Good news ... bad news

Life on Mars, sleepless nights and a tough season for the Jays

Getty Images

Clear communication

The fight between Ottawa and the current big three wireless carriers—Bell, Telus and Rogers (which owns Maclean’s)—has been put on hold following U.S. giant Verizon Communications’ decision to take a pass on coming to Canada. More importantly, the announcement gives the federal government time to develop a clear, competition-friendly policy for the sector, as opposed to relying on a series of ad hoc decisions and seemingly arbitrary rule changes that would have favoured a huge American company and its shareholders in an upcoming auction of wireless airwaves, a key public resource. Consumers’ interests are rarely served when governments play favourites.

On balance

On the other hand, it’s refreshing to see Ottawa craft a sensible plan and stick to it. The federal finance department says the budget deficit in the first three months of this fiscal year (April to June) dropped to $2.55 billion from $2.81 billion a year earlier, “and recent economic developments suggest that the fiscal projection presented in Economic Action Plan 2013 is on track.” Translation: The feds are poised to balance the budget in two years, as promised.

Digging for the truth

Last summer’s mall collapse in Elliot Lake, Ont., triggered a dramatic rescue effort that ended in the worst possible way: no survivors. But as a public inquiry continues to search for answers, one small consolation has emerged: The women who died in the rubble did not suffer. According to the coroner on scene, Lucie Aylwin and Doloris Perizzolo were killed “almost instantly,” despite reports that one may have survived the initial cave-in and was buried alive. For grieving loved ones—and a devastated city—that truth provides a rare dose of peace.

Seeing red

New research suggests life on Earth may have actually begun on Mars, because a key chemical ingredient—phosphate—was far more plentiful on the red planet billions of years ago. This may explain why so many humans are drawn to the sci-fi dream of a one-way trip to Mars. More than 165,000 people, including 7,000 Canadians, have applied to participate in a grand plan to establish a human colony on Mars by 2023.

Bad News

The kids are not all right

The headlines are heartbreaking—for everyone involved. In Saskatchewan, the RCMP revealed that a six-year-old boy was beaten to death by another child under the age of 12. The accused, whose identity is protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is too young even to face charges. Meanwhile, Toronto police have arrested a 14-year-old for manslaughter in connection with the fatal shooting of a fellow teenager in an apartment building. Two young lives lost. Two others destroyed.

Off patrol

The Canadian military spent millions of dollars and countless hours mentoring Afghan police officers to patrol their own country. Like so much else in the war-ravaged nation, the plan hasn’t exactly worked out. According to Afghanistan’s new interior minister, police deaths have actually doubled in the year since NATO forces handed over security responsibility to local forces; since March alone, nearly 2,000 officers have died and another 2,500 have been wounded. And that’s with NATO providing air support to Afghan forces, a perk that will vanish by the end of 2014.

Tossing and earning

Nearly nine million adults in the U.S. depend on prescription sleeping pills, according the first-ever government study of its kind. But that figure doesn’t tell the whole story; experts believe millions more have tried over-the-counter solutions to battle their insomnia. If only everyone was a bit wealthier. According to a separate British study, the secret to a good night’s rest is—surprise, surprise—a hefty paycheque. As every millionaire knows, the more money you make, the easier you snore.

Boo Jays

After an off-season of unprecedented hype and hope, the Toronto Blue Jays are destined for a stinging last-place finish. Their year was such a disappointment that even a local police officer—after arresting a fan who ran onto the field—could not hold back the heckles. “At one point, the Jays were considered World Series contenders,” he wrote in the arrest report, which has gone viral. “One can almost forgive the accused for his below described actions . . . Luckily, he ran onto the field from level 100 and wasn’t forced to jump from the 500 level out of sheer frustration.”