From Russia with peace
With the U.S. on the brink of attacking Syria, a Russian-brokered proposal to put the country’s chemical weapons under international control comes as welcome news. More than staving off another costly foreign war for the U.S., it illustrates that actors other than Washington can play some part in bringing Bashar al-Assad’s regime to its senses. It by no means negates the need for future intervention to end Syria’s nasty civil war, but it’s a start. Moscow must now show its peacemaking bona fides by ensuring the oversight plan is comprehensive and credible.
Travis Baumgartner, who shot and killed three security guards at the University of Alberta last year, pleaded guilty this week to three murders and one count of attempted murder. He now faces life imprisonment with no parole for 40 years—up from the usual 25—marking the first use of 2011 Criminal Code changes allowing parole-ineligibility periods to be “stacked” in cases of multiple killings. The Tory’s tough-on-crime agenda has at times appeared overreaching (as with its mandatory minimum sentences), but on this point, they got it right.
Back on the mat
There is nothing more Olympic than wrestling, a sport with roots in ancient Greece. Fortunately, the IOC admitted that axing wrestling earlier this year was a mistake, and reinstated it over the likes of softball and squash. Also back on the Olympic circuit: Tokyo, which first hosted the Olympics in 1964, and was awarded the 2020 Games. Hosting the Olympics should provide a welcome boost for a country suffering from a long economic slump and the ongoing fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Two West Virginia men—one dressed as Batman, the other as Captain America—ran into a burning house to rescue a pet cat. But as brave as they were, the costumed crusaders couldn’t quite match the heroics of a Vancouver Island man, who managed to save his 60-year-old wife from the clutches of a cougar. Instead of running away, the husband grabbed a spear from his backyard and attacked. His beloved wife survived. The cougar did not.
What was supposed to be a routine observation flight turned tragic when a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter crashed into the Arctic Ocean, killing all three people on board. The Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation, but as Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, one fact is not in dispute: “It is a grim reminder of the very real dangers faced on a regular basis by those brave individuals who conduct research and patrol our Arctic—one of the harshest and most challenging climates in the world—to better understand and protect Canada’s North.”
It was five years ago this weekend that the financial crisis began with the collapse of ?Lehman Brothers, and signs of a robust economic recovery seem as elusive as ever. Canada added 59,200 new jobs in August, three times more than forecast. But of those, 41,800 were part-time positions. The economy, meanwhile, grew at an annualized rate of just 1.7 per cent in the second quarter. The U.S., too, remains in a bit of funk. It added 169,000 jobs last month, well below expectations. A lot has changed since 2008, but clearly there’s more work to be done.
BlackBerry investors had hoped that a reputation for bulletproof email security would make the smartphone maker attractive to potential buyers, even as customers abandon ship in droves. But now, even that is being called into question amid reports that U.S. and British spy agencies have found a way to intercept BlackBerry emails. Chances are good that security-conscious corporations and governments are now eyeing one of two shiny new iPhone 5 models that Apple unveiled this week.
The final competition of the 63rd annual Miss World pageant is in peril. In Indonesia, site of this year’s contest, hardline Muslims are outraged over the event’s overt sexuality, prompting plans to relocate the final from Java to Bali, which is majority Hindu, in order to keep public order. But organizers, who have already scrapped the swimsuit competition, say that won’t work, because Bali is also hosting an APEC summit at the same time. So far, not a great example of poise under pressure.