Cohen, Kristof and Collins

In “Camelot Comes to Canada” Mr. Cohen says the Trudeau story suggests limits to the bullying politics of anger and fear. America, take note.  Mr. Kristof considers “The Miracle Breast Milk Elixir” and says breast-feeding is a dazzlingly low-tech solution that saves children’s lives.  Ms. Collins, in “Hillary and Benghazi,” says the House Benghazi committee’s inappropriate approach is outdone only by the Stop Hillary PAC and its ghoulish commercial.  Here’s Mr. Cohen:

Michael Ignatieff, the former leader of Justin Trudeau’s victorious Liberal Party in Canada, told me he’d “never known an instance when any American took any lesson from Canada.”

That’s probably true. Americans, with the conspicuous exception of the documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, tend to think nothing of note, or at least serious note, takes place north of the border. But perhaps that lesson-taking moment has arrived.

Trudeau’s remarkable triumph, which saw the Liberal Party jump to 184 seats from 36 in the 338-member Canadian House of Commons, was a victory over mean-spiritedness and the politics of fear. It was a thorough repudiation, after almost a decade, of the belligerent politics of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. As Ignatieff noted, the “nasty party,” an epithet that once belonged to Britain’s Tories, had become a fair description of Harper’s Conservatives.

Harper had notably gone after Canada’s one million Muslims. His government’s attempt to prevent Muslim women from wearing a face-covering headdress, or niqab, during citizenship ceremonies was overturned this year by a court ruling. The prime minister, saying he found the veil “offensive,” decided to appeal the court decision, but lost last month.

His stand has had a tangible effect on Muslims. One, Rania El-Alloul, was told earlier this year by a judge in a Quebec court that she would not hear her case (a property matter) unless she removed her headscarf. A Conservative minister called the hijab a perversion of Canadian values.

No, the attempt to undermine Canadian values was Harper’s — and Canadians saw through him. They rejected his crass divisiveness. Trudeau was forthright in standing up for the right of Canada’s Muslim women to wear what they like. “Diversity is the at the very heart of Canada. It is who we are and what we do,” he declared in March. A “Francophone Quebecer,” as he has called himself, Trudeau knows how central diversity and multiculturalism are to the delicate weave of Canadian unity.

“We are a mosaic and Trudeau felt strongly about it,” Chrystia Freeland, a Liberal Member of Parliament, told me. “There was a very narrow and very partisan attempt by the government to play on baser instincts and create animosity that was not there.”

In short, a positive campaign won. Killer politics lost. Trudeau likes to talk about finding “common ground,” where Harper was all about winner take all. At a time when American politics are dismally polarized, this other North American political story is interesting, perhaps even instructive.

Republicans still seem to believe the unlikely proposition that elections are won on the angry margins. The two leading Republican candidates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, try to outgun each other in attacking, respectively, Mexican immigration and the idea of a Muslim president in the White House (don’t hold your breath). The Trudeau story suggests limits to the bullying politics of anger and fear. Not even Lynton Crosby, the legendary Australian master of the take-no-hostage dark political arts, could revive Harper’s fortunes.

Camelot has come to Canada. For a moment at least, the duller part of North America looks sexier than its overweening cousin to the south. Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire, have razzmatazz. The incoming prime minister is very much his father’s son, a natural charmer. There’s no point denying it. The American political field looks wizened by comparison.

You don’t have to be seduced by Trudeau’s happy talk of “sunny ways,” or be persuaded by Trudeau’s Obamaesque allusions to the “better angels of our nature,” or be convinced by the equally Obamaesque references from Trudeau to the arc of the moral universe bending “toward justice” — all this will be tested by the harsh realities of power in a big country of competing interests. The glitter, it is safe to say, will fade. Shadows will dim the Trudeau sun. But the political tide has turned in Canada.

It has turned away from austerity toward deficit spending on infrastructure and growth — and this in a country where balanced budgets are, in Freeland’s words, “almost a fetish.” It has turned away from widening inequality (yes, even in Canada) toward addressing the challenges to social cohesion from globalization. It has turned away from Harper’s weird Canadian unilateralism toward a rediscovery of Canada’s traditional multilateral, United Nations-focused approach to foreign policy and leadership on refugee issues. It has turned away from bruising confrontation toward civility in politics.

Trudeau represents a break in style but also in economic approach at a time when sharpening inequality is probably the foremost issue in developed Western societies. In this sense, too, his election may be telling on the eve of a United States election year.

“One of the most difficult and urgent global problems is how to develop societies where people of different cultures can live together and build common ground,” Trudeau said during the campaign. If he does not lead on this issue — in Canada and beyond Canada — he will have failed the promise he represents.

Next up we have Mr. Kristof, writing from Lucknow, India:

What if there were a remedy that could save more children’s lives in the developing world than are claimed by malaria and AIDS combined?

A miracle substance that reduces ear infections while seeming to raise scores on I.Q. tests by several points? Available even in the most remote villages, requiring no electricity or refrigeration? Oh, and as long as we’re dreaming, let’s make it free.

This miracle substance already exists. It’s breast milk.

Current estimates backed by the World Health Organization and Unicef are that optimal breast-feeding would save 800,000 children’s lives a year in developing countries. That would amount to a 12 percent drop in child mortality, a huge gain.

I’m on my annual win-a-trip journey, in which I take a student with me to the developing world to look at neglected issues. The student, Austin Meyer of Stanford University, and I have been reporting in India, where 1.2 million children under the age of 5 die annually — and where nutritionists say that improved breast-feeding practices could save many.

Exclusive breast-feeding for six months, as strongly recommended by the World Health Organization, is practiced by just 46 percent of women in India, 17 percent in Nigeria, and 10 percent in Yemen, according to the latest Global Nutrition Report. (In the U.S., the figure is about 22 percent,according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Let me get this out of the way: It’s awkward for men to hail breast-feeding, and it risks sounding patronizing because we’re not the ones doing the work.

And this: Sometimes promotion of breast-feeding carries an unfortunate edge of reproach for women who can’t breast-feed or choose not to, and that’s counterproductive. In America, there’s tension about these issues; an essay in The Times on Sunday warned that promotion efforts can degenerate into shaming women. That’s a fair caution.

In any case, where this is a life-or-death issue is not the West but in developing countries, where water is often contaminated and child mortality is high.

Infants who are not breast-fed are 14 times more likely to die than those who are exclusively breast-fed, according to a major metastudy just published by Acta Paediatrica, a pediatrics journal.

Here in northern India, Austin and I met a mother, Maher Bano, whose daughter had been born at home just hours earlier. The baby was underweight and in danger of dying. The best medicine in this context is breast milk: Studies from India, Nepal and Ghana show that prompt breast-feeding reduces neonatal mortality by 44 percent.

But Maher Bano said that for the first 24 hours, the baby would be given only tea with honey.

“I’ll breast-feed the baby tomorrow, or the next day,” she said, explaining that she was following the guidance of the traditional birth attendant who had helped her deliver the baby and cut the cord. This is common: Worldwide, only 43 percent of babies are put to the breast within an hour of birth, as recommended by the World Health Organization.

One reason for delays is suspicion of colostrum, the first, yellowish milk, which doesn’t look quite like milk but is packed with nutrients and antibodies; it’s sometimes called the “first immunization.”

Another big challenge: In hot countries, villagers also often give infants water on hot days, or start them on food before six months. Water both displaces milk and also is often contaminated. (Breast milk, in contrast, is safe even when the mom drinks contaminated water.)

Western companies are also to blame. Manufacturers of infant formula face stagnant growth in Western countries, so they aggressively pursue poorer countries. Researchers found that 85 percent of recently discharged mothers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, had seen advertising for formula.

Some also believe that Western entertainment has sexualized the breast in ways that reduce breast-feeding.

While the clearest benefits of breast-feeding have to do with saving lives, there is also some evidence of other health and cognitive gains. In Belarus, children of women randomly assigned to exclusive breast-feeding promotion scored six points higher on I.Q. tests than controls.

A few studies haven’t found a tie to cognitive capacity, but most have. Over all, a new review of 17 studies found a mean gain of three I.Q. points for children who were breast-fed.

Global health experts focus on breast-feeding partly because efforts to support moms in this area pay off surprisingly well. A recent survey by Acta Paediatrica of 130 estimates found that breast-feeding promotion on average increased exclusive breast-feeding by an astonishing 44 percent.

This annual win-a-trip journey is a chance to highlight elegant solutions to global problems. Sometimes the solutions are dazzlingly high-tech, but almost nothing could save as many children’s lives each year as nature’s own miracle: breast milk.

And now here’s Ms. Collins:

When Americans are killed in a terror attack, there’s a natural, righteous need to find out what went wrong. And the trick is to do it in a way that doesn’t debase the human loss with a nasty political scrum.

For the right way, you can look at the 9/11 commission.

For the wrong way, there’s the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which has spent the last few months as a walking disaster. Well, actually, a sitting disaster. Or a hardly-ever-bothering-to-show-up disaster. In all its postures, it’s been a textbook for bad intentions.

And then there’s the ad a group called Stop Hillary PAC aired in a number of American cities during the Democratic debate last week. It featured photos of the four men who died in the attack on the American diplomatic mission, seemingly speaking from the grave to Clinton. “I’d like to ask you why you ignored calls for help in Benghazi and then four Americans were murdered,” says a voice, while the picture of C.I.A. contractor Glen Doherty is on the screen. In the end, a picture of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens appears, while a voice says: “But Mrs. Clinton, I can’t. What difference does it make?” And then there’s his headstone.

The relatives were, of course, horrified. “It’s an insult to someone who is dead,” Stevens’s mother told The Washington Post, adding that she’d sue the makers if she could.

But she can’t. The only thing that controls people like Stop Hillary PAC is a national consensus that there are places you just don’t go when it comes to political exploitation of American deaths. We’ve been through a lot of that lately, including the Jeb Bush-Donald Trump argument about George W. and 9/11. “Next week Mr. Trump is probably going to say that F.D.R. was around when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor,” Jeb blurted out in a TV interview.

Say what? People, do you remember the days of yore, when you thought Jeb Bush was the adult in the Republican room? Now he’s nothing more than political toast and Donald Trump could actually get the Republican nomination. Or Ted Cruz. Jeb, you have a lot to answer for — just please, don’t try to say anything.

The first step on the road to national sanity is to acknowledge that our leaders all want to keep the people safe. There is absolutely no reason to worry on that point. But good intentions don’t always lead to safe results, and the second step is to figure out what went wrong in a calm and even-handed manner.

The Benghazi committee went into its investigation with a promise to be fair. “There are certain things in our culture that have to transcend politics, and I don’t mean to sound naïve, but the murder of four fellow Americans and an attack on a facility that is emblematic of our country should transcend politics,” said the committee chair, Trey Gowdy.

The very fact that Gowdy thought he might be sounding naïve should have been a warning.

That was before the House majority leader bragged how well the committee had done in bringing down Clinton’s poll numbers. Before Gowdy criticized Clinton for forwarding an email containing the name of a C.I.A. source to her aide, and in the process accidentally made the name public himself.

Also before the world learned that the same Stop Hillary PAC which made that appalling ad has been a campaign contributor and all-round political helper to Representative Trey Gowdy.

How do you know if politicians are transcending their parties when they’re investigating these painful and sensitive matters? Well, do they seem interested in important but unsexy issues like the State Department security chain of command? Or are they flinging themselves in front of the cameras, claiming that the terrible error which was Benghazi is like the criminal conspiracy which was Watergate.

Looking at you, Representative Mike (“worse than Watergate”) Pompeo. A Kansas Republican who serves on the Benghazi investigating committee, Pompeo has been making the rounds on TV, arguing that Clinton erased way more emails than Richard Nixon did White House tapes. I believe I speak for many when I say that if email had been around during the Nixon administration, we would have seen erasures the size of Mount Whitney.

While we’re reclaiming the even course when it comes to preventing terror attacks, another good step might be for Jeb Bush to say that Hillary Clinton doesn’t deserve to be pilloried any more than his brother. This came up during a Jake Tapper interview on CNN, and Bush’s response was: “Well, I — it’s — the question on then Benghazi, which is — hopefully we’ll now finally get, get the truth to, is, was that — was the place secure? They had a responsibility, the Department of State, to have proper security.”

Toasttoasttoasttoasttoast.

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