T.O. STORES APING U.S. "BLACK FRIDAY" SALES SPREE | Deep discounts and longer hours. Local retailers determined to stem defections of Canadian bargain-hunters shuffling off to Buffalo.
AFGHAN SCANDAL | Witnesses on detainee scandal offer riot of contraditions. Defiant blowhard Hillier calls accusations he knew of detainees' fate "ludicrous." Yet testimony of government's cover-up witnesses shows he must have known, since our local diplomats, more thin on the ground than military C.O.s, were aware since 2006 of Afghan National Army's reputation for torture, along with Red Cross, whose concerns about hand-overs are revealed in one of whistleblower Colvin's reports to Ottawa.
Harper embarks yesterday for Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. PMO told to brace for climate-change concerns from imperiled Commonwealth island nations - including the host country - if ocean levels rise as predicted. Photo: Sean Kilpatrick, CP.
HARPER VOLTE-FACE | PM will attend Copenhagen climate-change summit, after all. Has been bad-mouthing it for weeks. But one day after Obama adds his name to world leaders attending, Harper says "critical mass" of leaders merits his presence. Eco-activist says PM merely "doesn't want to look like a weenie."
SUPPLY OF CANADIAN DOCS ON THE RISE | Ratio of docs to population finally improving. Result of big jump in med-school enrolments earlier this decade. Also physicians deferring retirement for want of replacements to care for their patient load. Progress is significant, but farming and remote communities remain underserved by caregivers, specialists in particular. And eventual retirement of over-65 docs will create a gap that the newest generation of physicians might not be able to quickly fill.
Dubai, booming Persian Gulf emirate when world oil prices were soaring, celebrated with spectacular new office towers and offshore, palm-shaped resort (right). With the sharp drop in oil prices, developer of "The Palm" now can't make its debt payments.
"DUBAI INC." FLIRTING WITH INSOLVENCY | Debt moratorium rocks global financial markets. Dubai World, major sovereign wealth fund, seeks six-month moratorium on making debt payments. Closely related enterprises in oil-rich Persian Gulf emirate suffering from plunge in world oil prices and may all be in trouble. Lack of transparency rattles European and other banks with loans extended to giant Dubai firms, whose true state of financial health is unknown.
IAEA CHIEF DUMPS ON IRAN | ElBaradei washes hands of Tehran's reneging and trickery. Retiring IAEA chief ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Price laureate retiring in three days, has had it with Iranian games. So even have China and Russia. For the first time yesterday they joined other nations in threatening tougher sanctions if Tehran doesn't come clean about exact nature of its nuclear assets and ambitions.
GIRDING FOR TOUGH TIMES | Big layoffs announced by Bombardier and Rogers. Bombardier, hard-hit by aviation downturn, keen to hold onto engineering talent so it may consider federally subsidized working sharing program it has previously rejected. Rogers to cut 3% of workforce to maintain or lower wireless prices while offering more features, now that rivals Bell and Telus have broken its Canadian iPhone monopoly. And all three incumbents are facing new competition from upstart wireless entrants next year.
CHEAPO VINO | World seems to be drowning its sorrows in bargain-priced wine. Globe reports on price downshift among recession-weary tipplers. Bad news for many New World wine producers focused on upscale product. Ontario might be an exception. Output of its boutique wineries is premium priced. But province's biggest wineries - Jackson-Triggs, Andres, Hillenbrand - have never shed their gronk heritage and offer VQA and jug wine side by side.
CHINA BLUES | Emerging economic superpower facing protectionist backlash. EU complains Beijing has used its enormous stimulus package to over-expand capacity, and already is dumping below-cost goods onto world market at a loss. This is only partly sour grapes. China continues its stubborn refusal to let currency rise to its natural level, effectively stealing jobs from other nations. And Beijing is compelled to run factories flat out to curb rioting and violence that has occurred at those few Chinese factories that have closed or trimmed production in response to global slump.
CEO OF THE YEAR? | Globe and Mail settles on Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne. Lavish profile of putative Chrysler saviour in paper's Report on Business Magazine today. If the Globe had to pick the CEO of a foreign company as "Canada's" CEO of the year, and it had to be in the profit-challenged auto sector, the only serious candidate would be Ford's turnaround CEO Alan Mullaly. So why Marchionne? Because he spent most of his career in Toronto, and because Eric Reguly, author of the piece, is Rome-based Globe correspondent with special access to the prickly Marchionne. Not the usual criteria for such picks. I might have held off until we see a coherent reclamation plan for Chrysler. Fortune was closer to the mark in lavishing Steve Jobs with "CEO of the Decade" honours, though devoting most of its Nov. 23 editon to one topic was a bit over the top.
MAMMOGRAM DEBATE | Folks taking sides on merit of procedure, and Pap smears too. Efficacy of mammograms, as described in NYT timeline, has long been questioned. Indeed, by detecting cancers that will not become problematic in the life of a patient, but are treated nonetheless, procedure is a cause of needless trauma and spiralling health care costs. Then again, advocates are speaking up about how they are alive today only because of a cancer detected at age 32. No easy answers on this one.
THE "8 TO 8" DIET | Body clock - more accurately, organ clocks - are set by food intake not brain. Salk Institute researcher says midnight snacks and 3 a.m. repasts throw liver and other organs out of whack.
HAD TO HAPPEN | NYC outfit offers bus tours of "Sopranos" greatest hits (pardon the pun). I fondly recall my honeymoon Circle Line ferry cruise around the island, the Cloisters, Rockefeller Church, the U.N. hugging the East River shoreline. Oh, to go back and see where Tony was almost garrotted in the Holland Tunnel while keeping bad company enroute to a Jersey strip club.
QUOTE OF THE DAY | "All celebrated people lose on close view." -Napoleon.
Courtesy The New Yorker, Nov. 2 edition.
Please consider joining me as an elf this holiday season by participating in the Toronto Star's Santa Claus Fund, a century-old Toronto tradition. The Star uses donations to assemble and distribute gift boxes to thousands of less-financially advantaged children throughout the GTA. Each box contains a book, clothing and a toy. You can read all about it, including first-hand accounts of Toronto families in need, at http://www.thestar.com/santaclausfund. I'm counting on your kindness to help put smiles on thousands of young faces this December 25th! Many thanks, David