Monthly Archives: November 2013

Free Range: Thou Shalt Not Kill

The world might want to pay close attention to the new leader of the Catholic church, I suggest in my latest Free Range column.

With his first mission statement, Pope Francis is taking his flock to war – against capitalism as it’s constructed in the 21st Century.

My column, The Pope and capitalism: “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” is here.*

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America’s military’s biggest security threat

“Say what you will about the United States military, no organization on earth is more focused on maintaining its capabilities no matter what,” writes Natural Security columnist Chris Wood. “As a result, its upper echelons spend a fair amount of time considering what that ‘what’ might actually look like.”

Wood examines recent statements by United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the biggest looming threats to America’s security — and the reaction to the threats by America’s neighbours, Canada and Mexico. Men with guns don’t even make Hagel’s list. Only Natural Security does. Read Wood’s column here.*

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Newfoundland fishery 20 years after cod moratorium

Gerald Cooper of Trinity Bay, Newfoundland bring home the only thing he caught, a lone mackerel, on his last day of fishing before retiring. Photo by Greg Locke © 1999.

Twenty years after the Canadian government shut down the 500 year old Newfoundland cod fishery there are few signs of recovery of the near-extinct legendary fish stocks on the Grand Banks and north west Atlantic ocean. The fishery has changed but it is still possible for an ecologically viable and sustainable fishing activity … if the assorted governments, unions and fish companies would look for a better way and take responsibility for their actions. Check out  Two decades of disaster: Newfoundland’s fishery. for my look back on 20 years since the moratorium.


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Manthorpe on how China changed the security status quo

Even though China’s unilateral declaration of control over airspace off its eastern shores has spurred an unusually united push-back by the United States and its Asian allies, Beijing will be well pleased with the result of its imperial expansion, writes Jonathan Manthorpe in his new international affairs column.

With one small move that is unlikely to generate a sustained counter-attack from Washington and regional allies Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Beijing has changed in its favour the security status quo in the East China Sea.  read Manthorpe’s column here.*

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Mickleburgh: Bangladesh and The Bay

Since more than 1,100 textile workers were killed in the calamitous collapse of a building in Dhaka, where they laboured to make cheap clothes for consumers in wealthier countries, scores of European and North American retailers have signed a binding accord to help improve workplace safety in Bangladesh. Holdouts include the Hudson’s Bay, the oldest, continuous commercial operation in North America, as well as Walmart, Canadian Tire and others which opted for a lesser safety agreement that does not provide for independent, on-site, factory inspections.

This week, reports Rod Mickleburgh, about 100 union activists, including the leader of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity, trooped into The Bay in downtown Vancouver to make their case. Gathered before swank, high-priced merchandise, they serenaded shoppers, mannequins and suddenly-invisible Bay managers with chants of “Shame” and “Sign the Accord.”

Asks Mickleburgh in a Commentary column: “Surely, some executives somewhere must also be capable of thinking: if the cost of doing business involves the kind of textile-production atrocities we see in Bangladesh, is that production we want to be part of?”

Log in and read Mickleburgh’s column here.*

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Manthorpe: Echoes of pre-WWI in Chinese claims of airspace

As China ramps up its bellicose stance toward Japan and the United States with the imposition of an air defence zone over disputed territory, the imminent arrival of 2014 is mimicking the months before 1914, warns international affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe. An excerpt:

In the early years of the 20th century, Germany saw that Britain had had to deploy the full weight of its empire to defeat the Afrikaners in the two Boer wars.

Berlin judged the days of Britain’s super power status were approaching their end. It launched an arms race and a flurry of provocations against Britain and its allies, which cascaded out of control into the First World War.

Beijing has made a similar judgement about the impending decline of the United States … read Manthorpe’s column here.*

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Celebrity “Click Bait” vs Journalism

An opinion poll suggests a large majority of Canadians blame sensationalized celebrity reports on media outlets that run them “to get as many people as possible to go to their digital media site to earn ad revenue,” said a report today by polling firm Ipsos Reid.

Some 68 per cent blame infotainment on media, while the remainder say the “news” is driven by celebrities and their publicists.

The company did the poll on behalf of the Canadian Journalism Foundation. It interviewed 1,108 Canadians from Ipsos’ Canadian online panel online, between November 11th to 16th. The company said the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.4 percentage points — “had all Canadian adults been polled.”

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Morality and killing seals

Canada’s east-coast seal hunting industry both won and lost Monday, in a ruling by the World Trade Organization.

The WTO ruled mostly in favour of Europe in its dispute with Canada, upholding Europe’s ban on imported products of Canada’s east coast seal hunt on the basis of “EU public moral concerns on seal welfare,” while agreeing with the technical details of Canada’s trade complaint.

The controversial annual hunt takes place on the ice off Newfoundland, where hunters kill newborn seals, mostly for their fur. Unlike animal products produced behind the walls of privately-owned fur and agriculture businesses, the full gory details of the hunt are carried out in public, or at least as “public” as global media outlets can make the practice, given the difficulties of accessing the remote location and extreme conditions.

The hunt has long been a cause célèbre amongst animal-rights organizations, which protest it as cruel and barbaric, and promote their cause with images of big-eyed baby seal pups. Hunters from the eastern province – backed up by aboriginal seal hunters elsewhere – argue the hunt is no more cruel than other uses of animals; is a staple part of Newfoundland’s economy, and is part of Canadian traditions.

The WTO ruling noted that Europe makes exceptions to its ban “if certain conditions are met, including for seal products derived from hunts conducted by Inuit or indigenous communities  … and hunts conducted for marine resource management purposes.”

The Canadian government said in a statement it would appeal the WTO ruling, which was welcomed by the European Union.

An excerpt of the WTO ruling:

The panel determined that the EU Seal Regime (violates the trade agreement) because: (1) these exceptions accord imported seal products treatment less favourable than that accorded to like domestic and other foreign products; and (2) such less favourable treatment does not stem exclusively from legitimate regulatory distinctions. The panel found however that the EU Seal Regime does not violate (the trade agreement) because it fulfils the objective of addressing EU public moral concerns on seal welfare to a certain extent …

Further reading:
A report on the WTO ruling and reaction by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

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Charles Mandel

F&O is happy to welcome aboard Canadian journalist Charles Mandel as our newest regular contributor.

Mandel, who has worked throughout the continent, is now based on the east coast in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He will contribute book reviews, “Think” features and Dispatches reporting, and arts writing to Facts and Opinions. You can read his bio here, and see his work in Ex Libris, Dispatches and F&O’s Loose Leaf column.


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Locke: a malaria moon


Copyright Greg Locke © 2013

For nearly a decade Greg Locke traveled through rural east and central Africa, from his home base in Nairobi to destinations including the some of the world’s largest refugee camps in Dadaab South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Lake Kivu, the eastern Congo and Burundi.

Locke, F&O managing partner – visual, has produced a gallery exhibit of some of the notes and photographic records of the conflict, humanitarian crisis and daily life he captured on news assignments and for a book, with Elliot Layton, about Médecins Sans Frontières.

Log in to see Under a malaria moon, available to F&O subscribers or for a $1 day pass to the site.

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