This week: Good news/Bad news

Plus a week in the life of Danielle Smith

Jayson WerthFace of the week
Champagne shower: Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth celebrates after his team earned a spot in the World Series

Danielle SmithA week in the life of Danielle Smith
Last week, the former journalist and broadcaster won the leadership race for Alberta’s Wildrose Alliance Party; this week she’s hoping to win over Albertans. After a brief appearance at the provincial legislature on Monday, Smith set out on a cross-province tour to drum up support for her fledgling party, which is seeking to uproot a majority Conservative government. According to a recent poll, 18 per cent of Albertans support the Wildrose Alliance.


Law and order
Stephen Harper likes to remind voters that he’s “tough on crime.” Since taking power, the PM has announced all sorts of law and order amendments, from fixing the sex offender registry to scrapping the “two-for-one credit” criminals receive for time served before conviction. Critics like to suggest such grand plans are more public relations than public safety, but the government’s latest proposal—to end early parole for white collar criminals and other non-violent offenders—is a no-brainer. Currently, financial fraudsters are eligible for release after serving just one-sixth of their sentences. If only their victims were so lucky.

Monster on trial
Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, was a no-show for the opening of his war crimes trial at the UN. No matter—on day two, Judge O-gon Kwon decided that the show would go on—whether or not Karadzic was present. That is the correct decision: this man is a monster, accused of helming the genocide at Srebrenica, where more than 30,000 Bosnians were massacred. The court should not require his presence to confirm his guilt and assign punishment. We hope the UN court has learned a thing or two from the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, which the former Serbian president turned into a farce by refusing to recognize the court’s right to try him.

Disney’s baby lies
What would Mickey say? Disney is offering refunds to parents who purchased its Baby Einstein videos and DVDs. If you have young children or grandkids, you’ve probably had to sit through an episode at some point: the videos show colourful objects, plush animals and, of course, other babies, though there is no plot or storyline to speak of. Disney guaranteed that its Einstein product would help make a prodigy out of your bundle of joy, but new research suggests that’s just not true. Which isn’t to say that the collection doesn’t have its benefits; Baby Einstein does seem to do a good job of keeping kids distracted—providing a few minutes of parental quiet time.

Let’s go, Phillies
Let’s play ball! The World Series is set—the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies will take on the love-’em-or-hate-’em New York Yankees. The Phillies are led by ace Cliff Lee and slugger Ryan Howard, while the Yanks have Alex Rodriguez, who has been lighting it up in the post-season, and a roster full of veterans. We’re rooting for the Phils—we’ll take Howard any day over Rodriguez’s steroid-enhanced swings. Plus, the Phillie Phanatic is the best mascot in baseball, hands down.


Pilots gone surfing
Incompetent—that would be a good descriptive for Timothy B. Cheney and Richard I. Cole, the men who were at the helm of a Northwest Airlines plane that went AWOL for an hour last week. The two originally claimed they were in the midst of a heated discussion, and so did not notice urgent calls regarding their whereabouts. But under investigation they admitted they had actually been playing with their personal laptops—in violation of company policy (and common sense)—and simply lost track of time. Travellers implicitly trust the men and women who fly us from point A to B—but perhaps we shouldn’t be so confident. Or maybe these two pilots are simply the runts of the litter.

The new intifada?
There are signs that history is repeating itself in Israel. On Sunday, Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers clashed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Nine officers were injured and 21 Palestinians were arrested. It was the second violent encounter at the site—holy to both Jews and Muslims—in the last month. In 2000, the intifada began under similar circumstances—when Palestinians attacked Israeli police after Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount. With the peace process seemingly stalled, this wave of violence might signal the start of a new intifada.

A protest gone bad
Here’s how to not get good publicity for your cause: organize a “flash mob” and start yelling “Whose House? Our House!” in the Commons during question period. That’s what a group of climate change protesters did earlier this week—they were promptly ejected from Parliament Hill. Canada should take a hint from our Commonwealth brethren: the Australian state of Victoria is pondering increased fines and penalties for protesters who get violent, and Britain has already begun invoking anti-terror laws to deal with rowdy environmentalists. In any case, if climate change activists want to be taken seriously, they would be wise to put some more thought into their actions.

Chew on this
More bad news for the morbidly obese (because being grossly overweight isn’t difficult enough). In England, a prominent physician says fat women should be forced to shed pounds before qualifying for government-funded infertility treatment. In the U.S., some states are charging higher ambulance fees because extra paramedics—and even forklifts—are needed to lift obese patients. Plus a new study from Johns Hopkins University suggests that the higher a patient’s body mass index, the less respect the physician has.

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