Governor General in very far north, Obama’s State of the Union, and the rainbow revolution in Sri Lanka

Jan 21st, 2015 | By | Category: In Brief

CFS Alert members take part in the 2014 Sunrise Ceremony and Arctic Winter Games on March 14, 2014. PHOTO: Corporal Szymon Poczta.

So what does the Governor General of Canada actually do again? A press release from this past Monday suggests at least one thing : “His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, is visiting Canadian Armed Forces members and civilians at Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert, Canada’s most northerly military installation, on January 19 and 20, 2015.”

The press release goes on : “‘As governor general and commander-in-chief of Canada, I am pleased to be planning a visit to Alert, the northernmost permanently-inhabited settlement in Canada and in the world,’ His Excellency said. ‘I am particularly looking forward to expressing my support and gratitude to those stationed at Canadian Forces Station Alert during the total darkness of winter. It will be a great opportunity to learn more about the important research and work being done up there.’”

It may be worth noting that big brother next door helps out with the tricky business of keeping the Canadians stationed at the “northernmost permanently-inhabited settlement … in the world” in the style to which they’re accustomed. See an Ottawa Citizen report from this past fall,  “US contributes to resupplying Canadian Forces Station Alert,” for further details.

Meanwhile, on the evening of January 20 — by the time Governor General Johnston had arrived back in Ottawa (as far as we know : there was nothing on the net about his return last time I checked) — President Barack Obama gave his State of Union address in Washington, DC.

Four headlines seem to cover the waterfront here : “Obama strikes defiant tone with Republicans in big speech” ; “State of the union address: Barack Obama touts ‘middle-class economics’” ; “Bold Call to Action in Obama’s State of the Union, Even if No Action Is Likely” ; and “In State of the Union Speech, Obama Defiantly Sets an Ambitious Agenda.”

(And see also : “Obama Averages 42.6% Job Approval in Year Six … his more recent ratings have been higher, including a 46% average rating last week” ; and “Polls show Obama support bouncing back … A CBS News poll released this week showed Obama’s approval rating at 46%, up seven points … The latest Pew survey pointed to … 47% … This comes on the heels of similar positive Obama polling from CNN and Gallup. All told, Obama’s support is similar to where Reagan’s was at this point in his second term … Republicans assumed that Obama’s support would deteriorate if he ignored the [mid-term] election results and advanced his progressive agenda. The opposite has happened …”)

Supporters of victorious opposition candidate in Sri Lankan election, Maithripala Sirisena, celebrate in Colombo. (Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images.)

Finally, by following Ezra Klein in Washington, DC on Twitter I have caught up at last with the January 8 election in Sri Lanka — in which the increasingly autocratic president Mahinda Rajapaksa was, to the surprise of many, defeated by the joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena. (Hello Liberal-NDP/NDP-Liberal “coalition” in Canada?) Even more impressively, perhaps, as “the results became clear the soon-to-be former president discussed whether he could call a state-of-emergency and scrap the election. The attorney-general, the head of police and the army commander all refused … a looming autocracy was brought down and democracy restored.”

The source to which Ezra Klein’s twittering first directed me here is a piece on the Vox website by Amanda Taub, “The Putins of the world should be terrified by what just happened in Sri Lanka.” The quotations above are from an article in the current issue of  The Economist : “Sri Lanka and the rest of the world … Beyond the rainbow revolution … The new foreign minister on a new era for his country.” Time will of course tell how all this works out. But it does seem like some kind of good news right now! (And maybe even further food for thought for the forces of progress in Canada, in another election in 2015 ???? Well … not exactly, of course, but … )

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