Good news, bad news: July 12-19, 2012

The Calgary Stampede sets a new attendance record, while Canada's killer colonel is the subject of a movie on Lifetime

Good news

Good news, bad news

Fredrik Von Erichsen/AFP/Getty Images

The Greatest, indeed

The centennial Calgary Stampede, blessed with sunny weather for most of its 10-day duration, set a new attendance record with an estimated 1,409,371 visitors. (The previous mark of 1,262,518 was established in 2006.) The “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” continued to attract criticism after a spill in the chuckwagon race killed three horses, but veterinary pathologists reported that the lead horse in the devastated team had a heart aneurysm and could have died anytime. New fitness standards for horses, introduced last year, will be reviewed. But as confirmed by the huge crowds, one freak accident is hardly enough to tarnish the entire show.

Google this

Yahoo!’s decision to hire as CEO Marissa Mayer, 37, a soon-to-be mother, is a refreshing step forward for male-dominated Silicon Valley. The former Google executive publicly revealed she was pregnant just a few hours after her appointment. Equality in the workplace has long been a goal, but the reality is many women still lag behind men when it comes to pay, promotions and career advancement opportunities. Yahoo! should be applauded for its willingness to hire Mayer based on her talents, not her immediate availability.

Hit-free hockey

Researchers at the University of Alberta have found there is little truth to the old notion that teaching hockey players how to body check at younger ages is beneficial because they better learn to protect themselves. Using data from Edmonton emergency rooms, they found no difference in injury rates among those who learned to hit at age 11 as opposed to 12. Leagues like Hockey Calgary have voted to maintain checking at early levels and there is pressure to lower the age to as young as nine. Clearly, these decisions should be based on hard evidence, not old hockey myths.

Going that extra mile

More proof that they don’t make ’em like they used to: a New York man is approaching three million miles on his beloved Volvo, which he purchased 48 years ago. At this rate, he’ll reach four million in 2028. The good news for today’s drivers? The new Fiat 500L. It might not last 50 years, but it does offer a dose of rocket fuel for the driver: a built-in espresso machine.

Bad news

Good news, bad news

Ben Kelmer/AP

A Syrian spiral

As fighting spread through the streets of Damascus, the Red Cross bowed to the obvious, declaring the Syrian uprising a full-fledged civil war. Theoretically, that obliges combatants to observe the rules of the Geneva Convention, but the regime of Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly demonstrated its barbarism and utter disdain for international law. The UN is probing reports of yet another massacre of civilians, and now a high-ranking defector is warning that the government may use chemical weapons against its own people. The end of Assad can’t come soon enough.

Can’t take the heat

There seems to be no end to the trouble that today’s banks can get themselves into. JPMorgan Chase, for one, admitted that its losses on a complicated hedging bet are now US$5.8 billion. A recent Senate investigation south of the border, meanwhile, reported that HSBC executives ignored warnings that some of its operations (particularly in Mexico) were being used by money launderers and terrorists. At least Canada’s troubles are miniscule—so far. The worst banking headline? The new $100 bills, made of polymer, tend to melt when exposed to high heat.

Toronto the bad

A neighbourhood block party erupted in gunfire this week, killing a 14-year-old girl, a 23-year-old man, and sending two dozen others to hospital. Police have every reason to believe the shooting spree was gang-related—but both victims were innocent bystanders. Sadly, such public displays of gangland warfare have become the norm in Canada’s biggest city, so much so that Mayor Rob Ford felt compelled to offer this reassurance: “Toronto is not like Detroit.” Comforting.

Small man, small screen

An American television network has made a movie about Canada’s killer colonel. An Officer and a Murderer, based on the life and crimes of Russell Williams, will air July 21 on Lifetime. The film’s mere existence will be painful enough, but producers have pumped up the dramatics by introducing a “tenacious”—but fictitious—“small town” detective as the story’s hero. Williams’s many victims are still coping with the truth. The last thing they deserve is a Hollywood rewrite.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.