By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, May 31, 2010 - 13 Comments
The Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem held a special reception on…
The Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem held a special reception on the Hill to celebrate Canadian-Israeli partnerships. Below, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley with her husband, Senator Doug Finley.
(Left to right) Sammy Katz, Transport Minister John Baird and Tyler Golden.
Carmi Gillon, vice-president of external relations for The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 6:39 PM - 1 Comment
Now that the season is over and that people have retreated to their respective corners on the subject of the Lost finale (it’s times like this that I wish there were scientific opinion polling on TV series: I suspect that the majority of non-hardcore fans were pleased to see a reasonably upbeat ending, and that this was more important than answers to specific mysteries — but there’s absolutely nothing to back me up on that except a gut feeling), we can start looking at how shows did this year, where they ranked, and whether it’s better to be the #123rd show in the ratings than the #124th.
This Deadline.com post features two ranked lists of the 2009-10 shows on the U.S. broadcast networks. The first represents the shows’ average ratings in the Coveted Demographic of viewers aged 18-49, and hence is the list that represents how these shows are ranked in the minds of potential advertisers. The second list is based on raw ratings with all viewers of all ages; therefore it’s less important as an indicator of whether a show can survive, but is perhaps more important in the long run. (That is, when people write about how popular a show was, they almost never base it on 18-49 rankings, even for more recent shows where that information is available. The overall placement of a show — whether it was top 10, top 20, bottom 10 — is the measurement that lives on. That means, I have to say, people are going to look back at this era as one completely dominated by competitions and procedurals. Which, to a certain extent, it is.) Of course the rankings are affected by lead-ins, so that some shows seem to be more popular than they really are simply because they follow a hit show. This is one reason why the industry was so impressed with The Big Bang Theory this year: placed after a huge hit show, it performed almost as well as its lead-in overall and beat it in the Coveted Demographic.
I’ll have some thoughts later on the performance or under-performance of individual shows, because the numbers provide a good excuse to talk about what a show is doing right or doing wrong. One general point that has to be made is that the networks’ fascination with the single-camera, movie-style comedy still doesn’t make a whole lot of business sense. Looking at the 18-49 rankings, the most popular types of comedy appear to be, in order, a) Multi-camera with overly-enthusiastic audience; b) Mock-documentary, shot with two cameras and no musical score; c) Animation; d) Pure single-camera comedy. I don’t want to sound like I’m dismissing the value of category d), but the evidence over a period of years suggests, at the very least, that networks have an interest in not focusing on d) to the exclusion of everything else. Yet as noted in an earlier post, the ABC/NBC/Fox comedy orders mostly do just that, without even attempting to mimic the Office format that worked so well for Modern Family.
I have a couple of other observations, but I’ll save them for a separate post. I will say, though, that the performance of The Good Wife is a big disappointment, considering what a worthy show that is. In total viewers, it looks good — # 19 — but that’s because of the time slot, following the two NCIS shows. The Coveted Demographic performance shows how badly it falls off: it falls to # 56 because much of its viewership seems to consist of set-in-their-ways viewers who don’t feel like changing the channel. Maybe it’s just in an awkward place, though I don’t know what slot would suit it better; in any case, I hope it improves, because if it doesn’t, you just know that networks are going to conclude that nuance doesn’t sell.
Oh, and I might as well address this here because it isn’t worth a separate post: why does the Office documentary format have more ratings punch than the movie-style format? Partly, I think, because the style brands itself as a comedy in a way that regular single-camera has trouble doing. (If you look at a lot of single-camera comedies and then look at a light scene from Glee or Chuck, you’d be hard-pressed to explain why one is a sitcom and the other isn’t. But I don’t care how many “best comedy” nominations Glee gets, it’s not a comedy, it’s an hour-long light drama — and a lot of shows inadvertently brand themselves as half-hour light dramas.) Second, these comedies shoot fast and informal, more like the hastily-shot single-camera comedies of old, and wind up with a certain spontaneous feel to them. And third, the documentary format precludes the use of musical scoring; that’s the only thing saving Modern Family from being slathered in terrible mood music like every other ABC show. But I’ll save that last bit for my next “network shows have too damn much music” post.
By Andrew Potter - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 5:52 PM - 15 Comments
The third hour of yesterday’s Sunday Edition on the CBC featured an interview with…
The third hour of yesterday’s Sunday Edition on the CBC featured an interview with Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion and, his new book, The Plundered Planet. The main thrust of the interview (conducted by Helen Mann) deals with the alliance between anti-poverty activists and environmentalists, and their too-often antagonism to economics and instruments that might actually work.
As Collier puts it, he’s trying to build “common ground” between environmentalists and economists. But he has a firm view of who is worth trying to woo, and who is a lost cause. He distinguishes between what he calls the ”humane” environmentalists (whom we can do business with) and the “fundamentalist” environmentalists, who are caught up in a romantic deep-ecology ideology that sees environment as something more than serving humanity. Their goal, he argues, is to focused on preserving or “curating” nature as a set of artifacts, instead of harnessing it for enhancing prosperity.
One of the most depressing aspects he highlights is the way the romantic environmentalists have become an “unguided missile” – chasing one authenticity hoax after another, leaving inadvertent destruction in their wake. As Collier explains, the romantics have become the unwitting allies of big agriculture, who leverage the political power of the romantics for their own nefarious purposes. In North America, it has led to the colossal idiocy of biofuels. In Europe, it’s the brainless opposition to genetically modified foods.
His denunciation of the “the romantic retreat into the organic holistic peasantry” is hard-hitting stuff, and not everyone will like it. Unfortunately, the ones who most need to hear it are the ones who aren’t listening.
Listen to it here. It’s Hour Three, and starts at the 20 minute mark.
By John Geddes - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 5:40 PM - 30 Comments
Richard Wolson isn’t offering Canadians any hope of a satisfying conclusion—ever—in what must be the longest-running political scandal in the country’s history.
Wolson is the Winnipeg criminal lawyer whose trenchant questioning of witnesses was a big draw during the hearings held by Justice Jeffrey Oliphant is his Commission of Inquiry into Certain Allegations Respecting Business and Financial Dealings Between Karlheinz Schreiber and the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney. (Only the commission’s full name does justice to the interminable, wearying, dispiriting story beneath.)
By Andrew Potter - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 5:08 PM - 2 Comments
One of the great pleasures — and what in many ways I miss most…
One of the great pleasures — and what in many ways I miss most — of my time at the Ottawa Citizen was working with Glen McGregor. The press gallery is a herd animal even at the best of times, but Glen is one of the few members who refuses to run with the crowd. Not, I think, out of any great contrarian disposition. It’s just more that Glen thinks about journalism in a different way than most of his colleagues on the Hill. He is endlessly creative, relentlessly funny, and deeply inquisitive. He has a way of taking the smallest nugget of off-beat information and turning it into a dynamite story. (Not always a front page story, but that’s a complaint for another time).
That alone would be enough to make him one of the best in the business, but add to that his skills, almost unique in Canada as far as I can tell, at computer-assisted reporting, and you have one of the most fearsome journalistic weapons in the country. More times than I could count, Glen would present me with a cool story that he’d worked up by taking data from some public website or another and putting it through some neat filter or another. “How’d you do that?” I’d ask. “Ah, it was easy, I just wrote a little script for scraping the data…” he’d start.
If it was easy, more journalists would do it. But they –we — don’t, which is why Glen and his hot room colleague Stephen Maher won a much, much deserved award this past weekend from the Canadian Association of Journalists. It was in the category of Computer Assisted Reporting, for the work they did showing that a disproportionate share of the federal stimulus money was spent in ridings held by Conservative MPs.
Oh, and did I mention that Glen is also one of the leaders in bringing the tools of social media into the newsroom? He was, among other things, the first journalist in Canada to live-tweet from a courtroom, obtaining permission to do so from the trial of Ottawa mayor Larry O’Brien last summer. I have to say that I never in a million years thought the judge would go for it. Glen just asked, and just did it.
What is derisively called (around here, and pretty much everywhere else you’ll find a comment board) the “MSM” takes a lot of criticism. If we had more reporters like Glen McGregor working in newsrooms across the country, a lot less of that criticism would be deserved.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 4:18 PM - 44 Comments
Brian Mulroney releases a statement in response to the Oliphant report.
“While I have not yet had an opportunity to review Commissioner Oliphant’s final report, I have been briefed on its contents.
I was satisfied, but not surprised, to learn that the Commissioner has concluded that I did not, as Prime Minister, apply pressure to or attempt to influence my ministers or other government officials with respect to the promotion or approval of the Bear Head Project. The evidence presented during the inquiry demonstrated that the allegations made against me to that effect were completely false.
I was also pleased that the Commissioner confirmed that no agreement with Mr. Schreiber was reached while I was Prime Minister of Canada and, moreover, that the agreement reached after I left office was exclusively international in scope. To that end, I understand that the Commissioner was satisfied that I did nothing domestically to promote Thyssen or its objectives after I left office.
I genuinely regret that my conduct after I left office gave rise to suspicions about the propriety of my personal business affairs as a private citizen. I will leave it to others to assess the full impact of these events. For now, I am merely grateful that this unfortunate chapter is over and that my family and I can move forward with our lives.”
By Barbara Amiel - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 4:02 PM - 14 Comments
Having been seen on worldwide TV scooping up an alleged $40,000, Prince Andrew’s ex-wife has found herself in muck
I’d like to say a word in favour of poor old Fergie, by which I do mean the relatively poor and relatively old (50) Sarah, duchess of York. She just got caught accepting money from a reporter in exchange for an intro to her ex-husband Prince Andrew, now the unpaid special ambassador for British trade and industry. In saying anything favourable, I can hear the (imaginary) voice of Nancy Grace: “Barbara, is anyone here thinking of those children?” And yes, having a mummy like Sarah can be embarrassing, and while princesses Beatrice and Eugenie are as devoted to their mother as she is to them, mummy filmed selling meetings with daddy must be unnerving.
Having now been seen on worldwide television scooping up an alleged $40,000, Sarah Ferguson is in muck. Mazher Mahmood, a specialist in entrapment journalism, whose earlier stings included Prince Andrew’s sister-in-law the countess of Wessex, passed himself off again as a wealthy businessman keen on making a royal connection. His down payment was on Sarah’s alleged asking price of $750,000. (Sorry about the repetition. We know it’s alleged and that the duchess has apologized for her alleged crime but allegedly it’s the rule around here to keep repeating it.)
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 4:01 PM - 8 Comments
Report into cash payments made to former PM finds Mulroney tried to hide relationship with Schreiber
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney acted in an “inappropriate” way and “failed to live up to the standard of conduct that he himself adopted in the 1985 ethics code” by accepting large cash payments from lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber, says a new report by Justice Jeffrey Oliphant. The judge rejected Mulroney’s claim the payments were simply a lapse in judgement, saying the cash transactions were made with the explicit intent to “to conceal the fact that the transactions had occurred between them.” Still, though Oliphant’s report excoriated Mulroney for his dealings with Schreiber after leaving office, the judge rejected Schreiber’s claims his agreement with the former PM was struck while Mulroney was still in government.
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 125 Comments
Critics smeared Paul as a racist. His defenders claim he’s a man of principle. I’d call him a libertarian nerd.
I have it on good authority that Rand Paul was not named for Ayn Rand. (His legal name is Randal.) Still, he might as well have been. Soon after his stunning victory in last week’s Republican Senate primary in Kentucky, the younger Paul—his father is the libertarian congressman Ron Paul—stirred up a firestorm of controversy over his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, or rather to that part of it forbidding private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race. Critics immediately smeared him as a racist. Defenders portrayed him as a man of principle. Me, I’d call him a libertarian nerd.
The principle to which Paul has attached himself is freedom of contract, the notion that consenting adults should be free to do business with whomever they please. Like its close cousin, freedom of association, it implies also the negative: the freedom not to contract—not to hire, not to sell to, and so on. And as a general rule it’s perfectly fine, the basis both of our laws and economic system.
By Paul Wells - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 3:39 PM - 38 Comments
“Your article is malicious, ludicrous, and possibly libelous as well. For all intents and purposes, it calls Brian Mulroney a perjurer. Is Andrew Coyne’s bias and venom so uncontrollable that he couldn’t wait to pass his judgment until Justice Oliphant’s report?… This type of persistent public witch hunt is reminiscent of the McCarthy era. It is unworthy of your standards.”
— Peter Munk, letter to the editor of Maclean’s, June 22, 09
“Having carefully considered the evidence respecting the amount of cash paid by Mr. Schreiber to Mr. Mulroney, I have decided not to accept the evidence of either of them unless there is independent evidence to support one of the two positions taken.”
— Statement by the Hon. Jeffrey J. Oliphant, today
It’s sad that Mr. Munk couldn’t wait to pass his judgment until Justice Oliphant’s report, but now that it’s out, I’m sure he’ll agree with me that Andrew’s column from a year ago stands up a lot better than does Munk’s letter in response to it.
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 2:52 PM - 47 Comments
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 1:40 PM - 0 Comments
Céline Dion pregnant with twins
A spokesperson for Céline Dion has confirmed the Quebec singing star and her husband, René Angélil, are expecting twins. According to Kim Jakwerth, Dion’s pregnancy comes after a sixth in-vitro fertilization attempt and acupuncture treatments aimed at helping her conceive. “Céline is just hoping for a healthy pregnancy,” Angélil says. “She was hoping for one baby and the news that we are having two is a double blessing.”
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 1:39 PM - 5 Comments
BP officials looking for new ways to cap underwater well
With “Top Kill” officially deemed a failure, BP officials are looking for new ways to stop the 42-day-old oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP Managing Director Robert Dudley says the company will now try to cap what it calls the “lower marine riser package,” which would allow it to collect much of the oil that’s currently spilling out from the well. If that doesn’t work, though, the oil may well keep gushing until August, when a relief well is expected to be up-and-running. “If we can contain the flow of the well between now and August and keep it out of the ocean, that’s also a good outcome as well,” Dudley said. “And then, if we can shut it off completely with a relief well, that’s not a bad outcome compared to where we are today.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 1:24 PM - 64 Comments
Justice Oliphant’s public statement on his findings in the matter of Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber is here.
His full report, in four volumes, is here.
By Anne Kingston - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 1:04 PM - 108 Comments
MS patients eager for a breakthrough surgery are facing more resistance than they expected
Like tens of thousands of Canadians afflicted with multiple sclerosis, Rebecca Cooney greeted Paulo Zamboni’s much-publicized research late last year with excitement. Zamboni, an Italian professor of medicine and a former vascular surgeon, brought a fresh lens to a disease long diagnosed as an incurable neurological condition: he found that all 65 MS patients in his study had stenoses, or blockages, in veins in their neck or thorax, a condition he dubbed chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI. After their blockages were cleared with a basic venous angioplasty, many found their symptoms improved; others saw the degenerative disease’s progress halt altogether. Zamboni’s ﬁndings were hailed as a potential breakthrough in MS research, a field focused on drug trials. Proof that the disease had a vascular component, a theory bandied for a century, was viewed as a potential game-changer offering rare hope for MS patients.
By Brian D. Johnson - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 12:59 PM - 0 Comments
Raw explorations of love and marriage were strong entries at Cannes
Cinema never gets more serious than it does in Cannes. This year’s festival (May 12-23) was dominated by movies on a mission, including a spate of political dramas that subverted clichés about terrorism—Fair Game, Route Irish, Of Gods and Men, Outside the Law and Carlos. But perhaps the most radical trend to emerge from Cannes, at least among English-language films, was the raw exploration of a more intimate, but equally volatile, political arena: love and marriage.
If you go to the multiplex looking for emotional truth, you usually have to fight your way through the contraption of a romantic comedy, or the sludge of a chick flick. So it’s a thrill to come across movies that offer pure, stripped-down scenarios of domestic life. That was the case with some of the strongest entries in Cannes, notably Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine, Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy, and Mike Leigh’s Another Year. In each case, though the directors are men, female characters drive the agenda, which tends to address the most chronic complaint in a marriage: we never talk.
By Rachel Mendleson - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 12:58 PM - 0 Comments
Why docile, obedient dog breeds live longer than their more rambunctious counterparts
Rebels often live hard and die young. Such is the case for extreme athletes, out-of-control celebrities—and, according to a recent study, certain breeds of dogs. As a team of researchers from the University of Sherbrooke concluded in a paper slated for publication in The American Naturalist in June, “obedient (or docile, shy) breeds live longer than disobedient (or bold) ones.”
The ﬁnding, as the study asserts, reﬂects the product of more than two centuries of “extensive artiﬁcial selection.” Beyond physical appearance and reproduction capabilities, humans placed an emphasis on behaviour traits, breeding for everything from ﬁghting to guarding to companionship. In time, a spectrum of breeds emerged, each with a distinct temperament: hounds, for instance, are known for their hunting prowess; pugs, meanwhile, have become popular lap dogs.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 12:12 PM - 13 Comments
Michael Chong’s motion on Question Period reform is seconded by no less than 20 MPs. Those seconders include 14 Conservatives (Mike Allen, Dona Cadman, Maxime Bernier, Larry Miller, Gord Brown, Nina Grewal, James Rajotte, John Cummins, Peter Braid, Rick Casson, Greg Thompson, Merv Tweed, Brian Storseth and Bruce Stanton), four Liberals (Frank Valeriote, Martha Hall Findlay, Glen Pearson and Siobhan Coady) and two New Democrats (Denise Savoie and Brian Masse).
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 11:36 AM - 0 Comments
Political party promising free towels and a polar bear wins local Icelandic elections
Would a party by any other name have seemed as sweet? A recently formed political party that calls itself “The Best Party” came out ahead in the Reykjavik, Iceland municipal elections. Founded by comedian Jon Gnarr just six months ago, the party earned 34.7% of the vote—beating out the incumbent Independent Party by 1.1%. Campaign pledges included free towels at swimming pools, a “drug-free parliament” by 2020, a policy of “sustainable transparency,” and a new polar bear for the city’s zoo. The Best Party’s campaign video showed candidates singing along to Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best.” The Bests will now occupy six seats on Reykjavik’s 15-seat council. Experts attribute their success to a growing sense of political disenchantment in Iceland’s capital.
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 11:36 AM - 0 Comments
Those who compare to friends and family most affected: study
Comparing one’s income to what friends and family make can lead to unhappiness, according to a new study analyzing data from a European survey of 19,000 people in 24 countries. Three-quarters of respondents thought it was important to compare their incomes with others, but those who did seemed less content, especially if they looked at friends and family instead of work colleagues. The poor were most affected, according to the researchers from the Paris School of Economics. The greater the importance people attached to such comparisons, the lower they ranked themselves in terms of life satisfaction, standard of living, and feeling depressed.
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 11:25 AM - 35 Comments
Statistics Canada blames Francophone conspiracy for Census anomaly
Consider it the great Francophone conspiracy. According to Statistics Canada, thousands of Francophones lied about their English skills on the 2006 Census in an effort to secure more federal dollars for government programs. The coordinated falsehood is believed to have originated in an anonymous French-language email urging people to hide their English-speaking abilities. The result: an inexplicable drop in bilingual Francophones. In Ontario, for instance, the number of bilingual Francophones, which had risen between one and three percentage points since 1991, dropped to 88.4 per cent from 89.4 per cent. As Jean Pierre Corbeil, a chief specialist in the language statistics section puts it, “How can you explain people living in a minority situation, even in really strong minority situations, that they would become less bilingual? This is almost impossible.” Though lying on the Census is punishable with a $500 fine, such cases are rarely prosecuted.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 11:13 AM - 132 Comments
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on Parliament Hill this morning to meet with the Prime Minister, but a news conference, previously scheduled to take place at 11:15am, as well as an evening reception have been cancelled so that Mr. Netanyahu can return to Israel.
The PMO has issued the following statement on this morning’s flotilla raid.
Canada deeply regrets the loss of life and the injuries suffered. We are currently looking for more information in order to shed light on what exactly happened.
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
For a good old-fashioned story of an out-of-control production and budget, check out Michael Riedel’s New York Post story on the saga of Spider-Man: the Musical, the Broadway show by director Julie Taymor and songwriter Bono; it was repeatedly delayed, ran out of money as its budget ballooned to something like $50 million, lost several cast members due to delays — including Alan Cumming, who quit his role as the Green Goblin to take a regular role on The Good Wife — and, when it opens this fall, will have to be the most massive hit in history just to break even. While not commenting on the budget, Taymor confirmed to the New York Times that the show will lose money unless it’s a success on the level of her stage version of The Lion King.
The Riedel article at least puts the blame for this kind of thing where it usually belongs, on the producer: he notes that the biggest blow to the production was that the original producer died of a stroke, to be replaced by someone with no producing experience. It’s the job of the director to create stage magic, and it’s the job of the producer to make sure that the director doesn’t exceed the budget. Unfortunately, there are a lot of producers in New York and Hollywood who are unable or unwilling to assert that kind of authority.
Various demos of the song “A Boy Falls From the Sky” have been floating around for a while, and they all make the song sound pretty terrible. So this may simply be another one of those shows where a more modestly-budgeted production wouldn’t make money either, in the sense that the show needs to be as big as it can to keep people from asking a) Why can’t we hum these tunes and b) Why did they make this into a stage show in the first place?
The article also draws comparisons to the infamous Lord of the Rings stage show in Toronto, though I can’t imagine that Spider-Man could be as bad as that was. Though there are some disturbing potential points of comparison: most obviously, Lord of the Rings was not a musical (there was singing, but only as incidental music; no character songs), and Taymor is also emphasizing that Spider-Man isn’t really a musical and that the lead character “is not going to sing and dance in tights.” If the lead character isn’t going to sing, why write songs anyway? And why wouldn’t Spider-Man, a rather extroverted and fun-loving character, burst into song? He’s not exactly Peer Gynt.
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 10:36 AM - 230 Comments
UPDATED: Israel claims self-defense as critics deplore violence
At least 19 people are dead and dozens more injured after Israeli troops attacked a convoy of ships in international waters bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza, Al Jazeera is reporting. The flotilla was attacked 65 km off the Gaza coast as it aimed to break Israel’s siege on Gaza. The flotilla left Cyprus on Sunday to reach Gaza by Monday morning, but Israel claimed the boats were engaged in an “act of provocation” against the Israeli military instead of providing aid, and that it issued warrants to prohibit their entrance, noting that the flotilla would be breaking international law by landing there. Organizers, mostly pro-Palestinian advocates from the UK, Ireland, Algeria, Kuwait, Greece and Turkey, rejected this claim. Israeli military spokesperson Avital Leibovich said: “This happened in waters outside of Israeli territory, but we have the right to defend ourselves.” Al Jazeera’s correspondent said a white surrender flag was coming from the ship and there was no live fire coming from the passengers.
UPDATE: The BBC is now reporting “at least” nine people are dead after armed Israeli forces boarded an aid vessel carrying 500 people overnight some 40 miles out to sea. Israel says its soldiers were attacked with axes, knives, bars and guns when they boarded the ship, with government spokesperson Mark Regev saying the activists onboard “were dead-set on confrontation.” “”Live fire was used against our forces,” Regev said. “They initiated the violence, that’s 100% clear.” The aid convoy’s organizers, however, say the attack by Israeli soldiers was unprovoked. “We heard some of them shouting ‘we are raising the white flag, stop shooting at us’,” said Arafat Shoukri of the Free Gaza Movement, who was on the phone with those onboard.
The incident was met with protests around the world, including a strongly worded condemnation from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called Israel’s actions “inhumane state terrorism.” Most of the nine dead are believed to have been from Turkey. Meanwhile, Greece, Egypt, Sweden, Spain and Denmark summoned Israel’s ambassadors demanding explanations for the violence, while Spain and France condemned what they called the disproportionate use of force. The UN Security Council is meeting to discuss the violence, with one Western diplomat suggesting council members may adopt a statement voicing their shock at the incident and possibly backing UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s call for an investigation.