World and Nation

Shorts (left)

Struggling to Retain Power, Canadian Leader Shuts Parliament

Canada’s parliamentary opposition reacted with outrage on Thursday after Prime Minister Stephen Harper shut down the legislature until Jan. 26, seeking to forestall a no-confidence vote that he was sure to lose and, possibly, provoking a constitutional crisis.

Harper acted after getting the approval of Governor General Michaelle Jean, who represents Queen Elizabeth as the nation’s head of state. If his request had been rejected, he would have had to choose between stepping down or facing the no-confidence vote on Monday.

The opposition fiercely criticized the decision to suspend Parliament, accusing Harper of undermining the nation’s democracy. “We have to say to Canadians, is this the kind of government you want?” said Bob Rae, a member of the opposition Liberal Party. “Do we want a party in place that is so undemocratic that it will not meet the House of Commons?”

Mexican Doctors, Saving Lives, Fear for Their Own

The sedated patient, his bullet wounds still fresh from a shootout the night before, was lying in a gurney in the intensive care unit of a prestigious private hospital here late last month, with intravenous fluids dripping into his arm. Suddenly, steel-faced gunmen barged in and filled him with even more bullets. This time, he was dead for sure.

Hit men pursuing rivals into intensive care units and emergency rooms. Shootouts in lobbies and corridors. Doctors kidnapped and held for ransom, or threatened with death if a wounded gunman dies under their care. With alarming speed, Mexico’s violent drug war is finding its way into the seeming sanctuary of the nation’s hospitals, roiling the health-care system and leaving workers fearing for their lives while trying to save the lives of others.

“Remember that hospital scene from ‘The Godfather?’” asked Dr. Hector Rico, an otolaryngologist here. In that scene, Michael Corleone saves his hospitalized father from a hit squad. “That’s how we live.”

Art Museum in Los Angeles At Pivot Point

When this city’s Museum of Contemporary Art appointed a classically trained curator from the Art Institute of Chicago as its director in 1999, many viewed it as a welcome sign that art rather than business would be kept at the forefront of one of the most dynamic museums in the country.

They did not know how right they were. Nearly 10 years later, the museum remains internationally renowned for its collection of postwar art and for organizing some of the most serious and ambitious contemporary art exhibitions anywhere.

Yet by putting art ahead of the bottom line, the Museum of Contemporary Art has nearly killed itself. The museum has operated at a deficit in six of the last eight years, and its endowment has shrunk to about $6 million from nearly $50 million in 1999, according to people who have been briefed on the finances.

Now the California attorney general has begun an audit to determine if the museum broke laws governing the use of restricted funds by nonprofit organizations. And a growing chorus of local artists, curators and collectors, including current and former board members, are lobbying to remove the museum’s director, Jeremy Strick, its board, or both.