By macleans.ca - Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 0 Comments
Blacklists, short-haul flights, pay gaps and animals in the Gospels
Justice and common sense
In a rare show of compassion, a Pakistani court ended the prosecution of a Christian teen charged with blasphemy for allegedly burning a textbook used to teach the Quran. Rimsha Masih, an impoverished sweeper with Down syndrome, may have been the victim of dubious accusations instigated by a local cleric, the court found. High Court Justice Iqbal Hameed Ur Rahman urged caution in prosecutions under the country’s controversial blasphemy law and condemned those who make false accusations, sometimes used as a vendetta against non-Muslims. An association of Muslim clerics welcomed the ruling as “a milestone in the history of Pakistan.”
It’ll make one heck of a movie
The Hollywood Reporter laid bare its role in the Communist blacklist that ruined lives and careers in the 1950s. The Reporter’s late founder, Billy Wilkerson, branded actors, writers and directors as Commies in a “maniacal quest to annihilate the studio owners” who thwarted his own dreams of movie production, writes his son, W.R. Wilkerson III, who offered “sincerest apologies and deepest regrets to those who were victimized by this unfortunate incident.” Better late than never.
Bring on the price war
The sky-high price of domestic short-haul flights may nosedive next year as WestJet’s new Encore regional carrier squares off against rival Air Canada Express. WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky predicts price drops of up to 50 per cent on some routes under 500 km. The service, he said, will “liberate Canadians from the high cost of air travel in smaller communities.” He’s also considering removing back-of-seat video screens as a saving, and beaming entertainment to passengers’ tablet devices. You might want to spend those savings on an iPad. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Friday, April 8, 2011 at 11:02 AM - 0 Comments
Are the Vancouver Canucks the prohibitive Cup favourites?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Katie Engelhart - Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 23 Comments
Winning votes with a message of religious intolerance
There was never any doubt that Geert Wilders could talk the talk; this most disagreeable Dutchman, head of Holland’s far-right, anti-immigrant Freedom Party (PVV), is famous for mouthing off—mostly against Muslims. (He is famous for equating the Quran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and for claiming that “Islam is the cause of all our problems.”) The question has always been: could he walk the walk? Well, he’s walking. And there’s new concern that he could walk his way to the prime minister’s office.
During the Netherlands’ local elections last week, the PVV made major gains—carrying the city of Almere and placing second in The Hague. In no time, critics and supporters alike were painting those local victories as a sign of what is to come when the country holds national elections in June. Said Wilders, in a victory speech on Wednesday: “Today Almere and The Hague, tomorrow the Netherlands. We are going to take the Netherlands back from the leftist elite that coddles criminals and supports Islamization.”
His plan to “conquer the entire country” is ambitious—but Wilders’s pledges to “ban the Quran,” unleash “urban commandos” on city streets, and uphold “Judeo-Christian values” are selling well in a country torn apart over immigration policy. A new poll projects that, in June, the PVV will nab more seats than any other party.
Marc Chavannes, a Dutch journalist and professor, laments that his country “is certainly not showing its best face.” Elsewhere, the broader repercussions of a win for Wilders are being sized up. Some express their concerns obliquely: a column in the U.K.’s Telegraph wondered if “Geert Wilders [is] the new William of Orange,” the 17th-century Dutch prince who took the British crown—sweeping in, at the invitation of Protestants, to prevent a Catholic dynasty from ruling the land. Others feel no need to mute their disquiet: shortly after Wilders’s municipal victories were announced, Germany’s Die Tageszeitung newspaper featured a front page photo of Geert Wilders smiling broadly—with a taped-on Hitler moustache.