24. 09. 2018
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A nurse’s view: Fighting Ebola one day at a time in Sierra Leone – National

A nurse’s view: Fighting Ebola one day at a time in Sierra Leone – National

It’s the children who distress me most.” — MSF nurse Anja Wolz

Today the Ebola story appears to be all about numbers – big numbers. The World Health Organization released a plan for bringing the seemingly unstoppable Ebola outbreak in West Africa to an end.

It estimates the work will cost US$490 million.It suggests by the time the outbreak is over, more than 20,000 people may have contracted the virus.  For context, the largest previous outbreak occurred in 2000 in Uganda, when 425 people were infected.It sets a goal of stopping the outbreak in six to nine months. It’s not a projection or a promise — the WHO is calling it a goal. It’s a telling word choice.It estimates 3,580 international and national personnel will be needed to make this all work.

These are numbers unlike anything the world has ever seen before in relation to Ebola, and frankly few in public health would have ever dreamed — nightmared  —  of a scenario like what the world faces now with the outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

(Fingers are still crossed that Nigeria has contained the spread there, sparked by an infected government official from Liberia who travelled to Nigeria. So far Nigeria has recorded 17 cases, including the Liberian man, and six deaths — all from that one importation.)

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  • WHO: Ebola cases could exceed 20,000

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The plan, which the WHO calls a roadmap, is critically important work. But it’s hard to take in and it tells a story in numbers.

Ultimately, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a story about people. The people whose families and communities are being wiped out and the hugely courageous people who are trying to save lives and stop the spread of this hellish virus.

Anja Wolz is in the latter group of people. A nurse with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), Wolz is working at Kailahun, Sierra Leone. She has written a first-person account of the gruelling and relentless work the national and international health-care workers fighting the outbreak face day after day after day.

She says the worst thing about the work is dealing with the children — orphaned, confused, sick and a heartbreak to caregivers whose instincts are to offer consoling hugs. The PPE — personal protective equipment, a.k.a. layers of head-to-toe coverings — the health workers must wear make hugging and even talking to the children difficult.

Wolz’s account can be read on the website of The New England Journal of Medicine, which was published Wednesday along with a slide show of photos that show the rudimentary facilities where these health-care heroes are trying to save lives. People who want to know the story behind the large numbers in the WHO’s containment plan can find it in Wolz’s words.

Today the WHO said to date at least 3,069 people in these West African countries have been infected with Ebola, and 1,552 have died.

©2014The Canadian Press

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24. 09. 2018
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Rob Ford apologizes for ‘embarrassing’ council – Toronto

Rob Ford apologizes for ‘embarrassing’ council – Toronto

TORONTO – Rob Ford is sorry.

The mayor began what could be his last council session with a speech thanking his fellow councillors and apologizing for “embarrassing” council.

“I know I put this council through some challenges, I know I embarrassed council and I want to thank sincerely the deputy mayor for taking on the reins and I can’t thank you enough for taking the job on,” the mayor told said during a five-minute speech in council chambers Thursday morning.

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The deputy mayor assumed many of the mayor’s responsibilities in November amid an ongoing police investigation into the mayor and Ford’s admission he smoked crack cocaine despite several months of denial. The police investigation is ongoing.

Thursday’s council meeting is the last before October’s election, which could end the Ford’s mayoral tenure (though a new Forum Research poll indicated he could be gaining popularity, placing him in second place behind John Tory). Ford remains popular with many city constituencies despite lying about everything from his substance use to city finances and policies.

The mayor mentioned several councillors by name and thanked some regular opponents like Gloria Lindsay-Luby, and Karen Stintz.

Councillor Peter Leon, who was selected for Ward 3 after councillor Doug Holyday was elected MPP for Etobicoke Lakeshore (a seat Holyday lost just months later), is “the nicest guy” Ford said he’s ever met.

The mayor sounded like he was choking back tears when in a trembling voice he thanked his brother, campaign manager and most strident advocate, Councillor Doug Ford.

“I did mislead you, I did coerce you, I had to do something to get you into the seat,” he said.  “I appreciate you having my back 24/7 and it’s been a challenge and I really want to thank you for being my best friend and all I can say is, Queen’s Park, you have no idea what’s coming up to you next.”

The mayor appeared to be alluding to his brother’s MPP ambitions – ambitions Doug Ford has recently downplayed even after announcing he won’t run again for council.

Torontonians go to the polls on October 27.

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24. 09. 2018
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Canada ranked one of top countries for scientific literacy – National

Canada ranked one of top countries for scientific literacy – National

TORONTO – Canada ranks higher than 10 other developed nations in scientific literacy, or the ability of citizens to read and fully comprehend a lengthy article about science in a newspaper, according to a report released Thursday by the Council of Canadian Academies.

The report said 42 per cent of Canadians “grasp basic concepts and understand general media coverage of scientific issues.”

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That is higher than Sweden at 35 per cent and the U.S. at just under 30 per cent. Japan was last at about five per cent, it said.

The findings are based on a 2013 survey of 2,000 Canadians and an assessment of relevant international data, according to the authors.

The data was not all conducted at the same time. The data on Japan was collected in 2001, the European data in 2005, and as science literacy has been increasing generally all over the world in the past decade, these rankings may not be perfect, said Arthur Carty, chair of an expert panel involved in the report and executive director of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology.

The survey measured Canadians’ attitudes towards science and tested their knowledge with simple true-or-false questions, such as “electrons are smaller than atoms” (answer: true).

The report – Science Culture: Where Canada Stands – is the most comprehensive look at public scientific engagement, attitudes and knowledge since 1989, its authors said.

In the past 25 years, Canadians have become more knowledgeable and engaged on scientific issues, though fewer people believe science holds the key to radically solving social problems, the report said.

Ninety-three per cent of Canadians polled said they have an interest in “new scientific discoveries,” ranking first among 35 nations, it said.

A third of respondents reported visiting a science or technology museum in the past year, and almost a quarter said they had signed petitions or joined street demonstrations on scientific issues such as oil pipelines, nuclear power or biotechnology.

The survey also found interest in science was more prevalent among younger, wealthier and well-educated respondents, and higher among men than women.

Scientist and broadcaster Jay Ingram said that while he’s heartened that Canadians do relatively well on measures of scientific literacy, it’s also important to remember that 58 per cent of Canadians do not have basic scientific knowledge.

“While 87 per cent of survey respondents [know] that the . . . earth goes around the sun is pretty good, that still leaves 13 per cent of Canadians who haven’t absorbed the astronomical knowledge of several centuries ago,” said Ingram, who was among 14 experts who compiled the report.

The panellists also examined the results of standardized science test scores of 15-year-olds, administered worldwide by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Canada ranked 10th out of 265 countries in 2012.

These scores have declined since 2006, said Carty, the panel chair.

“That raises some concerns about future performance and particularly our competitiveness vis-a-vis the science and technology giants of Asia,” said Carty.

It is important that Canada create and maintain a “science culture,” defined by the panellists as a society that “embraces discovery and supports the use of scientific knowledge and methodology,” the report said.

Leadership and vision are important in supporting science in Canada, but Ingram said the ultimate goal should be the fostering of a science culture that endures regardless of political leadership or policy.

The report also suggests targeting inequalities in access to science resources, in order to make the discipline inclusive and accessible to all Canadians.

“It’s all about ensuring that individuals in all segments of society have the opportunity to share in the wonder and excitement of science,” said Marc LePage, panellist and president of Genome Quebec.

“Perhaps the hockey analogy is that now we’re in the quarter finals,” said LePage. “The next step for us is to shoot for the Stanley Cup.”

The Council of Canadian Academies describes itself as a non-profit organization that “supports evidence-based, expert assessments to inform public policy development in Canada.”

In the survey conducted for the group, EKOS Research polled 2,000 Canadians via landline, mobile or online response. EKOS says it has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points 19 times in 20.

©2014The Canadian Press

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23. 12. 2018
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Lawyers request extension for Matthew de Grood’s mental health review – Calgary

Lawyers request extension for Matthew de Grood’s mental health review – Calgary

CALGARY- The man accused in Calgary’s worst mass murder made a court appearance on Thursday.

Matthew de Grood appeared via CCTV from the Edmonton Remand Centre, to face five counts of first-degree murder following a horrific stabbing back in April.

Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, Josh Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, and Lawrence Hong, 27, were celebrating the end of the school year when they were killed.

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READ MORE: Site of Calgary’s worst mass murder up for sale

De Grood’s defence team has requested an extension for his mental health review, so the doctor has more time to compile his findings. The report will be presented to court, and includes a psychiatric assessment as well as interviews with de Grood and his parents.

“His parents are doing as well one would imagine under the circumstances,” says lawyer Allan Fay. “They have been up to Edmonton a number of times, so they’re appreciative of that opportunity.”

READ MORE: Calgary concert to honour Brentwood murder victims

The report will be used to determine whether de Grood can be found criminally responsible for the five young adult’s deaths.

“It’s important to know that this report is opinion evidence from one witness,” says prosecutor Neil Wiberg. “At the end of the day, the judge or jury has the final say in determining issues such as this.”

De Grood will be transferred back to Calgary on September 19, and the report is scheduled to be released on September 26.

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23. 12. 2018
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Legal-aid lawyers take action over funding

Legal-aid lawyers take action over funding

CALGARY – Alberta’s legal-aid lawyers are threatening to clog the courts with applications from people denied coverage to draw attention to what the lawyers say is a severely underfunded system.

Ian Savage, president of the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association in Calgary, says the government has raised the bar so high that people living on income support or with major disabilities can’t get a legal-aid lawyer.

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    Alberta legal aid resignation

“This is what the government is now forcing us to do — bring applications on behalf of individual clients in court to direct the government to give them coverage for legal aid or a defence lawyer,” Savage said Thursday.

“They’re going to have to pay in some fashion or another for these representations like they would have anyway under the legal-aid system before.”

The province raised legal-aid eligibility thresholds by about 30 per cent in 2010.

Last month, Legal Aid Alberta closed six regional offices and laid off staff in Calgary, Whitecourt and Lethbridge. Lawyers threatened job action to try to pressure the government to provide an additional $8 million a year to fund legal aid.

Justice Minister Jonathan Denis has rejected calls for increased funding and has instead asked the federal government to provide more money to Alberta. He has said he is willing to look at what can be done in next year’s budget for legal aid.

Earlier this month, Alberta’s assistant chief Judge Larry Anderson indicated he would stay charges in three criminal assault cases, unless legal aid provided lawyers to the defendants. Anderson pointed out the three accused were on social assistance and living below the poverty line, but their income was still too high for legal help.

“Is that what Albertans want? We think not,” Savage said.

“They’ve raised the criteria to an artificial level such that people on (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped), people with brain injuries, people with ongoing mental health issues, cannot actually get a lawyer. It’s ridiculous.”

The lawyers say they have created a website, Missingadvocate杭州夜网, to ensure Albertans do not fall victim to unfair trials or miscarriages of justice.

Alberta Justice arranged legal-aid funding for the three defendants referenced by Anderson days before his deadline.

Follow @BillGraveland on 桑拿会所

©2014The Canadian Press

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23. 12. 2018
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Two sides to the e-cigarette debate

Two sides to the e-cigarette debate

SASKATOON – An electronic cigarette seller in Saskatoon says he supports some regulation of the industry. Mitch Tarala runs Vapor Jedi, which has grown rapidly, along with the popularity of e-cigarettes.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report calling for stricter regulation of the industry, including banning sales to minors, and banning their use indoors.

“I’d like to see age restrictions,” Tarala told Global Saskatoon’s Morning News. “Here, as a store policy we don’t sell to anyone under 18, we don’t even let them come in the store.”

However, Tarala says he also does not want to see over-regulation. For example, he’d like bars to be able to decide for themselves if they’ll allow “vaping,” as it’s called, inside.

“I would like to see it left up to businesses.”

Watch below: Mitch Tarala says e-cigarettes are a positive thing by helping people switch away from something that is harmful


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The Canadian Cancer Society has a different view. Donna Pasiechnik, who is the Canadian Cancer Society’s manager of tobacco control for Saskatchewan, said the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, especially among youth, is ringing some alarms.

“There’s a perception among young people that electronic cigarettes are harmless,” she told Global’s Morning News. “Many kids who might not otherwise smoke are choosing to try electronic cigarettes, and that can lead to tobacco use and addiction, which is a concern.”

She added the Canadian Cancer Society has tried to reduce tobacco use for decades, and they don’t want those gains eroded.

“The last thing we need are young kids trying electronic cigarettes, thinking they’re safe, and getting hooked on nicotine – that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”

Watch below:  The Canadian Cancer Society recommends not using e-cigarettes until it is approved by Health Canada

Like WHO, the Canadian Cancer Society wants to see more regulations, including no sales to minors, and a ban on indoor use. Pasiechnik added there is a lack of information on their long term health effects.

WHO says e-cigarettes are less toxic than conventional cigarettes, but may also contain nicotine and other compounds. Those are some of the reasons why it wants the industry regulated.

In Canada, there is little regulation of e-cigarettes, although Health Canada does recommend against using them.

Tarala admits e-cigarettes may not be completely safe – but for people who smoke, he thinks it can be an alternative.

“It’s helping a lot of people to switch away from something that’s known to be harming them, turning to something that’s provably safer, maybe not completely safe, but definitely safer than smoking tobacco,” he said.

“I don’t think it should be looked at as negatively as its going.”

A WHO official told reporters on Tuesday that e-cigarettes are a story of both risk, and promise.

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23. 12. 2018
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PQ hopefuls wary of PKP’s wealth – Montreal

PQ hopefuls wary of PKP’s wealth – Montreal

QUEBEC CITY – “We don’t want a race to chase money, we want a race of ideas.”

Thirty-six-year-old leadership hopeful Alexandre Cloutier said times have changed and politics shouldn’t be about money.

“What we don’t want is candidates like me who have a mortgage to pay and if you ask people like me to get half a million dollars tomorrow, we may have a problem to participate in the debate,” he said.

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As the race to replace Pauline Marois picks up steam, Cloutier and fellow contender Martine Ouellet are asking the party president to cap the expense ceiling at a quarter of a million dollars and to limit individual contributions to $200 instead of $500.

“It will give everyone a fair shot,” Ouellet argued.

READ MORE: PQ leadership race gains momentum

The man considered to be the early favourite in this race is well-connected multimillionaire Pierre Karl Péladeau.

He did not want to comment.

Though the idea seems to please, some, like Bernard Drainville, aren’t convinced it’s necessary.

While he was a cabinet minister, Drainville modified the Election Act to lower contributions.

“In the case of leadership races, there is no public financing right, so this is the reason why we lowered the threshold at $500 but we didn’t go lower,” he explained.

The aspiring leaders – their number swelling to 8 now – will keep their portfolios when the Assembly resumes sitting September 16th.

They’ll be on double duty, said PQ Interim Leader Stéphane Bédard, campaigning and making sure the Liberal government maintains services to the population and respects workers.

“There have already been social tensions and there could be more,” said PQ MNA Nicolas Marceau.

“We think again the ball is in the hand of the government.”

All expect a busy Fall, with protests looming and a government program review that is bound to cause conflicts.

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23. 12. 2018
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‘Coolest Cooler’ beats Pebble to become top Kickstarter project – National

‘Coolest Cooler’ beats Pebble to become top Kickstarter project – National

TORONTO – For more than two years the Canadian-made Pebble smartwatch has been a shining example of how crowdfunding can launch entrepreneurs into full-blown success.

Since raising over $10 million on Kickstarter in 2012, Pebble has held its title as the highest-funded project in the history of the site – until now. Turns out, a fully loaded picnic accessory is much “cooler” than a smartwatch.

The “Coolest Cooler,” a high-tech cooler with a massive amount of features, has raised over $11 million in funding in eight weeks, stealing the title of most-funded Kickstarter project right out from under Pebble.

Listen: Why is the ‘Coolest Cooler’ so cool?


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What makes a cooler so special, you ask?

Well, not only does it include a number of high-tech features – like a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, a USB charger and built-in LED lights – it has a built-in blender, cutting board, bottle opener, and storage for plates and cutlery.

Like the cooler and Pebble (which connects to iPhone and Android), many top Kickstarter projects have been tech-related despite the fact that in the site’s early years, films were the most popular type of project.

The Ouya gaming console, which earned more than $8 million in funding from over 63,000 backers, is now the third-highest funded project in the site’s history. The Pono music player, which earned over $6 million in funding earlier this year, now takes the fourth spot.

READ MORE: How Pebble thrusted crowd-funding into the spotlight

However, both the Coolest Cooler and Pebble impressed with how quickly they reached their fundraising goals – Coolest Cooler hit its initial fundraising goal of $50,000 in just 36 hours.

Pebble reached a goal of $100,000 in only two hours.

But there are many other tech-based Kickstarters that are setting impressive records in their own ways – some of which are also Canadian.

Little Robot Friends

Created by Toronto-based tech company Aesthetec Studios, “Little Robot Friends” more than doubled its initial fundraising goal in 2013.

The tiny autonomous robots are designed to interact with their human owners with preprogrammed “personalities” that affect how they respond to different stimuli. For example, you can program your robot friend to be afraid of the dark – but if you can teach it to be braver by touching its hair.

The project garnered over $123,000 in funding from just over 1,300 backers, surpassing its initial goal of $55,000.

Chameleon

Chameleon garnered attention on Kickstarter for its customizable Android home screen app, which allows users to set up multiple home screens with app layouts on their smartphone or tablet.

Designed by Ottawa-based Teknision, the project reached its initial fundraising goal of $30,000 in just one day and had earned over $66,000 by the time its campaign ended in July 2012.

However, at the time of this publishing the app only has a three star rating (out of five) on the Google Play Store.

bKey

Montreal-based creators Shaun Teblum and Rob Gold have managed to secure over $52,000 in funding for their cable-free emergency smartphone battery dubbed bKey.

The device looks like a USB key, but consists of a lithium ion battery that can last up to 30 minutes of smartphone use. Users charge bKey through its USB port and plug it into their phone using an adapter.

With eight days left in its campaign, bKey has managed to double its initial fundraising goal of $25,000 through only 1,271 backers.

Alpha

Alpha, a heart rate monitor created by Vancouver-based MIO CEO Liz Dickinson, raked in over $321,000 in funding in 2012.

Dubbed the “holy grail of heart rate monitors,” the device can get an accurate electrocardiography (ECG) reading from the user’s wrist and is accurate at speeds of up to 20 kilometres per hour.

Alpha reached its initial fundraising goal of $100,000 within a week of launching on Kickstarter.

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23. 11. 2018
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JPMorgan investigating possible cyber attack – National

JPMorgan investigating possible cyber attack – National

NEW YORK – JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s biggest bank by assets, is working with law enforcement officials to investigate a possible cyberattack, said a person familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity, though the bank isn’t currently seeing any unusual fraud activity at the time.

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Jamie Dimon, the bank’s CEO, said in this year’s annual report to shareholders that despite spending millions on cybersecurity, JPMorgan remained worried about the threat of attacks. By the end of this year, the bank estimates that it will be spending about $250 million annually on cybersecurity and employing 1,000 people in the area.

The FBI said in a statement Wednesday that it was working with the Secret Service to determine the scope of recent cyberattacks against “several American financial institutions.” The agency did not name the companies that had been targeted.

Major U.S. banks said that they had been unaffected by the attacks.

READ MORE: PlayStation network back online after cyber attack

Bank of America spokesman Dan Frahm said the bank had not seen any unusual activity regarding cyberattacks. Citigroup had no information to suggest that it was the victim of an attack, said a person familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity. Wells Fargo said in a statement that it had not been seen an impact from the attacks.

Banks face “thousands” of attempted attacks on their computer systems every day, though the majority of incidents remain unreported, said Avivah Litan, a cyber security expert at Gartner.

“There are lots of bad guys out there, continually probing bank networks, trying to get in,” Litan said.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the BlackShades malware

The perpetrators of the attacks range from financial hackers, who are typically based in Eastern Europe and Russia, to “hactivist” groups such as Anonymous, who are trying to make social and political statements, she said. Countries such as China also engage in cyberattacks in an attempt to steal intellectual property.

Customers who notice any suspicious activity on their accounts should contact the bank, said JPMorgan spokesman Michael Fusco. He also noted that JPMorgan customers are protected against losses from fraud.

©2014The Canadian Press

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23. 11. 2018
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New school zone speed limit could save lives: Edmonton Traffic Safety – Edmonton

New school zone speed limit could save lives: Edmonton Traffic Safety – Edmonton

Watch above: When students head back to class on Tuesday, drivers will be required to slow down around elementary schools. Kendra Slugoski explains the difference 20km/h can make.

EDMONTON – It’s back-to-school for most Edmonton students next week, and with it will come a significant change outside elementary schools for drivers.

The new school zone speed limit of 30 km/h will take effect around Edmonton’s elementary schools on Tuesday, and the city is reminding motorists to be aware of the bylaw.

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Traffic Safety Supervisor Dennis Tetreault says the lowered speed limit could save lives.

“We know that braking distances for a car at 30 kilometres are 12 metres versus 50 kilometres are 28 metres. Basically, you’re cutting your braking distance in half,” he explains.

According to Tetreault, the survival rate for pedestrians who are hit by a vehicle travelling at 50 km/h is about 45 per cent. That number jumps up to 95 per cent when a vehicle is travelling at 30 km/h.

“Then it’s all about inertia, so the faster a car is travelling the more damage it can cause to a pedestrian.”

Watch: ‘Why 30′ school zone video

Councillor Dave Loken says the city’s growing population and added distractions for drivers have made it necessary for the reduced speed limit.

“People are so busy and people aren’t paying attention like they used to. We’re busy rushing from one point to another.”

Student Nicholas Kolber agrees with the councillor. He’s witnessed the dangerous habits of drivers as a school patroller.

“You’re holding out your hand for the point, just to kind of let the drivers know that you’re trying to cross, and they’ll speed right through your hand. They won’t even pay any attention or anything,” says Nicholas.

Read More: 30 km/h school zones coming to Edmonton

Councillor Bev Esslinger hopes the reduced speed limit will encourage more parents to allow their children to walk to school.

“‘When you ask parents ‘why don’t your children walk to school?’ They don’t feel safe,” says Esslinger.

The city has left the door open for potentially reducing the speed limit to 30 km/h around all schools.

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23. 11. 2018
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SNEAK PEEK: Inside Canada’s first Nordstrom store

SNEAK PEEK: Inside Canada’s first Nordstrom store

CALGARY – It’s just three weeks until American retailer Nordstrom opens their first store in Canada, but there’s still lots of work to be done.

Shelves in the 140,000 square foot retail space at Chinook Centre remain bare, as hundreds of newly hired employees work to assemble racks and get familiar with the high-end merchandise they’ll soon be selling.

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Officials with the upscale fashion merchant offered media a sneak peek inside their soon-to-open Calgary location on Thursday, touring through the two floors previously occupied by Sears.

Over 500 people were hired to work at the Chinook Centre location, and hundreds were gathered in the store on Thursday for training in various departments.

Calgary’s Nordstrom location opens at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, September 19th, although representatives say there will be no actual ‘ribbon cutting’ due to superstition.

Spokesperson John Bailey explains that they know they have a long road ahead, and they don’t want to jinx their potential success.

Nordstrom could be exercising caution during their Canadian expansion due to the struggles American retailer Target has seen during their move up north. Target suffered a lukewarm opening, and has been victim of critical online reviews and complaints since it opened.

In fact, Target’s chief financial officer John Mulligan recently admitted the retailer “bit off way too much, too early,” and should have opened fewer stores in their first year.

During the tour on Thursday, media were assured that officials with Nordstrom hope to get prompt feedback from customers as soon as they open, and know the store won’t be perfect until they do.

INSIDE CANADA’S FIRST NORDSTROM

The store features new design concepts, different than that at other locations. For example, the Calgary location will offer a single-surface floor with no carpet, so that departments can grow and move depending on the feedback from customers.

Officials have also made an attempt to incorporate natural light throughout the southwest location.

Nordstrom at Chinook Centre will feature eight personal stylists whose services are complimentary and don’t require a minimum purchase, as well as beauty stylists in the cosmetics area.

The store will also offer certified bra fitters and shoe fitters to help people find the perfect fit.

Patrons who are hungry or thirsty can stop for a bite to eat at Bazille, the store’s full-service (and licensed) restaurant on the second floor, or grab a coffee and sandwich at Ebar.

GALLERY: Calgary’s Nordstrom location at Chinook Centre

Inside Calgary’s Nordstrom location

Global News

The children’s area will feature a playhouse with interactive TV

Global News

Empty shelves inside Calgary’s Nordstrom location will soon be packed with merchandise.

Global News

Empty shoe racks in the back of Calgary’s Nordstrom location – which will soon old thousands of shoes.

Global News

Empty shelves inside Calgary’s Nordstrom location will soon be packed with merchandise.

Global News

Bazille, Nordstroms eatery at their Calgary location.

Global News

Inside ‘the apartment’ – the change rooms in the junior apparel section

Global News

Calgary’s Nordstrom location

Global News

Employee training at Calgary’s Nordstrom location.

Global News

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23. 11. 2018
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Want to get rid of U.S. citizenship? Fee just quadrupled – to $2,350 – National

Want to get rid of U.S. citizenship? Fee just quadrupled – to $2,350 – National

Renouncing your U.S. citizenship will set you back a cool $2,350(US) starting Sept. 6, when the fee will more than quadruple – up from $450.

The State Department, which announced the change this week, claims the new fee is the real cost of processing an application to lose citizenship.

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“Demand for the service has increased dramatically, consuming far more consular officer time and resources,” Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy wrote. “Documenting a U.S. citizen’s renunciation of citizenship is extremely costly, requiring American consular officers overseas to spend substantial amounts of time to accept, process, and adjudicate cases.

“The Department believes there is no public benefit or other reason for setting this fee below cost.”

That’s a policy change from 2010, when the State Department explained it had decided to set the $450 fee lower than the cost of handling a renunciation “in order to lessen the impact on those who need this service and not discourage the utilization of the service, a development the Department feels would be detrimental to national interests.”

In the latest memo, Kennedy describes the process as involving a “minimum of two intensive interviews.” That’s not what Patricia Moon went through when she renounced her citizenship at the Toronto consulate in 2012.

“The questions are minimal and I didn’t spend more than 15 minutes at the window either time. It’s not intensive. They ask you: ‘Are you aware of the ramifications of your actions?” And ‘Are you doing this of your own accord?'”

The Toronto consulate has since switched to a one-interview system. In 2011, officials there held the first meeting in a group format to cope with demand.

Global News reported that the waiting list to renounce U.S. citizenship at the Toronto consulate stretched into late January of 2015. The backlog swelled after Ottawa signed a deal obliging Canadian banks to give the personal information of American clients to the IRS.

But the memo suggests the State Department expects applications to drop after the fee is implemented: to about 2,700 from the current 3,000 a year.

“We can’t speculate on the reasons potential renunciants choose to renounce citizenship,” a department spokesperson said in an email. “We can’t speculate on whether the backlog for renunciation appointments will ease” as a result of the fee increase.”

A department spokesperson said the fee hike is not meant as a deterrent.

READ MORE: How to get rid of U.S. citizenship

“It’s supposed to be a cost recovery change, and not a tax or revenue generator,” said Toronto-based cross-border tax accountant Kevyn Nightingale, who specializes in tax advice for people giving up U.S. citizenship.

“Having watched the process with so many of my clients, I have trouble believing that it really costs $2,300 apiece.”

The notice published this week estimates consular officers’ time at US$135 an hour, Nightingale points out.

“That means that they feel they’ve got almost 20 hours for each person who is expatriating, and that seems like a lot of time to process the paperwork. I have trouble believing that it’s 20 hours of time. This is, like most government fees, an arbitrary amount. I don’t think you can say much more about it.”

But the change isn’t so arbitrary for the people who’d have to pay it.

One elderly woman in Southwestern Ontario – who wouldn’t give her name because she’s “terrified” of being tracked by the IRS – says the new fee puts renouncing U.S. citizenship “totally out of reach”.

Originally from Boston, she immigrated to Canada in the 1970s and became a dual citizen in the 1990s.

“I live on a fixed income,” she said.”I don’t have the money to be [U.S. tax-]compliant, let alone pay this fee. … It puts my ability to renounce, to get out of this, a year or two away for me to save that kind of money.”

A south-central Ontario man scheduled to get rid of his U.S. citizenship in January says he’ll come up with the extra money but is “outraged”.

Born in New Jersey to Canadian parents, he came to Canada as a toddler. He also asked not to be identified, saying he’d “rather not bring that trouble on myself and my family”.

“I think it incredibly exploitative,” he said. “It’s a huge sum of money to pay for an internal U.S. process that none of us asked for. I’ve never chosen U.S. citizenship, I’ve never taken advantage of U.S. citizenship – until three years ago I didn’t even know that I had U.S. citizenship.”

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23. 11. 2018
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Lawyers for accused in Lac-Megantic disaster want charges dropped

Lawyers for accused in Lac-Megantic disaster want charges dropped

MONTREAL – Criminal charges against two men accused in the Lac-Megantic tragedy should be dropped, their union and lawyers argued Thursday.

Train engineer Tom Harding, railway traffic controller Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre, the manager of train operations, are each charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death — one for each victim of the July 2013 train derailment.

A conviction carries a maximum life sentence.

Harding and Labrie are members of the United Steelworkers union, while Demaitre is not unionized.

Story continues below HangZhou Night Net

READ MORE: Quebec police take Lac-Megantic probe to U.S.

Union spokesman Daniel Roy and lawyers for Harding and Labrie say the charges should be dropped in light of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s final report into the tragedy.

In last week’s report, the TSB criticized the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway for its “weak safety culture” and also targeted Transport Canada for its poor oversight of railways, particularly amid a booming oil-by-rail industry across the continent.

“It should now be obvious that the charges against each of these workers no longer have their place,” said lawyers Thomas Walsh and Marc-Antoine Cloutier.

“To continue along this path would not serve the public interest and would in no way help prevent such an incident from happening again.”

Walsh is representing Harding, while Cloutier works for a legal clinic that is defending Labrie.

Walsh also called for a public inquiry into the tragedy, going so far as to say it would be more important than the long-running Charbonneau Commission looking into corruption in the construction industry.

Roy, meanwhile, took particular aim at federal cabinet ministers for their reactions to the TSB document.

“Transport Minister Lisa Raitt hadn’t even finished reading the report, which blamed her department, and she was already trying to deflect attention by reminding people that criminal charges had been laid,” he said.

“While she and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney shy away from their responsibilities, it’s average workers who are taking the rap.”

The TSB report said Harding applied an insufficient number of hand brakes on the train — seven — and conducted an inadequate test before he left the convoy unattended and retired to a local inn for the night.

WATCH:  Lawyer Thomas Walsh defends accused in the tragic train derailment.

Before he left the scene, Harding called MMA’s rail-traffic controller to report mechanical problems on the locomotive and thick smoke belching from its exhaust. They agreed he could leave the engine for the night.

Later that night, a fire broke out on the locomotive. Firefighters called to the scene shut down the locomotive, which gradually disengaged the engine’s air brakes.

An MMA track foreman with no background in locomotives met the firefighters at the scene and, after consulting the rail-traffic controller, they left without restarting the locomotive. Eventually, the train started rolling toward Lac-Megantic, where it derailed and exploded.

TSB chair Wendy Tadros has said, however, that the underlying causes of the accident go well beyond the number of hand brakes applied and the engineer’s actions that night.

The three accused were arraigned in Lac-Megantic last May. At the time, Walsh said Harding intended to plead not guilty to the charges and that the defence asked the court for a jury trial in the devastated community.

Several locals who watched the suspects enter the courtroom said they hoped authorities would eventually lay charges against railway and government officials.

The next court appearance in the case has been set for Sept. 11.

Quebec provincial police said recently the investigation remains active, which could lead to more arrests.

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