Friday, February 20, 2009
The week in review: I wouldn't eat it either, Mr President, it is just not worth the mid-afternoon post-sugar energy slump
1. Margaret Attwood pulled out of Dubai's upcoming Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature, after learning Geraldine Bedell's The Gulf Between Us - featuring a gay character - was going to be excluded from the festival. She may appear via satellite for a debate on censorship in her role as vice-president of PEN International. I know this is all very serious and important, but I can't help thinking about that special tool the notoriously cranky writer adopted a couple of years ago enabling her to sign her books remotely so as to avoid actual encounters with the fans who love and buy them.
2. Saudi Arabia moves ahead, albeit at a glacial pace, appointing Norah al Fayez as deputy education minister. It is the highest government post ever attained by a woman. Letting women drive and putting an end to the guardianship system that keeps them under the control of men? Well, that might take awhile.
3. As the economic downturn continues to hit home in the UAE, the Government passes a law dictating companies cannot make Emiratis redundant, one that will also make it much harder to sack them for other reasons. Feddah Lootah, the director-general of the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority, explains: "We are not saying Emiratis cannot be sacked, but to sack an Emirati giving the financial crisis as an excuse is not an option." The rest of us, however, can go at any time.
4. I longed to be back in Ottawa in February, which I never thought I would say. But Obama visited the capital and had I not left, I would most likely have been covering the visit in some manner. Regrets, I have a few. Someone even gave him a Beaver Tail - he must have been in the Byward Market – which the president politely said he would have it later. I call him out for lying, as everyone knows there is nothing less appetising than a cold beaver tail. The visit also prompted one of the best Facebook updates I have seen in awhile from a friend who works for the prime minister, who wrote that he "completely understands the brouhaha around the Ottawa airport this morning. It's not every day I go to Iqaluit".
5. I got back out from behind the desk, and I have to say, it feels pretty good.