This Week: Good news/Bad news

Plus a week in the life of Maria Belen Chapur

Baillie MilanFace of the week
Baillie Milan of Cochrane, Alta., was among the contestants in the steer-wrestling event at this year’s Calgary Stampede

Maria Belen ChapurA week in the life of Maria Belen Chapur
The mystery lover of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford edged closer to the media glare last week. While photographers camped outside her apartment in Buenos Aires, the 41-year-old issued a statement last Monday acknowledging her relationship with Sanford, and claiming someone had hacked into her Hotmail account to break the story of their affair. Around the same time, video clips surfaced of the Argentine beauty filing a TV report from New York on 9/11.


Watch and learn
Barack Obama hit an international relations double this week by initiating a nuclear reduction treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which will see arsenals on both sides cut by nearly 1,000 warheads. Not only did the U.S. President put the two former Cold War foes back on the path of nuclear diplomacy, he sent an implicit message to America’s would-be enemy, Iran. You may remember Obama saying that America would extend a hand if Tehran would first unclench its fist. Now, with the help of Medvedev, he has shown them how its done—with the clear suggestion that Iran’s nuclear sabre-rattling will get a cool reception in Moscow in the future. Next up, Kim Jong Il.

We really like you
If Czechs are feeling insulted by Canada this week, they shouldn’t be. A recent flood of Roma refugee claimants has made it necessary for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to consider restoring Canada’s visa requirement on travellers from the Czech Republic, where almost all of the claims originate. While the Roma indeed face street-level discrimination throughout central and eastern Europe, Ottawa has no reason to believe they are denied justice by Czech courts and other authorities in that country—an EU member in good standing. Reinstating a visa requirement is therefore neither a slight against Czechs, nor a gross injustice against the Roma. It is just sound policy.

Good judgment
Just as he was right to convict a teenage boy who fatally attacked an opposing rugby player, Judge Bruce Duncan of the Ontario Court of Justice was correct to spare the boy prison time, handing him a year’s probation and 100 hours of community service instead. There is no doubt the young offender acted recklessly and with intent to injure when, in a fit of rage, he picked up 15-year-old Manny Castillo and slammed him headlong into the turf during a game in Mississauga. But a conviction for manslaughter alone is enough for someone who—at the age of 15 and in the heat of the moment—made one terrible decision. This is why judicial discretion is built into sentencing guidelines. We applaud Judge Duncan for using it.

Ale’s well
Just in time for summer, a British study has concluded that beer bellies result primarily from genetic factors, rather than long hours in the pub. Sure, all those calories pack on body mass, say researchers, but the pot gut itself is hereditary. So rejoice, lager lovers. You can now look forward to months of worry-free drinking—until the next study comes out contradicting this one.


Power grab
Former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was a self-serving demagogue whose greed for power overruled his judgment. That was never more clear than on Monday, when he put soldiers and civilians at risk with a theatrical attempt to fly into the airport in Tegucigalpa. Yet rash as Zelaya may be, his ouster at the hands of military-backed opponents was precipitous and illegal—a fact underscored by rare consensus within the Organization of American States condemning the coup and suspending Honduras from the group. To now say “what’s done is done” is not good enough. If it won’t cede power, the interim leadership must immediately set a timetable to re-establish elected, legitimate government in the country.

Tale of the tape
Just when courts were starting to embrace the presumption of openness, a Nova Scotia judge has ruled that video of a tasering incident by police cannot be posted on the Web due to privacy concerns and her belief that the public won’t properly understand it. “Context is crucial,” Judge Anne Derrick said at an inquiry into the death of Howard Hyde, a mentally ill man who was tasered by police and later died during a scuffle with jail guards. Funny, that’s exactly what the RCMP said after footage of Robert Dziekanski getting zapped to death at the Vancouver airport came to light. Yet without that video—a mere 30 seconds arguably devoid of context—the vital, stomach-churning truth of that incident would have been concealed from the public.

Your wallet, please
More signs that the tax-and-spend mentality that pushed Canada into its last round of deficits is once again taking hold on Parliament Hill. Kevin Page, the parliamentary budget officer, is the latest to advocate restoring two percentage points to the GST, arguing it would be the least painful way to eliminate Canada’s ballooning deficit. Page has every reason to worry about the deficit. But it is a mistake to lend his voice to those who would use Ottawa’s reckless spending—done in the name of stimulus—to justify tax hikes. It’s not as if the unmonitored billions on the way out the door are beyond reconsideration.

Forget the Phoenix Coyotes. Something is amiss in hockey when a cherished figure like Saku Koivu cannot see through his career in Montreal, where he overcame injury and illness to inspire the faithful for 16 years. Meanwhile, a self-server like Dany Heatley—who last week snubbed the fans in both Ottawa and Edmonton—gets to write his ticket to the team of his choosing. Is there no reward for loyalty?

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