Washington: Scientists have uncovered remains of the smallest fossil monkey — no heavier than a hamster — ever found in Peru’s Amazon jungle. A team led by Duke University in the US and the National University of Piura in Peru found an 18-million-year-old fossilised tooth belonging to a new species of tiny monkey. The specimen is important because it helps bridge a 15-million-year gap in the fossil record for New World monkeys, according to research published in the Journal of Human Evolution. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe new fossil was unearthed from an exposed river bank along the R o Alto Madre de Dios in southeastern Peru. The researchers dug up chunks of sandstone and gravel, put them in bags, and hauled them away to be soaked in water and then strained through sieves to filter out the fossilised teeth, jaws, and bone fragments buried within. The team searched through some 2,000 pounds of sediment containing hundreds of fossils of rodents, bats and other animals before they spotted the lone monkey tooth. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”Primate fossils are as rare as hen’s teeth,” said Richard Kay, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke. A single upper molar, the specimen was just “double the size of the head of a pin” and “could fall through a window screen,” Kay said. Paleontologists can tell a lot from monkey teeth, particularly molars. Based on the tooth’s relative size and shape, the researchers think the animal likely dined on energy-rich fruits and insects, and weighed in at less than half a pound — only slightly heavier than a baseball. Some of South America’s larger monkeys, such as howlers and muriquis, can grow to 50 times that heft. “It’s by far the smallest fossil monkey that’s ever been found worldwide,” Kay said. The team dubbed the animal Parvimico materdei, or “tiny monkey from the Mother of God River.”
Mumbai: In a bid to strike a balance between the “inadequate” 25 basis points (bps) and “excessive” 50 bps, the RBI on Wednesday slashed key policy rates by an unconventional 35 bps, but markets slid as it revised down the economy’s growth forecast. Metal, PSU banks, auto and realty stocks contributed most to Sensex’s 286 points fall after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) lowered the economy’s projection of real GDP growth from 7 to 6.9 per cent for 2019-20. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal The Sensex closed 286.35 points or 0.77 per cent lower at 36,690.50, while the broader Nifty slipped by 92.75 points to 10,855.50. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said the downward adjustment in the GDP growth projection was warranted by various high frequency indicators pointing to weakening of both domestic and external demand conditions. “A downside risk to the lowered GDP forecast of 6.9 per cent in FY20 due to growth headwinds in global economy and slowdown in domestic consumption curtailed investors’ sentiment,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services Ltd. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost Nair however, added that the RBI’s balancing act by adding liquidity to NBFCs, agri and MSMEs will set the wheels of economy on a revival path in H2FY20. India Bulls Housing Finance was the biggest loser of day, as it shed over 13 per cent followed by Tata Steel, Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra, which declined in the range of 4 to 6 per cent. Growth slowdown is a major concern in the financial markets and central banks across the globe currently. Asia central banks signalled major concerns on Wednesday about the outlook for economic growth. In reviewing the global developments, the MPC noted that global economic activity had slowed down since its meeting in June in an environment rendered hostile by elevated trade tensions and geo-political uncertainty. New Zealand’s central bank cut its official cash rate 50 basis points to a record low of 1 per cent. The Bank of Thailand followed suit, cutting its one-day repurchase rate by 25 basis points to 1.5 per cent.
Jaipur/New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said India remained “firmly committed” to the doctrine of ‘no first use’ for nuclear weapons but what happens in future depends on the circumstances. The defence minister said this on Twitter after visiting Pokhran where India carried out nuclear tests in 1998 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. “Pokhran is the area which witnessed Atal Ji’s firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’. India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances,” Singh said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details He was in Pokhran to offer tributes to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his first death anniversary. “India attaining the status of a responsible nuclear nation became a matter of national pride for every citizen of this country. The nation will remain indebted to the greatness of Atal Ji,” he said in a tweet. Earlier in the day, Singh attended the concluding ceremony of the fifth International Army Scouts Masters Competition in Jaisalmer.
The next chapter of FX hit anthology series ‘American Crime Story’ will focus on the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal. Titled ‘Impeachment’, the third season will follow the stories of three women – Lewinsky, Paula Jones and Linda Tripp – who played an important role in the impeachment trial of Clinton as the US president in the late 1990s. Lewinsky is on board the project as a producer along with Henrietta Conrad and Jemima Khan, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainIn a statement to Vanity Fair, Lewinskey said show creator Ryan Murphy convinced her to be a part of the show in a creative capacity but initially she was hesitant and “more than a little scared” to sign on. “People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades. In fact, it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve been able to fully reclaim my narrative; almost 20 years later.” “But I’m so grateful for the growth we’ve made as a society that allows people like me who have been historically silenced to finally reintroduce my voice to the conversation. This isn’t just a me problem.” Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma Award”Powerful people, often men, take advantage of those subordinate to them in myriad ways all the time. Many people will see this as such a story and for that reason, this narrative is one that is, regretfully, evergreen,” she said in her statement. The initial cast includes Sarah Paulson as Tripp; Beanie Feldstein as Lewinsky; and Annaleigh Ashford as Paula Jones. The third season is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book ‘A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President’. Sarah Burgess is writing the script. “This franchise re-examines some of the most complicated, polarizing stories in recent history in a way that is relevant, nuanced and entertaining. ‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’ will likewise explore the overlooked dimensions of the women who found themselves caught up in the scandal and political war that cast a long shadow over the Clinton presidency,” FX CEO John Landgraf said. “Impeachment” will be executive produced by show creator Ryan Murphy, Burgess, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Brad Falchuk, Larry Karaszewski, Scott Alexander, Alexis Martin Woodall and Paulson. Production is slated to begin in February 2020. The first season was based around the infamous trial of OJ Simpson that divided the US. The show won nine Emmys at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards. The second season, titled “The Assassination of Gianni Versace”, explored the murder of designer Gianni Versace by spree killer Andrew Cunanan.
Kolkata: The Press Information Bureau (PIB) has withdrawn its tweet on Sunday, mentioning August 18 as the death anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who is claimed to have died in a plane crash at Taihoku in 1945.Following pressure from a large section of people, PIB withdrew its tweet on Monday. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had tweeted on Sunday in this connection, stating that the people of India had the right to know what happened to Netaji after he went missing from Taihoku airport. The Centre has declassified documents on Netaji but those do not throw any significant light on the case. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaTrinamool Congress MP Sukhendu Shekhar Roy has demanded that PIB tender an apology for its tweet. Renowned historian Professor Sugata Bose, however, said Bose had died in the air crash and the attempt to draw a similarity between him and Gumnami baba was actually an insult to Netaji. It may be mentioned that director Srijit Mukherjee is making a film on Gumnami baba, who used to stay at Naimisharanya in Uttar Pradesh, on the lines of the Manoj Mukherjee Commission’s report.
Bhubaneswar: With a fresh low pressure area building up over Bay of Bengal set to trigger heavy rain in many areas in the next three days, Odisha Government on Friday asked districts to remain prepared to meet the situation.This will be the third instance of low pressure area triggering downpour in the state in August. Several areas of south and west Odisha had encountered flash floods owing to incessant rainfall earlier this month. In the past two days, too, several parts of the state have experienced rainfall of varied intensity. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Vehicular traffic was disrupted in Bhubaneswar on Friday as rain lashed Nayapalli, Jaydev Vihar, Acharya Vihar, Baramunda, GGP Colony, Jharpara and Palasuni areas here. Under the influence of the cyclonic circulation, over northwest Bay of Bengal off Odisha and West Bengal coasts, a low pressure area is likely to form over Odisha and its neighbourhood in the next 36 hours. Heavy to very heavy rainfall are likely to occur in Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur and Puri districts till Saturday, the meteorological centre said. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KHeavy rainfall is also expected in Kendrapara, Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Sundargarh, Angul, Khordha, Ganjam, among other areas during the period. Torrential downpour may also batter places in Sundergarh, Keonjhar, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Balangir and Nuapada districts on Sunday and Monday. Squally wind with speed reaching 40-50 kmph is likely to prevail along Odisha coast and adjoining northwest and west central Bay of Bengal, the MeT Centre said. As sea condition is likely to be rough to very rough, fishermen have been cautioned against venturing into the sea on Saturday and Sunday, it added. In view of the weather forecast, revenue and disaster management department asked Collectors of the districts under very heavy to heavy rainfall warning to keep administrative machinery prepared to meet any possible situation that may arise in the event of intense rainfall. An advisory issued by the department said other districts should closely watch the situation and take appropriate steps, as may be necessary. Fire service, ODRAF (Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force) and NDRF were asked to remain in a state of readiness for deployment for search and rescue operation, if required. The emergency cells in all the districts were asked to operate round the clock.
NEW DELHI: In a tragic incident, a passerby was shot dead by criminals who aimed at Delhi Police constable in North East Delhi’s Nand Nagri but somehow missed their target killing a 50-year-old passer-by on road instead.The assailants managed to flee from the spot taking the benefit of darkness. “Our constable Ajay, who is posted in the Nand Nagri police station, was passing through the Tanga Stand around 11:39 pm, when he noticed some suspicious persons sitting in a Swift Dzire car,” said Atul Thakur, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East). Getting suspicious about the occupants of the car the constable confronted them and asked for their identities. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderRealising that the constable might prove dangerous, the car sped away, but the constable tried to chase it. A man then took out a pistol and in an attempt to shoot at the constable. He fired but missed his target. “During the chase, a man from the car opened fire at the constable, but the bullet hit a passer-by. The culprits managed to escape. The victim was immediately rushed to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, where he was declared ‘brought dead’ by the doctors. The deceased was later identified as Raju, a resident of Harsh Vihar in Delhi,” said Thakur. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsThe police have registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC and teams have been formed to nab the accused. A police team has been formed and the CCTV around the area are being scanned for clues to know the identity of the accused. Local informants have also been pressed in to know the identity of the accused persons who now carry a murder charge on them. The body has been sent for postmortem and the family members have been informed.
New Delhi: Delhiites experienced a sultry Monday morning, with humidity levels at 84 per cent, officials said. Cloudy skies with possibility of light rain is forecast for the day. The maximum and minimum temperature would be around 36 and 28 respectively, a MeT official said.
MILTON, Ont. – A Toronto woman who gave water to pigs on a truck headed to an abattoir didn’t break the law since she didn’t harm the animals or prevent them from being slaughtered, an Ontario judge ruled Thursday as he found the activist not guilty of a mischief charge.Anita Krajnc also did not intend to hurt the pigs or mean to cause the slaughterhouse to reject them, Justice David Harris told a Milton, Ont., courtroom packed with animal activists.Court heard that on June 22, 2015, Krajnc was dumping liquid from a water bottle into a truck carrying pigs in Burlington, Ont., as the vehicle approached a slaughterhouse.Despite the Crown’s argument that Krajnc gave the pigs an “unknown substance,” potentially contaminating the food supply, there was no evidence she gave them anything but water or that the slaughterhouse was concerned about such a risk, Harris said.But the judge rejected a defence argument that Krajnc should be cleared because she was acting in the greater good, and suggested she may have been motivated in part by the prospect of drawing attention to her cause.“This may be the most ironic aspect of this case,” Harris said. “The fact that Ms. Krajnc gave water to a pig received little attention initially.”“Conversely, the act of prosecuting Ms. Krajnc has probably led to enough bad publicity for the pork industry that it might be said that the prosecution actually accomplished what they accused Ms. Krajnc of trying to do.”Cheers erupted in the courtroom as Krajnc, an activist with the group Toronto Pig Save, was acquitted on the charge of mischief laid in connection with the incident. She had pleaded not guilty, although she admitted to giving the pigs water.Outside court, Krajnc acknowledged that the case has bolstered her cause and said she hoped it would encourage others to stand up for animal rights.“This is how social movements get their word out, we go outside our comfort zone and we do what’s right,” she said.James Silver, one of Krajnc’s lawyers, said the court ruling “acknowledges that compassion is not a crime,” which he deemed an important victory.Her other lawyer, Gary Grill, nonetheless expressed some disappointment that the judge “missed the greater arguments…about Anita acting in the public good.”“Should the matter arise again, we’ll be ready to make that argument all over,” he said.A spokesman for a group representing farmers said he recognized Krajnc was trying to do the right thing but said the ruling was a letdown.Pat Jilesen, director of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, said that for farmers, it was a matter of protecting food safety.Krajnc’s behaviour, no matter how well-intentioned, “puts not only the animals at risk, it puts people at risk,” he said.The Crown had argued that the pigs were the property of a farmer, and Krajnc was interfering with his property.In his decision, Harris said the activist had not interfered with anyone’s property.But he took issue with the defence equating Krajnc giving water to pigs with people giving water to Jews transported on cattle trains during the Holocaust, calling the comparison “offensive.”He also rejected comparisons to historic rights activists such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Susan B. Anthony.Harris said that while it is legal for activists such as Krajnc to tout a meat-free lifestyle and put pressure on governments to change the law, “they must however do this within the confines of the law that currently exists.”Krajnc had testified that she was treating the pigs as she would want to be treated.The pigs’ owner, farmer Eric Van Boekel, testified that he complained to police because he was worried there were contaminants in the water, and that could lead the slaughterhouse to turn his hogs away.
Canada’s history with minority governments is a colourful one, featuring everything from feuding factions to harmonious collaboration. In fact, some of the country’s most critical legislation was shaped and passed by minority governments.As British Columbia faces the prospect of its first minority government in 65 years, here’s a look back at a few notable examples of minority governments at both the federal and provincial level:OTTAWA 2008In December 2008, fresh off an election victory that established a second consecutive minority government, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was dealing with a parliamentary revolt over his proposal to end subsidies for political parties.The Liberals and NDP banded together to fight the effort and soon won the temporary support of the Bloc Quebecois. The coalition of the three parties would have been enough to oust Harper and replace him with Liberal Leader Stephane Dion as prime minister.But Harper forestalled the move by asking Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to prorogue the Commons. In an open letter written before she left her post, Jean reflected on the decision as “a moment in our political history that very likely made the population question our system and how our institutions function.”In the end, Jean granted Harper’s request and, eventually, the coalition fell apart.____SASKATCHEWAN 1999When Premier Roy Romanow called an election in 1999, pundits predicted the veteran politician would cruise to a third majority government.When the ballots were counted, however, Romanow and his party got a shock — they had lost all their previously held rural seats and were one seat short of a majority.Romanow quickly struck a deal with three Liberals to secure their support for his government, a move that did not go without internal criticism at the time.”I’m so mad I could bite the ground,” Saskatchewan Liberal Party president Rod MacDonald fumed, adding he had not been consulted about the deal. ”These guys have completely sold out their constituents.”The arrangement allowed Romanow to stay on as premier until he voluntarily stepped down in 2001.____ONTARIO 1985Newly minted Conservative Leader Frank Miller had little reason to expect problems when he called an election. His party had comfortably ruled the province for more than a decade and internal polling suggested another slim majority was well within the party’s grasp.But on top of attacks on his authority from within his caucus and a power struggle among his staff, Miller faced an upbeat Liberal Leader David Peterson and the New Democrats led by Bob Rae.On election night, Miller’s government secured only four more seats than the Opposition Liberals and Rae soon brokered a deal with Peterson.The accord stated the NDP would agree to support a Liberal government for two years, while the Liberals promised to implement some NDP policies. It prompted one of the most productive legislative sessions in Ontario history.____OTTAWA 1963When Lester Pearson led the Liberals to victory with a minority government, few imagined he would be ushering in a time of unlikely political stability and productivity.Political scientists point to Pearson’s consecutive minority mandates in 1963 and 1965 as times of considerable accomplishment, thanks to close collaborations with the New Democrats.Between the two sessions, Pearson helped bring in medicare, the Canada Pension Plan and the Canada Assistance Plan for poorer provinces.He was instrumental in bringing Quebec into the Liberal fold during this time, promoting bilingualism and biculturalism and bringing in the Maple Leaf flag to replace the old Red Ensign.The accomplishments are made more striking by the fact that Pearson, to this day, is tied with Mackenzie King for the narrowest minority government. King in 1921 and Pearson in 1965 each fell three seats shy of a majority.____
OTTAWA – The federal Liberal government on Tuesday rolled out the latest phase of its legalized-pot plans: a five-year, $36.4-million campaign to help teach Canadians — especially the younger ones — about the health and safety risks associated with using marijuana.The money is coming out of a $526-million envelope for marijuana legalization announced in last week’s fall economic update, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Toronto MP Bill Blair, the government’s point man on legalizing pot, told a news conference outside the House of Commons.“We have never indicated that we are promoting the use of marijuana,” Petitpas Taylor said.“We want to ensure that Canadians, and youth in particular, have access to the information that they need with respect to risks associated with cannabis use.”Public education up until now has focused in large part on consequences of breaking the law, Blair added, suggesting legalization will allow parents, teachers, health professionals to have conversations with young people.Tuesday’s announcement is in addition to a five-year, $9.6-million allotment included in the last federal budget. The campaign will be expanded once legalization takes hold to help explain how the new laws work, Petitpas Taylor said.The federal Liberals insist they’re still committed to passing that legislation by July 2018, although the Opposition Conservatives, health care experts, a number of provinces and police have raised concerns about the ambitious goal.The government is wedded to an arbitrary timeline for no good reason, said Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu.“It is definitely rushed,” said Gladu, who described the handling of the file as typical of the Liberals: grand promises and poor execution.“Everybody thinks this bill is flawed, whether they are cannabis activists, currently in the distribution area or in the policing force or in the provincial and municipal authorities.”Alistair MacGregor, the NDP’s deputy justice critic, agreed the government is moving too fast.“We … want to be cognizant of the fact that we want to make sure we get this right and all of the levels of government that are involved are comfortable with it,” MacGregor said, describing the idea of an awareness campaign as too little, too late.“We are still worried about the fact provinces and territorial governments are going to have to take on heavy responsibilities to bear the burden of legalization, which includes health care and enforcement.”—Follow @kkirkup on Twitter
OTTAWA – Whining and crying might not be anything new on Parliament Hill, but it took on a new context today during question period.The high-pitched voice that briefly echoed through the House of Commons belonged not to a sitting member, but three-month-old Ulysses, perched on the knee of his father, Bloc Quebecois MPs Xavier Barsalou-Duval.Barsalou-Duval is married to Bloc colleague Marilene Gill, the first-ever pair of sitting MPs to become parents.The infant’s plaintive voice could be heard clearly as the end of question period drew near.Babies have become more common in the House in recent years; little Ulysses is only the latest to enter the political limelight.In the 1980s, then-MP Sheila Copps broke ground simply by bringing her baby daughter into the members’ lobby, behind the gold Commons curtains.By the late 1990s, Michelle Dockrill had become the first MP to bring her young son into the chamber, holding him as she stood to vote.In 2012, Sana Hassainia, then an NDP MP, thought she had been urged to leave her seat in the House just ahead of a vote because she had her infant son with her, although that was dismissed as a misunderstanding and she was told her son was welcome.
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – A former top Newfoundland athlete wept as her father and former boyfriend described her descent from a happy, healthy young woman to a murder suspect now on trial for killing a man with a hammer.Anne Norris has admitted to killing Marcel Reardon, 46, in St. John’s in May 2016, but her lawyer claims the 30-year-old is not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder.Her father, Gary Norris, is the province’s former top civil servant. Testifying this week at her first-degree murder trial, he described her as a confident, athletic and social child but after 2011 began to display strange behaviours.He told Supreme Court in St. John’s that over a two- to three-month period in 2015, he found a baseball bat under her bed, a steak knife, a BB gun, and a box cutter in her purse.He said she became paranoid about threats and attacks that didn’t appear to be real.She told him that someone was following her, and that “someone put something in my coffee,” he testified.In 2011, Anne Norris told her parents she was going to the police to report being sexually assaulted. Gary Norris testified he believed his daughter, but the case would later be put on hold when concerns were raised about her mental health.“I knew in my heart and soul that it didn’t happen,” said Gary Norris, who was clerk of the province’s executive council and secretary to cabinet before retiring in 2010.Anne Norris has sat quietly and shown little emotion through most of the trial, but wept as her father discussed her upbringing.She wept as well as her former boyfriend testified. Brian Constantine said she was a “people person” who loved to laugh before she fell into a depression.Anne Norris had been named to the women’s under-19 basketball team competing for Newfoundland and Labrador at the junior national championships in 2005.Constantine, 31, testified about multiple times when he felt Anne Norris’s mental health was starting to slip.He said he was babysitting his niece one night when Norris called begging him to return home. When he got there, she was inconsolable, and all the cupboard doors in the house were opened or torn off.She wouldn’t talk, but eventually wrote on a piece of paper that she had been molested.Constantine said she once accused him of assaulting her overnight, and he told her: “I would never do that.”He said she broke down, agreeing, asking him, “What’s wrong with me? This seems so real.”She was also convinced there were police officers following her, he said.Constantine wept on the stand, saying his heart broke for her.The jury has already heard that in the months prior to the death of Marcel Reardon, Anne Norris went to police on multiple occasions, reporting sexual assaults.Norris admits she put Reardon’s body beneath a staircase at Harbourview Apartments in downtown St. John’s.(VOCM)
TORONTO – Two years after running a pilot project to assess whether there was a demand for letting library users “borrow” internet access, the Toronto Public Library has decided the answer is a resounding yes.The library recently expanded the project five-fold from its modest beginnings, with up to 1,000 library users and their families now getting free, unlimited access to the internet at their homes for six months via a Wi-Fi hotspot.Toronto is one of a number of cities across Canada where library systems have embraced the trend of providing short-term internet access for users, with Wi-Fi hotspot loan periods ranging from a couple of weeks to half a year.While some libraries lend the devices out to anyone who requests one — some want a hotspot to get online during long drives, trips to the cottage or other areas where a user has limited or no access to an internet connection — others have invested in the devices to help address the digital divide.That’s the case in Toronto, where the lending program is linked to the city’s poverty reduction strategy.“Our goal is to provide some community support and a community option for folks who don’t have (internet access) while we await bigger government policy decisions around affordable access,” said Pam Ryan, director of service development and innovation at the Toronto Public Library.“Libraries that are doing the longer period of time are hoping to make some substantive changes in people’s lives in terms of the outcomes we’re looking for. So we’re looking for folks who can be job searching for that period of time, who can be working through course work.”A past survey of users who borrowed a hotspot found more than half had a household income that was less than $20,000, about 80 per cent said they did not have internet access at home because they could not afford it, and nearly two-thirds said the library was their only source of connectivity.“There’s themes of social inclusion,” Ryan said of feedback the library received from users.“Folks being able to access what we take for granted.”The Edmonton Public Library will soon mark two years of lending out Wi-Fi hotspots with a similar mission. The program started with three-week loan terms before expanding to three months.“It’s to provide internet access to Edmontonians who do not have access in their own homes and who are potentially socio-economically disadvantaged and or have low digital literacy skills,” said Vicky Varga, a manager with the Edmonton Public Library.“So bridging the digital divide is one component of this, as well as the equity of access.”Varga acknowledged the program did need to be tweaked as the library’s 40 hotspots were sometimes being lent out to users who wanted them to supplement their own data plans.“We had hoped, somewhat perhaps naively, that people would self-select for inclusion in the program (based on income and need),” she said.“We weren’t hitting the demographic we had hoped.”The library refocused its efforts on lending the hotspots in areas with lower average household incomes and did outreach to identify library users who could benefit from the service most. When some users said they did not have a computer, phone or tablet to make use of a hotspot, the library decided to invest in some low-cost Chromebook laptops to lend out as well.“That’s our latest evolution in this project, creating 10 kits to test the waters and see how we do or don’t meet our community needs,” Varga said.Most Wi-Fi hotspot lending programs provide unfiltered internet connections with no content blocks. Ryan said the library’s internet-use policy still applies but there have been no issues yet around inappropriate uses of the devices.“It’d be no different than the expectations of using a public computer or the Wi-Fi at the libraries. But it’s not something that has been a concern.”
ALONSA, Man. – Walking through rubble strewn across a Manitoba field where his grandfather’s body was found, Kelly Brown found comfort in locating his grandmother’s wedding ring.Jack Furrie, 77, a retired schoolteacher and farmer, was found dead in the Rural Municipality of Alonsa on Friday night after a twister tore through the community and obliterated homes and cabins.Furrie’s wife, Kate, had died eight years earlier and his grandson hoped her ring was a sign that his grandmother was somehow with his grandfather that tragic evening.Furrie’s rural property, about 165 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, was often bustling with family members, but he was alone as the sky darkened with the incoming storm.“He was all by himself — a 77-year-old man scared, alone and afraid,” Brown said Tuesday from Portage la Prairie.Had Furrie received a text-message alert on his cellphone, Brown said his grandfather might have known he needed to leave. But he said his grandfather hadn’t been able to get any service since June, when Bell MTS did upgrades to the local network.“The alerts were going out 13 minutes or so before the storm came through,” Brown said. “He might have needed two minutes to get away, that’s all. He had to get half a mile away and he would have been okay.“But they were complacent about getting it fixed.”Pamela Sul was at her home watching television when an emergency alert went across the screen.The chief administrative officer for the rural municipality saw the tornado warning and quickly packed up to leave. Her husband was out on a tractor and heard it on the radio.The couple received a text-message alert on their cellphones once they’d left the area where the tornado tore through.“You are worried. You are hoping for the best,” Sul said, recalling the concern she had for her neighbours who she was unable to call and warn about the storm.“You are hoping that they have heard it somewhere else, either on the radio or on the TV.”People are aware that living in the area means having limited service, Sul said, but residents have lost most of the coverage due to the system upgrades. So when the storm ripped through, many were left without warning.The EF4 tornado is estimated to have had wind speeds up to 280 km/h. Trailers in a campground disappeared, presumably into nearby Lake Manitoba. Trucks were lifted off the ground and a house was pushed off its foundation.Wireless public alerts can only be received when a phone is connected to an LTE network. Bell MTS spokeswoman Michelle Gazze said some communities in that part of the province are primarily served by older networks that were in place before LTE.The company recently upgraded the LTE wireless sites in some parts of the region and some small pockets may have seen reduced coverage, she said.Access to better cell coverage is an ongoing issue throughout Manitoba but it becomes even more apparent during emergency situations, said Chris Goertzen, president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities.The association has been talking with the province and cell companies for more than a decade about how important communications infrastructure is for daily life, business and safety.Goertzen said the association is encouraged by Bell MTS’s commitment to expanding coverage, but it isn’t enough. The company pledged a five-year, $1-billion investment plan for the province in 2017.“There are … areas in Manitoba that have mediocre or non-existent cell coverage,” Goertzen said.The Alert Ready program, which sends emergency alerts via cellphone, is “one tool that people have to be aware and ready for severe weather, but it is not the only tool,” Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said in a statement.The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission set targets for basic telecommunications services in 2016, which included calling for LTE to be available in homes, businesses and along major Canadian roads, a statement from the regulator said.But Furrie’s family members, who are still picking up mementoes of his life strewn across his property, said there needs to be coverage now.Brown said it’s too late for his grandfather, “but for the rest of the community, it could be the difference some day.“I’m not saying it would have saved him or whatever, but it would have gave him a chance at least. He had no chance.”
ESKASONI, N.S. — The chief of Nova Scotia’s largest Mi’maq community says the First Nation is in the throes of a mental health crisis, with multiple suicides in recent weeks.Leroy Denny of Eskasoni First Nation says the deaths have underscored the community’s dire need for more health-care resources.He’s calling on all levels of government to step up and provide more funding for culturally informed mental health, trauma and addictions services.Denny says the Cape Breton First Nation of roughly 4,500 people is grieving the loss of community members and needs more support.He says current funding is inadequate to address Eskasoni’s needs, including the trauma experienced by residential school survivors and their families.Denny says Indigenous Peoples who seek services off-reserve often experience racism and discrimination.“We live on a reservation and from day one we’ve been dealing with issues of poverty, addictions and trauma that’s passed down through generations,” he said Thursday.“We’re trying to provide therapy and counselling services but it’s really difficult to get funding.”The Canadian Press
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — It will be an important day for Dennis Oland’s defence team.Const. Dave MacDonald, a forensics officer with the Saint John police force, will be cross-examined by defence lawyers today about the seizure and handling of the brown Hugo Boss jacket Oland was wearing when he visited his multimillionaire father, Richard, on July 6, 2011.Richard Oland’s battered body was found the next day, lying in a pool of blood on the floor of his office in Saint John, N.B.Police took the jacket during a search of Dennis Oland’s house, but they kept it in storage for several months before having it forensically tested.Several blood stains and DNA matching Richard Oland’s profile were detected on the jacket, which had been dry cleaned after the murder.MacDonald is expected to be on the stand most of today.Dennis Oland has been charged with the second-degree murder of his father and has pleaded not guilty.The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan is asking Ottawa to increase its cash advances to canola farmers because of China’s decision to block imports of the oilseed from Canada.The province says it is looking to the federal government for help because China’s ban has caused trade uncertainty in the canola industry.Saskatchewan is requesting the amount of money available to canola farmers through a federal advance payment program be increased to $1 million from $400,000.The province also wants the program’s end-of-March deadline to be extended by one month and that no interest be charged on the maximum payment amount until the issue with China is resolved.Saskatchewan’s ministers of agriculture and trade are to meet with their federal counterparts in Saskatoon this afternoon.China’s move to ban $2 billion worth of canola imports is perceived to be part of a growing rift between the two nations since Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, daughter of the founder of telecom giant Huawei, at the behest of the United States. The Canadian Press
The United Nations body that oversees world heritage sites has given Canada a new deadline to address problems in the country’s largest national park.At a meeting this week in Azerbaijan, UNESCO praised Canada for measures it has taken to stop the deterioration of Wood Buffalo National Park.But UNESCO also expressed serious concern about impacts piling up from hydro development in British Columbia and dozens of oilsands projects in Alberta — one planned for 30 kilometres from the park’s boundary.UNESCO says it needs a full report on the effects of B.C. Hydro’s Site C development on the Peace River, as well as an assessment of risks posed by more than a trillion litres of oilsands tailings in upstream ponds.It has given Canada until December 2020 to report on progress.If it isn’t satisfactory, UNESCO says the park could end up on the list of world heritage sites in danger. Ottawa has already completed a lengthy report on the park that found that 15 out of 17 measures of ecological health were declining, mostly due to decreasing water flows.Wood Buffalo, with 45,000 square kilometres of grasslands, wetlands and waterways on the Alberta-Northwest Territories boundary, is one of the world’s largest freshwater deltas and breeding grounds for millions of migratory birds from four continental flyways.First Nations depend on the area. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Former national ski coach Bertrand Charest has seen his sentence for sexually abusing young female skiers under his care reduced by 21 months on appeal.Quebec’s Court of Appeal ruled Thursday that Charest’s 12-year sentence for sex-related offences on young skiers in the 1990s would be cut to 10 years and three months, setting aside 21 of the 37 counts on which he was initially found guilty.Charest was convicted in June 2017, but he appealed both the verdict and the sentence handed down by Quebec court Judge Sylvain Lepine.The Court of Appeal acquitted Charest on nine of the charges, two charges were stayed and one was set aside for lack of jurisdiction because the alleged crime occurred in another country. A conditional suspension was ordered on nine other counts.His guilt was maintained on 16 other counts, and the Court of Appeal had harsh words for the former coach.“There has been no dramatic change in the appellant (Charest) since the offences, but on the contrary, according to the evidence filed during the sentencing hearing, he continues to trivialize his conduct, to denigrate the plaintiffs and even wants to make some of them bear the responsibility for his actions,” Justice Francois Doyon wrote on behalf of the panel of three judges.“His narcissistic personality is still present.”When taking into consideration his pre-trial detention, Charest will have four years and nine months left to serve, according to the appeal decision.Charest had complete sexual relations with some of the teenage victims while he was in a position of authority over them. One of them became pregnant, and Charest took her to have an abortion.Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press