The maple tiger
There’s no lack of optimism over the state of the Canadian economy lately. In a speech this week, Royal Bank chief executive Gordon Nixon said Canada has the potential to have a “breakaway decade” of growth. Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, meanwhile, said that the commodity boom, which has been fuelling Canada’s resource-heavy economy, isn’t going anywhere, thanks to rising demand from India and China. It’s a bold prediction. For 200 years, commodity booms have always gone bust. Let’s hope Carney is right, and that this time really is different.
The world’s most populous nation will soon officially become its brainiest. China’s scientific output will overtake America’s as soon as 2013, according to a new British study. Published research by Chinese scientists has long been on the rise, fuelled by R & D spending that has increased 20 per cent a year since 1999. And the country’s universities churn out more than 1.5 million science and engineering graduates annually. While the entire world benefits from this Chinese renaissance, the challenge is clear: countries that wish to compete economically, like Canada, need to step up their science spending too.
The girl who made money
A friend of the late writer Stieg Larsson has spilled details about a “lost” fourth volume of the best-selling Millennium series. Kurdo Baksi told a Swedish newspaper that work, completed just before the author’s 2004 death, is set on remote Banks Island in B.C. and features Lisbeth Salander’s estranged twin, Camilla, as a major character. Larsson’s three previous mysteries became global juggarnauts. All that’s keeping this one from store shelves is a fight over money between his common-law wife and his siblings.
Me, myself and I phone
A group of U.S scientists has developed a tiny computer chip that can be powered entirely by small movements of a person’s body, like the snap of a finger or even a heartbeat. The technology could one day be incorporated into portable electronics like tablets and smartphones, allowing us to say goodbye to chargers and batteries. The only time your phone will die is when you do.
Sacrifice and scandal
In a week where Cpl. Yannick Scherrer of Victoriaville, Que., became the 155th Canadian to die in action in Afghanistan, there was still more dispiriting news about its government. A leaked internal report by the country’s central bank accused political elites of using financial institutions like piggy banks, saddling them with almost $900 million in bad loans. And the former head of the central bank, now an adviser to President Hamid Karzai, was himself revealed to be under investigation for corruption. The Afghan people, and their partners, deserve better.
Europe’s debt crisis is back. Economists are warning that both Greece and Ireland could default on their debts, despite the massive EU bailouts they received last year. Portugal may not be far behind. Its prime minister resigned last week over a failed austerity budget. And the country may have to seek an aid package worth as much as $100 billion. A recent emergency EU summit accomplished little. But it did rekindle the debate over whether the EU will pull through this crisis or crumble.
The U.S. Navy has been forced to acknowledge that it blew up three dolphins off the coast of San Diego, and perhaps contributed to the deaths of two others, during amphibious warfare training in early March. The undersea explosions are under investigation and the U.S. Fisheries Service may pull the navy’s permits. But the gold standard for negligence may have been set by the Bronx Zoo, where a deadly snake has gone missing. The 50-cm-long Egyptian cobra was believed to be hiding in a non-public area of the reptile house. Let’s visit the museum instead.
This year, it seems many Canadians tuned out Earth Hour rather than turn off the lights. In Edmonton, power usage surged on Saturday night. The Winnipeg Free Press reported its city was “abominably ablaze” during the eco-protest. Toronto recorded just a five per cent drop, down from 10 per cent last year and 15 per cent the year before. At least Calgary’s usage didn’t go up, but that may have had more to do with a power failure at the airport that left planes circling in the dark overhead. Far too illuminating.