The week’s good news and bad news

From Don Cherry mastery of Twitter, to the U.S. no longer being able to pay its bills

Tom Hanson/CP

GOOD NEWS

Change is coming

Syria is on the brink of change, as the head of President Bashar al-Assad’s military police defected to what he describes as the “People’s Revolution,” while Assad’s last ally of influence, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, says that “a change in leadership” is imminent. Questions remain about Islamist groups jockeying to replace Assad. But the short-term goal is to end the bloodshed, and for that to happen, Assad must go. Mercifully, it’s no longer a question of if, but when.

No free lunches

Is sanity creeping into the executive suite? Last week, Apple revealed that CEO Tim Cook’s compensation has been cut by nearly 99 per cent in 2012, to a comfortable $4.17 million, as the company’s stock price continued to slide. Goldman Sachs—oft criticized for lavish executive pay—has cut the salaries of senior staff in London by 50 per cent, while the National Australia Bank agreed to tie executive pay to company performance. The world’s corporate elite have not yet restored the trust they broke by taking massive payouts during the recession. Now, at least, they have examples to follow.

Choked Cherry

The longer the NHL lockout drags on, the better Don Cherry gets at Twitter. The irascible former coach used the social medium to give Russian hockey star Nail Yakupov a well-deserved tongue lashing for saying, on the eve of the world junior championship, that Canada “plays dirty.” Canadians, Cherry noted acidly, allowed Yakupov to hone his game in its junior system, adding: “We treat him royally, give him great coaching so he can go number one overall [in the NHL draft] and he calls us dirty.” We couldn’t have tweeted it better.

Hey baby, nice dewlap

Props to the Nature Conservancy of Canada for its newly announced campaign to buy a strip of land on the Chignecto Isthmus so moose from New Brunswick can mate with those from Nova Scotia. The so-called “Moose Sex Project” might not be what economists have in mind when they advocate a Maritime union. But relations between the two provinces are not what they should be (you can’t sell Nova Scotia cheese, for example, in New Brunswick), and hey, you have to start somewhere.

BAD NEWS

Over the edge

The week was filled with concerns about the U.S. fiscal cliff and the impact its automatic tax hikes and $110 billion in annual spending cuts would have on the economy. But the brinkmanship over those amounts seemed almost absurd in a country that runs $1-trillion deficits. Next month, the U.S. will have to raise its debt ceiling again. A similar move in 2011 led to a downgrading of its credit rating. America can no longer afford to pay its bills, and its reputation among lenders is on shaky ground. The U.S. needs to get its house in order and, unfortunately, the fiscal cliff became more of a diversion than the wake-up call it was meant to be.

An empty win

That Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi should go ahead with an ill-advised power grab behind the fig leaf of a referendum is bad enough. That a mere 30 per cent of eligible voters participated in his sham—most having stayed away from the polls out of disgust—weakens Morsi’s mandate further. Far from the tool Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood claims it needs to solidify the gains of the Arab Spring, the referendum outcome practically guarantees future unrest. Evidently, Egypt’s journey to democracy has just begun.

If you build it, they won’t come

Are we Canadians losing touch with our identity as rugged winter-lovers? In Toronto, the first snowstorm of the season unleashed traffic mayhem—though it was forecast for days and fell in the middle of the Christmas break. In Calgary, a giant rink built by a man who invited one and all to skate for free went unused. Norm Price even set up hockey nets and brought out hot chocolate—all to no avail. Fans of the frozen game, it seems, would rather play it on a Nintendo.

Losing their Spidey senses

It was fun to see Tolkien fans back in costume for the opening of The Hobbit, but it’s a sign that geek culture has gotten out of hand when the author of Spider-Man issue No. 700, Dan Slott, receives death threats for killing the superhero’s alter ego, Peter Parker. Yes, fantasies and comics are all about immersing oneself in alternate worlds. But Spider-Man is a story, and Parker a character. Besides which, do they really believe he’s gone for good?




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