Boots on the ground
Canada’s combat tour in Afghanistan is entering its final few weeks, but the military is already preparing for its next deployment—wherever it may be. Months after being forced out of their secret staging base in Dubai because of a diplomatic spat, the Canadian Forces have reportedly reached deals to open new bases in Germany and Jamaica, and are in talks with Senegal, South Korea, Kenya and Singapore. As Defence Minister Peter MacKay said, Canada has become a “go-to nation” when it comes to responding to natural disasters and other NATO missions—requiring a much bigger bootprint on foreign soil.
A revamped battle plan
Forty years after Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” a new report has confirmed what police, prosecutors—and traffickers—have long known: we’re losing. Released by a consortium of world leaders, including Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, the report says it’s time to start treating drug abuse as a public health problem, not a criminal one, and consider legalizing certain substances to undercut criminal gangs. The war on drugs has cost billions of dollars and countless lives. But, to borrow a phrase, admitting the old strategy is broken is the first step to recovery.
A big haul
When Winnipeg won back its NHL team, some critics warned that the city is too small and not rich enough to sustain big league hockey. Well, on Saturday it sold out its 13,000 season-ticket drive in 17 minutes, and a waiting list was capped at 8,000. And that’s at some of the highest average prices in the league. Meanwhile, the franchise’s star, Dustin Byfuglien, says he’s looking forward to playing in front of a wild crowd in Winnipeg—that, and all the off-season fishing to be had in Manitoba.
A matter of great importance
Big news from the lab: physicists have figured out a way to trap and store antihydrogen atoms for a record 16 minutes. What exactly does that mean? Scientists are one step closer to understanding how the universe was created, and why matter (i.e. everything) won the battle against antimatter. Next up? Figuring out who hacked Stephen Harper’s website and claimed he choked on a hash brown.
Turning a blind eye
The deaths of 20 protesters on the Golan Heights was an avoidable tragedy. Palestinians attempting to breach the Israeli border met no resistance from Syrian authorities, who normally tightly control access to the area. Critics accuse Syria of helping inflame the conflict to deflect attention from its own troubles, including the killing of 32 demonstrators in its northern province. No matter the motives, encouraging protesters along the Israeli border is becoming a bad habit—over 100 Palestinian refugees from Damascus breached the border last month, again with the tacit approval of Syria, and deadly results.
Large cup of compensation
What is brewing inside Canada’s favourite doughnut shop (besides the coffee)? For reasons that remain a mystery, Tim Hortons CEO Don Schroeder was abruptly terminated and replaced by his predecessor, Paul House. Now comes word of a hefty compensation package for the outgoing boss: $6.5 million, including the continued use of a company car and a $500-a-month fuel chit. In the face of disappointing first-quarter results and the closure of 50 stores south of the border, shareholders have every reason to be concerned.
The United Nations is calling for more oversight of commodity markets and blamed speculators for driving food prices to near record highs. There may at least be some shred of cold comfort in a new report that suggests eating dirt might be good for you. Researchers at Cornell University say the best explanation for human geophagy (the eating of earth) isn’t hunger or nutrition problems, but because it protects the stomach against toxins, parasites and pathogens.
A judge in headlights
In Newfoundland and Labrador, hundreds of drivers are injured every year in collisions with moose. Now the province may be on the hook for millions of dollars in damages. In a potentially precedent-setting ruling, Justice Richard LeBlanc gave the okay to a class-action lawsuit by motorists who claim the government failed to do enough to control the moose population, and is to blame for their accidents. Expect an appeal down the road.