Good news, bad news: Oct. 13-Oct. 20, 2011

Good news

Good news

Barack Obama dedicates the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial. (ABACA USA/Keystone Press Agency)

Build it and they will come

Forbes recently called Canada the best country in the world to do business in, a ruddy economic health that’s prompted Americans to apply for temporary work visas in record numbers. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is wondering how to smooth the path for even more. Good—we need them. Employers in places likes Alberta, as always suffering a shortage of workers, are screaming for people. The Yanks are coming; call it a reverse brain drain.

On the radar

The U.S. continues to take the fight to al-Qaeda, last week killing nine terrorists in an unmanned drone strike in Yemen. But Washington is increasingly looking to even more high-tech battle tactics. News reports this week said the Obama administration had considered using a “cyberoffensive” to disable Libya’s air-defence system. The plan, ultimately shelved, was to crack the enemy’s computer networks and stop early-warning radars that could target NATO planes—including Canadian aircraft. Such tactics will soon limit pilot risk and reduce the need for more dangerous attacks on enemy defences.

The need for speed

The Brits are looking at raising their national speed limit from 70 mph to 80, echoing a move in Maine last month, where the limit rose from 65 mph to 75 on a stretch of I-95 near the Canadian border. Philip Hammond, until recently Britain’s transport secretary, argued the higher limit would improve the economy by reducing travel times, with no impact on road safety. Others say upping the limits reflects modern car technology and curbs speedsters from going even faster. Maybe. But as long as it’s safe, faster is certainly more fun.

Comics for kids? How novel.

Stan Lee, who at Marvel Comics created icons like Spider-Man and the Hulk, is partnering with 1821 Comics to start an imprint, “Stan Lee’s Kids Universe,” for children, with titles like Monsters vs. Kittens and Reggie the Veggie Crocodile. Said Lee: “We feel there aren’t enough comic books or books for kids.” And in Toronto, a new store, Little Island Comics, calls itself the first comic shop for the under-12 set. After too many years of gritty, angsty graphic novels, comics are being returned to their real audience—kids.

Bad news

Bad news

Monsoon deluges have been pummelling Thailand since late July. (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

A little girl, left for dead

She is two, her pet name is Yueyue, and she lives in southern China’s booming industrial heartland. On Monday she wandered from her parents’ store and blithely toddled into traffic; too late she saw the first truck, raising her little arms up to the oncoming grill. A second also plowed her under; 18 people passed her as she writhed. Finally a trash collector stopped to move her; she had one eye still open. She’s now in intensive care, but doctors say she likely won’t recover. Video of the incident has triggered massive soul-searching in China, where many fear the cost of prosperity is cold-heartedness.

Wrong highway, same tears

RCMP in Prince George, B.C., have charged Cody Legebokoff, 21, already facing trial in the slaying of a 15-year-old blind girl, in the deaths of three more women. Legebekoff is said to have used the Internet to meet women under the sobriquet “1CountryBoy.” Though police say the investigation is “far from over,” they’ve ruled out Legebokoff as a suspect in any of the infamous Highway of Tears cases, which continue to cause the families and friends of 18 missing women such grief.

Terrible toll

More than 3,000 people have been killed in Syria since anti-government protests began in March, and the UN’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, says the country now risks slipping into “civil war.” Pillay condemned the actions of Syria’s government, which have led to “a devastatingly remorseless toll of human lives.” More than ever, the Arab Spring is a cause worth fighting for. But it’s come at an economic price—a new report by the consulting firm Geopolicity says over $50 billion across North Africa and the Middle East. Syria, along with Egypt and Libya, have paid dearest.

Fickle, false, and full of fraud

A new film, Anonymous, pushes the old chestnut that Shakespeare, a self-educated commoner from the sticks, could never have written works of beauty like Hamlet and Macbeth. Instead, a moneyed, well-educated nobleman—Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford—is presented as the likely scribe. Sony Pictures is promoting the film with a documentary and guides for teachers that treat its account as credible. The De Vere conspiracy is for snobs; leave teachers alone to teach the real Will.

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