Safe and sound
As of Tuesday, the U.S. had gone four years without a commercial airline crash—its longest accident-free run since the dawn of passenger jet travel in the late 1950s. Experts attribute the record to better engines and plane bodies, as well as systems that allow regulators, pilots and airlines to share information about flying hazards. Whatever the reason, we hope the news registers with authorities in more accident-prone countries—like Russia, which has seen a number of crashes in recent years.
French army wins—really
French troops routed al-Qaeda-backed militants in Mali last week, giving the West African country a crucial window to gird itself against further attacks. All signs suggest the Islamist rebels have melted into the desert mountains to fight another day, so a proposed UN peacekeeping force would be of limited benefit (special forces teams and special forces training for Malian troops would make more sense). Either way, neither the government nor its allies should rest easy. They’re dealing, after all, with a de facto guerrilla army, backed by the world’s most notorious terrorist group.
Buy Canadian, for Canadians
The Harper government must carefully consider a report calling for Canada to build its own defence industry by having more military equipment made from scratch, at home, rather than buying abroad. The recommendation by high-tech executive Tom Jenkins, a specially commissioned adviser, couldn’t be more timely, as Ottawa plans to spend $240 billion on defence items over the next couple of decades. And while critics warn the approach could cost taxpayers more, it’s hard to imagine more wasteful processes than the ongoing fiascos of Canada’s maritime helicopter procurement and its derailed purchase of F-35 fighter jets.
Sins of the flesh
However prudish CBS’s anti-obscenity memo sounded, it was nice to watch the Grammys this week without worrying one’s kids would be exposed to a chorus of foul language. Besides which, the missive hardly threw a bucket of cold water on the event’s inherent sexiness: stars like Jennifer Lopez, Skylar Grey and Rihanna all showed lots of skin—good news for anyone who tuned in for the “sideboob” instead of the music.
On shaky ground
No sooner had Iran showed willingness to discuss its nuclear program than that other rogue state, North Korea, tested an atomic weapon this week, stoking new fears of an attack on one of its neighbours, or a confrontation with the United States. The blast at an underground site in the mountains produced a 4.9-magnitude earthquake and the political tremors may prove even greater. China had reportedly tried to stop leader Kim Jong Un from proceeding with the test. If Beijing can’t talk sense into the young dictator, who can?
Another week, another dose of hyperbole from Quebec’s separatists. First, a study funded partly by the governing Parti Québécois claimed francophone Canadians are suffering something called “soft ethnocide”at the hands of anglo-North America. Then Premier Pauline Marois declared that Quebec’s need for sovereignty had become an “emergency.” Signs of desperation, no doubt. But the PQ’s penchant for alarmist fantasy is once again clouding the unity debate and that’s a disservice to all Canadians.
A sad moment for amateur wrestlers: the International Olympic Committee is on the brink of dumping their sport from its core lineup for the 2020 Olympiad, interrupting a tradition dating to the earliest incarnation of the Games. In ancient Greece, naked, oil-covered wrestlers entertained the viewing hordes. The modern version is admittedly tamer, but has proven a reliable source of medals for middle Olympic powers like Canada. The IOC, alas, seems convinced it’s no longer popular enough, leaving wrestlers wondering what they must do to save their beloved event. Break out the olive oil?
Rat or two, eh
A cat in southeastern Alberta has placed the province’s rat-free claim in further jeopardy by discovering a dead rat in Cypress County, near Medicine Hat. The find adds to suspicion that Alberta’s boast of ratlessness is, in fact, apocryphal: 100 of the rodents were discovered and killed last August in a landfill not far from where the latest one turned up. On the upside, “a cat and a rat in Medicine Hat” has enormous potential as a nursery rhyme.