This Week: Good news/Bad news

Plus a week in the life of Paul Kelly

Moammar GadhafiFace of the week
Strong man: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi celebrates the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought him to power

A week in the life of Paul KellyA week in the life of Paul Kelly
The 54-year-old lawyer arrived in Chicago on Saturday amid speculation he was about to lose his job as executive director of the NHL Players’ Association. Two days earlier, rumours had surfaced that a rebel group led by retired star Eric Lindros and Buzz Hargrove, the former head of the Canadian Auto Workers, were plotting Kelly’s downfall. On Sunday, association board members left him waiting for hours in a hotel corridor, then summoned him to tell him he was fired.


No more bull
A metaphor can be a mighty thing, and when U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal likened NATO efforts in Afghanistan to a bull rushing at matador’s cape, he captured the state of a mission that—however noble in purpose—is lurching toward defeat. The top American commander in the country is now calling for a wholesale change in strategy, moving away from skirmishes with insurgents and toward winning the favour of the Afghan population. Whether the time for such a shift has passed is not yet clear, and it would have to be backed by a heavier troop presence to secure development and humanitarian activity. Still, not all hope is lost, and at long last, someone in authority is telling it like it is.

Separation anxiety
Pauline Marois and the Parti Québécois trail the Liberals by nearly 20 percentage points, a recent poll suggests, and the separatists are lashing out at each other. Even Marois’s old pal, arch-sovereigntist Lise Payette, attacked the PQ leader, describing the numbers as “a disaster.” Quebecers deserve a good opposition, but these signs of fraying reflect a cold reality for the old generation of Péquistes—namely that voters are moving on from the inward-looking nationalism that these veterans represent. That’s good news for Quebec and, in our view, great news for the future of Canada.

Slippery slope
For a while, it looked like atheist Richard Dawkins had the upper hand in the God debate. But believers of all sorts are showing a creative resurgence. Jerry Falwell Jr., chancellor of Liberty University in Virginia, has installed an all-weather ski slope to draw more students to the Christian school, and thus to salvation. Then there’s Sergei Torop, a former Russian traffic cop who claims he is the reincarnation of Jesus. Torop has inspired a following of thousands, and passes his days painting in his chalet while 300 vegetarian followers huddle in wooden huts around his Siberian church. If Dawkins is going to keep up with this, he’d better get busy.

Speed thrills
The fast-growing racing series NASCAR made a stop in Montreal last week, with terrific results. Many Canadians look down on the stock car circuit as a hillbilly pastime. But the Montreal event was everything auto racing should be. The cars raced the curvy, historic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the winner wasn’t decided until the final turn. Three Quebec drivers finished in the top seven, including home boy Jacques Villeneuve (son of Gilles), who came third. Maybe a bit of Montreal is exactly what NASCAR needs. And vice versa.


Trial by fire
Two firefighters were killed and dozens of homes were lost in California, while raging forest fires emptied several communities in the B.C. Interior, highlighting the need to take wildfire seriously in community planning. The issue is not new: low-density communities have for years been steadily expanding into the woods; alas, their mere existence prevents natural burn cycles while increasing the likelihood of human-caused fires. Insurance costs alone suggest measures like permanent fire guards make sense. The lives at stake justify them beyond doubt.

Throw the bums in!
Japan’s political culture was in dire need of fresh air after 54 years under the Liberal Democratic Party. But the country’s change of government this week may prove worse than more of the same. Japan’s stagnant economy, record-high unemployment and crushing debt all relate to entitlements enjoyed by an aging population, along with an unhealthy co-dependence between business and government. Yet, far from offering reform, Yukio Hatoyama’s Democrats have promised more subsidies and social spending, ensuring a greater burden on future generations. Hatoyama’s policies must change, or Japan will soon find itself in an even deeper economic hole, pining for the bad old days of the LDP.

Stolen youth
Neighbours in Antioch, Calif., called him “Creepy Phil,” but Phillip Garrido’s bizarre behaviour and his status as a convicted sex offender didn’t attract a closer look by police. They would have found a backyard house of horrors where he and his wife, Nancy, allegedly held Jaycee Dugard captive for 18 years since she was kidnapped at age 11. And they would have found her daughters, 11 and 15, allegedly fathered by her abductor. Instead, three childhoods were stolen, though at least the captives emerged alive. Now police are reopening cases dating back some 20 years involving more than 10 missing or murdered women and girls. It is late, but as this case demonstrates, it is never too late.

Bad company
British police have said they’ll re-examine the 1969 death of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, fuelling speculation he fell victim to foul play. The band Oasis split up amid accounts of physical confrontation between brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher. In the U.S., Chris Brown appeared on TV to say he can’t remember the vicious beating he gave his ex-girlfriend and fellow singer Rihanna last February. Sex and drugs have always been part of the music biz. But has it ever been this violent?

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