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SNC, Ryanair bring life to 'ghost airport'

Scandal-plagued SNC-Lavalin could use a bit of good news. As The Globe's Nicolas Van Praet wrote this week, the Montreal-based engineering firm revealed it could restructure in the wake of the fallout from criminal corruption and fraud charges.

On Wednesday, though, discount Dublin-based airline Ryanair said it would become the first airline to run flights from what has been dubbed the "ghost airport" of Castellon in Spain, providing a bit of a boost to SNC, which last December won a 20-year contract to operate the facility.

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Constructed during the Spanish building boom, the airport near Valencia wasn't completed until 2011, well after the country's economy had imploded, and it has never been used for regular service, AFP reports.

Castellon Airport became a symbol of the reckless spending and overbuilding during Spain's property bubble, which peaked in 2008. Carlos Fabra, the former head of Castellon's provincial government, proudly championed the airport – so much so that he had a 24-metre copper statue of himself erected there to remind people of the fact. He won't be there for the inaugural flight, though: He started a four-year sentence for tax fraud back in December.

A not-so-rock-solid soccer record

In the latest news from the art auction world, Sotheby's on Tuesday brought the hammer down on a sculpture by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan for £425,000 ($800,000).

The black-granite monument has inscribed on it a list of every single defeat England's national soccer team had suffered over the past 124 years and is, well, pretty monumental in size. (At 220 centimetres by 300 centimetres, it will be best suited to someone's backyard rather than their living room.)

The untitled 1999 work traces England's disappointments from 1874, with a 2-1 defeat to Scotland (ouch), up to its 2-1 loss to Romania at the 1998 World Cup.

"I guess it's a piece which talks about pride, missed opportunities and death," said Mr. Cattelan, who is also the creator of a sculpture depicting Pope John Paul II struck by a meteorite, according to a report by AFP, which added (unnecessarily) that the artist is known for humorous and satirical works.

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If England's pride wasn't wounded enough, the sting will be even worse learning that the work was snapped up by an anonymous French-speaking bidder.

Frequent trades no big deal, author says

Michael Lewis's Flash Boys was one of the most controversial and talked-about business books last year, spotlighting what many see as the nefarious use of high-speed electronic portals to allow financial players to access trading markets in fractions of a second ahead of others.

While promoting the book, Mr. Lewis came under fire from many market participants, notably JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon, who dismissed many of its allegations despite claiming not to have read it.

But in April's edition of Vanity Fair, Mr. Lewis makes the surprising admission, "I honestly don't feel that strongly about high-frequency trading." Huh?

"I was far more interested in the characters and the situation in which they found themselves, he writes, and in particular "an obscure 35-year-old trader at the Royal Bank of Canada named Brad Katsuyama," adding that the Wall Streeters he was writing about were "all well-regarded professionals in the U.S. stock market … and their ignorance was forgivable."

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The assessment of John Ramsay, the SEC's former director of trading and markets, doesn't sound nearly as charitable. Mr. Ramsay joined the stock-trading venue founded by Mr. Katsuyama – IEX Group – in June, and has since said he now feels like "I've been a little bit uncorked," BloombergBusiness reported.

That's probably an understatement, seeing as he's slammed the U.S. stock market's structure as the Death Star of Star Wars.

Control yourself, this is Idaho

It's a good thing for Idaho movie theatre owners that the much-talked about Fifty Shades of Grey is doing well at the box office. That should help offset some of the lost income from lower alcohol sales caused by an unusual statute.

"Idaho law restricts us from serving alcohol or allowing its consumption in auditoriums showing Fifty Shades of Grey," reads a sign posted in the Village Cinema in the town of Meridian. Patron Michele Williams said she wasn't planning on drinking, but was ticked off anyway. "What year am I living in here? Women can't control themselves when they drink during this movie?" she told the Idaho Statesman.

State law allows patrons to enjoy a drink while taking in a movie, unless its content is of an erotic nature. And in case you want to know what is deemed "erotic," the proscribed acts and images are clearly described, in great detail, in statute 23-614.

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And cutting the movie isn't the answer. Judging by the reviews, it's likely that editing out any offending scenes from Fifty Shades would bring its running time down to a couple of minutes.

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