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World in Brief: Another win for Bernie Sanders, COVID-19 shuts down northern Italian cities, bees in California, fatal earthquake in Turkey.

Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucus on Saturday Feb. 22, continuing his Democratic lead after the third primary contest. With strong support from the Latino voters in the Nevada caucus, Sanders finished with 47 per cent, reported The Guardian. Joe Biden took second place, at 24 per cent. Buttigieg was third, with 14 per cent. Elizabeth Warren was fourth, with 9 per cent. Next up for the democrats, the South Carolina race.

There have been two deaths in Italy as a result of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), with seventy-nine confirmed cases of the virus. A dozen towns in northern Italy have shut down as a result. The origin of the virus in Italy, has been linked to a man who hadn’t travelled to Wuhan. Those who died were a man and woman in their 70s, though it has not yet been confirmed whether the woman died from the virus or an underlying health problem. Towns affected in Italy have closed schools, businesses, restaurants and sporting events, reports The Associated Press.

A swarm of 40,000 bees shut down a California block, sending five people to the hospital, including three first responders last Thursday. Firefighters and police responded to a call for a single bee sting, soon realizing that an entire block had been covered with bees. The bees had stung seven people, two did not need hospital treatment. One firefighter had been stung 17 times. Firefighters and a professional beekeeper were able to safely remove the hive situated on the roof of a Hampton Inn. Some of the bees were killed, while others left the area, as reported by CNN.

Nine people were killed by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in eastern Turkey on Sunday morning. The earthquake also struck western Iran, injuring 75 people, with no reported fatalities. Turkish Health Minister, Fahrettin Koca, said that 37 people had been injured and nine are in critical condition. The earthquake also affected 43 villages in Turkey’s mountainous regions. Twenty-five ambulances, a helicopter and 13 emergency teams have been sent to aid the public. The Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) of Turkey has said 144 tents for families had been set up, reported The Associated Press.

 

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World in brief: China’s mass detention of Muslim, Koalas killed by fires, and Indigenous collaboration on Frozen II

On Nov. 24, leaked classified documents showed China’s strategic plan of mass detention for ethnic minorities. They were obtained and verified by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in collaboration with CBC News and other media organizations around the world. Identified as the China Cables, the documents describe the large-scale incarceration and brainwashing of Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim minority in China’s Xinjiang province. Adrian Zenz, a leading researcher on the Uighur crisis, estimates that more than 1.8 million Uighurs are or have been imprisoned over the last three years. “What we are looking at in Xinjiang is probably the largest internment of an ethno-religious minority since the Holocaust,” said Zenz, in an interview with CBC

Record-breaking fires continue to devastate Australia’s East coast as yet another heatwave worsened the situation last week. Various media reported that more than 1 million hectares of New South Wales and Queensland have been ripped apart by the devastating bushfires which destroyed more than 300 homes. While bushfire season is not uncommon for the country due to dry weather, several scientists agree that this year is abnormally overwhelming, and for all types of lives. The chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, Deborah Tabart, estimates that over 1,000 koalas weren’t able to flee the fires and lost their lives, reported the Daily Mail.

Disney is fostering Indigenous collaborations with Frozen II as it hit the theatre over the weekend. Critics over cultural appropriation from the first movie adopting Scandinavia’s Indigenous Sámi culture led the Hollywood magnate to work on the sequel with a team of Sámi experts from Norway, Sweden, and Finland, as reported by CBC. The group was constituted of Sámi artists, historians, elders and politicians. They were consulted on the historical aspect of the storyline, the costumes and the songs to ensure that their culture would be properly represented onscreen.

 

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World in brief: First week of public hearings, Venice under water and a new Netflix rival

Venice faced its worst flooding in 50 years, leaving St. Mark’s Square under a metre of water last Tuesday. Reuters reported that the Basilica was submerged for the sixth time in the past 1,200 years – but the fourth time since 2000. After declaring a state of emergency, Venice’s Mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, also told reporters that climate change was to blame, referring to the high tides as “apocalyptic.” A study published in Quaternary International back in 2017 argued that Venice will be underwater before the next century if no actions are taken to counter climate change.

The first public hearings in 21 years began on Wednesday for Trump’s impeachment inquiry. It is set to investigate whether or not the President abused his presidential powers and sought help from the Ukraine government to undermine Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Politico reported that standout moments included the House moving from quid pro quo to officially accusing the President of “bribery,” and the testimony from the Acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor reporting another previously unknown phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump. Also an important moment was U.S. diplomat Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony, which Trump denigrated on Twitter, claiming “everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.” If the inquiry ends up proving Trump’s wrongdoing, he would become the third American President to be impeached.

A new streaming platform that was launched on Nov. 12 is set to offer access to Fox, Pixar, Marvel and National Geographic productions. Disney Plus comes as another big player against Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Prime and HBO, among others. Subscribers can expect to find Disney classics such as The Lion King and Star Wars on the streaming service. While Disney has been accused in the past of being culturally offensive, the service deemed wise to include the message “may contain outdated cultural depictions” prior to some of its movies. The platform is available for $8.99/month or $89.99/year in Canada.

 

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World in brief: The Berlin Wall, Bolivia’s unstable democracy, and virginity tests

This weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. More than 100,000 people celebrated this historical event in the city, where images and videos from Nov. 9, 1989, were projected onto buildings, reported the Associated Press.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the opportunity to remind the world of the danger of taking democracy for granted. “The values on which Europe is founded – freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, human rights – they are anything but self-evident and they have to be revitalized and defended time and time again,” said Merkel during the official ceremony, as reported by various outlets. Built after the end of World War II, the Wall divided East Berlin, occupied by the Soviets, from the West, controlled by the Western allies for 28 years during the Cold War.

Instability in South America continues to grow as Bolivia President Evo Morales resigned after nearly 14 years in power. On Monday, the country entered what the Associated Press referred to as an era of political uncertainty, after Morales stepped down over ongoing protests about the legitimacy of his re-election, earlier in October. Morales, the first Indigenous Bolivian president, had controversially abolished the limits of presidential terms, even after the 2016 referendum showed a majority were against that decision. While Carlos Mesa, who finished second to Morales in the election, called this a “democratic popular action,” BBC South America correspondent Katy Watson pointed out the fact that the military was behind what few people dared to call a coup, which strongly endangers the country’s democracy.

American rapper T.I. prompted strong backlash after revealing in a podcast that he’s been taking his 18-year-old daughter for annual hymen checkups, to make sure she’s still a virgin. In a segment aired on Ladies like us last Tuesday, which has since been removed, T.I. explained that “not only have we had the conversation, we have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen. Yes, I go with her … I will say, as of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact.” Medical experts were quick to denounce his comments, stating that there is no such thing as a scientific-based virginity test, but rather a shameful procedure, reported The New York Times.

 

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World in Brief: Health emergency in India, a bloody weekend, and “Wexit”

India’s capital New Delhi has been under heavy smog and dust since Friday, prompting authorities to declare a health emergency. The Associated Press reported that such air conditions arise yearly around Nov. 1 because of fireworks during a Hindu festival and the burning of agricultural fields. Schools will be closed until Nov. 5 and construction activities are to be paused temporarily to control the dust in the air.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the death of 49 Malian troops on Friday and the explosion causing the death of a French soldier, corporal Ronan Pointeau, on Saturday. The Malian Armed Forces said Friday’s attacks also injured three Malian soldiers of the military outpost targeted by the attack, reported the Agence France Presse. Saturday’s incident happened as the armoured vehicle Pointeau was travelling and hit an improvised explosive device while escorting a convoy.

A man shouting pro-Beijing slogans went on a stabbing rampage in Hong Kong on Sunday leaving five wounded, including a politician with an ear bitten off, reported The Guardian. Andrew Chiu, a local pro-democracy councillor, attempted to subdue the attacker before getting his ear bitten off. The attacker was allegedly shouting pro-Beijing slogans during another day of protests on the main Hong Kongese island.

Following the Canadian federal elections, a new wave of western separatism emerged, and “Wexit” attracted hundreds in Edmonton last Saturday. Wexit Alberta Leader Peter Downing said he will make Alberta great again after seceding from Canada, which he referred to as “the leech,” reported the CBC. Downing said that despite the movement being associated with Conservative politics, it is neither left-wing nor right-wing, but “it is open to everybody, except for eastern Canada.”

 

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World in brief: Impeachment, leaders at the UN and rescued Nigerian captives

A formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump was officially made on Sept. 24. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the inquiry will investigate whether the President abused his presidential powers and sought help from the Ukraine government to undermine Democratic candidate Joe Biden. The Associated Press reported that the allegations came after a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which you can hear Trump asking for help finding incriminating actions by Biden’s son.

“The president must be held accountable,” Pelosi said. “No one is above the law.”

Global leaders met on Sept. 23, in New York for the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. Discussions on the climate crisis and a possible armed conflict between the United States and Iran were among the headlines. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stood against the U.S. and Iran conflict, urging them to resume negotiations over the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, reported Reuters. Greta Thunberg also made a heartfelt plea, but towards the inactions of leaders regarding the climate crisis. She arguably dropped her most powerful quote yet with “how dare you” in a video that was shared more than 50,000 times.

On Sept. 26, more than 300 captives were rescued from a building that housed an Islamic school in northern Nigeria. Many reports described the survivors mostly as children, boys aged around 5 to their late teens, walking in chains. Police declared that seven people, teachers at the school, were arrested in the raid. Such schools are known to be abusive, yet parents lacking financial resources often opt to leave their children in the hands of the school boards. CBC reported that earlier this year, Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari, himself a Muslim, was planning to eventually ban the schools. It is still unclear how long the children were retained.

 

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World in brief: Spotlight on the Climate Change and the Kashmir ongoing lockdown

Lockdown in the Himalayan region of occupied Kashmir, claimed by both India and Pakistan, hits its 50th consecutive day on Sept. 23. At the beginning of August, the Narendra Modi-led Indian government revoked the special status of the region, dividing the Muslim-majority state into two territories to be controlled by the federal government. Videos of torture, midnight raids and detentions of thousands of people from the academic elites have led Amnesty International to call for the resolution of the conflict. The NGO reported that more than 8 million people are under extreme lockdown, as cellphones and the internet remain disconnected.

On Sept. 20, American youth took to the streets of New York City to protest the climate crisis. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that more than 60,000 people attended the march, and CNN reported that 1.1 million students had been excused from class to participate. The movement has gained a lot of attention in the past weeks, as Greta Thunberg called on people worldwide to join this youth-led strike. Over 150 countries have stepped in and are organizing protests from Sept. 20 to the 27th. Montreal is expected to host the biggest protest yet, on Sept. 27.

A year-long study on climate change began on Sept. 20, as an international team of researchers left for the central Arctic. Global News reported that the $150 million expedition will be conducted by over 600 scientists from 19 countries, including the United States, Germany and China. They seek to expand understanding of climate change and develop further models that can predict changes in the weather.  The expedition is described as one of the most complex studies ever attempted in as hostile an environment as the Arctic.

 

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World in Brief

Donald Trump said that peace negotiations with the Taliban were officially dead on Monday. According to the BBC, Trump canceled the hosting of a Taliban delegation after the group admitted to killing a U.S. soldier. The two sides were said to be getting closer to a deal. The talks were aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan. The Taliban had previously said that the U.S. would “lose the most” if negotiations were canceled.

The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran is installing new centrifuges, trespassing the limits of a nuclear deal. According to the Associated Press, the nuclear deal was meant to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons in exchange for economic incentives. However, the U.S.’s unilateral withdrawal from the deal last year prompted struggle from other signatories to meet Iran’s demands and salvage the treaty.

A typhoon with wind speeds up to 207 km/h killed two and caused travel chaos in Tokyo on Monday, according to the Agence France Presse. More than 30 people were injured and about 2,000 had to take refuge in nearby shelters. The train system and the airport had to shut down their services. Taxis and buses were the only remaining options.

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World in Brief: September 3

Eight people were killed and 22 injured in a shooting Saturday in West Texas, including the gunman. The 30-year-old suspect was known to local police. According to Reuters, the suspect stole a postal van before opening fire on police officers and civilians. Shortly after, he was shot down by the police.

Hurricane Dorian has intensified to a category five storm as it approached the Abaco Islands on Sunday. The hurricane’s sustained winds have increased from 240 km/h to 290 km/h after landfall in the Bahamas archipelago, according to the National Hurricane Center. Many U.S. coastal dwellers from Florida to California are concerned with potential risks of damaging winds and deadly flooding even if the storm doesn’t directly hit the U.S., according to the Associated Press.

German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked for Poland’s forgiveness for Nazi “tyranny” during World War II. The apology occurred on Sunday, in the city of Wielun, 80 years after the bombing of the city, according to the BBC. The small city, located 250 km West of Warsaw, was bombed by the German Air Force on Sept. 1, 1939, marking the beginning of the most devastating war of our era.

Anthoine Hubert, a French 22-year-old Formula 2 pilot, died last Saturday in a fatal crash during a race on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Since 1994, a lot of progress in terms of security made it possible for pilots to survive the most fatal crashes. However, according to the Agence France Presse, Hubert’s vehicle literally split in half. French flags were put up across the stadium and a minute of silence was held before the start of Sunday’s race in honour of Hubert.

 

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News briefs

City in Brief
by Matthew Guité

→ SQ officer benched
A provincial police officer has been suspended for 17 days for displaying what the Quebec police ethics committee called “gross incompetence and an obvious lack of judgement” in an incident where an elderly man was thrown to the ground and dragged out of a restaurant. After Yvon Trudel’s nursing home called to report him missing in 2009, Vincent Langlais found the man in a restaurant across the street. According to a waitress working at the time, Langlais grabbed Trudel and pushed him to the ground before forcibly dragging him from the building. Ten days after the incident Trudel suffered a heart attack before dying four months later. The ethics committee ruled that Langlais did not have justification for his actions.

→ Mammoth lobster donated to biodome
A seven-kilogram, one-and-a-half foot long lobster has found a new home at the Montreal Biodome after being donated by the staff of a grocery store east of Montreal. Staff at the IGA in Varennes nicknamed the mammoth crustacean ‘Goliath,’ and contacted the Society for Friends of the Montreal Biodome. According to the Biodome, Goliath, who is in good health, is estimated to be between 30 and 50 years old, and was caught off the coast of Nova Scotia.

→ Not the best idea
A Quebec judge has been reprimanded and may face sanctions after it was revealed that she intended to pay a contractor under the table. Justice Ellen Paré, who was unhappy with the work that was done on her kitchen counters by the company she hired, took the matter to small claims court and asked for $7,000 in damages. The judge presiding over the case awarded her $1,500 but scolded her for paying the company in cash in order to avoid paying taxes. Paré could be called before a council of judges to answer for her actions.

→ Bilingualism and public transit
While speaking on a Montreal radio show, the provincial minister responsible for the anglophone community, Jean-François Lisée, said that a simple phone call was the only thing needed to allow the Société de transport de Montréal to begin hiring bilingual employees. While on the Tommy Schnurmacher show on CJAD, Lisée was asked to push the STM to follow the Agence métropolitaine de transport’s lead and enforce bilingualism for some of its employees.
“STM, are you listening?” Lisée said. “It’s okay, when you make the case that you have employees in areas where part of the clientele will be anglophone, [where] they are in contact with anglophones.”

– – – – –

Nation in Brief
by Robin Della Corte

→ D’oh and doe
The British Columbia environment minister has agreed to allow a Vancouver resident to keep living with the deer she has raised as a pet. Conservation officers wanted to at first seize the deer by moving it to a wildlife rehabilitation centre, but after experts evaluated the situation, they feared there might be risks by removing the animal from a place it is familiar with. Janet Schwartz and her deer named Bimbo will live together with the help from a veterinarian and conservation officers. According to Schwartz, Bimbo is newly pregnant and craving chocolate cookies.

→ A cry for help
There has been a demand for a mental health and addictions treatment centre for the youth in the Yukon. Advocate Andy Nieman believes there is a current concern with mental health and addiction problems and that there is a long wait for diagnosis and treatment thousands of kilometres away. Nieman’s role is to provide help to the families, but feels that they are giving up hope. In order to seek treatment, residents have to leave the Yukon due to a lack of local services. Nieman states that youth then turn to alcohol and drugs to stabilize themselves, a form of self-medicating, since there are no services available. Nieman is now working on getting the centre done.

→ All drugs are bad
According to Terence Young, a Conservative member of parliament, Canadians are unaware of the risks behind prescription drugs, which kill people “every day” through side effects. Even with the proper doses, “all drugs are poisons,” Young told an audience last week at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. He also believes that because of Health Canada’s approval of these drugs on the market, Big Pharma has “completely perverted” Canada’s drug safety, The National Post reported. Young reported that citizens turn a blind eye to the dangers of prescription medication.

→ Losing money
Machine owners are blaming the Bank of Canada for thousands of vending machines still not being able to accept the new polymer $20 bills. About half a million machines needed reprogramming to be able to accept the redesigned $20 bills. Kim Lockie, who has been converting his 1,200 machines in Fort McMurray, full-time for two months claims he is losing money due to frustrated customers who can’t use their new bills. He blames the Bank of Canada, for not having an advance three-year warning for owners that needed the time to recalibrate their vending machines for the release of the new bills.

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World in Brief
by Matthew Guité

→ Neck and neck
A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, originally banned for looking nothing like her, has finally been put on display almost 60 years after it was painted. The painting, which shows the Queen with an extremely elongated neck, was originally painted in 1952 by John Napper, who called the painting “a beautiful painting of a queen, but not this Queen.” Napper, who died in 2001, later painted a second portrait of the Queen which hangs to this day. “It was due to be hung up high so that you would look at it from below,” Napper’s widow told the BBC. “If you looked at it from that angle it looked normal.”

→ Cyprus man brings bomb to police station by accident
A Cyprus man accidentally caused a major security incident when he brought an unexploded bomb into a police station to figure out what it was. According to police, the man found the makeshift explosive on his car’s rear window but was unsure what it was, and brought it to the police for investigation. Police shortly realized what the object was and evacuated the building. The device was defused at the station by explosive experts.
“He obviously didn’t know what it was,” a police source said, speaking to Reuters.

→ Sinfully beautiful
The Pope’s private secretary has become the subject of media attention in Italy after appearing on the cover of an issue of Vanity Fair which dubbed him “The George Clooney of St. Peter’s.”
Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who was recently appointed to the position, has served as Pope Benedict’s private secretary since 2005. He did not pose for the magazine’s cover, which features a close-up of a previous photo of him along with the headline “Father Georg – It’s not a sin to be beautiful.”
The magazine’s cover story, which it describes as a “close up profile of a particular monsignor,” relates to his recent promotion and his increasing power within the church.

→ Swedish cleaning lady accused of stealing a train
A Swedish cleaning woman was falsely accused of stealing a train and crashing it into a house on Tuesday, an incident which left the woman in hospital with serious injuries. As the only person on board the train at an early hour in the morning, the cleaning woman was originally suspected of starting the train on purpose. The train accelerated faster than it was meant to safely, and hit the end of the tracks before flying over a street and crashing through a house. Originally believed to be done by the woman on purpose, state prosecutors have since revealed that the incident is now believed to have been an accident. The woman remains in hospital and the detain has since been lifted.

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City in Brief
by Matthew Guité

→ À qui la job?
Former Quebec Premier Jean Charest found a new job at Montreal law firm McCarthy Tétrault LLP, four months after he was voted out of office. In a public statement made Thursday, Charest said that he was enthusiastic to join the firm that also employs former Premier Daniel Johnson and former leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, Marc-André Blanchard, who serves as the firm’s chief executive. Blanchard, who serves as the firm’s chief executive officer, told CBC “With Mr. Charest and our legal excellence, McCarthy Tétrault will deliver analysis, solutions and results to our clients that are unmatched in the legal market.”

→ Another mayor, another allegation
Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum denied allegations made earlier this week in a Le Devoir article that claimed that he was under investigation by the Charbonneau Commission for questionable real estate transactions. The article, published Friday, claimed that the Commission was investigating transactions made by Applebaum which required zoning changes in his borough. Applebaum said at a press conference Friday that the story was false, but that he would be meeting with the Commission later that day. Despite not knowing the reason for the meeting, Applebaum pledged to co-operate with the investigation and said he was open to all discussions.

→ Ruling delayed in Richard Henry Bain trial
The court proceedings to determine whether or not the accused election-night shooter Richard Henry Bain is fit to stand trial are halted temporarily until a psychiatric report is made available in English. Bain has repeatedly demanded that all questioning and court proceedings be done in English. As in past court appearances, Bain chose to speak to the judge and prosecutors himself despite having his lawyer present and said that the report declared him 75 per cent fit to stand trial. His lawyer, Elfriede Duclervil, has been requesting since October to stop representing him, saying that Bain does not qualify for legal aid.

→ In hot water
Borough residents in Montreal North have been warned by city officials to avoid water filtration company Aquavie following complaints that the company was misleading residents and using the city’s name to attempt to sell equipment that isn’t necessary. According to city officials, residents in the area received calls from Aquavie claiming that the city was offering them a free water quality test, followed by trying to sell them purification equipment when the tests supposedly showed poor water quality. Aquavie has denied the allegations, and says that they were unaware of complaints.

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Nation in Brief
by Kalina Laframboise

→ A train come true
Jason Shron spent $10,000 over four and a half years to reconstruct a model of a VIA rail coach for his basement. The resident of Vaughan, Ont. is obsessed with trains and everything related to VIA which is why he chose to build it over 2,500 hours. When Shron learned a coach was to be scrapped, he bought it and rebuilt it in his basement with his friends. Shron, who has been collecting VIA items for years, said it is because it is where he feels “most comfortable.” The replica of the 1980s train carriage has carpeting, seats and coat hooks.

→ Up in flames
A health-care inquiry into queue jumping in Alberta heard testimony about individuals who received flu shots for H1N1 during the outbreak in 2009. Calgary Flames’ players and their families were told to lie in order to receive the shot before individuals who were actually ill. The players attended private vaccination sessions in the teams doctor’s office while the rest of the province suffered a shortage. Those who testified claimed that paperwork was adjusted so that the players and their loved ones could skip the long wait.

→ One in a million
Walter Zawada’s truck rolled over to one million kilometres this week after 12 years of driving it everywhere. The Niagara Falls residents had a series of trips nationwide including six trips from Ontario to Alberta. When Zawada bought the Ford F-150, it only had 97,000 kilometres but reached 0 on the odometer last Wednesday. According to Zawada, he got his money’s worth since the truck still has its original engine and transmission. Since Zawada owned the truck he has bought six sets of tires, four brake jobs and 180 oil changes.The 68-year-old purchased the truck for $19,900 in 1999.

→ Nortel execs acquitted
Three former executives of the now defunct Nortel Networks Corporation were acquitted of charges against them of co-ordinating a multi-million dollar fraud that gave themselves $12.8 million when the company was failing. An Ontario judge ruled that the three men, who were fired by Nortel in 2004, did not meet the burden of proof necessary to convict them and that there was reasonable doubt. Former senior employees Frank A. Dunn, Douglas C. Beatty and Michael J. Gollogly were initially charged with two counts of fraud for defrauding the public and defrauding the entire corporation.

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World in Brief
by Cynthia Dupuis

→ Joy ride
A 13-year-old boy decided to run away from his adoptive family in Italy last Thursday after they got into a fight about the teenager’s expensive phone bill. He chose to travel in style when he stole his family’s Mercedes which he drove 1,000 kilometres from Italy across Europe, successfully crossing two border crossings and numerous tolls. The boy only brought along his passport and 20 Euros when he left his adoptive family’s house. His wild adventure to return to Poland, his homeland, first took him through Austria. He was then arrested two days later in Germany, 200 kilometres from his final destination.

→ Tusk laundering
Two American men pleaded not guilty last Friday to charges of conspiracy, conspiracy to launder money, smuggling goods into the United States and money laundering. The Bangor Daily News reported that Andrew Zarauskas and Jay Conrad are accused of smuggling narwhal tusks from Canada into Maine. They allegedly brought the tusks from Canada to the U.S. inside a trailer with a secret compartment. Some individuals believe narwhal tusks to have supernatural powers. Some will even pay up to $30,000 but most narwhal tusk usually go for between $1,000 and $7,000. Several countries including the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia have laws against importing narwhal tusks.

→ Escape from White Castle
An American woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison last Friday for robbing a White Castle in St. Louis, Miss. Michelle White handed the employees of the restaurant a threatening note while she pointed at them with a plastic water gun. The 33-year-old woman escaped through the drive-thru window with more than $600 from the fast food chain. A customer wrote down White’s license plate and then alerted the police before they arrived at White’s home. Following their arrival, she climbed on her roof and jumped, fracturing an arm, a leg and her pelvis as a result of her fall. The type of water gun used in the robbery remains unknown.

→ Bieber brainwave
The Riverside Police in Illinois took 49-year-old Lawrence E. Adamczyk into custody and charged him with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. The suspect was arrested Saturday morning at a swim meet at Brookfield High School where he was found wandering the hallways by a security staff member. After his arrest, Adamczyk told Riverside Police he was on his way to Brookfield Zoo to “look for young boys” when he received a “brainwave message” from Justin Bieber telling him to go to the neighbouring high school to see the young boys at the swimming event. Adamczyk allegedly told the police officers that he was there to watch his own children swim but could not provide names. Adamczyk was charged in 2011 with a sexual act at a fitness centre.

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City in Brief
by Matthew Guité

→ Ambulance workers strike new round of protests
Ambulance technicians and paramedics have begun a new round of protests across the province to pressure health officials to return to negotiations related to their pay scales and benefits. The union representing the workers has said that their pension plan is unacceptable, and that their 16 levels of pay makes it difficult for new employees to achieve the higher pay levels. “Paramedics have had enough with this attitude,” union official Dany Lacasse told CBC. Ambulance technicians and paramedics protested outside the Urgences-santé’s headquarters in Montreal on Sunday. Under law, ambulance technicians must work despite contract disputes and mandates to strike.

→ Modern languages 101
The Société de transport de Montréal has defended its interpretation of Bill 101 after an access-to-information request filed by The Gazette revealed that no legal council had apparently ever been sought on the use of English by STM employees under the exemption in Bill 101.
“Basically, we have to operate in French unless we can prove an absolute necessity in certain categories,” STM vice-chair Marvin Rotrand told CBC News that the authority had to operate in French unless they could prove “an absolute necessity” for other languages. Julius Grey, a civil rights lawyer, told The Gazette that he believed the STM was misinterpreting Bill 101. The STM has “an implicit obligation to serve their customers and they have to have a sufficient number of people who can do so in English to successfully serve their customers,” he said.

→ No cops allowed
The Saint-Bruno city council is being criticized after a video surfaced online showing police officers in a city council meeting escorting citizens from the room after posing difficult questions to municipal councillors. Resident Martin Guevremont believes that the idea of having police present at meetings is ridiculous. “Having a police presence at municipal council is absurd. You expect citizens to be able to ask questions to elected officials,” he said. In response, Mayor Claude Benjamin said that the video was not a fair representation of their city council meetings, and that citizens are only ever expelled if they are out of line.

→ ERs under pressure
Montreal’s emergency rooms are dangerously overcrowded with patients suffering from gastro-intestinal viruses and the seasonal flu, according to public health officials. Some hospitals are projecting up to 12-hour waiting periods to see a doctor, and many are operating at beyond their maximum capacity. Worst hit was St. Mary’s Hospital, which is operating at 200 per cent capacity. Public health officials have advised that mild flu-related symptoms are best treated at home to avoid the long wait times at emergency rooms.

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Nation in Brief
by Robin Della Corte

→ Stuck in the middle
An 87-year-old woman was stuck in a elevator from the evening of Dec. 23 until 2 a.m. on Christmas morning in a nursing home in Mississauga, Ont. The woman was dropped off at the front doors by her family that fateful evening and when she didn’t arrive on her floor, staff thought she was still with her family. The next day, it was discovered that the woman had indeed been dropped off the night earlier. After police searched her room, the staff finally found the woman in the elevator and was brought to the hospital for evaluation. Three investigations are currently taking place.

→ Absence of service
A mother of a toddler claims she was unfairly treated by an employee of the Toronto Transit Commission when she tried to board an early morning bus. As Jodi Christie boarded at 6:30 a.m. with her one-year-old son in his stroller, she asked the driver to lower the ramp to help her get on the bus. According to Christie, the driver chastised her for not having a smaller stroller and that he didn’t want to help her. He continued and said “Where’s his dad? He should be helping you with this, if he even has a father,” CBC News reported. TTC spokesman Brad Ross confirmed there is an investigation into the situation.

→ Close call
In Alaska, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake was cause for a tsunami warning for the coast of British Columbia. While the earthquake did generate a small tsunami, the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said the waves didn’t pose a threat, the Canadian Press reported. The Alaska Tsunami Warning Center initially warned that “significant widespread inundation” of land was expected, but the warning was soon called off stating that the small sea level changes posed no danger.

→ Suspicious fires
Two morning fires in Winnipeg were labelled as suspicious due to the proximity and timing of the events. The fire department was called to the scene of the first house at 5:15 a.m. on Victor St. where the fire started in a garage at the back of a house. The flames spread to the home and burned off the roof before reaching another house and car. However, no injures were reported. The damage to all properties was about $400,000. Minutes later, a second fire on the same street occurred in an apartment building where four to five people were taken to the hospital and the damage was estimated to about $30,000.

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World in Brief
by Kalina Laframboise

→ You don’t know meth
A man named Dale Blumer faces a felony charge of producing methamphetamine after police raided his home, also a daycare centre, in Davenport, Iowa. While the drug itself was not found in the residence, several key ingredients were. The 34-year-old admitted to the crimes after he was arrested in the early morning of Dec. 30 saying that he produced meth approximately 20 times during the last few months. Blumer also confessed to selling the drug within his home and daycare centre managed by his girlfriend, Amanda Taylor.

→ The birds and the pigs
In a weird twist of events, a federal appeals court rendered that a New York man who was arrested for giving the middle finger to a police officer can sue for malicious prosecution. In 2006, John Swartz gave officer Richard Insogna the bird for using a radar device while passing by in a car. Although not speeding or breaking the law, Swartz and his wife were pulled over for a traffic stop before Swartz was detained for disorderly conduct, a charge that was later dropped. The court ruled that Swartz’s gesture was not probable reason for him to be accused of committing a traffic violation or for a charge of disorderly conduct.

→ Welcome to the Kremlin
French celebrity and film star Gérard Depardieu has officially traded in his homeland’s passport for Russian citizenship. President Vladimir Putin signed a decree last Thursday granting Depardieu citizenship after the actor was upset with an upcoming tax hike in France and the two met over the weekend. François Hollande, president of France, proposed a new increase tax for millionaires that would see Depardieu hand over 75 per cent of his salary. Russia has a flat tax rate of 13 per cent. France’s current tax rate for high earners is 41 per cent.

→ Ecuador, prepare for baby boomers
Ecuador was deemed the best nation for newly retired Americans and Canadians for the fifth consecutive year by InternationalLiving.com’s annual rankings of the top countries to settle down in. The survey is conducted through retired individuals and is based on several factors. Where beers cost just 85 cents, Ecuador attracts retirees through its low cost of living, warm climate and inexpensive housing prices, making it a desirable place to live. Also, its proximity to North America is a selling point for many retirees. Panama, Malaysia, Mexico and Costa Rica were also in the top five.

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