Good news, bad news: Week in review

The Canadian Senate is hardly a bastion of good news, but this week was especially bad

Good news

Good news, bad news: Aug. 23-30, 2012

Adrian Wyld/POOL/Reuters


Like his dad, Kim Jong Un is well versed in the art of rhetoric. As South Korea staged its annual military drills with the United States, the North’s new dear leader toured some of his military units, vowing to “deal prompt deadly blows” if the enemy attacked. But thankfully, not everything is like father, like son. In yet another subtle sign that North Korea may be ending its decades-long isolation, Kim has confirmed a meeting with senior Japanese counterparts in Beijing, the first attempt in many years to mend fences. At the very least, it’s a start.

Treasure hunt

In these times of fiscal restraint, it’s easy to criticize Ottawa’s decision to invest in the equivalent of an underwater wild goose chase. But the renewed search for Sir John Franklin’s doomed Arctic ships—HMS Erebus and HMS Terror—is well worth $275,000 in taxpayer money. The vessels, famously lost at sea 164 years ago, have become part of the Canadian narrative, inspiring songs, poetry and a long line of unsuccessful searches. But equipped with the latest technology, a team of experts led by Parks Canada has the best chance yet of solving the enduring mystery. A priceless prospect indeed.

Shaking it up

In an effort to promote healthy eating, the Boston Market restaurant chain is removing all salt shakers from its tables. Customers can still ask for more salt if they want it, but the company hopes diners will taste their meal first—and realize it’s just fine without another dash. The only problem? According to the world’s leading experts, the global population will grow so quickly over the next 40 years that nearly everyone will have to adopt a vegetarian diet in order to avoid catastrophic water shortages. Asparagus for dinner? Pass the salt, please.

If you build it . . .

A new report from the Conference Board of Canada says “the future is bright for pro sports.” The authors predict that by 2035, Canada could sustain three more NHL teams, three more MLS soccer clubs and seven additional CFL franchises. Yes, some of the conclusions are laughable—the Expos back in Montreal, the NBA returning to Vancouver—but that, after all, is the beauty of sport. Every fan can dream.

Bad news

Good news, bad news: Aug. 23-30, 2012

Yunior Lugo/EPA/Keystone Press

Not so smart

You may soon have fewer smart phones to choose from, thanks to Apple’s high-priced lawyers and dysfunctional U.S. patent laws. Just days after emerging victorious from its US$1-billion patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung, Apple identified eight iPhone-like smart phones made by the South Korean giant that it wants banned from the marketplace. While companies have a right to protect key intellectual property, forcing rivals to pay royalties if they want to make rectangular phones with rounded corners (one of the two disputed patents) seems far more likely to hamper innovation and consumer choice than encourage it.

Breathe (but don’t inhale)

Good luck, mom and dad. A new study confirms that teenagers who smoke marijuana risk a long-term drop in their IQ because the drug is especially harmful to developing brains. “Parents should understand that their adolescents are particularly vulnerable,” warns one researcher. But don’t be too overbearing. A separate study says snooping through your kids’ drawers or reading their Facebook pages (in search of, say, marijuana) can actually make your children more secretive.

Seeing red

The Canadian Senate is hardly a bastion of good news, but this week was especially bad. First came the revelation that Joyce Fairbairn, 72, was still voting in the upper chamber four months after a psychiatrist declared her legally incompetent. (She suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.) Then came the alleged air-rage rants of Sen. Rod Zimmer’s much younger wife, Maygan Sensenberger. The couple was flying from Ottawa to Saskatoon to celebrate their first wedding anniversary when, according to police, Sensenberger threatened to kill her husband and “take the plane down.”

Leadership 101

Speaking of newsworthy marriages, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has promised to reimburse the public purse for having on-duty Mounties perform a ceremonial honour guard at his wedding. Paulson, who has vowed to clean up the troubled police force, has said in the past that too many officers misuse their power. Which is why he agreed to pay up—after the incident made headlines.

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