Feb 15 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Snowbirds driving in blithe violation of Florida law were saved by the Geneva Conventions - not the ones governing the conduct of war, but the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic.
The licensing brouhaha surrounded an obscure new law - section 322.04, Florida Statutes - which meant that Canadians motoring in Florida, along with all other foreigners, risked arrest unless they were armed with an International Driving Permit. No longer was a Quebec or Ontario drivers’ license good enough.
* Long before they can understand what is being said to them, babies can make strategic use of the sound cues that they hear to distinguish between two languages, a new study has revealed.
The finding suggests that children growing up in a multilingual environment are neither confused nor disadvantaged by having to cope with two mother tongues, even when the grammatical structures of the two languages are substantially different from one another.
* A crippled cruise ship that lost power for more than four days in the Gulf of Mexico was pulled into a port in Mobile, Alabama, late on Thursday as passengers cheered the end of a “hellish” voyage marked by overflowing toilets and stinking cabins.
Reports in the business section:
* Nadir Mohamed is stepping down as the chief executive officer of Rogers Communications, leaving the telecommunications and media giant in search of a new leader at a critical time for the industry.
* Mattamy Homes, Canada’s largest builder of new homes, is planning a major U.S. expansion, as it bets that house prices have topped out in its main market of Ontario - and have bottomed out south of the border.
“I think Ontario’s had a good run in terms of house prices and I think we’re at a point in time where we’ve peaked in pricing,” Brian Johnston, the chief operating officer of Mattamy Homes, said during an interview at the company’s Oakville, Ontario headquarters. “We’ve had a good run as an industry and now things are flattening out.”
* On Thursday, Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his 29-year-old girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in South Africa. He is accused of shooting her four times in the middle of the night in his home in Pretoria. The news comes as a shock. Murder should always come as a shock, but Oscar Pistorius is supposed to be a hero.
* In a potent reminder of the arbitrary censorial powers of Canadian liquor authorities, a rum cheekily named for pornographic actor Ron Jeremy was pulled from Manitoba store shelves after customers complained it was obscene.
Dubbed Ron de Jeremy, the liquor’s label features an image of Ron Jeremy’s face above the taglines “the adult liquor” and “long smooth taste.”
On Thursday, however, after the decision was publicized, the rum was restocked after liquor authorities determined that it did not, in fact, have any obscene content.
* While Canada’s economy should pick up later this year, there are external and domestic threats that, if unchecked, could make a case for more interest rate cuts, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF said in its annual report Thursday that Canada’s economy will grow by 1.8 percent in 2013, hobbled by a weak second-half handover from the previous year.
* Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd says it has returned to profitability in 2012 after the “catastrophe” of losses it endured a year earlier.