Good news, bad news, June 14-21

The last spike, the status quo, refugees in limbo, Jays on the line

Good news

Good news, bad news

Jason Reed/Reuters

The lost spike

Everyone has seen the famous 1885 photo of CPR board member Donald Smith driving the “last spike” into the transcontinental rail line at Craigellachie, B.C. Smith was supposed to use a spike of pure silver commissioned by the governor general, Lord Lansdowne, but Lansdowne and the spike could not make it to the ceremony. The whereabouts of the relic remained uncertain until June, when the Canadian Museum of Civilization announced it had acquired it from descendants of CPR vice-president William Van Horne. The spike was briefly displayed at CPR headquarters in Calgary this week before heading to its permanent home in Ottawa. A piece of history reclaimed.

Saudi status quo

Saudi Arabia’s secretive gerontocracy has pulled off another smooth power transition with the naming of a new crown prince, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. Prince Salman, 76, who served as governor of Riyadh for more than 50 years, is the brother of Crown Prince Nayef, who died of heart problems while receiving medical care in Switzerland. Seen as more moderate than Nayef, Salman is expected to prolong social spending and liberalization designed to inoculate against Arab Spring unrest.

Landmark achievement

It’s official: the Shard is the tallest building in the European Union. Renzo Piano’s pyramidal glass skyscraper overlooking London Bridge has reached its final height of 330 m. The Shard is hotly debated, with traditionalists complaining it obtrudes on the city’s skyline, but Londoners seem to be embracing it as they once did Norman Foster’s “Gherkin” at 30 St. Mary Axe. Despite its record-breaking height, the Shard has just 48 parking spaces.

Duelling spray cans

Edmontonians were dismayed when a folk mural depicting Eskimo football legend Rollie Miles was anonymously whitewashed by a graffiti artist in June. The symbolism of a black hero being “whited out” was galling, but now the vandalized mural at Strathcona High School’s Rollie Miles Field has itself been painted over anonymously—this time with a new black-and-white image of the CFL great. The school is baffled, but is expected to leave the new “graffiti” in place.

Bad news

Good news, bad news

Baz Ratner/Reuters

The fifth man

Students at HUB Mall, a University of Alberta shopping centre and residence, were witnesses to carnage as three security guards working for armoured-car company G4S were shot dead and a fourth critically wounded while changing the cash in a bank machine. Police investigating the massacre concluded that an inside job was likely and issued arrest warrants for Travis Baumgartner, the escaped fifth member of the crew. Baumgartner, 21, was caught trying to cross the U.S.-Canada border near Abbotsford, B.C.

Behind walls

A stakeholder meeting intended to decide the fate of the world’s largest refugee camp ended at the usual impasse: the half-million Somalis at Dadaab in eastern Kenya can’t go home, and Kenya says it can’t integrate them without heavy international assistance. Dadaab was constructed 20 years ago with room for 90,000; today the UN-operated camp is Kenya’s fourth-largest “city.” Humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières sought steps toward a political solution, but Kenya’s immediate concern is improving security with a ring road around the unmanageable camp.

Vanishing act

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service faced criticism after it was learned the agency destroyed old security dossiers on prime ministers Lester Pearson and John Diefenbaker in a 1988 file review. Records from the review showed that CSIS found “no archival value” in the files. It has long been routine in Britain and America to preserve and eventually release such material, but CSIS nitwits seem to have gone ahead without consulting historians before deleting records.

Struck out

Fate has the Toronto Blue Jays on the ropes despite a decent 34-32 start. Within one week the Jays saw three-fifths of their pitching rotation struck down: ace Brandon Morrow (strained oblique muscle) and prospect Drew Hutchison (elbow sprain) left the mound after throwing nine pitches in their latest starts. Kyle Drabek tore his right ulnar collateral ligament. He will face a second “Tommy John” surgery and another year off. At least there’s good news for the Jays minor league pitchers now needed by the desperate club.




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