Good news, bad news

David Cameron’s porn plan and some good news for Rob Ford

Ben Curtis / AP; China Foto Press / Getty Images

Good News

An accurate description

In a major policy shift duly applauded by Ottawa, the European Union added the armed wing of Hezbollah to a list of terrorist organizations. The unanimous decision comes amid the Lebanese militant group’s growing hostility toward Israel, its violent support of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and mounting evidence that Hezbollah was behind last year’s deadly bombing of a bus in Bulgaria—an attack believed to have been aided by a Canadian dual national living in Lebanon. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said it best: Hezbollah is undoubtedly a terrorist organization, and acknowledging that fact was a “courageous decision.”

Soft landing

Two embattled Canadian mayors (one current, one former) received some rare good news this week. In Toronto, Rob Ford no longer has to fear that the website Gawker will unearth the alleged video of him smoking crack cocaine. (Unable to locate the owner of the alleged footage, Gawker has agreed to donate the fruits of its fundraising campaign, nearly $200,000, to various charities.) Meanwhile, in Montreal, former interim mayor Michael Applebaum—who resigned after being slapped with 14 criminal charges—has received a generous parting gift: more than $250,000 in severance pay.

Let there be light

Scientists in the U.K. have made a “significant breakthrough” in the fight to reverse blindness. By studying animals, researchers at Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College London have discovered that the part of the eye that detects light can be repaired using stem cells—and that human trials are now a real possibility. Which means even more people may be able to see the royal baby.

Fast-food makeover

Taco Bell is the first major fast-food chain to stop selling kids’ meals, earning high praise from critics who blame McDonald’s and Burger King for contributing to childhood obesity. In truth, Taco Bell said its kids’ meals, which featured cinnamon twists and a “surprise toy,” had an “insignificant impact” on sales and won’t be missed. No word yet on whether the chain plans to follow its U.S. rival, Chipotle, which now offers “Sofritas,” i.e., shredded tofu.

Bad News

Inaction plan

Here’s hoping the Harper government’s “economic action plan” will be more effective than the high-priced television commercials promoting the initiative. According to an internal government poll of more than 2,000 Canadians, only three—yes, three—visited the action plan’s website after seeing one of those ads in April. To be fair, the Harper government isn’t very responsive to certain messages, either. Despite repeated threats from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, numerous federal ministries ignored this week’s deadline to hand over details of proposed budget cuts announced more than a year ago.

Mission accomplished

Eat your heart out, Navy SEALs. In a scene straight out of a Special Forces training exercise, a group of al-Qaeda militants stormed two Iraqi prisons, blasted their way into the compounds and freed more than 500 inmates. Among the targets was Abu Ghraib, where gagged and hooded prisoners were famously photographed by American troops. For the White House, though, the prison break was only part of the bad news emerging from Iraq: Desperate for energy, Baghdad has reportedly agreed to a $14.8-billion deal to buy natural gas from Iran.

Prudish policy

Nobody can blame British Prime Minister David Cameron for wanting to crack down on illegal Internet pornography that features child exploitation or violent rape. But his sweeping proposal—to block all forms of porn from every computer unless a customer specifically “opts out” of the filter—is absolute overkill, not to mention a breach of privacy. Police must be given ample resources to crack down on predators and pedophiles who share their lurid content online. Law-abiding citizens don’t deserve to be lumped into the same category.

Hide the remote

If you want your kids to stop watching so much television, here’s an obvious tip: Lead by example. New research says the more time parents spend in front of the TV, the more their kids do, too. Need another reason to limit cartoons? According to a separate study, falling televisions have injured 200,000 children in the U.S. over the past 20 years.

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