Good news, bad news: May. 3-10, 2012

Good news

Good news, bad news

David J. Phillip/AP

Never bin better

One year after a special-forces mission killed Osama bin Laden, his al-Qaeda network is looking downright defeated. In Guantánamo Bay, military prosecutors opened their landmark case—2,973 counts of capital murder—against the 9/11 ringleaders, including the brains of the operation, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In Yemen, an air strike killed Fahd al-Quso, one of the terrorists behind the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. And in Washington, intelligence officials are patting themselves on the backs after thwarting yet another “underwear bomber” who planned to target an American passenger jet.

Outswimming climate change

A ski resort in Aspen, Colo., hosted a race this week—minus the snow. The all-grass gimmick was one of hundreds of events around the world aimed at “connecting the dots” on global warming. “The main point is that climate change is already happening,” said one organizer. The good news? Polar bears are ready for the warm front. A new study has found that female polar bears are actually quite capable of swimming vast distances between ice floes; one animal, tracked with a GPS collar, swam an astonishing 354 km.

Proof positive

Another week, another list of reasons to love Canada. Our banks are solid; four of them (CIBC, RBC, Toronto-Dominion and the National Bank) landed on a top 10 list of the world’s strongest financial institutions. Canada is also a wonderful place to be a mother—one of the best countries in the world, according to another global survey. And thanks to a ruling from the CRTC, Canadian broadcasters are no longer allowed to crank up the volume during commercial breaks. Now if only we could get a team past the first round of the NHL playoffs.

Help me, Obi-Wan

R2-D2 would be proud. A team of researchers at Queen’s University is close to perfecting a video-conferencing program that can produce life-sized, three-dimensional holograms of someone on the other side of the world. Known as a “TeleHuman,” the invention will transform Skype into Star Wars, providing a cylindrical, 360-degree view, a la Princess Leia. Skeptical? Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

Bad news

Good news, bad news

Denis Poroy/AP

Demokracy

Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russian president, but it was no cause for celebration. The former KGB strongman has now held the country in his iron grip for more than a decade, sidestepping term limits by switching jobs with new prime minster (and former president) Dmitry Medvedev, and suppressing the opposition. His latest election victory has been clouded by allegations of widespread fraud, and hundreds were arrested at Moscow protests prior to his inauguration. After amending the constitution, Putin could hold power until 2024, becoming the longest-serving leader since Joseph Stalin. The future looks bleak.

The skinny on fat

According to a new study, obese women have a much harder time finding a job than their slimmer counterparts. The research, conducted in England and Australia, also found that larger women are offered smaller starting salaries and are deemed less likely to advance up the company ladder. If it’s any consolation, there are now fewer jobs for ultra-skinny girls, too. Concerned about promoting anorexia and bulimia, Vogue magazine has banned all models under the age of 16 and any women who look “unhealthy.”

Jubilee fee

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have set aside $7.5 million to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, including more than $100,000 for paper flags and lapel pins, and $28,000 for posters. The budget also includes $95,000 to print A Crown of Maples, a publication that “makes information on the Crown in Canada available to Canadians in an interesting and educational format.” Here is some more information: Canada’s fleet of F-35 fighter jets—whatever the actual cost—will not be ready in time for the festivities.

Ignore the beep

You know this already, but science has confirmed it: your email could be killing you. U.S. researchers have found that people who don’t check their inboxes on a regular basis are less stressed and more productive at work, while those who incessantly monitor their mail are less focused and have higher heart rates. A link to the study can be found on our website (macleans.ca). Be sure to forward it along to your colleagues as quickly as possible.




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