This week: Good news, bad news

Are the Vancouver Canucks the prohibitive Cup favourites?

Good news

This week: Good News / Bad News

This dog was found drifting on a rooftop 1.8 km off the coast of Japan Japan Coast Guard/AP

A Canuck Cup fave?

The Vancouver Canucks captured the President’s Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top regular-season team, despite playing in the superior conference and suffering an unearthly skein of injuries to its defence corps. This marks the first time Vancouver has won the trophy, introduced in 1985. The Canucks dominated impressively in 2010-11, surrendering far fewer goals than any other team, running the best power play, and ranking second in overall scoring and penalty-killing.

African denouement

Laurent Gbagbo, the strongman clinging to the presidency of Ivory Coast, faced a reckoning as UN and French armies intervened in support of forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, recognized internationally as the winner of a 2010 election. Peacekeepers entered Ivorian borders and airspace after Gbagbo’s militia began targeting civilian Ouattara supporters. The capture of the capital, Abidjan, soon followed. Gbagbo, trapped within a small perimeter around a personal bunker, was said to be negotiating a surrender.

Lessons learned

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 landed safely at an airport in Yuma, Ariz., after a panel tore open and depressurized the cabin at 36,000 feet. Southwest, whose short-hop business model, say experts, is hard on airframes, inspected its fleet for metal fatigue after the mercifully inexpensive warning. Meanwhile, underwater robot vehicles operating off Brazil’s coast found wreckage from Air France Flight 447, promising new clues to a mysterious 2009 crash that killed 228 people.

Fries with that recovery?

In a gesture of faith in the U.S. economy, fast-food giant McDonald’s will hire 50,000 American personnel in a single day (April 19), expanding its U.S. workforce to 700,000. (McDonald’s Canada will add 4,000 workers the same day.) Of the 8.7 million jobs lost in the U.S. during the recession, only 1.5 million have been regained since 2009. “McJobs” is a byword for tenuous, low-paying work, but McDonald’s U.S.A. observes that half of its franchise owners and 75 per cent of managers started behind the counter.

Bad news

This week: Good News / Bad News

Afghans stage a deadly protest after a Florida pastor burned the Quran Rahmat Gul/AP

The troublemaker

Violence wracked Afghanistan after Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who backed down on threats to burn the Quran last year, followed through and immolated the holy book after a webcasted mock trial. Protesters stormed a UN facility in Mazar-e-Sharif, killing three staff and four Nepalese Gurkha guards; at least 17 more people, mostly Afghan civilians, died in further riots. The White House denounced Jones’s action as “un-American,” as did U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, who says his forces now face “an additional serious security challenge.”

A referee’s regrets

South African judge Richard Goldstone, who led a UN investigation into the 2008-09 Israeli invasion of Gaza, added a postscript to his 2009 report criticizing Israel and Hamas for war crimes. In the Washington Post, Goldstone wrote that he had hoped his report would introduce “a new era of even-handedness” at the often anti-Zionist UN. But he found that only the Israeli side followed up the report and investigated its own conduct; Hamas, meanwhile, continued unlawful attacks on Israeli civilians.

The scribbler

A nurse in Dartmouth, N.S., was reprimanded for poor handwriting, sparking a national debate about hospital records. Wilfred Gordon’s illegible scrawls on charts had been a problem “for many years,” declared a disciplinary panel of the province’s College of Registered Nurses, but he “had not successfully addressed the issue.” Gordon was ordered to take a course in documentation and will face penmanship reviews by a manager.

It’s bad for your arteries, too

Another mess in Nova Scotia emerged when a sewer backup in a Bedford neighbourhood proved to have been caused, in part, by bacon grease. A Halifax Water investigation into flooded basements in the Ridgevale subdivision revealed that clogs of fat and oil, accumulating at levels “more often associated with commercially zoned areas,” played a role in damage to five homes. Local homeowners were sceptical, and a councillor noted that in at least one case, it was steamers used by sewer workers to melt the grease that sent sewage blasting upward into a Ridgevale domicile.

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