Good news, bad news: May 12-19, 2011

Good riddance to Donald Trump, while Nazi-looking advertising linked to the 2014 Winter Games should have organizers worried

Good news

Good newsNot up to the job

Donald Trump is out of the U.S. presidential race, and good riddance. Yes, he would have brought an amusement-park atmosphere to the campaign, but his “birther” demagoguery was ridiculous, and his refusal to let the issue go after President Barack Obama released his long-form birth certificate suggests a serious judgment deficit. Trump disingenuously took credit for putting the issue to rest, but his only real accomplishment was to degrade American political discourse. Now he can return to what he does best: playing himself on TV.

Judging our judges

With two benchers retiring, Canada’s process for selecting Supreme Court justices is starting to resemble that of an enlightened, democratic country. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has invited members of the public to suggest candidates, while a parliamentary panel will create the short list from which he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper will choose. The two nominees will then answer questions before an ad hoc Commons committee. It’s not perfect—the scope of questions MPs can ask the prospective judges remains limited. But it’s a lot better than the old method of appointment by prime ministerial fiat.

Er, well-done

Props to the reality show Top Chef Canada, which held its ground this week against animal activists decrying the use of horse meat in one of the program’s challenges. The uproar echoed the one during Winterlude in Ottawa, where renowned chef Martin Picard was vilified over his use of foie gras, and quit in disgust. Happily, Top Chef proceeded with its episode, rightly noting that horse is acceptable fare in Quebec. It was high time someone had to stand up to the eco-censors.

A non-ichooo!

Librarians and second-hand furniture dealers rejoice: a new study suggests household dust may actually be good for us. According to researchers, it “purifies” the air by neutralizing ozone that harms the lungs. This comes as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that spring-cleaning injures thousands of people each year—35,500 on stepladders alone in the U.S. No more feeling guilty, then, for letting the dirt build up.

Bad news

Bad newsUnnecessary loss

This week’s shooting of Palestinian protesters near the Syrian border was avoidable, but no one should mistake it for a new chapter in the Arab Spring. Desperate to change the channel from its own thuggery (reports of a mass grave of protesters surfaced this week), Syria almost certainly gave the demonstrators passage into the Israeli-occupied zone where soldiers killed two and injured 10. The deaths dim hopes of a negotiated deal in Israel, while lending momentum to a problematic Palestinian plan to unilaterally declare independence. As ever in Israel, nobody wins.

Hidden costs

An alternative bid for the TMX Group by major Canadian banks and pension funds might look like healthy competition in the financial marketplace. If it succeeds, it may prove anything but. The banks, which already dominate trading activity through their brokerages, also own the rival trading platform Alpha Group. The merging of the exchanges would put the bid’s backers in a lucrative, near-monopoly position. Good for them, maybe, but not for individual investors.

The fascist man on ice

The Nazi-era whiff of some advertising linked to the 2014 Winter Games should be enough to worry organizers in Sochi, Russia. Ads meant to sell units in the media village feature Aryan-looking athletes gazing into the distance, and the Hitler-era stylings are no accident: the company behind the campaign proudly displays a swastika in its online banners, while commissioning work from artists linked to Russia’s radical right. Poor taste is no crime, of course. But the Olympics served as a platform for fascists once before. Best to avoid repeating that mistake.

The roar of the (search) engine

Google is lobbying for legislation that would make operating its driverless cars legal in Nevada. We’re all for progress, but the company’s proclamation that it will allow us to text while driving raises questions as to its true motives (will we never get away from email?). Plus, driving remains one of the few things we do in life where we are responsible for ourselves and the safety of others. Letting a machine take the wheel seems an act of technological hubris. That and a fast lane to boredom.

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