23. 06. 2019
Google is building a fleet of package-delivering drones – National

Google is building a fleet of package-delivering drones – National

WATCH: Tech giant Google is developing airborne drones capable of flying on their own, able to deliver anything from candy to medicine. Mike Le Couteur reports.

SAN FRANCISCO – Google’s secretive research laboratory is trying to build a fleet of drones designed to bypass earthbound traffic so packages can be delivered to people more quickly.

Story continues below HangZhou Night Net

The ambitious program announced Thursday escalates Google’s technological arms race with rival Amazon杭州夜网 Inc., which also is experimenting with self-flying vehicles to carry merchandise bought by customers of its online store.

Amazon is mounting its own challenges to Google in online video, digital advertising and mobile computing in a battle that also involves Apple Inc.

Google Inc. calls its foray into drones “Project Wing.”

READ MORE: Amazon’s delivery drones are an idea that may not fly

Although Google expects it to take several more years before its fleet of drones is fully operational, the company says test flights in Australia delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats and water to two farmers after travelling a distance of roughly one kilometre, or just over a half mile, two weeks ago.

Besides perfecting their aerial technology, Google and Amazon still need to gain government approval to fly commercial drones in many countries, including the U.S. Amazon last month asked the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to expand its drone testing. The FAA currently allows hobbyists and model aircraft makers to fly drones, but commercial use is mostly banned.

Project Wing is the latest venture to emerge from Google’s “X” lab, which has also been working on self-driving cars as well as other far-flung innovations that company CEO Larry Page likens to “moonshots” that push the technological envelope. The lab’s other handiwork includes Internet-connected eyewear called Google Glass, Internet-beaming balloons called Project Loon and a high-tech contact lens that monitors glucose levels in diabetics.

Google says it is striving to improve society through the X’s lab’s research, but the Glass device has faced criticism from privacy watchdogs leery of the product’s ability to secretly record video and take pictures. Investors also have periodically expressed frustration with the amount of money that Google has been pouring into the X lab without any guarantee the products will ever pay off.

A team led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautics professor Nick Roy already has been working on Project Wing for two years, according to Google. The Mountain View, California, company didn’t disclose how much the project has cost.

READ MORE: Drones: The Good, the bad and the ugly

Drones clearly could help Google expand an existing service that delivers goods purchased online on the day that they were ordered. Google so far is offering the same-day delivery service by automobiles in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York.

“Self-flying vehicles could open up entirely new approaches to moving goods, including options that are cheaper, faster, less wasteful and more environmentally sensitive than what’s possible today,” Google said in a pamphlet outlining Project Wing.

Google, though, seems to see its drones as something more than another step in e-commerce delivery. The aerial vehicles also could make it easier for people to share certain items, such as a power drill, that they may only need periodically and carry emergency supplies to areas damaged by earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural catastrophes, according to Google’s Project Wing pamphlet.

©2014The Canadian Press

Read More →
23. 06. 2019
101-year-old Alberta athlete takes home silver in javelin at Canada 55+ Games

101-year-old Alberta athlete takes home silver in javelin at Canada 55+ Games

Watch above: At 101 years old, Florence Storch is competing in the Canada 55+ Games against women nearly half her age. Fletcher Kent has her inspirational story.

EDMONTON – It’s proof that age is just a number. Florence Storch, who is 101 years old, has claimed a silver medal in javelin at the Canada 55+ Games.

“I’m quite excited. I’ve got family around me – grandchildren and great grandchildren,” Storch said prior to her event.

Story continues below HangZhou Night Net

Four generations of Storchs surrounded the Hanna, Alberta woman as she competed in the games Thursday afternoon in Sherwood Park.

The 101-year-old is the oldest athlete in this year’s games. In the 85+ javelin category, Storch was up against a woman more than a decade her junior: 87-year-old Doreen Erskine of Moose Jaw.

“Quite often I don’t have too much competition, but I’m sure I’ve got competition today,” said Erskine. “I think it’ll be pretty tough because I think she can really throw the javelin.”

Storch, who grew up with three brothers, says athletics have long been a passion of hers, although she didn’t take up the javelin until she was in her 80s.

“I’ve been with it ever since, but I had to take training,” she explained.

“I have genes that have been responsible for longevity and I put it down to my genes and practicing.”

Her drive to stay active as she gets older inspires many, including her family who came from all across the province to cheer her on.

“She was always active, she used to take us on nature walks. She was riding a horse at my place when she was, I believe it was 85, so she’s certainly kept active,” said Storch’s son Ed Storch.

“It’s extremely inspiring. Some of her grandkids kind of snuck out of school, people took days off jobs to be here, great support.”

Margaret Marciak, chair of the Canada 55+ Games, says Storch’s drive and passion are exactly what the games are all about.

“It gives us the thought that we can all do this and there’s nothing holding us back.”

“Our motto is ‘happiness is health.’ And when you think of health you think of mental, physical, emotional well being and these games truly, truly embody all of that,” Marciak added.

At the end of the event, Storch came in second, throwing the javelin just over three metres.

“It felt good,” she said, “really, really good, especially since I had family here to watch me.”

And at 101 years old, Storch says she’ll continue to throw the javelin as long as she can.

“When people say they’re too old to do this and that, I demonstrate the fact that you’re not too old – even when you’re 101, coming 102.”

There are 17 athletes over the age of 90 competing in this year’s games, and 60 in the 85 to 90 age group. For more information on the games, visit the Canada 55+ Games website.

Florence Storch, 101, throws the javelin at the Canada 55+ Games in Sherwood Park, Alberta Thursday, August 28, 2014.

Fletcher Kent, Global News

Florence Storch, 101, throws the javelin at the Canada 55+ Games in Sherwood Park, Alberta Thursday, August 28, 2014.

Fletcher Kent, Global News

Florence Storch, 101, throws the javelin at the Canada 55+ Games in Sherwood Park, Alberta Thursday, August 28, 2014.

Fletcher Kent, Global News

Follow @CaleyRamsay

With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News. 

Read More →
23. 06. 2019
Saskatoon police release dramatic rescue video from standoff

Saskatoon police release dramatic rescue video from standoff

Watch above: police release dramatic rescue video and tools used to diffuse tense standoff

SASKATOON – Tense moments from last Friday’s stand-off including police rescuing five people who had to take cover from an armed gunman are now being released to the public.

On Thursday, the Saskatoon Police Service released two videos, portions of footage taken on Aug. 22 of a stand-off on Coppermine Crescent after police responded to a domestic dispute call.

“He just fired shots in the back here again.”

Minute by minute aerial footage is captured by the Air Support Unit (ASU) flying in a Cessna 182 above, as police respond to a barricaded man armed with a rifle.

Story continues below HangZhou Night Net

The one video, less than two-and-a-half minutes long shows breath-taking moments as police heroically rescue three adults and two children under the age of 10 from behind a vehicle as the man fires shots from inside.

“What sticks with me from that call that day was seeing the absolute sheer terror on the faces of the kids and the female especially and the relief on that I felt when we could safely use the Bearcat to get them out of  harms way,” said Saskatoon police Sgt. Ken Kane, a member of the tactical support unit.

Shots were fired at responding police officers who could have lawfully used deadly force at the time.

“In this particular situation based on how he was set up in the residence we weren’t able to,” said Kane.

Continuing into night fall, those on the ground during the stand-off would utilize their ‘eye in the sky’, retrieving information even visuals from the pilot and spotter.

The ASU would be instrumental in this case since officers on the ground could not see three sides of the home including the back door.

“Any of the officers you could see little heat signatures around the property, had that individual come out we didn’t really have a good opportunity to have eyes on him and the aircraft is able to do that so it protects the city and the tactical support unit deployed to circumstances like this,” said Saskatoon police Sgt. Wade Bourassa, a member of the air support unit.

At 10 p.m., approximately three hours after the stand-off began, the negotiator successfully talked the active shooter out of the house.

“No one got hurt, civilians or police including the suspect,” said Kane.

Police credit the officers, the Air Support Unit for the peaceful conclusion as well as the $350,000 armoured rescue vehicle saying they want the public to know that it did what it was designed to do.

“This vehicle saved lives and that they can physically see it, what this vehicle is capable of so that they understand why the expenditure went there and it’s not just something that we want out of interest it’s something that has a very vital role in the job that we do,” stated Kane.

This isn’t the first time the Bearcat has been used. The week before the armoured rescue vehicle was used during a 13 hour stand-off on Avenue O South.

Police say prior to purchasing the Bearcat there was increased exposure of risk to officers.

“We would try and hide behind vehicles and trees or we had shields but this vehicle has drastically changed how we can conduct business to make it so much safer when we go to these calls that it’s hard to fathom how we used to do it.”

The suspect in this latest stand-off, 37-year old Kevin Levandoski now faces the following charges:

three counts of attempted murder (female victim and 2 officers)assaulting a police officertwo counts of assault with a weaponuse of a firearm in the commission of a criminal offensepointing a firearmcareless use of a firearm

Police say the surveillance videos will be submitted in a court of law as evidence.

Read More →
23. 06. 2019
Investigation continues after nine-year-old Surrey girl sexually assaulted – BC

Investigation continues after nine-year-old Surrey girl sexually assaulted – BC

WATCH: Surrey RCMP issue a warning after a 9 year old girl is abducted from her bedroom and sexually assaulted by a stranger. Jeremy Hunka reports.

Surrey RCMP are looking for the suspect after a nine-year-old girl was allegedly abducted and sexually assaulted Wednesday.

The girl’s mother called police at approximately 10:40 p.m. Wednesday, saying her young daughter had been abducted from her bedroom in the family home where she was sleeping, sexually assaulted and left alone in a nearby yard.

Story continues below HangZhou Night Net

Investigators say it appears the girl was lured out of her open bedroom window by an unknown man, who took her to a park near 126th Street where it is alleged that she was sexually assaulted.

She was then taken to a nearby yard of a neighbourhood home and told by the suspect to remain there as he left.

The girl managed to run back to her home and talk to her mother. She was taken to hospital and is doing well.

Investigators have spoken to the victim, and it does not appear she knew her attacker.

“You can only imagine it is very traumatic and confusing for a 9-year-old,” says Sgt. Dale Carr with Surrey RCMP.

Meanwhile, police are scouring the neighbourhood looking for clues and knocking on doors looking to speak to anyone who may have seen something out of the ordinary overnight.

RCMP say the case is a “high priority” for the detachment, and they have deployed additional officers to solve the case.

“This incident continues to be a high priority for Surrey detachment as officers from additional units have been re-deployed to assist the Surrey RCMP’s Special Victims Unit. Further interviews are being conducted with area residents along with canvassing for any video surveillance and physical evidence,” reads a statement from the Surrey RCMP issued Friday.

The assault comes on the heels of the incident in South Surrey, where a 38-year-old woman was sexually assaulted on Aug.18, or the White Rock incident 11 days prior to that. 

Surrey RCMP say it is still very early in the investigation to conclusively say there are no links between the three incidents.

“We are appealing to the community if they saw anything in this park or area between 9:30 and 10:30 last night to give the Surrey RCMP Special Victims unit a call,” says Carr. “Do not discount anything. It is often those small details that help us get to the bottom of the case.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Surrey RCMP Special Victims Unit at 604-599-0502  or CRIMESTOPPERS at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Read More →
23. 06. 2019
CETA today, energy partners tomorrow: A chat with Germany’s ambassador – National

CETA today, energy partners tomorrow: A chat with Germany’s ambassador – National

Germany’s foreign representatives have gathered in Berlin to discuss the future of Germany’s foreign policy. High on the agenda was Germany’s place in such ongoing global crises as Ukraine and Iraq. Not unlike Canada, Germany wants to be active and vocal without being directly embroiled in foreign conflict – certainly not on its own.

Story continues below HangZhou Night Net


    Energy East pipeline moves forward, questions remain

  • Europe exporters will save more on duty than Canadians in free-trade pact

I met up with Germany’s ambassador to Canada, Werner Wnendt, on Tuesday. Wnendt has been stationed in Canada since 2012. Before that, he served as head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe mission in Kosovo and assistant deputy minister for culture and communication in Germany’s foreign ministry.

After he fetched me from the overzealous security guards at the door of the foreign ministry, I joined him at the “Kanada” table for a chat about the Canada-Germany relationship.

So what does Canada bring to the [foreign affairs] table?

We have seen in 2014 many crises which took us by surprise. The Ukraine is an example, but we have also seen the ongoing crisis in Syria, the explosion of the conflict in the Middle East, and what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

There are so many countries and regions in the world where it is absolutely necessary that countries like Canada and Germany, North America and Europe work together to provide humanitarian aid and other kinds of assistance. And to get ready to get politically involved, if necessary. As we’ve seen now in the case of Iraq, we will have to consider getting involved militarily, at least in the sense that there should be arms delivered to the participating forces there in Iraq.

Why try to push forward with delivering arms to the Kurds?

This is something that is in our interest right away because what is happening in Iraq, these Islamic State terrorists, it’s not just threatening Iraq and the people of Iraq, but it is a threat to the region and it is a threat to our countries because some of these terrorists that originally come from Europe and Canada and other countries, they come back. They bring the terrorism back. This is a particularly bloody and cruel terrorist movement, so I think that can justify even the deliverance of arms to the opponents who fight against these terrorists.

What are Germany’s specific interests in Canada, economically?

They are manifold. We have a partnership and many German companies are involved in the field of trade. Germany is among European states [except for the UK] the leading partner of Canada when it comes to exports from Europe to Canada and I think we are number two when it comes to Canadian supplies to Europe. …

We have a strong relationship when it comes to science and technology, and research. I think there are more than 400 MOUs being signed between universities on both sides of the Atlantic.

And people of course. We have many tourists from Germany coming to Canada. We hope that more people from Canada will come to Europe and come to Germany. We have millions of Canadians who have some roots in Germany who have either come themselves as immigrants to Canada or their families a long time ago somehow arrived there.

We have tens of thousands of Canadian soldiers that served after the Second World War in Germany. Some of them brought also a wife from Germany.

And of course our cooperation in the G7 group of states, and G20 and the NATO alliance. There is a lot.

Can you give me some examples of German companies which do significant business in Canada?

Well, just a few: We have Mercedes-Benz that is doing a very important research project. They’re doing this in British Columbia. They’re doing a fuel cell project. This is their world-wide centre for research.

We have recently opened a factory of the leading producer of pizza in Germany. This is Dr. Oetker. They are producing in Canada for North America. Much of what they produce goes to the United States. They opened only a few weeks ago. That was a hundred million dollar investment in Southern Ontario, in a brand new factory which will deliver pizza all over Canada and in the United States.

Or we have the biggest world leader in producing fertilizer, K+S, a German company, which has its headquarters not so far from Berlin. They invest in the potash deposits in Saskatchewan. This is a multimillion dollar investment. When they start producing, they will produce fertilizer for much of South America, for Asia.

How will some of the provisions in [the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union] change the economic relationship?

I think CETA is a very comprehensive agreement. Once it comes into force, it will bring all tariffs and custom duties almost to a zero level. For 99 per cent of all products, there will be no custom duties anymore. It gets rid of non-tariff barriers.

… It is also about procurement at a regional and local level. In the future procurement contracts will be open to European companies and to big Canadian companies in Europe. If ever there is a project in Finland or Italy, Canadian companies could take part in this competition.

All in all, for both sides, it’s a very advantageous agreement which will create economic growth and jobs on both sides.

You will always have some people who fear competition more than others. Because they are well-protected, they have their own habitat to work and live in, but this is not sustainable in the long run.

If one of [Canada’s] pipelines to the Atlantic does get built, is this something Europe will be interested in?

I think Europe in the long run will depend on imports of oil and gas for some time. Germany and other countries do invest a lot in renewable energy, in environmentally safe energy. But this is a long-term effort. We cannot change overnight. And of course Canada is an important producer of oil and gas. It is a reliable partner. It is a politically and economically stable partner. It has a legal system which is similar to our own system.

I think it would be very wise if with a long term perspective Canada and Europe would look at a partnership. I think Canada has a lot to offer and I think Europe has a lot of interest to diversify. Also against the debate on Ukraine and the situation in Ukraine, and the discussion about whether Russia is a reliable supplier of gas and oil, we should do this partnership, develop a partnership with Canada in any case.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Leslie Young is doing a two-month Arthur F Burns fellowship based in Berlin, Germany. Follow her observations here. 

Read More →