By macleans.ca - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
A Canadian gold-medal winning sculler rescued at sea and an outbreak of measles strikes the U.K.
Developing a peace plan
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ended three days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week with a new plan to restart the Middle East peace process. A key part of the strategy is an effort to boost economic development in the West Bank through U.S. aid and corporate involvement. With little hope of an immediate breakthrough in the years-long political impasse, boosting economic security and creating jobs might go a long way to erasing mistrust in the region and putting it on a more solid path to peace.
After months of downplaying a bribery scandal that has claimed two senior employees and resulted in a former CEO being charged with fraud, engineering giant SNC-Lavalin recently announced a long-overdue shakeup of its embattled board. Chairman Gwyn Morgan and three other directors will be departing. In another bit of boardroom news, Ottawa wants to help fix corporate Canada’s long, dismal track record when it comes to appointing women as directors. The federal government has struck a 23-member council to investigate.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, February 8, 2013 at 4:12 PM - 0 Comments
The newly minted Secretary of State, John Kerry, met with foreign affairs minister John Baird today. They held a joint press conference at the State Department in Washington, Here are a few highlights:
Kerry on Baird:
“He was one of the first calls that I made after I officially came into the building and started and was sworn in, and he is my first guest as foreign minister.”
Kerry on their discussion:
“We dove right into the toughest issues… we began with hockey. I grew up playing a little big, and since I’m a Bruins fan, we clashed in many ways. But he, from Ottawa, is a fan of the Senators. And I want you to know it’s the first time I’ve ever heard someone talk well of senators, so – I’m grateful for it.”
Kerry on his relations with Canada:
“Today was the first of what I know will be many very productive sessions. And the reason for that is that Canada and the United States share the same values. We have a history and a heritage of our people that is unbelievably connected. We have the same entrepreneurial spirit. We have the same core beliefs that everybody ought to be able to find their place in life to do better.”
Kerry on Canadian energy:
“Canada is the largest foreign energy supplier for the United States of America. And many people in America are not aware of that. They always think of the Mideast or some other part of the world. But Canada is our largest energy supplier, and our shared networks of electrical grids keep energy flowing both ways across the border. As we move forward to meet the needs of a secure, clean energy future on this shared continent, we are going to continue to build on our foundation of co-operation.”
Kerry on trade with Canada:
“We also share something else that’s pretty important: a trillion dollars of bilateral trade relationship, and that is hugely important to both of our countries, to our economies and to our citizens. Canada’s one of the largest, most comprehensive investment relationships that we have in the world. It supports millions of jobs here in the United States. And today the foreign minister and I agreed to try to discuss ways that we can grow that and even make it stronger, and there are ways to do that. Our border with Canada, happily, is not a barrier. It’s really a 5,000-mile-long connection between us.”
Kerry on their conversations regarding violence in Syria:
“The foreign minister and I talked about this at length, at length. We both share a deep concern about what is happen there. I am going to focus on it quite considerably.
Kerry, on being asked by a Canadian reporter to speak un peu de français:
“Not today. I’ve got to refresh myself on that.”
Kerry, on whether Obama’s emphasis on climate change in his inaugural address bodes badly for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline:
“With respect to the Keystone, Secretary Clinton has put in place a very open and transparent process which I am committed to seeing through. I can guarantee you that it will be fair, transparent, and accountable.”
Kerry on when a decision will be made:
“I hope we will be able to be in a position to make an announcement in the near term. I don’t want to pin down exactly when, but I assure you, in the near term. I’m not going to go into the merits of it here today. I pay great respect to the important of the energy relationship with Canada, and the importance of the overall relationship. We have a legitimate process that is underway and I intend to honor that.”
Baird on Keystone XL:
“We had a good discussion with regard to Keystone. We appreciate the secretary’s comments at his confirmation hearings.
We spoke about making a decision based on science and based on facts. Obviously when it comes to the environment, I think we have like-minded objectives. Prime Minister Harper and President Obama have both set a 17% reduction in GHG emissions. We have worked well together on reducing vehicle emissions for cars and light trucks. Canada is aggressively moving forward on our plan to ban and phase out dirty coal-fired electricity generation. And we’ll continue to focus on that. We all share the need for a growing economy to create jobs, we share the desire on energy security in North America, and we also share the objective of protecting the environment for future generations. Those will be areas where we will continue to work together.”
By John Parisella - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM - 0 Comments
Romney seems determined to stay the course despite a devastatingly negative ad by the Obama campaign
Back in 2004, Democratic presidential contender John Kerry came off his party’s national convention with better than reasonable odds to make George W. Bush a one-term president.
A political ad called the Swift Boat veterans for Truth took direct issue with the Kerry narrative of the war hero “ready to serve” once again for the greater good. The ad had a devastating effect not so much for its content, but for how the Kerry campaign managed the fallout. The contents were ultimately shown to be incorrect, but the initial inaction or slowness to respond to the ad by the Kerry campaign resulted in a drop in support for the Democratic contender at a crucial moment in the campaign. He never fully recovered, despite solid debate performances in the weeks that followed.
The Bain controversy involving Mitt Romney’s record and his disclosures between 1999-2002 continue to dominate the news and are creating an unnecessary diversion to his candidacy. Even noted conservative commentators like George Will and Bill Kristol are urging Romney to release his tax records for the past 10-12 years to put the issue at rest.
Romney seems determined to stay the course despite a devastatingly negative ad by the Obama campaign released this past weekend. Did he not learn from the Kerry experience? Does he not know that having his opponent define him is usually catastrophic in an election campaign?
Most voters would prefer a contest dominated by the issues, the assessment of the record of the incumbent, the policy choices, and the character of the contenders, especially with high unemployment and a slow economic recovery. Negative advertising, while a fact of political campaigning, has had the effect of turning off voters and adding to increasing cynicism from voters.
Yet, this Bain issue is not the result of a negative ad. It is the result of the Romney campaign not anticipating that running on the Bain record contained some risks. Romney, aware of his controversial healthcare law that served as the forerunner of Obamacare, chose to run more on his business experience and downplay his government record. It soon became fair game when he used his Bain record to show the failures of the Obama record.
Now Romney is faced with trying to change the subject. But holding back on divulging tax returns, or having Swiss bank accounts, or having money in the Caymans with its tax havens, are bound to raise questions after the 2008 financial meltdown and the TARP bailouts that followed to salvage Wall Street. The media is following the story not because Romney is rich , but because the issue of transparency is raised.
Just like John Kerry, Romney is a qualified candidate. He may not be politically agile as a politician, but he did win the primaries and the nomination will be his officially at the Republican National Convention in late August.
It is too early to think the unthinkable that Romney may have to reconsider his candidacy. However, transparency, integrity , and a compelling counter-narrative to Obama remain the best ways to the White House against an incumbent who is vulnerable on the number one election issue—the economy.
Romney has the tools to turn this around. Or, has he unconsciously chosen to “self-Swift-boat”? Time will tell.
And on this note , I will be off for a few days with family and friends. Enjoy your summer.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Saturday, May 7, 2011 at 10:10 AM - 10 Comments
Pakistani intelligence failed to look for Osama, says John Kerry
The discovery of Osama bin Laden, not in some desolate cave in a lawless tribal borderland, but ensconced comfortably in a suburban neighbourhood in the heart of Pakistan, has led to a single burning question in Washington: how could the Pakistani government, recipient of billions of dollars of American aid, not know that for possibly five years America’s most wanted fugitive was living in plain sight, a short walk from a military academy, no less?
For years, Pakistan denied knowledge of his whereabouts, even while the Pakistani intelligence services stood accused of tipping off al-Qaeda’s leaders about American efforts to find them. Anybody who thought that Pakistan was protecting bin Laden was “smoking something they shouldn’t be smoking,” Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, told CNN in 2010.
But those suspicions about Islamabad turned to outrage this week. Relations had already been sharply deteriorating, with the U.S. accusing Pakistan of not being serious in fighting terror—and Pakistanis outraged over U.S. drone attacks against suspected Pakistani terrorist targets. Now, with the news that bin Laden had been living openly in Pakistan, there were calls in Washington for Congress to limit an aid program that has allotted US$7.5 billion over ﬁve years to help strengthen the Pakistani government and win the support of Pakistan’s people. “I think this tells us once again that unfortunately Pakistan, at times, is playing a double game, and that’s very troubling to me,” said Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Senate foreign relations committee. “We clearly need to keep the pressure on Pakistan, and one way to do that is to put more strings attached to the tremendous amount of military aid that we give the country,” she said.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 26, 2010 at 4:42 PM - 3 Comments
Katie Stevens seems like an unrivalled front-runner, but she’s not particularly “relevant”
Could Hillary Clinton win American Idol? This is not an entirely facetious question.
As Idol debuted its Top 24 this week, the women’s half of the competition breaks down like a Democratic presidential primary: one obvious and seemingly inevitable front-runner (think Hillary), several intriguing prospects who could be brilliant or disastrous (Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, Bill Clinton, Bill Bradley, Paul Tsongas or Barack Obama) and a few unremarkable candidates who will soon be forgotten (Dick Gephardt).
The last group is not particularly worth dwelling upon. Two—Janell and Ashley—were eliminated in the competition’s first viewer vote. The rest (Lacey, Michelle Paige and Didi) will probably be gone in short order.
The middle group is both the most interesting, albeit least likely to succeed. Of this year’s 12 final girls, at least five qualify here. Lilly is a punky former busker with platinum blond bangs who sang a relatively obscure Beatles song (Fixing a Hole) this week. Katelyn is this season’s temptress, all big eyes and curly hair, who performed the Beatles’ Oh! Darling this week, while wearing a black leather skirt and bright red lipstick. Siobhan is a glass-blowing apprentice from Cape Cod who sang Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game in an surprisingly deep voice. Crystal is a dreadlocked mum with one of those chin piercings who sang an Alanis Morrisette song while playing guitar and harmonica.
Most intriguing is Haeley Vaughn, a 16-year-old, black, female country singer and guitarist with a way of singing that can only be described as odd-sounding. She turned I Want To Hold Your Hand into something almost reggae. Kara said she was “very pure,” Ellen said she shone, Simon said she was “a complete and utter mess.” Ellen countered that if she was a mess, she was a “hot mess.” It is difficult to express just how wildly divergent the possibilities are here. Haeley could be one of the most intriguing and unique performers in Idol history. She could end up being responsible for one of most excruciating performances in the history of American television. She could be Bill Clinton, she might be Howard Dean.
The clear and unquestionable favourite is Katie Stevens, a savvy 17-year-old who swaggered her way through a Michael Buble song this week. She is pretty and cute and blessed of a big voice. She has an endearing story: her quest for stardom set up as a race against the time and memory of her ailing grandmother. She seems somehow descended from the most successful Idols: Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jordin Sparks, pleasingly and unostentatiously talented and attractive.
If a woman is to win this year’s Idol—Simon Cowell is on record as saying this year’s winner is most likely to be female—it should be Katie Stevens. And maybe that’s a problem.
It is, for one thing, harder to impress when you’re expected to be great. Katie was more or less fine this week, but she was scolded for seeming too contrived and not acting her age. For another, it is harder to be motivated if unchallenged. The unrivalled front-runner tempts doom (see Al Gore or John Kerry).
Cowell has said he wants to find the next Taylor Swift, someone “relevant.” That, right now, isn’t Katie Stevens. And that’s why Idol might need Haeley Vaughn.