Category Archives: Current Affairs

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Suncor to abandon Terra Nova offshore oil field

Terra Nova FPSO offshore oil production platform and supply ships at well 350km south east of St John's. Photo by Greg Locke © 2009 Copyright.

Terra Nova FPSO offshore oil production platform and supply ships at well 350km south east of St John’s. Photo by Greg Locke © 2009 Copyright.

St. John’s, Newfoundland (May 27, 2021) – Calgary based Suncor Energy, lead operator of the Terra Nova offshore oil field on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, says it will most likely be abandoning the oil field if it cannot come to an agreement with its seven partners.

Mark Little, the CEO of Suncor, told investors on Wednesday that the floating production platform will be decommissioned if an agreement is not found.

The Terra Nova FPSO was supposed to go to a dockyard in Spain last year when the COVID-19 struck. The ship is now tied up in Bull Arm, Newfoundland in need of a major overhaul that is estimated to cost $500 million.

It will represent the loss of approximately 850 direct jobs, thousand in the supply sector and royalty revenues to the provincial economy.

The project began in 2002 and was the second offshore oil field to go into production following the Hibernia project. This would represent a premature end to the field which is estimated to have 80 million barrels of recoverable oil remaining and 10 years more lifespan.

Suncor’s partners in the Terra Nova are ExxonMobil Canada Properties, Equinor Canada (formerly Statoil), Cenovus Energy subsidiary Husky Energy, Murphy Oil Company, Mosbacher Operating and Chevron Canada Resources.

Final decision is expected on June 15th.

Also posted in All, Business, Canadian Journalist, Energy

F&O this week: Kohl, Grenfell ashes, Trade Jungle, Singapore schadenfreude, US discourse

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl sits next to Christian Democrat party (CDU) leader Angela Merkel during celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of German unification in Berlin September 27, 2000. REUTERS/Michael Urban/File Photo

HELMUT KOHL delivered German reunification and the Euro, by  Noah Barkin  Obituary

A towering figure of post-war European politics, Helmut Kohl pushed through German reunification and was a driving force behind the creation of the euro during a 16-year reign as German chancellor that spanned the tumultuous final decades of the 20th century. Kohl died June 16, 2017 at his home in Ludwigshafen. He was 87.

U.S. Capitol Police keep watch on Capitol Hill following a shooting in nearby Alexandria, in Washington, U.S., June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

London’s Grenfell Inferno Reveals Policy Failures, by Joseph Downing   Expert Witness 

I grew up in social housing. It provided a stable and secure (albeit overcrowded and cold) home for my family, for life. As fire tore through Grenfell Tower, just 500 metres from where I was staying in London, I witnessed the complete and terrible destruction of 120 homes just like the one I grew up in. Yet as the ashes settle, it is clear that the threat of ruin extends well beyond Grenfell Tower.

Commentary

Down and Dirty in the Trade Game, by Jim McNiven    Column

Nationalize Google.ca? Put a special tariff on US software purchases? The international trading system is the way it is because the US thought a rule-of-law system was in its best economic interest. Going back to the law of the jungle may not be in the works, but just in case, we Canadians had better dust off Sir John A’s National Policy.

Singapore rocked by ruling family feud, by Jonathan Manthorpe   Column

The ruling Lee family of Singapore has created for itself, at other people’s expense, such a charmed nepotistic dynasty that anyone can be forgiven for wallowing in schadenfreude and drinking deep the pleasure of seeing them come a cropper.

American Civil Discourse in Serious Trouble, by Tom Regan   Column

The bi-partisan outpouring of unity that followed this week’s shooting at the GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, was a welcome respite in the never-ending deluge of hate-filled rhetoric that overwhelms political discourse daily in the United States. But it was only a moment.

Findings: 

A special report on obesity by Harvard Public Health that asks, Can we stop the epidemic?  — Harvard

The 70s ushered in two crises: AIDS/HIV, and obesity. The first has been aggressively tackled, and is today less of a threat. Obesity rates continue to soar, and to kill. America has the worst obesity rate in the developed world. Excerpts:

“It was incited not by a sudden wave of individual gluttony (even toddlers are afflicted) but by a radical and toxic change in our food environment. The public health establishment spent decades leaning on people to change their behavior. Today, researchers are beginning to wonder if it’s time for an entirely different approach…..

“The modern food era has spread out a smorgasbord of hyperpalatable, flavor-enhanced, additive-laced, convenient, and relatively affordable foods that are high in added sugar, unhealthy fats, and salt, and engineered to overcome our internal homeostatic eating signals. Our bodies and brains are all but helpless in response.”

“While weight is, of course, partly a matter of personal responsibility, America’s obesity epidemic is mainly driven by upstream influences from industry, federal policies, and social norms. Today, people are beginning to perceive those upstream forces.”

Aeon magazine is a font of interesting pieces and ideas. Recommended, in the current digital edition, is this think piece by Andre Spicer,  professor of organisational behaviour at the Cass Business School at City, University of London: Had a good think lately? Not busy-work, ticking off to-do lists or keeping-up-with-stuff. Just sitting. And thinking. Is it so hard?  Excerpt:

“Today, we live in a culture of thoughtlessness. The American Time Use Survey found that although 95 per cent of respondents said that they did at least one leisure activity during the previous 24 hours, 84 per cent had spent no time at all relaxing or thinking. A study by researchers at Harvard University found that when we engaged in thought that was not directly related to present activity (so-called mind-wandering), we tended be less happy. A recent study by psychologists at the University of Virginia asked subjects to simply sit in a room and ‘just think’ for 6 to 15 minutes. In the room was a button allowing subjects to electrocute themselves if they wanted. The researchers found that the majority of subjects would rather electrocute themselves than just sit quietly and think. One person electrocuted himself 190 times during this short period.”

 

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

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

F&O Fresh Sheet

The platform controller signals that the train can leave at Komsomolskaya metro station in Moscow, Russia, March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

Going Underground in the Moscow Metro, Photo-essay by Grigory Dukor

Rub a dog’s nose for luck. Look back to Russia’s 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Marvel at a mosaic spaceman. Maybe even watch a ballet. Moscow’s metro is one of the busiest and most visually stunning underground systems in the world. Created as a showcase for the Soviet Union, its elaborate, spacious stations are adorned with mosaics, marble statues and stained glass that tell the story of the communist state.

An array of solar panels are seen in Oakland, California, U.S. on December 4, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

“Green” investment funds spring back, by Ross Kerber  Money – Report

After U.S. President Donald Trump’s election last November, investors pulled nearly $68 million from so-called “green” mutual funds, reflecting fear that his pro-coal agenda would hurt renewable energy firms. But now investors are pouring money back in.

Commentary:

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, Interior Minister Amber Rudd, UKIP leader Paul Nuttall, SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson and moderator Mishal Husain attend the BBC's live televised general election debate in Cambridge, Britain, May 31, 2017. Jeff Overs/BBC Handout via REUTERS

Manthorpe: UK Election no longer a sure bet for Theresa May.Jeff Overs/BBC Handout via REUTERS

Theresa May’s election victory no longer certain, by Jonathan Manthorpe Column

Six weeks ago, when Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election, it seemed a foregone conclusion this was simply a formality to boost her parliamentary majority and strengthen her hand in negotiating Brexit from the European Union. Not any more.

Regan: America’s Confederate icons must go. Above, Stone Mountain, by Jim Bowen

America’s Confederate icons must go, by Tom Regan  Column

t has always puzzled me why so many Southerners, and their sympathizers in other places around the country, are so intent on linking their “heritage” to a bunch of racist losers. Because that is what the Confederacy was.

Last but not least, listen to Bob Dylan’s lecture on literature, months after he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature:

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

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

Journalism Matters: F&O’s fresh sheet, from Newfoundland to Israel

Palestinian visitors gather at a look-out point on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade in Jerusalem May 11, 2017. Picture taken May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Commentary:

Broad alliances trump Trump for Israeli security, by Jonathan Manthorpe  Column

Israel lives in a hostile neighbourhood, and has always had trouble making and keeping trustworthy friends.

Nothing’s Happening, by Jim McNiven   Column

There’s an old saying around the stock market: ‘Sell in May and go away’. Basically, it means that usually nothing much financial happens in the summer. This year, that might also be the slogan for a lot of other parts of society.

Roger Ailes’ special place in hell, by Tom Regan  Column

When Roger Ailes died this month, response was mixed.It was Ailes’ personal foibles that led to his downfall. But I want to concentrate on his legacy in journalism, where he left a very dark mark, called “thug journalism.”

Why Donald Trump won’t be impeached, by Tom Regan   Column

For all the bad news that Trump faces, he will not be impeached: his fellow Republicans control both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

India’s Maoist uprising morphs into women’s armed insurgenc, by Jonathan Manthorpe   Column

Women guerrilla fighters are at the forefront of an emerging insurgent war in India aimed at protecting women from sexual violence and human rights abuse.

Why Ramadan is called Ramadan, by Mohammad Hassan Khalil

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

Reports:

Newfoundland’s fourth offshore oil project set to sail, by Greg Locke

While Canada’s oil sands projects and the North America fracking companies are under scrutiny and financial distress, Newfoundland prepares to bring its fourth major offshore oil project online.

Israel marks 50 years of struggling, “United Jerusalem” by Maayan Lubell

A half-century after Israel captured East Jerusalem, the holy city remains deeply divided by politics, religion and ethnicity – and struggling with grim economic realities.

Real-life “Iron Man” has high hopes for jet suit, by Mark Hanrahan

The British inventor of an “Iron Man”-style jet suit has lofty hopes that his project, which started out as fun experiment, could become a practical tool for industries ranging from entertainment to the military.

Gulf States Curbing Opposition, by Sami Aboudi

Since the 2011 Arab Spring, Gulf states have stepped up efforts to curb dissent with tough new cybercrime laws, sentencing offenders to prison terms for Web posts deemed insulting to rulers or threatening to public order. But in the past two years, unnerved by low oil prices and the slow progress of a war in Yemen targeting the influence of arch foe Iran, Gulf authorities became even less patient with dissenting voices in the media, analysts and rights groups say.

UK investigates use of personal data in political campaigns, by Reuters

Britain said it was investigating how politicians and campaigners use data to target voters with online advertising to make sure they comply with electoral laws and do not abuse people’s privacy.

NOTEBOOK:

For some perspective on what will matter long after the latest political outrage has faded in Washington, London, or Moscow, set aside time, soon, for the sobering interactive feature by the New York Times on the melting of Antarctica —  and how changes to its vast ice sheets will affect the world. World leaders are urging the United States to stay the course on tackling climate change. But one academic has an interesting contrarian’s view of the Paris Agreement: the world would be better off if Trump withdraws from the Paris climate deal, argued Luke Kemp, of Australian National University, in Nature Climate Change. He explained his view here, in The Conversation: “Simply put: the US and the Trump administration can do more damage inside the agreement than outside it.”
Recommended read elsewhere: Kafka in Vegas, by Megan Rose, ProPublica/Vanity Fair

Fred Steese served more than 20 years in prison for the murder of a Vegas showman even though evidence in the prosecution’s files proved he didn’t do it. But when the truth came to light, he was offered a confounding deal known as an Alford plea. If he took it he could go free, but he’d remain a convicted killer.

Misc:  As the Cannes Film Festival wraps on May 28, check out stories on France24. For an “odd news”break, the BBC reports on “Why humans, chimpanzees and rats enjoy being tickled.”

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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 only by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we need a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Visit our Subscribe page for details and payment options, or donate below. With enough supporters each paying a small amount, we will continue, and increase our original works like this.

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

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Journalism Matters: fresh sheet for May 13, 2017

Read Cash and Chemicals: Banana Boom Blessing and Curse. Above, a worker waits to deliver his harvest at a packing line inside a banana plantation operated by a Chinese company in the province of Bokeo in Laos April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Trying to listen in Trump’s America, by Tom Regan   Column

In the heart of America, there are long, flat stretches of emptiness in the spring. Fields, only recently plowed and sown with the fall’s harvest, still look barren and soggy. No majestic fields of wheat or corn greet the eye.  This is a trip to Trump country.

Trying to listen in Trump’s America, by Tom Regan

Signs like this one dot the American Mid-West. Photo by franleleon, Creative Commons

Moon Jae-in, 19th President of Republic of Korea, holds his first press conference on May 10. Photo: Korean Culture and Information Service, Jeon Han, public domain

Trump-Kim smackdown leaves South Koreans cold, by Jonathan Manthorpe    Column

The election to the South Korean presidency on May 8 of Democratic Party leader Moon Jae-in is primarily a demand by the country’s voters to reform government, erase corruption and improve social justice.

Everyday chemicals affect brain, IQ — study, by Barbara Demeneix  Expert Witness

All vertebrates – from frogs and birds to human beings – require the same thyroid hormone to thrive. Every stage of brain development is modulated by thyroid hormone and, over millions of years, the structure of this critical hormone has remained unchanged. But, increasingly, the trappings of modern life are preventing it from playing its critical role in human brain development.

The Last Person You’d Expect to Die in Childbirth, by Nina Martin, ProPublica, and Renee Montagne, NPR

The U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and 60 percent are preventable. The death of Lauren Bloomstein, a neonatal nurse, in the hospital where she worked illustrates a profound disparity: the health care system focuses on babies but often ignores their mothers.

Cash and Chemicals: Banana Boom Blessing and Curse, by Jorge Silva  Photo-essay

Kongkaew Vonusak smiles when he recalls the arrival of Chinese investors in his tranquil village in northern Laos in 2014. With them came easy money, he said. Three years later, the Chinese-driven banana boom has left few locals untouched, but not everyone is smiling.

These three firms own corporate America, by Jan Fichtner, Eelke Heemskerk, & Javier Garcia-Bernardo

A fundamental change is underway in stock market investing, and the spin-off effects are poised to dramatically impact corporate America.

Traffic cones are seen on the bank of the River Thames during low tide in London, Britain January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

London’s Secretive Dark River, by Stefan Wermuth

London’s River Thames has been the lifeblood of the British capital since the city’s origins as a Roman garrison town around 2,000 years ago. The artery through which the world’s trade passed at the height of the British Empire, its banks were lined with factories that drove the industrial revolution but left its waters biologically dead. Now, with power stations transformed into galleries, the river is home to seals, the occasional porpoise and has become a much-loved open space.

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Journalism Matters this week: F&O’s fresh sheet

Venezuela spins at the rim of a black hole,  by Jonathan Manthorpe   Column

Demonstrators clash with police during a rally against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Reuters

Venezuela is being sucked into a political and social vacuum. The awful probability is that the vacuum will be filled by violence. That’s usually what happens when human societies lose their way.

Why America’s health care is so bad, by Tom Regan   Column

America is the only advanced nation in the world without a universal healthcare system. There are two reasons for this: 1) the companies that provide healthcare, and make billions and billions doing so, spend lots of money every year making sure politicians don’t mess with their golden goose; 2) the American notion of individuality.

Feminists mourn Wendy Robbins

Feminists across Canada and abroad are mourning the sudden death of Professor Wendy Robbins, a Canadian sociologist who championed women in academia, health care, and activism.

How One Major Internet Company Helps Serve Up Hate, by Ken Schwencke, ProPublica

The widespread use of Cloudflare’s services by racist groups is not an accident. Cloudflare has said it is not in the business of censoring websites and will not deny its services to even the most offensive purveyors of hate. Based in San Francisco, Cloudflare operates more than 100 data centers spread across the world, serving as a sort of middleman for websites.

Journalism at risk from surveillance, data collection: UNESCO report, by Julie Posetti  Expert Witness

The ability of journalists to report without fear is under threat from mass surveillance and data retention. My UNESCO report Protecting Journalism Sources in the Digital Age shows that laws protecting journalists and sources globally are not keeping up with the challenges posed by indiscriminate data collection and the spill-over effects of anti-terrorism and national security legislation.

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

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

Journalism Matters: F&O’s fresh sheet

Ferryland, 50 kilometers south of St Johns, is the backdrop to Newfoundland’s first icebergs of spring. Heavy Arctic ice pack and icebergs cause havoc with shipping and fishing operations, but tourists flock to the Canadian province to see them. Photo © Greg Locke 2017

French election a pivotal European test, by Richard Maher Analysis

French CRS police patrol the Champs Elysees Avenue the day after a policeman was killed and two others were wounded in a shooting incident in Paris, France, April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French voters go to the polls on April 23 for the first round of what has been the most unorthodox, unpredictable and potentially momentous presidential contest in recent French history. It could have repercussions far beyond the continent.

Security issues dominate key French vote, by Leigh Thomas and Marine Pennetier  Report

The killing of a policeman by a suspected Islamist militant pushed national security to the top of the French political agenda on Friday, two days before the presidential election.

A daughter’s freedom vs her sibling’s lives, by  Zohra Bensemra  Feature/Photo-essay

Zeinab, 14, (2nd L) poses for photograph with her family beside their shelter at a camp for internally displaced people from drought hit areas in Dollow, Somalia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

As the village wells dried up and her livestock died in the scorched scrubland of southern Somalia, Abdir Hussein had one last chance to save her family from starvation: the beauty of her 14-year-old daughter, Zeinab.

In Commentary:

Trump ain’t seen nothing yet, Iran to top agenda, by Jonathan Manthorpe

Trump is going to have to up his global game if he wants to be regarded as anything more than a gormless and dangerously unpredictable Vaudeville act. His opportunity looms as Iran, its nuclear development program and its involvement in Middle East conflicts, bubble to the top of the agenda.

Trump’s gurus taken off air, by Penney Kome   Column

Alex Jones, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes inspired some of US President 45’s wildest claims

When is free speech not “free” on campus?  by Tom Regan  Column

Of all the things that I value the most about living in a democracy, freedom of speech is probably the most important. And so when I read about actions by students lately to limit the rights of conservative or far right speakers on several American campuses, my first reaction is one of rage. How dare they? But it’s not that simple.

In case you missed them:

Demands grow for South Africa’s Zuma to go, by Jonathan Manthorpe   Column

Demonstrators carry banners as they take part in a protest calling for the removal of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg, South Africa April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings It is fitting symbolism that one of the most intense of the many mass demonstrations in recent days, demanding the removal of South African President Jacob Zuma, was in the square in front of Cape Town’s City Hall. It was in this same square on the evening of February 11, 1990, that tens of thousands of South Africans thronged to hear the first public speech by Nelson Mandela after his release from Victor Verster Prison earlier that day.

Legalized weed in Canada an idea whose time has come, by Tom Regan   Column

Canada, based on a campaign promise made by the Trudeau government, introduced legislation to make recreational marijuana use legal in Canada by July 2018. It’s about time. I’m glad to see that Canada has chosen to take the lead on this issue.

Trump and Yellen may not be such an Odd Couple, by By Howard Schneider and Ann Saphir   Analysis

Trump and Yellen: not an odd couple? Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during a news conference after a two day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

Trump and Yellen: not an odd couple? Federal Reserve REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

At first glance, U.S. President Donald Trump and Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen may have little in common. Yellen is an academic economist and veteran of Democratic administrations who is committed to an open global economy, while Trump is a real estate mogul with an electoral base suspicious of the economic order Yellen helped to create. Yet the two may have interests in common now that Trump is president and both want to get as many Americans working as possible.

Findings from the world wide web:

The European Space Agency this month issued a stark warning about a pollution source few consider, awash as we are in an ocean of plastic, an atmosphere of greenhouse gases, and degraded soil. Space, warns the ESA, is littered with thousands of objects smashing into each other — including into vessels humans may want to send up for exploration or, in the wild hopes of some thinkers, escape from an unlivable earth. Find the ESA statement here, or read a Washington Post story for a bit more context.

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The New Yorker reports on the death this month of guitarist Bruce Langhorne, age 78, from complications related to an earlier stroke.  “For anyone who, in the mid-nineteen-sixties, frequented the smoky, caliginous folk clubs of Greenwich Village, the muscular, smiling Langhorne and his acoustic guitar were a recurring vision: he played with Buffy Sainte-Marie, Richard and Mimi Fariña, Peter La Farge, Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Harry Belafonte, and a bevy of other revivalists.” Most of the world, though, is most familiar with him as Bob Dylan’s sideman, and the hero of  “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

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From Vimy to Gibraltar, Obamacare to Russia: Journalism Matters at F&O

New on F&O this weekend:  Sunday April 9 marked the 100th anniversary of the WWI battle of Vimy Ridge — said to have marked Canada’s passage from colony to country status. Read our report with photo-essay by Reuters, France, Canada leaders mark centenary of Vimy Ridge WWI battle. In Commentary Tom Regan notes that for Canada and the United States, the battle and World War I have very different meanings.  Read Regan’s column,“War to End All Wars” fading from history, here.

Jonathan Manthorpe this week considers Gibraltar — “The Rock” Caught In A Hard Place — in a new column about the territory in British hands since 1713, and is now emerging as an issue in negotiations with Brussels to leave the European Union. Read more about Gibraltar.  Manthorpe’s previous column, Beijing brings order to its colonial “Savage Reservations,” contends that Beijing is reaching back into the excesses of Maoist Stalinism and forward into the high-tech social control of Aldus Huxley’s “Brave New World” to try to contain the restive natives of its colonial outposts, Tibet and Xinjiang, setting the stage for grief for Hong Kong. Click here for the column on China, or here for the list of all of Manthorpe’s F&O works.

Americans turn Canadian about health care, writes Penney Kome in a new piece about how U.S.  public opinion is forcing Republicans to think “expansion,” not “repeal,” of the Affordable Care Act. Read the column, or find Kome’s complete  F&O OVER EASY columns here.

Jim McNiven has been pondering the fuss made by America over Russia, and asks this week, Why Does America’s President Bother with Russia? That column is here, or find all of McNiven’s THOUGHTLINES columns for F&O here.

Noteworthy items elsewhere on the web:

“Why do so many in the news media love a show of force?” asks Margaret Sullivan in the Washington Post.
Good question. The answer is probably found in audience ratings and social media shares– and so, as with everything in the world of commerce, with citizen’s demands.

First Draft News produced a well-received “Field Guide to Fake News,” launched this month at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy. The Columbia Journalism Review reports.
Stories about America’s political meltdown have become a flood. As mentioned earlier, these diverse, authoritative and credible news sites are worth following for breaking news: Reuters, the New York TimesPolitico,Washington PostBBC, The GuardianAl Jazeera, France24Financial Times, and The Economist.

Last but not least, here are some of our other recent stories, in case you missed them:

Trump Staffers’ Financial Disclosures /ARIANA TOBIN & DEREK KRAVITZ, ProPublica

Trump and Russia: “There is a smell of treason in the air”/TOM REGAN    Column

Beijing brings order to its colonial “Savage Reservations”/JONATHAN MANTHORPE  Column

European leaders renew fraying Union’s vows/ALASTAIR MACDONALD & JAN STRUPCZEWSKI  Report

Lights go out around the world for 10th Earth Hour/REUTERS   Slideshow

Fukushima still in hell/PENNEY KOME    Column

McGill University mangles academic freedom/TOM REGAN   Column

America’s Republican Quandary/ JIM McNIVEN   Column

Sri Lanka’s slow shuffle to lasting peace/JONATHAN MANTHORPE  Column

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Note: this post was updated April 9 to include our report on the Vimy Ridge event in France.

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Fresh Sheet: Facts, and Opinions

Trump’s Hot Air Far From Greatest Climate Threat, by Andrew Revkin, ProPublica  Report

The real risk for climate change in a Donald Trump presidency, according to close to a dozen experts interviewed for this story, lies less in impacts on specific policies like Obama’s Clean Power Plan and more in the realm of shifts in America’s position in international affairs.

Extremist terrorism Germany’s biggest threat: Merkel  Reuters Report

German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to improve security from extremist terrorists in her New Year’s address, urged Germans to forsake populism and to lead the effort to solve European Union challenges. Merkel is seen as a liberal anchor of stability and reason in a year that saw the Donald Trump elected as U.S. president, Britain vote to leave the EU and U.S-Russia relations deteriorate to Cold War levels.

After looking into Trump’s soul, Japan’s Abe seeks new allies, by Jonathan Manthorpe  Column

There would be a delicious irony if Japan were driven out of the arms of Donald Trump, and into the arms of  Vladimir Putin because of Shinzo Abe’s suspicions about the reliability of the man who U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously believe was helped into the Oval Office by Putin’s spy agencies.

In case you missed them:

 

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

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

Season’s Greetings

solstice2016_gsl0898

Winter arrived in the Northern hemisphere with the 2016 solstice, and with it comes a welcome lengthening of daylight hours. Photo of Conception Bay, Newfoundland, by Greg Locke © 2016

The December solstice marks our turn from autumn to winter in the North, from spring to summer in the South. It’s a time of celebrations, renewal, and tradition — and for many, a welcome break in routine and a fresh start.

F&O will now take a break, and until our return on Dec. 31 we send our best wishes for your Christmas, Chanukah, and New Year’s celebrations. And for your break — or perhaps as a last-minute gift item — may we recommend the following outside works by F&O members Greg Locke, Brian Brennan, Jim McNiven, and Jonathan Manthorpe.

Brief Encounters column: Brian Brennan was told he could interview Sophia Loren so long as he didn’t ask her about two things … (subscription)

Brief Encounters column: Brian Brennan was told he could interview Sophia Loren so long as he didn’t ask her about two things … (F&O subscription  required)

Brief Encounters: Conversations with Celebrities, by Brian Brennan

Why did Sophia Loren go back to Italy to serve a jail term for tax evasion? Why does the song “Amazing Grace” still occupy a very special place in the repertoire of singer Judy Collins? Why did Michael Nesmith quit The Monkees to start making music videos? Why did Shari Lewis start conducting symphony orchestras after she had endeared herself to kids all over the world with a comedy ventriloquism routine involving a cute sock puppet named Lamb Chop? Why did Chubby Checker go through 20 pairs of platform boots a year to keep his audiences twisting the night away?

Brian Brennan, a founding F&O feature writer and arts columnist, compiled some of the best morsels from his Brief Encounters series, based on interviews with celebrities over 15 years.

The collection of stories, based on conversations he had with celebrities during his 15 years as a newspaper entertainment reporter, are in F&O’s Arts section here — make even a small donation through our Subscription page,  to be taken to the page with the code  to access them. However may we recommend buying an ebook edition for $9.99 on Kindle,  Kobo, or iTunes , to have all 63 columns in one place.

The Yankee Road: Tracing the Journey of the New England Tribe that Created Modern Americaby Jim McNiven

Who is a Yankee and where did the term come from? Though shrouded in myth and routinely used as a substitute for American, the achievements of the Yankees have influenced nearly every facet of our modern way of life.

Join author Jim McNiven as he explores the emergence and influence of Yankee culture while traversing an old transcontinental highway reaching from the Atlantic to the Pacific — US 20, which he nicknames “The Yankee Road.”

A Class Act: An Illustrated History of the Labour Movement in Newfoundland and Labrador, by Bill Gillespie (Photography by Greg Locke)

classact-coverUnion activists rarely make it into the history books and when they do the picture is seldom flattering. In this new edition of A Class Act, journalist Bill Gillespie confronts the myth.

This is the story of how Newfoundland and Labrador union members turned the nation, the colony and the province into the most highly organized jurisdiction in North America. Gillespie’s research reveals union losses and victories, their weaknesses and strengths and ultimately, their success. The narrative is illustrated with more than a hundred photographs.

From the archives:

Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan, by Jonathan Manthorpe 

For over 400 years, Taiwan has suffered at the hands of multiple colonial powers, but it has now entered the decade when its independence will be won or lost. At the heart of Taiwan’s story is the curse of geography that placed the island on the strategic cusp between the Far East and Southeast Asia and made it the guardian of some of the world’s most lucrative trade routes. It is the story of the dogged determination of a courageous people to overcome every obstacle thrown in their path. Forbidden Nation tells the dramatic story of the island, its people, and what brought them to this moment when their future will be decided.

Touched by Fire: Doctors Without Borders in a Third World Crisis, by Elliott Leyton and Greg Locke

When the rapes and massacres, the plagues, the famines, the floods, or the droughts erupt in far-off places, the world stands still. MSF does not. They are the “smoke jumpers” among international aid organizations. While others are often stymied or delayed by bureaucratic red tape, the men and women of Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF) move in. They provide food and clean water. They dig latrines. They set up first-aid stations and field hospitals. They treat all-comers according to need. Often they are the last to remain in situations abandoned by others as too dangerous.

The risks they take are moral and ethical as well as mortal. They are acutely aware that giving aid is controversial. Does it really do any good to save a child from murder one day when it will probably starve in the weeks ahead? Is it appropriate to bring expensive western medicine into a country that, in the long run, can’t afford it? Should relief be given to civilians who are being starved on purpose, as part of a cynical political game, by a local warlord?

Elliot Leyton and Greg Locke saw something of the implications of these and other questions when they travelled to Rwanda in the fall of 1996. There they found themselves plunged into a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. Hundreds of thousands of people were on the move. Armed militias and hostile armies lurked in the background. Mass starvation, plague, and an eruption into civil or criminal violence were immediate possibilities. The two Canadians, one an internationally recognized expert on the psychology of killing, the other an experienced photo-journalist, had a rare opportunity to observe MSF in action at a time when the stress was enormous and its resources were stretched to the limit.

They watched and listened, to the perpetrators of violence and their victims, to the survivors and those who gave them assistance, and, above all, to the people of MSF who dedicate themselves to saving lives because, in the words of one MSFer: “The world can afford a humanitarian ideal.”

The result of Leyton and Locke’s research is an extraordinary written and visual record of small miracles performed in the midst of catastrophe.

Newfoundland …journey into a lost nation, by  Michael Crummey and Greg Locke

journey-into-a-lost-nationGreg Locke had been away from Newfoundland for years, working as a photojournalist in Canada, the United States, and in many of the world’s most troubled regions, when he decided to go home – and stay. The photographs in Newfoundland were taken over a period of more than a decade. They chronicle the passage of Canada’s easternmost province from a time when cod were still plentiful and the fishery shaped the lives of most of the island’s inhabitants, to the present, when a vibrant economy, propelled by oil and mineral development, is recasting the island’s identity in a new mould.

What Locke’s photographs reveal is at once forward-looking and nostalgic, beautiful and harsh. Above all, his Newfoundland is populated by survivors: a people who are resourceful, funny, resilient, and strong.

Poet and novelist Michael Crummey draws upon deep-seated memories of his own and of his father’s experience to evoke passing traditions and a disappearing way of life. But, just as Locke’s photographs reveal the emergence of a new, more urban and cosmopolitan Newfoundland, so does Crummey’s writing emphasize the continuing sense of belonging and the determination to persevere that are characteristic of his compatriots. He writes admiringly of a “culture deep enough to accommodate a world of influences without surrendering what makes it unmistakably of this place. Something alive and leaning towards the future.” This book embodies both a vision and a voice of rare power.

Hibernia:  Promise of Rock and Sea. Edited by Lara Maynard. Photography by Greg Locke and Ned Pratt

Hibernia is a platform which will lead to the development of a new offshore oil and gas industry for Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada). The official Hibernia book is a record of the highly commendable effort by so many groups and individuals, from geophysicists and provincial politicians to Hibernia management, staff, and workers, to fully realize the opportunity of the Hibernia project. A generous selection of impressive photos by Ned Pratt and Greg Locke complemented by engaging text records the many facets of the undertaking: faces and feats, construction progress and milestones at the Bull Arm site. These varied elements are combined in a record of history in the making, a quality keepsake chronicling the inception and development of a great enterprise fuelled by a remarkable blend of perseverance and skill.

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Last but not least, here is the trailer for Greg Locke’s latest project, as a photographer for True North: The Canadian Songbook, a musical initiative celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday. The massive project, by Eleanor McCain, includes thirty-three iconic Canadian pop and folk songs reimagined for full orchestras, from Victoria to St. John’s.

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

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

Also posted in Gyroscope