This Week: Good news/Bad news

Plus a week in the life of Y.E. Yang

Suaad Hagi MohamudFace of the week
Suaad Hagi Mohamud is reunited with her son in Toronto after spending three months in Kenya due to an identity dispute

Y.E. YangA week in the life of Y.E. Yang
The 37-year-old South Korean arrived at the PGA Championship in Chaska, Minn., ranked 110th in the world. On Friday, he scored a two under par 70, leaving him six strokes behind the leader and odds-on favourite, Tiger Woods. But a 67 on Saturday drew Yang within striking distance of Woods, and on Sunday, he clinched victory on the 18th with a brilliant shot over a tree. After the win, Yang received a congratulatory phone call from South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.


Refuge ease
The Harper government is reportedly planning to fast-track refugee claims from so-called “safe” countries, allowing dubious applicants to be deported more quickly. Good idea. The system is clogged with people making bogus or exaggerated claims about persecution in their countries of origin; weeding these individuals out will allow our refugee board to assist those truly in need of a safe harbour. It will also let us open the door wider to regular travellers: Canada was recently forced to require visas from travellers from the Czech Republic after a recent flood of refugee claims by Roma people. The sooner we can lift that restriction, the better.

Movin’ on up
Canada’s economic performance is set to vault up the world rankings, says the Conference Board of Canada, thanks to our strong banks, solid government finances and relatively low rate of unemployment. We’ve heard a lot in the past few years about what’s wrong with our economy: productivity is down, per capita income has fallen, and so on. But the latest rankings, which the conference board bases on OECD numbers, puts us ahead of all but four of 17 developed nations used for comparison (Norway, as ever, is on top). No surprise, then, that another survey shows consumer confidence is up in this country. We Canadians are often scorned for our conservatism. But our focus on fundamentals has stood us in good stead, and we know it.

Tickets, please
Vancouver’s new $2-billion airport rail link is open for business. The “Canada Line,” which will whisk Olympic visitors downtown in just 25 minutes for only $3.75 came in on-time and under budget. It’s the first of its kind in Canada and a nice bit of news for British Columbians who are starting to chafe under Olympic-sized deficits, delays and disruptions. We hope they enjoy the ride.

Bad raps
It’s been a good week for reputation rehab. A newly published study found that Mozart likely died from strep throat, effectively clearing the name of Antonio Salieri, the rival composer who some thought might have murdered the musical genius in 1791. Meanwhile, Britain’s leading scientists, politicians and activists have launched a campaign to get a prime ministerial apology for Alan Turing, an encryption wizard who helped break the Nazis’ so-called Enigma code, yet was later convicted under Britain’s anti-homosexuality laws. Turing, in despair, committed suicide, and of course Salieri is long gone. But where the character of great men is concerned, it’s never too late to erase old smears.


Something fishy
In a crisis reminiscent of the cod-stock collapse of the early 1990s, less than 20 per cent of the expected 10 million sockeye salmon have returned to B.C.’s Fraser River this year, and federal officials in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans claim to be mystified. The department might want to consider its own actions—or inaction—in safeguarding this precious resource. It stood aside, for instance, while a massive property development sprang up at the mouth of the Adams River, arguably the province’s most important sockeye spawning ground. The Adams delta will soon be home to hundreds of sewage-producing condos, while speed boats already moor around the river’s mouth, raising concerns of fuel spills. We trust DFO to protect fish habitat, and to keep count of our most prized stocks. These days, it appears to be doing neither.

Devil’s deal
Desperate to hang onto power, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he will hold a “tribal gathering” if elected to talk peace with the Taliban. That’s a promise no democrat should make. Yes, the lines of communication should always be open. But these are people who are threatening to kill Afghanis who dare to exercise their right to vote. As long as the Taliban are waging war on democracy, there’s really not much to talk about. And Karzai is wrong to suggest there is.

What not to wear
When will know-it-all governments get out of the private lives of Muslims? In Saudi Arabia, authorities have shut down a Lebanon-based TV station that showed a Saudi man speaking frankly about having sex outside of marriage. Meanwhile, a public pool in Paris has banned so-called “burqinis”—swimsuits that cover most of a woman’s body—based on flimsy claims about public hygiene. One of these countries is prescribing morality; the other is trying to enforce secularism by stealth; and neither is right. Authorities in both need to understand that personal choices are just that: personal.

Road rage
Samoa, the island nation in the South Pacific, is set to force drivers to switch to the left-hand side of the road next month, despite the largest protests in the tiny country’s history. Mass marches organized by businesses and car-rental companies have failed to dissuade the government from a plan to follow the Anglocen­tric lead of relatively nearby New Zealand and Australia. The idea is to bring down the price of importing cars—never mind that Samoa has only 332 km of paved road. No word on whether North American carmakers are pushing for similar production-boosting legislation.

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