Man makes plea for right to assisted suicide
In an open letter to French papers across the province, a terminally ill Quebec City man asked the provincial government to pressure Ottawa to change legislation on assisted suicide so he can “die with dignity.” The 67-year-old man who’s been diagnosed with prostate and bone cancer addressed the letter to Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc.
Atheist ads come to town
Ads reading “Dieu n’existe probablement pas. Alors, cessez de vous inquieter et profitez de la vie,” are now on Montreal buses. The ads are funded by l’Association humaniste du Québec, who said they were inspired by similar campaigns launched in London, England earlier this year. Toronto’s public transit system will also be displaying the ads. The ads will run in Montreal until March 27.
Lawyer guilty of gangsterism
A layer who has defended Hells Angels in court was found guilty on all five charges laid against him, pertaining to gangsterism and drugs. The 49-year-old man from Montreal was convicted of committing a crime that benefited a criminal organization, conspiracy to traffic drugs and two counts of drug possession with intention to traffic. The charges were laid after provincial police arrested him in March 2006.
$150 million chopped from budget
Montreal will have to cut $155 million from city expenses, mayor Gerald Tremblay announced last Wednesday. $40 million of the cuts are going to be from the STM’s $1 billion operating budget, with certain provisions: The STM cannot increase fares or reduce services. The city will also ask boroughs to cut $20 million from their budgets, without reducing services. $95 million will be saved by leaving vacant jobs unfilled, stopping work on some projects (not yet specified) and freezing some salaries. $300 million worth of city services have been eliminated over the past three years.
Advocacy group wants to protect cell phone users
A consumer advocacy group in Montreal wants cell phone customers to be better protected from “premium” texts, the texts sent from marketers to subscribers’ handsets. The Union des consommateurs filed a submission, asking the CRTC to set stricter rules for the companies that send the messages containing jokes, horoscopes, dating advice, quizzes and sports scores, among other things. The group originally filed a submission after some Quebec customers said they were billed $16 to $35 a month, for a total of $200 to $300. These customers said they didn’t remember signing up for the service.
Bus killer found not guilty
The man who beheaded and cannibalized a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus last summer was found not criminally responsible for his actions. Vince Weiguang Li pled insanity to the charges last week. The defendant’s lawyers did not dispute their client killed the 22-year-old man, but argued he was mentally ill and, therefore, not criminally responsible. The ruling gives Li the possibility of being released to a psychiatric hospital in 90 days, after undergoing a mental health assessment.
Olympic committee in court
Five female Canadian ski jumpers are looking to add their names to a lawsuit filed against the Vancouver Olympic Gamed Organizing Committee (VOGOC). These women want to see a women’s ski jumping event added to the 2010 Games. Ten women have already charged VOGOC, saying its refusal to include the event is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The federal minister of state for sport said the decision lies in the hands of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Drawing a line
A new maid service in Edmonton sets customers up with a girl, dressed up in a black and white French maid outfit, red stilettos and black fishnet tights. For $125 an hour, the lady will dust shelves and wipe counters. But she won’t touch the toilet. The owner of Good Clean Fun exotic cleaning service said for the girl to get on her hands and knees to clean a toilet would be degrading.
“Negligent” dad gets three years
A father, whose two daughters died after he took them out in a snowstorm while he was drunk in January, has been sentenced to three years in prison. The man pled guilty to one count of child negligence causing the deaths of his three-year-old and 15-month-old children. The Saskatchewan man went out in “blizzard-like conditions” on the Yellow Quill First Nation with the two children, who were not dressed appropriately for the weather. The girls died of hypothermia. The judge heard sentencing recommendations from an aboriginal sentencing circle, a plea from the wife of the accused and the Crown prosecutor.
Lost in translation
A B.C. man said he was pepper sprayed after asking a United States border patrol agent to “say please.” The agent asked the traveler to turn off his car during a search. The Canadian said he refused to until the agent said “please,” who threatened to use his pepper spray if the driver did not follow orders. After the driver asked the agent three times to say please, the agent whipped out the pepper spray gun and sprayed the Canadian. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agent’s actions were justified because the traveler was refusing to comply with orders.
Girl Scouts bamboozled
Three people have been accused of cheating a Washington state Girl Scout troop out of $100. Police caught counterfeiters who were using fake $20 bills to buy boxes of cookies. The troop leader found out two $20-bills were counterfeit when she went to make a deposit at the bank. After buying a counterfeit-detecting pen she discovered three more bills were fake – two even had the same serial number. Girls in the troop will receive a “fraud badge” for their help in uncovering the crime.
Obama turns back the clock
President Obama reversed the federal financing limitations imposed on stem cell research by the Bush administration. Monday’s announcement is part of Obama’s drive to draw a distinct line between science and politics. In 2001 Bush ordered stem cell research to be limited to cells that already existed, since those embryos had already been destroyed. Stem cells, or cells taken from human embryos, are capable of reproducing any type of cell found in the body. Advocates for this type of research have said they hope to be able to use stem cells one day to repair damaged organs and tissues, which can help people with diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses.
Turning lemons into lemonade
Ruins left in the wake of last year’s 8.0 magnitude earthquake in China are set to become a tourist destination, local media reported last week. A government spokesperson told media the tour was created in response to perceived demand. Over 200,000 people visited sites and ruins connected to the earthquake in January alone. Groups will be able to visit museums, experience an earthquake simulation and enjoy a cup of tea while riding a boat on “quake lake,” the body of water created by floods and landslides brought on by the earthquake. The tour will also visit Beichuan High School where students were buried alive in rubble. The quake killed about 30,000 people in Beichuan county. Converting the ruins into tourism areas will cost about USD $131 million.
Cocaine in Spain
A 66-year-old Chilean man, who appeared to have a broken leg, was arrested at the airport in Barcelona after police realized his cast was entirely made out of cocaine, Spanish police said Friday. Because the man actually did have a fractured leg, police are investigating whether the injury was self-inflicted, in order to make it easier to pass through security checkpoints. After searching the smuggler’s luggage, police discovered more cocaine stored in six fake beer cans and two hollowed-out folding stools. In total, the man was smuggling just under 11 pounds of the drug. Spain, which is a hub for smuggling cocaine into Europe, is the largest consumer of the drug in the European Union.