This week: Good news/Bad news

A week in the life of Sandra Bullock

Sandra BullockA week in the life of Sandra Bullock
For the first time in her career, the star of umpteen romantic comedy flicks is receiving critical praise for her acting. Bullock’s starring role as a mother of two who takes in a struggling football star in The Blind Side has already garnered her a Golden Globe for Best Actress, and last Saturday she was honoured with another trophy—this time at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. There’s only one major stop left in awards season—the Oscars—and Bullock is considered the front-runner.

GARY COLEMANFace of the week

GARY COLEMAN, who played Arnold Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes, was arrested in Utah on Monday on domestic violence charges

Good news

Helping Haiti
Heartbroken Canadians have rallied behind Haiti in inspiring ways. A multi-network Canada for Haiti telethon raised $40 million, including federal contributions, in just one hour. (In comparison, America’s telethon, Hope for Haiti—which featured some of the biggest stars in film and music—raised US$60 million over the entire broadcast.) Canada is also delivering much more than money to the earthquake-ravaged capital of Port-au-Prince. Along with troops and medical aid, Ottawa is fast-tracking Haitian adoption cases so that homeless foster children can arrive here as soon as possible. Rebuilding Haiti will take many years and many more dollars, but in these early days, Canadians have every reason to be proud.

Stop the head shots
It was a stern punishment—and a justified one. Patrice Cormier, the junior hockey player who landed a vicious elbow to an opponent’s head, has been banned from Quebec’s junior league for the rest of the season. It was a gutsy decision, considering that Cormier is a major star (he captained Team Canada at the recent World Junior Championships) with a bright pro career ahead of him. The NHL must take note. For years, the big league has mused about the need to get tough on head shots—but never acted. As the Cormier case shows, if you want to rid the game of dangerous, inexcusable cheap shots, you need to target the cowardly perpetrators.

Denouncing a tyrant
Are Venezuelans growing tired of Hugo Chávez’s tyrannical rule? Cable companies in the country yanked Radio Caracas Televisión Internacional off the air after it went against new rules requiring networks to carry certain programming, including Chávez’s speeches. In response, thousands of university students took to the streets, protesting the president’s iron grip on the media. An election is scheduled for September, and the winds of change may be picking up steam.
A new chapter?
This week offered two bits of encouraging news for bookworms worried that Amazon’s new Kindle e-reader will make hardcovers and paperbacks a thing of the past. Famed Winnipeg bookseller McNally Robinson has emerged from a short stint in bankruptcy protection (the company filed in December) saying it still believes there is room for growth in the traditional book market. Its main rival, Indigo Books & Music, is already proving that point. The country’s largest book retailer announced a 29 per cent increase in quarterly profits, even though online business fell 2.7 per cent, thanks to surging sales at its bricks-and-mortar stores.

Bad news

Unhealthy kids
A scary new report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation suggests that young adults are at risk for heart disease. Along with the obvious—that more and more young people are morbidly obese— the report reveals that the number of Canadians between 20 and 34 with high blood pressure has almost doubled over the past decade. Ontario thinks it may have the solution: starting in 2011, it will be illegal to sell junk food or pop in every school. A good start, perhaps. But considering that most schools are down the street from a convenience store, the ban sounds more like lip service than hip service.

Animal wrongs
Gail Shea, the federal fisheries and oceans minister, got a pie in the face from a PETA protester during a photo op in Toronto. Surprise, surprise. Another tasteless prank from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the same organization that once compared slaughterhouses to Nazi gas chambers—and just honoured Canadian director James Cameron for an “inspiring message” he never meant to convey. Said PETA: “Viewers will recognize how the plight of Avatar’s catlike Na’vi people, who are faced with being driven off their land by a greedy corporation, closely echoes the real-life plight of animals on earth.” Maybe the folks at PETA forgot to wear the special 3-D glasses.

Precision bombs
Iraqi extremists are doing their darndest to disrupt the country’s path to democracy. On Monday, three bombs went off outside large hotels in Baghdad, killing 36 people, all while international officials are working frantically to make sure that the country’s March elections actually happen. Meanwhile, the news in Afghanistan is equally discouraging. A new U.S. report expects security problems to increase in 2011, in part because the Taliban is getting better at bomb-making.

Don’t blame veils
A parliamentary report is urging the French government to ban Muslim women from wearing full face veils on public transport, in hospitals, schools and government offices. The niqab, said Bernard Accoyer, speaker of the National Assembly, is “a symbol of the repression of women and of extremist fundamentalism.” Unfortunately, he is only half right. The niqabs themselves are not the problem. In fact, many Muslims choose to wear the veil—not because they are oppressed and following orders. The real problem is the other half: the women who are forced to cover their faces by radical fathers and husbands. France—and Canada, too—should figure out a way to punish those specific men, not every woman.

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