Good news, bad news: Feb. 24-Mar. 1, 2011 - Macleans.ca
 

Good news, bad news: Feb. 24-Mar. 1, 2011

Raise a cup to the Ontario judge who tossed out a lawsuit against Tim Hortons, but it’s thumbs-down to a sputtering U.S. economy


 

Good news

Good news, bad news

Leonard Cohen receives PEN's Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence award. (Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)

Oily customers

Last week’s European Union vote stalling higher costs on oil sands crude was a multi-dimensional win for Canada, staving off a trade war while exposing the EU’s two-faced tendency to put its economy ahead of the environment. Several member countries that took a pass on the vote, after all, host blue-chip companies with stakes in the oil sands. And even as it lectured Canada about “dirty oil,” the EU was plotting duties on Canadian-made solar panels in order to protect German manufacturers. No one should be crowing about the Continent’s pitiful economic state. Or its dependence on fossil fuels. We look forward, however, to a break from its blithe hypocrisy.

Now, about those lids

Raise a cup to the Ontario judge who tossed out a lawsuit against Tim Hortons, in which franchisees claimed the move to frozen donuts had cut into store-level profits. The suit achieved little more than to expose destructive personal rivalries, raising uncertainty for blameless shareholders. As for the franchisees, save your tears: court records show the average one pockets $265,558 a year.

Reduced to rubble

Pakistan bowed this week to the power of symbolism, tearing down the house in Abbottabad where U.S. forces captured Osama bin Laden. The home had become both a macabre tourist destination, and a reminder that the world’s most-wanted terrorist hid for years under the nose of Pakistani authorities. A commission investigating that bit of awkwardness is expected to report its findings soon. Meantime, in demolishing bin Laden’s lair, Islamabad has taken a step toward rebuilding its relationship with the U.S. For most Americans, after all, even a bullet-riddled compound is too good a monument for the former al Qaeda leader.

Wormhole closing

Physicists who thought they’d found a subatomic particle moving faster than light have acknowledged that their readings were the result of faulty equipment—meaning Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity still holds. Thank goodness. The supposed breakthrough would have meant time travel was, in fact, possible. And, as any fan of Star Trek knows, messing with the space-time continuum is risky business.

Bad news

Good news, bad news

A Via Rail crash near Burlington, Ont., killed three and injured dozens. (Pawel Dwulit/CP)

What? They lied?

A leaked report from the UN’s nuclear watchdog says Iran has dramatically accelerated its production of enriched uranium in recent months, putting paid to Tehran’s claim that it is merely producing electricity and medical isotopes. The revelations will make it harder for China and Russia to block UN sanctions against Iran, and new pressure must be brought to bear. Washington needs to keep its resolve and give sanctions time to bite before we get to the unpalatable alternative—using conventional weapons to disable the program.

Irrational exuberance

A recent Ipsos poll found the percentage of people worldwide who describe themselves as happy has reached the highest level since the Great Recession. But we may be in for a rude awakening. The influential Economic Cycle Research Institute says that—despite buoyant markets, job numbers and consumer confidence—another recession in the U.S. is inevitable. Industrial production, income and spending have flatlined recently, the group notes, while the spectre of a euro-zone recession still looms. Optimism, alas, may be all we have going for us.

Be careful out there

Common sense went on the lam this week from the police world. In Kitchener, Ont., officers arrested and strip-searched a father because his four-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun in school. In Houston, cops set up a sting in their own lunch room, and charged an officer with theft for eating colleagues’ food. Finally, in Victoria, the chief of police was reprimanded for leaving his loaded firearm under the seat of his unmarked cruiser. The purpose of his trip? To attend a press conference on the disappearance of police equipment.

Devoutly missed

An honorific that translates to “damsel” has no place in the official communication of a modern democratic nation. But permit us a twinge of regret as France seeks to stamp out “mademoiselle.” Not only will its loss kneecap Pepe Le Pew, the lovelorn skunk of cartoon fame, it will deprive French men of their most reliable means of flattering older women. In some small way, we all lose.


 
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