Today's top news, Tuesday, Sept. 29.
GRIT DISARRAY | On eve of non-confidence challenge to Tories, Iggy loses Quebec lieutenant. Having embraced then rejected Denis Coderre's recommended candidate for Liberal bastion of Outremont, Iggy yesterday suffers a grandstanding Coderre's messy resignation as Quebec chief and Grit defense critic. This same Iggy was off to Bejing one day and scrapped high-profile mission the next. Was for the Iraq invasion, then opposed, which may account for his silence on Afghan quagmire. Railed against nationalism as a Brit pop intellectual, now embraces it (calls it "patriotism" now). An advocate of "torture-lite" - not what he meant at all, he now argues. Doesn't get that Quebec wing of federal Grits has, since forever, been a semi-autonomous party. Too bad Ignatieff will fail in forcing an election this Thursday, just to trigger the party's mandatory post-election leadership review to replace this naif who doesn't understand, much less control, his party. Globe's usually harmless Jane Taber on Iggy's haplessness. Top Grit strategist tells Post's Don Martin: "In our rush to dump Stephane Dion, we have given ourselves John Turner."
Tories' third status report shows progress but raises questions. Harper says about 4,000 - or more than half the 7,500 infrastructure projects Ottawa has approved - are underway. Earlier criticism was that funds had been allotted, but no spades in the ground. Specifics in PM's third stimulus update, released yesterday (PDF here), include $650 million in social-housing upgrades to be matched by provinces and territories. Some bafflers, though, including a Financial Literacy Task Force and funding for a national securities regulator. These aren't job-creating stimulus projects, worthy as financial literacy is. National securities regulator is a non-starter since parochial provinces still object to intrusion on their authority.
FLIP-FLOP | Obama will go to Copenhagen this week to promote Chicago's bid for 2016 Olympics. He caves to pressure from fellow Chicagoans Richard Daley, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan, who trump longstanding WH argument Prez can't spare the time from healthcare negotiations.
ROLLING THE DICE ON NICE | WaPo's Fareed Zakaria on the new, diplomatic Obama Doctrine. I'm guessing the talking - with Iran, North Korea, a stubbornly pro-settlements Israel - will set the initial tone in this administration's foreign-policy challenges. But soon it will give way to sanctions and other time-tested threats when efforts at "finding common ground" fail. Nothing new here. Remember "Speak softly and carry a big stick?"
Delta, U.S. Airways and American Airlines raise billions in fresh financing. Cautious Canadian families sitting on up to $1 trillion in cash and cash-equivalents they won't risk on stocks, real estate and other investments. Report finds U.S. small businesses optimistic about 3Q and 4Q recovery. IMF expected to revise upward its global GDP estimates. Xerox and Abbott Labs in multibillion-dollar takeovers. Only a year ago, when Lehman Brothers collapsed, there wasn't money to finance having your pants pressed.
RECESSIONS A TICKET TO GOOD HEALTH? | Study finds health improves in economic downturns. University of Michigan researchers looked at data on mortality and other leading indicators from Depression era, found all but one - suicide - improved during tough times. No firm explanation why, but conjecture is that buoyant times mean stress, over-eating, more smoking and drinking, increase in traffic accidents and fatal workplace injuries.
SAY AGAIN? | Troubled Starbucks to launch instant java in Canada and U.S. Founder Howard Schultz insists "Via" line not to be mistaken for Nescafe or Maxwell House, but contains same magical ingredients that justify nosebleed prices for in-store brews. An apparent bid to goose revenues by cracking new market in grocery chains, teeming, as you know, with Starbucks habitues.SILVIO SLIPS (AGAIN) | Berlusconi can't shake his fixation with Obama's "tan." The Italian PM, returning from the G20 in Pittsburgh, tells fans Sunday he brings greetings from the U.S. from "What's his name. Some tanned guy. Ah, Barack Obama!" Mistaking this for wit, he continues: "You won't believe it, but the two of them went to the beach because the wife is also tanned." Soon after Obama's election victory, Berlusconi lauded the winner as "young, handsome, and even has a good tan." I like "the wife" part. Guess this is the argument about men being from Mars.
Study finds Champagne's taste mostly in the bubbles. Report co-author Dr. Gerard Liger-Belair of Reims University says: "It's the very first time that we have been able to detect the fine chemistry of Champagne aerosols which are really the essence of Champagne."
GOOD MANNERS | A lesson in dignity for Michael Richards from Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The two actors are a model of restraint in handling an idiot whose cellphone rang incessantly at a climatic moment in their well-received two-man play, A Steady Rain. (Text and video.)
QUOTE OF THE DAY | "He sounds wistful: in exile, somehow, whatever he says about having come home." -Rachel Cooke in her Ignatieff profile in last weekend's U.K. Observer, of Iggy's 27 years - most of his adult life - spent in Britain and the U.S.
Courtesy Gary Markstein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.