Tag Archives: Paul Steiger

F&O Weekend

F&O has a veritable treasure trove of new work for your weekend reading:

Cinco_heroes_cuban_five_2

The Cuban Five

The Cuban Five

In 1998 Fidel Castro had his good friend Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel prize-winning Colombian novelist, carry a top secret message to American President Bill Clinton. It revealed a terrorist plot against Cuba, devised on American soil. What happened next led to the arrests of the Cuban agents, the myth-making of heroes, and a tale of stunning intrigue and complexity. In THINK/Magazine, F&O is pleased to publish an excerpt of Stephen Kimber’s book about The Cuban Five. (Public access)

Drought, and the price of water

Never let it be said that F&O Natural Security columnist Chris Wood is anyone’s tame journalist, or “sides” with the easy left or the easy right. In his previous column Wood tackled favoured causes of the ‘left’ including  nuclear energy and GMO foods; now, he argues in THINK/Commentary that the growing crisis of drought will only be solved by pricing water. (Subscription)

Iran’s Backlash and Afghanistan’s Reckoning

International affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe has two new pieces this week. In an examination of the backlash in Iran against closer ties with the international community, Manthorpe notes an upsurge in executions amid hardliner’s fears for the Islamic regime. And in a piece on Afghanistan’s Reckoning he notes that soon that country, and the world, will determine whether the bloodshed, treasure and agony since the invasion has been worthwhile. (Subscription)

American Civil War, 150 years on

CSS HunleyJim McNiven, author of Thoughtlines, toured America’s south early this year with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War on his mind. His new column,  Sesquicentennial Rumbles Blues, reflects on political posturing, how entrenched partisans have swapped positions over time, and on the powerful ideas that endure. (Subscription)

We also have two new public access pieces from ProPublica this week:

Journalism’s new Golden Age? Not so fast

A thoughtful new column in THINK/Commentary is a speech  to young journalists by one of America’s most senior veterans, ProPublica chief Paul Steiger, on the Golden Ages of American journalism.

PTSD afflicts civilians

And in DISPATCHES, ProPublica journalist Lois Beckett reports on how the incidence of  PTSD amongst victims of violence has reached the levels suffered by injured soldiers in some violent-prone neighbourhoods.

Enjoy — and have a good weekend.

— Deborah Jones

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Golden Age of American Journalism?

 

Paul Steiger, founder and executive chairman of ProPublica, and  chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists amongst several other roles, gave this speech today as he accepted an honour, the William Allen White Foundation National Citation, from the University of Kansas’s White School of Journalism and Mass Communications in Lawrence.

By PAUL STEIGER, ProPublica
Published February 7, 2014

I’m honored to be here in Lawrence for the second time in 48 years. In the summer of 1966, having spent nearly all my life within 75 miles of New York City, I was driving across our great country on my way to California. In the late afternoon, one of those explosive thunderstorms you Kansans are familiar with poured rain in such sheets as to force me to pull over for 15 or 30 minutes till it passed. Then came one of those gorgeous, sun-dappled, cool and peaceful evenings that I suspect you also know well. A half century later I still remember it.

In the intervening years I confess to having thought about this place for two things: your great basketball teams, and your great journalists. It has been my privilege to work with some of those journalists: Jerry Seib and Barbara Rosewicz. Kevin Helliker. Danforth Austin. Steve Frasier. To name a few.  And then of course there is William Allen White, whose name adorns this great school and the citation that I am overwhelmed to receive today.

No, I didn’t work with him, although some of my 20-something colleagues at ProPublica think I go back that far. He died when I was two, in 1944. But like many journalists, I’ve long known of and admired Mr. White, and why not?  Multiple Pulitzer winner. The voice of Middle America who lived here all his life yet made time to travel east and write pathbreaking pieces for the cutting-edge, New York-based national magazine, McClure’s.  Mr. White without question was one of the leaders of a great revolution in journalism, which parallels in some ways the revolution taking place today.

In fact, in her latest marvelous book, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin applies that gleaming, golden label to the early decades of Mr. White’s era. [See her ProPublica podcast on the subject here.]

It was certainly a golden age. Whether it was the golden age is something we could argue about. Indeed, some Internet writers and publishers have taken to contending recently that our current era is the best ever for American journalism — this only a brief time after others  took to declaring that the loss of billions of dollars of advertising revenue and tens of thousands of jobs at metro newspapers was driving us into a journalistic wasteland.

That leads me to what I’d like to talk with you about today. My interest isn’t so much to determine what was the golden age of journalism, although I have a candidate, which I will make a case for in a moment.

My real interest, sitting where we do in a period of incredibly rapid change, is what should we want in a new golden age? I confess to having more questions than answers, so I look forward to hearing from you in the comment period.

Let’s start by taking a close look at the period that Doris Goodwin, with her historian’s perspective, describes as American journalism’s finest hour.  It began, she tells us, in the 1880s and 1890s, a time in some ways like our own, with major changes in the economy involving first rapid growth and industrialization, and then, in 1893, a crash that produced huge unemployment and hardship. Through it all, there was a major surge in inequality.

The urban poor lived in squalid tenements. Factory workers endured crushingly low wages, six-day work weeks, dangerous conditions on the job, and the ability of owners to fire them at will. The giant trusts and the all-powerful railroads manipulated freight rates and other prices to squeeze growers and small entrepreneurs, in the end driving many into bankruptcy and seizing their businesses or lands.

Meanwhile, the rich lived in mansions with servants and took their children on grand tours of Europe. America, the land of the citizen farmer, the industrious  merchant, and the emancipated slave, increasingly took on notions of class. A brilliant and gregarious student at Harvard, New York mansion-dweller Teddy Roosevelt worried that some of the classmates he thought to befriend might be from families of insufficient standing.


Teddy Roosevelt, unlike many political and business leaders,  didn’t fear being criticized or misquoted by reporters. He boldly assumed he could make common cause with them.

At the same time, Roosevelt had a passion for public service and a liking for journalists. Unlike many political and business leaders, then and now, he didn’t fear being criticized or misquoted by reporters. Rather, he boldly assumed he could make common cause with them. So when the assassination of William McKinley in 1901 made the 42-year-old Roosevelt our nation’s youngest president, he had already built a network of reporters and writers to whom he gave extraordinary access, whose advice he sought and sometimes followed, and who often helped explain his positions favorably to the public.

A key to TR’s journalistic network was a group of extraordinary writers assembled by a once penniless Irish immigrant, S.S. McClure, to work on the magazine he called, simply, McClure’s. 

Then as now, technology aided change.  The newly perfected process of photoengraving was both cheaper and faster than traditional woodcuts, and Sam McClure made good use of it.

He also used his powerful talent as an editor to inspire the great writers he had collected. In particular, he sent them on missions to dig deep into the secrets of the powerful, and to reveal them in enthralling narratives. The approach was rare in American journalism. It caught on soon with the public — who made McClure’s a financial success — and with competitors, who sought to imitate the approach.

All came together in the January 1903 McClure’s, a truly extraordinary issue containing three powerful exposes: Lincoln Steffens on the corrupt mayor of Minneapolis, Ray Stannard Baker on misbehavior in the nascent labor movement,  and the first installment of what is justly revered as one of the greatest feats of investigative reporting ever, Ida Tarbell’s mammoth inquisition into rapacious business practices by John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Trust.

It took eight long years, but Tarbell’s chapter-and-verse reporting served as a guide for a federal government lawsuit to break up the trust. The suit finally broke through Rockefeller’s legions of lawyers and political supporters to win at the Supreme Court.


McClure’s collapsed, Roosevelt assaulted  “sensational, lurid and untruthful” articles … and an era of broad public support for expose journalism ended.

By that time, however, the magazine had collapsed, in part because of McClure’s moods and unpredictable rages at the staff, and his insistence that the poetry editor publish submissions by a young woman with whom he had had an affair.

The public was also tiring of the expose form. Some of McClure’s competitors were not so scrupulous about their reporting and relied on bombastic rhetoric and name calling when the facts were insufficiently at hand. In 1906, that great friend of journalists, President Roosevelt, diluted his support by giving a speech, first off the record at the annual Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, and then in public, a month later.

Roosevelt used the image of the muckraker to describe writers who focused only on the negative. While he expressed backing for those who carefully documented what they wrote, his assault on what he termed “sensational, lurid and untruthful” articles overwhelmed the positive words, Goodwin concluded. TR’s view took hold, and an era of broad public support for expose journalism came to an end.

The terms muckraking and muckraker, of course, were actually embraced, not shunned, by the McClure’s writers and are used today as terms of approbation by investigative reporters.  At ProPublica we label “Muckreads” a section of our website in which we highlight interesting investigative reporting by journalists other than our own. Even so, for much of the first half of the 20th Century, this kind of work faded from prominence. Its practitioners had made a strong record and established reporting and writing models that influenced how journalists work today. But I can think of at least one period in which the accomplishments of journalists surpassed these.

The period that I would anoint as the golden era in American journalism was from the mid 1950s to the mid 1970s. It had three separate major strands: the Civil Rights struggle over integration of schools and public facilities in the South; the Vietnam War; and Watergate.

Once again, there was interaction with technology. In this period, the ability to take television outdoors and get footage on the air rose progressively, and in all three cases — Civil Rights, Vietnam, and Watergate — TV combined with print to multiply the power of each form of reporting.

In addition, during this period there was a much greater role for aggressive spot-news reporting of dramatic and sometimes violent events, often at considerable personal risk to reporters and photographers. It brought home to the public appalling behavior by people in authority, including sheriffs in the American South and soldiers in Vietnam.

The trigger for major print and TV coverage of the Civil Rights movement was the unanimous 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing school segregation, reversing the “separate but equal” decision of 58 years earlier, and generating  outrage among many white Southerners. Then, rather than go forward with plans to implement the ruling, Arkansas Governor OrvalFaubus in September 1957 suddenly ordered out National Guard troops to block the planned entrance of nine black students into the city’s all-white Central High School.

A month later, President Dwight Eisenhower federalized the Guard troops, who swiftly enforced the enrollment of the black children. This set off a decade of struggle all across the South between segregationist whites and determined blacks, who  demanded their rights not only to integrated schooling but also to vote and to use the same bus seats, restaurants and lunch counters, restrooms, and other public facilities as whites did.

In little more than a decade, they won most of their objectives, by a combination of their own efforts and by the actions of a horde of journalists, some from the black press but many Southern-born-and-raised whites who rejected the white-supremacist views of their parents and cousins.

The Race Beat, a 2006 book by two journalist sons of the South, Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, is a fine guide to this history and many of the brave and colorful characters who lived it. Among them, besides Roberts himself, were Claude Sitton of the New York Times, Karl Fleming of Newsweek, Haynes Johnson of the Washington Star, and three Pulitzer Prize winners at the Atlanta Journal & Constitution — Gene Patterson, Ralph McGill and Jack Nelson.

On the television side were John Chancellor and Richard Valeriani at NBC, Dan Rather and Nelson Benton at CBS, and many others.  Their network status didn’t spare them. Valeriani had his head bashed in by an Alabama state trooper; a nearby cameraman watching blood spurt from his head couldn’t believe he’d survive. Rather had a shotgun poked into his ribs.A soundman pressed a pistol against the man’s head and persuade him to pull back the shotgun.

The print reporting conveyed what smoke or tear gas or the lack of equipment in the right place prevented the cameras from catching; cameras pointed in the right position captured action that neither reporters nor cameraman could spot. And then, at times,  there was the perfect — and perfectly horrific — moment.

March 7, 1965. Bloody Sunday. Some 500 demonstrators start to cross the Edmund Pettusbridge near Selma, Alabama. They are opposed by an equal number of riot-equipped state troopers plus a sheriff’s posse, some on them on horseback. The police commander orders the marchers to disperse. The lead marchers kneel to pray. The police charge, running over and through the marchers, hammering them with clubs, chasing the ones who run and hammering them some more. And all this in full view of the cameras of all three networks, which air the footage Sunday evening. ABC interrupts the prime time showing of “Judgment at Nuremberg,” the Oscar-winning film about German war crimes, to air detailed coverage of the beatings.

All across America, the public is aroused and outraged. President Lyndon Johnson asks both houses of Congress to approve a massive civil rights bill, one considered a long shot a few days earlier. They can’t wait to vote.

The coverage of the Vietnam War wasn’t as comprehensively and consistently a success as that of the Civil Rights struggle in the South, but television and print media took on significant new challenges and for the most part met them. 

The war was increasingly controversial as the manpower and expenditure demands grew. The public wanted more information faster, and they wanted it to be more definitive. Were we winning or losing? Did it make any difference?  Both print and TV reporters recognized that they were sometimes being spun by government briefers, and they became appropriately more skeptical.

In some cases the skepticism was overblown, most notably in the coverage of the Tet offensive early in 1968. North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces briefly captured some cities and other strategically important places, but they were quickly retaken, and the casualty cost to enemy forces was high. The reporting that treated Tet as a major defeat for the Americans was probably wrong. Whether better coverage would have changed the outcome of the war or of the 1968 election, I cannot say.

In any case, success returned by 1971, with the Pentagon Papers case. The New York Times and the Washington Post reconfirmed the right of the press to publish most national security-related information without prior restraint.

And the coverage of the Watergate break-in, dominated by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post, was an even greater success. President Richard Nixon was shown unequivocally to have abused his office for personal political gain and ultimately was forced to resign.

This brings us back to where we started, which is the following question: What changes can we reasonably look for in the current state of American journalism for it to qualify as a new Golden Age, one that matches or even exceeds the two eras I’ve been talking about?

What seems clear to me is that we are not there yet.

Some people, to be sure, think we are already there.

Digital tools are thrilling, but not enough for a new Golden Age of American journalism. It needs lots of reporters, editors, data journalists, a lawyer. And they need to get paid.

Henry Blodget of Business Insider last summer famously said “Journalism has entered a Golden Age.” And then he helpfully posted backup for his case, and quite a few people agreed with him. His argument basically is that the combination of the web, social media, and the smart hand-held makes it possible for anyone with the talent to just start producing journalism. He says that while some newspapers have closed or contracted, others are “hanging in there” and more native digital news platforms are starting and growing. I encourage you to read his entire argument. I agree with some of it but not all.

On the plus side, 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.

If it sounds like I’m trying to restore the primacy of the print newspaper, I’m not. That train has left the station. Instead, it’s time that we embrace the dominance of the web, not just say “Digital First,” but mean it. News platforms are rising frequently on the Internet; some, like BuzzFeed, are amassing huge traffic and edging toward profitability. If I were the young journalists and journalism students here, that’s the kind of team I’d want to join.

Finally, unless you have a hefty trust fund, like the billion-dollar one the Guardian just got, you need to find a way to get paid. In the brief time I’ve been able to spend with you here, I’ve seen a lot of talent, a lot of energy, a lot of determination.

Whatever enterprise you lend those talents to, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask how you’re going to get paid. It’s no great mystery. The sources have to be advertising, subscription fees, donations, or some combination of them.

Woodward and Bernstein got paid. So did Sy Hersh. And Dan Rather and Richard Valeriani. Ida Tarbell got paid. Sam McClure got paid. And so did William Allen White. They all made a difference. It is your time. I look forward to seeing what you do.

Published with permission under Creative Commons licence

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LOOSE LEAF

F&O’s salon: an eclectic gathering place, for guests and resident contributors

salon

 

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.

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“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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