Christmas merriment

The meaning of Christmas is elusive. For some it’s a season of consumer extravaganzas and a boon for business. For others it’s profoundly religious. In places it’s fallen prey to partisan and tribal chicanery. It can be a time of happiness, angst or peace. Even the date of Jesus’s birth is elusive: December 25 is celebrated, but theological

Matters of Facts, and Opinions, this week

Since German fantasy/horror author E.T.A. Hoffmann penned his 1816 novella  The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, the bizarre and charming tale has inspired and entertained, even as Hoffmann’s name is overshadowed by others more famous.  The ballet The Nutcracker, by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is a seasonal staple, and

Reporter-turned-politician sues media giant for defamation

By Brian Brennan December 2015 A long-running defamation lawsuit against Canada’s largest newspaper publisher by an award-winning war correspondent who left journalism to enter provincial politics has concluded in Calgary, Alberta after a five-week trial. Court of Queens Bench justice Jo’Anne Strekaf reserved decision

China’s soil as poisonous as its air and water

JONATHAN MANTHORPE: International Affairs December 19, 2015 I was wrong when I said in last week’s column there is little reliable information available about the extent of soil pollution in China. Well, half wrong. In my hunt for facts I foolishly neglected to

A star-studded cast: Brian Brennan’s Brief Encounters

Set aside quality time over the holiday to enjoy Brian Brennan’s Brief Encounters with a star-studded cast of 64 entertainers. (Modestly-priced subscription required, see below*. If you’re a subscriber and lack your pass code, please email From poignant to charming to hilarious, the columns include Brennan’s interviews with satiric

Money jitters and Janet Yellen’s Federal Reserve

The world’s money people have the jitters ahead of a historic U.S. Federal Reserve decision on American interest rates, expected Wednesday. If rates go up, it would be the first time in more than nine years. Analysts are busy predicting either disaster or a boon. The decision

Findings: Best of the web

Once, during slow spells in a long-ago night desk job, I started a game to help keep me alert:  I inserted the word “kerfuffle” into as many news stories as were appropriate. It amused me, especially after I inveigled others to play. (Did I mention slow

Democracy scores

Saudi Arabia held rare elections this weekend. For the first time since a ban on their participation was lifted, Saudi women voted — and several were elected to municipal councils.  As the BBC reported, “Elections of any kind are rare in the Saudi kingdom –

Paris Agreement on climate

Paris Agreement: landmark accord, turn from fossil fuels, By Alister Doyle and Barbara Lewis  The global climate summit in Paris agreed a landmark accord on Saturday, setting the course for a historic transformation of the world’s fossil fuel-driven economy within decades in a

Facts, and Opinions, this week

“The Paris Agreement is adopted,” said French foreign minister Laurent Fabius late Saturday at the Paris climate summit. Weary delegates cheered and applauded the global agreement on tackling climate change, reached by 195 countries after years of preparation and two weeks of grinding negotiations. “The