Stuff Happens, week 33: Markets return to normal … whatever that is

The world’s stock markets did what they do this week — go up and down. And as always, investors and the media reacted as if this was something they had never seen before.

Following last week’s plunge/freefall/spiral (chose your adjective) in prices, there was more panic on Monday as prices cratered. The Dow fell by 1,000 points in early trading (which, I am lead to believe, is bad, even though I don’t understand the point system), resulting in the usual ‘Black Monday’ headlines. But the markets rallied on Tuesday — ‘Turnaround Tuesday’, by the way — as bargain hunters swooped in and picked up devalued stocks. By Wednesday, the market was rebounding, and by Thursday, the market had returned to normal, and market news was once again relegated to the business pages and brief info-graphics on the TV news. Nothing to be alarmed about here, people … until the next time.

This week’s shock to the system came via an innocuous TV morning newscast in Roanoke, W. Va. During a routine interview, a reporter and cameraman were shot dead by a former employee; the interview subject was injured. The whole horror story was televised live, which is exactly what the gunman wanted; he even filmed the killing with his cellphone and posted it, just for maximum coverage. Of course, this sort of thing could happen anywhere in the world, and probably will happen again somewhere. But you just have to know that if someone is going to be shot dead on live TV, there is only one country in the world where that would happen first. The killings have reignited the gun control debate in the U.S., but don’t expect anything to happen. As we saw after the unspeakable Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, no atrocity — no matter how big, no matter how public — will change gun control laws in the U.S. Meanwhile, here’s a powerful anti-gun video; a gun control group opened a gun store in New York City, proving every gun has a story.

In Egypt, Canadian-Egyptian journalist Mohammed Fahmy was sentenced to three years in prison Saturday for (ready for this?) failing to register wit the country’s journalist syndicate, bringing in equipment without security approval, and broadcasting “false news” on Al-Jazeera. Stephen Harper, as has been his custom, has provided little more than lip service to freeing Fahmy, with the usual pious ‘tsk-tsks’. An Australian journalist, charged along with Fahmy, was departed back to Australia thanks to the direct intervention of the Aussie PM. Harper, meanwhile, does squat. One suspects that Harper is probably jealous of a country that lets journalists be thrown in jail.

RIP: Al Arbour, 82, one of the most successful coaches in NHL history. Arbour coached the New York Islanders to four straight Stanley Cup championships before losing to the Edmonton Oilers. He was the second-winningest coach in NHL history … Darryl Dawkins, 58, the ‘duke of dunk’ whose dunks were so powerful they were known to shatter backboards in the NBA. Dawkins was known as ‘Chocolate Thunder’, a nickname given to him by, of all people, Stevie Wonder … Chico Maki, 76, former NHLer … Justin Wilson, 37, British IndyCar driver, as the result of an on-track accident … Oliver Sacks, 82, famed neurologist and bestselling author of books about the brain like Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

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