The world as we see it - Macleans.ca
 

The world as we see it

A roundup of victories, tragedies, thrills, and disappointments


 
Triple threat: Marc-Antoine Gagnon (left), Mikael Kingsbury (centre) and Philippe Marquis swept the dual moguls final at the world championships Lars Baron/Getty Images

Triple threat: Marc-Antoine Gagnon (left), Mikael Kingsbury (centre) and Philippe Marquis swept the dual moguls final at the world championships. (Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Canada on the front lines, after all

Canadian special forces in Iraq came under fire from Islamic State fighters and responded with sniper fire of their own, “neutralizing” the positions, according to Mike Rouleau, commander of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. The Canadians were on the front lines when the incident occurred, “visualizing” a plan they had discussed with their Iraqi counterparts. Rouleau also said Canadians have been at the front calling in air strikes. These revelations largely discredit government assertions that Canadians would not play a direct “combat role” in Iraq. We now know the true role Canadians are playing and they are doing it effectively.

For the tech world, boom times are back

Venture capital firms plowed a record US$47 billion into more than 3,600 startups last year, reaching levels not seen since the dot-com boom. While that has some talking about another tech bubble—$7.8 billion went to mobile firms like Uber and Snapchat—Netscape founder and VC bigwig Marc Andreessen says the vast majority of cash comes from pros like himself, not the proverbial shoeshine boys and taxi drivers who rush in right before a crash. For now, at least, take it for what it is: a sign of healthy economic growth, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Moving recess to work up a healthy appetite

While parents agonize over how to get children to eat their fruits and veggies, U.S. researchers appear to have stumbled onto a perfectly simple fix: By holding school recesses before lunchtime instead of after (as is standard practice at most schools), they found that fruit and vegetable consumption went up by 54 per cent at the Utah schools used in the study. When lunch came before recess, kids were eager to hurry up and finish to get outside and play—and ended up tossing healthy food in the trash. But when it was before lunch, they came to lunch with “healthy appetites and less urgency.”

Remarkable discoveries, both on Earth and off

More than a decade after it disappeared entering Mars’s atmosphere, the Beagle 2 Mars lander was spotted by NASA intact on the planet’s surface, to the delight of the U.K. scientists who launched the craft. Back on Earth, in a state park in Nevada, a 132-year-old rifle was found propped up against a tree, abandoned, it seems, a century ago. These discoveries may span radically different eras, but both offer evidence of mankind’s undying desire for adventure and exploration.

Raid: Two people were killed when Belgian counterterrorist police raided an apartment used by suspected Islamist radicals planning a national attack Francois Lenoir/Reuters

Raid: Two people were killed when Belgian counterterrorist police raided an apartment used by suspected Islamist radicals planning a national attack
Francois Lenoir/Reuters

How to protect our police

No sooner has the RCMP answered questions about one tragedy than another occurs, raising more worries about the safety of its officers. An internal review into last summer’s shooting of five Mounties in Moncton, N.B., recommended a raft of fixes, from better access to high-powered rifles to improvements in radio communications during critical incidents. One day later, Const. David Wynn and Auxiliary Const. Derek Bond were shot in St. Albert, Alta., in a confrontation expected to claim Wynn’s life. The Mounties rightly question why the suspect was on the street despite multiple arrest warrants. But the loss demands at least some self-examination by the RCMP—starting with what part unarmed auxiliary officers should play in pursuing suspects. It owes that much to men and women whose lives are on the line.

From ‘Je Suis Charlie’ to ‘Je Suis Troubled’

Europe remains deeply rattled by the attacks in Paris. Suspected terrorist have been arrested in France, Germany and Belgium. In Brussels, EU foreign ministers met to discuss how to deal with fighters returning from Syria and this week announced the EU is launching anti-terror projects with some Arab states. France, meanwhile, started enforcing strict laws against hate speech and glorifying terrorism, arresting dozens last week—a curious reaction in light of the huge “Je suis Charlie” rallies there in support of free speech.

In a year, the rich will own half the world’s wealth

Everyone knows that the rich get richer. But a new report from Oxfam identifies by how much and how quickly. The world’s wealthiest one per cent now possess 48 per cent of the world’s riches and by next year will own more than everyone else combined. This inequality was the subject of serious hand-wringing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week. And Barack Obama unveiled a plan to hike taxes for super-wealthy Americans. But it will never make it through the Republican-controlled Congress. Why? A presidential campaign now needs around $1 billion in donations.

Earth rides into the danger zone

Temperatures last year were the hottest since record keeping began, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. That wasn’t the most alarming climate news last week. In the journal Science, a team of researchers say that we have now crossed four of nine “planetary boundaries” needed for humanity to thrive. They include changes to climate, oceans and biodiversity.


 
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