Good news, bad news

Good news, bad news

Jack Hill/AFP/Getty Images

Good news

Telling it like it is

Finally, some refreshing candour from the leadership of the RCMP. A newly released interview transcript reveals that, before he became commissioner of the force, Bob Paulson believed Canada’s security-certificate process had gone “off the rails,” allowing excessive secrecy in the name of protecting investigative methods and sources. Then, this week, he defended the service against a recent flood of workplace harassment claims, telling a Senate committee: “For the love of Pete, we have to be open and fair-minded when we hear about these issues and complaints, lest they get misrepresented.” If the entire force were this forthright, Canadians might have more faith in it.

Give us a break

Under new CRTC wireless rules, people can now get out of lengthy cellphone contracts after two years; extra monthly data and roaming charges will be capped at $50 and $100, respectively; and contracts must be “easy to read and understand.” The measures offer a welcome bit of breathing room for customers in an industry not known for its competitiveness. But they may come at a price, forcing carriers to charge more for smartphones typically sold at a steep discount when tied to three-year contracts.

Mammoth finds

It was an exciting week for new discoveries. Sonar images from the South Pacific revealed what could be the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s plane, which disappeared in 1937. Scientists in Siberia found a woolly mammoth carcass so well-preserved, they were able to collect its blood—reigniting dreams of cloning the beast. And paleontologists are unravelling how the turtle got its shell. They say a 260-million-year-old reptile fossil shares many features with modern turtles, including T-shaped ribs—an early step in developing the turtle’s shell from fused ribs and vertebrae.

Love at first email

More than one-third of married couples in the U.S. met online, according to a new study looking at couples married between 2005 and 2012. Believe it or not, they actually seem less likely to divorce than those who met in person. The study, which included 19,000 people, also found online couples tend to be happier.

Good news, bad news

Umit Bektas/Reuters

Bad news

Tougher Turkey

The authoritarian instincts of Turkey’s current leadership have finally brought the country to a boiling point, as a crackdown on a local protest triggered massive, anti-government street demonstrations. Many Turks fear the governing party of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is nudging their country toward the sort of Islamist theocracy seen in other parts of the Muslim world—though some senior government politicians have distanced themselves from the initial crackdown. Much hangs on Erdogan’s response: More severe suppression of the protests could prompt much worse violence. Or it could solidify Erdogan’s grip, speeding the country’s worrisome drift.

Not-so-beautiful game

It was an ugly week for Canadian soccer. Soon after the national women’s team got pasted by the American squad, U.S. star Sydney Leroux, who was born in Canada, alleged that fans in Vancouver hurled racial taunts in the stands at her father, who is black, during a match four months ago. Meantime, the Quebec Soccer Federation pushed ahead with its ban on players wearing turbans on the field. Ostensible reason for the ban? Player safety. Number of injuries attributable to these head-borne menaces? Nil.

Out of shape

Canadian health guidelines say that to achieve health benefits, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week, and children ages six to 17 need 60 minutes a day. Certainly, that’s more than the commonly prescribed 20 minutes, three times a week, but more worrisome is that a new Statistics Canada survey found that only 15 per cent of adults meet the guidelines. Most distressing: Only six per cent of children do.

Small ‘l’ luxury

The Hilton New York Midtown became the second major hotel in that chain to ditch room service, and competitors are following suit, leaving travellers to wonder: Is the occasional frill too much to ask? Turns out room service is a big money loser—hard to believe, given the $25 burger most menus feature—and ditching it is part of a trend in the hospitality world toward forcing customers to lower their standards. So low, in fact, we might as well stay home.