Wednesday Night #1715

Written by  //  January 14, 2015  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

The late-breaking story that Oxford University Press reportedly barred pigs and anything pork-related from children’s books elicited considerable skepticism and immediate suggestions that this would mean no “Animal Farm”, let alone “3 Little Pigs”. It is too early for April Fool, but this could be fodder from The Onion. However, the source was the International Business Times. [Subsequently, clarification came via The National Post]. Seems it was not all children’s books, but in fact instructions to that effect were issued to one author. Or maybe not, if one reads the rather lame statement from the publisher. We still worry about Piglet.

The Algerian origins of many Muslims in France and the fraught relationship between France and Algeria was one of the points raised and hotly debated. Some-time Wednesday Nighter John Moore raised the same question in the National Post: The free world is calling for new measures to fight terror. Are we really lacking in that department?
” … there seems to be a degree of collective amnesia about the role of France’s colonial history in its seething relationship with its ethnic minorities. The majority of Muslims in France trace their roots to territories that were subject to French conquest and, in the case of Algeria, to a dehumanizing eight-year war to maintain control. Even in the second and third generation these people continue to be marginalized as “other” and “lesser.” They populate unemployment lines, prisons and urban ghettos.”
P R O L O G U E
We have always admired – and envied – editorialists and pundits for their utter conviction that their interpretation of whatever the topic is the correct – if not only – one. We are not so clever. And never more have we felt this inadequacy than this week in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Buffeted by outrage from every ideological spectrum [see I am (not) Charlie for a collection], we have increasingly been less and less sure of our own opinion, other than the certainty that it is wrong to murder journalists, no matter how provocative their views. And that, as with all rights, freedom of the press entails responsibilities. We do stand with the one or two brave writers who found Charlie’s humour crude, demeaning and unfunny – not the clever satire at which the British excel – but it seems that we are simply untutored [On not understanding “Charlie:” Why many smart people are getting it wrong]. Or are we simply politically incorrect?

But the pious declarations – and even demonstration of solidarity at the huge march in Paris – of support for a free press from some of the world’s great sinners against that principle  (at least Putin stayed home) leave us appalled and incredulous. And this at the same time that Raif Badawi has been sentenced to receive 1000 lashes for daring to insult Islam and for creating the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website for social and political debate.

We ask, as others have, where is the world’s outrage over the murderous rampage of the Christian militia in the CAR – described in a UN report as “ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population during the country’s ongoing civil war, but there is no proof there was genocidal intent”. There was a flurry of concern (remember Bring Back Our Girls) over the kidnapping of Nigeria’s “Chibok girls”, quickly dissipated by the next news cycle. A recent headline in the Washington Post Boko Haram may have just killed 2,000 people: ‘Killing went on and on and on’ scarcely merited a raised eyebrow. Bravo to The Atlantic for publishing Nigeria’s Horror in Paris’s ShadowWhy a 10-year-old suicide bomber isn’t front-page news, and for answering the question in a (regrettably) realistic fashion.

We suspect that this news cycle will soon run its course – the first post-massacre edition of Charlie Hebdo with its controversial cover is out. While acclaimed by (most of) the media, many Muslims are not happy with it and we expect inflammatory statements, demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, none of which will improve our chances of getting along with one another. [NYT: Charlie Hebdo’s Defiant Muhammad Cover Fuels Debate on Free Speech]

This just in on Wednesday morning – unbloodybelievable:
Oxford University warns authors not to write about bacon, pork to avoid offending Muslims
The largest university press in the world has warned its authors not to mention pigs or pork in their books to avoid offending Muslims and Jews.
Oxford University Press (OUP) explained that their books must take into consideration other cultures of the world and must avoid mentioning pigs or “anything else which could be perceived as pork,” the International Business Times reported

Inevitably, we will soon return to our daily, more mundane preoccupations like whether or not we should join Stephen Harper in celebrating Sir John A. Macdonald as a great Canadian, or join the Stephen Marche camp at The Walrus– Sir John A. was a racist, a colonialist, and a drunk. Why are we celebrating him? We will ponder whether the federal Writ will be dropped before October and we can join the pension funds in worrying about the looming threat of concentration of power in the hands of the National Securities Regulator Pension plans push back over ‘unbelievable’ new powers for regulator [post-retirement job for Stephen Harper?].

On a (mostly) unrelated and pure gossip note, have you been following the Adventures of Amanda Lang? We were thrilled to see Kevin O’Leary depart CBC, but now Ms Lang seems to be a bit embroiled in some questionable journalistic ethics. We should all remember the CBC story in 2013 about RBC replacing Canadian staff with foreign workers ; it caused quite a splash, but there’s now a storm brewing over accusations that Amanda Lang tried to sabotage the story that really, really upset RBC. And it seems she has been in a ‘romantic relationship’ (how quaint) with the chair of RBC’s Risk Committee. Whoops.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the flu is hitting Montreal hard this year. Happy to see – and applaud – our OWN Dr. Mark Roper at the forefront of the establishment of clinics to take the increasing burden off hospital emergency rooms Montreal flu clinics open to take pressure off emergency rooms.
which leads us to Bill 10 which, it appears, is not yet a fait accompli Barrette faces stiff opposition as he seeks to reform health system . So, is there still wiggle room for opponents of some of the measures proposed?

Cleo Paskal has sent along a link to her recent article published in the Sunday Guardian – anyone with an interest in the geopolitics of Asia (and beyond) should find this of great interest World leaders look for new ideas at conclave

The India Foundation, a think tank with close ties to the new government, hosted the first India Ideas Conclave in cooperation with the government of Goa Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s declared vision is “new thinking, new hope”. There is no question that decades of dubious policies and corruption have affected the health of the Indian body politic. The Government of India is looking for ideas, from the deep past, from the neighbours, from new sources, from the soul.
The Conclave was one small part of the ongoing process — many key people weren’t there. But the search for ideas continues. It will be difficult, there will be mistakes, and there will be detractors. Many benefited from the way things were. And many are concerned about who will benefit from any change.
Many are watching closely.

As always, there is more – much more. But, after our rant about Charlie, it is only fair that we leave you with a smile or two.
At the Golden Globes, Tina Fey had this great line about George Clooney’s award:
“George Clooney married Amal Alamuddin this year. Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria, and was selected for a three-person UN commission investigating rules-of-war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”
The Best Ballboys in the world Don’t know how the players managed to put even one ball over the net. Obviously a good time was had by all.
One of the best ads we have seen in a long time is for the Ikea catalogue and finally, this offering from Bowser & Blue “Put Your Trust in Justin”.

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