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Trump fires Tillerson at State, replacing with CIA’s Pompeo

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  • WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday and said he would nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him, putting an ardent foe of the Iran nuclear deal in charge of U.S. diplomacy as Trump also dives into high-stakes talks with North Korea.

    “We disagreed on things,” Trump said of Tillerson just after announcing the firing on Twitter. He mentioned differences over how to handle the Iran-nuclear deal, which Trump wanted to withdraw from. “So we were not really thinking the same.”

    Though Trump and other officials said he’d been considering replacing Tillerson for some time, the president said he made the decision only recently and “by myself.” Tillerson will be “much happier now,” Trump said.

    Word of Trump’s dissatisfaction with Tillerson and plans to replace him with Pompeo had circulated for months, even as Tillerson insisted he didn’t plan to leave and that he knew of no plans for his ouster. Rumours about friction between Trump and Tillerson increased last fall with reports that Tillerson had called the president a “moron” while meeting with other officials.

    The changes come as Trump considers whether to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Iran deal that Pompeo has called “disastrous.” Tillerson had long pushed Trump to remain in the agreement and had been pursuing a delicate strategy with European allies and others to try to improve or augment it to Trump’s liking.

    The president said he was nominating the CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, to take over for Pompeo at the intelligence agency. If confirmed, Haspel would be the CIA’s first female director

    Pompeo, a former Republican congressman from Kansas, has already been confirmed by the Senate for his current role at the CIA, making it extremely likely that he will be confirmed for the State Department role. Trump tweeted, “He will do a fantastic job!”

    As for his relationship with Tillerson, Trump said, “Really, it was a different mindset. It was a different thinking.”

    Two White House officials said Tillerson was told he was out on Friday, although it was unclear who did the firing. Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein said Tillerson “did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason,” adding that the former Exxon Mobil CEO “had every intention of staying” in the job because he felt he was making critical progress in national security.”

    Tillerson’s firing came barely four hours after he returned to Washington from a trip to Africa that he had cut short, telling reporters that he was exhausted after working most of the night two nights in a row and getting sick in Ethiopia. There were no obvious signs from his behaviour or his aides on the plane that his departure was imminent.

    “I felt like, look, I just need to get back,” Tillerson said on his plane, only hours before Trump announced he was out.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller, Jonathan Lemire Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

    Josh Lederman And Matthew Lee, The Associated Press







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    Arts

    Collection featuring Group of Seven paintings donated to University of Lethbridge

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  • LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess spent a lifetime following her passion.

    A lifelong educator and art collector, the Order of Canada recipient bequeathed a collection worth as much as $5 million to the University of Lethbridge following her death at age 100 in 2016. 

    The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery received word last year that Hess had donated her vast collection, which includes works from some of the most well-known artists in Canada and from around the world.

    University president Mike Mahon knew Hess for eight years prior to her death. He said she created a masters-level scholarship for students at the university and her generosity was well known.

    “I’ve seen her generosity in spirit, in volunteerism and in funds over the course of her life,” Mahon said

    “I knew she had an amazing art collection partly because when I would have a cup of tea in her living room you’d be surrounded by the Group of Seven and Emily Carr and others hanging on the wall or stacked against a chair.

    “She had art everywhere.”

    The gallery at the University of Lethbridge, now renamed in her honour, has on display 112 of the 1,140 pieces she donated.

    “It’s really exciting. I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite. It was hard enough to come up with a selection out of the gift to show this summer,” said assistant curator David Smith.

    “What I’ve tried to do is replicate the areas of strength in her collection. More than half of her collection was work by Indigenous artists so more than half the works in this show are Indigenous artists,” he added.

    “There’s a selection of Group of Seven works with Tom Thomson and an Emily Carr piece. They’re really great pieces. The Thomson is particularly exciting. A recent guesstimate says there are only about 75 of those panel sketches left in private hands.”

    There are about 15 Group of Seven paintings safely behind Plexiglas.

    Smith said the remainder of the collection will be displayed in years to come.

    Hess, who was the daughter of a lumber magnate, never married and spent her life collecting art and lecturing on it.

    She received a doctorate of fine arts from the University of Lethbridge and at one point was a member of the university senate.

    “She was very close with A.Y. Jackson. He used to come and stay with her and visit her at her ranch near Cochrane. She’d drive him around to the best spots and they had a really great, lifelong friendship there.”

    Also on display until Sept. 7 is an original sketch by Henri Matisse, a print by Pablo Picasso and the art of prominent Indigenous artists, including Alex Janvier, Bill Reid, Tony Hunt, Jessie Oonark and Helen Kalvak.

    — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

     

    Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Quebec’s longest-serving legislature member blames PQ for decline of sovereignty

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  • QUEBEC — The Parti Quebecois is partly to blame for the lack of support for sovereignty, according to the province’s longest-serving legislature member, who believes his party has renounced its duty to promote independence.

    Francois Gendron, 73, will retire from political life this fall after 42 years in the legislature — but not without a few parting shots directed at the media, his political rivals and his own party.

    “The PQ has things to blame itself for,” says Gendron, who was first elected in 1976 under former Parti Quebecois premier Rene Levesque.

    In a lengthy interview with The Canadian Press, the politician says he has three words of advice for his party, which was founded to make Quebec a country but has thus far proven incapable of rallying the population to its cause.

    “Go. Talk. Convince.”

    Gendron, a former teacher, believes sovereigntists have to return to the basics of political activism, and show Quebecers what they have to gain from independence.

    His party, he believes, has failed in this scholarly duty, noting that they haven’t produced a single substantial document on the benefits of sovereignty since the last referendum in 1995.

    When asked if he’s scared he’ll never see Quebec become its own country, he responds, “the answer is yes.”

    The outspoken politician had nothing but good words for former Bloc Quebecois leader Martine Ouellet, who stepped down from her party earlier this month after losing a confidence vote. She currently sits in provincial legislature as an independent but has indicated she won’t run in October’s election.

    Ouellet, who was criticized at times for her laser-like focus on independence, is a woman “of conviction,” who wears the cause proudly and knows it inside and out, Gendron says.

    In contrast, he has harsh words for the poll-leading provincial Coalition Avenir Quebec, whose members he describes as “puppets” with no program, and Philippe Couillard’s Liberals, whose “billions” spent on advertising he says ought to provoke a “social crisis.”

    Gendron also blames a highly individualistic culture and a lack of education among citizens for the decline of the independence movement and most other collective efforts.

    “There’s no more culture, no more history, people know just about nothing,” he says.

    Some of his harshest criticism was reserved for the media, which in his opinion is largely responsible for discrediting the noble role of elected politicians through endless commentary that “pollutes the airwaves.”

    “We’re less credible than sex workers and used car salesmen,” he says.

    Gendron, who will not seek re-election in this fall’s election, says that what he’ll miss the most is representing the 35,000 people in his western Quebec riding of Abitibi-Ouest.

    While outspoken on many topics, he remains more discreet when questioned on his party’s possible fate come October.

    He notes, with a touch of disappointment, that the party has lost its foothold in many ridings that were once PQ strongholds. 

    In his decades-long career, Gendron has held a number of cabinet posts, many of them linked to regional development or resource management.

    He was instrumental in creating the first regional development policy in 1982, which he describes as a moment of pride.

    These days, he’s faced with the task of sorting decades of photos, documents, press clippings and memories as he prepares to make his exit.

    “When we stir all this up, madam, it disturbs,” he says. “It comes to get you at an emotional level.”

    Jocelyne Richer, The Canadian Press



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