Canada’s new PM said he would appoint women to half the cabinet posts. He did.


Click to enlargeChris Wattie/Reuters

Canada’s new cabinet looks like Canada

Justin Trudeau promised in June that half his cabinet would be female if he was elected Canada’s prime minister. Today he got the job, the women — and the bruised egos of a few experienced men who didn’t get the nod.

Trudeau named 15 women to a cabinet of 30, including Jody Wilson-Raybould, an aboriginal lawyer from British Columbia as minister of justice and attorney general; Chrystia Freeland, a former journalist as trade minister; Jane Philpott, a first-time member of parliament and family doctor, at health.

Asked after his swearing-in ceremony why an equal cabinet was important to him, Trudeau said, “Because it’s 2015.”

“It’s a message to Canadian women — and young women in particular — that this world is about you,” said Jean Charest, the former premier of Quebec who put women in half his provincial ministries in 2007. “You have to move beyond the old boy’s network.”

Trudeau’s ‘parity cabinet’ is a first in a country where women started voting in 1916, four years before similar rights in the U.S. It ends a centuries-old habit by leaders of large English-speaking countries, including the U.K. and U.S., to name men to a large majority of government posts. France, Italy and the Nordic countries already have had parity cabinets. Canada has been slower than others to elect women, ranking No. 50 last year in women’s government representation on the International Parliamentary Union’s list of 190 countries, down from 17th in 1997…

Trudeau’s action sets a benchmark for his English-speaking Group of Seven colleagues. U.S. President Barack Obama’s 16-member cabinet is currently 25 percent female; David Cameron’s U.K. cabinet is 33 percent female.

We’ll see what happens,” Laure Liswood, co-founder of the Council of Women World Leaders said. “Number One that the sky doesn’t fall.”

Strange as it may seem, there are beaucoup folks in the United States who don’t think the sky will fall, either. We just ain’t in power.

Google OOPS! of the month

top-10-criminals-search

Internet giant Google has apologised after Indian PM Narendra Modi’s photos started appearing in the image search results for “Top 10 criminals”.

“We apologise for any confusion or misunderstanding this has caused,” a Google statement said.

Mr Modi figures prominently in the search alongside images of terrorists, murderers and dictators.

Other world leaders on the list include former US president George Bush and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

Other prominent Indians who come up in the search include Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, lawyer Ram Jethmalani, fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt who is serving a jail term in connection with deadly blasts in Mumbai in 1993.

“These results trouble us and are not reflective of the opinions of Google,” the company said in its statement released on Wednesday night…

The internet firm said the result was due to a British daily which had published an image of Mr Modi with erroneous metadata.

Cripes. Then, they can’t even blame the NSA.

Luxembourg’s prime minister marries his same-sex partner


Gauthier Destenay and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel

Luxembourg’s prime minister is to become the first European Union leader – and only the second worldwide leader – to marry someone of the same sex.

Xavier Bettel, 42, and his partner, Gauthier Destenay, an architect from Belgium, are among the first gay men to wed in the mostly Catholic Grand Duchy since it became the latest EU state to extend full rights to same-sex couples.

Their union comes five years after Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the then prime minister of Iceland, became the first serving leader in the world to marry a same-sex partner.

Bettel and Destenay, who have been civil partners since 2010, were expected to say their vows in a quiet civil ceremony with friends and family, away from the glare of publicity…

Few details have emerged about the wedding, which Bettel had aimed to keep private. Press photographers have been banned…

Bettel, who is leader of Luxembourg’s centre-right Democratic party, came out publicly as gay in 2008. But since taking power 18 months ago he has played down the significance of his sexuality, insisting “what happens at home remains private”.

His party won its leading place in a coalition government after promising to be a modernising force for Luxembourg, with plans to replace religious education in schools with general ethics classes, and to lower the voting age to 16.

Same-sex marriage was another key pledge. It was previously knocked down in 2007 by the then ruling Christian People’s party, but a poll in 2013 found 83% of Luxembourgers supported a change in the law.

No doubt he didn’t invite Jeb Bush, any of the purportedly modern Republicans, or the rest of that mob of professional bigots and hate-mongers. Constitutional equality may be all right for some furriners; but, not “real Americans”.

Bon chance, mes amis. Have a wonderful journey in love.

Classier protest than whipped cream pies


First – the fries

Anti-austerity protesters got close enough to Belgium’s prime minister on Monday to splatter him with a helping of the national dish – fries and mayo.

Pictures from the business event in Namur showed Charles Michel, 39, smiling as a woman squirted sauce over his suit. His spokesman said he would not press charges, and declined comment on the breach of security around the premier of a country that has been a major recruiting hub for jihadists fighting in Syria.


Then – the mayo

Best fries in the world, so they say.

I have to say the best ever I’ve had were from a truck near Upton Park on the way to a West Ham football match.

Best in Santa Fe IMHO? Second Street Brewery.

Kiwi PM states for the record: “I am not a reptile”

John-Key-reptilian
Close-up of Prime Minister during the press conference

He’s been to a doctor and a vet just to make sure, but Prime Minister John Key is adamant he’s not a shapeshifting reptilian alien.

Mr Key was unusually forced to deny any previously non-declared extraterrestrial connections to reporters after an Auckland man put in an Official Information Act request asking for proof he might be one.

“To the best of my knowledge, no. Having been asked that question directly, I’ve taken the unusual step of not only seeing a doctor but a vet, and both have confirmed I’m not a reptile,” a smiling Mr Key said today.

“So I’m certainly not a reptile. I’ve never been in a spaceship, never been in outer space, and my tongue’s not overly long either.”

Last month, Auckland man Shane Warbrooke put in an OIA request to the prime minister’s office, asking for “any evidence to disprove the theory that Mr John Key is in fact a David Icke style shapeshifting reptilian alien ushering humanity towards enslavement”.

David Icke is a British author who believes many world leaders are actually part of a plot to enslave the human race, driven by reptilian shapeshifting aliens…

When asked how he would describe himself, Mr Key said he was “just an ordinary Kiwi bloke”.

Unlike one of our most infamous Republican presidents who said, “I am not a crook” – and turned out to be one – I think we can take the prime minister of New Zealand at his word on this one.

Luxembourg PM forced to resign over spying scandal


“I need to whisper a secret in your ear”

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker has resigned after being forced out of power by his coalition partner for failing to curb the excesses of the secret services.

Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister since 1995 and the European Union’s longest serving government chief, tendered his resignation on Thursday to Grand Duke Henri, the royal head of state who himself has been implicated in media reports of espionage…

He announced his decision after a charged seven-hour debate, prompted by a motion from junior coalition partners, the Socialists, calling for the dissolution of parliament and elections.

A parliamentary report found that the country’s intelligence agency had, among other offences committed from 2003 to 2009, illegally bugged politicians’ phones, sought payments for access to officials and bought luxury cars for private use.

The report criticised Juncker for having little control over the agency, known as SREL, despite being the minister with overall responsibility for it…

Some opponents accused the 58-year-old of abusing the secret service for his own and his party’s benefit, but he angrily denied that during the parliamentary debate…

Socialist leader, Alex Bodry, said that the prime minister “must assume his responsibilities, not because he was dishonest or incompetent but because he made the wrong choices.”

So, the other side of the pond we see a nation’s leader caught spying on citizens of the nation itself. Not only his political opposition; but, his party’s partners rise up in anger over a betrayal of privacy and purpose by the government. He is forced to resign.

This side of the Atlantic? Americans accept political corruption as natural and inevitable. And lack the backbone to demand allegiance to the principles of our constitution. Do you think we can rely on Congress to sort out the NSA – and our president?

Best news, this morning: Berlusconi guilty In underage sex trial

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been found guilty of paying for sex with an underage prostitute.

The 76-year-old was sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from holding public office by a judge in Milan.

He had denied having sex with Karima El Mahroug, also known as Ruby the Heart Stealer, after what prosecutors claimed were erotic parties at his Milan mansion in 2010.

Berlusconi was also accused of calling a police station to pressure for Miss El Mahroug’s release from custody when she was arrested for theft.

The state prosecutor asked for a six-year sentence because of the severity of corruption in Italian political life that Berlusconi represented. The judge gave him seven years!

Overdue.

Italy’s would-be Prime Minister says job is fit only for mentally ill

Italy’s would-be Prime Minister has said that “only a mentally ill person” would want the job right now, as the eurozone’s third biggest democracy continues to tie itself in knots.

Centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who won the general election last month but who lacks a vital majority in the upper house of parliament, admitted as much after another fruitless meeting with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), whose co-operation he needs to govern.

Only a mentally ill person could have an itching desire to govern right now,” Mr Bersani said. “I want things to be clear: I am ready to assume a huge amount of responsibility, but I ask everyone else to all take on a little bit themselves.”

In order to form a government, Mr Bersani needs to be confident he can win the mandatory confidence votes in both houses of parliament. But instead of offering to vote with the centre-left in the Senate confidence motion, M5S appears set on having all of its radicals demands, such as decimating MPs’ salaries and fighting corruption, met first…

Without progress by Easter, the head of state, President Giorgio Napolitano, may call for fresh elections in June.

Sounds like a rousing endorsement of Berlusconi. Now, there’s someone wholly untroubled by ethics, responsibility, a sufficient understanding of history and economics to establish an honest government.

Cripes. Sounds like the qualifications for Congress.

Australia forms commission to investigate church sex abuse

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a national inquiry into the Catholic church’s responses to child sex abuse after a series of scandals involving paedophile priests.

Gillard made the announcement on Monday in the wake of claims by a senior policeman that a Catholic Church in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales destroyed evidence and silenced investigations.

“There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil,” Gillard said. “I believe in these circumstances that it is appropriate for there to be a national response through a royal commission…”

Gillard had been under growing pressure to establish a national inquiry after the recent allegations but she said the probe would be broader than just the Catholic Church.

This is not a royal commission targeting any one church,” Gillard said…

In early November, a senior police investigator…alleged that the church had covered up sexual abuse of children in the Hunter Valley, just north of Sydney, to protect paedophiles and its own reputation.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox said it was his experience that the church not just covered up, but silenced victims, hindered police, alerted offenders, destroyed evidence and moved priests to protect the church…

Gillard said the more recent allegations were heartbreaking.

“These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject,” she told reporters in Canberra.

Gillard said she did not yet know how far back the commission would investigate. She commended victims for speaking out.

Overdue. Long justified. Something you cannot count on churches to do on their own.

But, then, self-policing usually concerns itself more with “self” than “policing”.