Good news, bad news

Peter Taptuna is a breath of fresh air in Nunavut. Iran unveils its biggest drone yet.

Ison, the ‘comet of the century,’ amazed sky-watcherss across the world (Waldemar Skorupa)

Good News

New in Nunavut

Nunavut’s new premier is a breath of fresh, cold air. Peter Taptuna took the helm of Canada’s largest territory, capping an impressive climb from a residential school to the oil rigs and gold mines of the North, then to local and eventually territorial politics. Taptuna has vowed to turn Nunavut’s moribund educational system around, address its chronic housing shortage and invigorate its business climate. “We do have to take ownership of our problems,” the 57-year-old told the Canadian Press shortly after his election. Taptuna has certainly started off on the right foot.

One child no more

In a bid to mitigate its burgeoning labour shortages, China has loosened its one-child policy. The draconian measure, enacted in 1979, forbade couples from having more than one child. While it did help curb China’s population, uneven application of the law, sex-selective abortions and the resulting dearth of female babies are distressing legacies of the policy. Still, having more than one child remains a difficult proposition in the country. According to the law, at least one parent in a couple must be an only child themselves.

Civil disobedience

Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, one of Quebec’s most reputable care facilities, will not adhere to the Parti Québécois’s law banning the wearing of religious garb. Calling the proposed law “patently discriminatory,” executive director Lawrence Rosenberg has declared that the hospital won’t even apply for the law’s exemption clause, which would allow staff to wear religious symbols for up to five years. May more publicly funded institutions follow the hospital’s lead.

Bearing down

The number of grizzly and black bears killed by conservation officers for safety purposes in British Columbia has dropped from 460 last year to just 325 so far in 2013. Abundant grass and wild berry crops have satisfied the bears’ appetites. There is also a growing appreciation among locals of the importance of eliminating “attractants,” like garbage. With winter hibernation imminent, authorities expect the death toll of bears to remain low this year. And, we hope, in the future.

Bad News

The damage done

While the monster typhoon Haiyan has blown over, the devastation exacted on the Philippines is just now being realized. At least 3,982 people are dead and another 1,186 are missing, including several Canadians. Millions more have lost their homes and are taking refuge under tarps. Rescue crews have yet to reach ravaged remote islands, where more bodies will surely be discovered. Even as international aid arrives in the form of food, medicine and money—Canada has contributed almost $40 million so far—it’s clear the victims will suffer long after help peters out.

Environmental laggards

Canada is last in a ranking of 27 wealthy countries for environmental protection, according to the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank, which examined several international initiatives. Every other nation improved on the environment measure; even the U.S., whose greenhouse-gas emissions are notoriously high, ranked ahead of Canada. The report says the “dubious honour” reflects Canada’s rising fossil-fuel production and its withdrawal from Kyoto—and is at odds with the country’s environmentally friendly image.

Danger above

Iran unveiled its biggest drone yet. Fotros can fly for up to 30 hours with a range of 2,000 km, which covers most of the Middle East, including Israel. The unmanned aircraft could carry out reconnaissance work and is capable of launching missiles. The news arrives as Barack Obama appealed to U.S. senators to hold off on a push for more sanctions on Iran while he tries to negotiate a deal to halt the country’s nuclear weapons development. Iran’s latest action suggests that more diplomacy may be futile.

Meat retreat

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency recalled a batch of Schwartz’s smoked meat from Quebec and Ontario supermarkets for possible listeria contamination. The recall comes on the heels of the Montreal institution’s move from its Rue St-Laurent digs into grocery aisles. Another unfortunate reason to lay off the red stuff: a new, wide-ranging French study links meat consumption with increased instances of diabetes.

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