June 24, 2018
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Where the big bucks are

The vampires took the lead in pulling in moviegoers over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but far more money was made by studios catering to families, according to box office receipts.

The latest “Twilight” saga sold enough tickets to raise $221 million for the last two weeks, but families filled seats for the next four slots, The Muppets with $29.5 million, “Happy Feet Two” with $13.4 million, “Arthur Christmas” with $12.7 million, and “Hugo,” with $11.4 million. “Puss in Boots” was eighth with $7.5 million after being out five weeks for a total of $135 million.

It’s not surprising that G or PG movies do well over the holidays, when families are together long enough to want to get out of the house, but simple mathematics provide an answer: You can’t buy tickets for one kid without buying them for the others and at least one parent.

Over the years, movies geared toward families have always done well. The Harry Potter films have grossed $7.7 billion worldwide, Pirates of the Caribbean $3.72 billion so far, with Disney, Pixar and other animated films adding billions and billions as well.

Eventually, perhaps, the business barons of Hollywood will get the message that catering to families instead of producing sleaze is where the big bucks are.

McCook, Neb., Daily Gazette (Dec. 1)

Kyoto scam

The Kyoto Protocol was a scam from the outset, brought into play by Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien to sucker the global warming enthusiasts who thought the sky was melting.

And then, just as he planned, he ignored it.

And we have this on good authority, straight from Chretien’s top adviser at the time, Eddie Golden-berg, who fessed up to the ruse five years after its 2002 implementation.

So it was nothing but a smoke screen.

Chretien was looking for enviro-hugs.

Reports in the media that the Harper government will soon formally withdraw from the Kyoto nonsense is therefore good news for realists who know it was a scam, and perfectly timed as Environment Minister Peter Kent sets out to attend the global climate conference in South Africa.

On the agenda for the 190 attending countries will be a new international agreement on cutting emissions, and hopefully the punting of Kyoto so deep that it will plug the hole in the ozone.

From the moment the Harper government was first elected, the Kyoto agreement was doomed. And rightly so .

Ottawa Sun (Dec. 1)

Step down with dignity

Years after leaving the White House, Bill Clinton admitted that he missed his old job. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have left, but this is a democracy, he said. The late president Anwar El-Sadat, in a similar moment of candor, admitted that being in power was “fun.”

Human ambitions are the same everywhere, but democracies keep them in check whereas dictatorships give them free rein.

In democratic countries, the rotation of power is conducted with the attention and precision of a surgical procedure. In the Third World, it is a bloody process involving loss of life and limb. Compare, for instance, the manner in which Clinton ended his days in office with the tragic end of Sadat.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and Greek prime minister George Papandreou both resigned in response to public pressure. Berlusconi stepped down after 51 failed parliamentary attempts to pass a vote of no-confidence on his government. In his farewell speech, he promised to cooperate fully with the new prime minister, Mario Monti. Papandreou also wished his successor, Lucas Papademos, the best of luck.

It is not that the two outgoing prime ministers are unusually gracious, but the two men both belong to a tradition in which power changes hands in a smooth manner.

In our part of the world, things have to turn ugly when a man is asked to step down. Saddam Hussein ended up on the rope, Zein Al-Abidine bin Ali ran away in disgrace, Hosni Mubarak is on trial, and Muammar Gaddafi was lynched. Bashar Al-Assad and Ali Abdullah Saleh seem willing to fight to the bitter end.

Why cannot our leaders step down in dignity instead of being removed in disgrace?

Al-Ahram Weekly, Cairo (Dec. 1)

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