Good news, bad news: June 8-14, 2012

A bail out, the Stanley Cup, the one per cent ... oil spills, riot police, plastic bags and outrage.

Good news

Good news, bad news

Tim Rooke / Rex Features

Keep bailing

The $129-billion bailout plan hatched last weekend for Spain’s banks was the surest sign yet that European leaders are committed to the task of rescuing the continent’s economy and its monetary union. Many questions and concerns remain over what happens next. Spain’s economy, the fourth largest in the eurozone, is still in a deep funk. Other countries, like Italy, may soon need a bailout, and Greece could still exit the eurozone. It’s a chaotic situation, with officials rushing to put out one financial fire after another, but it is better than the alternative: a total meltdown.

Game of Kings

The Stanley Cup finals didn’t capture the imagination of many Canadians. The Los Angeles Kings’ early 3-0 series lead over the New Jersey Devils made the team’s Cup victory this week seem a foregone conclusion. But those who did watch saw some dramatic hockey, featuring two of the game’s top goalies and what every Canadian says they want—fearless physical play. It’s too bad one of the teams wasn’t Canadian; then again, the victors did have 15 Canadian skaters in their lineup.

Black gold

Think the richest one per cent is made up entirely of Wall Street and Bay Street types? In Canada, a good number of them also happen to be roughnecks. A new report from the University of British Columbia found that resource sector workers make up almost five per cent of Canada’s top earners (those making at least $230,000 per year). Doctors and other professionals made the list, too. This is in part a sign of a diversified economy. It’s also a good reason to consider trade school rather than spending big bucks on that M.B.A.

Removing the sting

Scientists are one step closer to eliminating malaria, a disease that still affects 200 million people a year and kills as many as 800,000, many of them children. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute have uncovered how mosquitos, which spread the disease, resist infection from the parasite that causes malaria. This new understanding could help lead to the creation of malaria-resistant mosquitoes. Now if only scientists could figure out a way to create one that doesn’t bite.

Bad news

Good news, bad news

Mohammad Sajjad/AP

Out of line

As much as half a million litres of oil may have leaked into the Red Deer River after an aging oil pipeline ruptured. The cleanup could last all summer. Along with the obvious environmental damage, the spill hurts the entire oil industry at a time when it badly needs to develop new pipelines to move oil sands product outside Alberta. It also follows warnings from the auditor general in Saskatchewan, who found the province isn’t doing enough to monitor its pipeline network. If Canada wants to win business and convince opponents (as well as U.S. politicians) that pipelines are safe, they have to be safe.

The riot act

Riot police in Bahrain fired tear gas and stun grenades at anti-government protesters last week. It’s the latest bit of violence in the 16-month-long uprising in this increasingly overlooked corner of the Arab Spring. Syria’s ongoing troubles have grabbed much of the world’s attention, and rightly so, but Bahrain shouldn’t be ignored. Case in point: an 11-year-old boy was among those arrested at one protest. He was detained for a month—and reportedly wrote his Grade 6 exams from inside prison—before a judge finally ordered his release this week.

Throw this idea out

Toronto will ban retail stores from offering plastic bags to customers after a surprising city council vote. Never mind that plastic bags are easily recyclable in Toronto and extremely convenient, the decision to ban them on a whim with no public consultation or warning for affected parties is not the way our democratic system is supposed to work. Still, it wasn’t the dumbest thing that legislators did this week. That honour goes to New Jersey, where officials have been warning drivers they can be fined up to $1,000 for letting pets run loose in the car.

Desperate times

After two strong months, Canada’s job market slowed in May, with just 7,700 new positions added. But it could be worse. A Boston law firm recently offered a $10,000-a-year position in an ad posting for recent grads. After racking up debts to earn costly law degrees, students were outraged. Still, it didn’t stop 40 of them from applying.

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