Good news ... bad news

TO GO WITH AFP STORY CANADA-ART-THEATRE-PAINTING-SWISS BY MICHEL VIATTEAU A virtually unknown painting done by the artist Salvador Dali, in fact a theatrical backtrop painted in 1944, was unveiled November 5, 2012 in Montreal, Canada. AFP PHOTO/Michel VIATTEAU "MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION" (Photo credit should read MICHEL VIATTEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

On the case

With the province still reeling from the tragic suicide of bullied teenager Amanda Todd, the RCMP in British Columbia has responded with its own emotional YouTube video. Entitled “It Gets Better,” the nine-minute clip includes candid interviews with 20 Mounties discussing their experiences growing up gay—the ridicule, the confusion and the good days that eventually came. “I can absolutely tell you,” says one officer, “that it gets better.” Adds another: “Things get way better.” As public service announcements go, it doesn’t get much better.

Enriched relationship

After a two-year impasse, Ottawa has settled a key trade deal that will allow Canadian firms to sell nuclear technology to India. During his state visit to New Delhi, Stephen Harper announced that long-standing concerns about monitoring India’s use of Canadian uranium have been resolved. The feds had every reason to be cautious; in 1976, India used Canadian nuclear materials to test its first nuclear bomb. But any fallout from that dispute is long settled, and Canada now believes India—desperate for new sources of energy and overseen by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency—will act responsibly.

’ Tis not quite the season

Shoppers Drug Mart faced the music when it decided to shut off the Christmas carols last week. Some Canadians assumed the pharmacy chain had bowed to political correctness and ditched Yuletide hymns altogether. But the truth is completely rational: some customers said it’s a tad too early for Jingle Bells, and Shoppers agreed. The really good news? When the seasonal songs do return, the choices could include new offerings from the Backstreet Boys, Cee Lo Green and reunited Grease stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

A big study

A British UFO organization admits that the whole idea of alien spaceships could soon be “a dead idea.” But Bigfoot? That myth is alive and well—so much so that a professor at Idaho State University has announced plans to float a homemade blimp over western U.S. mountain ranges in search of the creature. All he needs now is a very big donation ($300,000) to build the dirigible.


More inconvenient truths

If hurricane Sandy wasn’t enough to put global warming back on the political agenda, this should be: according to an alarming new study conducted by Environment Canada, the spring snow pack in the Arctic is disappearing at a much faster rate than anticipated, even quicker than the well-documented loss of summer sea ice. In other news, a poll showed that 48 per cent of registered Republican voters in the U.S. believe in climate change; 68 per cent believe that a person can be possessed by demons.

Nothing honourable about it

The testimony unfolding in a Toronto courtroom has become all too familiar: Peer Khairi, an Afghan immigrant, is accused of brutally stabbing his wife because she shamed the family by embracing Canadian culture. In Pakistan, the latest “honour killing” case is even more horrifying. A husband and wife admitted, in a jailhouse interview, that they poured acid on their 15-year-old daughter because she had the gall to look at a boy. “She said: ‘I didn’t do it on purpose. I won’t look again,’ ” her father said. “By then I had already thrown the acid. It was her destiny to die this way.”

Caged and enraged

It was an awful week for animal theme parks. At the Greater Vancouver Zoo, a giraffe was found dead in its barn—the third to die in the past year. In Pittsburgh, a two-year-old boy was mauled to death after falling into a pen of African painted dogs. And after weeks of nasty publicity, MarineLand in Niagara Falls, Ont., is threatening to sue a former trainer for more than $1 million for telling a reporter that the park’s lone killer whale was bleeding from its tail.

CFL soap opera

The Edmonton Eskimos sacked their general manager, Eric Tillman, on the eve of the playoffs for “no specific reason.” No doubt it had something to do with trading the team’s star quarterback, Ricky Ray, to the Toronto Argonauts—the very team the slumping Eskies will face in the East Division semifinal. But the unluckiest guy in the CFL has to be Saskatchewan Roughrider Ismaël Bamba. With his passport stuck in New York due to hurricane Sandy, the wide receiver didn’t have photo ID to board the plane to Vancouver. Bamba had to make the 20-hour trip in the team’s equipment van. A rough ride indeed.