By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, March 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
Perhaps the elusive Mrs. O should pull a Hillary, and run herself
When Lexie Croft, a Wyoming mother, had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to video chat with the first lady of the United States this week, her complaint was corn dogs. The deep-fried hot dogs on a stick were being offered for lunch at her child’s public school, where, she said, “meal options include nachos with cheese sauce!”
Michelle Obama offered more than sympathy: she had a plan. Call her husband’s Department of Agriculture, which had just come out with new nutritional standards for public schools, she instructed. “They have people on staff” to help schools fix their menus. She encouraged the mother to “work with” like-minded parents and teachers if “your school lunches are not improving.”
This is what Obama does when she’s not donning couture gowns: her “Let’s Move!” campaign goes after the corn dogs, couch potatoes and the one-third of American kids who are overweight or obese. She does so with the carefully calibrated ferocity she brought to helping her husband get elected: just enough to be effective, but not so much that she’d look pushy, or worse, angry.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 5:03 PM - 0 Comments
Anyone who thought Hillary Clinton wouldn’t testify to Congress on the Benghazi attacks—and that she “faked” a concussion to avoid doing so—was misguided. Throughout a long day of being grilled by lawmakers, first before a committee of the Senate, and this afternoon before House members, the outgoing Secretary of State seemed to relish the opportunity to confront her critics over the September terrorist assault that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Clinton admitted that diplomatic security was inadequate but said the department held an investigation and has taken various steps to improve, and quickly turned the tables on Republicans who grilled her by making the case that Congress has repeatedly underfunded her department, including diplomatic security.
Republicans pressed her on why UN ambassador Susan Rice—who delivered the administration’s talking points on TV talk shows—said the attacks grew out of a protest, instead of describing them as part of a pre-planned terrorist attack. Clinton said she did not choose Rice to deliver the comments, and did not know why the official talking points did not describe the violence as terrorism:
“I wasn’t involved in the talking points process. As I understand it, as I’ve been told, it was a typical interagency process, where staff, including from the State Department, all participated to try to come up with whatever was going to be made publicly available. And it was an intelligence product, and it’s my understanding that the intelligence community is working with appropriate committees to kind of explain the whole process.”
When Republican senator Jeff Flake complained that the administration did not give the public a clear picture of what went on, Clinton responded that they did not know themselves:
“We didn’t have a clear picture. I wish I could sit here today and tell you that within days, within a week, by September 20th, when we came up here, we had a clear picture. We did not have a clear picture.”
At one point, she seemed to tear up, talking about her conversations with the families of those killed. Later, when pressed by senator Johnson who said the administration had “misled” the public about the assault springing out of protests, she lost her cool:
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”
(If Clinton decides to run for president in 2016, Republicans have made clear that the Benghazi issue will dog her. Some are already speculating that the “What does it matter?” clip will make it into campaign ads.)
Clinton said key questions about what triggered the attack remain unanswered to this day. “There’s evidence that the attacks were deliberate, opportunistic and pre-coordinated but not necessarily indicative of extensive planning,” she said.
She added that she had other pressing concerns at the time:
“I would say that I personally was not focused on talking points. I was focused on keeping our people safe, because as I said, I have a very serious threat environment in Yemen. It turned out we had people getting over that wall in Cairo, doing damage until we got them out. We had a serious threat against our embassy in Tunis. I had to call the president of Tunisia and beg him to send reinforcements, which he did, to finally save our embassy, which could have been a — disastrous. They burned and trashed our school.”
Clinton also asserted that she had no role in defining the level of security for the consulate, or denying requests for additional security that were made by diplomats in Libya:
“I feel responsible for the nearly 70,000 people who work for the State Department. I take it very seriously. But the specific security requests pertaining to Benghazi, you know, were handled by the security professionals in the department. I didn’t see those requests. They didn’t come to me. I didn’t approve them. I didn’t deny them.”
Senator John McCain criticized her answers as inadequate, and faulted the Obama administration for not doing more to provide Libya with security after the fall of Gadhafi—to which Clinton retorted that Congress had held up the funds for security assistance. “So we’ve got to get our act together between the administration and the Congress,” she said.
Clinton was also pressed on whether the attacks contradict President Obama’s statement that Al Qaeda’s core leadership has been “decimated.” She responded:
“Well, core al-Qaida certainly has been. I think you would hear the same from the intelligence community or DOD. The work that has been done in Afghanistan and the border areas between Afghanistan, Pakistan certainly has taken out a whole cadre of leadership. What we’re seeing now are people who have migrated back to other parts of the world — where they came from, primarily — who are in effect affiliates, part of the jihadist syndicate. Some of them, like al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, use that name. Others use different names. But the fact is they are terrorists. They are extremists. They have designs on overthrowing existing governments, even these new Islamist governments, of controlling territory. So although there has been the decimation of core al-Qaida in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, we do have to contend with the wannabes and the affiliates going forward.”
The hearings grew heated at time when some lawmakers denounced her. A Republican senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, was blunt: “I’m glad that you’re accepting responsibility. I think that ultimately, with your leaving, you accept the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11. And I really mean that. Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it’s inexcusable.” But Clinton later told the House committee that 1.4 million cables come into the State Department, addressed to her, but she does not read them all.
Paul also berated Clinton for not sending U.S. Marines in to guard the diplomats, but Clinton said Marines are used only to guard classified materials and there were none in Benghazi. She said that the transitional government in Libya required that a particular private security company be used.
Clinton also used the hearings to deliver a warning about the growing threat in Mali:
“This is going to be a very serious ongoing threat because if you look at the size of northern Mali, if you look at the topography, it’s not only desert, it’s caves — sounds reminiscent. We are in a for a struggle. But it is a necessary struggle. We cannot permit northern Mali to become a safe haven.”
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
The president begins his second term with political capital to spend, but plenty of barriers in his way
There will be two Bibles (Abraham Lincoln’s and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s), dozens of balls, thousands of musicians and marchers on parade, and more than a half million people expected to descend on Washington to watch Barack Obama take the oath of office for his second term on Jan. 21. The President will arrive at his inauguration more popular than at any time since his first year in office—with an approval rating of 53 per cent—and determined to push a new agenda through a Republican-controlled House of Representatives whose popularity is a fraction of the President’s.
In his high-minded inaugural address in 2009, Obama declared, “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.” Unfortunately, the last four years proved the cynics right. If anything, partisanship has grown more intense, and Congress more averse to compromise. In the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner cannot control a significant number of conservative hard-liners in his own caucus.
Obama comes to his second term reinvigorated and combative with a policy agenda that looks hastily ripped from recent headlines: a post-Newtown attempt at gun control, a post-hurricane Sandy renewed interest in climate change, and a return to the issue of comprehensive immigration reform in the wake of an election in which he won 71 per cent of the Latino vote. But while he embarked upon his first term in the midst of an economic crisis, his second term unfolds amid a made-in-Washington fiscal crisis and partisan stalemate. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 12:36 PM - 0 Comments
Will a blood clot scare stop another presidency run?
The U.S. secretary of state has been making the media rounds saying she’s ready to leave—to be a grandma, to travel for fun, to teach and, above all, to sleep. But nobody quite believes that she isn’t planning another run for the White House. “I really don’t believe that that’s something I will do again,” Hillary Clinton told interviewer Barbara Walters recently. But, asked whether, at the age of 69, she’d be too old to run, she bristled: “I am, thankfully, knock on wood, not only healthy, but have incredible stamina and energy.” Clinton’s hospitalization on Sunday for a blood clot may have cast a shadow on that optimism. The clot stemmed from a concussion she sustained after fainting from dehydration due to a severe stomach virus, and doctors were confident about her recovery. But the string of illnesses has forced her to cancel most of her engagements for the better part of a month, and is an unforeseen setback as she wraps up her tenure as secretary of state.
Of course, Clinton has more than optimism on her side. She exits with one of the highest approval ratings on the national stage, 66 per cent (10 points higher than President Barack Obama), and 57 per cent of Americans say she should run again, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 4:09 PM - 0 Comments
The White House has issued a statement explaining that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, has taken herself out of consideration for the role of Secretary of State.
By John Parisella - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 10:46 AM - 0 Comments
She says she won’t and history is against her. But that Clinton name is magic.
In a few weeks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will leave her post for a well-deserved rest, and certainly a new challenge. She has truly earned the accolades coming from within her country and beyond. She is the ultimate public servant—selfless, loyal, determined, persistent, and effective. Now the early speculation is that she will run for the presidency in 2016.
Clearly, today’s Democratic party remains very much sympathetic to the Clintons. President Bill Clinton’s enthusiastic support of Barack Obama in the last campaign did much to consolidate the Clintons’ standing with the rank and file of the party. Hillary’s stewardship of the State Department and her loyal service to her 2008 rival reinforces the Clinton brand. It is fair to say that the 2016 nomination is hers for the taking.
The question is: Will she run? She will be 69 years come 2016. The reelection of Barack Obama does indicate that America is changing rapidly which favours the Democratic voter coalition, but will the American voter be inclined to return to a baby boomer generation leader? On the basis of competence, the answer is yes. However, four years out of politics is more than an eternity, and one should not underestimate the Republican bench for 2016.
Senator Mario Rubio, Governor Chris Christie, Congressman (and former governor) Jeb Bush, and former vice-president candidate Paul Ryan seem to be already testing the waters. Should all these candidates make a run, and begin to bring the party more to the center, it is plausible that the American voter would consider the Republican alternative—especially after two consecutive terms of White House Democratic rule. Since 1945, only Republican George W.H. Bush was able to add a third consecutive White House term for the governing party.
Democrats have some other notable candidates as well. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Vice President Joe Biden are potential contenders. At this stage, it is doubtful any of those Democrats could defeat Hillary, but if Hillary is true to her word, and stays out of the race, the Democratic bench looks respectable at this point—and strong enough to compete with the GOP crop.
My Democratic friends, who supported Hillary Clinton in 2008, remain hopeful that she will run one more time. Many, while supportive of Obama, believe Hillary still has a rendez-vous with history. It was Obama who said that Hillary made him a better candidate. And in an ironic twist, by choosing Hillary as his secretary of state, Obama makes her a potentially better president than had she won in 2008. She is now more-than-qualified for the big job.
It is too early to predict her future. She will certainly not fade from the scene, and she should not. Whether she runs or not, her voice will be needed in the public forum, both in America and in the rest of the world.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 5:35 AM - 0 Comments
Clinton calls for an end to the Gaza rocket fire on Israel
OTTAWA – With hope of an Israel-Gaza ceasefire beckoning Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird hailed the “miracle” of a Zionist Israel while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began the hard diplomatic work of brokering an end to the violence.
Speaking to a glittering Jewish community fundraising gala, Baird called the birth of Israel a “miracle to behold,” describing it as “a phoenix-like rising … from a barren desert to the dynamic country we see today.”
Earlier on Tuesday, sprinting from President Barack Obama’s Cambodian tour, Clinton arrived in Jerusalem, held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and joined him at a news conference.
“The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Clinton declared.
Unlike Clinton, Baird offered no vestige of equivocation in his keynote speech to the Jewish National Fund’s annual Negev Dinner, held at Ottawa’s opulent National Gallery.
“I want to share reflections on how I came to be such a strong supporter of Israel and why Israel holds such a special place in my heart,” Baird said in prepared remarks.
Hamas, he said, was targeting innocent civilians with its onslaught of rockets aimed at Israel in “a despicable act of terror.”
He explained how the Harper government’s unabashed support of Israel — wildly unpopular among most in Canada’s Arab and Muslim communities — has manifested itself in recent days.
“On Twitter, one person said I supported the burning of children in Gaza. Another accused me of playing settler-colonial diplomacy with the lives of Palestinians,” he said.
“Views like this are rooted in ignorance, or worse … much worse.”
Baird said his safe, middle-class upbringing in suburban Ottawa stood in stark contrast to the suffering and struggle of the Jewish people to build a homeland in Israel.
“After 2,000 years of bitter exile, Zionism — the national expression of the Jewish people gave voice and shape to a dream that never left the Jewish conscience: the return of world Jewry to its ancestral homeland,” he said.
“It is quite simply breathtaking to behold what people like Theodor Herzl, Eliezer Ben- Yehuda and Chaim Weizmann accomplished against all odds. It’s simply a miracle to behold.”
He extolled his grandfather, without naming him, for going to war to fight the Nazis in the Second World War.
“I’m deeply influenced by his contribution to combating an evil which sought to exterminate the Jewish people … that moment in history when the devil almost drove a stake through the heart of humanity,” Baird told his audience.
“The heavy spirit, the knotted stomach, and the paralysis of shock I felt as I learned details of the horrors of the Nazi era have been ingrained in my soul; they shook me to my core and have become part of my DNA.”
Baird recalled meeting a Holocaust survivor in Boston who clasped him hard and told him: “I wish there were more people like you before the war.”
He reiterated past complaints that the United Nations is anti-Israeli and he criticized the “media” for casting Israel as the aggressor in the current round of violence.
Clinton also pledged U.S. support for Israel and its “enduring commitment” to its people, calling for an end to the Gaza rocket fire on Israel.
Clinton affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself, including its Iron Dome missile defence system, which the U.S. has supported.
“But no defence is perfect,” Clinton remarked. “And our hearts break for the loss of every civilian — Israeli and Palestinian — and for all those who have been wounded or who are living in fear and danger.”
She laid out her plan for the days ahead — a vigorous round of shuttle diplomacy to the West Bank for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and then to Cairo for talks with Egypt’s new leaders.
The U.S., Clinton said, wants “an outcome that bolsters security for the people of Israel, improves conditions for the people of Gaza and moves toward a comprehensive peace for all people of the region.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 4:10 PM - 0 Comments
From the headlines of Aug. 30-Sept. 6, 2012
North Korea is reportedly making significant reforms to collective agriculture. Foreigners cannot visit rural areas in the cloistered republic, but defectors say co-operative farms are being subdivided into smaller units, and farmers are being allowed to keep more of their crops for consumption or sale. Agriculture is always a bellwether in centrally planned economies, and the changes might signal a reformist appetite in the circle of Western-educated Kim Jong Un. But they’re good news in themselves, either way.
New rules requiring TV commercials to be no louder than the surrounding programming came into effect Sept. 1, one year after being promulgated by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. Former chairman Konrad von Finckenstein’s 2011 call for comments was met by a deluge of support from viewers tired of “ear-splitting” ads. The new rules require broadcasters to abide by international ad-loudness standards, which are also being adopted by the U.S. this year.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, August 31, 2012 at 2:32 PM - 0 Comments
Pop quiz: which political party is promising the following?
“We will remove regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from innovation and competition”
“We will resist any effort to shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance by international organizations”
“We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach and that individuals retain the right to control the use of their data”
If you guessed the Pirate Party, you’re wrong. The above is part of the just-announced Republican party platform. While Obama may hang out on Reddit and Hilary Clinton may grandstand on the need for digital rights in countries other than America, the GOP is the party that has definitively pledged support for Internet freedom. We have no specific policies yet, but their platform does suggest a strong stance against the U.N. seizing control of Internet regulation, and Hollywood and telecom interference with the open Internet ( this covers Net Neutrality) as well as incursions into personal privacy. It all sounds great!
By Michael Petrou - Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 8:00 PM - 0 Comments
While Washington and Pakistan are increasingly at odds, neither side wants to sever the relationship.
One year after American Navy SEALs slipped undetected into Pakistan and killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden where he had been hiding for years—in a compound a short walk from an elite military academy—Pakistan has finally taken steps to punish someone involved in the debacle.
They haven’t actually arrested anyone who was protecting the terrorist leader, mind you. Instead, last month, following a closed trial, a Pakistani tribal court sentenced Shakil Afridi, a doctor who ran a fake vaccination campaign for the CIA designed to confirm bin Laden’s presence in the compound, to 33 years in jail.
Afridi was arrested shortly after the May 2, 2011, raid. In October, a Pakistani government commission recommended he be tried for high treason because of his work for the CIA, and in the days following his sentencing it was widely reported that this was the reason for his trial. But when the court released its written verdict last week, it was revealed that Afridi had in fact been found guilty of assisting Lashkar-e-Islam, a militant group based in the Khyber tribal region, where Afridi worked. The court’s verdict notes there is evidence that Afridi worked with foreign intelligence agencies, but says it lacked jurisdiction to address those charges and recommends that a different court follow up.
By Nicholas Köhler, Kate Lunau, Chris Sorensen and Michael Petrou - Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM - 0 Comments
Kathie Lee makes viewers cringe, François Hollande caps CEO pay, and a bad week for the Biebs
Justin Bieber had a very bad week. First the Canadian pop star was accused of hitting a photographer in Los Angeles. Next, he was concussed after running into a glass wall on a Paris stage (and blacked out backstage for 15 seconds). And in Norway, fans mobbed him in the streets of Oslo, fainting, pushing, and forcing Bieber to take to Twitter to beg his teen fans to “please listen to the police.” No one was hurt, but none of this will change the opinion Bieber expressed to GQ magazine last month: “You can’t trust anybody.”
Justice for Egypt?
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades before the Arab Spring forced him from power last February, has been sentenced to life in prison for his complicity in the deaths of protesters rising against him. This wasn’t enough for Mubarak’s many opponents, who wanted the death penalty and took to the streets in anger when they didn’t get it. Many are also furious at the acquittals given to top police chiefs allegedly involved in the killings. More than a year after the Arab Spring, the military still decides who will be punished and who will not. They were willing to sacrifice Mubarak, but not his henchmen.
By Mitchel Raphael - Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 7:31 AM - 0 Comments
Capital Diary gathers stories of a storied hotel during its 100th birthday bash.
Celebrating service with a smile (and a wink)
Queen Elizabeth II dined in their ballroom. Nelson Mandela and the Rolling Stones stayed in their rooms. This is just a small fraction of the rich history of the Fairmont Château Laurier which held a big bash Thursday to mark its 100th anniversary.
Maxime Bernier, minister of state for small business and tourism, and other guests signed a giant bottle of Moët champagne worth $3,000 as they entered.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson stopped to admire a man wearing a vintage uniform of the North West Mounted Police from the late 1800s. People in a variety of other period costumes walked around the room as part of the entertainment. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney noted that his grandfather Mart Kenney, a legend in the big band era, played at the hotel several times.
Retired CBC host Don Newman joked, “I laid the cornerstone. I wanted to be the first one to get laid at the Château Laurier.”
Toronto Conservative Sen. Don Meredith, who stays at the Château when he is Ottawa, complimented the hotel’s general manager Claude Sauvé on the hotel’s impeccable service.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 25, 2012 at 11:44 AM - 0 Comments
Foreign Affairs has posted the text of John Baird’s speech in Washington yesterday on the topic of religious freedom.
Canada has a tradition that some in our country seemed to forget during the latter half of the last century: a tradition of standing for freedom and fundamental rights, a tradition of standing against oppression. We did so in the earliest days of World War II … And yet, after the Second World War, some decision makers lost sight of our proud tradition to do what is right and just. Some decided it would be better to paint Canada as a so-called honest broker. I call it being afraid to take a clear position… even when that’s what’s needed.
So I’m proud to say Canada no longer simply “goes along to get along” in the conduct of its foreign policy. We will stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is popular, convenient or expedient. We do so as part of our commitment to basic rights for all.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Friday, March 23, 2012 at 10:34 AM - 0 Comments
An Economist interview suggests a possible run for the Oval Office in 2016
As is customary for all secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton will only serve for one term. By all accounts, she’s done a remarkable job and shown enormous grace, having landed the position after a fierce battle for the U.S. presidency with her current boss, Barack Obama. Americans certainly back her performance. A Bloomberg poll last fall showed 64 per cent of respondents have a favourable opinion of Clinton, and a third think the country would be better off had she been elected to the presidency instead of Obama.
From the article:
Not until the archives are opened will historians know reliably what big issues, if any, she and Mr Obama fought over. But on most big decisions there has been little cause to fight. She and the president had a shared view of America’s global predicament after George W. Bush left office. She says now that it was “painful” when she started to make her phone calls to hear how much perceptions of America had changed. There is self interest in this: her husband preceded Mr Bush. But in Asia in particular allies were anxious about the superpower’s willingness to stay engaged. It was time to bring some “old-fashioned balance into our relationships”.
The newspaper explores what’s next for the current secretary of state, hinting at a possible run for the Oval Office in four years time:
Whether she will run for the presidency again, nobody outside her inner circle can know. (…) But when the election of 2016 arrives she will be 69; no older, she can tell herself, than Ronald Reagan at the start of his presidency. In the meantime, says one of her supporters, the “Clinton network” remains in existence, ready to be activated. The temptation to reach again for the top prize in politics will be hard to resist.
By Gabriela Perdomo and Gustavo Vieira - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 5:52 PM - 0 Comments
For better or worse, it’s been roadblock after roadblock for North America’s most infamous pipeline. Here’s a look at that tortuous timeline:
February 2005 – TransCanada Corp. announces plans to spend $1.7 billion to build a 3,000 km pipeline to move heavy oil from Alberta to Illinois. About 40 per cent of the route would be a conversion of existing pipelines that carry natural gas to handle 400,000 barrels of heavy crude. TransCanada was expected to be operating the pipeline as early as 2008.
By Alex Ballingall - Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
No U.S. Secretary of state has travelled like Hillary Clinton does
No U.S. Secretary of state has travelled like Hillary Clinton does. As Barack Obama’s top diplomat, she clocked more than 354,000 km in 2010—enough to circle the globe nearly nine times. And as the woman who famously said she made “18 million cracks” in the “glass ceiling” during her 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton also travels with a highly trained security contingent that includes more than a dozen women.
They were chosen from thousands of applicants to personally guard the secretary as she trots the globe touting American interests. Writing in Elle magazine, Laura Blumenfeld dubbed them “Hillary’s Angels.” Given that they’re trained to fire guns upside down, run for miles on end and take people down in hand-to-hand combat, the handle seems entirely appropriate.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 3:18 PM - 23 Comments
A statement from the Prime Minister on the liberation of Libya.
“Today, Canadians join with the Libyan people in celebrating the liberation of their country. The Libyan people have courageously risen up against decades of tyranny. Canada’s involvement, as sanctioned by the United Nations and led by NATO, has supported their aspirations for the future. We join Libyans in welcoming the post-Gaddafi era and the transition of the country to a democratic society – one that respects human rights and the rule of law.
“We again commend the work of members of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force and the leadership of Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard. Their efforts have led to the success of NATO’s mission in Libya. NATO has taken a preliminary decision to conclude the mission at the end of October. Canada will continue to work with transitional leaders as the new Libya takes shape.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, September 19, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Uncle Sam leans on New Brunswickers
John Williamson…, a rookie Tory MP and
Uncle Sam leans on New Brunswickers
John Williamson, a rookie Tory MP and Stephen Harper’s former director of communications, heard an earful this summer about American taxes. Many of the constituents in his large riding of New Brunswick Southwest (which shares a border with the U.S.) have been affected by Uncle Sam’s new zeal for enforcing overseas tax-reporting rules. For some, it’s easier to cut through Maine than to tackle the seasonal, inter-island ferry service; pregnant women sometimes go to Maine hospitals, which results in many dual citizens. Williamson says many of these constituents are being forced to pay accountants thousands of dollars to file years’ worth of returns, even though they will end up paying nothing to the U.S. government. It’s a crisis for those who do not have that kind of spare income. The border is something constituents have to deal with frequently. When Williamson himself recently attended a BBQ fundraiser to support volunteer firefighters on Campobello Island in his riding, he had to drive through the States to get there.
By M.G. Vassanji - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 10:25 AM - 5 Comments
The country seems well, but corruption is rampant
In Tanzania, is it that they complain too much, or they expect too much? Since the beginnings of economic and political liberalization in the 1990s, the nation has charged forward; the print media is bold and vociferous in both of the national languages, English and Swahili—especially the latter. Paved roads connect every part of the country, reaching towns and villages previously cut off during the rains; cellphones are in evidence everywhere. The country is connected. It’s as if an engine turned on one day, and the once laid-back country, known as “the land of not yet,” woke up. So what are the complaints about? Or, as a slick, modern voice on the radio says in an angular Swahili, “Wapi ni beef?”
I’m sitting in a full minibus in the lush, hilly southern province of the country, heading from the provincial capital, Mbeya, down to Kyela on Lake Nyasa near the Malawi border. We pass areas growing wheat and corn, tea, banana, avocado, red beans and cocoa. We pass roadside markets selling vegetables, timber and locally made furniture. Finally we arrive at the market town, Kyela, known for its famous Mbeya rice. I can’t help observing that if one did not long for modern amenities such as a hot shower, one could simply lie under a tree all day, picking the occasional weed, and not starve.
On the way, my companion Felix, a local investigative journalist, points out other places of interest: the modest headquarters of a yogourt maker whose product now reaches all over the country; the modest house of a local man who owns hotels in the capital; a downhill bend on the road that was formerly called Uwanja wa Ndege, or “Airport,” because—before the speed bumps came up—vehicles would fly off from this spot down into the valley below; a coal mine started by the Chinese. Felix also tells disturbing stories of abuses of village women by foreign mine workers.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 15, 2011 at 2:30 PM - 4 Comments
Katrina Onstad considers the politics of emoting.
Crying men have a little more leeway. Bill Clinton knew how to work his tear ducts – or at least a quivering lip – to his advantage. Republican House Speaker John Boehner is a prodigious weeper. Perhaps because it’s still rare, a man displaying emotion can deepen his public image, gesturing toward reservoirs of feeling. But for Bill’s wife, one teary appearance in 2008 revealed a mass of confusing attitudes around women crying. While some female voters responded to a humanized Hillary Clinton, TV pundits jeered at the bawling chick who couldn’t take it in the big leagues. Her crying didn’t expand the public’s impression of her; it reduced it. In other words: “What is she – on her period?”
Michaelle Jean’s tearful statement after the earthquake Haiti was one of the defining moments of her term as Governor General and the residential schools apology in the House was an altogether emotional day—consider, for instance, Jack Layton’s speech—but otherwise there aren’t many (any?) recent displays of emotion in the Canadian context that come to mind.
By Paul Wells - Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 5:07 PM - 12 Comments
So there’s this thing called the Community of Democracies. It’s truth in labelling: it’s a loose international assembly of countries that at least claim to be democracies. It’s not perfect — Egypt and Yemen signed its founding declaration in 2000, apparently with a straight face — but it puts democratic freedom at the heart of its mission and makes that aspiration a guiding principle for its existence and action.
Every year the Community of Democracies has a ministerial meeting. Steven Fletcher, who was then the Minister of State for Democratic Reform, attended on the Harper government’s behalf in 2009. “I appreciated the opportunity to meet with experts on democracy assistance and government officials to share Canada’s commitment to take on a more active role in supporting democracy on the world stage,” he said at the time. Lawrence Cannon, then the Minister for Foreign Affairs, attended last year’s ministerial conference. “The Community of Democracies is an important forum for supporting and strengthening democracy around the world,” Cannon said then.
You know where this is going, don’t you. Continue…
By Nancy Macdonald - Friday, June 3, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Lady Gaga makes an entrance, Mark Zuckerberg learns a new skill and Saudi women are driven to rebel
Laying it down with Beantown
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Twitter plea for help in coming up with a friendly wager with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino prompted some great ideas. “There’s a good one: sushi versus clam chowder, and swapping our best beers from two great beer-drinking cities,” Robertson told reporters in Stanley Park, a few steps from the iron statue of Lord Stanley—which currently sports a Canucks jersey. “One that I really like, that I’m going to campaign for with the mayor of Boston, is that the loser buys season’s tickets for a couple of inner-city kids in the winning city,” he said. Another favourite, he joked, would see the loser “swimming with an Orca” or “wrestling a bear.”
Ending the IMF boys’ club?
The bid by France’s Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to become the first female head of the International Monetary Fund was pushed forward at the G8 meet-up in Deauville. She once famously complained there is “too much testosterone” in high-powered circles, a comment that now looks prescient. French President Nicolas Sarkozy talked her up to Barack Obama; Hillary Clinton hailed her candidacy. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev called her the near-consensus choice, though China and India want a non-European from a developing country.
By Nancy Macdonald - Friday, May 13, 2011 at 11:15 AM - 0 Comments
Donald Trump gets sued, Rita Chretien is found alive, and Don Cherry is angry about something again
Compassion for bin Laden
Angela Merkel’s remark that she was “glad” Osama bin Laden had been killed sparked a firestorm of controversy in Germany. Hamburg judge Heinz Uthmann even filed a criminal complaint, alleging the German chancellor broke a law barring the “rewarding and approving of crimes”—in this case, bin Laden’s “homicide.” Politicians denounced her, and 64 per cent of Germans agreed: bin Laden’s death was “no reason to rejoice.” In L.A., however, even the Dalai Lama—compassion incarnate—said he had it coming. “If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures,” said the Tibetan spiritual leader.
Mother’s day miracle
After 49 days alone in a Chevy Astro van on a logging road in remote Nevada, Rita Chretien was found barely conscious, but clinging to life. The 56-year-old Penticton, B.C., native and her husband, Albert, were stranded en route to Las Vegas on March 19; Albert, who left two days later to ﬁnd help, hasn’t been seen since. Rita’s faith, and a bit of trail mix, was all that kept her going until finally she was spotted by hunters on ATVs. “We were praying for a miracle and, boy, did we get one,” her son Raymond told reporters Sunday.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, April 4, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 2 Comments
The secretary of state backed intervention—but she’s seen first-hand what horrors inaction brings
When Barack Obama chose rival Hillary Rodham Clinton to be his secretary of state, he was praised for shrewdly uniting Democrats who had been divided by a bitter primary campaign. But he also picked a hawkish senator who had voted in favour of the use of force in Iraq. It was Clinton, after all, who ran campaign ads that implied Obama was not up to the task of handling foreign affairs: her infamous 3 a.m. telephone ad contrasted Clinton as more experienced, “tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world.”
Now that experience has left its mark. Yes, Clinton is denying reports that she persuaded Obama to enter into an unlikely intervention in Libya, while Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration and its military misadventures, resisted. But while many Americans are drawing foreign policy lessons from Bush’s experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, Clinton is clearly drawing hers from having witnessed her husband’s administration deal with genocides in the Balkans and Rwanda, where the U.S. intervened late, or not at all.