This Week: Good news/Bad news - Macleans.ca

This Week: Good news/Bad news

Plus a week in the life of Hugo Chávez

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Face of the weekFace of the week
Royal furrow: Britain’s Prince Harry and girlfriend Chelsy Davy attend a rugby match between England and Australia in London

Hugo ChávezA week in the life of Hugo Chávez
“Let’s not lose a day in fulfilling our main mission: to prepare for war”: thus spake the Venezuelan president on Sunday. Chávez is upset over neighbouring Colombia’s decision to grant the U.S. Army access to its military bases. Colombian President Álvaro Uribe claims the agreement with the U.S. is part of a joint effort to clamp down on drug traffickers and guerrillas, but Chávez is convinced Uribe is helping America gain a secure position in South America.

GOOD NEWS

Lest we forget
Seven out of 10 Canadians believe the two minutes of silence observed each year at 11 a.m. on Remembrance Day should be made mandatory, according to an Ipsos-Reid poll. We wholeheartedly agree—it’s the least we can do for the brave men and women who have fought bravely and sacrificed their lives to maintain our freedoms. Which is why we are disappointed that francophone schools in New Brunswick are making a stink about being forced to sing O Canada every day: like the two minutes of silence, the anthem is a small but significant ode to our country—there’s no reason why students shouldn’t be taught to appreciate Canadian values.

Smitherman vs. Tory
Hogtown is about to get interesting again. George Smitherman, a cabinet member in Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario Liberal government, announced his intention to run for mayor of Toronto. Rumour has it his opponent will be Conservative veteran John Tory. With two high-profile candidates throwing their hats in the ring—each with competing visions and political affiliations—the mayoral race should provide a compelling storyline for a city in desperate need of one. Canada’s biggest city—literally and figuratively—is a mess, so whoever wins will have a massive cleanup task on his hands.

Iraqis go to the polls
Speaking of elections, Iraqis can mark Jan. 21, 2010, on their calendars—that’s the day they will go to the polls. After weeks of negotiations, the Iraqi parliament finally passed an election law, ensuring that the vote would go ahead as planned, though there are still questions as to how votes in the Kurdish-dominated city of Kirkuk will be apportioned. This is another major step in the country’s transition after the ousting of Saddam Hussein; hopefully the election will provide more of the sort of grassroots support for democracy that sprung up the last time Iraqis voted (remember the images of ink-stained thumbprints?), and not turn into a shameful debacle like the recent elections in Afghanistan.

Tabby pride
The cats are back! With a 39-17 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats clinched a CFL playoff spot for the first time in five years. In between playoff berths, the Cats endured one of the worst streaks of mediocrity in league history (just last year, the team finished the season with a 3-15 record). Among the other teams joining them are the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who finished first in the CFL’s West division for the first time in 33 years. In an eight-team league, that’s a long, long time.

BAD NEWS

Why did it happen?
The killing spree at the Fort Hood, Tex., U.S. Army base is a major tragedy that could have been prevented. Thirteen innocent people are dead, and 30 more wounded, at the hands of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an army psychiatrist. American officials first cautioned the media and everyone else from blaming Hasan’s Muslim background—which seemed a sensible warning. But we have since learned of his affiliation with a radical Islamist cleric—information the FBI apparently knew about but chose not to investigate further. Had authorities taken a closer look, this calamity might never have happened.

RCMP hypocrisy
Drunk driving kills: it’s a message we’ve heard over and over again from law enforcement agencies. But those words are ringing a little hollow after a Vancouver RCMP officer was arrested for driving while under the influence—not once, but twice. In August, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP called for a federally legislated RCMP review body—the recklessness of this officer will surely raise British Columbians’ ire yet again. We entrust police to protect us from criminals. When an officer breaks the law—especially in such a dangerous way—it is an inexcusable failure of duty.

Don’t go, Mahmoud
We never thought we would be sad to see Mahmoud Abbas exit from the Mideast political stage, but we are. The Palestinian Authority president’s announcement that he would not seek re-election in January elections has many fretting that terrorist group Hamas, which already controls Gaza, will try to take over the West Bank, too. Abbas has not proven himself to be a useful partner in protracted peace negotiations with Israel, and yet he remains the most viable partner for Israel and the U.S. to work with. If he steps down, the prospects for peace go with him.

Band breakup
Steven Tyler is apparently out of the saddle. According to guitarist Joe Perry, the Aerosmith frontman has quit the band to work on solo projects. Aerosmith, which had been together for more than 35 years, is considered one of the greatest rock groups ever—known for catchy riffs and Tyler’s flamboyant vocals. Perhaps the worst news from this story is that the rest of the band is considering replacing Tyler with a new singer—a scheme that we doubt would lead to artistic success. If Tyler is indeed gone for good, we hope the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group retires. We’d rather have the music and memories of an intact Aerosmith than what would surely be a mediocre Aerosmith 2.0.

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