By Kate Lunau - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 0 Comments
Bieber brushes up on his history, Big Ben takes a rare break and a comic hero comes out of the transgender closet
Holy diversity, Batman
In the latest issue of Batgirl, a character named Alysia Yeoh reveals she’s transgendered, and her roommate, Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl, responds with a hug. The storyline was created by writer Gail Simone, who notes that the world of comic-book superheroes is becoming more diverse. In 2012, Green Lantern revealed he is gay, and that same year, Northstar (the first superhero to come out, in 1992) married his long-time partner, Kyle. Batwoman, who headlines her own title, is a lesbian. Diversity is “the issue for superhero comics,” Simone told Wired, noting that many of her industry’s most recognizable characters were dreamed up half a century ago, when sexuality and gender issues were treated much differently. If writers were to simply build around those characters, “then we look like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show for all eternity.”
Nicolás Madurohas been elected president of Venezuela by a far narrower margin than his supporters had predicted, in a vote that his opponent, Henrique Capriles, says is “illegitimate.” Maduro was anointed candidate for the ruling United Socialist Party last month, following the death of his flamboyant and controversial predecessor, Hugo Chávez. Maduro promised to carry on Chávez’s “Bolívarian Revolution,” which funnelled state resources to Venezuela’s neglected poor but also wrecked the country’s economy and politicized its public service and state institutions. Maduro won 50.7 per cent of the vote against 49.1 per cent for Capriles. Maduro said they show that Chávez “continues to be invincible, that he continues to win battles.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, May 25, 2012 at 5:07 PM - 0 Comments
Frum gets a conservative welcome, and Joyce Murray’s son is up for a Drama Desk Award
Frum gets a conservative welcome
Sen. Linda Frum held a special reception on the Hill for her brother David Frum, a journalist, writer and former speechwriter for George W. Bush. The occasion was the launch of his first novel, Patriots, the story of an aide who works for a distinguished U.S. senator. The book is dedicated to his sister. One PMO staffer noted that the man shown on the cover looks a lot like Anthony Weiner, the former congressman who tweeted body pictures that reflected his last name. Conservative Sen. Nicole Eaton told Frum his book had been recommended to her by several people “who couldn’t put it down.” When Frum introduced her brother she joked it was “nice for my brother to be in a town where he is still a conservative.” David Frum’s criticisms of the Republican party have made for a “difficult time,” she said. “There have been some tensions.” One of his most honest critics has been his wife, Danielle Crittenden. She adores this book but Frum told of how harsh she’s been on others, especially the first draft of The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush. Crittenden said of the draft: “Is it too late to give the advance money back?” At the launch of this book, Crittenden spoke of the sex scenes in Patriots. She said one friend described reading the sex scenes, because he knew the author well, as “like watching your father dance.” Among the many senators and staffers in attendance was Stephen Harper’s principal secretary Ray Novak, a man rarely spotted on the Ottawa social circuit. Frum signed several books while standing and at one point needed to put down his glass down. Instead Senate Speaker Noël Kinsella was happy to bear his cup. “You learn to not grow attached to any of this stuff,” said Kinsella of his important position.
MP guarantees best lullabies
Ontario Conservative MP Terence Young is expecting his first grandchild on June 6. Neighbours have already loaned Young a crib and playpen so the baby can stay at their place. Young’s daughter, Madeline Hubbard, is having a girl, so the excited grandfather has already purchased many articles of pink clothing. Young says his granddaughter will get the best lullabies. Hubbard is the artistic director of the Opera Jeunesse Music & Theatre Academy. Young says his whole family is musical. The MP, along with his four brothers, all sang in their father’s church choir. His father, George Young, was a rector at St. Anne’s Anglican Church in Toronto, which is famous for murals painted by three members of the Group of Seven: J.E.H. MacDonald, F.H. Varley and Frank Carmichael. Young’s brother Scot Denton was in several rock bands and currently teaches acting at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont. Surprisingly, Young says he has not been tapped to lead O Canada when it is sung in the House each Wednesday. Often parties try to find more musically inclined members like the NDP’s Charlie Angus, a two-time Juno Award nominee, to start the national anthem.
MP’s rapping son
Liberal MP Joyce Murray will be in New York on June 3 for a special theatre awards ceremony. Her son, rap artist Baba Brinkman, is up for a Drama Desk Award in the category of outstanding solo performance for his one-man off-Broadway production The Rap Guide to Evolution. The Drama Desk Awards pit Broadway, off-Broadway and off-off Broadway plays against each other and votes are cast by members of the media. They are like the Golden Globes before the Oscars. Aside from performing the show in New York, Brinkman has also done it for medical conferences as well as at a military base. The production’s website notes his “project owes its origins to the geneticist Dr. Mark Pallen, who specially requested ‘a rap version of the Origin of Species’ for Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday in 2009.”
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, May 25, 2012 at 10:37 AM - 0 Comments
Superheroes save the world at home, but anti-heroes are the avengers in France
Brad Pitt was talking about his role as a conscientious hit man who likes his victims to be as comfortable as possible when he shoots them in the head. But as he held court in Cannes this week, Pitt sounded more like a statesman than hit man, discussing “the toxic divide” of his country’s political landscape and need to protect “the idea of America: innovation, fairness, integrity and justice.”
It was an odd way to promote a profane, viciously dark comedy about low-life gangsters. But Killing Them Softly, which Pitt produced, takes place against the backdrop of the U.S. financial meltdown and the 2008 presidential election. In the opening scene, as the litter blows through an urban wasteland of boarded-up houses, the first voice we hear is Barack Obama rhapsodizing about “the promise that sets this country apart.” Speeches by Obama and George W. Bush play as a soundtrack to the film, which reaches a crescendo when Pitt’s hit man calls Thomas Jefferson a slave-owning wine snob and says, “America’s not a country. It’s a business.”
In a season where American gladiators are saving the world with stunning predictability—in The Avengers, Battleship, The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man—the stars of the Festival de Cannes seem intent on exposing the bankruptcy of the American dream. Seven of the 22 movies in the festival’s main competition hail from North America. They’re all tales of desperation, rebellion and outlaw romance. And they add up to one of the fiercest waves of renegade cinema to wash up on the French Riviera since the 1970s.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 8:40 AM - 4 Comments
Sure, he’s pulling troops out of Iraq, but he’s found lethal new ways to flex America’s military muscle
Barack Obama used U.S. air power to prevent a massacre and facilitate the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. He sent a team of Navy SEALS to conduct a secret surgical strike in Pakistan that took out Osama bin Laden, America’s public enemy number one. He sent a Predator drone armed with Hellfire missiles to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, whose extremist preaching was linked to several attempted terrorist attacks against the U.S. All three objectives were achieved without invasion, occupation, or the loss of American lives.
The last decade was dominated by the Bush administration’s “shock and awe” display of U.S. military might, a swagger that descended into a “long war” of occupation and nation building in Afghanistan and Iraq that left thousands of Americans dead and wounded, and cost upward of a trillion dollars. But cold, calculating and nimble, Obama has turned a new page on the projection of American power. His emphasis on technology, intelligence, and leaning on allies is leaving a smaller and less costly U.S. military footprint on the globe, but one that is proving to be just as lethal to its adversaries.
In his first days as President, Obama ordered interrogation techniques cleaned up and the prison at Guantánamo Bay to be closed within a year. Congress objected, and Guantánamo has remained open, but the President has added zero detainees to the inmate population. Indeed, he’s barely taken any prisoners—instead, he has presided over many more drone strikes against terrorist suspects than George W. Bush. He is not waterboarding enemy prisoners who have been removed from the battlefield; he is killing them where they stand. (The administration denies frequent accusations that it is killing militants when capturing them would have been feasible.)
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 12:32 PM - 38 Comments
A few weeks after NDP MP Don Davies suggested Dick Cheney should be barred from entering Canada, Amnesty International says Canadian authorities should arrest George W. Bush when he visits next week. It’s not clear that we have the power to do so. Jason Kenney is unimpressed.
“Amnesty International cherrypicks cases to publicize based on ideology. This kind of stunt helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said.
Kenney noted in an email that in the past, Amnesty had not asked for Canada to bar former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, even though the rights organization itself said he had presided over “arbitrary arrests, detention, and criminal prosecution.”
Castro’s last visit to Canada would seem to have been for Pierre Trudeau’s funeral in October 2000.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 7, 2011 at 9:44 AM - 3 Comments
Nate Silver measures the impact of campaign advertising.
Campaign ads matter more when a candidate can outspend the opponent. This simple fact sometimes gets lost because people fixate on the content of ads. But the volume of ads may matter more. Consider the 2000 presidential election. In the final two weeks of the campaign, residents in battleground state were twice as likely to see a Bush ad as a Gore ad. This cost Gore 4 points among uncommitted voters. The same thing happened in 2008, when Mr. Obama vastly outspent his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain.
By macleans.ca - Friday, September 16, 2011 at 10:57 AM - 6 Comments
Book by Dick Cheney
Cheney’s unapologetic memoir, which stretches from a modest childhood in Nebraska and Wyoming to his rise as the most powerful vice-president in history, saves its emotional energy for settling scores, especially against fellow members of the administration of George W. Bush. (One of the few tidbits he does reveal: the secure “undisclosed location” to which he was so often consigned after 9/11 was not some cave bunker but often his own home or the woodsy presidential retreat of Camp David.) On policy, Cheney has few regrets. “One of the most significant accomplishments” of Bush’s presidency, he writes, was “the liberation of Iraq and the establishment of a true democracy in the Arab world.”
The book describes Cheney’s outsized influence in the first Bush term and increasing marginalization in the second. While he successfully pushed for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, by the summer of 2007 he could not persuade Bush to bomb a Syrian nuclear reactor. “After I finished, the president asked, ‘Does anyone here agree with the vice president?’ Not a single hand went up around the room.” Cheney saves his harshest words for Bush’s two secretaries of state. He accuses Condoleezza Rice of misleading Bush while fumbling disarmament talks with North Korea (“We were promising rewards for their duplicity”) and naively seeking diplomatic engagement with villains. “In meeting after meeting, it seemed we had to argue against yet another misguided approach from the State Department.” And Colin Powell is painted as a disloyal colleague who criticizes Bush’s policies to others but not to the president’s face.
The world according to Cheney is dangerous and needs American power. When defence secretary Robert Gates tells the Saudis in late 2007 that Bush would be impeached if he took military action against Iran’s nuclear program, Cheney is livid: Gates “removed a key element of our leverage.” But Cheney’s will not be the last word. Rice’s political memoir is due out Nov. 1.
By David Collenette - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 11:25 AM - 4 Comments
The former transport minister on deciding who to ground and who could fly on Sept. 11, 2001
“Wind up your speech. There has been a tragedy.” This hastily handwritten note, placed on the lectern as I delivered the keynote address at a conference of international airport executives, heralded the longest day of my political life. It was Sept. 11, 2001.
I had gotten up at 5 a.m. to take a Transport Canada Citation jet to Montreal, a groggy start to another long ministerial day. The conference should have been routine. But just after 9 a.m., the audience became restless. This was not unusual for a politician giving a speech; still I was puzzled. For the most part, people had appeared quite interested.
I continued to speak while reading the note, which instructed me to talk to assistant deputy minister Louis Ranger and avoid the media. I feared the worst, probably a serious accident, which Louis did confirm: at 8:45 a.m. a plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York. I immediately sensed some type of terrorist act had occurred, since passenger jets just don’t crash into tall buildings if they are in trouble. There are all kinds of emergency procedures for pilots: landing at the nearest airport or ditching in water around Manhattan.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 11:15 AM - 1 Comment
Deeper economic integration has been stalled by a risk-averse U.S. government
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, then-foreign minister John Manley was relaxing on an Air Canada flight from Germany when a pair of flight attendants asked him to come up to the cockpit. The pilots wanted to know what to tell the passengers about the extraordinary events on the ground. They gave Manley headphones for listening to radio updates. Airports in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa were closing. “It was chaos,” he recalled. “No one knew if it was four planes or a dozen.”
Canada’s then-ambassador to the United States, David Kergin, had just arrived at his office near the Capitol to see black smoke rising from the Pentagon building across the Potomac River. “We very quickly concluded maybe we were best to stay in the embassy because it was secure,” he recalls. As rumours abounded of bombs in the U.S. capital, the ambassador had a call from prime minister Jean Chrétien. “You know, the world will never be the same again,” Chrétien told him. It wasn’t—and neither was Canada’s relationship with the U.S.
Ottawa’s relations with Washington had generally focused on trade disputes such as softwood lumber and agriculture. Since then, the focus of time, energy, and spending has been the border. No longer is the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office the most important for Ottawa. Now the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), created in the aftermath of the attacks, eclipses all else. The job of DHS is not to ensure trade and prosperity, but help to prevent another attack. And Canadians have felt the difference.
By Andrew Coyne and Paul Wells - Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 12 Comments
Andrew Coyne and Paul Wells debate the successes and failures of the world’s response after 9/11 and how safe we are today
ANDREW COYNE: Perhaps the best way to think about the legacy of Sept. 11 is to think of all the things that haven’t happened. Most obviously, there has been no successful terrorist attack on American soil since then—nor any attempted attack originating from Canadian soil. Neither have there been any of the consequences that might well have followed from a second, possibly worse attack, or in some cases were predicted to follow from the first: no wholesale victimization of Muslims, no long, black night of repression of dissent, no cataclysmic clash of civilizations, and so on.
This is of more than theoretical interest. If, 10 years later, al-Qaeda seems a depleted force, there was no guarantee things would turn out that way, nor did it seem likely at the time. Reviewing television footage from the day, what is striking is the sense of bewilderment in the voices of the normally phlegmatic anchormen, as the planes keep dropping out of the sky. Who could blame them? As of about noon that day, you could have told me California had fallen into the sea and I’d have believed you.
The audacity of attacking the world’s most powerful nation in such spectacular, head-on fashion still has the power to shock. More than anything else, Sept. 11 was a show of strength: look what we can do to you, it announced. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.
By Colby Cosh, Richard Warnica, and Alex Ballingall - Monday, September 5, 2011 at 3:45 PM - 0 Comments
Gail Asper steps up, Steve Jobs steps down, and Beyoncé is with child
Just call her ‘G’
Winnipeg philanthropist Gail Asper, 51, is inspiring admiration and horror in her hometown with a surprise contribution to the genre of “older white folks rapping.” Asper is among prominent locals asked to contribute short videos to the University of Manitoba’s VoteAnyWay youth-voter drive; Asper’s supposedly self-penned number, delivered on the steps of the legislature building, reminds viewers: “Even if you’ve got smallpox / you can still go tick that box,” as the media heiress improvises gang signs and grabs her derrière. Local rapper Patrick “Pip Skid” Skene told the Winnipeg Sun her intentions were “honourable” but admitted “the rap is pretty wack.”
Brother of the year?
Gaelan Edwards said he learned his craft from “medical books” and TV. But as an amateur doctor, his record is pretty solid nonetheless. The 12-year-old delivered his own baby brother after his mom went into labour at their home in Campbell River, B.C. Gaelan, the eldest of five, pulled his brother out by his shoulders, helped his mother push out the placenta, then clamped and cut the umbilical cord. Baby Caynan was born a healthy 7 lb., 9 oz. Lucky for mom, Gaelan was up late watching a movie about showgirls when her sudden labour kicked in. He is now said to be considering a more formal medical career.
By Michael Petrou - Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 6:40 PM - 0 Comments
The Assad regime is down but not out. What happens next will have serious implications for Iran.
Six months ago, before anything and everything seemed possible in the Middle East, Syria was not an obvious candidate for regime change. Bashar al-Assad had ruled for a decade, and before him, his father Hafez had been in charge for three. The army appeared loyal to the Assad dictatorship, the secret police were everywhere, and Iran propped up the whole apparatus.
Crucially, Syrian security forces had demonstrated a lack of qualms about using deadly force against their fellow citizens. As many as 20,000 Syrians were killed in the city of Hama in 1982 when Hafez al-Assad crushed a Muslim Brotherhood revolt, levelling much of the town in the process. There was little reason to believe the army would hold its fire the next time around.
And so the Syrian revolution began slowly. The first demonstrations, early this year, were ostensibly in support of uprisings elsewhere in the region. Two hundred demonstrators, carrying placards calling for freedom and denouncing “traitors” who beat their own people, staged a peaceful sit-in outside the Libyan Embassy in Damascus in February. They were beaten and dispersed by uniformed and plainclothes police.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, July 25, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 32 Comments
After years of foreign wars and interventions, a new mood of isolationism is sweeping America
It took a truck driver from Manchester, N.H., to put the matter succinctly. “Well, I support the U.S. military,” Greg Salts told the arrayed candidates at the Republican presidential debate in the Granite state last month. “But frankly, we’re in debt up to our eyeballs.” Isn’t it time to close some U.S. bases abroad, he asked. A retired navy man named John Brown also wanted to know, “Osama bin Laden is dead. We’ve been in Afghanistan for 10 years. Isn’t it time to bring our combat troops home from Afghanistan?”
Not so long ago, such questions would have come from Democrats and would have been met with charges of disloyalty and taunts of “cutting-and-running” from Republicans. No longer. The Republican presidential front-runner, Mitt Romney, said in that debate, “We’ve learned that our troops shouldn’t go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation.”And the Tea Party darling, Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, said the U.S. should never have intervened in Libya. “First of all, we were not attacked. We were not threatened with attack. There was no vital national interest,” she declared. Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman went even further, calling for a smaller U.S. footprint abroad. “The deployments are mighty expensive,” he said at a campaign stop in New Hampshire. “We’re going to have to look at the map at some point and reset our level of engagement and our deployments in some corners of the world.”
Welcome to the new U.S. reality. As discussions of national security morph into a debate over spending and debt in a nation still limping out of the Great Recession, questions are being raised about just how big a military America can afford—and what happens if the global cop walks off the job? And they are coming not just from Democrats, whose President is drastically drawing down troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, but also from Republicans who for a decade had rallied around a hawkish view of America’s role in the world.
To appreciate how far the mood has shifted, consider the November 2007 Republican presidential debate in St. Petersburg, Fla., where candidates such as John McCain and Rudy Giuliani sought to out-hawk one another and were pressed by voters on whether they would “make a permanent long-term military commitment to the people of Iraq?” Giuliani urged Americans to “stay on the offence” and not to put their “head in the sand,” like their opponents. “You’ve got a Democratic debate and not a single one of those Democratic candidates used the word ‘Islamic terrorism,’ ” he declared. That phrase was used four times in the 2007 GOP debate. In the latest Republican contest, it was not uttered at all.
By John Parisella - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 6:28 PM - 23 Comments
Among the many side debates that have emerged since the death of Osama bin…
Among the many side debates that have emerged since the death of Osama bin Laden, one has surfaced concerning George W. Bush’s refusal of an invitation by President Barack Obama to visit Ground Zero on May 5, 2011 to lay a memorial wreath. Explanations have been offered concerning Bush’s motives, but none seem sufficiently definitive to end the discussion.
In October 2009, President Bush was invited to speak in Montreal as part of a North America tour ahead of the launch of his book. I was asked to be the moderator of the event and was invited to a private one-on-one meeting with the former president before the event. Bush was friendly and gracious as we discussed the conference format. Not long into the conversation, the president emphasized two points: Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Monday, March 28, 2011 at 9:25 AM - 4 Comments
The West plunges into another brutal Mideast conflict. How long will we have to stay this time?
A coalition of mostly Western nations, including Canada, has entered a war with loosely defined objectives and an uncertain end.
Following much-delayed approval from the United Nations Security Council for a no-ﬂy zone and the use of “all necessary measures” short of occupation to protect civilians, France, Britain and the United States launched a barrage of air and cruise missile strikes against Libyan air defences, armour and command centres last weekend. Canadian CF-18 fighters flew their first sorties over Libya Monday. Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s expansive Bab al-Aziziya complex in Tripoli was attacked Sunday night—suggesting, despite conflicting statements from nations fighting in Libya, that Gadhafi himself is a target.
British Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs Monday that the Security Council resolution “does not provide legal authority for action to bring about Gadhafi’s removal from power by military means.” Britain’s chief of defence staff, Gen. David Richards, said targeting Gadhafi was “not allowed under the UN resolution.” But Defence Secretary Liam Fox said striking at the Libyan leader was “potentially a possibility.”
U.S. President Barack Obama, who for weeks appeared reluctant to involve American forces in the Libyan war, said the mission’s goals centred on protecting civilians rather than regime change. Asked if these goals might be achieved with Gadhafi still in power, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said, “That’s certainly potentially one outcome.” Speaking in Chile Monday, Obama said Gadhafi “needs to go,” but suggested this might be accomplished using “a wide range of tools” besides military action.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, February 14, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 6 Comments
Bush’s former secretary of defence is still swinging
Donald Rumsfeld is still at war. In his new memoir, Known and Unknown, George W. Bush’s former defence secretary takes aim at fellow Republicans. And one is blasting him back. Rumsfeld writes that Republican Sen. John McCain, who criticized him for sending too few troops to Iraq, had a “hair-trigger temper and a propensity to fashion and shift his positions to appeal to the media.” McCain, who had argued for a “surge” in the number of troops, went on Good Morning America this week to respond: “I respect secretary Rumsfeld. He and I had a very, very strong difference of opinion about the strategy that he was employing in Iraq, which I predicted was doomed to failure.” And, he added, “Thank God he was relieved of his duties and we put the surge in; otherwise we would have had a disastrous defeat in Iraq.”
Others may be weighing in as well. Rumsfeld also takes on the image of Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state, as a voice of dissent in the Bush cabinet. “The media image of Powell battling the forces of unilateralism and conservatism may have been beneficial to Powell in some circles, but it did not jibe with reality. The reality was that Powell tended not to speak out at National Security Council or principals meetings in strong opposition to the views of the president or of his colleagues.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 4, 2011 at 1:48 PM - 48 Comments
Shankar Vedantam argues that partisanship is the new racism.
When partisanship is seen as a form of social identity—I’m a Democrat because people like me are Democrats, or I’m a Republican because people like me are Republicans—we can understand why so many blue-collar Kansans are Republicans and why so many Silicon Valley billionaires are Democrats, even though each group’s rational interests might be better served by the other party. Partisanship as social identity helps explain why, if you’re a black man in America, it’s really, really difficult to be a Republican. Same goes if you are a white, male, evangelical Christian in rural Texas who supports Barack Obama. Social identities are not deterministic—there will always be some black Republicans and some born-again Christians who are liberals—but most of us stick with our social tribes. Any liberal who supported George W. Bush’s adventure in Iraq would have been ostracized by his friends. A conservative who feels Barack Obama is a cool president will be made to feel like a traitor at church.
By Adnan R. Khan - Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 9:20 AM - 7 Comments
The former president claims the ex-chancellor promised to support the Iraq invasion. Liar, Schröder says.
Berlin political circles were buzzing last week after the publication of former U.S. president George W. Bush’s memoirs, in which he accuses Gerhard Schröder, Germany’s ex-chancellor, of breaking a promise to support the Iraq war. In the memoir, entitled Decision Points, Bush alleges Schröder told him in a Jan. 31, 2002 meeting in the Oval Office that, “If you make it fast and make it decisive, I will be with you.” Later, with German elections looming and public opinion strongly against the war, he turned tail and joined the anti-war camp. “I put a high premium on trust,” Bush goes on to write. “Once that trust was violated, it was hard to have a constructive relationship again.” Schröder went on to win the 2002 election on an anti-war platform, ushering in a brief period of frigidity in German-American relations that lasted until Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats ousted Schröder from office in 2005. But over that three-year period, the two leaders barely met, and their animosity became emblematic of a widening political gap between the U.S. and Europe.
By macleans.ca - Friday, November 12, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Emma Watson’s really big moment, the Dog Whisperer’s disappointing day, Pamela Anderson’s good deed’s too dirty
Cesar Millan, TV’s “Dog Whisperer,” was a hit with the crowd at sold-out Scotiabank Place in Ottawa last week, even though Ontario law deprived him of a key cast mate—Junior, the two-year-old American pit bull that recently took over from the dearly departed Daddy as Millan’s “right-hand man.” Millan, halfway through a tour of Canada, demonstrated training techniques on local dogs and expounded on his philosophy of calm assertiveness, but took time to criticize Ontario’s 2005 ban on pit bulls. “In the ’70s, the breed that people were afraid of was the Doberman,” he told the audience. “In the 2000s, it’s the pit bull. It’s not the breed, it’s the human behind the dog.”
Absolute powers of persuasion
Chinese authorities may not have much success persuading European governments to boycott the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honouring jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo, but they’re having better luck at home. Author Yu Jie, a friend of Liu’s, said he and his wife have been stopped from leaving their Beijing home by security officers, for fear they plan to go to Oslo. Meanwhile, Guo Xianliang, an engineer from Yunnan province, disappeared while on a business trip in Guangzhou. He’d been detained for distributing flyers about Liu, according to fellow activist Ye Du. Police have also reportedly detained a young woman, Mou Yanxi, who tweeted her support for Liu. “If such behaviour goes on,” her friend Zhang Shijie tweeted last week, “it will eventually happen to all of us.”
By Kate Fillion - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 9 Comments
On terrorism, marriage, and growing up in a city where she couldn’t sit at the lunch counter
The 66th U.S. secretary of state also served as president George W. Bush’s national security adviser during his first term. A long-time faculty member at Stanford University, Rice currently teaches two courses, and recently published a memoir of her parents’ influence on her life, Extraordinary, Ordinary People.
Q: You grew up in a completely segregated city. But you write that as a child, the sense of injustice didn’t sink in. Why not?
A: When you’re young, your world is pretty limited. My parents, my family, my church dominated my world. And because Birmingham was so segregated, you didn’t really have to encounter the slings and arrows of racism on a daily basis. Obviously, from time to time you did, like when my parents took me to see Santa Claus and he wasn’t letting black children sit on his knee. But my parents tried to insulate me as much as they could.
Q: Like not wanting you to use “coloured only” facilities?
A: Right. They were pretty clear that “coloured” meant, usually, inferior. My grandfather on my mother’s side was determined that his family would never use a “coloured” restroom. My aunt remembers a lot of uncomfortable road trips where they really needed to go to the bathroom but he wouldn’t let them. It’s a way to shield against linking skin colour with something second-rate.
By Brian Bethune - Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
Religious denominations no longer divide Americans—religion itself, and its role in public life, splits the nation
Half a century ago, when religion entered the political arena in the U.S., it was as a matter of tensions between denominations, the kind of flare-up in tribal loyalties sparked by Catholic John F. Kennedy’s 1960 run for the presidency. With a full 30 per cent of respondents telling pollsters that they would never vote for any Catholic, Kennedy had to repeatedly assure voters he didn’t take marching orders from the pope.
But religion itself was quiescent—certainly in comparison to other times in American history, including the present—primarily because both religious and secular Americans held the same conservative views on sexual morality. It’s an era that now seem almost as far in the past as the Inquisition: by 2004, when Catholic John Kerry ran against George W. Bush, the religious tribes had almost vanished and Kerry’s denomination was of little interest to Protestant voters. What counted was how devout he was, and how his religiosity, or lack thereof, affected his policies on the hot-button moral issues of American politics.
How American religion lost its interior animosities (mostly, that is—Mormons and Muslims are still largely outside the tent), while becoming a much more militant side of a deep religious-secular divide, is the key question for Robert Putnam and David Campbell in American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. To find the answer and to see if current trends seem likely to hold up, the co-authors comb through the two most comprehensive surveys ever done on religion and public life in the U.S., specially commissioned for their book. Campbell and Putnam, the latter a political scientist who rose to fame in 2000 with Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital, get where they’re going all right, and they turn up a lot of fascinating information about America’s ever-evolving religious life along the way.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 11:43 AM - 0 Comments
And dealing with the royals after Diana died
Tony Blair ranks high on the list of Britain’s most successful prime ministers, having led his Labour Party to three consecutive majorities. But by the time he left office in 2007, after a decade in power and two major wars, he was also among the country’s most divisive. His new memoir, A Journey, published this week by Knopf Canada, charts the ups and downs of a political life.
Q: A few weeks ago you announced your intention to donate the profits from this memoir, and I gather the advance money as well, to the British Legion to help wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Why?
A: I wanted to honour the commitment and show my respect to people who I think have done the most amazing job. Those from my country, the U.K., the U.S. and Canadian armed forces, all of those who have been in the front line of this battle. I wanted to donate to the Royal British Legion in order to try to help, and in particular prepare, those who have been injured to either go back to front-line service or civilian life. It’s a worthy cause, but I had actually decided to give the money to a charity connected to the armed forces before I had even written the book.
Q: It’s a decision that has been lauded by some, and dismissed as a calculating PR move by others. But in the book, you do refer to the emotional toll the deaths and casualties took on you. How has that burden changed you?
A: You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel both a sense of responsibility and a deep sadness for those who have lost their lives. That responsibility stays with me now, and will stay with me for the rest of my life. You know, I came to office as prime minister in 1997, focusing on domestic policy and ended up in four conflicts—Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. And it does change you, and so it should.
By Jaime J. Weinman - Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 8:33 AM - 0 Comments
He was good at limiting the ‘general anti-Muslim hate’
There are billboards in the U.S. with George W. Bush’s face and the slogan “Miss me yet?” The people answering “yes” are, unexpectedly, liberals. Since conservative activists have been campaigning against the construction of an Islamic cultural centre and mosque near Ground Zero in New York—egged on by many key Republicans—left-leaning commentators are nostalgically recalling Bush’s more enlightened attitude toward Islam. “For once,” wrote Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, “I really do miss George W. Bush.”
After 9/11, Bush combined his red-meat rhetoric (not to mention the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq) with more conciliatory speeches. He visited an Islamic Centre in Washington, assured U.S. Muslims that “the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,” and said that Muslim women who cover their heads “must not be intimidated in America.” When he was criticized for calling the War on Terror a “crusade,” he stopped using the term. Imam Faisal Rauf (who is now in charge of the planned mosque) was chosen by the Bush administration as a goodwill ambassador to the Middle East.
By macleans.ca - Friday, August 13, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Hugo Chávez’s weird new quest, a flight attendant who’s had enough, and the Judy Garland of the American right
Miss Australia’s technicolour tent
The “national costume” is one of the quainter events at next month’s Miss Universe contest. Trouble is, Australians don’t really have one, so Jesinta Campbell, 18, will represent Oz in what has been called a “national joke,” a “travesty” and a “dingo’s breakfast.” She says she’s proud of designer Natasha Dwyer’s creation, accurately describing it as “incredible.”
Good night, and good luck
After six tumultuous years at the head of the CBC’s English Services division, Richard Stursberg was shown the door late last week. Stursberg was closely associated with the broadcaster’s turn toward more commercial fare, most notably helping bring to air ratings hits such as Little Mosque on the Prairie and Dragons’ Den. But he also oversaw some of the most trying events in recent years, including the 2005 lockout of English-language radio and TV employees, and last year’s wave of layoffs. No reason was given for the departure, which was effective immediately, though rumours have swirled the former head of Telefilm Canada clashed with fellow executives over the Mother Corp.’s long-term strategy. The broadcaster has only confirmed the decision to let Stursberg go “was made by [CBC President] Hubert Lacroix.”
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 9:18 AM - 13 Comments
Harmonization was once all the rage, but under Obama the initiative appears dead
On a sunny August morning in 2007, while protesters were cordoned off by a security perimeter and reporters corralled into a side room, a high-powered meeting took place inside Quebec’s woodsy Château Montebello. On one side of a square meeting table sat Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his aides. On another sat then-U.S. president George W. Bush and his entourage, and on a third, the delegation of Mexican President Felipe Calderón. On the fourth side, in a rare position to hold the simultaneous attention of all three leaders of North America, sat the CEOs of corporate titans like Wal-Mart, Lockheed Martin, the Campbell Soup Co. and Procter & Gamble—each armed with a wish list of ways to change economic and trade regulations to increase profit and efficiency.
The occasion was the annual “three amigos” summit, a ritual that had begun in 2005 when Bush invited his counterparts to meet and address concerns that security had trumped trade in the years since 9/11. The three leaders created 20 working groups of bureaucrats, hammering away on issues from harmonizing regulations to developing pandemic preparedness plans. The effort, called the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), was meant to continue North American economic integration where NAFTA had left off.