Even more than a decade on, those two numerals—9/11—still have the power to invoke shock and sorrow. People around the world haven’t forgotten. And neither have the U.S. and its allies. This week, Yemeni forces killed the No. 2 leader of al-Qaeda’s local branch. And Ayman al-Zawahiri, now the group’s head, released an audiotape confirming other losses, including the June air-strike death of his deputy. A full 11 years on, the threat of further attacks hasn’t exactly disappeared, but it’s been greatly lessened. And that’s something we can all be thankful for.
Reports that the Conservative government will explore a free-trade agreement with China couldn’t be more timely. Our need to expand beyond a stalled U.S. market is obvious, yet uncertainty reigns on both sides of the Pacific when it comes to the ground rules for investment (to wit, confusion over whether Ottawa should approve the takeover of Calgary-based oil giant Nexen by a state-owned Chinese company). A mutual framework could ease these doubts and is worth pursuing—provided Ottawa simultaneously presses Beijing on democracy and human rights.
London staged a great Summer Games, but the city’s more lasting contribution may turn out to be its Paralympics. With over 2.7 million tickets sold, the two-week event was a financial success. And TV ratings hit new highs as fans around the world cheered on different, but equally inspiring athletes. In fact, the competition was so fierce that Canada fell to 20th in the medal table, down from seventh in Beijing and third overall in 2004. The public is on board—now it’s time for government and the private sector to catch the spirit too.
It might be to political discourse what bathroom graffiti is to literature, but Twitter does engage folks. One in four U.S. users say it’s made them more active in politics. Last week’s Democratic convention generated a whopping three million tweets. Most of them were forgettable, but on Twitter, quantity means a whole lot more than quality.
Enemies of peace
As if the Taliban weren’t enough, Afghanistan faces a new threat to peace and stability: pro-government terrorists. Last week, 16 civilians in the northern city of Kunduz were killed by a suicide bomber; they had been protesting the murder of a dozen male villagers a few days earlier by marauding militias angered by their perceived sympathy for the Taliban. The bloodshed presages a bleak future for Afghanistan once NATO forces complete their withdrawal: years of internecine violence, or worse, civil war.
Blowing hot and cold
Mother Nature served a double whammy at opposite ends of the country. Tropical storm Leslie downed power lines and peeled back roofs in Newfoundland, while another storm washed through Truro, N.S., flooding homes and turning streets into small rivers. In Peachland, B.C., a forest fire burned several homes as well as a piece of history: the vineyard that created the first commercially released Icewine.
For weeks, NASA’s robotic rover Curiosity has been sending back stunning photos of the surface of Mars. But there are concerns that the probe may have picked up some unwelcome hitchhikers in the form of earthly microbes. It seems that someone placed a bit in the robot’s drill before liftoff, but neglected to sanitize it. Now scientists are worried they might inadvertently introduce life to the red planet if they strike water while boring into the ground. If so, would that technically make it a civil war when the Martians finally attack?
Lockout 3: Bettman’s revenge
It’s the sequel no one asked for—yet another NHL labour dispute. Just eight years after hockey owners scrubbed an entire season to foist a salary cap on their players, they’re back looking for an even bigger slice of the pie. It’s hard to pick sides in a dispute that pits billionaires against millionaires, but Canadians are heartily sick of the greed and arrogance of both parties. For far too long, the NHL and its players have taken our loyalty for granted. Hopefully this time fans will be fed up enough to teach both of them a lesson. Come back when you like, just don’t expect us to be filling the seats.