Good news, bad news - Macleans.ca

Good news, bad news

France bans beauty pageants for kids and the NHL gets off to a violent start

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Fourteen pandas were bred through artificial means in Chengdu, China. (China Daily/Reuters)

Good news

Regional insecurities

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s plan to join with B.C. and Ontario to set up a “co-operative” national securities regulator promises to finally bring Canada alongside the rest of the industrialized world. If only Quebec and Alberta can be convinced to sign on. Quebec has cited concerns about a new “offensive” aimed at the province, while Alberta said it was worried about the impact on its oil and gas industry. Neither, it should be noted, offered an explanation as to why average Canadians are better off with the current provincial patchwork, which discourages investment and raises the risk of white-collar crime. Likely because there isn’t one.

Paging Dr. Love

Marriage, gay or straight, has its challenges. (Just ask Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin.) But sticking together has some serious health benefits, too. A new study out of Boston says married people diagnosed with cancer have a greater chance of survival than unmarried or widowed patients. Meanwhile, research conducted in Washington revealed similar results for heart patients: in the first year after having blocked blood vessels cleared, married people fared much better than their single counterparts. Tie that knot.

Toddlers, minus the tiaras

Kudos to the French. In a nation famous for its fashion shows, the upper house of Parliament has voted to outlaw beauty pageants for children younger than 16. Triggered by a surge in mainstream images of sexualized prepubescent girls, the legislation would slap stiff penalties on anyone who organizes such a pageant: up to two years in prison, and a $41,000 fine. Politicians have better things to do than police children’s extracurricular activities, but, in this case, a ban is entirely appropriate. Let’s hope Canada follows down the catwalk.

Almost Armageddon

Close calls don’t get much closer than this. According to a declassified Pentagon report, the U.S. Air Force came within seconds of detonating a nuclear bomb over North Carolina in 1961, a catastrophic blast that would have far eclipsed Hiroshima. Luckily, while three of the device’s four safety switches malfunctioned, one actually worked. Whew.

 Bad News

Tragically avoidable

It’s the type of senseless accident that never should have happened: a bus smashing through a railway crossing, straight into a speeding train. The carnage was horrific: six people dead, including the driver of the bus. But as investigators continue to analyze the scene—and grieving loved ones bury their dead—last week’s tragedy in Ottawa is a painful reminder that even the safest of measures aren’t always enough. The crossing’s lights and gates were engaged well before the bus plowed onto the tracks. What more could have been done?

Hockey fight in Canada

The regular season hasn’t begun, and the NHL has already surpassed its reputation for inane violence. A pre-season brawl between Toronto and Buffalo led to a stick-swinging incident and a 10-game suspension for Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson. Vancouver forwards Dale Weise (three games) and Zack Kassian (five games), along with Tampa Bay winger Adam Erne (three games) count among the other perps who have sent a parade of victims to their team clinics. At least we now know why the league warned players last week not to tuck their jerseys in their pants: it makes it too hard to pull them over their heads.

Turn and cough

Canadians call in “sick” a lot. The average full-time worker missed 9.3 days last year, more than in the U.S. and U.K., costing the economy $16.6 billion, according to a study by the Conference Board of Canada. One culprit is union rules, particularly in the public sector, that guarantee a certain number of sick days whether workers are ill or not. But the study’s authors also point to longer hours and more family responsibility (taking care of children and parents) as the population ages. More incentive to get your flu shot.

Whatchamacallit

Forget your purse this morning? You’re not alone. According to a British study, the average person forgets four key facts a day—more than 1,400 per year—because our lives are more hectic than ever. The solution? Try taking a break from Twitter and Facebook. A separate study says people who spend too much time browsing social media squander their memory. Try reading a magazine.