Spotting the symptoms
Clearly, China learned its lesson from the SARS debacle. A decade after withholding critical information about that deadly outbreak, health officials in Shanghai are going to unprecedented lengths to co-operate with the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they battle a new strain of human bird flu (H7N9) that has already killed 14 people and infected dozens of others. Developing, testing and manufacturing a new vaccine will take at least a few months, but China’s new-found openness will ensure the quickest possible turnaround.
It is now illegal to email, text or tweet from the confines of a Quebec courtroom, the cornerstone of a new etiquette policy that is sure to be followed across the country. Raymond Voet would no doubt be proud. The Michigan judge—who, famously, fines people $25 if their cellphones ring in his courtroom—slapped himself with a fine after his own hand-held device interrupted a prosecutor’s closing statement. #justice_served.
Doctors on the cutting edge of transplant technology had a lot to be proud of this week. In Turkey, the first woman to undergo a successful womb transplant is now pregnant—another first. (The 22-year-old had been receiving in-vitro fertilization treatments). Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, researchers have figured out a way to grow new kidneys in a laboratory and implant them into rats. A potential human version is still years away, but the successful experiment puts doctors one step closer to producing ready-made organs genetically tailored for a person’s immune system.
There’s an app for that?
A researcher at the University of Colorado at Boulder has made a groundbreaking discovery: the more sex you have, the happier you are. Who knew? Thankfully, there is a new resource for the not-so-happy: the Kama Sutra, the 2,000-year-old lovemaking manual, has been sexed up for a modern audience with a new app that enables couples to study its many poses in 3D. Users can also customize the holograms by changing their hair or skin colour—or adding music.
The twin bombings in Boston have dominated headlines (ours included), but there was plenty of disturbing terrorism news north of the border, too. According to reports, a former York University student may have been among the team of al-Qaeda-linked suicide bombers who attacked a courthouse in Mogadishu, Somalia. Meanwhile, federal authorities say they are searching for a fourth young man from London, Ont., who may be connected to January’s attack on an Algerian gas plant. Mujahid Enderi has not been seen since last year.
Global military spending dropped in 2012 for the first time in more than a decade, thanks in large part to the U.S. pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and aligning its defence budget with broader spending cuts. A separate report from the United Nations says Afghanistan is heading for a near-record opium crop, as political instability increases the amount of land planted with poppies. Only 14 of the country’s 34 provinces are “poppy-free,” down from 20 in 2010. Coincidence? We think not.
As if parents don’t have enough to worry about. A new study released by UNICEF says Canadian teenagers use cannabis more than their counterparts in any other developed nation. (Twenty-eight per cent of 15-year-olds say they smoked weed in the past year.) The results of a separate study out of the University of Winnipeg is equally disturbing: young people who do a lot of texting tend to be more shallow, place less importance on moral and spiritual goals, and greater importance on wealth and image. LOL.
Moose on the loose
Hoping to cut down on the number of car crashes with moose, Newfoundland and Labrador spent $1.5 million installing infrared “moose sensors” on portions of the Trans-Canada Highway. The one near St. John’s hasn’t worked for weeks. “It’s the joke of the town,” Eugene Nippard, the head of a local group working to reduce vehicle-moose collisions, told the CBC. The town of Smithers, B.C., may want to come up with an anti-moose strategy, too. One walked right into the local Safeway this month. The sickly animal died after an effort was made to relocate it.