Monthly Archives: October 2015

F&O this week: Daylight Savings; Spectre; oil; China’s children

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World:

America’s Lying Season. By Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda column

It’s the lying season in American politics.  What’s different is our willingness to accept these lies.

Village children collect firewood for cooking fuel, Tianlin County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. Photo by Nick Hogarth for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). CC

Axing China’s one-child rule unlikely to change population. By Stuart Gietel-Basten

China’s policy change will have little impact on population.

Washington, courts defy Beijing imperialism. By Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs columnist

Beijing has been dealt significant set-backs to its  campaign of imperial expansionism.

Global oil industry slipping into the red. By Ron Bousso, Karolin Schaps and Anna Driver

The oil sector is slipping into the red; top companies have cut spending, made thousands of job cuts and scrapped projects.

North Korea’s black market the new normal. By James Pearson and Damir Sagolj

"Soldier-builders" carry things in central Pyongyang October 8, 2015. Picture taken October 8, 2015. To match Insight NORTHKOREA-CHANGE/ REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

“Soldier-builders” carry things in central Pyongyang October 8, 2015. Picture taken October 8, 2015. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

The underground market is becoming the new normal in isolated North Korea.

Arts:

Spectre: James Bond in an age of cybersecurity. By Joseph Oldham, Arts

Spectre, the fourth Craig Bond, Spectre, takes us unambiguously into a world that we all recognise.

A Satirist Wanting to Be Taken Seriously: Nancy White. By Brian Brennan, Brief Encounters column

At her most prolific, Nancy White was writing three to five topical satire songs a week and performing –nobody could maintain that pace indefinitely.

Reports:

Daylight savings linked to injuries, heart attacks. By David A. Ellis, Report

More than 1.5 billion people worldwide are exposed to Daylight Savings Time risks, from heart attacks and injuries to mood and productivity changes.

Worldwide daylight savings time. Blue means DST is used, orange that it was formerly used, and red that it has never been used. Paul Eggert/wikimedia, CC BY-SA

Worldwide daylight savings time. Blue means DST is used, orange that it was formerly used, and red that it has never been used. Paul Eggert/wikimedia, CC BY-SA

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Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope Tagged , , , , , , , |

Global oil industry slipping into the red

A fisherman pulls in his net as an oil tanker is seen at the port in the northwestern city of Duba in this April 20, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Mohamed Al Hwaity/Files

A fisherman pulls in his net as an oil tanker is seen at the port in the northwestern city of Duba in this April 20, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Mohamed Al Hwaity/Files

by Ron Bousso, Karolin Schaps and Anna Driver
October, 2015

By Ron Bousso, Karolin Schaps and Anna Driver

LONDON/HOUSTON (Reuters) – The oil sector is slipping into the red after years of fat profits as the steep slump in oil prices shows little sign of ending, with this quarter shaping up to be the worst since the downturn started.

The world’s top oil companies have struggled to cope with the halving of oil prices since June 2014. They have cut spending repeatedly, made thousands of job cuts and scrapped projects.

The lower-for-longer outlook for oil prices took its heaviest toll yet in the third quarter as oil companies again reported a dramatic drop in income. Some saw results swing into the loss column, and the industry had billions of dollars in impairment charges.

“This downcycle poses significant challenges,” Jeff Sheets, ConocoPhillips’ chief financial officer, told investors on a conference call after the company posted a loss.

With 10 of the top 20 European and North American oil and gas producers having reported third-quarter results, seven have posted losses.

These include Royal Dutch Shell, Italy’s Eni and in North America Occidental Petroleum Corp, Anadarko Petroleum Corp, Hess Corp, Suncor and ConocoPhillips.

Shell posted a third-quarter loss of $7.4 billion on Thursday, hit by a massive $8.2 billion charge after halting its exploration in Alaska’s Arctic sea and a costly oil sands project in Canada.

DOWNWARD REVISION

About half of Shell’s charges reflected a downward revision of the long-term oil and gas price outlook, Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said. Net profit excluding identified items collapsed to $1.8 billion from $5.85 billion a year ago.

Eni posted a net loss of $1 billion and France’s Total had a sharp drop in profit, though its results were stronger than expected.

ConocoPhillips, the largest U.S. independent oil and gas company, reported a quarterly loss of $1.1 billion and lowered its 2015 spending target 7 percent.

Smaller companies also showed signs of pain. Marathon Oil Corp slashed its quarterly dividend 76 percent to preserve cash as it tries to weather the slump.

“The sector is rapidly moving into the red,” Jefferies oil and gas equities analyst Jason Gammel said.

“It is slowly going to claw its way back into the black through cost-reduction efforts, but that will take time. It will depend on price movements, but it will take time to get all these cost savings through the system.”

Even after cost efficiencies and spending cuts, European oil companies on average will require an oil price of around $78 a barrel in 2016 to cover spending and dividend payments, according to Jefferies estimates before the latest results.

Analysts polled by Reuters expect Brent crude to average a much lower $58.60 a barrel in 2016.

Shell, which Jefferies says has the lowest cashflow breakeven point at around $66 a barrel, said it would axe 1,000 additional jobs after the 6,500 job cuts announced earlier this year.

MORE DEBT

Companies are also tapping the debt market, benefiting from a relatively low debt ratio that will allow them to cover spending and dividend payments that, except for Eni, have remained unchanged.

Britain’s BP increased its debt ratio to 20 percent from 15 percent a year ago after agreeing in July to pay $20 billion in fines relating to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Europe’s majors have reduced 2015 spending programmes about 15 percent to near $107 billion, and more cuts are seen next year.

On Tuesday Norway’s Statoil posted worse than expected third-quarter core earnings and said it would slash capital expenditure further.

Results have been bolstered somewhat by gains in refining and trading segments, as lower prices lifted global fuel demand, though this boost is expected to fade with the seasonal winter drop in demand.

BP, like Total, posted a sharp fall in profits but beat analyst expectations, citing efficiencies, higher oil production and strong refining results.

Shell and Eni shares were down 1.4 percent and 1.8 percent respectively at 1422 GMT, with Total up by 0.4 percent. The European oil and gas index was largely flat.

In New York, shares of ConocoPhillips rose nearly 1 percent, or 44 cents, to $53.78 in midday trading. Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp will report on Friday.

Copyright Reuters 2015

(Additional reporting by Gwladys Fouche in Oslo and Stephen Jewkes in Milan; Editing by Terry Wade and David Gregorio)

 

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

Posted in Uncategorized

Washington, courts defy Beijing imperialism

Amphibious assault vehicles and USS Denver  participate in an exercise in the South China Sea, 2011.  U.S. government photo via Wikimedia

Amphibious assault vehicles and USS Denver participate in an exercise in the South China Sea, 2011. U.S. government photo via Wikimedia

JONATHAN MANTHORPE: International Affairs 
October, 2015

Schina_sea_88At long last, the Beijing regime has this week been dealt two significant set-backs to what is the world’s most extraordinary contemporary campaign of imperial expansionism.

On October 29, a tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) decided that Beijing’s claim to own almost all the South China Sea is not an indisputable fact, as the Chinese government contends. The littoral countries that object to Beijing’s imperial grab — the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia — have the right to have their objections heard and judged before a court of arbitration.

The ruling is significant because Beijing has always avoided any binding judicial scrutiny of its South China Sea claim. Beijing’s usual response is to jump up and down, make a lot of threatening noises and insist its claim is beyond dispute.

Typical was President Xi Jinping’s response a few weeks ago when he was challenged about the claims while on a visit to the United States. “The islands and reefs of the South China Sea are Chinese territory since ancient times,” he said. “They are left to us by our ancestors.”

Well, there’s no substantial evidence to support that claim. And now it may well be that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will adjudicate on the dispute.

It would be pleasant to believe that Beijing’s imperialist march might be halted and reversed by an adverse court ruling. But that is probably a vain hope. The Chinese Communist Party has a lot of problems with the concept of the rule of law, and whatever The Hague says is unlikely to deter it from its territorial ambitions.

Xo Jinping, official photo

Xo Jinping, official photo

Thursday’s legal rebuff to Beijing’s schemes came hot on the heels of Tuesday’s more direct challenge to the Chinese Communist Party’s attempt to establish sovereignty in the South China Sea. For two years, fleets of Chinese dredgers have been at work in the sea manufacturing seven new islands hundreds of kilometers away from China. The finished islands have been equipped with harbours, air strips and military bases.

Beijing says these islands are just a physical expression of its rule over four-fifths of the South China Sea and all foreign shipping should respect China’s sovereignty.

On Tuesday, after years of wavering in the face of Beijing’s evident forward policy, the risk-averse United States administration of President Barack Obama sent a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Lassen, to challenge China’s claims to authority over shipping on the South China Sea.

After giving plenty of warning that this was to be a “freedom of navigation operation,” affirming the right of passage to all navies and merchant marine through what are some of the world’s busiest seaways, the USS Lassen purposefully sailed within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands group.

Beijing’s response was in the best traditions of Communist Party hyper-ventilated outrage. The U.S. action had, said Beijing’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, threatened China’s sovereignty and the USS Lassen had “illegally” entered China’s territorial waters.

As is often the case these days, senior officers in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) took a more jingoistic stance. Writing in the government controlled nationalist newspaper Global Times, Rear-Admiral Yang Yi said the PLA would deliver a “head-on blow” to any foreign forces “violating” China’s sovereignty. “Safeguarding maritime rights,” wrote Yang, “calls for force and power.”

Two years ago Subi Reef was just that; an underwater feature that was usually not even exposed at high tide. But after months of dredging and construction work Subi Reef is now a substantial island with a harbour and a three kilometer-long runway that can be used by most Chinese military aircraft.

Beijing contends that Subi Reef, like all the other reaches of the South China Sea it claims right down to Indonesia 1,200 kilometers from mainland China, is now its sovereign territory. As such, says Beijing, this and the other six manufactured military island outposts warrant recognition under the Law of the Sea as having 12 nautical miles of territorial waters around their peripheries and 200 nautical miles “exclusive economic zones” (EEZ) beyond that.

Beijing’s claim that its construction projects are sovereign territory is absolute bunk, as any reading of the UNCLOS agreements quickly reveals. UNCLOS says that habitable islands attract recognition of 12 nautical miles of surrounding territorial waters and 200 nautical miles of EEZ. Uninhabitable rocks and islets get 12 nautical miles of territorial waters, but not the EEZ. What are called “low tide elevations,” which defines Subi Reef and China’s six other island manufacturing projects, get no sovereignty recognition at all.

Indeed, Beijing’s whole claim to ownership of most of the South China Sea is a feeble modern fabrication without any historic or legal merit. For the most part it has been fashioned since the Second World War and the discovery of seabed oil and gas deposits in the 1970s.

Beijing has produced an elaborate paper trail to support what it says is unshakeable proof of its ownership of most of the 3,500,000 square kilometer South China Sea, which carries a third of global maritime trade. The paperwork has been craftily woven and is now a substantial blanket of documentation. But several careful deconstructions, for example this by former BBC correspondent Bill Hayton have found that what is put forward as evidence of Chinese ownership all reaches back to the writings of two or three nationalist propagandists. There is no unimpeachable firsthand evidence of historic Chinese claim to sovereignty over the islands of the South China Sea.

There has been a sharp increase in Beijing’s often militarily aggressive pushing of its territorial claims since Xi Jinping became Communist Party boss and China’s President in late 2012. His intense appeals to Chinese nationalism and patriotism appear to be an attempt to divert public attention from the declining economy, deadly environmental pollution, the emergence of a socially dominant wealthy elite of friends and relatives of the Communist Party aristocracy, and a steady drum beat of social unrest. (See related columns, below.)

Yet the record of Xi’s four years in power suggests that when confronted he swiftly retreats.

In his first years in office, Xi stoked Chinese nationalism by confronting the old enemy, Japan, over Japanese ownership of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. These five islands, which the Chinese call the Daioyu, have been claimed by Beijing since they were found to be associated with seabed deposits of natural gas. The Senkakus also have strategic importance, blocking the PLA Navy’s access to the Pacific Ocean.

But incursions first by Chinese fishing boats, then by Coast Guard cutters and finally by PLA warplanes over-flying the islands did not force Tokyo to make any concessions. Quite the reverse. Beijing’s antics gave Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the justification he was looking for to remove restrictions on the use of the armed forces that had been in place since the Second World War.

The Chinese incursions also pushed Tokyo and Washington to re-affirm their military alliance. And they raised alarm in the capitals of South East Asia, leading them to wonder if they were next in line for Beijing’s aggressive attentions.

They were right. Xi shifted his focus to the South China Sea where Chinese vessels began confronting the Philippines and asserting ownership of reefs and islands clearly within Philippines’ waters.

At the same time, Beijing began pushing hard against Vietnam, harassing Hanoi’s maritime survey vessels and even ostentatiously sending a massive drilling rig to hunt for oil and gas in disputed waters.

A PLA naval flotilla was even sent to the southern limits of China’s South China Sea claim, right by Indonesia’s territorial waters, where the crews held an elaborate sovereignty ceremony.

Meanwhile, Beijing set up a faux “administration” for the South China Sea on Woody Island in the Paracel Island chain and began manufacturing the seven islands to hold military bases.

All of these moves have been individually too small to trigger emphatic responses from either the United States or China’s neighbours, singly or in coalition.

But the emerging picture is already very clear. Beijing has established de facto occupation and a substantial military presence over territory to which it has no legitimate legal claim. More than that, it is territory of great strategic military and economic significance to the U.S. and its Asian allies.

The push-back by the court in The Hague and the U.S. Navy will give Xi and his admirals pause for thought. They will have immediately noted, however, that Obama’s sending of one destroyer, the USS Lassen, to demonstrate Washington’s resolve is a far less robust response than what Bill Clinton did in 1996.

That year, Beijing tried to disrupt the first fully democratic presidential elections among the 23 million people of the independent island nation of Taiwan, which Beijing also claims to own without any substantial historic or legal justification, by firing unarmed missiles into the sea-lanes approaching the island’s ports. Clinton responded by dispatching a full aircraft carrier battle group, which sailed through the 160-kilometer-wide Taiwan Strait separating the island from China. When the island next held presidential elections four years later, Beijing confined its outrage to verbal bluster.

Beijing is now most likely to return to its salami slicing policy by building up the military resources on the islands its has constructed. It may also try to test Washington’s credibility as a strategic partner by confronting some of the smaller claimants to the waters of the South China Sea to see how strongly the U.S. supports its allies.

On the other side of the equation, the U.S. already has strong alliances with regional nations Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, and Australia. Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia have already shown they want stronger military alliances with Washington to counter the threat from China.

What would send a strong message to Beijing would be a joint “freedom-of-navigation” patrol by ships of the U.S., Vietnam and Philippines navies.

Copyright Jonathan Manthorpe 2015

Links:

BBC correspondent Bill Hayton, Asia Sentinel:  http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/fact-fiction-south-china-sea/

Related on F&O:

China manufactures islands to back its sovereignty claims, Jonathan Manthorpe

Not content with stealing other people’s territory, the Beijing government is now manufacturing islands to boost its insubstantial claim to ownership of the South China Sea.

China’s war for Asian domination going well, Jonathan Manthorpe

TOKYO, Japan — China’s war to supplant the United States as the regional super power in the Far East and western Pacific is under full steam and gobbling up its objectives.

Labour unrest surges as China’s economy slows, Jonathan Manthorpe

As China’s economy slows to a crawl, the Communist Party is facing one of its worst nightmares: a militant labour movement.

From our archives:

Beijing takes another major step to control the South China Sea. Jonathan Manthorpe, May 23, 2014
Beijing, not Moscow, is the home of imperialism. March 5, 2014
China set to gain from airspace dispute. November 29, 2013
Chinese airspace claims reminiscent of pre-WW I. November 27, 2013
Political reform in China unavoidable. October 3, 2013
Japan to counter Chinese “provocations.” September 18, 2013

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 travelled frequently on assignment to Asia, Europe and Latin America.

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal, of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by you, our readers. We do not carry advertising or “branded content,” or solicit donations from foundations or causes. Thank you for your patronage, and please tell others about us. Most of our pages are not behind a paywall. To help us continue, we suggest a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or for use of the entire site at least $1 for a day pass, and $20 for a year. Please visit our Subscribe page for details, or donate below. With enough supporters  paying a small amount, we will continue, and increase our ability to offer original works.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , , |

A Satirist Wanting to Be Taken Seriously: Nancy White

BRIAN BRENNAN: BRIEF ENCOUNTERS 
October, 2015

Nancy White. Publicity photo, Borealis Records

Nancy White. Publicity photo, Borealis Records

At her most prolific, Nancy White was writing three to five topical satire songs a week and performing them on CBC Radio’s public affairs show, Sunday Morning. But nobody could maintain that pace indefinitely. When I talked to her in 1979, White at age 34 was burned out and ready to quit. “I wrote a song about burnout and, ever since then, I’ve had a lot of social workers in my audience,” she joked. She had been billing herself tongue-in-cheek as a “civil service songwriter” because of the relative security of the CBC job, and now she wanted a change.
“My brain hurts,” she told me. “You don’t go into show business because you want to do the same job for a million years. I’m starting to get tired of my own sense of humour.”
Her sense of humour had served her well since White came to Toronto from her native Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in 1970 at age 25. She had previously worked briefly as a journalist but got out of that business quickly because, she joked, the only question she could ever think to ask was, “Well, what do you think of the Island?” She did, however, write the first published newspaper review of the musical Anne of Green Gables, predicting – as it turned out correctly – that it was “destined for great things.”
In Toronto, White wrote and sang satirical songs in coffeehouses, cabarets and theatrical revues. That brought her to the attention of a Sunday Morning producer who hired her to become the musical equivalent of an editorial cartoonist on the program. Her job was to skewer anybody and anything in the news – the Pope, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Mounties, the Senate – and to do so with a big smile on her face.
“The first year I was on, it was wonderful,” she told me. “But like everything else, it’s not quite so wonderful any more. Maybe, after I’ve been out of it for a while, I’ll feel like doing it some more. Right now I’m just tired.” She was planning to exercise a six-month opt-out option in her CBC contract “to see if I can still write anything more than one minute and 10 seconds long.”
She was on a concert tour of Canada and relishing the opportunity to try out her new material in front of a live audience instead of in a radio studio. “I have a lot of fun doing the comedy stuff,” she said. “But musically it can be kind of boring. The songs have a short shelf life and are a pain to rehearse. Sometimes I find myself thinking, ‘Is there any point in practising this because I’ll probably never sing it again?’”
She was surprised at how mixed the audience reaction could be at her concerts. When she sang a song about Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed accepting free flights from Air Canada and CP Air, one woman in the audience said – loudly enough for White to hear from the stage – “How dare she come out here and sing songs like that.” A man next to her replied, “Because that’s what she does, lady.” Some audience members also hissed when White dedicated “to all the cowboys in Alberta” a song about Roy Rogers’s desire to be stuffed and mounted when he died (“Trigger Mortis”). And a few booed when White said she was going to “save Canada by singing a song in French.” But they lightened up when they discovered that the French ditty, which White did in the exaggerated emotive style of Edith Piaf, was just a harmless little novelty number about dustballs.
“Regional sensitivities are so weird,” said White. “I don’t care because I don’t have any axe to grind. But it seems to me that if you don’t want people from outside to think there’s cowboys out here, you should stop selling those boots and hats in the souvenir stores.”
The negative audience reaction, however, seemed to be largely outweighed by the positive. “I’m the perfect Canadian satirist; I’m wishy-washy,” White said with a smile. “I don’t want to hurt anyone and I want everyone to like me.” She said she wasn’t worried about losing the security of a weekly cheque from the CBC. “I freelanced for a long time so, for me, it’s really unnatural to have a weekly salary.”
As well as getting away from the CBC, White wanted to get away from the type of material she was doing for the CBC. She wanted to show audiences she had more to offer than just a well-developed flair for comedy. She had a number of serious songs about love, life and motherhood – “songs that are actually three minutes long” – that she was now adding to her repertoire. But these, she acknowledged, were proving to be a tough sell, especially when audiences expected her to be funny all the time.
After we spoke, White spent four years away from the CBC before a Sunday Morning producer lured her back in 1983 to write and perform a few songs about the Tory leadership campaign eventually won by Brian Mulroney. After that White continued writing for the CBC program for 11 years, though not as frequently as before. And she came to accept that as much as she wanted to show off her serious side, she had to satisfy audiences who wanted only to hear her witty takes on the issues of the day. She talked about this in a 1984 interview with The Globe and Mail during which she repeated much of what she said to me in 1979:
“To some degree, this is a case of give ‘em what they want. I like to think I’m a more versatile songwriter than this, and that this doesn’t fully represent my capabilities. I have a serious side too. I supposed if you’re considered serious, people respect you more. But they like you more if you’re funny.”
In 1994, the Sunday Morning producers told White they wanted her off the show. She joked that she would now be able to sleep in on Sunday mornings. “If they told me before I did my last show, I could have stocked up on CBC stationery,” she quipped to the Toronto Star. But she was genuinely hurt. “I was on the show longer than anybody else. They’re revamping it and I was part of the old regime.” She planned to spend three weeks performing in a cabaret at the Charlottetown Festival, and said she would be investigating other writing and performing ventures.
Being back home in Charlottetown seems to have rekindled a spark for White. It inspired her to focus on a writing project far removed from satire. She and two collaborators began working on a musical sequel to Anne of Green Gables based on two other books by Lucy Maud Montgomery that White had loved. They workshopped the show, Anne and Gilbert, during the late 1990s and saw it make its professional debut on PEI in 2005. It had two stars from a Toronto production of Mamma Mia! playing the lead roles. By 2012, Anne and Gilbert had become a regular summer fixture on PEI and also toured Ontario. White, then 67, told the Star she was still keeping her hand in as a cabaret performer but mostly considered herself semi-retired.

Copyright © Brian Brennan 2015

 

Brian BrennanBrian Brennan, an Irish journalist living in Canada, is a founding feature writer with Facts and Opinions and a contributor to Arts dispatches and the Loose Leaf salon. His profile of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, the first original feature in the journal’s inaugural issue, won Runner-up, Best Feature Article, in the 2014 Professional Writers Association of Canada Awards. Brennan was educated at University College Dublin, Vancouver’s Langara College, the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the National Critics Institute in Waterford, Connecticut.

Visit him at his website, www.brianbrennan.ca

Brian Brennan also plays jazz piano, for fun and profit.

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal, of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by you, our readers.We do not carry advertising or “branded content,” or solicit donations from partisan organizations. Thank you for your patronage, and please tell others about us. Most of our pages are not behind a paywall. To help us continue, we suggest a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or for use of the entire site at least $1 for a day pass, and $20 for a year. With enough supporters  paying a small amount, we will continue, and increase our ability to offer original works.  Visit our Subscribe page for more details. 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Daylight savings linked to injuries, heart attacks

By David A. Ellis, Lancaster University
October, 2015

It is estimated that more than 1.5 billion people across the world are exposed to changes brought about by Daylight Savings Time (DST).

While the clocks on most digital devices update automatically, transitions into and out of DST can be difficult for us humans. And a number of recent studies are providing insights into how a solitary hour can inadvertently affect our health, mood and productivity – often in a negative way.

In 2008, researchers examined the influence of these transitions on the incidence of heart attacks across several years of hospital admissions data. They focused on the two weeks before and after the clocks changed. Worryingly, they found a spike in the number of reported heart attacks after the transition to DST in the spring. In contrast, after moving out of daylight savings time in the autumn this trend was reversed.

These patterns were more pronounced in patients who were of working age (under 65) and the authors argued that the effects may have stemmed from the negative effects of sleep deprivation on cardiovascular health. They also suggested that vulnerable people should avoid other rapid changes to their sleeping patterns similar to those experienced as part of DST.

Transitions into and out of DST have also been associated with road traffic accidents, workplace injuries, poor mood and reduced efficiency. And many of these effects have been attributed to changes in sleep duration. The effect is likely to be magnified even further as many people are now regularly sleep deprived – the average sleep duration has fallen from nine to 7.5 hours during the 20th century.

Worldwide daylight savings time. Blue means DST is used, orange that it was formerly used, and red that it has never been used. Paul Eggert/wikimedia, CC BY-SA

Changes in the duration and quality of sleep as a result of DST are a key focus for current research. My team at the University of Lancaster examined how rates of attendance for medical appointments varied across days of the week and in the weeks before, during and after DST. Non-attendance of appointments not only costs the health service in England nearly £1 billion a year, but missed appointments are also associated with poorer health outcomes.

We found that patients were more likely to attend an appointment after the clocks went back, most likely due to the extra hour of sleep. The opposite trend was again observed when the clocks went forward in the spring as more patients missed an appointment. Therefore, beyond asking patients to get more sleep, a simple intervention to reduce non-attendance might involve sending a few additional reminders to patients as spring approaches.

At around the same time, other psychologists were considering the negative effects of DST in the workplace – specifically on so-called cyberloafing – the time people spend using work hours to check personal emails and browse websites unrelated to work. Using Google search data the authors were able to demonstrate that shifting into DST resulted in a large increase in cyberloafing. They also carried out an additional experiment, which illustrated a clear relationship between poor quality of sleep and increased levels of cyberloafing.

It is important to keep in mind that other contributing factors could also underlie these patterns of behaviour. For example, a person’s motivation to work hard may prevent them from cyberloafing even if they have experienced a reduction in the quality of their sleep. Similarly, patients miss appointments for many reasons and a complete explanation of these and other effects will require further study.

On the flip side, exploiting the positive effects when moving out of DST could potentially save money and increase productivity. There may also be health benefits from daylight savings, such as spending more time outdoors and being more active. Getting a detailed picture is difficult. As research questions go, understanding DST remains challenging because changes only occur twice a year. Therefore, scientists have to remain cautious when interpreting their results.

There are also effects outside of human health that need to be taken into account. DST is known to give an economic boost to a number of industries like grill and charcoal businesses and sporting-related firms. One study estimated that DST increases the revenue of the European Union’s leisure sector by roughly 3%. Proponents often argue that DST is therefore good for the economy. Unfortunately it isn’t that simple. It has also been reported to hit dairy farmers and the television industry hard.

While the literature is far from conclusive, the impact of DST could have far-reaching implications for the simple reason that it is almost impossible for anyone to shield themselves when the clocks go forward or back. While our smartphones and tablets adapt to the changes of DST seamlessly, human behaviour continues to require some careful adjustment.

Should we abandon DST and leave our clocks alone? While more evidence suggests that it does appear to have a negative impact on our health, the effects tend to be short-lived. However, that has to be weighted against the beneficial effects on productivity and the economy. Do the benefits of one extra hour in the autumn override the negative effects of DST in the spring? As always, only more research will answer that question.

The ConversationCreative Commons

David A. Ellis is the 50th Anniversary Lecturer in Psychology at Lancaster UniversityThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders.  Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. Welcome! Try one story at no charge. If you value our work, please chip in at least .27 per story or $1 for a day site pass, using the “donate” button below. Click here for details.  Real journalism has value. Thank you for your support. Please tell others about us, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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

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F&O this week: big world, country politics, and arts

Welcome to Facts and Opinions. Enjoy one story at no charge. If you value our work, please chip in at least .27 per story or $1 for a day site pass, using the “donate” button below. Click here for details. Real journalism — no spam, no ads — has value. Thanks for your support.

BREAKING news updateHurricane Patricia spares cities, roars through rural Mexico. By Reuters reporters and photographers

Hurricane Patricia caused less damage than feared on Mexico’s Pacific coast on Saturday, but little was known about an isolated part of the shoreline dotted with luxury villas and fishing villages, where the storm and its 165 mph (266 kph) winds landed.

Big World, Small Planet: excerpt. By  Johan Rockström and Mattias Klum

Big World, Small Planet is a book both alarming and hopeful, a work of science and art that arrives as world leaders prepare — at last? — to address climate change at the summit in Paris. “We need a new way of thinking about our relationship with nature, and how reconnecting with the planet can open up new avenues to world prosperity,” state authors Johan Rockström and Mattias Klum.

The evil of Benjamin Netanyahu, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda column

Benjamin Netanyahu’s continued racist and potentially internationally criminal actions have made things so bad in Israel, one really has to question how long the country can survive with him as its leader.

‘There’s Something Happening Here …, by Jim McNiven, Thoughtlines column

Forty-seven years ago in the United States, the Democrats found themselves going into their Presidential nomination process rather at sea. Does this sound familiar? Does it look like a mirror image of today? Today it is the Republicans who are in disarray. And it all has to do with the boomers.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is accompanied by his mother Margaret Trudeau (L) and his wife Sophie Gregoire, daughter Ella Grace and sons Hadrien (foreground) and Xavier (R) as he watches results at his election night headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Justin Trudeau’s speech to his kids, by Penney Kome

Canada’s newly-elected prime minister got Penney Kome thinking about George Lakoff’s research on differences between the “conservative” view and the assumption of “progressives” that “the world is basically good and can be made better.”

Justin Trudeau inherits an international freeloader, Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs

In many ways, Justin Trudeau and Canada’s newly-elected Liberal government are fortunate coming to office at this time when the whole associated field of Canada’s foreign, defence, trade and development aid policy is a wasteland.

Pierre E. Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien, and Lester Pearson. Photo: Library and Archives of Canada via Wikipedia

Pierre E. Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien, and Lester Pearson. Photo: Library and Archives of Canada via Wikipedia

Fishing subsidies are emptying oceans. By Rashid Sumaila

Fish numbers are rapidly dwindling globally, and fishery subsidies are one of the key drivers behind this decline. In 2009, these subsidies totalled about US$35 billion, creating incentives for fishers around the world to increase their catch. But this short-term “race to fish” is jeopardising the long-term environmental, social, and economic security that fisheries offer us all.

The Remaking of Fleetwood Mac: Bob Welch. By Brian Brennan, Brief Encounters (paywall)

Like Stuart Sutcliffe of the early Beatles and Ian Stewart of the early Rolling Stones, Bob Welch was an early member of Fleetwood Mac who left before the band hit the big time … But more than just being an early member of the group, I discovered, Welch was also a significant figure in the artistic evolution of Fleetwood Mac.

11745830_557363954402243_1920631379308902148_nSicario: a movie that haunts. By Sebastian Rosella, ProPublica

I saw the movie “Sicario” the other day. And it reminded me why the border still haunts me. “Sicario” is an important contribution to a cinematic genre that examines the dark realities of the U.S.-Mexico border. The film centers on an FBI agent in Arizona who joins a shadowy, CIA-led task force pursuing a Mexican drug lord. She becomes alarmed by secretive, brutal methods that leave a trail of corpses. She discovers that the unit’s mysterious Colombian “consultant” is an assassin (sicario) unleashed by the U.S. government on the cartels.

 

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Fishing subsidies are emptying oceans

Fishers leave Steveston, B.C. © Deborah Jones 2013

Fishing boat leaves Steveston, B.C. © Deborah Jones 2013

Rashid Sumaila, University of British Columbia
October, 2015

Fish numbers are rapidly dwindling globally, and fishery subsidies are one of the key drivers behind this decline. In 2009, these subsidies totalled about US$35 billion, creating incentives for fishers around the world to increase their catch. But this short-term “race to fish” is jeopardising the long-term environmental, social, and economic security that fisheries offer us all.

My group at the University of British Columbia recently cast our net into the troubling waters of fishery subsidies, to see how this ship might be turned around.

According to the recently released World Wildlife Fund Living Blue Planet Report, our oceans are in a bad state. Climate change, habitat destruction, and deep-sea mining are wreaking havoc on marine biodiversity.

But overfishing is in a league of its own.

The WWF report found that population numbers of utilised fish (those species used by humans for subsistence or commercial purposes) have fallen by half in the four decades from 1970 to 2010. A full 90% of fish stocks globally are now classified as either overexploited or fully exploited. Common seafood choices such as tuna, shrimp, whiting, and salmon are among the worst affected.

Only the very deepest parts of the oceans are currently safe from the pressure of fisheries. But how long this remains the case is yet to be seen. The demand for fish is growing the world over, driven by population growth, increased wealth, and the continued mass subsidisation of the fisheries industry.

The US$35 billion of subsidies that we estimate that were handed out globally in 2009 is not trivial. In fact, this figure constitutes between 30% and 40% of the landed values generated by marine fisheries worldwide.

To understand their full impact, though, it is useful to divide these subsidies into three broad categories:

  • Subsidies for management and research – considered as “good” subsidies because they generally have a positive effect on our ability to manage fishery resources sustainably for the benefit of all generations.
  • Capacity-enhancing (or harmful) subsidies – for example, construction and fuel; these tend to promote the overexploitation of fish stocks by motivating overcapacity and overfishing.
  • Ambiguous subsidies – such as those to vessel buy-back programmes and rural fisher community development, can either promote or undermine the sustainability of fish stocks depending on how they are designed and implemented.

Our research found that capacity-enhancing, or harmful subsidies made up nearly 60% of the total; fuel subsidies alone (arguably the most capacity-enhancing) constituted about 22% of the total. Ports and harbours received a 10% share.

Meanwhile, subsidies provided for fishery management totalled only 20% globally. In Australia, we estimated these “good” subsidies similarly comprised about 29% of Australia’s total subsidies to fisheries.

Developed countries provided twice the amount of subsidies as developing countries, although the latter group lands about 80% of global fish catch.

In terms of national contributions, Japan provided the highest amount of subsidies (13% of the global total), followed closely by China (12.9%) and the United States (11.7%). Australia’s fishing subsidises came in at 1.4% of the global total.

Although the direct impact of subsidies on fish resources depends on the health of the fish stock and the strength of management in place, fisheries management is rarely completely effective. In fact, there is evidence that subsidies alone can undermine efforts to manage stocks sustainably.

Commercial fishing enterprises are profit-driven, meaning the more profits that can be made the more fishing will typically take place. Because capacity-enhancing subsidies increase profits artificially, they are stimulating this “race to fish” within the industry. This is having disastrous consequences for many fish populations.

Fishery subsidies are also having socioeconomic, distributional, and trade impacts. They not only distort the market for fish, but often disadvantage fishers who receive relatively less subsidies.

In fact, most subsidies go to the large-scale industrial fishers in developed nations, rather than small-scale developing country fishers. This represents a barrier to development in precisely the regions where it is most needed.

Improving transparency is a fundamental requirement for reducing harmful fishing subsidies. Transparency around these subsidies could stimulate action, not only by revealing the scale of the problem, but also by providing a solid dataset that governments can use to implement reform. An important goal is to shift from “harmful” to “good” subsidies, which would go a long way to ensuring the money remains in fishing communities.

To make real progress in curtailing capacity-enhancing subsidies, it is important to develop and implement a multi-scale multi-stakeholder approach. Efforts must be made at the national, regional, and global levels of governance. Ultimately, these efforts should lead into a multilateral agreement at the World Trade Organization.

At the local level, we need to build political will to tackle the short-sightedness of our economic and political systems.

One step towards achieving this would be to develop a cadre of local opinion leaders who understand the benefits of eliminating capacity-enhancing subsidies. Supporting these domestic advocates for change could prove to be a crucial foundation stone for the building of a sustainable global fishery industry.

The ConversationCreative Commons

Rashid Sumaila is Director and Professor, Fisheries Economics Research Unit, University of British ColumbiaThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

 

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders.  Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. Welcome, and please try one story at no charge. If you value our work, please chip in at least .27 per story or $1 for a day site pass, using the “donate” button below. Click here for details.  Real journalism has value. Thank you for your support. Please tell others about us, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Justin Trudeau inherits an international freeloader

JONATHAN MANTHORPE: International Affairs 
October, 2015

It was easy for prime minister designate Justin Trudeau to tell the world that Canada “is back” as an eager and reliable partner, but it will take a large and consistent investment in time, effort and money to make that come true.

During his nine years in power Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his gang — defeated in the Oct. 19 election — undoubtedly shovelled in the dirt and danced on the grave of Canada’s international standing and involvement. However, the procession to the gallows was choreographed as much by the Liberals as the Conservatives.

Canada’s recent decline into insignificance on the international stage began with the election of Jean Chretien’s Liberal government in 1993. The Harper regime has merely continued and accelerated an already well-established trend.

But, as always, chaos presents opportunity.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau gives his victory speech after Canada’s federal election in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

In many ways, Trudeau and the new Liberal government are fortunate coming to office at this time when the whole associated field of Canada’s foreign, defence, trade and development aid policy is a wasteland. It will make it easier for the government to push aside the inevitable calls for Canada to rediscover the era of its blue-helmeted military forever at the beck and call of the United Nations, re-establish Canadian diplomats as the world’s favourite marriage guidance counsellors, and restore Canadian aid agencies as the pre-eminent missionaries to the grass huts.

Canada has been able to indulge in middle power kitten-cuddling because it has been a freeloader protected by what can be called the North Atlantic Ascendancy. Canada and Canadian foreign policy have benefited, at least since the Second World War and arguable the country’s entire life, from being a younger brother in a club of the major European and North American powers. But that era is coming to an end. The culture of the Enlightenment, which has flowed out of Europe and the United States for two centuries, is and will be increasingly challenged by the cultures of Asia, Africa, Latin America and, perhaps in the future, the Middle East.

China, India, South Africa, Brazil and others don’t and won’t run international institutions with the same cultural morality that has dominated under U.S. and European leadership. We are already getting a glimpse of the future with China’s Asia Infrastructure Bank, whose rules and regulations don’t follow the same ideals of probity common to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Canada can no longer count on the unstinting support of Europe and the U.S. or that that support, when offered, will be definitive. That’s especially true in defence, except during the two world wars, where since the founding of Canada nearly 150 years ago we have expected first Britain and then the U.S. to defend our sovereignty and nationhood while we indulged our interests elsewhere.

Pierre E. Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien, and Pearson. Photo: Library and Archives of Canada via Wikipedia

Pierre E. Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien, and Lester Pearson. Photo: Library and Archives of Canada via Wikipedia

Historian Jack Granatstein has written several withering analyses of the destruction of the Canadian military by successive governments of both major parties, starting with Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s pursuit of “the unwarranted primacy of peacekeeping.”

Granatstein argues that both Liberal and Conservative governments have taken advantage of Canada’s position in the heart of the North Atlantic alliance to avoid any serious consideration of the country’s national interests and how to sustain them.

Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are coming to power at a time when the dwindling prominence of Canada’s traditional allies and protectors means that debate of these issues of national interest and purpose cannot long be avoided without dire consequences.

A report published this week is a useful reminder of just how much standing Canada has lost in the last 25 years as a player on the international stage.

The report by Robert Greenhill and Megan McQuillan, published by the Canadian International Council, looks at the history of the two most easily assessed aspects of foreign policy commitment – spending on defence and development aid – and finds a deplorable record. When compared with our own historic record in these two areas, with the commitments of our partners in the G7 group of industralized countries and with the efforts of similar middle power nations, Canada is an appalling laggard. Indeed, the report labels Canada a “free rider:” a leech on its friends and allies without making any significant contribution to the joint endeavours.

Bracketing defence and development aid spending together as a measure of Canada’s “global engagement,” the analysis found that our spending on those two areas is barely 1.2 per cent of gross domestic product, less than half the 2.4 per cent of GDP in 1990.

“Canada’s global engagement today is the lowest in the G7, the lowest among medium-sized open economies and the lowest in modern Canadian history,” says the report. “We have been laggards for years: today we rank last. We are the least committed to global engagement of our international peer group.”

What heightens the impact of this unsavoury picture is that we have also been lying to ourselves and to the international community about our commitment. “For the last quarter century,” says the report, “we talked in one direction and walked in the other. We talked global engagement while walking away from the already modest commitments we had made in the past.”

The report’s authors compared the history of Canada’s development aid spending with similar middle powers Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Historically, our development aid spending has ranked in the middle of that group. But since the early years of the Chretien government in 1995 our performance has declined and since 2011 we have been dead last among this peer group.

It’s the same story in defence spending. Among the peer group only Switzerland has a lower defence budget as a proportion of GDP. And landlocked Switzerland has no navy – Canada has the world’s longest coastline – and its army is composed primarily of militia units.

The picture is equally grim when Canada’s global engagement is compared with partners in the G7 group of industrialized nations; the U.S., France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan.

Our defence spending has always been below the G7 average and for the last 20 years we have been second last to Japan, which has constitutional restrictions on its military. But since Harper came to office Canada has been on a rush to the bottom and last year we overtook Japan to grab last place in G7 defence spending as a proportion of GDP.

On development aid, for decades Canada scored well above the G7 average and we ranked number one or two among the seven nations for all but two of the 20 years prior to 1995. Since then, however, the commitment of successive Liberal and Conservative governments has slipped and we are now well below the G7 average.

Report authors Greenhill and McQuillan calculate that for Canada to meet the average spending among the G7 countries, peer middle powers and its own historic record, budgets for defence and development aid need to be boosted by about $14 billion, 50 per cent more than current spending. And for Canada to be able to justifiably call itself a leader in global engagement, development aid and defence budgets need to be doubled with an additional $30 billion year.

It is unlikely that this spending will be a priority for the new Trudeau government. But a re-evaluation of Canada’s national interests and how the country will operate in the emerging world of multiple centres of economic, diplomatic and military power should be high on the agenda.

Copyright Jonathan Manthorpe 2015

Contact: jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com

Welcome to Facts and Opinions. Try one story at no charge and, if you value our work, please chip in at least .27 per story or $1 for a day site pass, using the “donate” button below. Click here for details. 
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 travelled frequently on assignment to Asia, Europe and Latin America.

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. Real journalism has value. Thank you for your support. Please tell others about us, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Justin Trudeau’s speech to his kids

Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau greets his sons Justin (L), Sacha (R) and Michel after returning home from a foreign trip in Ottawa, in a 1983 file photo. Canada's new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is moving back to the house where he grew up. The Liberal leader, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, led his party to victory in a federal election on Monday, defeating Stephen Harper's Conservatives by a wide margin. REUTERS/Andy Clark

Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau greets his sons Justin (L), Sacha (R) and Michel after returning home from a foreign trip in Ottawa, in a 1983 file photo. Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is moving back to the house where he grew up. The Liberal leader, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, led his party to victory in a federal election Oct. 19, defeating Stephen Harper’s Conservatives by a wide margin. REUTERS/Andy Clark 

PENNEY KOME: OVER EASY
October, 2015

“Dear kids, we are starting on a new adventure together,” newly-elected Justin Trudeau said from the giant overhead TV screen. I was standing in Liberal candidate Matt Grant’s post-election party when Trudeau’s acceptance speech appeared on overhead TVs in the Red and White Club in Calgary, Alberta’s, McMahon Stadium. I’d been a poll-watcher, overseeing the ballot count, and I was dropping off the poll sheets. And there was Justin Trudeau, taking up national air time by talking to his kids.

Justin Trudeau is embraced by his wife Sophie Gregoire as he watches results at his election night headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Justin Trudeau is embraced by his wife Sophie Gregoire as he watches results at his election night headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Of course, every candidate starts by thanking family and friends. Trudeau started by talking about positive politics and Wilfrid Laurier’s promise that “sunny ways” win more voters than fearmongering. I was pleased that he thanked his wife, television host Sophie Gregoire, by her full name, and gave her a separate turn in the spotlight. He paused when the crowd picked up her name and chanted, “So-phie! So-phie!” Then he went on to talk to his kids and I thought, by golly, George Lakoff was right!

In 2002, linguist George Lakoff divided conservatives from liberals by their parenting models. The author of “Don’t Think of an Elephant” explained Republican successes by the metaphors the GOP developed to mobilize conservative voters.

Chief among these were the “strict father” hooks Republicans used to practice us-and-them politics. “The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong,” usually by applying painful discipline, a 2003 Berkeley student magazine quotes Lakoff.

By contrast, Lakoff said that “the progressive worldview is modeled on a nurturant parent family. Briefly, it assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible ….”

Conservatives were winning, said Lakoff in 2003, but only because they’d spent 30 years perfecting their marketing techniques, code words and dogwhistles. Also, of course, much of the Conservative base comes from Christian congregations where pastors re-inforce political messages. Liberals had been stuck herding cats while they scrambled to develop language that motivated a much wider group. In 2008 and again 20012, Barack Obama used nurturing parent metaphors (and a beautiful family) to bring new voters into the electoral fold.

Now here was a victorious Justin Trudeau glorying in the nurturing parent metaphor. His beautiful young family is part of his identity and will be part of his public life too. This is a dad who hugs his kids, not one who offers handshakes, who declares that “positive, optimistic, hopeful vision of public life isn’t a naive dream. It can be a powerful force for change.” Sunny ways, my friends. Canada has gone from a Prime Minister who evoked fear and loathing, to one to one who isn’t afraid to appear vulnerable and caring.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is accompanied by his mother Margaret Trudeau (L) and his wife Sophie Gregoire, daughter Ella Grace and sons Hadrien (foreground) and Xavier (R) as he watches results at his election night headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is accompanied by his mother Margaret Trudeau (L) and his wife Sophie Gregoire, daughter Ella Grace and sons Hadrien (foreground) and Xavier (R) as he watches results at his election night headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Copyright Penney Kome 2015

Penney KomePenney Kome is co-editor of Peace: A Dream Unfolding (Sierra Club Books 1986), with a foreward by the Nobel-winning presidents of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War.

Read her bio on Facts and Opinions here.

Contact:  komeca AT yahoo.com

 


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References:

“Don’t Think of an Elephant, George Layoff:  http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/10/27_lakoff.shtml

Berkeley student magazine: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/10/27_lakoff.shtml

Related stories on F&O:

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

 

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