Declaring war on war criminals
For years, the federal government stubbornly refused to release the names and faces of suspected war criminals hiding in Canada—for fear of violating their privacy. But after renewed pressure from the media, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives finally relented, posting mug shots of 30 wanted war criminals online. The result? Six of those fugitives are behind bars, two have been deported, and the rest are no doubt scrambling for cover. In this country, privacy should never trump justice.
More than two-thirds of British doctors believe bicycle helmets should not be mandatory, and that forcing riders to wear them may prompt some people to give up biking altogether (and relinquish the obvious health benefits). But that surprising conclusion, contained in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal, doesn’t jibe with the Canadian experience. According to a study conducted here, the number of cyclists suffering serious head injuries is down nearly 30 per cent over the past decade, largely because children are now wearing helmets when they pedal.
An accurate label
An HIV-positive man who knowingly transmitted the virus to at least seven women—and who was found guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of two of those women—has been declared a dangerous offender. The rare ruling means that Johnson Aziga, 55, will remain behind bars until at least the age of 80, and even then (if he is still alive) will only be set free if the parole board is somehow convinced he is no longer a threat to society. Aziga is the first person in Canada ever convicted of using HIV as a murder weapon. His punishment fits the crime.
A public servant in Australia, who was injured by a motel light fixture while having sex on a business trip, is demanding workers’ compensation. Leo Grey, the woman’s lawyer, says the sex is irrelevant to her claim. What matters, he says, is that the injury occurred during an out-of-town business trip that was sanctioned by her employer. A judge will make the final decision. The good news? Although the woman is “emotionally traumatized” by all the headlines, her name is protected by a publication ban.
An economy shivers
Remember all that talk about Canada’s economy outperforming the world? Well, not so much. In May, the economy unexpectedly shrank 0.3 per cent, driven down partly by wildfires in Alberta that disrupted oil and gas production. Consumer confidence also slipped in July on fears of slow employment growth and continued uncertainty about the U.S. debt crisis, according to TNS Canada. What’s worse, the market research firm’s “Buy Index,” which measures the willingness of Canadian households to purchase big-ticket items, erased all the gains it had made since the spring, when people were finally shaking off all the doom and gloom.
The great Arab Awakening seems to have stalled. Western-backed rebels in Libya are now killing each other, and there is serious talk of letting Moammar Gadhafi stick around if he agrees to step down. In Cairo, renewed protests against military rule have been hijacked by factions calling for an Islamic state, rather than democracy. And in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad has sent in tanks to quell peaceful protests while world leaders wring their hands. Is a historic opportunity slipping away?
The sky is falling
In Montreal, a giant slab of concrete fell from the top of a highway tunnel, narrowly missing cars and triggering fresh fears about the crumbling state of Quebec’s roads. In Ottawa, organizers of the annual Bluesfest are under fire from members of the band Cheap Trick, who nearly died in a July stage collapse. And in Alberta, three companies are facing a slew of charges in connection with another fatal stage collapse two years ago. Clearly, Canada needs more engineers.
Green Party leader and serial crusader Elizabeth May is taking on WiFi. Last week, she tweeted about the supposed dangers of electromagnetic fields, suggesting wireless could be killing bees and putting kids’ health in danger. Never mind that the evidence is somewhere between non-existent and highly dubious—her stand against “smart” electricity meters and wired classrooms seems downright luddite. And 140-character policy debates are stupid no matter which party does it.