By John Parisella - Saturday, December 31, 2011 - 0 Comments
On the eve of 2011, the GOP was reaping the benefits of the biggest…
On the eve of 2011, the GOP was reaping the benefits of the biggest turnaround in political fortunes in recent history when it recaptured the House of Representatives from the Democrats and reduced the Democratic majority in the Senate to three votes. There was hope total control of Congress was one election away. And why not dream of the trifecta and making Barack Obama a one-term president? This past year had opened with the expectation the GOP was back and that it would lead the political agenda throughout 2011.
Indeed, the year got off to a good start for the Republicans, who provoked showdowns on a potential government shutdown in the spring and on the debt ceiling in the summer, gaining significant concessions from the president in the process. Obama appeared weak and his poll numbers suffered. In so doing, the GOP had shifted the focus of political conversation toward government spending, the size of government, and the need to rein in the debt.
Meantime, the economic recovery continued to be anemic and the sovereign debt problems occurring within the Euro Zone underscored the need for drastic new directions in economic policy. Comparisons with Greece were often used by Republican politicians to force Obama to back down. As a result, with the exception of the killing of Bin Laden in April, Obama has been on the defensive all year. Until this December, that is. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Friday, December 30, 2011 at 3:32 PM - 0 Comments
Sixty-six Canadians honoured for their service to the nation in a wide range of fields
Governor General David Johnston named 66 appointments to the Order of Canada on Friday, the Globe and Mail reports. Among them are former prime minister Paul Martin, and gen. Rick Hillier (ret’d.), the former head of Canada’s armed forces. Martin was the sole appointee to be named a Companion, the order’s first rank, while Hillier was among 28 Canadians appointed Officers, the second-highest rank. Thirty-seven Canadians were named Companions. Among those named are broadcaster and author Stuart Maclean, mezzo-soprano Catherine Robbin, dancer and choreographer Miriam Adams, hockey coach Scotty Bowman, artist Charles Pachter, television host Brian Williams, and James Bartleman, the first aboriginal lieutenant governor of Ontario.
By Jessica Allen - Friday, December 30, 2011 at 3:22 PM - 0 Comments
The night before she flew home to Truro, Nova Scotia, my friend Erinn came over for a pre-holiday meal. We got to talking about what sort of Christmas treats we were both in store for at our mutual family gatherings and as we listed off all sorts of delights a few common denominators were observed. First, most of the recipes that our mothers and aunts make during the holidays come courtesy of old issues of Chatelaine, Canadian Living, Family Circle and newspaper clippings. Second, the other recipes may be marked “from Debbie” or “Linda’s” but they too are, in fact, magazine recipes that have been adapted as “Lynn’s” own. Third, they all contain either cream cheese, instant soup mix, sweetened condensed milk, or some other canned good. And fourth, we two 30-something-year-old gals, who enjoy leafing through the occasional issue of Gastronomica and eating tacos and gnudi at Toronto’s latest restaurant hot spots, couldn’t wait to eat them, along with the water-logged shrimp from the shrimp rings and cruddy milk chocolates stuffed with weird nougats.
“The first thing I’ll do when I get home tomorrow,” explained Erinn, “is open up the fridge, where I’ll find about ten of those Philly cream cheese bricks, and get started on making the dip.” The dip is actually called Pepper Spread, which is odd, since “it is neither spreadable and peppers don’t feature any more than any other ingredient.” And those other ingredients include margarine, sugar, vinegar, eggs and–of course–the brick of cream cheese. Apparently it’s wonderful with “veggies”.
Two things that inevitably show up at my mom’s family’s holiday gatherings are that spinach dip thing–the one where you hollow out a loaf of pumpernickel and fill it with frozen spinach, sour cream, mayonnaise and a package of Knorr vegetable soup mix–and my Aunt Sandy’s shrimp dip, which, as it turns out, is actually Sandy’s friend Carole’s shrimp dip, but Sandy’s been making it every Christmas for the last 15 years, which entitles her to the copyright in our family. It’s supposed to be made in a mold and then turned out onto a festive platter. But Sandy simply serves it in a plastic container. Why go to all the trouble of a mold when 20 or so hungry relatives will pile crackers inches high with the stuff and deplete the precious stock within minutes of it being put out?
How is it that all these jellies, molds and dips, that most wouldn’t dream of serving at a dinner party, are perennially featured in holiday spreads? Maybe it just comes down to tradition. “The new magazines are what my mom goes to for inspiration throughout the year,” says Erinn, “but at Christmas she leans on tried and true recipes from a bygone era.”
I can relate. For Christmas dinner this year I tried a Bon Appétit recipe for glazed carrots that were gussied up with fresh tarragon, sherry and clementine. They were great, but I’ll be honest: those fancy time carrots didn’t come close to Marg’s carrot casserole, which came courtesy of “Diane.” It’s a dish that requires a half pound of processed cheese slices, among other things. Enough said, no?
By John Geddes - Friday, December 30, 2011 at 2:07 PM - 0 Comments
Stages in the legislative process that make a bill law in the Canadian Parliament; ministers (not including the Prime Minister) on cabinet’s powerful Priorities and Planning committee; former political figures (not including sovereigns or social activists) memorialized in bronze around Parliament Hill—twelve is the number in each of these interesting categories. But for our purposes here, in this second annual stocktaking of the year just ending, it’s the 12 calendar months that matter. Pick just one political story for each page, and 2011’s kaleidoscope might just take a turn from jumbled to intelligible.
January: We glimpsed how Ignatieff thought a leader should look
By the start of 2011, we had long since figured out Stephen Harper’s disciplined style and thought we understood the limits of Jack Layton’s appeal. But Michael Ignatieff had taken over as Liberal leader in an odd way, with no conventional leadership race to bring him into focus. Instead, Ignatieff had been defined for many Canadians by Conservative attack ads. For those who had paid attention to him before politics, his globetrotting-intellectual persona still loomed large.
Then came his Jan. 25, tone-setting address on Parliament Hill to the Liberal caucus, with the media invited in. This was no detached thinker. Sleeves rolled up, Ignatieff ripped through a 15-minute speech in which he mocked Harper, invoked Barack Obama, and answered his own question—“Are we ready to serve the people who put us here?”—with a shouted, “Yes, yes, yes!” Hopeful Liberals saw a fiery campaigner, astute Conservatives a man ripe for ridicule. We didn’t know it then, but this was a clear foreshadowing of the campaign to come.
February: We watched Conservatives smoothly execute a key transition
As an opposition leader and especially as Prime Minister, Harper has shown a remarkable ability to shed and replace chiefs of staff, communications directors, and other key advisors. But the one constant in his electoral machine was the beard and brogue of Doug Finley, his campaign director. When Finley stepped down at the very end of January as he recovered from colon cancer, the party began a testing transition. Guy Giorno and Jenni Byrne stepped into new roles.
For a lesser partisan machine, the loss of a figure as dominant as the Scottish-born Finley would have been a marked setback. Instead, the transition seemed to go off without a hitch. Spring election speculation continued unabated. As for Finely—who ran Harper’s winning 2006 and 2008 campaigns and was rewarded with a Senate appointment in 2009—Twitter awaited.
March: We marveled as the PM fell, yet defined the moment his way
It was no surprise when the Conservative minority was voted down by the opposition Liberals, NDP and Bloc Québécois on March 25. The House had been an increasingly fractious and angry place. The actual non-confidence vote, only the sixth in Canadian history, found the government in contempt of Parliament for refusing to supply full cost estimates for fighter jets, crime bills and corporate tax cuts.
Yet Harper largely succeeded in burying those reasons by asserting doggedly that the real issue was the opposition’s refusal to support his government’s budget. “There’s nothing, nothing, in the budget that the opposition could not or should not have supported,” he said. “Thus, the vote today that disappoints me, will, I expect, disappoint Canadians.” His refusal to even minimally acknowledge that the election was triggered by anything other than a clash over economic priorities carried him into the campaign and, arguably, to victory.
April: We absorbed the potential of Layton’s NDP surge in Quebec
The orange wave surged over Quebec so unexpectedly that even senior NDP veterans had difficulty knowing what to make of it. By April 23, when Jack Layton climbed to the podium at Montréal’s Olympia Theatre to address his party’s largest ever campaign rally in the province, the possibility of an NDP breakthrough was widely acknowledged. The Bloc was running scared. The Tories and Liberals were looking elsewhere in the country for any gains.
At the back of the Olympia, Layton’s young Quebec organizers spoke, wide-eyed, of a dozen or so new Quebec seats being within reach. That seemed remarkable enough. Yet had they been able to fully take in the spectacle of Layton podium performance, and the crowd’s reaction, they might have dreamed bigger. Holding his talismanic cane aloft, smiling as only he could, hitting his applause lines like the pro he was, “Bon Jack” embodied an unlikely convergence of long, careful political preparation and recent, inspiring personal determination. You can’t make this stuff up.
May: We experienced Harper’s majority win as an inevitability
It’s an illusion of course, maybe even a delusion, to think anything in politics had to happen the way it did. There are always too many variables. Still, Harper’s May 2 election victory had that it-was-written feel about it. He steadily built toward the moment, from his near miss in 2004, through his two minority wins in 2006 and 2008. The train was rolling toward this destination.
And Harper’s campaign-trail consistency was remarkable. His rallies were a model of methodical planning and error-free execution. He refused to be badgered by media complaints into taking more reporters’ questions or exposing himself to unscripted encounters with voters. He stuck to his key economic message even when Layton’s rise might have unnerved a more skittish campaigner. Election night was full of compelling stories—Bloc and Liberal failures, NDP ascent—but it belonged, in the end, to the Prime Minister.
June: We shrugged as a political financing experiment was cancelled
On June 6 Finance Minister Jim Flaherty reintroduced his spring federal budget, which was never passed in the rush to an election, with a key twist: Flaherty added a measure to phase out the $2-per-vote subsidy to political parties by 2015-16. The taxpayer subsidy was introduced by the former Liberal government in 2004, to compensate for the curtailing of corporate and union contributions.
The Conservatives’ first attempt to get rid of the subsidy, announced in the fall of 2008, triggered the ill-fated bid by opposition parties to form a coalition and replace Harper’s minority. But with Harper leading a majority, there was no chance of his being thwarted this time. Few Canadians took much notice. And so an attempt to make raising money less central to our politics comes to an end. Constant, clever, insistent fundraising appeals to the party faithful—a Tory strong suit—will be essential to any party’ success for the foreseeable future.
July: We saluted as our troops left a battle zone still in question
When Canadian soldiers moved in large numbers into Afghanistan’s violent southern province of Kandahar in 2006, military and political leaders were unprepared for how much the mission would come to dominate foreign and defence policy. The hard fighting they were soon engaged in was unlike anything Canadians had experienced in decades. Before exit day, 158 Canadian soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan, along with a diplomat, two aid workers, and a journalist.
The last Canadian commander of Task Force Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, didn’t really want to leave. He would have preferred to stay a bit longer to help the Americans, whose troop surge into the province had put the Taliban on the run and stabilized previously volatile districts. Canadian troops remain in Afghanistan, but mainly engaged in training the Afghan National Army. But the years of fighting changed the place of the military in the Canadian public imagination—and Canadian political calculations.
August: We mourned Jack Layton, moved by what he’d come to mean
The death of the NDP leader on Aug. 22 at just 61 was not entirely surprising. The previous month Layton had announced that he was battling cancer for a second time, his ravaged face and desiccated voice shocking the country. But the way he died was unprecedented. He drafted a farewell letter and organized a public funeral in Toronto, knitting together the personal and political in his final weeks and days in a way that made them indistinguishable.
Layton came at the end to represent, in an era of deep cynicism about politics, an unapologetic zeal for total immersion in public life. All through the spring campaign, struggling back from a broken hip, Layton had exuded his relish for the democratic fray. Facing death, he didn’t shy from explicit partisanship. “Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us,” he told the New Democrats in that last letter, “that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.”
September: We were reminded by judges that even majorities face setbacks
With Parliament in session again, the Conservatives sitting pretty with their fresh majority, it seemed that nothing could slow the implementation of Stephen Harper’s vision. Then came the Sept. 30 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the federal government could not shut down Vancouver’s Insite supervised injection clinic for intravenous drug users.
The unanimous 9-0 decision delivered a rebuke to the Conservative position that Insite’s clear track record since 2003 of helping addicts avoid infections and overdose deaths should be trumped by the government’s desire to send a strong anti-drug, law-and-order message. The ruling also validated the pro-Insite positions of the British Columbia provincial and Vancouver municipal governments. For those left disheartened by Harper’s resounding spring victory, the court offered a fall tonic.
October: We witnessed the lasting emotional power of a populist cause
From the time it was implemented in 1995, the federal registry for rifles and shotguns was deeply controversial. In the broadest of strokes, rural gun owners resented it, while urbanites who feared gun crime approved. Opposition gathered steam after a 2002 report from Auditor General Sheila Fraser put estimated the registry tab would climb to $1 billion by 2005.
With hot-button right-wing populist issues like abortion and capital punishment largely off the table in Canadian politics, the long-gun registry took on disproportionate importance for that portion of the Conservative base. Harper extracted maximum political benefit from attacking the registry. On Oct. 25, the bill to eliminate it was finally tabled in the House. A drawn-out, culturally fraught episode in Canadian political life was coming to a bitter close. Even the data in the registry was to be destroyed, so no province or future federal government, not to mention police force, could make use of the information. Few outcomes politics are so categorically one-sided.
November: We took comfort from a Canadian’s prominence in troubled economic times
The Cannes summit of the G20 club of major developed and developing nations was dominated by gloomy, even alarming, news about Europe’s deepening debt crisis. This was the backdrop for the appointment of Mark Carney, the Bank of Canada’s youthful governor, to head a key oversight body called the Financial Stability Board. Never mind what the FSB does—highly technical banking stuff. Pay attention to what Carney represents—solid Canadian economic management.
Carney is a fascinating story in his own right. His assessments of the state of banking regulation, economic policy and its international coordination, are parsed closely by rapt global market players. Beyond his personal qualities, he embodies the new Canadian swagger concerning our sound banks and solid government finances. But can Canada’s political and business leaders build beyond those oft-mentioned fundamentals to more innovative manufacturing and competitive service sectors?
December: We watched a familiar national shame unfold in the hinterland
On the first day of the last month of 2011, the federal government imposed what’s called third-party management on the Northern Ontario reserve community of Attawapiskat. That meant an administrator appointed by Ottawa would run the Cree community of 1,800 on James Bay, where a crisis of abysmal housing began drawing national attention in late November.
It was yet another example—they happen every few years—of a burst of media attention to the plight of an impoverished, remote First Nations village briefly forcing Canadians to contemplate the worst policy failure of successive federal governments. But how to break that desultory cycle? As Attawapiskat took centre stage, the Harper government was quietly introducing legislation to reform band council elections and improve financial transparency. Maybe this incrementalism will help where past grand gestures did little.
By macleans.ca - Friday, December 30, 2011 at 11:46 AM - 0 Comments
ESPN writer Chris Jones says his use of the term ‘Montreal Massacre’ was inadvertent
Chris Jones, the back page columnist for ESPN Magazine, has apologized for what he says was the inadvertent use of the term “Montreal Massacre” to refer to a baseball boondoggle, according to the Globe and Mail. Jones, a writer from Port Hope, Ontario, has only recently begun writing for the U.S. magazine. His fourth column, which hit newsstands on Friday, discussed efforts by Jeffrey Loria, owner of the Florida Marlins, to build a stadium. Jones, referring to Loria’s past attempt to move the Montreal Expos from the Big O, said said such a move would be “Montreal Massacre II.” Loria is often blamed for the team’s eventual departure from the city. Jones, who was living in Australia at the time of the École Polytechnique slayings now widely known as the Montreal Massacre, says he never intended to refer to that incident, and that he immediately apologized via Twitter when he realized the connection.
By Julia Belluz - Friday, December 30, 2011 at 11:42 AM - 0 Comments
‘Tis the time of year to look back, and in reflecting on Science-ish, it seemed wise to seek out all those who made outrageously science-ish statements in 2011, and ask them why—in their claims on topics as far ranging as asbestos and home care—they completely ignored the evidence. But pulling people away from the fireplace and eggnog seemed unfair over the holidays… and unlikely to elicit constructive responses, if any at all. So instead, from the Science-ish archives, here are the year’s most offensive attacks on science, with a wish list of questions I would like to see answered about these wildly unscientific ideas:
By macleans.ca - Friday, December 30, 2011 at 11:08 AM - 0 Comments
State department responds after Chavez suggests the US might have the technology to induce cancer
The United States has responded strongly to speculation by Venezuelan President Hugh Chavez that it may have the technology to induce cancer, AFP reports. “With regard to the Chavez statements, let me simply say that they are horrific and reprehensible,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said. The statement follows a rhetorical question Chavez posed at an armed forces ceremony on Wednesday, regarding the U.S.: “Would it be that strange if they had developed technology to induce cancer without anyone knowing about it?” In the same speech, Chavez had questioned the odds of “what has been happening to some of us in Latin America.” Chavez, a cancer survivor, referred to Argentine leader Cristina Kirchner, who recently announced she has thyroid cancer. Both the current and past presidents of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as well as the Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, have had or are currently dealing with cancer.
By macleans.ca - Friday, December 30, 2011 at 10:27 AM - 0 Comments
The deal includes 84 new F-15s and upgrades to 70 planes in the existing Saudi air fleet
The United States has confirmed a deal to sell 84 Boeing F-15 jets to Saudi Arabia, and to upgrade 70 F-15s already in the Saudi air fleet, the BBC reports. The $30-billion deal is part of a larger arms deal approved by the U.S. Congress last year, worth approximately $60 billion over the next ten to 15 years. Josh Earnest, White House deputy spokesperson said the deal would help support American jobs, while senior state department official Andrew Shapiro said it represented “a strong message to countries in the region that the United States is committed to stability in the Gulf and broader Middle East.” The announcement comes amid increasing tension with Iran, including recent posturing from Tehran over its ability to control the Strait of Hormuz, a strategically crucial oil route. Saudi Arabia is a key American ally in the region, and one of the most important suppliers of oil to the U.S.
By John Geddes - Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 3:32 PM - 0 Comments
Every so often, it’s a good idea to change the way you look at things. I have a little trick for that: on my way into work at the National Press Building just off Parliament Hill, a few times a year, when I’m feeling stale, I’ll duck into the next-door Wellington Building and just tip my head back.
Above me then is an intricate, complex mosaic in the Byzantine manner, covering the entire vaulted ceiling of the vestibule, made of many thousands of brightly and subtly coloured pieces of glass. At first glance, the style prepares you for a theme drawn straight from the Bible or classical mythology.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 12:18 PM - 0 Comments
Funds for the CBC’s 75th anniversary celebrations came largely from existing budgets, documents show
The CBC’s 75th anniversary celebrations cost at least $6.6 million, according to documents obtained by the Globe and Mail. That figure includes both English- and French-language services. The public broadcaster said the figure exceeded existing budgets by $1.5 million, money spent for a series of events, including open doors at locations across the country and partnerships with federal museums. According to CBC spokesman Angus MacKinnon, “all 75th anniversary programming came out of our normal programming budgets, over the course of the year and in many different forms.” The anniversary budget documents were originally released to Montreal newspaper La Presse following a freedom of information request, and later obtained by The Globe and Mail. As permitted by the Access to Information Act, the CBC had blanked out specific programming-related costs within the documents.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 12:09 PM - 0 Comments
Weapons and training worth $11 billion will help rebuild Iraq’s military, but may also bolster a sectarian regime
The Obama administration in the US plans to sell $11 billion worth of arms and military aid to Iraq, over concerns that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki may be seeking to consolidate power. According to the New York Times, the sale will proceed despite growing concern about Mr. Maliki’s apparent efforts to marginalize Iraq’s Sunni minority. While the US prefers a strong Iraq as a counterweight to Iranian power, some fear bolstering the Maliki regime could backfire if he aligns himself more closely with Iran’s Shiite theocracy. Capt. John Kirby, spokesman for the Pentagon said, “The purpose of these arrangements is to assist the Iraqis’ ability to defend their sovereignty against foreign security threats.” But Rafe al-Essawi, a prominent Sunni politician who is Iraq’s finance minister, said “It is very risky to arm a sectarian army,” and Kenneth M. Pollack, an expert on national security issues at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said ““The optics of this are terrible.”
By Paul Wells - Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 11:47 AM - 0 Comments
Belinda Stronach has a new idea! Let’s take it seriously for a few minutes.
“Despite the apparent stability of a majority government, Canadian politics is in ferment,” she begins, to which some readers may wish to reply, “Sorry, what?” She adds that her last known party, the Liberals, have been “liberated by circumstance to think about the state of politics and the future of the country in a way the government just can’t do.” As in, a wildly undisciplined and unrealistic way? Yup!
Canada, you see, has political institutions created in the 19th century that are “unsuited” to the 21st. What does that even mean? Don’t ask. “The body politic needs an MRI and a treatment plan for what ails it” — sorry, what? — “but that’s a long-term and multifaceted project that requires national will to modernize our ways of governing ourselves.”
And what’s the right thing to do to a patient before you undertake a long-term and multifaceted diagnosis?
“I think the time has come in Canada for limits on the number of consecutive terms that a parliamentarian can serve,” Stronach writes.
Sorry, what? Continue…
By macleans.ca - Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 10:34 AM - 0 Comments
Colossal memorial service and funeral procession for the late Kim Jong-il signifies smooth transition of power to Kim Jong-un
Tens of thousands of military and civilian mourners crowded in Kim Il-sung Square in the North Korean capital of Pyonyang on Thursday, AFP reports. A large-scale public memorial for the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il culminated two weeks of official mourning. The ceremony included tributes to the late leader by ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam, who declared Kim Jong-un, son of Kim Jong-il, “the supreme leader of our party and army and people,” had inherited his late father’s spirit, leadership, personality, morality and fortitude. Kim Jong-un was featured prominently in a three-hour funeral procession through the icy streets of Pyonyang, which North Korea’s state news agency claims drew millions of mourners. Observers viewed the ceremony as a signal of a smooth transition of power to Kim Jong-un, who remains a largely unknown quantity.
By Paul Wells - Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 10:32 AM - 0 Comments
My first print column of 2011 was accidentally prescient. I say “accidentally” because I didn’t even realize one of the points I was making. Re-reading the piece with the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see not only how Stephen Harper managed to hold power, but also how the NDP could make such strong advances. Yet I ignored the evidence at the time and continued to treat the NDP as a non-story until that became impossible in late April. My bad.
The column used a then-new poll to show how completely public faith in the Liberals had shattered:
A new poll from an upstart Ottawa polling house, Abacus Data, asked respondents how they felt about the three big national political parties. Abacus found respondents were likelier to agree the Conservative party “keeps its promises” than the Liberals or New Democrats do. They were also likeliest to agree the Conservative party “has a good team of leaders,” “has sensible policies,” and is “professional in its approach.”…
Abacus found Canadians have less trouble agreeing about the Liberals. When comparing the three parties, respondents were least likely to agree that Michael Ignatieff’s party “keeps its promises,” “understands the problems facing Canada,” “looks after the interests of people like me,” “defends the interests of people in my province,” “has a good team of leaders,” “stands for clear principles,” “has sensible policies,” or is “professional in its approach.” Continue…
By macleans.ca - Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 10:07 AM - 0 Comments
Four people were killed when security forces shot at protestors while Arab League monitors visited a nearby building
Syrian forces fired on thousands of protestors in Damascus Thursday, killing at least four, while Arab League monitors were visiting at a nearby building. According to the Associated Press, an estimated 20,000 people were protesting outside the Grand Mosque in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, when security forces began shooting into the crowd. British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 16 people have been shot and killed on Thursday in several protests. The Sudanese head of the Arab League monitoring team, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, is wanted under an international arrest warrant on charges of genocide in Darfur. Ausama Monajed, a member of the opposition group Syrian National Council, told the Associated Press “SNC is deeply concerned about having Mr. al-Dabi as head of the monitoring mission given the accusations around him and we will put a motion to the Arab League requesting that he be changed.”
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 7:21 AM - 0 Comments
With the media suddenly focusing on Prince Philip, the royal newbie finally got an actual break
For weeks leading up to Dec. 25, London’s papers have reported every little detail—real or imagined—about Kate’s first Christmas as a member of the royal family. For one, she had to pack a lot of luggage while staying at the Queen’s huge private estate in Norfolk. Katie Nicholl of the Mail on Sunday said the duchess of Cambridge “will need a casual outfit for breakfast, a smart outfit and a hat for the morning church service, a dress for lunch, a cocktail dress for early evening drinks and a full-length dress for the evening meal.” Then there was the debate on whether or not she’d take part in the annual shooting parties that are prominent, must-attend features on the royal holiday schedule. (The jury’s still out on whether she handled a gun or not.) Apparently her sister Pippa—who’s very sporty when she’s not wearing derrière enhancing bridesmaids dresses—was invited to keep Kate from getting too homesick for her family’s usual Christmas traditions.
Yet, in the end, the pressure on the newest royal was lifted in part due to the oldest member of the family: Prince Philip. When he was rushed to hospital on Dec. 23 with a blocked coronary artery, the media immediately swung its focus to the ailing 90-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II. Peter Sissons, the former BBC anchorman, told the Telegraph that the news sent the network into a tizzy, dusting off obits and black mourning outfits as “those who were working over this year’s holiday period lived in fear that the Duke might pop off on their shift.” Sissons should know. He was lambasted for not wearing a black tie when he announced the Queen Mother’s death in 2002.
As for Philip, the irascible consort put up with four nights in a hospital bed before being allowed back to Sandringham and the familiar routines of royal life. And if Kate got a break from all the attention, she also got a lesson in one inescapable fact of being a member of the house of Windsor: They never retire, but just keep going–and going and going.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 12:16 PM - 0 Comments
New rules will allow Japan to benefit from the export of military technologies
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Osamu Fujimura, announced on Tuesday new rules allowing transfer of jointly-developed military technology to other countries, the Financial Times reports. The move, applauded by Japan’s largest business lobby, is expected to boost the country’s weapons development sector and to stretch its limited defence spending by allowing the industry to benefit from collaboration with other nations. Since the late 1960s, Japan had effectively halted almost all exports of arms and military technology in pursuing a pacifistic foreign policy. Mr Fujimura says the country will only allow defence exports that will not “foster international conflict” and that Japan will reserve the right to forbid the transfer of exported defence equipment from trade partners to third countries. The move may raise concerns in China, parts of which were occupied by Japanese forces between 1931 and 1945.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 11:49 AM - 0 Comments
Minister defends bold approach to foreign affairs
In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that the economy, and particularly diversifying trade away from the U.S., was a top foreign policy priority for the Harper government. He also defended the Conservative majority’s bold approach to international affairs, bent on asserting Canadian interests and values, even if that means occasionally upsetting other countries. The minister seemed to hint that Canada can easily get away with stepping on a few toes, when he shrugged off mentions of public outrage at Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, noting that few foreign governments raised the issue of climate change with him.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 11:39 AM - 0 Comments
Tehran warns it will close Strait of Hormuz if West imposes oil sanctions
The chief of Iran’s navy has warned that Iran could easily close the strategic Strait of Hormuz in response to western sanctions, according to the Globe and Mail. Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced on Iranian state-run Press TV on Wednesday, “closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces,” echoing similar remarks made on Tuesday by Vice President Mohamed Reza Rahimi. The comments come as the Iranian navy conducts a ten-day military exercise in the region. The West has shown increasing concern over Iran’s nuclear program, accusing the regime of attempting to develop weapons under the guise of civilian nuclear energy and medical research. Meanwhile, Saudi officials have said Gulf countries can step up oil production to make up for any potential shortfalls in Iranian oil. The nation currently produces about four billion barrels daily, and depends on oil exports for 80 per cent of its revenues.