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The world as we see it

A roundup of victories, tragedies, triumphs, disappointments, and the names making news—good or bad—this week


 
Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr

Good news: Omar Khadr’s freedom fight

After spending nearly half his life in custody, former Guantánamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr has won his freedom—almost. An Edmonton judge granted bail to the 28-year-old, ruling he should be sprung from an Alberta prison while he appeals his war-crimes convictions in the United States. (The Harper government immediately announced its own appeal, leaving his actual release date uncertain.) Whatever your opinion of this polarizing case, remember this fact: Khadr’s sentence expires in October 2018, which means his freedom is already a matter of when, not if. At this point, prolonging the inevitable isn’t worth the taxpayer-funded legal bills.

Bad news: When drones backfire

U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed that a kidnapped American aid worker, Warren Weinstein, was killed in a so-called “signature” drone strike in Pakistan. (The botched mission also claimed the life of another innocent captive, Italian Giovanni Lo Porto.) Weinstein’s widow rightfully pointed out that the kidnappers bore the “ultimate responsibility” for her husband’s death, but the incident raises serious questions about the CIA’s use of remote-controlled drones—and how many other unintended targets have ended up as collateral damage. At the very least, the deaths should trigger a much-needed debate about exactly when the controversial devices should be dispatched.

Good news: A shot in the arm for vaccines

Yet another scientific study has debunked the most ridiculous, oft-repeated myth of the anti-vaccination crowd: that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot somehow causes autism. It doesn’t. The latest research, which examined 95,000 American children, found that even those kids at increased risk (because an older sibling has autism) were no more likely to develop the disorder after receiving the needle. This stat, by the way, also remains true: Before the measles vaccine was invented, the virus killed up to 75 Canadians every year. Get the shot.

Bad news: Accused killer, shocking target

Winnipeg police have arrested a suspected serial killer—charging him with the murders of three homeless men over the past month. John Paul Ostamas, a 40-year-old from Thunder Bay, Ont., was originally wanted as a person of interest. But when investigators tracked him down for questioning, they uncovered enough evidence (yet to be disclosed) to charge him with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder. The suspect is “very transient,” and police are now examining potential links to other unsolved cases.

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors reacts after being called for a foul in the first quarter against the Washington Wizards during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the NBA playoffs. The Raptors were swept from the playoffs in the first round. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors reacts after being called for a foul in the first quarter against the Washington Wizards during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the NBA playoffs. The Raptors were swept from the playoffs in the first round. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Good news: A quicker trip through Manitoba

One of the world’s most boring stretches of road is about to get a little more exciting (or at least, a little quicker to pass through). Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger announced that, as of June 2, the speed limit on the Trans-Canada west of Winnipeg will increase to 110 km/h. Motorists have been begging for such a surge, and Selinger says new safety measures, such as paved shoulders and stronger guardrails, should make for a seamless transition. But, more than anything, the province realizes the obvious: that most drivers can be trusted going an extra 10 km/h.

Good news: New York City is for the birds

Clearly, New Yorkers are willing to do a lot more than just feed the pigeons. Hoping to save some of the countless birds that inadvertently smack into skyscrapers, the state plans to dim all non-essential lights to allow migratory birds to navigate their routes in spring and fall. The birds use stars to find their way, but often become disoriented by electric lights—a process known as “fatal attraction.” Turning down the shine should ease some of that confusion (and leave fewer dead birds to pick off the pavement in the morning).

Bad news: Smart phones, dumb parents

On the surface, they seem like cute moments: a baby swiping a cellphone screen, a toddler tapping an iPad. But it appears that more and more parents are relying on their devices to calm and distract their kids—a trend that could negatively affect their attention spans and ability to self-regulate. The latest disturbing study has found that more than one-third of kids use a smartphone by their first birthday, while 12 per cent have actually used them to play video games. As many parents can attest, children will grow up to waste enough of their lives staring at a screen. Until then, let them explore the real world.

Bad news: Freedom 22

Speaking of young people immersed in the latest technology, here’s another reason why moderation may be best: One of the world’s greatest competitive video-gamers has been forced into early retirement—at age 22—because of a nagging wrist injury that just won’t heal. “Over time, my teammates started to lose confidence in my abilities as a player and a shot-caller,” said Hai Lam. Like many legends past their prime, he hopes to find a job on the management side of his “sport.”


 

The world as we see it

  1. A smartphone to ‘calm and distract’ a child?

    How is that any different than handing them your keychain, a teddy bear, a book…..for the same purpose?

    Technophobia much?

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