Facts, and Opinions, that matter this week

Fighting for transgender rights in the U.S. — Kate Lynn Blatt, a transgender woman, waves the U.S. flag outside her home in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, United States, May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Commentary and analysis:

hc_Al_Hussein_smllVerbatim: Hate, mainstreamed — UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. By Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein  Excerpts

Hate is becoming mainstreamed. Walls – which tormented previous generations, and have never yielded any sustainable solution to any problem – are returning. Barriers of suspicion are rising, snaking through and between our societies – and they are killers. Clampdowns on public freedoms, and crackdowns on civil society activists and human rights defenders, are hacking away at the forces which uphold the healthy functioning of societies. Judicial institutions which act as checks on executive power are being dismantled. Towering inequalities are hollowing out the sense that there are common goods. These trends bleed nations of their innate resilience.

O Canada … Oh, grow up , by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda F&O columnist

Canada’s debate over changing its anthem to make it gender neutral is immature. Seldom has so much ink and indignation been spilled over such a simple matter. Making Canada’s national anthem more open to all people is of course a good idea. It is the very essence of Canada itself.

African democratic reform falters and falls, by Jonathan Manthorpe, F&O International Affairs columnist

Two events make it depressingly clear that after political and social advances Africa is slipping back into its bad old ways. On Thursday, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced that yet again there is no one worthy of receiving its latest prestigious and lucrative prize for excellence in African leadership. And in Angola, President Eduardo dos Santos put his daughter, Isabel, in charge of the state-owned oil company.


Mo Ibrahim. Photo Chatham House via Wikipedia, Creative Commons
Mo Ibrahim. Photo Chatham House via Wikipedia, Creative Commons


Hissène Habré: a pivotal case for international justice in Africa,  by Pierre Hazan  Analysis

On May 30, in an African court, history was made. In an unprecedented move, a former president was convicted of human rights abuses by a foreign court. In another historic ruling, the accused was also sentenced on counts of sexual abuse and the rape of a prisoner. The conviction of Chad’s former dictator, Hissène Habré, comes at a crucial time for international justice in Africa.

Squib: Bloomsday, by Deborah Jones, Free Range F&O columnist

I would like to love Ulysses. I don’t. Perhaps James Joyce was just playing a big joke on us?


Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

Massacre at U.S. nightclub, ISIS claims responsibility. By Barbara Liston

A man armed with an assault rifle killed and injured scores of people at a packed gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12 in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, which President Barack Obama described as an act of terror and hate.

A cluster bomb is pictured on the ground of a field in al-Tmanah town in southern Idlib countryside, Syria May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi - RTSFBBFFinancial firms invest $28 billion in making banned cluster bombs. By Alex Whiting

More than 155 financial institutions have invested billions of dollars in companies making cluster bombs, weapons which are banned under international law because of their impact on civilians, a pressure group said. The firms include those in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and Britain, countries which have signed a convention banning the weapons.

Going green helps Rust Belt cities revive. By Winifred Bird

Gary, Indiana is joining Detroit and other fading U.S. industrial centers in an effort to turn abandoned neighborhoods and factory sites into gardens, parks, and forests. In addition to the environmental benefits, these greening initiatives may help catalyze an economic recovery.

Kate Lynn Blatt, a transgender woman, walks up to Salem Belleman's Church in Mohrsville, Pennsylvania, United States, May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton Fighting for transgender rights in the U.S. By Reuters  Report/Photo-essay

Kate Lynn Blatt once lived as a woman at home but went to work in a battery factory as a man, a painful phase in her gender transition that would later propel her to the forefront of a constitutional battle for transgender rights in America.

Expert witness

Sexuality as a spectrum, and the wisdom of Indonesian Bugis. By Sharyn Graham Davies  Expert Witness

What if gender were viewed the same way sex researcher Alfred Kinsey famously depicted sexuality – as something along a sliding scale? An ethnic group in South Sulawesi, Indonesia – the Bugis – views gender this way. This spectrum of sex is a good way of thinking about the complexity and diversity of humans.


U.S. Army armored personnel carrier (APC) spraying Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Photo: U.S. Army Operations in Vietnam R.W. Trewyn, Ph.D. , (10) APC Defoliation National Archives: 111-CC-4966 originally found in Box 1 Folder 9 of Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. CollectionA Father’s War, A Son’s Toxic Inheritance. By Stephen M. Katz for ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot, as told to Mike Hixenbaugh and Charles Ornstein  Magazine

The package from my father delivered a warning: A handwritten note attached to a stack of Veterans Affairs medical records. During the war, before I was born, Al had sprayed Agent Orange along riverbanks in Vietnam, often soaking his uniform in the herbicide. The exposure, he wrote, had caused him serious health problems, including a neurological disorder, and he believed it also might have harmed me. My mind raced as I thought of my own troubled medical history.


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.