Al Qaeda’s number two man was killed last month by a US drone strike in Yemen. If that sounds familiar it’s because the deceased, Said al-Shehri, is the 8th—count ‘em—8th al Qaeda number two man to be killed since 2002. He was described by U.S. officials as one of the most important al Qaeda-linked militants. He had been one of the first al Qaeda operatives captured after 911 and was incarcerated in Guantanamo detention centre for 8 years. He was released into a rehab program which clearly was ineffective because he soon re-joined al Qaeda. So the Americans had him in custody, and could have dispatched him there, or just kept him in jail; but instead waited until the terrorist was on the loose in Yemen talking on a cell phone when they sent in a $4 Million drone to blow him to smithereens. The Lone Ranger was deemed extravagant for using a silver bullet. Can you imagine the conversation Al Qaeda leader Ayman al- Zawahri would have with a young lieutenant after al-Shehri’s funeral—“You look like a promising young fellow, I’d like you to be my number two guy.” So far the only number two Al Qaeda guy to survive is al-Zawahri himself—who became number one when Osama Bin Laden was killed. Dangerous work, I’d say.

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This is a question for SNL fans. With all the defections from the Saturday Night Live cast, is the show doomed? Mike Ryan writing in the Huffington Post says while it is true that Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis have departed and Seth Meyers is leaving the show in December, The show has weathered mass cast departures before and probably will do so this time. He reminds us that in the 1980-81 season the entire cast quit—including the show creator Lorne Michaels. There was significant turnover with the replacement cast as well, but one newcomer who stood out that year was a young comic named Eddie Murphy (remember Gumby?) Then things got worse–over the next 2 seasons 25 cast members came and went. When Lorne Michaels returned to helm the show in 1985-86 he disposed of established stars like Martin Short and Billy Crystal and started all over again, and despite that the show endured. 1986-87 saw the emergence of John Lovits and Dennis Miller but nine other staffers were gone. Still the new cast gave us Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman . From that point the staff remained stable until the mid 1990’s. 1995 which saw the likes of Adam Sandler and Chris Farley cut, along with 11 others. One of the new replacements that year was Will Ferrell. Mike Ryan points out that this time Lorne Michaels has been quietly assembling a”B’ team and that the departures will not require a whole new re-build of the show. It is interesting to note what has happened to some of the bigger stars– post SNL. Dan Ackroyd, Chevy Chase and John Belushi from the early years went on to big, albeit formulaic movie careers.

Bill Murray has become one of the Hollywood elite. More recently, Kristen Wiig had a hit with the film Brides Maids, Will Ferrell is well established as a dependable money earner. So far, arguably Tina Fey has not done as well in her first couple of films. Unfunny Adam Sandler has been a disaster in his movies thus far. After a brilliant start, Eddie Murphy has been content to churn out kids fare for the past 15 years. Whatever happened to Dana Carvey? We know all of these people were tremendously talented in their day. But the experience of SNL alumni shows there is no way of predicting how the stars of the small screen will translate into Hollywood and beyond. The medium really does make a difference. somebody around who remembers the proper way to make change to a customer, PLEASE train the kids at the counter to PUT THE COINS IN THE CUSTOMER’S HAND, and then hand them the bills.; not the current practice of handing them an open faced money sandwich with the coins sliding around, and often falling off a bed of bills. These rules were made long before the era of drive-thru windows, but now that we do have drive thru’s; it is all the more urgent to make sure that money doesn’t get dropped to the ground. Have you ever tried to open a car door at a Tim’s window to retrieve coins? There’s no room to get the door open and the folks behind hate you for the delay.

John Best had enjoyed a lengthy media management career, in television and radio and now print. As Vice President, News at CHCH in Hamilton, John oversaw a significant expansion of the news operation. He founded Independent Satellite News, Canada’s only television news service providing national content to Canadian independent TV stations. John is a frequent political commentator on radio and television, a documentary producer and author of a book and numerous articles on historical and political subjects. John is a past recipient of the New York Festival’s award for writing in the International TV category.

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