Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Gore strikes out," Dec. 9, 2000

Liberals win big majority in Canadian elections
Not Stockwell's day
Without any recounts, hand counts, or court challenges, Canadians elected Jean Chretien Prime Minister on Nov. 27 in what pundits called one of the most vicious yet dull campaigns in Canadian history. Mr. Chretien became the first leader in 55 years to win a third consecutive majority government, with Liberal candidates taking 173 seats, including 100 of 103 in voter-rich Ontario alone (151 of 301 seats in Parliament constitutes a majority). Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day, a Pentecostal pastor-turned-politician, leads the 66 Alliance Members of Parliament as the Official Opposition ("Minister in his prime," WORLD, Aug. 19). The separatist Bloc Quebecois took 37 seats, the far-left New Democratic Party 13, and the once-mighty Progressive Conservatives barely retained official party status with 12. Mr. Day had hoped that an Alliance breakthrough in politically moderate Ontario, with continued domination in mostly conservative western Canada, would force the Liberals into a minority government. But, unable to counter Liberal attacks about a "hidden agenda," the Alliance took only two seats in Ontario. One hysterical British Columbia candidate told a crowd that Mr. Day would make "all Canadians believe as he said that this Jesus Christ is the God of the whole universe." Mr. Chretien claimed that the Alliance's plan to allow referenda on controversial issues, like abortion and capital punishment, would upset Canada's "social peace." When confronted with that comment Mr. Day waffled, saying only that "abortion isn't even on the platform." The Liberals also characterized Alliance as a threat to Canada's universal health care system when its leaders suggested that private medical facilities would ease the burden on the public system. On Nov. 16 CBC News aired a piece describing how in 1997 Mr. Day told some college students that he believed that the earth is 6,000 years old, that Adam and Eve were real people, and that humans co-existed with dinosaurs. Other media piled on, and one Liberal flak held up a purple Barney doll and sneered on national TV, "the only dinosaur that walked with human beings recently was this one right here." Mr. Chretien called the election three-and-a-half years into his five-year term with the Liberals showing big leads in the polls. Some media cast the results as a stinging defeat for Mr. Day, but the Alliance gained eight seats and took 26 percent of the popular vote, up from the 19 percent that the Reform Party (the Alliance's precursor) captured in 1997. The message from Canadians, said Mr. Day in his concession speech, was, "Not yet, not this time." -Les Sillars New party takes power in Mexico
PRI was outfoxed
Not since Herbert Hoover occupied the Oval Office in 1929 has a Mexican president been elected from outside the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). But after seven decades of PRI rule-and, many say, sham elections-Mexico on Dec. 1 planned to inaugurate Vicente Fox, the maverick National Action Party candidate voters swept into power last summer. Mr. Fox, who ran on promises to end government corruption, provide opportunity for the nation's poor, and strengthen Mexico's economy, soundly defeated PRI candidate Francisco Labastida on July 2, ushering in a new, multi-party political era for the nation. The election may also have ushered in a new season for the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico. Tough church-state separation laws had generated longstanding protocols that discouraged Mexico's government officials from publicly expressing religious faith. But shortly after he won the election, Mr. Fox, a Jesuit-educated Roman Catholic, attended a Sunday mass and took communion in full view of rolling news cameras. That very public break with tradition delighted many Mexicans, 90 percent of whom are at least nominally Roman Catholic. But Mexico's newly minted chief may not be happy about policy differences he'll face with the likely new president north of his border. Mr. Fox wants to work toward open borders between the United States, Canada, and Latin America, allowing a free exchange of goods and labor similar to the system evolving in Europe. During an August visit to Austin, Texas, he pitched that idea to then-presidential candidate George W. Bush. But the governor didn't swing. "I made it very clear to Vicente Fox that we will enforce the borders so long as I am the governor and if I am the president," Mr. Bush told the Austin-American Statesman, adding that he appreciated Mr. Fox's optimistic vision. "When the wage differential narrows, then perhaps it's a strategy we can explore jointly." -Lynn Vincent Inquiring reader
Did he say that?
Jesse Jackson is known for his exaggerated rhetoric, but WORLD reader John Norton wondered whether Mr. Jackson actually said what various Internet messages were quoting him as saying: "A vote for Bush is a vote for slavery." Apparently not. Mr. Jackson seems to have said (in Minneapolis on Oct. 24) that a vote for Mr. Bush was a vote against "a century of progress" on civil-rights issues. He also apparently criticized (in Madison, Wis.) George W. Bush's intention to appoint Supreme Court justices who would strictly interpret the Constitution: "Strict constructionists never ruled slavery illegal, never ruled for a woman's right to vote, never ruled for the right to organize." But we could find no record of Jesse Jackson going further than that. John Norton will receive a WORLD WEAR cap. Indicators turn sluggish
Losing steam
The market is down and the bears look hungry. After hitting an all-time high earlier this year, the tech-heavy Nasdaq stock index in November dropped down below 40 percent of its peak. Much of the loss came because the dot-com speculation bubble exploded, but many observers fear that the decline may be a harbinger of recession. At least two major indicators point to a slowing economy. The Consumer Confidence Index fell in November to its lowest level in more than a year. The results of this monthly survey of some 5,000 U.S. households point to concern over various issues, from the stock markets to the election to the possibility of higher heating bills this winter. The Commerce Department also reported last week that the economy grew at an annual rate of only 2.4 percent during the summer, the slowest pace in nearly four years. A series of rate hikes from the Federal Reserve fueled the drop-and chairman Alan Greenspan isn't talking about lowering them yet. The federal funds rate-the interest that banks charge each other-has been stuck at a nine-year high of 6.5 percent for the last six months, as the value of New Economy bellwethers from Intel to Amazon.com slumped. At its last meeting, the Fed said it still viewed the risks as weighted toward "heightened inflation pressures," citing continued tight labor markets and this year's surge in energy prices. That didn't help the malaise that has swept away Wall Street's previous go-go attitude. Nor did this year's election jitters. Health plan ignores individual buyers
Business as usual
Hillary Clinton's 1993 socialized medicine plan is relegated to history, but a major business group is helping to build a successor. The Health Insurance Association of America, one of Hillarycare's main opponents, and the leftist group Families USA have come up with a joint proposal that attempts to provide coverage to uninsured Americans. The plan calls for more spending for Medicaid and more tax incentives for businesses to buy private insurance for workers. For liberals at Families USA, the proposal is a step toward a bigger government plan. For the industry, it's an attempt to pacify Washington and hold off intrusive regulation. But free-market health economists say the proposal doesn't tackle the main problem in health policy-a tax structure that subsidizes business health plans, but not people who buy their own insurance. They favor an individual tax credit and a move away from defined-benefit plans (which dictate coverage) toward defined-contribution plans (which provide resources for employees to choose their own coverage) among employers. They say that such programs would encourage people to make wise choices in health spending and solve the problem of people losing their insurance when they leave jobs. "Just throwing more tax subsidies on the same old system won't work," said Tom Miller, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute. France okays stem-cell research
Let them eat cake
The French government is preparing to allow research on human embryos. French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin told Reuters that this would help correct genetic birth defects and fight diseases. Stem cells from unborn babies between 7 and 12 days old will be lifted and used for transplants to patients. Mr. Jospin said the potential benefits from embryo research outweigh ethical objections. "Should philosophical, spiritual or religious motives make us deprive society and the ill of the possibility of advances in treatment?" he asked. Microsoft denounces federal judge
Trustworthy justice?
Microsoft won't go down without a fight. The world's most powerful software company last week struck back at a federal judge's breakup ruling. Its legal briefs lambasted U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson as a biased judge who compromised the "appearance of impartiality." The case hinges on whether Microsoft abused its monopoly over PC operating systems. Specifically: Did the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows help destroy Netscape? The antitrust action was the biggest since the 1980s suit that broke up the Bell System-and Mr. Jackson's ruling was about as momentous. He ordered Microsoft split into two so-called "Baby Bills," with each taking part of the business. Mr. Jackson said in a September speech that his order was a last resort forced by the company's unwillingness to make changes voluntarily. Microsoft claims that the judge failed to act impartially in deciding the case. The company asked the appellate court to overturn Mr. Jackson's order-and to find a new judge if a new trial is necessary. "By repeatedly commenting on the merits of the case in the press," the company's brief argued, "the district judge has cast himself in the public's eye as a participant in the controversy, thereby compromising the appearance of impartiality, if not demonstrating actual bias against Microsoft." The antitrust case promises to drag on for months. On Jan. 12, the government is scheduled to file its brief with the appeals court. Microsoft will have a chance to reply by the end of January, and oral arguments in the landmark antitrust case are set for late February. Mr. Jackson's ruling came in early June. Since then, Microsoft has felt its share of pain in this year's Nasdaq downdraft. The company's stock was cut in half by October from its March highs and slowly began a recovery. Meanwhile, the company's PC dominance is untouched: Windows still runs on more than 90 percent of the world's personal computers. -Chris Stamper Millionaire to build replica of the Titanic
Unsinkable nostalgia
If you can't raise the Titanic, why not build another? A South African millionaire named Sarel Gous says he wants to build a replica and set sail with paying passengers. Since 1998, he has been trying to get a new ship built, preferably by the original Belfast shipyard, Harland & Wolff, which still exists today. The London Telegraph reports that his RMS Titanic Shipping Holding Company was looking for investors to finance the project, hoping to repeat the famous voyage's route in 2004. Mr. Gous's Titanic II won't be an exact replica. It will be somewhat larger (by 71 meters) and mix modern technology with touches from the original ship. Estimated room rates are between $250 and $2,500 per night. Surely this Titanic will carry plenty of lifeboats. Titanic mania faded after James Cameron's hit movie left theaters, though millions are still curious about the voyage that left 1,523 people dead. An Atlanta company called RMS Titanic, Inc. claims legal right to the original wreck and plans to revisit the site for research and recovery. Currently an exhibit of its artifact collection is touring America; visitors receive "boarding passes" bearing the name of a real passenger on the ship. Will we ever see a new Titanic? Mr. Gous isn't alone in his quest; according to the Telegraph there are 13 different plans to build replicas of the massive ocean liner. French government, PBS honor Julia Child
Queen of French cuisine
Julia Child is still cooking at age 88. The chef who some say forever changed American tastes plans one more trip before the TV cameras. Her accent and "Bon appetit!" mannerisms make for easy parody, but Mrs. Child made haute cuisine mainstream. Since 1963 she has taped 850 episodes for audiences that gobbled up her cookbooks. A PBS tribute, "Julia Child's Kitchen Wisdom," will look back at her career this month. Mrs. Child was raised in Pasadena, moved to Paris with her husband after World War II, and published her first cookbook in 1961. The French government honored her in November with its highest award, the Legion of Honor. "I'm a cook and a teacher," she said. "We called the first show French Chef because we wanted chefs to come on the show as guests, but that never happened." Still, her introduction of French cooking to the United States had a running start on the globalization that brought Japanese, Thai, and Mexican restaurants into suburban strip malls from coast to coast.

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading