Steve Earle, who has already battled heroin addiction and five broken marriages, is bound to confuse the good ol' boys with his pending new album, Jerusalem. Among the tracks is the sympathetic John Walker's Blues, an ode to imprisoned U.S. Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh ("We came to fight the Jihad and our hearts were pure and strong").
"In a big way this is the most pro-American record I've ever made," Earle says in an advance press release. Steve's either very brave or a PR genius. All we know is that this little ditty has a snowball's chance in hell of being the opening number at the American Music Awards show this year.
turkey's big-screen war
A bitter public relations war is being fought around Atom Egoyan's film Ararat, about the 1915 genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks. The film is the opening-night fare at the Toronto film fest this week. The Turkish government threatened to take legal action before it premiered at Cannes. (The Turks deny the massacre.) Now the Armenian National Committee of Toronto has mass-mailed a slick 48-page book entitled The Armenian Genocide: Turkish Denial And Historic Facts to local media. Evidently, they don't trust that the Entertainment Tonight folks will be brushing up on their early-20th-century Turkish history any time soon. Good call.
Zoocheck Canada, the animal rights watchdog, has accused the city of not enforcing its animal care bylaw when it allowed elephant rides during the Ex. Apparently the bylaw allows a three-day exemption for educational purposes. The Ex went on for three weeks and, some would argue, was hardly educational.
surprise! panhandling doesn't pay A joint study by U of T and St. Michael's Hospital has found that, despite what you might have heard, panhandling isn't a lucrative career move. Despite reports that panhandlers earn $200 a day, the study found that they typically take in $300 a month from the street (out of a total income of $640 a month), spending $200 on food, $112 on tobacco and $80 on alcohol and drugs. Of course, the Tories might consider this high living and start clawing back more social services.
reality check of the week
Despite the National Post's screaming headlines that Alberta is ready to rebel over Chretien's move to sign the Kyoto Protocol, a Greenpeace poll found that folks from Ralph Klein country actually favour the pact. Nearly 60 per cent of Albertans said Canada should announce that we will adopt it. Not that the Post has ever let the facts get in the way of a good headline.