Good news, bad news

Some sentimental picks for Team Canada, while Dennis Rodman goes to North Korea (again)

About 7,000 workers set up the massive Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in a frigid corner of China’s Heilongjiang province. (Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters)

Good news

A golden moment

It was the most anticipated press conference of the year—and, for many Canadians, the most important: the announcement of the men’s Olympic hockey team. And, despite some rambling introductory speeches from various VIPs, the final list did not disappoint. General manager Steve Yzerman stickhandled controversy (picking P.K. Subban, the exuberant young defenceman), ignored past struggles (goalie Roberto Luongo is back, having recovered from a disastrous last season), and took some calculated risks (selecting scoring machine Steve Stamkos, who is still recovering from a broken leg). Although this may be the most sentimental Team Canada ever assembled, it is a talented, balanced roster that boasts as good a chance as any at capturing gold in Sochi. Which, of course, is the only acceptable outcome.

High time

All eyes—bloodshot and otherwise—were on Colorado last week as the state became the first jurisdiction in the world to launch a market for recreational marijuana use. Like alcohol, the production and sale of weed is now controlled by the government; only licensed stores can sell it, only people over 21 can buy it and every transaction is taxed. Public opinion has drastically shifted over the years and, as more people support legalizing marijuana, the Colorado experiment is a sensible, responsible road map for other districts—including Canada—to follow.

Keep your eyes off the road

Yet another study (this one from Virginia Tech) has confirmed the obvious: Texting and driving are a deadly mix. Thankfully, a possible solution is on the way. A separate study says that, by 2035, self-driving cars (or SDCs, as the industry has dubbed them) will account for half the vehicles sold in North America, with worldwide sales of 11.8 million. Car lovers who still crave the grip of a steering wheel will benefit the most: the more automated vehicles, the fewer bad drivers to avoid.

Don’t blame the Big Mac

A high school teacher in Iowa has discovered a weight-loss trick that actually works: Eat every meal at McDonald’s. For three months, John Cisna ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at the fast-food giant—and lost 37 lb. His secret? Do what every dietician says: Eat fewer than 2,000 calories per day, with proper amounts of carbs, fat, protein and cholesterol. In other words, Quarter Pounders are OK, but in moderation. As Cisna said: “Our choices make us fat. Not McDonald’s.”

Bad news

Taking Britain by storm: Enormous waves break on Porthcawl harbour in south Wales, as residents along Britain’s coast braced for flooding. (Ben Birchall/AP)

Mission accomplished?

Two years after U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq—a conflict that cost billions of dollars and nearly 4,500 American lives—an eruption of violence is threatening to spiral into a new civil war. In Anbar province, al-Qaeda-linked militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are revolting against the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, claiming control of Fallujah, a city where U.S. forces fought their bloodiest battle since Vietnam. The White House is speeding up deliveries of missiles and surveillance drones, but will not redeploy any troops. “This is a fight,” said Secretary of State John Kerry, “that belongs to the Iraqis.”

Slaying its demons

Pope Francis offered yet another olive branch to Catholics who have turned their backs on the Church, saying he respects them and that God is waiting for them to return. Francis has made it a top priority to reach out to atheists and marginalized Catholics, especially gays, and has encouraged priests and bishops to follow his lead. But, if the Vatican is truly committed to being progressive, this particular strategy won’t help: The Church is reportedly training a new generation of priests to perform exorcisms. Because possession by the Devil is apparently real.

To (not) serve and protect

The reputation of Canadian police officers took a few hits last week. The RCMP is in damage-control mode after two environmental protesters—dressed up as waiters—managed to sidestep Stephen Harper’s security detail and get up close and personal with the Prime Minister. In Montreal, a city police officer will be disciplined after being caught on camera threatening to tie a homeless man to a pole in freezing temperatures. And in New Brunswick, a pot-smoking Mountie who made headlines for getting high in uniform—and allegedly assaulting two other officers—has been declared fit to stand trial.

Dear Dennis

Former NBA sideshow Dennis Rodman made his fourth trip to North Korea—and, this time, he brought along some fellow hoopsters to play an exhibition game for Dear Leader Kim Jong Un. Rodman lashed out at suggestions that he’s playing patsy to a brutal, reclusive dictator, and insisted it’s not his “job” to question his “friend” about human rights or starving citizens. “I love him,” Rodman said. Considering that Kim just executed his own uncle, Rodman had better stick to that script.