QuickNews, Wednesday, Nov. 25.
The Lieberose solar farm about 150 km southeast of Berlin, world’s second-largest solar power plant, takes up equivalent of more than 210 football fields. Germany and China are among leaders in solar panel R&D, manufacturing and application. Photo, Reuters.
GLOBAL WARNING | Pace of climate change faster than expected, say experts. At worst, sea levels could rise up to 2 metres (6-1/2 ft) by 2100, endangering coastal cities from New York to Buenos Aires to Shanghai. Researchers report that global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are almost 40% higher than in 1990. "Carbon dioxide emissions cannot be allowed to continue to rise if humanity intends to limit the risk of unacceptable climate change," said Richard Somerville of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California.
PIPE DREAM? | Ottawa to jointly finance $558-million CO2 pipeline. Idea is to inject CO2 into aging oil fields, squeeze more oil from played-out fields and sequester CO2 at same time. Sounds like a win-win, but technology isn't proven and enviros complain it diverts funds from R&D on alternative energy. Meanwhile, Australian opposition reaches agreement with Rudd government on CO2 trading scheme.
U.S REMAINS OUTLIER ON LAND MINES | America still won't sign treaty banning land mines. Treaty, spearheaded by Canada and others and now 10 years old, bans the use, production, stockpiling or export of anti-personnel mines. Treaty ratified by 156 nations. U.S., Russia, China and India among holdouts. U.S. spends more money than any nation on removal of land mines, which claimed 5,197 casualties last year alone, one-third of them children, but reserves right to use them. Describing renewed refusal to join treaty as "a default of U.S. leadership," U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a leading advocate for the treaty, said: "It is a lost opportunity for the United States to show leadership instead of joining with China and Russia and impeding progress."
Yesterday the last group of Edmonton-based soldiers returned from Afghanistan. Maj. Joe Boland twirls his son Markhus Boland, 4, at the Edmonton Garrison. Dianne Perry hugs her husband, Master Warrant Officer Edward Perry. Photos by Dan Riedlhuber, Reuters.
U.S. BANK BREAK-UPS | Increasingly popular notion wins backing of FDIC. U.S. keen to avoid ever again having to bail out banks whose size poses systemic risk and are thus "too big to fail." The big U.S. banks hate the idea, of course. And it's true, unless non-U.S. nations follow suit, American lenders would be at competitive disadvantage. And it does seem a drastic remedy, given how the healthy Big Five Canadian banks have proved that size and diversity of businesses (lending, trust, brokerage under one roof) isn't the issue. The issues are (a) lousy managerial risk management, and (b) under-supervision by regulators who failed to enforce existing laws and devise new ones for "innovative" risky products and services banks came up with during the unsustainable, record U.S. housing boom. Americans are looking for needlessly complex solutions to a simple problem here. (Illustration: The September 2008 collapse of New York brokerage Lehman Brothers triggered the global capital freeze that in turn deepened the worldwide recession.)
HIV AIDS PROGRESS, SORT OF | Global rate of infection is down. But mostly because of progress in developing world, notably sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, decline in infections has plateaued in U.S. and Europe, where complacency about safe sex has set in.
FULLER DISCLOSURE | Harper bends to pressure on Afghan detainee scandal. Ottawa will release additional "legally available" documents from 2006-07 period when Canadian Forces' transfer to detainees to Afghan National Army resulted in abused and often tortured detainees. "Legally available." You could run the Orient Express through that loophole.
BRAIN CRAMP | N.S. MP Gerald Keddy retracts slur on Halifax unemployed ("no-good bastards."). This is how it always goes, an outrageous utterance followed by a "clarification." Why not be a man and stick with what you really believe, that the jobless are lazy louts happily reliant on state handouts, rather than insulting our intelligence by trying to convince us you're not insensitive and unfit to serve in Parliament? Why not join the jobless, see what it's like, rather than living on the taxpayer's dime?
YET ANOTHER GM BRAND SALE FALLS THROUGH | Saab buyer bravely runs away. Swedish investor consortium with Chinese backing realizes only now that it hasn't the money or smarts to turn around failing niche automaker. Penske has backed out of buying Saturn. GM took Opel-Vauxhall off the market. And the Hummer sale to obscure Chinese firm is in limbo. The only brand the over-branded GM has rid itself of is Pontiac, which it reluctantly killed - on orders from Obama - since there were no buyers. Saab's fate, like Saturn, looks to be burial, since Stockholm adamantly will not devote a kroner to its rescue, unlike the four billion or so euros GM stands a good chance of extracting from European governments to repair the vastly larger Opel.
WAPO GIVES UP PRETENSE TO BEING IMPORTANT PAPER | Post kills last of its U.S. bureaus. Publisher justifies move, saying Post is not a national paper or "cable channel," whatever that's supposed to mean. Says paper will still cover the nation "as we always have" by sending intrepid reporters into the field. As if conceiving story ideas at WaPo office inside the Beltway is as good as tips from the soon-to-be-closed bureaus in Chicago, L.A. and NYC, where stories about the real America are far more easily identified and promptly reported.
ROBOTIC SURGERY | CAE teams with TSX-listed Titan Medical in robotic-surgery tech. Bedside manner not an issue since patients have been knocked out, but there's no one to sue. An ideal export to U.S., once perfected, to curb contribution that malpractice settlements make to spiralling healthcare costs.
THERE IS A GOD | Airlines finally fined for stranding passengers on aircraft. Culprits claimed they couldn't release passengers for lack of security in terminal. Irrelevant, say authorities, who correctly assert passengers could have been quarantined in terminal until security showed up.
An Andalusian horseman performs in front of a flamenco dancer during the opening show of Sicab the International Pre Horse Fair in Seville, devoted exclusively to Spanish thoroughbreds, Nov. 24, 2009. Photo: Marcelo del Pozo, Reuters.
BABOON PLAGUE | Cape Town frets thieving critters will be a curse on World Cup next year. Natives know enough to roll up car windows, lock doors. But visitors will be gulled into feeding the "furry felons" whose proliferation and ransacking of cars whose unlocked doors they're able to open has become widespread nuisance.
YOUR R&D DOLLARS AT WORK | Australian researchers find that comfort food relieves anxiety in rats. Next step is to see if it works on humans. Oh, but wait - we already know it does. It's why my 7-Eleven restocks Doritos at five times the rate of Yoplait.
HONOURED SONGS | 25 tunes added to Grammy Hall of Fame. Latest inductees include Beach Boys' "California Girls," Louis Armstrong's "Lazy River" and the 1972 "Class Clown" album by George Carlin, who died last year. See complete list at www.grammy.com/Recording_Academy/Awards/Hall_Of_Fame. Oddly, despite list now numbering 851 in total, nothing from Celine Dion or the Dead Kennedys has made the cut.
QUOTE OF THE DAY | "Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit." -Sarah Palin to Marg Delahunty (Mary Walsh), when "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" caught up with the twit at a book signing in Columbus, Ohio. I suppose you think this is funny. But recall that not long after George W. Bush sent his greetings to "Jean Poutine" via Rick Mercer, then also of "This Hour," Dubya became U.S. president and set about dismantling his country's constitution.
Courtesy: Politico.com. H/T: P.J. Dempsey.
Please consider joining me as an elf this holiday season by participating in the Toronto Star's Santa Claus Fund, a century-old Toronto tradition. The Star uses donations to assemble and distribute gift boxes to thousands of less-financially advantaged children throughout the GTA. Each box contains a book, clothing and a toy. You can read all about it, including first-hand accounts of Toronto families in need, at http://www.thestar.com/santaclausfund. I'm counting on your kindness to help put smiles on thousands of young faces this December 25th! Many thanks, David