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The National Today: New sex allegations, Suu Kyi's silence, more dough for Big-O

A deeper dive into the day's most important stories

Jonathon Gatehouse - CBC News

November 10, 2017

Louis C.K., pictured here with "Louie" cast member Pamela Adlon, is one of the latest celebrities to face allegations of sexual harassment. (David McNew/Reuters)

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Sex and power

Sexual abuse and harassment allegations about powerful Hollywood men are surfacing so quickly that local police can't keep up.

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So yesterday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney formed a special task force to start sifting through the claims and prepare for possible criminal cases.

"I have assigned the group of veteran sex crimes prosecutors to work together to ensure a uniformed approach to the legal review and possible prosecution of any case that meets both the legal and factual standards for criminal prosecution," Jackie Lacey said.

The LAPD is investigating sexual assault claims against mega-producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Ed Westwick. And police in neighbouring Beverly Hills are looking into similar allegations about director James Toback.

Louis C.K. has so far not responded to allegations of sexual harassment. (Kevork Djansezian/Reuters)

The latest celebrity to be caught up in the scandal is Louis C.K., with a New York Times report finally putting on the record what has been discussed on gossip sites for years — that the comedian allegedly made a habit out of exposing himself to women with whom he worked. The rumours were so well-known, he even appeared to reference them in his own act. This afternoon, Louis C.K. broke his silence, issuing a statement acknowledging that everything the women have said is true.

"I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work," he wrote. "The hardest regret to live with is what you've done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them."

Another star, however, is speaking out. After two more women came forward this week to accuse Jeremy Piven of sexual misconduct, he took to Twitter to defend himself.

Refugees and responsibility

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat down with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar today, on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Vietnam.

There was a time, not so long ago, when a grip-and-grin photo with Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her "struggle for democracy and human rights," was coveted. Held under house arrest for more than 15 years by her country's military junta, she became an international symbol of nonviolent resistance.

Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi greets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday in Da Nang, Vietnam, where leaders gathered for the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. (CBC)

French director Luc Besson even made a 2011 biopic about her, The Lady. (Hillary Clinton, then U.S. secretary of state watched it before a meeting with Suu Kyi, but she probably should have checked out the reviews — it has a score of 34 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and a 43 on metacritic.)

Canada bought in as well, with the government of Stephen Harper conferring honorary citizenship upon Suu Kyi in 2012, adding her to an exclusive club that includes Nelson Mandela, Raoul Wallenberg, the Dalai Lama and Malala Yousafzai.

The world rejoiced when Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy Party to a landslide victory in Myanmar's Nov. 2015 elections, ending five decades of military rule.

But being Myanmar's state counsellor — the equivalent of prime minister — is not an easy job these days. And Suu Kyi's once sterling international reputation has lost much of its lustre after violence flared this summer and Rohingya refugees began flooding into neighbouring Bangladesh.

Justin Trudeau, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Rohingya crisis  5:18

The Rohingya, ethnic Muslims within a majority Buddhist nation, have long been targets for discrimination. In fact, they are technically stateless, since Myanmar refuses to give them even the partial citizenship it has granted other minorities.

Burmese security forces and their proxies are accused of carrying out killings, rapes and mass arsons. The UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, called it a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing." And to date, more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to refugee camps across the border.

Suu Kyi, once outspoken in defence of the rights of her people, has been conspicuously quiet on what her country's military has been accused of doing to the Rohingya. And that silence has fuelled calls to strip her of her Nobel Prize and Canadian honour.

There are limits to Suu Kyi's power. Under Myanmar’s constitution, the military answers only to itself, and controls both the police and the country's borders. (Aung Shine Oo/Associated Press)

Trudeau and his ministers have called on Suu Kyi to do more to stop the violence, a point he pushed again today. But there are obvious limits to her actual power.

Under Myanmar's constitution, the military answers only to itself, and controls both the police and the country's borders. And the Burmese public has little sympathy for a minority that has long been officially portrayed as undeserving and violent.

The world community has also been sending some rather mixed messages about the crisis. This week, the UN Security Council adopted a "presidential statement" calling for an end to the violence — which sounds tough, but was actually a compromise solution — China and Russia are reluctant to press a military that has long been a big weapons customer.

All in all, it's a sad new chapter in the story of a woman who was once a hero to politicians and the public alike.

The Big O-no

Montreal's Olympic Stadium has been a $1.47 billion money pit. (Shutterstock / FOTOimage Montreal)

The greatest white elephant in Canadian history is about to cost Quebec taxpayers a bunch more.

Montreal's Olympic Stadium, needs a new roof — workers have repaired 7,500 tears in the current one over the past decade. And yesterday, the Quebec government announced that it will be taking bids on the project, with an estimated cost of $200 to $250 million.

A hole, believed to have been caused by accumulation of snow, is seen in the Olympic Stadium roof after it tore in 1999. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

This will be the third lid for the venue, built to host the 1976 Summer Games, but not actually completed until years afterwards. And its ever-ballooning cost — $1.47 billion in the end — wasn't fully paid off until Nov. 2006.

The idea of sinking yet more money into the unloved and underused stadiumthe only events on its calendar are two Toronto Blue Jays exhibition games next March — is controversial.

Here's a taste of the reaction on Twitter:

Quote of the moment

"Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There's just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual."

What The National is reading

This weekend in history

Nov. 11, 1944: Matthew Halton's CBC radio report marking Remembrance Day from the new battlefields of WWII.

CBC's Matthew Halton files radio reports from the battlefields of WWII. (CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathon Gatehouse
Jonathon Gatehouse

Has covered news and politics at home and abroad, reporting from dozens of countries. He has also written extensively about sports, including seven Olympic Games and a best-selling book on the business of pro-hockey.

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