The Week: Good News, Bad News

Hopeful signs, The drips just keep on coming and Ontairy-airy-airy-o

Good News

Hopeful signs

U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the target of a Jan. 8 assassination attempt that left six people dead and 11 others wounded, continues to make a remarkable recovery. Less than two weeks after a bullet pierced her brain, the 40-year-old Arizona Democrat is breathing on her own, responding to verbal commands, and has regained movement in her arms and legs. (Her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly told the media she tried to give him a neck rub.) Doctors caution that she has a long way to go, but even such small miracles provide reason to be thankful.

The drips just keep on coming

The whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks is preparing to take on Switzerland’s tight-lipped banks for its next act. The details of the secret offshore accounts of some 2,000 companies and prominent individuals, provided by a former banker now on trial for breaching confidentiality laws, will be posted within weeks, promises founder Julian Assange. It will be interesting to see if any beneficiaries of the public bailouts of world markets have been hiding money away from the taxman.


Take a deep breath, residents of Ontario. The air you’re breathing is cleaner than it’s been for many years. The latest report on air quality in Canada’s most populous province reveals the fewest number of smog days going back 39 years. And major pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide are down as much as 64 per cent over the past nine years. The McGuinty government claims the good news is due to environmental policies such as car-emissions testing and the phasing out of coal-fired electricity, although half of Ontario’s air pollution drifts in from the U.S.

Don’t hate me

More great news for the drop-dead gorgeous: you’re beautiful and brilliant. According to new research out of the London School of Economics, physically attractive people—male and female—actually have higher IQs than the average person (13.6 points higher for handsome men; 11.4 points higher for pretty women). The smartness study examined more than 52,000 people living in Britain and the United States. Sarah Palin was not one of them.

Bad News

Cold realities

Winter in Canada has always been the danger season, but this past week provided particularly stark reminders why. In Alberta, two brothers died in an avalanche while backcountry skiing at a provincial park. Another man met the same fate in British Columbia’s Kootenay mountains. And in Toronto, a 66-year-old woman with dementia froze to death in a suburban neighbourhood after wandering away from her home on one of the coldest nights of the year. Residents reportedly heard her cries of distress, but never called police.

Mideast mess

Lebanon is bracing for more political violence after a UN tribunal filed a criminal indictment over the 2005 assassination of prime minister Rafik Hariri. It’s still not clear who investigators are blaming, but suspicion has long centred on the militant Islamic organization Hezbollah. In advance of the charges, the group withdrew from the country’s unity government, causing its collapse. Now there is fear of renewed fighting in the streets, as all factions take to the barricades. Will the price of justice be peace?

Is the shine off Apple?

Few CEOs are as closely associated with their companies as Apple’s Steve Jobs. Rightly or wrongly, the markets, and millions of Mac fans, seem to believe that all the tech firm’s innovations begin and end on his desk. So when the 55-year-old announced he is taking a leave to deal with an undisclosed medical problem (Jobs has had a liver transplant and has been battling pancreatic cancer for years), Apple stock quickly tumbled. Investors, who have flocked to the company—a bright spot in this recession—hope for a speedy recovery.

No sense of security

Airport security screeners are still touching your junk. An 82-year-old British Columbia woman who underwent a mastectomy was forced to reveal her prosthetic breast before boarding a plane, while in Calgary, a four-year-old girl endured a “terrifying” 20-minute inspection that included numerous pat-downs and one confiscated doll. Our advice? Focus on the pilots. An investigation was launched this week after a JetBlue captain lost his backpack—with a loaded handgun—inside New York City’s JFK Airport.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.