Good news, bad news

Bieber stands up to boos and Margaret Atwood wants a Victoria Day change

Good news, bad news

Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP

Good news

Tech probes

Apple Inc. found itself on the defensive this week after a U.S. Senate subcommittee accused it of trying to avoid paying about $9 billion in tax last year by stuffing profits into overseas affiliates. Closer to home, the Competition Bureau plans to investigate Google’s Canadian arm following similar U.S. and EU probes into the way it runs its search and advertising operations. Too much meddling by regulators is never welcome, but in the cases of these tech titans, governments are doing precisely as they should, ensuring everyone, no matter how big, is playing by the same rules.

An open investigation

A New Brunswick judge quashed a publication ban on key details surrounding the murder investigation of businessman Richard Oland. Search warrants show that the suspect in the high-profile case is Oland’s son, Dennis. The judge ruled that while media scrutiny could be difficult for family members subject to search warrants, “the sensibility of individuals is not, as a general rule, a sufficient justification for a publication ban.” Maybe a little more scrutiny is just what’s needed in this case, which has dragged on for nearly two years with no arrests.


Humility is hard to come by when you’ve been a global star since the age of 15. But Justin Bieber is starting to learn that he’s not above the law. Last week, Germany officially took ownership of his pet monkey, Mally, two months after he failed to provide proper import papers for the animal during a stop in Munich. And when the audience at the Billboard Music Awards showered him with boos when he received an award, he reacted with poise rather than his trademark petulance. “It should really be about the music,” he said. Just 19, he’s come a long way, but there’s still a distance to go.

Save, print and savour

NASA is reportedly funding a project to build a 3D printer for food. Using powder cartridges that have a shelf life of 30 years, the printer would be able to make a variety of meals, which would prove useful for long-distance space missions. The engineer behind the project, Anjan Contractor, told the website Quartz that the first food it will spit out will be pizza with a “protein layer.”

Good news, bad news


Bad news

Pray for a cure

Just as Chinese authorities express optimism that the spread of the deadly H7N9 virus has been slowed, health officials worldwide are growing concerned about a poorly understood coronavirus. A Tunisian man is the latest victim of the SARS-like virus following a visit to Saudi Arabia, where most of the 41 cases, including 20 deaths, have been clustered. There are also signs that human-to-human transmission of the virus may be under way, and a few months prior to the hajj, when millions of pilgrims will visit Saudi Arabia.

Uncivil war

British Prime Minister David Cameron is feeling the heat from his political base. Already upset over the pending legalization of same-sex marriage and the Conservatives’ refusal to hold a referendum on the EU, supporters are now livid at reports that senior strategists regard local Tory activists as “mad swivel-eyed loons.” Some say Cameron is in danger of losing his grip on the leadership. But his presumed challenger, London Mayor Boris Johnson, is in his own spot of bother. This week an appeal court ruled the media could report on an adulterous affair that produced a love child—his second. Keep calm and carry on, indeed.

History rewrite

A group of prominent Canadians including Margaret Atwood and Elizabeth May have launched a petition to change the name of the May 24 holiday to “Victoria and First Peoples Day.” Given the long weekend’s traditions—traffic, bugs, poor weather—it’s hard to fathom how anyone would see that as an honour. But people often confuse change with progress. Take the company that wants to build a wind farm off the shores of Juno Beach, the D-Day landing site where 359 Canadians died. People are being offered the chance to submit written comments on the proposal. Here’s ours: leave our history alone.

Give up, already

Forget what your coaches have always said: practice doesn’t make perfect. Researchers at Michigan State University analyzed studies of chess players and musicians and found that practice accounted for only about one-third of the difference in skill levels of performers. The other factors: raw talent, intelligence and the age at which people take up activities.

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