Monthly Archives: November 2014

On Advent, John Mason Neale, and a winter hymn

The first O come, O come Emmanuel published with the first line by which the hymn is known today was published in 1861, in the first Hymns ancient and modern. The two pages shown here are copies of pages from the Open Library electronic edition for the first edition “of the the most popular of all English hymnals.”

The first O come, O come Emmanuel published with the first line by which the hymn is known today was published in 1861, in the first Hymns ancient and modern. The two pages shown here are copies of pages from the Open Library electronic edition for the first edition “of the the most popular of all English hymnals.”

 The period Christians call Advent begins Sunday November 30. In countries with Christian populations pop music increasingly gives way to religious hymns, leading up to Christmas. Michael Sasges gave thought to one of the season’s most evocative pieces, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Here’s an excerpt of his story about  John Mason Neale — On reading and writing our winters away:

This is a “begat” story, its subjects a winter hymn and its creator, a man who passed his adult years in that figurative winter that is the lot of the chronically ill and perpetually defiant.

The hymn is O come, O come, Emmanuel, in Latin Veni, Veni, Emmanuel. It is a winter song because it is only, or mostly, performed and heard by the Christian faithful during that part of the liturgical year they call Advent. 

The last Sunday of November or the first Sunday of December is inevitably the first Sunday of Advent. This year, 2014, the first Sunday of Advent is the last Sunday of November.

Emmanuel is an expression of longing, spiritual longing. If there be an equivalent expression of material longing, it might be Walt Whitman’s Soon Shall the Winter’s Foil be Here.

The man who nominated O come, O come, Emmanuel for inclusion in the English-language hymnology was John Mason Neale (1818 – 1866).

He was a “divine and author,” in the words of a 19th century Dictionary of National Biography, or “Church of England clergyman and author,” in the words of the DNB Internet edition. … continue reading (no charge*).

 

*Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, Facts and Opinions performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes. We appreciate and need your support: please click here to purchase a $1 day pass, or subscribe.   Sign up using the form on the right side of our Frontlines blog to receive posts by email. Contact us at Editor AT factsandopinions.com.

 

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Pipeline protest

November, 2014

Throughout the autumn citizens including First Nations peoples, politicians, and visitors from other countries, trekked up Burnaby Mountain to protest a proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. Trans Mountain delivers bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands through British Columbia to a port on Canada’s west coast, for transfer to tankers shipping it refineries in Asia.

The expansion has not yet been approved by Canada’s federal National Energy Board. But it triggered a jurisdictional war after the NEB gave the Houston, Texas, based company the right to drill two test holes in a nature conservancy, over opposition by the city of Burnaby. Dozens of police were called in to keep protesters from the drill site, and scores of protesters were arrested, mostly peacefully, before Kinder Morgan removed its equipment by a court-imposed December 1 deadline.

Images of the protest, and a celebration after the drills were removed, by Gavin Kennedy and Deborah Jones. Updates on the story to follow on F&O. 

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Further reading:

ENERGY, F&O’s ongoing coverage

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Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

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From Lima to Burnaby: the ‘Glocal’ Response to Climate

Police were called to keep protesters away from a drill rig used by Kinder Morgan to test for a new oil sands pipeline route through Burnaby Mountain, near Vancouver. © Deborah Jones 2014

Police were called to keep protesters away from a drill rig used by Kinder Morgan to test for a new oil sands pipeline route through Burnaby Mountain, near Vancouver. © Deborah Jones 2014

CHRIS WOOD: NATURAL SECURITY  
November, 2014

 ‘Glocal’ is an ugly word for an often ugly process. It was coined to capture the way that global dynamics and networks touch down in the intimate spaces of neighbourhoods and family lives, as well as how the citizens of those places respond — adopting, adapting or resisting the global tide. 


Currently, events taking place at two points on the Pacific rim of the Americas have been resonating for me in the realm of the glocal. One has been, and the other shortly will take place in coastal cities, squeezed between the mountain rock and the deep blue sea. As participants in both events might agree, the settings aptly capture humanity’s situation.

In Lima, Peru, negotiators will meet to try to reach a draft global agreement, setting targets binding on their governments that will halt the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations that is driving the planet’s increasingly disruptive weather extremes. These discussions will be awash with numbers. 

Only one is really important: 450. That is the number of parts (in their CO2 equivalent) of greenhouse gasses that can mix with a million other parts of nitrogen, oxygen and other gasses in the atmosphere, and still give what scientists are pretty sure will be better than heads-or-tails odds of keeping the planet within two degrees C of its pre-industrial temperature.

At our present rate of burning fossil fuels, we will roar through that cap at full throttle in about the lifetime of a new car bought today: 450 ppm in 2034. 

But that number will soon be lost in a fog of diversionary accounting.

The technical issues facing the Lima negotiators make the Manhattan Project look like a pre-schooler’s Lego set. There is arcane but richly detailed debate over how to account for the emissions we’re all releasing right now, what ‘path’ to adopt to arrest them in time, how to determine which countries will ‘sacrifice’ how much in making emission reductions, how to oblige nations to keep their promises, and how to catch and punish them if they cheat. 

These will be expressed and marketed to a baffled public largely in clouds of numbers: impressive percentage reductions promised in unstated emissions compared to some arbitrary prior year; decontextualized figures of staggering hugetude — giga and terra-tons, terra-tons, of invisible ‘weightless’ gasses; targets sliding around time and across the geography of the developed and the undeveloped world; reductions to be booked today from tomorrow’s yet-to-be-invented technologies.

If devils live in details, there will be an entire hobgloblinery here of opportunities for fudge, delay and obfuscation. Moreover, the IPCC has given political leaders a frail but exploitable scientific reed with which to justify yet more delay. 

While 450 ppm is the ultimate ‘safe line’ for atmospheric carbon, there is still, the scientists informed the politicians, a narrowly positive chance of preserving survivable climate conditions even if we overshoot that number between now and mid-century, so long as by then we have also ratcheted our emissions back to about 2010 levels — and we continue to cut them to zero by the end of the century.

That’s like setting out to drop 25 pounds by agreeing with yourself that you can gorge on ice cream for the first month, put on another 10 pounds, and diet all the harder later. And I give it about the same chance of success.

My jaded prediction is that the world’s leaders, provided with enough numbers to conceal most of their national GDPs and Swiss bank accounts, will opt instead for numeric slight-of-hand and a punt down the road. Whatever numbers emerge from Lima, even if they are subsequently adopted, let alone taken on as ‘binding’ (as Canada’s Kyoto commitment was, until it wasn’t), they will not be sufficient.

Which is why the other event on the Pacific Rim over the last couple of weeks may be more significant. Overlooking another city squeezed between rocks and a wet place, Burnaby Mountain is a mini-me beside its sibling peaks in Canada’s Coast Mountain ranges. For the last month however, it has been a contested high ground.

Kinder Morgan, a Houston-based pipeline company, is seeking approval to lay a new and larger pipeline alongside an existing one it owns between Alberta and Pacific tidewater. The purpose of the new capacity is to convey an additional half a million barrels a day of diluted tarsand bitumen for shipment to Asia. In that process, Kinder Morgan contractors have sought to survey a route for the proposed pipeline across the small urban mountain that’s home to Simon Fraser University and overlooks both Burnaby and its larger neighbour, Vancouver. 

They have been met by persistent demonstrations of resistance. These have been, on the whole, charmingly Canadian. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are reported to have been almost apologetic as they rounded up demonstrators under terms of an injunction issued to the pipeline company. Later, demonstrators posted compassionate notes to facebook about the difficult role the police have to play. A court threw out charges against the arrested in any case. And Burnaby’s mayor is outspokenly in the camp of those who object that Kinder Morgan’s plan will expose his city to risks out of proportion to its benefits.

But here’s the irony in the glocal.

The forces ranged against the Burnaby Mountain demonstrators embody all the orders of power within the neoliberal client state: Canada’s national government and its provincial counterpart have both gutted their environmental laws to ease the way for hydrocarbon projects like the pipeline. Kinder Morgan, according to its website, is “the … third largest energy company (based on enterprise value) in North America.” And somewhere in the background are the global bankers, fingers on the keys calculating the vig on $5.4 billion, the starting estimate of what it will cost to build the pipeline.

And yet, there is a very good chance that the Burnaby Mountain demonstrators will win, and the pipeline will be stopped.

A better chance, frankly, than that the leaders of the worlds’ nations will agree to much more in the coming year than a misty flim-flammery of mostly aspirational and easily gamed numbers, that work out to something a whole lot more than 450 ppm of CO2 in the air. 

The atmosphere can’t be flim-flammed. We should take the wins wherever they come.

Copyright Chris Wood 2014

Contact: cwood@factsandopinions.com

 

chris1

Chris Wood is a founding writer with Facts and Opinions. He is the author of the Natural Security column and occasional long-form Think magazine pieces, and contributes the odd blog entry.

Wood writes about the issues of human social survival in the 21st century. His 40-year career has spanned award-winning work in radio, newsmagazines, books and the internet. He is the author or co-author of seven books, most recently Down the Drain: How We Are Failing To Protect Our Water Resources, with Ralph Pentland (Greystone, 2013).  After growing up near Hamilton, Ont., and later living for periods of time in rural Ontario, the Maritimes, Toronto, Dallas and Vancouver, his home is now on Vancouver Island with  his writer/marketer wife, Beverley Wood, and their two middle-aged bull terrier dogs. Currently, all are on an extended research and study term in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. 

Read more about Chris’s work, or book him as a speaker, at www.bychriswood.com

 

 

 

 

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

 

 

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One Zimbabwe success story

First Street in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Gary Bembridge, Creative Commons

First Street in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Gary Bembridge, Creative Commons

In great contrast to the Borgia world of Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe — the subject of last week’s column by International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe  — is the skill, imagination, talent, determination and sheer hard work that ordinary Africans have to employ to survive and succeed.  Manthorpe offers a tale, One man’s thrust for survival in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Excerpt:

It was mid-December, the height of yet another summer of drought in Zimbabwe, and I was making the early morning coffee when there was a loud cracking and wrenching noise from the garden.

It was a noise I’d never heard before, so loud and tortured it was clear something momentous had happened outside. I walked through the house to the French doors and out on to the tiled patio, the terra cotta red of the African earth. It was an extraordinary sight. The trunk of massive, old Albizia tree down by what passed for a swimming pool had split in half down its whole length. The Albizia is known as the “flat crown tree” because its branches spread wide and grow up to an almost equal height, making it one of the most popular shade trees in Africa, for humans and wildlife alike. For this one, however, the weight of its spreading branches had suddenly become too much for the trunk to bear and it had wrenched itself apart.

Nefius, our gardener who lived in a three-room shamva at the top of the garden, and Phillip, our overnight security guard, who was just about to set off on his two-hour bicycle ride home, were already examining the wreckage and laughing loudly. And indeed, there was a comic, burlesque quality to the dramatic way the tree had suddenly decided to give up the ghost. But it was also very inconvenient. My family and I were due to fly out of Zimbabwe that night on our annual three-week leave. The wood from the tree would be an excellent stock of fuel for the fireplace in the house — very necessary in the chilly winters at Harare’s high altitude – for Nefius to use for cooking and for our brais – the southern African word for barbecues. But this was clearly too big a job for Nefius alone with just our bow saw and axe for tools. Phillip volunteered to help Nefius cut up and stack our windfall if he could have some of the wood. … log in to read more (paywall*)

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Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

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One man’s thrust for survival in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe

First Street in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Gary Bembridge, Creative Commons

First Street in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Gary Bembridge, Creative Commons

 

JONATHAN MANTHORPE 
November 26, 2014 

In last week’s column I wrote about the Borgia world of Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe. That column should be read in tandem with this offering, which is about the skill, imagination, talent, determination and sheer hard work that ordinary Africans have to employ to survive and succeed. 

It was mid-December, the height of yet another summer of drought in Zimbabwe, and I was making the early morning coffee when there was a loud cracking and wrenching noise from the garden.

It was a noise I’d never heard before, so loud and tortured it was clear something momentous had happened outside. I walked through the house to the French doors and out on to the tiled patio, the terra cotta red of the African earth. It was an extraordinary sight. The trunk of massive, old Albizia tree down by what passed for a swimming pool had split in half down its whole length. The Albizia is known as the “flat crown tree” because its branches spread wide and grow up to an almost equal height, making it one of the most popular shade trees in Africa, for humans and wildlife alike. For this one, however, the weight of its spreading branches had suddenly become too much for the trunk to bear and it had wrenched itself apart.

Nefius, our gardener who lived in a three-room shamva at the top of the garden, and Phillip, our overnight security guard, who was just about to set off on his two-hour bicycle ride home, were already examining the wreckage and laughing loudly. And indeed, there was a comic, burlesque quality to the dramatic way the tree had suddenly decided to give up the ghost. But it was also very inconvenient. My family and I were due to fly out of Zimbabwe that night on our annual three-week leave. The wood from the tree would be an excellent stock of fuel for the fireplace in the house — very necessary in the chilly winters at Harare’s high altitude – for Nefius to use for cooking and for our brais – the southern African word for barbecues. But this was clearly too big a job for Nefius alone with just our bow saw and axe for tools. Phillip volunteered to help Nefius cut up and stack our windfall if he could have some of the wood.

And so it was. When Petrina, I and the boys got back from our holiday there was a good cord of cut and split logs. Phillip said he was trying to arrange for a truck to take his share to his village a couple of hours drive from Harare, where he had an eight-acre farm and where his wife and daughter lived. I had grown to like and respect Phillip, not only for the diligence with which he protected my family, especially when I was away elsewhere in Africa, which was most of the time, but also because of his sterling character and values. Those became apparent a few months before the tree incident when one morning before he left for home he’d asked to talk to me. His daughter, he explained was 16 years old and about to take critical school exams. Zimbabwe still used much of the school system inherited from its British colonial history as Southern Rhodesia. Among these holdovers was that children aiming for higher education or other qualifications had to take exams set by Cambridge University in Britain. But there were fees for taking these exams and having them marked. Those fees had to be paid for in the equivalent of British pounds, which worked out to be a lot of money for someone like Phillip.

Phillip said his daughter wanted to be a nurse, that he really wanted her to have that opportunity, but didn’t have enough cash to pay the exam fees. Would I lend him the money? He’d pay it back in monthly instalments, he said, when he got his wages from the security company that employed him. I agreed at once. Although Africa tends to be a patriarchal society, it is not unusual to find fathers willing to invest in the education of their daughters. But it is still worth encouraging.

In truth, I didn’t expect Phillip to pay the money back and would not have worried if he had not. But he was meticulous in keeping his word, and Petrina and I could see it was a matter of great importance to him that he did so. His daughter passed all the exams.

So when Phillip said he would arrange for a truck to come to collect his share of the wood I knew he would do his best. But after a few weeks no truck had arrived, and I asked him what the problem was. He said he’d been unable to find someone with a truck to take the wood to his village at a reasonable price. But he had a one-acre plot on the outskirts of Harare, where he lived during the week, and he’d try to find someone who would take the wood there. That also didn’t work and early one Saturday morning, as Phillip was finishing his overnight shift, I said I’d help him. We loaded the office stationwagon, strapped Phillip’s bike to the roof and set off.

Africa in the early morning is always full of promise. The air in the continent’s high hinterland is cool and fresh, the light is clear and bright. It is the only time of day when the subtle details of the land and its peoples are sharp on the eye. The mid-day sun washes out the detail in the sharp divides of glare and gloom. As we drove through the suburbs hundreds of people were either cycling to work or standing in lines for the dilapidated, snorting buses. Meanwhile women were outside their houses quietly and carefully sweeping the packed earth forecourts, one of the first rituals of the day in much of Africa. After a while we turned off into a dirt side-road, lined by duka small stores selling all life’s daily essentials, introduced to Africa by South Asian immigrants. And every so often there’d be a shabeen, illegal bar serving creamy, thick chibuku sorghum beer and perhaps bottled larger for the well-healed.

As we drove we chatted and every so often I slipped in a question about Phillip’s background. He was, I judged, in his early 40s then, and by his bearing and self-assurance I guessed he had either been in the police or the army during the last years of Ian Smith’s white regime before majority rule and independence in 1980. But Phillip volunteered little and one quickly learned in Zimbabwe that it was discourteous, to say the least, to press people too pointedly about what they had done in the civil war.

Phillip’s plot was down an even narrower and more bumpy track. As we arrived, I could see immediately what an enterprising man he was. On this one acre leased from the municipality Phillip was growing food right up to the fence-line in every direction. There was, of course, maize for grinding into mealie meal to make sadza, the food staple in Zimbabwe and known elsewhere as polenta. There were also papaya trees and banana plants, lemon and lime trees, red chilli pepper bushes and much else besides. But Phillip had gone one better. He had built a line of half a dozen shamvas and a shower and toilet block. These rooms he rented out to workers who came into Harare during the week, but then headed home to their villages at the weekends or when they could afford the bus fares.

Taking a load of wood out to Phillip’s small holding became a Saturday morning ritual for a while. On one of those early runs he introduced me to his wife, a cheerful woman with a beaming smile who was visiting Harare from the village. She pressed on me a jar of her home-made peanut butter, which our sons pronounced the best they had ever had. Phillip also introduced me to an evidently pregnant young women in her early 20s, who he said was his second wife and who helped him manage and cultivate the smallholding while his senior wife did the same back at the village. She was shy and demure – not many white people visited that part of town – but she smiled warmly.

A few weeks later Phillip announced that his young wife had had the baby and it was a boy. He invited Petrina and me to come out to the smallholding to see the child. When we arrived and walked in the gate, Phillip came out of his shamva, smiling broadly and closely followed by his elder wife, in town again from the village. And it was she who held the baby boy and showed him to us, also with a happy smile on her face. Just behind and to one side stood the young wife, the boy’s mother, also smiling, but with a hint of pride and contentment in her expression.

That little tableau of the family and their enterprise will always stay with me.

Copyright Jonathan Manthorpe 2014

Contact: jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com  

 

Manthorpe B&WJonathan Manthorpe is a founding columnist with Facts and Opinions and is the author of the journal’s International Affairs column. Manthorpe has been a foreign correspondent and international affairs columnist for nearly 40 years. Manthorpe’s  nomadic career began in the late 1970s as European Bureau Chief for The Toronto Star, the job that took Ernest Hemingway to Europe in the 1920s. In the mid-1980s Manthorpe became European Correspondent for Southam News. In the following years Manthorpe was sent by Southam News, the internal news agency for Canada’s largest group of metropolitan daily newspapers, to be the correspondent in Africa and then Asia. Between postings Manthorpe spent a few years based in Ottawa focusing on intelligence and military affairs, and the United Nations. Since 1998 Manthorpe has been based in Vancouver, but has traveled frequently on assignment to Asia, Europe and Latin America.

 

 

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes. 

 

 

 

 

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Vera Lynn: “It was simply my duty to keep on singing.”

Vera Lynn singing for workers in a UK munitions factory in 1941. Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London.

Vera Lynn singing for workers in a UK munitions factory in 1941. Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London.

Vera Lynn achieved international fame with the songs she made popular on the radio during the Second World War. Arts columnist Brian Brennan reports in his new time capsule piece that she wanted to try other kinds of music after the war. But the fans wouldn’t hear of it. An excerpt of Brennan’s Brief Encounters column, There’ll Always Be An England: Vera Lynn:

For thousands of Allied soldiers who served in the Second World War, Vera Lynn was the most popular singer on the radio. No matter that Bing Crosby and Judy Garland sold more records. Lynn was the troops’ favourite because, as one wounded soldier said at the time, “She makes you think of your wife, not of her.”

When I interviewed her in 1983, this beloved Sweetheart of the Forces was 66 years old, still singing the old wartime favourites, and still making old soldiers think fondly of their wartime brides. She was in Calgary to perform the first major concert at the Saddledome, a hockey arena built both for the 1988 Winter Olympics and as a new home rink for the NHL’s Calgary Flames.

“At school they thought I had a terrible voice,” Lynn told me. “But they always put me up in front because I opened my mouth so nice and wide.” Encouraged by her father, a London plumber, and her mother, a dressmaker, she gave her first public performances in working men’s clubs at age seven. … log in to read There’ll Always Be An England: Vera Lynn (paywall*)

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Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

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Black-and-Blues Friday

"Buy More Stuff! Confuse Everyone!" People hold signs designed to confuse Black Friday shoppers in Seattle. Photo by John Anderson via Flickr, Creative Commons

“Buy More Stuff! Confuse Everyone!” People hold signs designed to confuse Black Friday shoppers in Seattle. Photo by John Anderson via Flickr, Creative Commons

It seems that “Gray Thursday” is the new name for the fourth Thursday of November each year in the United States.

The name marks the re-purposing of a traditional event — from a communal giving of thanks, to shopping. Shopping for sale items is well on its way to supplanting America’s traditional harvest festival, and Gray Thursday (the day formerly known as Thanksgiving Day) is increasingly recognized as the precursor of Black Friday.

Black Friday, of course, has for the past decade or so been the most busy day of the year for U.S. retailers.

This year, instead of  waiting to open their doors early on Friday to a rush of people sated by feasting a day earlier, many businesses apparently decided to designate the food-and-family ritual thing as a gray area. 

“Best Buy, J. C. Penney and Toys “R” Us opened at 5 p.m., with Target and Macy’s in close pursuit at 6 p.m.,” reported the New York Times. The afternoon timing of those stores allowed shoppers to gobble down a Thanksgiving lunch, at least. But some businesses axed even lunch: Kmart opened this year in the U.S. at 6 a.m. Thursday — perhaps betting that enough people would rather shop than cook and dine with relatives.

Luckily, even the most devoted families and foodies can partake, after their traditional rituals, of seasonal sales, on “Cyber Monday” on the Internet. And even that day has begun to morph, into “Cyber Week.” Said Consumer Reports after last year’s season: “Several of the retailers—including Best Buy, Target, and Walmart — seem to have abandoned Cyber Monday in favor of a full Cyber Week event.”

There is no word on when Gray and Black days and Cyber Weeks will spread into the days still known as Saint Nicholas’s (Dec. 6);  the Buddist Bodhi Day (Dec. 8); the Hindu Pancha Ganapati  (Dec. 21 – 25); Solstice (on about Dec. 21); Christmas (Dec. 25); Kwanzaa (Dec. 26), and the peripatetic Hannukah and Chinese New Year. 

As you contemplate the colour of your day, enjoy Tom Regan*’s response to the shopping frenzy, which made him resort to poetry. Here’s the start of  ‘Twas the Night Before Black Friday:

Tom Regan

Tom Regan

Twas the night before Black Friday, and all through the house

Every creature was stirring, yes even the mouse;

The credit cards were ready for use here and there,

In the hopes that a bargain soon would be theirs … continue reading

Tom Regan* is the author of F&O‘s Summoning Orenda column.

 

 

Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, Facts and Opinions performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes. We appreciate and need your support: please click here to purchase a $1 day pass, or subscribe.   Sign up in the form to the right, on our blog, to receive a free email subscription to blog posts and notices of new work. Contact us at Editor AT factsandopinions.com.

 

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UN agency adds cultural treasures to ‘intangibles’ list

 

Retlaw Snellac, Creative Commonsby Anne Tempelman-Kluit,

Worldwide, unique cultural traditions are slowly disappearing under the pressure of a more globalized and modern world. As the older generation passes away their knowledge and skills often die with them, their only trace left in anthologies and history books.

In an effort to preserve this intangible cultural heritage, UNESCO added 29  elements to its “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” helping to highlight global diversity and raise awareness of its importance.

Some of these cultural treasures include, RIGHT, silk headscarves, woven by women in time-honored floral designs, which are a hallmark of the Azerbaijan culture; BELOW LEFT, Bulgarian Chiprovski kilimi carpets; BELOW RIGHT, Armenian Lavash bread; BOTTOM LEFT, Capoeira, from Timor-Leste,  a martial art uniting fight and dance and promoting respect and social cohesion, and, BOTTOM RIGHT, the Yampara culture of Bolivia, featuring Pujillay and Ayarichi music and dance.

According to UNESCO, the importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but “rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next.”

TOP LEFT, Photo by Maison Kordopoulov via Flickr, Creative Commons; TOP RIGHT, Wikipedia, Creative Commons; ABOVE LEFT, United Nations, by Martine Perret; ABOVE RIGHT, Photo © Voces Bolivianas

 

 

Photos by, or from, Martine Perret, for the United Nations, above left; © Voces Bolivianas, above right; Maison Kordopoulov via Flickr, Creative Commons, top left, and Wikipedia, Creative Commons, top right.

Photos by, or from, Martine Perret, for the United Nations, above left; © Voces Bolivianas, above right; Maison Kordopoulov via Flickr, Creative Commons, top left, and Wikipedia, Creative Commons, top right.

— Text by Anne Tempelman-Kluit, produced by Michael Sasges

Copyright Bead Shop Media 2014

Further reading and viewing:

UNESCO’s photo gallery of Intangible Cultural Heritage 
UNESCO press release on its 9th Session of Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee in November. 

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On Ferguson, Darren Wilson, and Michael Brown

Darren Wilson, photographed in a medical office after shooting dead Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo released by the St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office photo

Darren Wilson, photographed in a medical office after shooting dead Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo released by the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office

Ferguson, Missouri, burst into flames after a grand jury found no cause to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 9. Some 700 National Guard troops were immediately summoned, with 2,200 reinforcements added Tuesday, to quell rioting.

But the story of Ferguson is deceptively simple, and beguiling: a tale of authorities versus delinquents, blacks versus whites. devils versus angels. Here is my column on the case, Ferguson’s Damned Details.

 

Here is a select list of journalism collations and original documents about the story:

 Overview:

 The Marshall Project:  Collated news and opinion items about Ferguson
Moyers and Company: What We’re Reading About Ferguson
U.S. and international reporting on Ferguson by the New York Times;  BBC; France 24;  South China Morning Post; and Russian Television (RT.com) 

Original sources:

A Guide to the Facts and Issues  and Evidence released from the Grand Jury, collated by St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s press stream, of videos and news releases
 

What next?

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon in October announced a Ferguson Commission, tasked to:

  • “Conduct a thorough, wide-ranging and unflinching study of the social and economic conditions underscored by the unrest in the wake of the death of Michael Brown; 
  • “Second, to tap the expertise needed to address the concerns identified by the Commission – from poverty and education, to governance and law enforcement; 
  • “And third, to offer specific recommendations for making this region a stronger, fairer place for everyone to live.”

Related works in F&O’s archives:

Deadly Force in Black and White America. By Ryan Gabrielson, Ryann Grochowski Jones and Eric Sagara, ProPublica

An analysis of statistics supports what has been an article of faith in the United States’ African American community for decades: Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population. Young American black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.  

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

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.

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

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

 

 

Michael Brown at his high school graduation, shortly before he was killed. Photo from St. Louis Public Radio

Michael Brown at his high school graduation,  earlier this year. Photo from St. Louis Public Radio

 

 

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope