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Talking points: On Toronto Police and the Great Barrier Reef

Speed read the news with our Talking Points round-up—our short takes on the week’s news—and sound like the smartest person in the room.


 
Cannawide marijuana dispensary is raided by Toronto Police officers in Toronto. Toronto Police issued warnings a month ago to numerous dispensaries operating outside of current Canadian marijuana laws and as part of Project Claudia are now raiding the shops. COLE BURSTON/CP

Cannawide marijuana dispensary is raided by Toronto Police officers in Toronto. Toronto Police issued warnings a month ago to numerous dispensaries operating outside of current Canadian marijuana laws and as part of Project Claudia are now raiding the shops. COLE BURSTON/CP

1. Those likeable libertarians

At least one candidate on the U.S. presidential ballot this year won’t cause voters to wince. Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson has been tapped for a second time to run for the Libertarian Party in the hopes that widespread disdain for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will help put the party and its small-government platform on the map. At the convention, Johnson jumped on Trump’s rhetoric about Hispanics, calling the presumptive nominee’s comments “just racist.” Asked later on CNN if he was ready for Trump to punch back, Johnson blew the Donald a kiss. How civil.

2. Science on the menu

Health Canada may soon allow the sale of irradiated ground beef in supermarkets, despite the public’s long-standing queasiness about the idea. Sure, it’s not “all-natural,” to quote a current buzzword, but repeated studies show bombarding foods with low levels of ionizing radiation is a safe and effective way to reduce E. coli and other harmful pathogens, which kill 240 Canadians every year, put 12,000 in hospital and sicken up to four million. Indeed, the practice is already approved for onions, potatoes and ground spices. So, what else can we zap?

3. Hazy thinking

You’d think the City of Toronto used a bulldozer last week to crack down on illegal marijuana dispensaries, so shrill was the outcry from upstart pot-sellers. In fact, they were forewarned they could be in breach of the Criminal Code, which—newsflash!—is enforced by the police. Even after Parliament passes its promised bill legalizing marijuana, the rest of society must have a say on the how’s, where’s and who’s of retail THC. To let merchants flood the field before that conversation happens is back-to-front public administration.

4. Drinking and tweeting

With one out of eight U.S. college students knocking back a drink on any given day, researchers at North Carolina State and Ohio universities found a novel way to identify those most likely to develop alcohol problems: their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds. It turns out that cultivating an “alcohol identity” on social media is a far better predictor of bad behaviour than simply looking at who imbibes and who doesn’t. Put another way, if you feel compelled to share boozy exploits with online followers, it may be time to seek real-world help.

5. A ceaseless toll

Having met their commitment to land 25,000 Syrian refugees, it’s been easy for Canadians to forget that more people are taking ever greater risks to flee war and oppression in the Middle East and North Africa. Last week, an estimated 700 migrants from Islamic State-occupied Libya died after the three small boats they were using to try to cross the Mediterranean capsized (the largest did not have an engine). Since 2014, an estimated 8,000 migrants have died, mostly at sea, while horrifying new images of drowned children have resurrected questions raised last year by the sight of Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body: can Canada do more? Can the rest of the world?

6. Pipelines to nowhere

Canada’s oil and gas sector is at risk of being sidelined by a faster-than-expected move away from fossil fuels, according to a federal government think tank’s draft report, obtained by the CBC. Though a green future is something to be celebrated, the recent collapse in oil prices offered painful insights into what would happen to our economy, under its current structure, if the world suddenly stopped gassing up. It’s never wise to put all your eggs in one basket—or, in this case, a barrel.

7. Up to their necks

A wave of wet concrete washed over seven workers this week, sending one to hospital, after a form collapsed at the Muskrat Falls dam site in Newfoundland and Labrador. The mishap couldn’t have come at a worse time for the $7.7-billion hydroelectric project, which is behind schedule and over budget. The same goes for Premier Dwight Ball, who, in addition to grappling with a $1.8-billion deficit, is under fire for a severance package paid to Ed Martin, Nalcor Energy’s former CEO. Martin stepped down from the provincial energy agency in April amid criticism of his handling of Muskrat Falls. What a mess.

8. Bleached out

In the span of just a few months, more than a third of the coral in the northern and central region of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has died or is dying from mass bleaching, researchers say. Warmer waters associated with climate change are blamed for weakening the coral, which, in turn, expels important algae that it needs to be healthy. The stressed coral, and the marine life that depends on it, can make a full recovery—but sometimes only after decades, and only if the warm water events become less frequent. Which, sadly, doesn’t seem likely.


 

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