This week: Good news, bad news

Ottawa appeals Europe’s seal ban, while the U.S. fails to tackle a record deficit


This week: Good news, bad news

Jose Gomez/Reuters

The good hunt

As East Coast fishermen prepare for another seal hunting season—and the annual clash with animal rights activists—the Harper government is bracing for its own fight. Ottawa announced it will file a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization, challenging the European Union’s ban on Canadian seal products. It is the right decision. Despite the spin of celebrities like Paul McCartney, the hunt is neither barbaric nor disgraceful. What happens on those ice floes is no more gruesome than a typical abattoir, and it injects millions into the East Coast economy. It is an industry worth defending.

Welcome back, Khadr?

Four months after pleading guilty to “murdering” an American soldier, Omar Khadr is asking the U.S. government for clemency—a tactic that could see him back in Canada sooner than expected. Let’s hope the Pentagon approves the application. Like it or not, Khadr’s return is a foregone conclusion, whether it happens in six months or six weeks. And the sooner he comes home, the sooner his fellow citizens can find out who he really is: a peaceful 24-year-old, as his lawyers insist, or a hardened radical bent on re, venge.

Common sense

The municipality of Clarington, Ont., has backed down on its attempt to suppress an annual countryside get-together for libertarian scholars and students. Marta and Lech Jaworski have held the Liberty Summer Seminar for 10 years on their eight-hectare estate, cooking for participants and collecting modest fees to cover their costs. But last year, the pair was accused of running a “commercial conference centre” and threatened with fines. A Charter challenge convinced the city to respect the Jaworskis’ rights to “peaceful assembly.”

On fire

Acclaimed Montreal indie-rock horde Arcade Fire pulled off a Grammy upset, winning Album of the Year for their third studio effort, The Suburbs. Other nominees included Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry. Front man Win Butler’s first words upon hearing of the win were, “What the hell?”, and many U.S. compatriots felt the same: Twitter erupted with cries of “Who?” from not-yet-clued-in Americans.



This week: Good news, bad news

Riccardo De Luca/AP

Land of the free (spenders)

Barack Obama talked about making tough choices this week to cut America’s spending. But the budget that landed in Congress didn’t walk the talk. It will reduce but not nearly eliminate annual deficits over the next decade (the projected 2011 deficit is US$1.6 trillion) and it fails to tackle the biggest source of red ink: bloated Social Security and Medicare programs that are under growing pressure from an aging population. America is fast digging itself into a hole from which it may never escape.

In the nick of time

Thank goodness those Chilean miners were rescued when they were; another few days and they would have swallowed each other. According to a new book, the 33 men trapped deep underground for 69 agonizing days were on the verge of cannibalism, agreeing to eat the first man who died of starvation. “They had a pot and a saw ready,” the author says. Sadly, life above ground has been equally hellish. Despite their historic rescue and new-found celebrity, most of the miners are coping with severe psychological problems—including Edison Peña, who famously sang on David Letterman’s show. He is now hospitalized, battling anxiety and depression.

A good idea—not

Bev Oda may “not” be in cabinet much longer. In a stunning about-face, the international co-operation minister admitted that she ordered the word “not” be penned into a document to change it from approving to rejecting $7 million for the church-based aid group Kairos. CIDA officials signed the document thinking they were renewing the group’s funding, only to find out that Oda ordered the insertion of “not” before the word “approve.” Although she originally testified that she didn’t know who added the mysterious “not,” Oda eventually confessed in the House of Commons that it was done at her direction.

Big waistline, small brain

A sugary, fatty diet isn’t just bad for your child’s waistline. It’s bad for the brain. A new study says a three-year-old who eats predominantly processed foods will have a noticeably lower IQ by the age of 8½, compared to kids who eat lots of fruits and veggies. The “good” news? The world’s chocolate supply will reportedly run out by 2014.

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