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RIP Liou Zha Bo, a great friend of world peace and true democracy, a scholar and a poet, who tended to view his country through a lens too sharp for his time. Like everywhere, China is different. Her governments don’t brook criticism – not from anyone, except, occasionally, themselves – which tells you they’re insecure, understandably uncertain how they’d deal with the rising up of a billion disaffected people. Better to crush all nascent dissent, and give everyone else a little taste of wealth. Just a little. Better also to let the waking dragon roar a bit at the world, at the coffers and vaults of the west. It’s been asleep for so long. But, all in all, is the US any more tolerant of vehement dissent? Was there any real substantial difference between the Kent State massacres and Tiananmen Square? And China hasn’t sent 500,000 young men and women to their deaths in foreign wars over the past fifty years, has she? Let the dragon yawn and stretch; its time is surely nigh, and then we shall have to change our indolent ways.


Julie Paillette (my spelling is aural, not visual, so forgive if necessary). A wonderful choice for the new Canadian Governor-General. Her Majesty will probably enjoy chatting with an astronaut, someone who has obtained a real perspective on this world. Kudos to le Petit. I am hard on him, true, but only because I want him to be perfect – which, alas, he’s far from being, as are we all. I think he wants to do the right thing; but I suspect there are more powerful forces preventing him, consigning him to a purely decorative role. Will he have his father’s integrity and grit, to speak out one day? – that’s the question. We deserve to know who really holds the reins here, even if there’s nothing we can do about it. Or nothing legal, nothing peaceful.