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by Archives March 3, 2009

Local News

Tragic vacation

A Quebec woman died after spending nine days stranded on a B.C. mountain with her husband. Investigators are working to find out why the 44-year-old woman and 51-year-old man weren’t rescued faster; the couple carved an SOS sign in the snow, which was reportedly seen by two separate helicopter pilots.

Blue-collar drinking on the job

A second Montreal blue-collar worker was caught drinking on the job. The man was stopped while driving a snow removal truck in the Plateau. Police drove the 50-year-old man to the station where they administered a Breathalyzer test, which he failed. The man’s boss did not stand up for him, saying the worker was at fault and there was no excuse.

Stop the exodus

A little bribery (incentive, whatever you like to call it) never hurt anyone, right? Mayor Tremblay’s administration doesn’t see any harm in bribing people to stay in Montreal. The city is offering grants to first-time homebuyers as a way to stop people from moving to the suburbs. The program will offer $10,000 to couples with children and $6,500 to couples without. There is a limit to the value of the couples’ new property. According to city statistics, 150,000 people have moved from the island to the suburbs and other regions in Quebec.

Mexican ambassador under fire

A Quebec women’s group is calling on the Harper’s government to reconsider its choice for Mexico’s ambassador to Canada. The Quebec Federation of Women is upset over comments the newly appointed Ambassador, Francisco Barrio Terrazas, allegedly made about murdered women. Barrio Terrazas was governor of the state of Chihuahua when hundreds of women and girls were raped and murdered.
The women’s advocacy group claims he refused to call an inquiry into the murders and said the killings weren’t surprising, because the women had been walking in dark areas at night, wearing provocative clothing. The Canadian government shows no signs of appointing a different ambassador.

311 considered a success

The city has received approximately one million calls to 311 in the year since it launched the service. The phone number allows Montrealers to communicate with municipal services from the 19 boroughs. About 60 per cent of calls made were to request information; about 36 per cent were to request services, mostly related to public work. Apparently less than one per cent of the calls were complaints, either about garbage and recycling pick-up, snow removal or taxes. 311 replaced all other phone numbers related to municipal services. While some residents continue to use the old numbers, it is estimated that about 60 per cent are using the new one.

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National News

There’s a solution here

Canadians who are first-time applicants for Employment Insurance are going to have a long wait before they get their first check. A higher number of laid-off workers, coupled with a shortage of workers to process the applications, have left some Canadians waiting longer than the 28-day administrative response time. There have been some hirings, but the Public Service Alliance of Canada said there needs to be more.

Mother willing to bail out dead son’s former employer

A 15-year-old Manitoba teen died on the job seven months ago when he was covered in burning asphalt. His mother, standing by the boy’s former employer and family friend, said she will pay any fines the company might incur as a result of the accident. The employer risks being convicted under provincial labour laws that prohibit youth under the age of 16 from being employed on construction sites. The employer also faces charges for failing to keep records on the boy and another underage employee who worked on the site that summer, and for failing to provide investigators with copies of those records. If convicted of all six charges, the employer faces fines of up to $30,000.

CanWest given more time

The communications company, which is facing debt troubles, has been given more time to make plans that will help them avoid the need to file for bankruptcy. CanWest Global Communications Corp. said banks had limited their borrowing on a credit facility. The company, which is $3.7 billion in debt, is in talks to have the borrowing cap lifted. The cap has made it difficult for CanWest to keep up with its operations in light of the economic downturn. CanWest has made attempts to cut operating and capital costs; it is trying to sell five TV stations. The company has until March 11 to strike a deal with the banks.

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International News

Fiery protest redux

A Tibetan monk in western China reportedly dowsed himself in gasoline then set himself on fire in protest to governmental restrictions on religion. Then, he was shot. This is according to Tibetan advocacy groups. The monk’s protest was one of several. Tibetans have acted on the call to boycott Tibetan New Year celebrations in response to China’s intense crackdown last year. The Dalai Lama said it would be inappropriate to celebrate, that it would be more appropriate to mourn those who lost their lives last year. Reporters were not immediately able to confirm the incident because the area is closed off to media.

Fiery protest redux part deux

A Wal-Mart employee who “couldn’t take it anymore” lit himself outside the Illinois store where he worked. Using lighter fluid, he set himself on fire in a parking lot near the Wal-Mart late Thursday night. He was pronounced dead at the hospital a few hours later.

Science sends mixed messages

One drink a day increases a woman’s chance of developing cancer according to scientists at Cancer research UK. The study examined data on 1.3 million women over a seven-year period. Scientists found consuming one drink increased the risk of all types of cancer by six per cent in women under 75 years-old. The study determined that about 13 per cent of existing cases of breast, liver, rectum, mouth and throat cancers in the UK can be attributed to alcohol consumption. The study focused primarily on women who said they drank zero to three drinks per day. Previous research showed a drink of wine per day could be beneficial for the heart. Weigh the risks and pick your poison.

Ninjas vs. Pirates for real!

The Japanese government is going to propose a bill that will enable authorities to use force against pirates. The bill will be passed in such a way that the Japanese will be able to use force overseas, including off the Somalian coast. The government said it hopes to pass the bill as a permanent law, but is aware that will come with difficulties. Now throw in some zombies and cowboys and we’ll really have something going.

Washington state sending checks to needy

State officials in Washington announced a plan to send $1 checks to needy residents. The plan, officials said, is that the checks will help bring in millions of dollars in food stamps next month. The dollar is supposed to qualify recipients for additional federal assistance. Some people might receive up to $30 more in food stamps. The program, which is set to cost the state $250,000, is expected to bring in an extra $43 million in federal funding.

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