the cheers continued to cascade down from the packed, rickety benches of the high school gym, Bernie Sanders leaned forward and shouted in his hoarse, Brooklynese. “All I can say is: WHOA!”

Party dissent in China as time for a new mandate for Xi nears, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs  Column

China’s leader Xi Jinping is facing serious criticism from within the ruling Communist Party as the time approaches when he must be reconfirmed as party boss and the country’s president. Since being selected by the party at the end of 2012 for China’s two top posts, Xi has raised hackles by using an anti-corruption drive to remove his political rivals, fostering an unseemly cult of personality, ramping up censorship and suppressing of dissent, and grasping more personal power than any leader since Mao Zedong.

Reuters

Reuters

UN Court Finds  Karadžić Guilty in Bosnia Genocide Trial. By Thomas Escritt and Toby Sterling  Report

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, the most senior political figure to be convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, was sentenced to 40 years in jail by U.N judges who found him guilty of genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and of nine other war crimes charges.

How aspirin does more than kill pain. By Emma Young   Report

Inflammation in our bodies is being linked with more diseases. Can a simple anti-inflammatory drug like aspirin really help keep us healthier?

Scan of Shakespeare’s Grave Suggests Skull Missing. By Reuters Arts report

Shakespeare’s skull is likely missing from his grave, an archaeologist has concluded, confirming rumors which have swirled for years about grave-robbers and adding to the mystery surrounding the Bard’s remains.

Brussels Attacks: 30 Killed, Islamic State Claims Responsibility. By Philip Blenkinsop and Francesco Guarascio

Islamic State claimed responsibility for suicide bomb attacks on Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train in the Belgian capital March 22, 2016, which killed at least 30 people, with police hunting a suspect who fled the air terminal.

Brussels Attacks: Deadly Circles of Terror. By Sebastian Rotella

Over the past several months, Belgian counterterror officials told me they were working nonstop to prevent an attack and that the danger had never been so high. Today, March 22, 2016, their worst fears came true when coordinated bombings struck the airport and a subway stop in Brussels.

In Case You Missed It, stories earlier this month:

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

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“Feeling the Bern”

ROD MICKLEBURGH
March 25, 2016

Thousands turned out in Vancouver, Washington to hear Bernie Sanders. © Rod Mickleburgh 2016

Thousands turned out in Vancouver, Washington to hear Bernie Sanders. © Rod Mickleburgh 2016

The 74-year old, white-haired politician advanced to the podium, and the roof nearly came off the Hudson’s Bay High School gymnasium. No wonder. For nearly four hours, thousands of us had been standing in line, braving a cold, miserable rain, without even knowing whether we would be among the 5,000 or so lucky enough to make it inside. Our little group, friends after sharing the miserable ordeal outside, scraped through by the skin of our chattering teeth, but the doors soon closed on thousands more.

As the cheers continued to cascade down from the packed, rickety benches of the high school gym, Bernie Sanders leaned forward and shouted in his hoarse, Brooklynese. “All I can say is: WHOA!” The roar got louder. “It sounds to me like the people of Vancouver and the state of Washington are ready for a political revolution.” Clearly they were, along with millions of other Americans across the country, who have been rallying in such astonishing numbers to the political phenomenon that is Bernie Sanders.

While the headlines and pundits focus on the truly frightening Donald Trump, Sanders has been going about his business, undeterred by numbers that show him with little chance of wresting the Democratic Party nomination from the well-connected Hillary Clinton. He pursues his quixotic quest with no sign of flagging enthusiasm, urging the crowd to register and show up for the coming caucuses to determine convention delegates for the State of Washington.

© Rod Mickleburgh 2016

© Rod Mickleburgh 2016

Now it was our turn for the Bernie Sanders Socialist Revival Hour. The rally in Vancouver showcased just how much the Sanders campaign and its captivating slogan “A Future to Believe In” remains full of vigour. A pleasant but otherwise nondescript, mid-sized city just across the Columbia River from Oregon, founded by the Hudson’s Bay Company, Vancouver is hardly a hotbed of political activism. Yet people began lining up at the crack of dawn for Sanders’ early afternoon appearance. “There are a lot of people I never thought would show up for a political rally (here],” one soaked, early arriver told a reporter. Indeed, that has been a feature of the Sanders campaign from the beginning. Many of those flocking to his side are first-timers from outside the traditional political spectrum. Millennials, in particular, were everywhere in the sea of Gortex and hoodies that stretched in all directions outside the school. “Maybe we can start a revolution,” said the young nursing student ahead of us in the rain-lashed line.

And maybe they can. Later that day, 25,000 showed up to hear Sanders in Seattle, another 10,000 in Spokane. Campaign organizers have now audaciously booked Seattle’s 45,000-seat Safeco Field for another mass public gathering. So far, Sanders has scored victories in 11 primaries and caucuses, securing a total of more than 900 delegates. Not bad for a Noam Chomsky-loving, self-proclaimed democratic socialist in a country where, until recently just to be branded a liberal was considered political death. It’s really quite amazing.

Few, maybe not even Bernie Sanders, saw this coming when he announced his bid for the Democratic nomination last year. “The general consensus was that we were looking at a coronation, that there was an anointed candidate,” said Sanders. He paused. “Well, ten months have come and gone, and it doesn’t look to me like that’s the case….” The fired-up crowd erupted in a frenzy of sign-waving and cheers.

As the primaries pile up and the convention nears, Sanders has not watered down his radical rhetoric and progressive policies one bit. There is no move to the mushy centre in search of undecided voters. His targets remain the billionaires, Wall Street speculators, multi-national drug companies, the corporate media “who talk about everything except the most important issues facing the American people”, “militarized” police forces… The list is lengthy. His platform is pitched at the young and the powerless, low-wage earners struggling to make a living in a land said Sanders, where corporations pack up and move, if they can make even a few dollars more somewhere else. The “real change” the United States needs is unlikely to come from “Secretary Clinton”, he bluntly asserted, with her millions in campaign donations from Wall Street and trusts that include the fossil fuel industry and big pharmaceutical companies.

He laid it all out in a direct, forceful 45-minute speech, short on humour and niceties, long on all the ills of American society and, in the words of Lenin, “What Needs to Be Done.” Wild applause greeted every point he hammered home.

Like an old-time blues shouter, Sanders asked: “Are you ready for a radical idea?” The “Yes!” was deafening. “We are doing something extremely unusual in American politics,” he confided. “We are telling the truth.” And what is that truth? Sanders didn’t mince words. “The truth is that the ruling class of this country is so powerful that a handful of billionaires believe that with their billions they have a right to win elections for the wealthy and the powerful…But we say ‘no’ to the corporate billionaires on Wall Street. We are a democracy, and we are not going to allow billionaires to take it away from us.”

Despite the USA’s deep-seated history of red-baiting and anti-communism, Sanders is thriving with a socialist message that hasn’t changed all that much in the 40 years he’s been preaching it, a perennial lone wolf on the left. Yet suddenly, out of nowhere, people are listening and lapping it up. He has tapped into some of the working-class anger that has propelled Donald Trump to his current, scary prominence. The difference is that Trump’s poisonous brand is exclusive, while Sanders’ message is resolutely positive and inclusive. He wants a fair deal for everyone.

Sanders ploughs forward, undeterred by the legion of mainstream critics. “I’ve been criticized for saying this, so let me say it again,” he told us, drawing a rare laugh from the audience. “Every country in the world guarantees health care to all its people. Yet 29 million Americans still have no health insurance. Many others are being forced to pay huge sums for their coverage, while the drug companies keep ripping us off,” Sanders said. “I believe health care is a right, not a privilege. Medicare for all!” The declaration drew one of the loudest responses of the day. “Bernie! Bernie”, chanted the crowd. The chanters included the woman beside us who had shared her umbrella during our lengthy wait in line. She had asked about Canada’s health care system, after telling us that full coverage for herself, her husband and two kids would cost a thousand dollars a month. So her husband is doing without. These are the people joining the Sanders crusade. Left behind by the powers that be, they feel no one cares for them but Bernie.

In Vancouver, they were almost all white, befitting the city’s demographics, and predominantly young, like the teenaged couple sitting in front of us who interrupted persistent smooching to raise their right hands in a fist whenever Sanders said something they liked, which was often. “We’ve received more votes from people under 30 than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton combined,” trumpeted the junior Senator from Vermont.

Progressive promises piled up throughout his speech:

  • a nation-wide, minimum wage of $15 an hour.
  • a tax on “Wall Street speculation”
  • an end to “corporate tax loopholes”
  • an end to the War on Drugs (deafening whoops)
  • fixing a “rigged economy”, where the top one-tenth of one percent “has almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 per cent”.
  • “comprehensive” immigration reform.
  • taking on the fossil fuel industry to combat climate change and enhance sustainable energy.
  • diversifying police forces “so they look like the people they’re policing”.

And finally, most popular of all, judging by the prolonged ovation it received: free tuition for all public college and university students. “Last I heard, getting an education is not a crime or a punishment,” said Sanders, to ringing cheers. “We need the best educated work force in the world. So why are we punishing young people with crushing debt by the time they graduate?”

Not since the hapless, 1948 run by Henry Wallace of the Progressive Party has there been such a radical, presidential platform from the left. Although it would undoubtedly be premature to write him off completely, Sanders remains a long shot to win the Democrat nomination. But he has tapped into a deep yearning for meaningful change among Americans struggling to survive, while the rich grow ever wealthier. No one seems frightened of the term “socialist” any more. As one of Sanders’ pollsters told New Yorker magazine, explaining millennial support for his candidate: “What’s their experience been with capitalism? They’ve had two recessions, one really bad one. They have a mountain of student-loan debt. They’ve got really high health care costs, and their job prospects are mediocre at best. So that’s capitalism for you.”

Sanders has already forced an increasingly worried Hillary Clinton to tack left on a number of issues, and he is showing signs of cutting into her strong support among Afro-Americans. According to the latest Bloomberg poll, “feeling the Bern” has now totally erased Clinton’s once enormous lead in popular support, and the two are in a dead heat. The remarkable journey launched by that old leftie codger has a ways to go yet.

Copyright Rod Mickleburgh 2016

You might also wish to read these stories on F&O:

JEREMY CORBYN: British Labour’s New Leader. By William James and Michael Holden  Report

Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran left-winger who professes an admiration for Karl Marx, was elected leader of Britain’s opposition Labour party.  “Things can and they will change,” Corbyn, who when he entered the contest was a rank outsider, said in his acceptance speech after taking 59.5 percent of votes cast, winning by a far bigger margin than anyone had envisaged.

Trump or no Trump, the Democrats are going to win in the fall. By Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda Column

I’m tired of all the handwringing about Donald Trump. Yes, he’s bringing out a lot of new white voters, particularly angry white men. Yes, more Republicans are showing up to vote in the primaries than Democrats are. Yes, Trump is the “unexpected factor” that no one saw coming. Yes, underestimating Trump in the coming fall, as Republicans did last fall, is the greatest danger the Democrats face. It doesn’t matter one bit.

You say you want a revolution? By Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda Column

You say you want a revolution …  Well, I’m all in. I’m seized with joy at the thought of overthrowing the corrupt U.S. financial establishment. I’m gripped with enthusiasm at the thought of bringing justice and economic security for all Americans. But there might be a few problems …

Fox News Facebook page

The art of manipulating campaign coverage  By Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda Column

Who is manipulating whom in media coverage of United States politics? American media manipulates the way they tell stories in order to increase eyeballs and produce a narrative that suits their tastes. But politicians then manipulate the media into creating those narratives and building on them, despite what is actually going on in the campaign.

SandersWhy Bernie Sanders won’t win the Democratic nomination By Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda Column

With the momentum favoring Bernie Sanders, why is it that I am predicting that ultimately Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016? It boils down to a simple factor: Bernie Sanders is too white. And so are Iowa and New Hampshire.

 

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Rod Mickleburgh F&ORod Mickleburgh has been a journalist for more than 40 years, with stops just about everywhere, from Penticton to Paris to Peking. Managed a few awards and nominations along the way, but highlight was co-winning Canada’s Michener Award with my highly-esteemed Globe and Mail colleague, Andre Picard, for our coverage of Canada’s tainted blood scandal. Left the Globe, my reporting home for more than 22 years, in the summer of 2013. Have my name on two books: Rare Courage, containing first person-accounts from 20 veterans of World War Two, and The Art of the Impossible, a tale of the wild and wooly 39 months of British Columbia’s first New Democratic Party government led by Dave Barrett. Co-authored with Geoff Meggs, The Art of the Impossible won the Hubert Evans Prize for non-fiction at the 2013 British Columbia Book Awards. Currently investigating time management, without regular deadlines. Visit Rod Mickleburgh’s WordPress site, Mickleblog.

~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal, of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded only by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and we do not solicit donations from partisan organizations.  Please visit our Subscribe page to chip in at least .27 for one story or $1 for a day site pass. Please tell others about us, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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You say you want a revolution?

TOM REGAN: SUMMONING ORENDA
February, 2016

© Deborah Jones 2013

© Deborah Jones 2013

You say you want a revolution…

Well, I’m all in. I like the idea of revolutions. I’m seized with joy at the thought of overthrowing the corrupt U.S. financial establishment. I’m gripped with enthusiasm at the thought of bringing justice and economic security for all Americans. I would die happy if I actually saw that come to fruition. Seriously.

But there might be a few problems …

Have you ever been in revolution? Or the chaos that always ensues in true revolutions? Do you think the people who are being replaced will just go quietly into that good night? No fuss, no muss, glad to a bit of service and out the door? Wall Street billionaires dancing off into the sunset?

And once the revolution has been achieved, are you aware of the sacrifices and commitments that are needed to keep it in place? It can’t be done on Facebook and social media. Buzzfeed won’t have 20 little gifs about how to maintain the progressive “New World Order.” No, from what I’ve seen, maintaining any kind of a gain after a revolution can often involve tremendous commitment, little thanks for the people who are actually doing the work, and many, many backwards steps in order to keep your balance.

Now I’ve never been in a revolution, but I’ve covered them as a reporter and as an editor. A little over five years ago I sat with a group of fellow editors and watched Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned his position after weeks of student demonstrations in Tahrir Square in Cairo, that were sometimes met with brutal force by the entrenched interests in Egypt. But I’ll never forget that day when it looked like Egypt was headed somewhere it had never been: a place with free speech, freedom of the press, police that spend more time keeping the peace and less time beating up people, and so on and so on. You could feel the joy of the young people in Egypt pulsating through the screen.

So, it’s five years after that marvelous day in February of 2011. And where is the Egyptian revolution now? It makes me too sad to think about.

Now, the kind of revolution proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is something I find very attractive. Many of his ideas are ones that I think would benefit America: a single-payer health system, more taxes on the rich to help support programs for people who are really in need, reduced college tuitions, the end of debt for students.

But here’s the thing that I’ve learned in my 60-odd years on this planet: important things take time. They take commitment, and energy, and sustained drive, and the ability to deal with setback after setback until the goal is achieved. The fight for these important initiatives won’t end even if Bernie Sanders is elected president next November.

In fact, the fight never ends, ever.

Because all those entrenched forces that I spoke about above, the entrenched forces that turned the Egyptian revolution on its head, also exist in America. And they will fight progress every step of the way. Often cloaked in lies, in bogus science, and duplicity, but they really don’t care as long as they prevent the thing that they fear the most: that the revolution might actually work. And even if the revolution does work, they will continue to try to undo the gains that were achieved. Just today I read how drug testing for food stamps is a possibility. You think that’s a step forward?

That’s why the energy and inspiration of a man like Bernie Sanders is so welcome, even if I don’t support him for the Democratic nomination for president. The way that he is energizing young people to take up the struggle once again is more important that I can tell you. But the kind of instant change Sanders is selling is, well, impossible. And I mean that word precisely. Impossible. Look at the Occupy movement. It accomplished very few of the goals it originally championed. But it did two very important things: it raised the profile of these issues in a very public way, and it launched a lot of young people on a road that will make a difference.

Years ago a Canadian band named The Parachute Club released an album entitled “Small Victories.” One of the songs was indeed about small victories and how important they were. For some reason that song has always stuck with me. Because I’ve learned that’s the way life really works: small victories. Small victories that happen day after day through the efforts of hard-working men and women in many causes who keep their eyes on the prize and Martin Luther King’s wise words in mind.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

But it is long.

Copyright Tom Regan 2016

Contact Tom Regan:  motnager@gmail.com

Facts and Opinions is employee-owned, and relies on the honour system: try one story at no charge and, if you value our no-spam, no-ads work, please chip in at least .27 per story, or a sustaining donation, below. Details here. 

You might also enjoy:

America’s ‘Arab Spring’, by Jim McNiven, F&O’s Thoughtlines columnist

Current political campaigns in the United States reveal how much elections are being disrupted by the same forces that have made a mess out of everything in society, from book and newspaper publishing, to overnight rentals to retail sales.

Five years on, Arab Spring’s thirst for blood still unsated, by Jonathan Manthorpe, F&O International Affairs columnist

It is sobering to remember now the optimism about the “Arab Spring” that swept through the Middle East and supportive countries in Europe and North America at the upwelling across the region of popular frustration at dictatorial, repressive governments. The throngs of young people in the city squares chanting for democracy did not constitute a political movement of any utility, and the Middle East in general is in much worse shape than it was before the Arab Spring bloomed five years ago.

Parachute Club – Small Victories:

 

 

Tom Regan Tom Regan has worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and with the National Film Board in Canada, and in the United States for the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and National Public Radio. A former executive director of the Online News Association, he was a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 1991-92.

 

 

 

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded only by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we need a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Visit our Subscribe page for details, or donate below. With enough supporters each paying a small amount, we will continue, and increase our original works like this.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

Posted in Also tagged , , |

Why Bernie Sanders won’t win the Democratic nomination

Sanders

TOM REGAN: SUMMONING ORENDA
January, 2016

Let me say first, I don’t care who wins the Democratic nomination for president.

If Bernie Sanders wins, I will vote for Bernie Sanders. If Hillary Clinton wins, I will vote for Hillary Clinton. If Martin O’Malley wins (basically, if hell freezes over) I will vote for Martin O’Malley. To put it in more specific terms, if the Democratic Party nominated a yellow dog (as the saying goes), I would vote for the yellow dog.

Which brings us to Hillary and Bernie. For several months now Hillary Clinton has been the anointed front runner, just as she was in 2008. And just as she did in 2008, she may be about to blow the whole thing. While the circumstances that are leading to Hillary’s current stumbles are different than in 2008, the outcome is eerily familiar.

Recent polls have shown Bernie Sanders picking up steam in Iowa and New Hampshire, leading numerous Beltway pundits to predict Sanders’ victories in both states.

So with all this momentum favoring Bernie Sanders, why is it that I am predicting that ultimately Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016? It boils down to a simple factor: Bernie Sanders is too white. And so are Iowa and New Hampshire.

There are a lot of good reasons why Bernie Sanders is a very attractive candidate. He’s never been beholden to large corporations for funding, he has always walked his own path and, by and large, he says exactly what he thinks. But what he thinks has a lot more appeal to young, urban, and slightly older middle-class and upper-class whites. Bernie Sanders’ core message does not play as well among African-Americans and Latinos.

The Monmouth poll, taken mid-January, showed Sanders gaining a lot of traction on Clinton in almost every demographic group: whites, moderates, liberals, etc. But among African-American and Latinos, Hillary Clinton has increased her lead.

Clinton has three key factors in her favor: she has the support of Barack Obama, which will help her among African-Americans. In 2008 she outpolled Obama among Latinos, and there is little reason to doubt she won’t show the same kind of strengths this time around. And, she has a very important ally, namely her husband, former Pres. Bill Clinton, who is extremely popular among both minority groups.

Bill Clinton’s appeal to black voters especially cannot be underestimated. While talking heads on morning cable TV argue about the relevancy of his past sins, black voters remember a presidency that did a lot for them. Nobel Prize winning writer Toni Morrison once famously called him “our first black president.” It can be argued that Hillary, who is not from the south originally, may not have the same kind of lasting appeal, but having Bill campaign for her will absolutely help.

This is why Sanders’ popularity in Iowa and New Hampshire is a bit of a mirage. These two states are over 90% composed of older whites. In Iowa, 3.5% of the population is African-American, while about 5.6% is Latino. African-Americans are 1.5% of the population in New Hampshire., while Latinos are 3.3% (all according to the most recent US Census).

But take a look at South Carolina. According to fivethirtyeight.com (a site that I consider the absolute best at analysing polls and how they affect the American political landscape) Clinton has an enormous lead. In South Carolina, Clinton leads by almost 30 percentage points. In this southern state, 29% of the population is black, and one can pretty safely assume almost all of them vote Democrat.

In Nevada, a state with a very large Latino population (which actually holds its caucuses before the South Carolina primary) Clinton has a 22 point lead. The same is true of almost every other state across the South and Southwest.

One reason that Sanders is seen as doing better than he may actually be doing, is because of American media coverage of political campaigns. American media almost never takes the longer view. It is almost entirely wrapped up in the moment, and so coverage on American cable news networks now focuses on how Sanders may win both New Hampshire and Iowa. Little effort, if any, is made to show how these small pieces fit into the overall puzzle.

There is, of course, still time for Sanders to do more to attract minority votes. Media reports indicate that the Sanders people are very aware that this is a serious problem for them. But ham-handed attempts in Nevada to attract Latino votes, and a recent ad released in Iowa and New Hampshire that struck people as being very “white,” are not helping.

It just may be that minority voters don’t see a 74-year-old white man from Vermont as the best person to represent their concerns – even if he might be that person. And that means that Hillary Clinton will probably overcome her current problems and win the Democratic nomination.

Copyright Tom Regan 2016

Contact Tom Regan:  motnager@gmail.com.  Address queries about syndication/republishing this column to Tom Regan: motnager@gmail.com

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References and further reading:

Why Blacks love Bill Clinton, Salon: http://www.salon.com/2002/02/21/clinton_88/

Fivethirtyeight.com’s primary forecast: http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/election-2016/primary-forecast/new-hampshire-republican/

“It’s very white”: Las Vegas audience exposes Bernie Sanders Latino problem, the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/09/bernie-sanders-latino-voters-hillary-clinton-vegas

New Poll Shows ‘Surging’ Sanders Losing Ground With the Voter Group He Needs Most, NY Magazine: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/01/poll-sanders-gains-stop-short-of-minorities.html

 

Facts and Opinions is employee-owned, and relies on the honour system: try one story at no charge and, if you value our no-spam, no-ads work, please chip in at least .27 per story, or a sustaining donation, below. Details here. 

Tom Regan Tom Regan has worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and with the National Film Board in Canada, and in the United States for the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and National Public Radio. A former executive director of the Online News Association, he was a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 1991-92. He is based in Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Ramadan is called Ramadan, by Mohammad Hassan Khalil

The Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, started Friday, May 26, 2017. Professor Mohammad Hassan Khalil  answers six questions about the significance of this religious observance. The Conversation

Why Scientists Should Not March on Washington, by Andrea Saltelli

America’s scheduled April 22 March for Science, like the Women’s March before it, will confront United States President Donald Trump on his home turf – this time to challenge his stance on climate change and vaccinations, among other controversial scientific issues. The Conversation But not everyone who supports scientific research and evidence-based policymaking is on board.

Losing a dog can be harder than losing a beloved human, by Frank T. McAndrew

Recently, my wife and I went through one of the more excruciating experiences of our lives – the euthanasia of our beloved dog, Murphy.  When people who have never had a dog see their dog-owning friends mourn the loss of a pet, they probably think it’s all a bit of an overreaction; after all, it’s “just a dog.” Perhaps if people realized just how strong and intense the bond is between people and their dogs, such grief would become more widely accepted.

I Cover Hate. I Didn’t Expect It at My Family’s Jewish Cemetery, by Ariana Tobin

The American cemetery  Chesed Shel Emeth, where Ariana Tobin’s relatives are buried was vandalized in February 2017. As authorities investigate whether it was a hate crime, she relates it to the project she works on for ProPublica,  “Documenting Hate.”  It’s about confronting the ugliness and comforting the scared, she notes — but it’s also about giving real answers, using actual numbers and telling true stories when our children ask questions like, “What happened to the Jews?”

Under Trump, Is It Game Over for the Climate Fight? by Bill McKibben

Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency is a stunning blow to hopes for avoiding the worst impacts of global warming. But a broad-based, grassroots movement committed to cutting emissions and promoting clean energy must continue and intensify – the stakes are simply too high to give up.

WASHINGTON DIARY, by Cheryl Hawkes  Column

IMG_2449Estimates put the Washington, DC, Women’s March at between 500,000 and a million people, while sister protests in more than 650 U.S. centres and another 261 internationally drew an additional 3-5 million people. Journalist Cheryl Hawkes marched in their midst. This is her story about it, and thoughts about what comes next.

Protecting Digital Privacy in Public Shaming Era, by Julia Angwin, ProPublica   Column

Every January, I do a digital tune-up, cleaning up my privacy settings, updating my software and generally trying to upgrade my security. This year, the task feels particularly urgent as we face a world with unprecedented threats to our digital safety.

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) takes the oath of office from U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (R) with his wife Melania, and children Barron, Donald, Ivanka and Tiffany at his side during inauguration ceremonies at the Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos BarriaTrump Hits Populist Note in Inaugural Address, by Richard Tofel, ProPublica

Donald Trump’s speech largely lacked lofty language, but contained a full-throated populist vision, delivered with confidence, and signaled this from the start in one of its most memorable lines: “Today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.” This might be heard to echo Ronald Reagan’s 1981 statement that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” but that would actually miss Trump’s point: The speech did not oppose government — it opposed the governors.

Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Fund choice between LGBT rights and saving lives, by Jeremy Hainsworth

Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Fund choice between LGBT rights and saving lives, by Jeremy Hainsworth The annual hullabaloo about the allegedly homophobic and discriminatory activities of the Salvation Army has begun. I'm torn: the Salvation Army has discriminatory policies affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people issues. It also runs detoxes and rehab facilities for those seeking recovery from addiction. Bottom line: someone who is dead can’t help fight inequality.The annual hullabaloo about the allegedly homophobic and discriminatory activities of the Salvation Army has begun. I’m torn: the Salvation Army has discriminatory policies affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people issues. It also runs detoxes and rehab facilities for those seeking recovery from addiction. Bottom line: someone who is dead can’t help fight inequality.

Wake-up: How the 2016 Election Changed One American Voter, by Emily Lacika

My U.S. post-election emotions have run the gamut: sadness, anger, anxiety, vindictiveness, shame. American politics is big on rhetoric about democracy, but it often falls short, especially this year when the candidate who won fewer votes has captured the White House. Sixty two million other Americans voted the same way I did, and lost –and now we are working together.

How should you grieve? by Andrea Volpe, Loose Leaf essay

The pain and sorrow of bereavement is supposed to get easier to bear as time passes. But what if it doesn’t? Psychiatrists call it ‘complicated grief’ – and it can be treated.

Poppy: medicine, or opiate? by Alex Kennedy  Loose Leaf 

A former soldier questions the symbolism of the poppy.

His Bob-ness joins Yeats, Beckett, and Eliot, by Rod Mickleburgh

In the winter of 1990, I waited with a handful of reporters and photographers in a grand salon of the Palais-Royal in Paris for Bob Dylan. More than 25 years ahead of the Nobel Prize people, the French had decided that Dylan’s lyrical prowess was worthy of the country’s highest cultural honour, Commandeur dans l’ Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. T.S. Eliot was one of the first to receive the award in 1960. Borges followed in 1962. And now, following in the footsteps of Sean Connery (1987), it was Bob’s turn.

photo_10261“Only White People,” the Little Girl Told my Son, by Topher Sanders

I saw the messy birth of my son’s otherness … They were playing on one of those spinning things — you know, the one where kids learn about centrifugal force and as a bonus get crazy dizzy. They were having a blast. “Only white people,” said a little girl.

On Capitalism and “Bullshit Jobs” by David Graeber

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would have advanced sufficiently by century’s end that countries like Great Britain or the United States would achieve a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. Why did Keynes’ promised utopia never materialise?

Is the Environment Stuck in US Journalism’s Basement? by Peter Dykstra

Environmental journalism has reached a certain maturity: Decades of quality, often courageous and ground-breaking reporting on life-or-death issues, an imperfect-but-enviable record of accuracy, and at least a dozen Pulitzer Prizes to show for it in the U.S. But some see another view.

An Ancient Fossil’s Lessons About Cancer,  by Richard Gunderman

The finding of cancer in the bone of a 1.7-million-year-old human relative isn’t just a biological oddity – it is a reminder of what it means to be both alive and human. Life is fraught with hazards. Thriving biologically (and biographically) does not mean eliminating all risks but managing the ones we can, both to reduce harm and promote a full life.

Photos Shape Attitudes to Refugees: View from Australia, by Jane Lydon

Photography has mapped a distinctively Australian version of this global story. Once migrants were represented as complex, vulnerable, diverse people. Today the Australian government seeks to suppress photographs of asylum seekers, seemingly from fear that such images will prompt empathy with them and undermine border security policy.

Trump as dealmaker-in-chief? by Brian Brennan

Donald Trump would envisage himself as America’s dealmaker-in-chief. What would that look like? Not a pretty picture, as I see it.

hc_Al_Hussein_smllVerbatim: Hate, mainstreamed — UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. By Ra’ad Al Hussein

Hate is becoming mainstreamed. Walls – which tormented previous generations, and have never yielded any sustainable solution to any problem – are returning. Barriers of suspicion are rising, snaking through and between our societies – and they are killers. Clampdowns on public freedoms, and crackdowns on civil society activists and human rights defenders, are hacking away at the forces which uphold the healthy functioning of societies. Judicial institutions which act as checks on executive power are being dismantled. Towering inequalities are hollowing out the sense that there are common goods. These trends bleed nations of their innate resilience.

Canada’s ambassador to Ireland: Once a Cop, Always a Cop. By Brian Brennan

It’s hard to tell from the raw television footage if the shaven-headed protester posed any real danger to the Irish and British dignitaries gathered at a Dublin military cemetery this week to honour British soldiers killed during the 1916 Irish rebellion against British rule. But clearly the Canadian ambassador, Kevin Vickers, felt there was a threat. He made a beeline for the shouting protester, grabbed him by the sleeves of his leather jacket, marched him away from the podium and turned him over to police.

Remembering the Pillar. By Brian Brennan

A century ago, on April 29, 1916, the Irish Republic ended its brief existence with an unconditional surrender. Though successfully thwarted, it set off a series of events that led to the outbreak of an Irish war of independence between 1919 and 1921. Brian Brennan writes about his experience of Ireland’s independence movement halfway between then, and now.

After Paris climate pact, let’s get personal. By Gwynne Taraska and Shiva Polefka  Essay

Reengineering global economic dependence on carbon pollution requires conscious commitment and action from individuals as well as governments and corporations.

Thousands turned out in Vancouver, Washington to hear Bernie Sanders. © Rod Mickleburgh 2016

“Feeling the Bern”  By Rod Mickleburgh

The 74-year old, white-haired politician advanced to the podium, and the roof nearly came off the Hudson’s Bay High School gymnasium. No wonder. For nearly four hours, thousands of us had been standing in line, braving a cold, miserable rain, without even knowing whether we would be among the 5,000 or so lucky enough to make it inside. As the cheers continued to cascade down from the packed, rickety benches of the high school gym, Bernie Sanders leaned forward and shouted in his hoarse, Brooklynese. “All I can say is: WHOA!”

Dal Richards Facebook profile

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.

Star Wars inspired me to become an astrophysicist, by Martin Hendry

For nearly 40 years, the phrase “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” has resonated in popular culture – forever linked to the iconic opening credits of Star Wars. When I watched the movie for the first time in 1978, at the tender age of ten, I was instantly entranced by its visions of alien worlds, lightsaber battles and the mysterious Force that “binds the galaxy together”.

Alaa Murabit: Libyan Women, identity, country and faith, by Christopher Majka

Alaa Murabita, a Canadian born-woman of Libyan heritage, and a physician and activist, founded the Voice of Libyan Women following the overthrow of the Gaddafi dictatorship.

The Painting That Saved My Family From the Holocaust by Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica

Seventy-seven years ago, my grandmother left her fourth-floor apartment in Munich carrying a painting by Otto Stein, a modestly popular German artist. Earlier that month, the Nazis had launched a nationwide pogrom against Germany’s Jewish minority, a rampage in which gangs of men burned stores, schools and synagogues. In the aftermath of what became known as Kristallnacht, the Gestapo rounded up hundreds of Jewish men and sent them to the Dachau concentration camp. Among them was my grandfather, Jakob Engelberg.

Courtesy of the author: Naomi Shihab Nye explores her world through poetry and prose. She will read and discuss her work at a free event of the New Mexico Humanities Councils Annual Convocation, Friday, Nov. 14 at the KiMo Theatre, 421 Central NW, from 7 to 9 p.m. dolmstead@abqjournal.com Wed Oct 29 16:51:47 -0600 2014 1414623104 FILENAME: 181150.JPG

Gate A-4, by Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been detained four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well — one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

Remembrance and Refugees, by Rod Mickleburgh

Two days before the numbing atrocities of Paris, I went to the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the Japanese-Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park. After the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, bowing our heads in remembrance on that sun-bathed morning feels light years away. Yet, looking back, as hearts harden towards welcoming desperate Syrian refugees, the event seems to take on a deeper meaning.

ROM2009_11024_371-196x275

“Throw the bastards out,” by William Thorsell

Not in recent times have Canadian voters had an opportunity to “throw the bastards out” in the classic phrase. Elected officials generally leave office before such public urges get to them. Knowing when to leave is among the more elegant qualities of any CEO, but then Mr. Harper has never laid claim to elegance.

Niqab: Radical feminism or female subjugation? By Christopher Majka

Unexpectedly (or perhaps not) the wearing of the niqab has emerged as an issue in the Canadian federal election. Yes, that’s right — the Canadian federal election, not that of Pakistan or Yemen. And in the year 2015, not 1015. How is it that we are even having a discussion about how a very small minority of Muslim women in Canada dress in the context of determining the political future of Canada?

Steve pic

When Democracy Becomes Controversial. By Stephen Collis

Poet and professor Stephen Collis,  and biology professor Lynne Quarmby, were awarded the Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver on Oct. 13. Here is Stephen Collis’s acceptance speech: “Here’s perhaps a bit of controversy: we’re not living in a democracy. Not, at least, if we take seriously the idea that a democracy is a system of rights and freedoms enshrining the self-determination of a community’s constituents. As many thinkers are now pointing out, western democracies in fact function much more like oligarchies …”

The Canada We Hope For. By Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi

Crafting an ideal Canada—the Canada to which we aspire—lies in engaging muscularly with the past and the future. It means a thousand simple acts of service and a million tiny acts of heroism. It means acting at the community level: on our streets, in our neighbourhoods, and in our schools. It means refusing to accept the politics of fear. And then it means exporting the very best of Canada, that ideal and real Canada, to the rest of the world.

Photo by Kent Kallberg, Creative Commons via Suzuki Foundation http://davidsuzuki.org.

Voting and Canadian values. By David Suzuki

When my grandparents arrived from Japan in the early 1900s, Canada was far less tolerant than it is today. Women and minorities couldn’t vote, nor could Indigenous people who had lived here from time immemorial. In 1942, the government took away my Canadian-born family’s property and rights and sent us to an internment camp in the B.C. Interior simply because of our ancestry. Canada has come a long way in my lifetime.

Pope Francis and Dorothy Day Economics. By Chuck Collins

Perhaps the most subversive part of Pope Francis’ speech to the United States Congress was in celebrating a little-known figure and thus reviving interest in what Dorothy Day stood for. And if we truly heed the teachings of Dorothy Day, we would radically transform our society and economy.

Alan and x Kurdi. Photo from Facebook page In Memory of Kurdi Family

Alan and Ghalib Kurdi.

 “Politicizing” Alan Kurdi’s death. By Alexander Kennedy  (Warning: photo and language may be disturbing)

The future and the past clash with me, and I’m left with a feeling of shame. The past. That a child drowned on a beach near a Turkish resort. The present. That the death of Alan Kurdi, 3, along with his brother Ghalib and mother Rehanna, is the last  straw for me. The future. That Canada’s immigration minister,  Chris Alexander  was allegedly asked to bring these children to safety in Canada.

Facts, or fictions? How PR flacks exploit Wikipedia. By Taha Yasseri

If you heard that a group of people were creating, editing, and maintaining Wikipedia articles related to brands, firms and individuals, you could point out, correctly, that this is the entire point of Wikipedia. It is, after all, the “encyclopedia that anyone can edit”. But a group has been creating and editing articles for money. Wikipedia administrators banned more than 300 suspect accounts involved, but those behind the ring are still unknown.

Science and “the environment” should not be separated. By Manu Saunders

 Does the natural world have any relevance to modern science? Of course it does; but sometimes it seems like that’s not the case. This is a myth perpetuated directly and indirectly through media, policy decisions, academic disciplines, even some science engagement initiatives: that the natural world is somehow separate from science.

Living With an Ankle Bracelet in America. By M.M.

I cannot sleep. There is a device on my leg. It requires that I wake up an hour early so I can plug it into a charger and stand next to the outlet, like a cell phone charging up for the day. Not the day, actually, but 12 hours. After that, the device runs out of juice. Wherever I am, I have to find an outlet to plug myself into. If I don’t, I’m likely to be thrown back onto Rikers Island. At the age of 22, I landed in prison. Though I had grown up around violence, it was my first time in trouble. I’d taken the law into my own hands during an altercation, because where I come from, we don’t dial 911 for help — we see how badly police officers treat people like us.

Riccardo Cuppini

Riccardo Cuppini

A Judge Asks: How Do We Hold a Child’s Mind Accountable? By Morris B. Hoffmann

Debates about juvenile justice also sometimes mix up responsibility with punishment. We hold our own children responsible for their actions from about the time they learn to talk. English common law drew the line of criminal responsibility at age seven. Indeed, holding children responsible for their actions is one of the important ways we teach them to become responsible adults. In this sense, it is more important to hold children responsible than adults.

Wanted: A new story of humanity’s place in the world. By Philip Loring

It goes without saying that humans are good at causing problems. Climate change, overfishing and widespread environmental contamination from chemical toxicants are all creations of our own making. But are we destined to create such problems? Many people believe so, and argue that our capacity for self-interest, avarice and ecological shortsightedness make us inherently unsustainable as a species. Not only is this way of thinking built on long-disproven myths about human nature and human origins, it also constrains how we think about solutions and alienates us from the rest of the natural world. We need to abandon this belief and not allow ourselves to be defined only by our most recent history. The truth of the matter is that we belong here, and belonging is a much more powerful narrative for sustainability than isolation.

The Crush Also Rises: On learning only Spain’s vineyard-plant exceed China’s. By Michael Sasges

Chiang was glad to see us, and shook hands and gave us good rooms looking out on the square, and then we washed and cleaned up and went downstairs to the dining room for lunch … His text a Hemingway appreciation, “wine is the most civilized thing in the world,” Mike Sasges savours this week’s viticulture news: Last year, and for the first time, only Spain had more hectares of vineyard under cultivation than China. The Spanish number was more than one million hectares; the Chinese, 799,000. The French number was 792,000 hectares, making 2014 the first year the Chinese planted more vineyards than the French.

The Great Riddle: fostering creativity and tenacity. By Sheldon Fernandez

Not everyone is an entrepreneur, though many readers may be so without realizing it. The word itself means different things to different people, but I prefer the sentiments of the playwright who said: “some people see things and ask why, but I dream of things that never were and ask why not?” Stripped of the decoration and fluff, what I’ve discovered is that the entrepreneur’s soul is move by two complementary forces: refusal and audacity. Refusal to be limited by the world as presented to them, which then blossoms into the audacity to transcend it.

Lone-Wolf Terror Trap: Why the Cure Will Be Worse Than the Disease. By Matthew Harwood, ACLU

The shadow of a new threat seems to be darkening the national security landscape: the lone-wolf terrorist. Like all violent crime, individual terrorism represents a genuine risk, just an exceedingly rare and minimal one. It’s not the sort of thing that the government should be able to build whole new, intrusive surveillance programs on or use as an excuse for sending in agents to infiltrate communities. Programs to combat lone-wolf terrorism have a way of wildly exaggerating its prevalence and dangers – and in the end are only likely to exacerbate the problem. For Americans to concede more of their civil liberties in return for “security” against lone wolves wouldn’t be a trade; it would be fraud.

CCM Tackaberry skates worn by Jean Béliveau when he scored his 500th goal, on February 11, 1971. These are at the lac aux Castors Pavilion, Mount Royal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Simon Pierre Barrette via Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Jean Béliveau’s bronzed skates. Simon Pierre, CC

Thank you, Jean Béliveau. By E. Kaye Fulton

When I arrived at the Montreal Gazette as a feature writer in 1980, the legendary Red Fisher offered a blanket invitation to write anything I wanted, anytime, for the sports department. Without hesitation, I said: “I want to write about the Forum.” In my family, the Forum was the Temple of Apollo and the guardian at its gate was the man who wore these skates, this glorious gentleman, this unassuming and superb sportsman.

Body counts disguise true horror of what wars do to bodies. By Tom Gregory

Every year on Remembrance Day, we pause to look back on old wars and recount the tallies of the dead, including 16 million killed in the first world war and 60 million in the second world war. And every day, news reports use body counts to highlight the human costs of war: from Syria, where the United Nations has estimated more than 191,000 people have been killed up to April this year, to Ukraine, where the latest estimates are of at least 3,724 people killed (including 298 on Flight MH17). But simply counting the bodies of those killed in war may not actually help us understand the death and destruction caused by war. Instead, my worry is that they end up erasing the violence inflicted on each of the bodies of those affected by war, and numbing our emotional responses to the deaths of others.

Postcard from Poland as the Iron Curtain lifted. By Rod Mickleburgh

Rod Mickleburgh, 1989

Rod Mickleburgh, 1989

Being in Warsaw while East Germany teetered had its fascination. It was the dawn of the free market in Poland. An entrepreneur had set up the country’s first fledgling stock market on the second floor of the city’s ramshackle, old Fisherman’s Hall. A cab driver told me that now, for the first time, he could buy bananas. The independent, pro-Solidarity newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, had just been launched. But I most remember my first night in Warsaw, when I walked into the darkened main square of its beautifully-restored Old Town. A couple of guys, clearly from the country, were selling cheese by candlelight from the back of an old van. There was such simplicity to the scene as money and cheese changed hands, only the low hum of their voices breaking the silence of the vast, empty square. I thought to myself: “Thus, capitalism begins in Poland.”

Ebola: the Black Death Revisited. By Ewa Bacon

It is not Ebola that is stalking the land, but anxiety and fear. We fear an extinction event. We search the environment and note the loss of plants and animals. We worry as we examine “Martha,” the last ever passenger pigeon. We examine the geological record and note that not even the mighty dinosaur survived the cataclysm of Cretaceous period. Could that happen to us as well? We search history and note some sobering examples of global catastrophes. Few are as renowned as the “Black Death.” Early in the 1300’s Europeans received news of unprecedented diseases raging in the wealthy, remote and mysterious realm of China.

Michael Brown, Ferguson and the nature of unrest. By Garrett Albert Duncan (Public access)

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.

Israel at the Boundary. By Chris Wood (Public access)

A friend — I hope I may still call him one — recently chastised me for selectiveness in my criticism on social networks of Israel’s Gaza campaign, and my comparative silence about the horrors occurring in Syria and Iraq. The unspoken implication that there was something particular about Israel that inclined me to single it out, embedded another: that the something particular was Israel’s Jewishness. The suggestions are sufficiently morally impugning, and implicate enough of my personal friendships, that they deserve a thoughtful response.

Canada’s Justice Minister is Yesterday’s Man. By Charles Mandel (Public access)

Peter MacKay is yesterday’s man.  According to Canada’s Justice Minister, women are dedicated moms and caregivers around the clock who are busy changing diapers, packing lunches and dropping the kids off at daycare. In contrast, men are dedicated fathers who are shaping the minds of the next generation. This old-fashioned, blatantly sexist attitude recently surfaced in a pair of emails MacKay sent to his staff on the occasions of Mother’s and Father’s Days.

The Ugly Oil Sands Debate. By Tzeporah Berman (Public access)

I have family who work in Canada’s oil sands. They know that I have been a vocal critic of current oil sands operations and plans for expansion, yet they didn’t hesitate to welcome me into their homes and to invite me to a family gathering in Canmore, Alberta. We had a wonderful time. We shared some memories, laughed a lot and even tackled some hard stuff. The conversations were rich and surprisingly easy. Perhaps in part because although we have different opinions there already was a basis of trust and shared experiences.

Hurricane Carter, Champion of the World. By Cheryl Hawkes (Public access)

Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, who spent 19 years in a United States prison for a triple murder he did not commit, died of prostate cancer on Easter Sunday at his home in Toronto. He was 76. Toronto journalist Cheryl Hawkes remembers the man who, for a few years, was her neighbour: “a man who had given a lot of thought to how we treat one another in this world and to the deadly power of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

512px-Archbishop-Tutu-mediumAn Argument for Carbon Divestment. By Desmond Tutu (Public access)

Scientists and public representatives gathered in Berlin are weighing up radical options for curbing carbon emissions contained in the third report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The bottom line, a draft of the report warns, is that we have 15 years to take the necessary steps to affordably reduce emissions to attain the targeted 2°C over pre-industrial times. The horse may not have already bolted, but it’s well on its way through the stable door. Who can stop it? Well, we can, you and I. And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so.

Fred Phelps: Death of a Dinosaur. By Cheryl Hawkes (Public access)

Fred Phelps, the Christian crusader who led his flock of evangelical nut bars from Topeka, Kansas, on anti-gay crusades, died last month. It is mortifying for many Christians that Phelps defined himself as one, as he stalked the funerals of gays and straights, raging against his own United States government and a democracy that tolerated homosexuality. Phelps and his family at Westboro Baptist Church took full advantage of their constitutional rights while blasting the civil rights of others. His death has given the people he hurt and offended a moral choice.

The Pluck of the Irish: How a proud native cuts through the kitsch. By Brian Brennan (Subscription)

Here’s what I will not do this St. Patrick’s Day: I will not call it St. Paddy’s Day or the 17th of Ireland. I will not wear a green tie or sweater. I will not drink green beer. I will not wear a button that says, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish.” I will raise another glass to the poet Seamus Heaney, listen to Dublin pianist John O’Conor play the music of Irish composer John Field, and re-read James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I will remember that many of us who become emigrants leave Ireland because we beg to differ, because we fear what Edna O’Brien calls the “psychological choke.”

Winter Swan. By E. Kaye Fulton (Public access)

Swan 3

© E. Kaye Fulton

This has been a hard, hard winter for wildlife  – the worst, locals say, in 70 years. For a month or more, the mute swans of Wellington, Ontario, have been buffeted by howling winds and driving snow. Unable to forage the frozen shorelines and bottom of Lake Ontario for food, they fend off starvation by curling themselves into snowy white mounds, immobile and defenceless on the impenetrable surface. Two nights ago, in search of easy prey, coyotes crept across the ice to claim two sleeping swans huddled at the end of the line formed by their 26-member flock.

Golden Age of American Journalism? By Paul Steiger, ProPublica (Public access)

… I too am thrilled with what the new digital tools can do, in capturing data, drawing knowledge it, and in displaying and distributing that knowledge.  I’m also delighted that the barriers to entry have shrunk so dramatically. Instead of spending millions on a printing press, you need only spend a few thousand on a laptop and a website and, boom, you’re a publisher. But creating millions of lone-wolf, single-person bloggers doesn’t get us to a golden age. It can give us cat photos that make us giggle, news scoops involving an original fact or two, a trenchant analysis of finance or politics or sculpture, video of Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift nuzzling their latest boyfriends, or possibly some movie and book reviews worth trusting. All nice to have but not game-changing. If you’re going to reliably produce journalism that improves the world, maybe you don’t need a village, but you need some collaborators. You need lots of reporters. You need editors, data journalists, a lawyer … (and) you need to find a way to get paid.


Pete Seeger: Farewell to a Giant
. By Silver Donald Cameron
(Public access)

silver_donald_cameronAuthor and filmmaker Silver Donald Cameron remembers American icon Pete Seeger, who died January 27, 2014:
In June, 1969, I was rattling away at my old Remington manual typewriter when my five-year-old daughter Leslie wandered into my workroom.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“I’m writing a letter to Pete Seeger,” I said. I was hoping that Seeger would consider a benefit concert for The Mysterious East, a dissident magazine in Canada’s Maritimes that I helped to edit. At five, Leslie already knew and loved Seeger’s music, especially his children’s album Strangers and Cousins.
“Pete Seeger? Really?”
“Really.”
“You tell Pete Seeger,” she said gravely, “that I’m having my birthday — and he can come!”

My Last Day in Kenya. By Sheldon Fernandez  (Public access)

Kenya child 2

© Sheldon Fernandez 2008

In the summer of 2008 Sheldon Fernandez spent several weeks working in Kangemi, a large slum on the outskirts of Nairobi.  Under the auspices of the African Jesuits Aids Network (AJAN), he assisted with infrastructure projects and HIV/AIDS education, but also had the opportunity to work with the school children of Kenya. The following essay recounts the very last day of his trip, when Fernandez discovered some hard truths about one of his students.

Behind Houghton Walls: on Nelson Mandela’s last days. By Iain T. Benson (Public access)

Madiba has been a long time a-dying.
I’ve driven, we all have,
past his Houghton home;
cream security walls
even him …

Convocation Address. By Patrick Lane(Public access)

Armstrong, BC - Purple Springs Nursery field location shoot with large lift.

© Craig Pulsifer 2013

It is sixty-five years ago, you’re ten years old and sitting on an old, half-blind, grey horse. All you have is a saddle blanket and a rope for reins as you watch a pack of dogs rage at the foot of a Ponderosa pine. High up on a branch a cougar lies supine, one paw lazily swatting at the air. He knows the dogs will tire. They will slink away and then the cougar will climb down and go on with its life in the Blue Bush country south of Kamloops.* It is a hot summer day. There is the smell of pine needles and Oregon grape and dust. It seems to you that the sun carves the dust from the face of the broken rocks, carves and lifts it into the air where it mixes with the sun. Just beyond you are three men on horses.

Two decades of disaster: Newfoundland’s fishery. Words and photos by Greg Locke (Subscription)

Spanish and Canadian offshore fishing trawlers at the Canadian 200mile limit on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. © Greg Locke 2000

© Greg Locke 2000

It’s a cold foggy day in the fishing village of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland. Just 20 kilometers south from downtown St. John’s, it feels much further. There is not much activity or many people out and around the few remaining wharfs and twine lofts that once were buzzing hives of fishing activity ringing the harbour. Today, there are just a few frozen tourists looking to make photos of a Newfoundland that doesn’t exist anymore …  The grim faces and tears of the people of Petty Harbour, and other fishing communities around the eastern Canadian province, told the story of a great calamity.

Bangladesh and The Bay. By Rod Mickleburgh(Subscription)

The fair city of Vancouver on Canada’s West Coast is more than 11,000 kilometres from poor, benighted Bangladesh. But this week, the teeming flood plain came to the doorstep of the large Hudson’s Bay Company department store in the heart of downtown Vancouver, through the glass doors and up the escalator to the second floor. There, close to a hundred union protesters gathered in front of the store’s swank, high-priced merchandise, serenading shoppers, mannequins and suddenly-invisible Bay managers with chants of “Shame” and “Sign the Accord.” Their ire was directed at far-away Bangladesh, and Western retail chains like The Bay that peddle clothing items produced  by impoverished, poorly-paid Bangladeshi textile workers toiling in grim, frequently dangerous factories.

JFK: The Murdered King. By Brian Brennan (Subscription)

I was 20 years old at the time so I remember, of course, where I was the day Kennedy was shot. I had been out visiting with friends that afternoon and when I got home my mother was in tears. “The president’s been killed,” she said. “Dev’s been killed?” I said, thinking she was referring to Ireland’s Brooklyn-born president, Éamon de Valera. “No, President Kennedy,” said my mother. “Somebody shot him.” For my mother, as for many in Ireland, it was as if a member of the family had been taken from us.

A lesson passed on. By Jim McNiven (Subscription)

My wife and I spent a couple of months in the American Southwest last winter. We stayed out on the edge of the desert near Tucson, Arizona. It is dry, hot and utterly unlike where I live, in Halifax on Canada’s Atlantic coast. Our two married daughters, twins, came down together to visit, bringing one’s 9-year-old son. The three women were keen to explore shops and galleries and a mother-daughters expedition was formed. I was designated as official entertainer of the grandson.

A bale of  a good time. By Charles Mandel (Subscription)

Hay bales in the Peace Country

© Greg Locke 2009

Thursday night in Auburndale, Nova Scotia, and what’s the big entertainment? A drive-in movie, perhaps? Maybe dinner out? How about staring at a big field of hay? That doesn’t sound terribly promising, but over four balmy nights in July, Steph and I sit on our front porch, watching grass get cut in the field directly across from our house. We aren’t the only ones entranced. Everyone and his dog (literally, for half the vehicles zipping past have a mutt sharing the front seat) slows down and gawks at the haying that proceeds apace up the hill on the Oickle farm.

The Prince and the Prostitute: By Brian Brennan (Subscription)

When the heir to the British throne paid his first official visit to Canada in 1919, it was expected he would follow the usual royal routine of shaking hands, making speeches and inspecting troops. What wasn’t anticipated was that Edward, Prince of Wales, would buy a ranch while he was abroad. And what certainly wasn’t predicted was that the ranch would become a convenient hiding place for the prince four years later, when one of his former mistresses went on trial for murder in London.

Accordion Man: Born to Squeeze? Not me. By Brian Brennan (Subscription)

Brian Brennan, age 16, playing accordion at a talent contest in Dublin, 1960. (I didn't win, by the way!) You’ve heard the jokes. They’re not funny. What’s the difference between an accordionist and a terrorist? A terrorist has sympathizers. Not funny, I tell you. Syndicated cartoonist Gary Larson (The Far Side) used to lead the insult brigade. He put his favorite on a greeting card sold all over the world. The caption read, “Welcome to Heaven, here’s your harp. Welcome to Hell, here is your accordion.” Not funny? All right, maybe a little bit funny.  Accordionists get no respect. I know. I used to be an accordionist. OK, still am. No respect I get.

 

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