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Welcome to the new BlogsCanada.ca

Hello Canada. My name is Ben and Allan has kindly passed me the reins of BlogsCanada.ca – I have big plans for the website so please stay tuned.  I’m still getting used to the back-end of the website so please bear with me for the next few weeks as I slowly figure everything out.  Over […]

206 - Copy (2) Allan's Perspective

Goodbye!

Dear Readers……., and friends! It has been an interesting time, as well as a time that saw major changes in my personal and working life, but now it is time to let others take on the responsibility of populating these pages with interesting and informative news and gossip. Ben Clarke is the new owner of […]

c97c789ad66845da7da30c6830a5d3cd1c321a26 Allan's Perspective

Saturday Morning Confusion # 477

Dear Readers: There is a lot of confusion about whether Monty Python is really funny …………., or not! What I mean is that some sketches like “The dead Parrot” are among the funniest things I have ever seen, and some other stuff is just plain stupid. BUT. I have to admit that when they ARE funny, […]

images Allan's Perspective

Ontario Place!

Dear Readers: Hey kids, I ran across this article today and since Ontario Place opened when I was still quite young, (teens) and these photo’s and video’s brought back a whole bunch of memories! Any kid who spent time in Toronto during the 1970s, 80s and 90s surely fostered blissful, orange-soaked memories at Children’s Village […]

images Allan's Perspective

This n’ That!

Dear Readers: The Washington Post hit the nail right on the head (Or did they just kick the cat?) when they published this article today! By Michelle Singletary How much is your cat’s life worth? Or your dog’s? Would you take out a credit card specifically to pay for veterinarian care for your cat? Would […]

images020L9QY7 Allan's Perspective

Earth Day 2015!

2015 is shaping up to be a monumental year for the international climate movement, and Earth Day Canada wants to show the world that Canadians are supportive of meaningful climate action. As such, Earth Day Canada is creating a 2015 Earth Flag on which we will collect signatures from people across the country who are […]

msdemst_ec017_0_1429532437 Allan's Perspective

Any Yoda of yours is a Yoda of mine!

Dear Readers: Aficionado’s of online medieval manuscripts—whoever you are—may be intrigued to know about a 14th-century image of  Yoda, wide-spread ears and all, NPR reports. (That’s right kids, Yoda lived for over 900 years, so this was a drawing of him when he was middle-aged!) But is it really him? “I’d love to say that it really […]

Two-talking-parrots Allan's Perspective

What a bird brain!

Firefighters desperately trying to locate voices crying “Help” and “Fire” trapped in an inferno found the desperate pleas came from two parrots. Crews in Boise, Idaho were called to the blaze on Friday night. After arriving on the scene they heard cries of “Help” and “Fire” from inside leading them to believe several people were […]

drama5 Allan's Perspective

Sunday Morning Funnies #7766

The woman’s husband had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet she had stayed by his bedside every single day.  One day, when he came to, he motioned for her to come nearer.  As she sat by him, he whispered, eyes full of tears, “You know what? You have been […]

mealrefundbday Allan's Perspective

Saturday Morning Confusion #3966

Dear Readers: Lots of things confusing me today bunky, including a bit of confusion about how ya can get a free meal just for being old! There are many perks of growing old — seeing your kids have kids, wearing shirts that say “World’s Best Grandma,” calling rowdy youngsters “whippersnappers” and more — and getting discounts […]

Project1 Allan's Perspective

Having kids is hereditary!

Dear Readers: Today we have a couple of stories from opposite ends of the spectrum that show just how crazy things are getting in this world! The Meitiv family, who is once again battling CPS in Maryland over allowing their children to go to the playground unsupervised. (Photo: Facebook) The Maryland parents investigated by Child […]

untitled Allan's Perspective

Wag the Dog!

Dear Readers: You usually forgiving reporter is slowly getting fed-up with individuals and special interest groups who hold society to ransom with whatever stupid bullshit they go on about! The latest case is about a certain Alain Simoneau of Saguenay Quebec who went to a local council meeting seven years ago and decided he didn’t like them saying […]

57RENV14P39900CN-rsz320x320-cp0x80x320x240 Allan's Perspective

Some Type of Necrophilia?

Dear Readers: Your ever faithful servant and reporter tries to keep up with all the latest news so that we can supply you with the latest poop on what’s going on in your world ………., and this one takes the cake! “Hey, wanna go see the body?” may seem like an odd thing to hear at […]

carina-messina Allan's Perspective

The French are at it again!

Dear Readers: Your long suffering reporter fervently believes in that old axiom, “The French are the best second raters in the world” and this article does nothing to dispel that belief! A Montreal man is criticizing Quebec language laws after a clerk at a local Toys “R” Us told him he was wasn’t allowed to purchase […]

GRENDI9G9BTGB7NC-rsz320x240-cp0x40x320x200 Allan's Perspective

Eat cheese, get laid!

O.K. folks, read the following article, and then remember ……., ya heard it here first! A survey by dating social network site Skout, cheese heads get more action. Skout surveyed a total of 4,600 people. Grilled cheese yields more sex, better people! Thirty-two percent of grilled cheese lovers reported having sex at least six times […]

17865-Clipart-Illustration-Of-A-Nude-Middle-Aged-Cacuasian-Woman-With-Black-Curly-Hair-Preparing-To-Take-A-Shower Allan's Perspective

Sex?

The Ontario government tried to introduce a new sex education course to public school kids a few month ago and it included such things as discussions about masturbation, trans-gender issues, same sex couples and much more. Now I’m bringing this up for a couple of reasons kids. First of all, we’re not sure if some […]

april01 Allan's Perspective

Sunday Morning Funnies # 32

A man turns to his wife in bed and whispers “Did you know it’s National Orgasm Day?” “Oh, what a pity,” she smiled, “Right in the middle of National Headache Week !!” ———————————— SENIOR TRYING TO SET PASSWORD WINDOWS: Please enter your new password: USER: cabbage WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 […]

imagesCAVCNRT6 Allan's Perspective

Saturday Morning Confusion # 49

Seems I don’t know who to believe anymore kids! The CBC is on a campaign to flog what they call the missing and/or murdered native women across Canada and it makes the news every night. You would think there is a vat network of guys like Robert Pickton who are abducting and killing girls left right […]

untitledvn v Allan's Perspective

AN AIRLINE PILOT SPEAKS HIS MIND!

  No name calling, no hatred, no political agenda. CANADIAN COMMENT  APPEARS AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE AND IS MEANINGFUL. THERE IS ALSO SOME RECENTLY ADDED BRITISH COMMENT.   This pilot hit the nail right on the head in his open letter.   A newspaper stated that some Muslim doctor is saying we are profiling […]

death-row-inmate-eat-kitten Allan's Perspective

Kitten a la carte!

Well boys and girls, here is a woman who would make Alf the Alien proud! Serial husband killer and North Carolina death row inmate, Blanche Taylor Moore, requested this weekend that her last meal be a kitten — a live kitten The prison administration is required to accept all last meal demands of any kind. Thus, they will obtain […]


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Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces to honour Canada’s most supportive employers and educators of Reservists

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Canada News Centre - National News

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces will honour 23 employers and educators from across Canada, representing business, government and academic institutions, for their outstanding support to members of Canada’s Reserve Force …

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Pebble Time’s regular pre-orders start on June 22nd

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Jon Fingas

If you missed out on Pebble Time’s crowdfunding campaign and won’t get one of the early units shipping today, you now have a date to mark on your calendar: Pebble has revealed that it’s going to start regular pre-orders for the color smartwatch on Ju…

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Hamas accused of torturing, executing Palestinians

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

JERUSALEM—A leading international watchdog on Wednesday accused the militant Hamas group of abducting, torturing and killing Palestinians during the war in the Gaza Strip last year, saying some of the actions amount to war crimes.

Amnesty International detailed the abuses in a report entitled “Strangling Necks: Abduction, torture and summary killings of Palestinians by Hamas forces during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict.”

According to the London-based human rights group, some 23 Palestinians were shot and killed and dozens more were arrested and tortured by Hamas, which rules Gaza. The Palestinians targeted were either political rivals of Hamas, including members of the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, or people the militant group had accused of co-operating with Israel, Amnesty said.

Wednesday’s report highlighted a particularly brutal incident, which it said took place in Gaza on Aug. 22.

“In one of the most shocking incidents, six men were publicly executed by Hamas forces outside al-Omari mosque . . . in front of hundreds of spectators, including children,” Amnesty said. Hamas had announced the men were suspected “collaborators” who had been sentenced to death in “revolutionary courts,” the rights group added.

“The hooded men were dragged along the floor to kneel by a wall facing the crowd, then each man was shot in the head individually before being sprayed with bullets fired from an AK-47,” the report said of the August incident.

Hamas violently seized Gaza from forces loyal to Abbas in 2007, leaving Palestinians bitterly divided — Hamas ruling Gaza and Abbas governing parts of the West Bank. Since then, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at Israel and fought three wars with the Jewish state. More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed during the 50-day war last summer. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed.

Hamas used the war to “ruthlessly settle scores, carrying out a series of unlawful killings and other grave abuses,” Amnesty’s Philip Luther said. “These spine-chilling actions, some of which amount to war crimes, were designed to exact revenge and spread fear across the Gaza Strip.”

The report said 16 of the people killed by Hamas were already being held by the militant group when the conflict erupted and many of them were waiting to hear the verdict of their Hamas-organized trials. “Many had been sentenced after trials before courts whose proceedings are grossly unfair. A number had said they had been tortured in order to extract ‘confessions,’ ” the report said.

Amnesty’s report also said that Hamas abducted and tortured people in an outpatient clinic that was no longer in use, within the grounds of Gaza City’s main hospital, Shifa.

“Hamas forces have displayed a disregard for the most fundamental rules of international humanitarian law,” Luther said. “Torture and cruel treatment of detainees in an armed conflict is a war crime. Extrajudicial executions are also war crimes.”

This was not Amnesty’s first report on the 2014 Gaza war.

In March, the group accused Hamas of war crimes for launching unguided rockets and mortars from civilian areas in Gaza toward civilian areas in Israel, saying that was a breach of international law. And in December, Amnesty condemned Israel for flattening four landmark buildings in the final days of the war. Israel dismissed that report, saying Hamas was using the buildings as command centres.

Salah Bardawil, a Hamas official in Gaza, said the incidents mentioned in the report took place “outside the framework of the law” and Hamas was investigating them.

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NDP wrangling stalls NDP transgender bill

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Robert Benzie - Queen's Park Bureau Chief

A New Democrat MPP’s groundbreaking legislation to ban controversial transgender “conversion therapy” is being delayed by her own party’s political wrangling.

Government House leader Yasir Naqvi said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath “should be regretful and ashamed” for stalling MPP Cheri DiNovo’s Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act.

“It is absolutely shameful and disgraceful for the leader of the third party to put the lives of young LGBT kids in jeopardy,” Naqvi said Wednesday.

“For the last three weeks, she has been single-handedly obstructing the passage of Bill 77,” he said, referring to the law to prevent physicians from billing OHIP for so-called conversion therapy that targets gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered patients with counselling designed to change sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I have had many conversations with (DiNovo), who shares my view of the obstruction from the leader of the third party.”

DiNovo (Parkdale—High Park) did not want to be drawn into the politicking.

“I just want to get it done,” said the NDP MPP, who worked with Naqvi and Tory MPP Christine Elliott (Whitby—Oshawa) in 2012 to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to add the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression” to prevent discrimination against transgendered people.

“It’s about saving children’s lives,” she said.

Her bill was supposed to pass before the house rises June 4 — along with Tory legislation tackling Lyme disease and a Liberal law on banning plastic microbeads from soap products — as well as government bills on road safety, immigration, agriculture, and outlawing flavoured tobacco.

Conservative House leader Steve Clark said Naqvi is right that the NDP is to blame for a standoff imperiling the three private member’s bills.

Clark said while the Tories and the Liberals hoped to get the laws in place before the summer recess, the New Democrats wouldn’t play ball.

“We were in favour of moving the government legislation forward for the three private member’s bills. You’ll have to ask the NDP,” said Clark.

But Horwath said the Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act “should stand alone” and not be subject to end-of-session horse-trading.

That’s why she asked for the bill to be called for third and final reading on Wednesday even though that could not happen procedurally.

“It’s the Liberals that are fooling around with this legislation and it’s shameful that they’re doing so,” the NDP leader insisted.

“We are not negotiating around this silliness that comes at the end of the session to try to one-off bills against one another.

“Conversion therapy has no place in Ontario and every single member of this chamber agrees with that. This is not the kind of bill to fool around with and play political games with.”

Health Minister Eric Hoskins said his officials met with DiNovo last week to on the new measure.

“We all appreciate the work that the member from Parkdale—High Park is doing on this. I have had my ministry work hard on this private member’s bill with the member from Parkdale—High Park,” said Hoskins.

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All of your feline fantasies come true in ‘Catlateral Damage’

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

Life would be so much easier as a cat. Few humans recognize the potential for feline bliss better than Chris Chung, the creator of Catlateral Damage, a first-person cat simulator. As a kitty locked up in a house full of annoying human things, your go…

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Toronto police say Pan Ams won’t be G20 all over again

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Patty Winsa - News reporter

Const. Craig Brister is standing in front of a small crowd of business owners in the St. Lawrence Centre on Toronto’s Esplanade, assuring them that the Pan Am Games will not be another G20 when it comes to policing.

“As soon as we start talking about all these extra officers that will be in town and all this extra security, people immediately get this idea of G20 in their mind,” says Brister, an officer seconded from 32 Division to serve as the Toronto Police Service’s business and community liaison for the Games.

“This is a sporting event,” he says. “This is family, front row. That’s the big thing we’re trying to push. But at the same time there needs to be a security component.”

That means a heightened police presence around venues, not only to secure them but to enforce no-standing zones and street closings.

Related: The 40 countries coming to Toronto

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It also means there will be police sweeps, beginning June 26{+ }in areas such as the Pan Am Athletes Village, the 14-hectare fenced-in area in the Canary District — which is next door to the Distillery District, one of the Games’ three festival sites.

Brister says he hates the term “police sweeps,” and it shouldn’t be misinterpreted.

“Officers are getting trained to do security checks,” says Brister. “They tour the venues when we take possession of them. They also tour them during the Games. What they’re looking for is the obvious — security problems, gaps in the security, safety issues — anything that’s going to affect game play or spectator safety.”

But the heightened security won’t mean a repeat of G20, agrees police board chair Alok Mukherjee.

The 2010 summit was marred by overzealous policing by multiple forces, including arbitrary searches of people carrying backpacks or wearing bandanas. A report by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director said many officers “ignored the basic rights citizens have under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Earlier this year, the Ontario Court of Appeal said that officers from York Region Police breached the Charter rights of a group of G20 demonstrators who were forced to submit to a search before they were allowed near the security fence.

The security plan for the Games has local forces policing venues in their own municipalities, removing any confusion — which occurred during G20 planning — about who is in charge.

Toronto police have cut the number of officers who can be on vacation during the two weeks of the Games nearly in half to accommodate Pan Am security.

Also, 9,000 unarmed private security guards have been hired to provide access control at events.

The “OPP will police highways and the transportation of people from one event to another,” says Mukherjee. “And they have overall responsibility for the planning. But the responsibility for local policing remains with the local police.” He adds that former chief Bill Blair made it clear at a board meeting that it’s the chief who is “ultimately accountable.”

Security preparations for the Games have also been more integrated than they were in 2010, not only in Toronto, but among provincial authorities and all the regions hosting Pan Am events, Mukherjee says. There has been more information sharing between the civilian police board and the police service as well.

“I think at G20, it wasn’t that the board didn’t ask questions,” says Mukherjee. “It was more a case of the board not receiving the answers.”

The Games are also viewed as being a “much lower threat level event,” says Mukherjee, although preparations are being made to deal with emergencies.

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Point Break Teaser Trailer

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

I never saw the original, Point Break. I know, I know. But, let me finish. Allow me to clarify, I have seen it with my mother. She loved Patrick Swayze…

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Mississauga passes new storm water tax with higher fee for larger homes

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

A new Mississauga levy for storm water management based on the size of homes has been approved to start in 2016, but owners of houses won’t be eligible for the relief available to businesses and highrise residents.

Businesses and highrise buildings will be able to cut their storm water charge by up to 50 per cent if they reduce the amount of run-off entering the municipal storm system.

On Wednesday, city council discussed a staff report that recommended not extending that incentive program to homeowners, based largely on the estimated $525,000 cost if the credit program was extended to single-family dwellings.

A council vote approved the levy without giving homeowners a way to reduce the tax paid by installing rain barrels, permeable driveways or other features that could reduce the run-off from their properties.

“I’m disappointed,” Councillor Pat Saito said after the staff recommendation was presented. “It would have been a good message, encouragement for (homeowners) to make changes.”

House owners will pay between $50 and $170 a year, depending on the size of their home. Those with very small houses, with a roof print of 287 square feet or smaller, will pay nothing. Houses near Lake Ontario, where storm run-off goes directly into the lake, will be exempt from the new charge.

The new fees will help bridge the funding gap for storm water infrastructure in the city. What’s currently collected from the property tax base can’t meet the needs of an aging system, whose replacement cost is pegged at $1.8 billion, according to staff. Residents will pay the new fee on a separate utility bill.

“I think it would be absolutely criminal of you to make me pay one cent,” Mississauga homeowner Ed Bavington told council. He questioned how the city could charge him the new fee even though he long ago took steps, such as directing water coming off his roof to his cedar hedge, to ensure rainwater on his property does not go into the municipal system.

Christine Van Geyn, Ontario spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, told the Star that Mississauga’s decision to not offer rebates to house owners, even though businesses and highrise residents can benefit from them, is unfair. “It’s not equitably taxing people,” Van Geyn said. “They’re trying to sell this as a user fee, but you can’t call it a user fee if some people aren’t using the infrastructure.”

Council ignored the example of Kitchener, which faced a backlash from residents in 2011 when a similar charge was introduced without giving residents the option of reducing their costs through an incentive program. Kitchener was persuaded to relent, and offered house owners rebates of up to 45 per cent rebate for reducing storm water run-off.

Councillors agreed to refer the issue to the city’s environment committee, leaving open the possibility of introducing some sort of recognition or incentive to residents in future.

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Apple is fixing a bug that crashes your iPhone with a text message

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Jon Fingas

Beware if you have any jokester friends with iOS devices — they might just have a way to ruin your day if you have any iOS gadgets of your own. Apple has confirmed that it’s fixing a recently discovered bug that crashes iPhones and other iOS 8 hardw…

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Lil B — LEBRON JAMES GOT PROBLEMS … Cavs Haven’t Ducked Curse Yet!

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  TMZ Staff

Lil B is DOUBLING DOWN on his threat to curse LeBron James … claiming the King is in “big, big trouble” for stealing B’s famous dance move.  Lil B appeared on “TMZ Hollywood Sports” today (from an undisclosed…

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DeSmogBlog: Groups Want Pipeline Regulator to Explain Why it Won’t Order Safety Test of Enbridge’s Line 9

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Derek Leahy

Environmental and citizen groups in Quebec are demanding the National Energy Board (NEB) explain why it refuses to order a hydrostatic safety test of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline, a west-to-east oil pipeline that could come online as early as next month.

A hydrostatic test or hydrotest is a commonly used method to determine whether a pipeline can operate safely at its maximum operating pressure. The test involves pumping water at through the pipeline at levels higher than average operating pressures. Enbridge is reversing the flow of the 39-year old Line 9 pipeline, which previously carried imported oil (Read more…)

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Do High-Profile Terrorism Arrests Actually Help the Islamic State?

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

Earlier this month, when
nine biker-gang members were killed
in a Sons of Anarchy–worthy shoot-out
in Waco, Texas, Sergeant Patrick Swanton, a police spokesman, made a statement that
was refreshingly sensible. The shoot-out had taken place outside a heavily
frequented shopping mall, in broad daylight, and the bikers had even opened
fire on responding police officers. Yet, when asked if the authorities knew the names of the gangs
involved, Sergeant Swanton
responded: “We do, but we’re not going
to give them the privilege at this point of putting their names out there.”

Politicians
and law enforcement officials commenting on the recent spate of Islamic
State–related arrests would be well advised to take a page out of Sergeant
Swanton’s PR playbook. Instead, they consistently provide the
Islamic State with the publicity it so obviously craves. In that
way, the current Islamic State craze in US law enforcement and security circles serves two seemingly opposed but fundamentally codependent
narratives: that of the US security apparatus, but also, counterintuitively, that of the
Islamic State itself.

After all, what better publicity could an ambitious—if
brutal—political startup like the Islamic State pray for than being mentioned
by the most powerful man on the planet, President
Barack Obama? Back in February, Obama
referred
to supposedly widespread Islamic State recruitment here at home as an “urgent
threat.”

Unsurprisingly, his subordinates have been disseminating
that same message. Federal law enforcement spokespersons have
decried
the growing influence of IS and the allegedly surging risk of attacks on US soil. Earlier this year, FBI
Director James Comey announced
open investigations in all 50 states of “people in various stages of
radicalizing.”

Realities do not seem to deter any of these officials from
their statements. Even crediting
unsubstantiated US intelligence estimates, only about 150 Americans have traveled—or attempted to travel—to Syria to join militant groups, a
small number compared to the overall population of American Muslims.

Nor has there been an attack carried out or
attempted on US soil at the confirmed behest of the Islamic State. All
officials can point to if pressed is the recent
attempted attack in Garland, Texas, whose perpetrators appear to have been
freelancing. Or maybe a
single case out of Columbus, Ohio, where the defendant is alleged to have returned
from Syria with instructions from the al Nusra Front, a US-designated terrorist
organization, to carry out an attack in the US, which he never did.

Even the director of the FBI is not above
relying on a
discredited theory that individuals “radicalize” to violence along a
predictable path with “stages” as innocuous as deciding to grow a beard.

And, of course, the tendency to overstate the
threat represented by the Islamic State does not stop at our borders.
Commenting on the recent apprehension of a 16-year-old girl who attempted to
travel from London to Syria, UK Home Secretary Theresa May, too,
spoke
of “the seriousness of the threat… from IS,” casting it in stark, existential
terms.

The
point here is not that authorities should disregard whatever threat might be
posed by any individuals seeking military training overseas or planning acts of
mayhem domestically. But the frequency of public expressions of concern by
high-level government officials and the stridency of their warnings bear little
relation to the actual scope and gravity of the threat.

There have been
more than 20 Islamic State–related arrests in
the United States so far. Quite often, they have
turned out to be heavily
government-driven
, involving paid informants or undercovers, following a
pattern observed in the
recent arrest of six young men in Minnesota, for instance.

The
story told by politicians and law enforcement officials around these cases and,
more broadly, about the grave threat that the Islamic State purportedly poses
to the United States,
serves to justify our current expansive and expensive domestic
surveillance and security apparatus. Indirectly, it bolsters
current US foreign policy. Even local cops want in on the action, including
New York City top cop Bill Bratton, who recently
waxed
apocalyptic
about the Islamic State in order to ask for
450 extra police officers to be added to what is already the country’s largest
police force.

But
the heated rhetoric and high-profile prosecutions of insignificant
Islamic State wannabes come at a cost that is far less obvious, but every bit as
real as the political and financial windfall they occasion for some officials
in the United States. (Not to mention the havoc these cases wreak on defendants, their families, and their communities.)

In
tangible ways, these very same arrests and the accompanying overheated talk advance
the Islamic State’s interests, too. In its propaganda, the Islamic State postures
that it can project its military might into the hearts of pluralistic societies
like the United States. Having already demonstrated an ability to draw
impressionable Western Muslims as recruits to such danger zones as Syria and
Iraq, it has threatened to activate unspecified elements for strikes in North
American and Western European cities.

Of course, that is mostly empty talk, likely aimed at sharpening
divides and suspicions between, say, American Muslims and their non-Muslim
compatriots. No official has credibly claimed the existence of a network of sleeper cells in
American cities under direct Islamic State command. The territorial United
States is not awash with terror cells. Even those Americans who want to travel
to Syria do not necessarily pose a direct threat to the United States.

But
splashy Islamic State–related cases and the official chatter surrounding them fill
the gap between reality and the perception that the Islamic State relies on. In that way, those prosecutions and the rhetoric
around them perform valuable propaganda work for the Islamic State, at no cost,
while serving law enforcement’s self-justifying agenda.

One
way out of this strange bedfellows paradox would be for officials to refrain
from exaggerating the peril represented by youths who seek to go abroad to
join up with the Islamic State and similar groups, and to no longer highlight
and exceptionalize attempted or actual acts of violence
by Muslim-identified actors.

It
is largely because, in the post-9/11 era, terrorism incidents are
virtually guaranteed to draw high-level official reaction and extensive media
coverage that they are politically valuable to groups like the Islamic
State. For those reasons, too, they appeal to young people in search of a cause and
to would-be terrorists leading marginal or troubled lives and looking for a
greater purpose.

Reducing
the profile and visibility of such incidents and of claims relating to the
ambient “threat” would likely undercut potential recruits and the groups they
wish to join. It would also create space for a sane and rational conversation
around security in the present era, away from the clamorous rhetoric that
characterizes the usual debate.

But
while it would certainly make for sound policy, pressing officials to reign in
their saber-rattling and fanfare about the domestic threat posed by the Islamic
State and the attendant small-fry cases amounts to asking them to
abandon a prolific cash cow. Sadly, this is likely to prove a stillborn proposition.

Ramzi Kassem is a professor at the
City University of New York School of Law. He directs the
CLEAR project (Creating Law
Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility) as well as the
Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic.

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Captain John’s final farewell will involve complex manoeuvring

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

The Toronto waterfront is set to be transformed for the first time in 40 years Thursday as Captain John’s floating restaurant prepares to finally set sail — under the engine power of two super tugs — at about 10.30 a.m.

That’s assuming the wind, waves and weather co-operate.

The ship, which has been a fixture at the foot of Yonge St. since November of 1975, has been ready to go since Tuesday, but the move was delayed because of high winds.

Some 200 tonnes of water have been pumped into its ballast tanks so the top-heavy ship sits about a foot lower than it used to, and ship scrapper Wayne Elliott has been keeping a fairly constant eye on conditions right from the foot of Yonge St.

A police escort is planned and some eight crew members — including the former floating restaurant’s long-time chef and “Captain,” John Letnik — will man the ship as it is towed out of Toronto Harbour, across Lake Ontario and through the Welland Canal to the Port Colborne scrapyard of Marine Recycling Corp.

The Star will be following the send-off for the Toronto landmark.

Here’s how the move will happen.

1. In port

The 90-metre ship, the Jadran, has been thoroughly inspected by a naval architect and marine surveyor and careful calculations made to ensure the 1,800 tonne ship is properly balanced and won’t “turn turtle” and disrupt shipping traffic during its 18-hour-plus trip to its Port Colborne “graving berth.”

Vertical white rulers have been painted on the hull as early warning systems if the ship starts listing or sinking during the voyage.

2. The move begins

Two especially powerful tugs — the Molly and the Jarrett — have been commissioned for this high-profile “dead ship tow,” since the ship’s engine was disconnected years ago. One tug will be tethered to the bow as power for the ship, the other tethered to the stern for steering and braking.

It’s not until those tugs are firmly connected and all other conditions — such as proper ballast and minimal wind and waves — are in place that the ship will be issued a towing certificate, approved by Transport Canada, the essential green light for the move.

3. Turn, turn, turn

Then comes the riskiest part of the voyage — set for sometime after 10:30 a.m. Thursday — when the ship is eased out of the slip where it’s been tied since November of 1975 and angled out into Lake Ontario through the Eastern Gap.

4. Out to sea

Wind and weather permitting, the 45-kilometre tow across Lake Ontario to Lock 1 of the Welland Canal should take four to six hours.

5. Crossing the canal

The ship is likely to get a good going over again when it arrives at the 24.5-metre wide shipping channel to ensure its fitness to transit. Any risk to the key canal could be devastating and costly, given that it costs an average of $35,000 a day to run a ship.

By the time the Jadran clears Lock 8 of the Welland Canal, it will have traversed from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie and be floating almost 100 metres higher in the world than it was leaving Toronto.

6. The end

From there it will be towed into its final resting place, the scrapyard of Marine Recycling Corp. in Port Colborne just west of the canal. About 10 tonnes of asbestos, as well as other contaminants, will be contained and removed at the yard, as will be badly weathered teak decking and other contents. Eventually, everything from the Jadran’s double-steel hull to its aluminum lifeboats, will be chopped into recyclable pieces and turned into a range of things from razor blades to new cars. Valuables, such as the two pianos still on board, will be sold off.

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Jawbone sues Fitbit for ‘plundering’ product information

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

Jawbone is suing its archrival, Fitbit, for “systematically plundering” confidential information. According to the complaint, Fitbit recruiters attempted to poach almost one-third of Jawbone’s staff. Some of those employees left the company, but not …

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Boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa — I’m Not Ditching 50 Cent … Over Bankruptcy

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  TMZ Staff

50 Cent isn’t going to lose his biggest boxing star … despite the fact his promotions company filed for bankruptcy this week … with Yuriorkis Gamboa vowing to ride with 50 all the way ’til the end. We broke the story … SMS Promotions…

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Ice Cube to Rabbi — For You, a Beatdown! Casino Fight Alleged

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  TMZ Staff

So a rabbi and Ice Cube walk into a casino, and the rabbi catches an anti-Semitic fueled ass whuppin’ — at least that’s what the rabbi’s claiming, but Cube says that’s a load of crap. P. Taras, who says he’s a rabbi … tells TMZ he was…

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Stuart Mackinnon: BetterParks for Vancouver: Park commissioners lament Vancouver Aquarium only option for rescued false killer whale

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Stuart Mackinnon

by Travis Lupick on May 26th, 2015 at 6:18 PM

 Park commissioners have said they are saddened to learn another cetacean will live in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium.

The Green Party’s Stuart Mackinnon suggested animals deemed unfit for release could be relocated to protected sea pens.

“Another creature from the wild is going to be kept in captivity,” he said in a telephone interview. “I understand the aquarium is saying that it was too young when it was taken and that it cannot be released. But keeping it in a small pool for the entertainment of humans doesn’t (Read more…)

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What do people check the price of most? It depends where you live

Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

From tattoos to taxis, if there’s one thing Canadians have in common, it’s our love of a good deal.

By using Google’s autocomplete function, the Star analyzed what item people were most likely to price-check for in each city. In Saskatoon, people were most likely to search for the cost of a tattoo. In Toronto, it was a nanny.

People were overwhelmingly concerned with the cost of transportation; In 11 out of the 24 cities analyzed, the most popular search was for a taxi or cab.

The idea comes from this nifty map, created by cost-guide website the Fixr, which tracked “cost obsessions” across the globe. Raul Amoros, who created the map, said autocomplete is a good way of measuring Google users’ search intentions.

Amoros said he was able to understand what users were checking prices for across the globe by collecting data on the autocompletes suggested by Google for the same question applied to different countries.

It works like this:

Google a query for each country or city using an asterisk as a placeholder for the item you’re checking the price for.

  • “How much does a * cost in Hamilton?”
  • “How much does a * cost in Benin?”
  • The first autocomplete suggested by Google is that place’s biggest cost obsession.

    For Canada, people are most likely to ask about the price of a passport. In India, it’s a cow.

    The most shocking finding, Amoros said, was that people checked on the price of “a slave” in Mauritania.

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    The CIA’s Last Detainee Hates LeBron James, and Other Letters from Guantanamo Bay

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

    The CIA’s Last Detainee Hates LeBron James, and Other Letters from Guantanamo Bay

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    OpenMedia.ca: How Canadians can end mass surveillance

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

    A version of this article by our David Christopher was originally published by The Tyee, as part of a new series about Canada’s Privacy Plan

    Just two short years ago, if you stopped people on the street and asked about mass surveillance, you’d have likely been met with a blank stare. Older generations may have brought up scenes from long-toppled totalitarian regimes, such as the system of ubiquitous domestic surveillance designed by East Germany’s spy agency, the Stasi.

    read more

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    How Canadians can end mass surveillance

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

    A version of this article by our David Christopher was originally published by The Tyee, as part of a new series about Canada’s Privacy Plan

    Just two short years ago, if you stopped people on the street and asked about mass surveillance, you’d have likely been met with a blank stare. Older generations may have brought up scenes from long-toppled totalitarian regimes, such as the system of ubiquitous domestic surveillance designed by East Germany’s spy agency, the Stasi.

    read more

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    Your Afternoon Chat: Passions and Soap Operas

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Jessica

    So, thanks to the miracle of Twitter, we were recently informed that ALL OF PASSIONS is now on YouTube, which is incredibly bad news for Night Jessica, who spent much of last night watching it. And speaking of Night Jessica, if you’ve read The Royal We  (or even just the free sample chapters, actually) you Read More …

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    The VICE Guide to Right Now: Nebraska Lawmakers Have Successfully Abolished the Death Penalty

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Drew Millard

    [body_image width=’1024′ height=’683′ path=’images/content-images/2015/05/20/’ crop=’images/content-images-crops/2015/05/20/’ filename=’it-looks-like-nebraska-is-about-to-abolish-the-death-penalty-vgtrn-body-image-1432147813.jpg’ id=’58214′]

    Image via Flickr user Ken Piorowski.

    [UPDATE: Nebraska’s legislature has successfully overridden Ricketts’ veto with a vote of 30-19—the bare minimum to overturn the governor’s veto.]

    On Tuesday night, as expected, Nebraska’s Republican Governor Pete Ricketts vetoed a bill to repeal the death penalty in his state, following through on a promise he’d made last week, when the state legislature voted 32-15 in favor of the measure. Surrounded by law enforcement officers and the families of murder victims at a news conference Tuesday, Ricketts told reporters that maintaining the state’s death penalty was “a matter of public safety.”

    Later today, state lawmakers will try to override Ricketts’ veto, a move that would make Nebraska the first Republican-led state to end capital punishment.

    Supporters of repeal point out that Nebraska hasn’t executed a prisoner since 1997, and only has ten inmates on death row. Ricketts dismissed those numbers Wednesday, calling the lack of executions in his state a “management problem.”

    “I am committed to ensuring that Nebraska has a functional death penalty,” Ricketts said in a statement, adding that “the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services has purchased the drugs necessary to carry out the death penalty here in our state.”

    According to the Omaha Daily Herald, Ricketts issued a press release earlier this month announcing that the state had purchased two of the three drugs necessary for lethal injections—sodium thiopental and pancuronium bromide—from the Indian distributor HarrisPharma.

    Nebraska officially switched its execution method from the electric chair to lethal injection in 2009. In 2011 Hospira, the United States’ sole manufacturer of sodium thiopental—an anesthetic often used in lethal injections—announced that it would cease production of the drug. In a press release, the company wrote that they were concerned that they “could not prevent the drug from being diverted to departments of corrections for use in capital punishment procedures.”

    That same year, a federal judge ruled that Nebraska had illegally imported sodium thiopental, from a drug company based in India. According to the Associated Press, state officials then “obtained a new batch from another Indian source,” only to have the drug’s Swiss manufacturer, Naari AG, claim the sodium thiopental in question was a sample meant for non-lethal use in Zambia. According to the Daily Herald, at least one of the sources for Nebraska’s 2011 sodium thiopental purchase was HarrisPharma.

    In an op-ed published by the Omaha Daily Herald earlier today, Ricketts defended his veto. “Unlike California or Texas, which have hundreds on death row,” he wrote, “we use the death penalty judiciously and prudently.” He continued:

    It was just six years ago that the method for carrying out the death penalty was changed from the electric chair to lethal injection. That change was pushed for by the same special interests that are now standing in the way of its use. It is the litigious actions of these groups that impede the will of the people.

    Overturning the death penalty, he argued, “vests the killers with more justice than the victims.”

    If state lawmakers override Ricketts’ veto, Nebraska will become the 19th state to completely abolish the death penalty.

    Five in-depth stories on the death penalty:

    1. The Majority of US States Do Not Have the Death Penalty
    2. Liberals Won’t Let the Death Penalty Die
    3. Utah Firing Squad Proposal Points to Death Penalty Crisis
    4. UN Vote Against Death Penalty Highlights Global Abolitionist Trend and Leaves the US Stranded
    5. Meet the Irish Catholic Priest Who Ministers to Inmates on Indonesia’s Death Row

    Follow Drew Millard on Twitter.

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    Rodney Ascher’s New Doc, ‘The Nightmare,’ Reveals the Real-Life Horror of Sleep Paralysis

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

    At first, you can’t move. It feels like you’re waking up, except your arms and legs and head and tongue are all frozen in place. You want to cry for help, but you can’t. You’re betrayed by your body, paralyzed. You lie there as your breathing begins to quicken, your heart rate jolting, until you see it: a shadowy figure in the room, moving closer. Maybe it’s a man in a dark cloak. Or maybe it’s an old woman, grotesque and witchlike. Either way, there is something sinister—and you are there, in your bed, powerless to do anything.

    This real-life horror is known as sleep paralysis: a half-dreaming, half-wakeful state that leaves your body immobilized while you encounter nightmarish visions of terror. By some estimates, it affects about
    6 percent of the general population, many of whom are left without an explanation for what happened to them. Was it a dream? Was it reality? Was it supernatural—and will it happen again?

    After it happened to filmmaker
    Rodney Ascher (best known for directing
    Room 237), he began to seek others who had experienced the same thing, and found a community brimming with its own mythology and philosophy about sleep paralysis. In his new film,
    The Nightmare, which straddles the line between documentary and horror film, Ascher shares the stories of those who have experienced sleep paralysis and struggled to make meaning of it. I called Ascher to learn more about the film, his own experience with sleep paralysis, and the blurred lines between the real and the imaginary.

    [vimeo src=’//player.vimeo.com/video/125421779′ width=’100&’ height=’360′]

    VICE: What was it like the first time you experienced sleep paralysis?
    Rodney Ascher: The first time was more than 15 years ago. I woke up around four in the morning and I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk. I wanted to call for help—I was living in a house with a couple of roommates—because I was paralyzed and kind of panicking. I didn’t hear anything, but I sensed that there was something outside the house kind of looking at me, or coming toward me. At a certain point, there was this black silhouette of a man, with very sharply defined edges, kind of slender, and he was in the room, walking toward me very slowly. I was absolutely horrified. I wasn’t sure if it was a ghost or a demon or something, but I sensed evil, for lack of a better word. It came very close and it leaned right over my face and I think I just kind of went into a fugue state. Somehow, I peeled myself out of bed in a way that felt like a fly peeling itself off of glue paper. It took me a little while to relax after that.

    I was convinced it was a supernatural experience—I thought I was in danger of demonic possession, and it took a long time before any alternate explanations offered themselves up to me.

    When did you finally get those explanations?
    Well, what was really striking to me was that this had happened to me when the internet was in its earliest days, so there wasn’t really anything that I could use to research what I had experienced. I think if I did, I wouldn’t have looked it up as a
    sleep disorder. I would’ve been researching something about, like, ghosts and the supernatural, which is how it felt to me. When I decided to research it a little bit, and see if I could find other people sharing their experiences or find scientific explanations for what was going on, I was astonished to see the sheer number of people out there who had gone through it; who were telling the details of their stories, some of which were even more bizarre and frightening than my own, in a way that they were starting to understand what had happened to them. That was fascinating to me, and made it clear that there was a bigger story here.

    In terms of the science, what’s actually happening to your brain during sleep paralysis?
    Well, even some of the simpler explanations get complicated pretty quickly, but the clearest ones that I’ve come across talk about moving through REM states in the wrong sequence. When you’re sleeping, you go through REM 1 and REM 2, and you’re supposed to go back through REM 2 to REM 1 before you wake. But if you break from REM 2—the deepest level—to consciousness, then you’re still halfway dreaming. Your body gets immobilized normally when you’re sleeping, so that you don’t act out your dreams. To me, that suggests that the opposite of sleep paralysis is sleep walking. If your body doesn’t shut down while you’re dreaming, you might act stuff out and that might be dangerous to you and the people around you. But if it works too well and it keeps you immobilized after you wake, that can be very disturbing. And if you’re still halfway in dream mode, then you’re seeing things while being aware of your environment, that can be pretty disturbing too.

    But none of that stuff gets at questions of, well, why do different people see the same thing? Or if people are all dreaming similar things, should there be a clearer understanding of what dreams mean? The questions I’m interested in about why people see what they see and how they struggle to make sense of this stuff are questions that aren’t strictly scientific.

    Related: Motherboard explains why sleep paralysis is so terrifying.

    What are the common figures that people see?
    The three-dimensional shadow man is probably the most common one. Lots of people describe seeing something similar, but wearing a hat—they call him the Hat Man. Then there’s another Hat Man that seems to be related to UFO stories in a way that I don’t totally have my head around. It can atomize pretty quickly. People talk about seeing the Old Hag, which is like a very old woman, or Cloak Man, who’s like more or less the Grim Reaper. Also cats, black cats; spiders…

    [body_image width=’1350′ height=’900′ path=’images/content-images/2015/05/27/’ crop=’images/content-images-crops/2015/05/27/’ filename=’the-nightmare-reveals-the-real-life-horror-of-sleep-paralysis-500-body-image-1432760461.jpg’ id=’60654′]

    And these are all part of a common mythology within the sleep paralysis community?
    It’s weird, because these are like the opposite of UFO stories. Most people are loosely familiar with some of the main details of a UFO abduction story. Most people have an idea of what an alien might look like—a tall, grey alien with big black eyes and a little slit for a mouth. But with sleep paralysis—as common as these experiences are—don’t seem to be a big part of American folklore. So first, you have to experience it, and then you look for answers, and then you discover that other people have seen the same things. And that makes it all the stranger.

    Since the terror part of sleep paralysis is produced by your own mind, is there a sense that there’s a social contagion to it? That if you familiarize yourself with the mechanisms and the mythology, that you’re more likely to experience it?
    That’s certainly something that some people believe. I don’t have any hard data, but it is an idea that’s out there. But it’s interesting that you say this is something “produced in your own mind,” which is a very rationalist, secularist, scientific way to look at it. There’s not a consensus about [whether or not that’s true] among people who have experienced it. This is really one of the questions we’re exploring in the film: Is this something that’s the product of your own mind? Are you projecting it from inside, or are you sensitive to something that’s out there but is usually invisible? Or is it something that’s hardwired, some kind of ancestral thing, like the Jungian idea of the unconscious? I don’t know which one is scarier.

    The entire thing seems terrifying—but do some people experience sleep paralysis without feeling fear?
    There’s a whole school of people who make peace with it. They see it as a gateway to
    lucid dreaming and out-of-body experiences. There was a debate online that I enjoyed where one person was saying, “If you just relax, and don’t fear it, your shadow person can become your guide.” Then someone else would rebut it like, “Are you out of your mind? These things are demonic presences! You welcome them into your room like you welcome a fire into your house.” To me, that was evocative of the debate in the first
    Poltergeist, of “walk into the light” or “don’t walk into the light.”

    The last time it happened to me, it was in the course of making this film, and I kind of thought to myself, “Oh! Sleep paralysis! This is happening.” So I tried to relax and take notes and see if I could see anything that would inform how I would make the film. So I wasn’t scared. It was kind of an awesome lightshow.

    There seems to be a real power in sharing your sleep paralysis experience with others so that people can figure out what’s happening to them.
    That’s absolutely right. When you see the film, it’s not presented as anything like therapy—and because it’s terrifying for most people, I tried to make the movie scary for people. I think there may be a connection between these experiences and the birth of the horror movie, and so I allowed this film to go into horror movie mode from time to time. Nonetheless, I spoke to people after the movie who’ve experienced sleep paralysis, and who’ve been grateful. Some people have said, “All my life I thought that I was alone, and I thought I was the only person who went through this.” It was reassuring to them. So I don’t know if I’ve accidentally made something that’s therapeutic—despite my worst intentions—but I think it’s always very comforting to find out that you’re not alone.

    Follow Arielle Pardes on Twitter.

    The Nightmare
    appears in theaters on June 5.

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    How Air Canada turned its pension around

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

    Just a few years ago, Canadian companies were facing staggering pension shortfalls, well into the billions.

    But thanks to better returns from both stock and bond markets, many of those deficits have shrunk or are wiped out completely.

    Air Canada went from a $4.2 billion pension solvency deficit in 2012 that threatened the company’s future, raising concerns about another trip to bankruptcy court, to a $1.2 billion surplus as of this month.

    That’s a huge jump from $89 million at Jan. 1, 2014, and $660 million as at Jan. 1, 2015.

    The outlook is so good that on Tuesday the airline opted out of a special extension deal that the federal government granted the company in 2013, when things were bleak, and the struggling company was unlikely to make all the required back pension payments.

    Under that agreement, Air Canada was required to make back payments to its solvency deficit of $200 million a year, on average, over a seven-year period.

    But now armed with the healthy surplus, if it opted out, it would only need to pay $90 million this year and nothing next year.

    Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu trumpeted the success of the pension plan’s returns at this month’s annual meeting. “Our pension fund continues to delivery top quartile returns,” he said, after carrying “a very large deficit for years.”

    The swing from red to black ink comes, in part, because of concessions made by employees, and new hires don’t have the same pension plans as other employees.

    The airline says it has crunched the numbers – and asked actuaries to create 1,000 different economic scenarios to simulate what it would mean for its current plan asset mix, whether it would need to contribute more than $1.2 billion over the next six years.

    It also examined three economic crises – the 2009 financial crisis, the 2001-2002 tech crash, and the 1970 oil crisis.

    “None of those three economic crises would result in payments exceeding an aggregate amount of $1.2 billion over the next six years,” Air Canada said in a news release.

    “With respect to the 1,000 economic scenarios, less than 2 per cent would result in payments of over $1.2 billion; however, none of these scenarios has ever actually occurred.”

    Thomas Levy, senior vice-president and chief actuary, said it is not a surprise that Air Canada wouldn’t want to pay into the solvency deficit fund, if it is overfunded.

    “It would be putting more money in the plan than you need,” he said.

    “Call it brilliant investing or sheer good luck,” Levy said, noting Air Canada invested a significant part of their assets into fixed income securities at a time when people believed interest rates would go up, and they actually went down.

    “As interest rates go down, the bonds you already hold go up in value,” he said. “And the longer the duration of those bonds, the more they go up.”

    Air Canada says 75 per cent of its plan’s assets — $12 billion out of $16 billion –— are “immunized,” in fixed income investments. That means buying bonds where the cash flows from the bonds, more or less match the duration of the plan’s obligations, reducing overall risk.

    More companies are looking at taking volatility or risk off the table, by matching assets and liabilities, so when things change, they move about the same amount in the same direction.

    Levy added that Canadian pension funds have also benefited from the weakness of the Canadian dollar – where purchases in a U.S. stock may have delivered a good return, but when calculated in Canadian dollars results in an even better return.

    Jo-Ann Hannah, director of pensions and benefits for Unifor, which represents the airline’s customer service workers, says all the unions worked with the company to keep the company afloat.

    “Unions are always criticized as being obstinate and standing the way,” she said. “This shows employers can work with unions to come up with good solutions.”

    It also shows that defined benefit plans – where there is a guaranteed payout at retirement, unlike defined contribution plans – can go through massive swings.

    “But corporations have the resources to withstand the ups and downs,” she said, noting then-Finance Minister Jim Flaherty pushed for the pension extension in 2013.

    “Air Canada is Canada’s major airline. It provides an important service, with many jobs. It is a very important corporation,” she said.

    Under the pension agreement, Flaherty attached certain conditions including restricting executive compensation as well as barring any dividends or stock buybacks.

    The company has already announced a buyback of about 3.5 per cent of its shares.

    Hannah noted that the union is currently in bargaining for a new contract, and facing contentious issues including moving wheelchair assistance work to Pearson airport staff from Air Canada.

    “We made concessions on the pension plan, and the plan is now good,” she said. “Are they prepared to share?”

    The company has said in addition to the share buybacks that it intends to put some of the pension savings toward its debt as it renews its aircraft fleet.

    While Air Canada’s pension plan is in the black, Canada Post’s defined benefit pension plan is still in the hole.

    In its first quarter 2015 earnings report, Canada Post said its pension solvency deficit as at Dec. 31, 2014, was about $6.8 billion.

    In February 2014, the federal government granted Canada Post pension funding relief, not requiring it to make any back payments through 2017. Without it, Canada Post would have been required to pay $1.4 billion in special payments this year.

    Air Canada shares reached a new 52-week high on Wednesday. It closed at $13.59, up $1.01, or 8 per cent.

    By the numbers

    Number of Air Canada pension plans: 8

    Value of pension fund assets as of Jan. 1, 2015: $16 billion

    Amount of pension assets locked in fixed income investments: $12 billion

    Total number of employees: 27,000

    Total number of plan members: 23,000 active employees who are contributing and approximately 28,000 pensioners and survivors

    Number of economic scenarios considered before airline opted out of pension extension agreement: 1,000

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    My Hearing Loss Felt Normal, Until I Tried to Fix It

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

    [body_image width=’1024′ height=’683′ path=’images/content-images/2015/05/26/’ crop=’images/content-images-crops/2015/05/26/’ filename=’what-ive-gained-and-lost-from-being-deaf-in-one-ear-526-body-image-1432663977.jpg’ id=’60180′]

    Photo by Flickr user
    Travis Isaacs

    It had been 20 years since I’d sat on a stool in one of these dark carpeted booths, but nothing had changed. There was the diagram of the human ear with its parts illustrated and labeled. There were the heavy headphones with rubber lining that clung to my face. There was the audiologist who watched me from outside, making note of when I heard a beep, and, more importantly, when I did not. I am deaf in one ear and have been since I was born. Tests like this have always made me feel like a defective specimen. Why put me in this booth, to chart the specifics of my malfunction? Doctors told me a long time ago: There was nothing to be done.

    I’ve lived my entire life with the hole on my right side, where awareness should be. In grocery stores, at Disneyland, jogging through Griffith Park, I am used to being in peoples’ way. I don’t hear them say “excuse me,” until it’s the fourth time and they’re already annoyed. If I have a friend with me, he or she might tell me to move, but I won’t know what direction I’m supposed to go in, so I flail around like a big dumb animal and wonder why I have always been “the spazzy one.” This is just who I am—one of the 15 percent of Americans with hearing loss. Or I thought it was, until I learned about bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHAs), a new technology that sends sound waves past the ear to the bone of the skull and is ideal for people who are deaf in only one ear.

    After years of getting in trouble at school because I was the only kid who had to whip her head around to hear the gossip circulating around the classroom, of confusing strangers by turning into them when they whispered something into my bad side, learning about BAHAs, and finding out that there was something to be done, brought me back into the audiologist’s booth. If I passed this test—or, rather, if I failed it—then maybe there would be normal hearing waiting for me on the other side.

    Beep. I raised my hand. Sitting there was proof again that there was something wrong with me. A fainter beep. Another hand raise. There was nothing wrong with me, I thought.I was fine. I’ve been fine. I’ve made it work. A fainter beep. Was that even a beep, or the ringing I hear when I’m about to faint? I raised my hand just in case. What if I was doing too well at this? What if they denied me because once I again, I managed to pass as a fully hearing person? I stepped out of the booth and into the light.

    “Well, you have profound hearing loss,” the audiologist told me flatly, before having me pull up a chair.

    She proceeded to show me a graph on her monitor that echoed what I’ve always known: My right ear is essentially just for decoration. Then came the actual news. The front desk had called my insurance while I’d been in the booth. Normally, hearing aids are not covered by insurance because they’re a “luxury,” but because a BAHA requires surgery, it would be covered. I could get a BAHA. This was actually going to happen. As she used a model of the human head to show where they would insert a screw into my skull for the new sound receptor, my excitement bubbled over.

    [body_image width=’1200′ height=’1200′ path=’images/content-images/2015/05/26/’ crop=’images/content-images-crops/2015/05/26/’ filename=’what-ive-gained-and-lost-from-being-deaf-in-one-ear-526-body-image-1432664080.jpg’ id=’60181′]

    Photo by the author

    I’ve never felt sorry for myself that I’m hard of hearing. I have, however, always felt that I’m living on roller skates while most people walk around in shoes. I don’t hear in stereo, so every noise exists on one vague plain. Sounds have no sense of place for me. When people call my name, I don’t know where they’re coming from. For a long time, as a child, I struggled with insomnia because every time I lay down on my left ear, I could hear my own heart beat, and that sounded exactly the same to me as steps coming from downstairs.

    Hearing without direction has made the element of surprise a constant in my life. Chaos is white noise that I no longer hear. I can pull an unexpected all-nighter in the middle of the week. I can leave for a road trip without packing. This is why I always told myself I wouldn’t go back and be born as a fully hearing person, even if I had the chance.

    I wouldn’t, but finding out that I could get a BAHA forced me to admit that just because I’ve made the most of a defect didn’t mean that I should live stunted forever.

    I always thought the first thing I would hear normally on my right side would be a symphony or a flock of wild birds, but it was just one of those hearing test beeps, and I only heard it faintly.

    Maybe I was on the way to spending the rest of my time as a fully-hearing person, but first I would have to navigate the circuitous nonsense that is a the silver-level HMO Anthem Blue Cross version of Obamacare. I went to a nurse practitioner at my primary care physician’s office and was referred to an ear, nose, and throat doctor who was actually a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills.

    I sat in his posh office, and he revealed that he was part of the tribe: “I’m deaf in one ear, too!” he exclaimed.

    “Do you have a hearing aid?”

    “No.” And then, “Why do you want one?”

    I’d never had to defend my desire to hear out of both sides of my head before, and I searched for specific reasons. All of them seemed small by themselves, but in the aggregate, they were important. I want to be able to drive a car and hear my friends and not the wind, as my good ear faces the window. I want to stop having to ask people to repeat mundane sentences with annoyed looks on their faces. I want to sit on either side of someone at the movies and not have to miss out on all the mid-movie whispers that seem insignificant until you’re being excluded from them. I want to know if someone is walking up behind me.

    On Noisey: A man who’s been deaf his whole life talks about hearing music for the first time.

    After pretending to hear what I’d said, the Beverly Hills doctor referred me to another audiologist, who had to do another test because the first one hadn’t been “in network.” At the second audiologist, there was another beeping test, but this time, we had to test not just my ears but my skull’s ability to transmit sound. BAHAs are hearing aids that transmit sound directly to the inner ear, by way of the bone, rather than the busted ear. She put the headphone on my skull and fired off a beep. I heard it on my right side.

    I guess I always thought the first thing I would hear normally on my right side would be a symphony or a flock of wild birds, but it was just one of those hearing test beeps, and I only heard it faintly. Still, hearing anything at all, to feel sound coming from that region of my head, felt like finding a leafy sprig growing on the moon.


    For more on people with disabilities doing cool stuff, VICE meets Carey McWilliams, the first totally blind person in the USA to acquire a concealed-carry permit.


    “Your bone isn’t as viable as I was hoping,” the audiologist said, showing me a graph of where normal hearing was (high), where my hearing was (low), and where the BAHA would put me (somewhere in between).

    Until now, I’d pictured my hearing aid elevating me to perfect hearing. As with everything else that has existed only on the horizon of my future, I hadn’t entertained the idea that reality may fall short of my expectations. Having a box on my skull would not give me normal hearing. I let this sink in before consoling myself, with a phrase that has gotten me through countless dead-end jobs and gas-station meals: “It’s better than nothing.”

    Going Deaf? Motherboard investigates a pill to restore hearing loss.

    Even so, I was excited. But then, later that week, Anthem Blue Cross mysteriously canceled my policy. I spent hours on the phone with them trying to find out why it had been canceled. I had paid my bills all on time. They told me that they saw I had paid my bills but that I would be issued a refund for my payment because my policy had been canceled due to lack of payment. I spent over an hour on the phone with a man named Steven who at one point said in a very authoritative voice, “Ma’am, just because we get your money doesn’t mean we use it.”

    The closer I get, the more it slips away. My hearing loss frustrates me more now than it ever has before.

    Two months wore on. I called Anthem Blue Cross almost daily. The hearing aid that I had come so close to getting, again became the stuff of “somedays.” Eventually, with the help of the insurance commission, I helped Anthem Blue Cross help themselves see that they had indeed made an error, and my policy was reinstated. I now call the ENT’s office every other day, but I still have not successfully landed an appointment with an in-network surgeon. Someone in that office is perpetually “looking into it.”

    Getting this surgery has started to feel like grasping a drop of mercury. The closer I get, the more it slips away. My hearing loss frustrates me more now than it ever has before. I shouldn’t have to live like this when there’s a way to fix it.

    I will always be half-deaf, though, even when I finally get that device put in my head. I will always be a person who can sleep through car alarms and crying babies on planes because I can always turn my good ear down and envelope myself in solitude. I will always be a good listener, because for so much of my life, every conversation has required effort and focus. I hope, though, that I won’t always be split into two sides: the me who is talkative and outgoing and aware and confident, and the me who is constantly apologizing and worried everyone thinks I’m dumb because I smile and nod when I don’t want to say “I’m sorry?” again.

    I wish I knew already what it will be like to merge these two versions of me—to hear my dogs barking and my phone ringing and my friend behind me on a surfboard telling me to watch out—all from both sides of my awareness, to walk through a world where these things have context and place and not just sound, but the other half of me wishes I had never heard that faint beep on the side of my skull at all.

    Follow Tess Barker on Twitter.

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    Educational Training

    Government of Canada helps youth in Saint-Félicien and area get jobs

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Canada News Centre - National News

    The Government of Canada is helping equip youth in Saint-Félicien and the surrounding area with the skills and experience they need to find jobs. The announcement was made today by the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Member of Parliament for Roberval–Lac-St-Jean, on behalf of the Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Employment and Social Development.

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    Creepy Chrome extension shows where FB messages come from

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

    Even though Facebook’s mobile Messenger specifically tells you that it tracks your location data the first time you install the app (and every time you start a new conversation), most folks don’t realize how often and how accurately it actually does …

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    Government of Canada helps youth in La Baie and area get jobs

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Canada News Centre - National News

    The Government of Canada is helping equip youth in La Baie and the surrounding area with the skills and experience they need to find jobs. The announcement was made today by the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Interg…

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    BASE jumpers make historic leap from CN Tower for Pan Am Games

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

    It was meant to be “top secret,” but when you’re jumping off the CN Tower, you can’t exactly keep things hush-hush.

    As a helicopter circled around crowds gathered at Roundhouse Park early Wednesday morning, two BASE jumpers took the plunge, falling separately from the top of the tower, their parachutes billowing in the wind.

    The pair — identified as French BASE jumpers Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet —each landed with a Pan Am Games emblazoned torch in their hands, sparking speculation that the stunts were part of the sports competition’s July 10 opening ceremony.

    When the Star asked film crews what they were doing at the site, cameramen rushed to shield the torch, claiming their presence was “top secret.”

    They gave the same response when questioned about a man clad in a Games tracksuit who was spotted across the street from the parachute landing pad, running with a lit torch.

    All Pan Am spokesperson Teddy Katz would say is that “this is for a promotional video we are filming.”

    A rare stunt

    A sanctioned BASE jump from the top of the CN Tower isn’t something you see every day. That it’s being done by two professional French jumpers, instead of Canadians, has angered some in the tight-knit local community of jumpers.

    “It’s shocking and unacceptable,” said Anthony White, an Ottawa BASE jumper, who added that his team has “pitched numerous proposals to the CN tower over the years, outlining as well the importance of using Canadian talent if and when the jumps occurred.”

    “Our red and white coloured parachutes were made for just such an event and would look wonderful displaying the Canadian colours,” he said.

    Prior to Fugen and Reffet, Dar Robinson was the only person to make a sanctioned jump from the tower, when he played Christopher Plummer’s stunt double for a heist-gone-awry movie in 1979.

    The only other person known to have BASE jumped off the tower was steelworker William Eustance, who leapt in 1974 — as he was still building it – and was fired for his trouble.

    With files from Kerry Gillespie

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    Blue Jays fall to White Sox despite Donaldson dramatics

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Mark Zwolinski - Sports reporter

    The Blue Jays’ numbers for May so far represent a mixed bag of performance.

    They’re 11-15 this month, despite outscoring opponents 133-115, after a 5-5 homestand. The starting pitching has come around, though, lasting seven innings or more in six of the last nine games — including Marco Estrada’s performance in a 5-3, 10-inning loss to the White Sox on Wednesday.

    Then there’s Josh Donaldson. The third baseman has been the club’s best player while Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes have battled injuries, keeping hopes alive for a run to the top in the balanced American League East.

    Donaldson, as good a student of hitting as there is, tagged a game-tying homer in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s matinee off White Sox closer David Robertson — who was the victim of Donaldson’s three-run walkoff blast the night before.

    Donaldson’s recent performance has vaulted him into the team lead in home runs and RBIs as well as advanced stats including Wins Above Replacement, or WAR. His efforts combined with those of Russell Martin, Edwin Encarnacion and the eventual return to health of Bautista, Reyes, Devon Travis and Michael Saunders offers immediate hope.

    Right now, though, Donaldson stands alone.

    “I don’t think I’m more impressed,” John Gibbons said after almost two months of managing Donaldson.

    “I’ve seen him good in the past. On nights, you’re laying around watching TV and you saw him playing on the west coast (with Oakland). But being around him, you see his intensity. And being a clutch guy, he’s not afraid to fail in those situations. A lot of guys, that eats them up, but Josh wants that spotlight and he’s not afraid to fail in it.”

    Donaldson hasn’t been failing often. He has the only two Blue Jay walkoff homers of the season, and against Robertson on Wednesday he squared up a cutter for the homer. On Tuesday night, he went opposite field on a cutter for the game-winning blast.

    He’s also sticking up for his teammates, supporting outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, who lost a ball in the sun in the third inning on Wednesday that allowed two runs to score.

    “Helplessness,” Donaldson said, referring to his own battles in Oakland, one of the worst sun fields in baseball. “Even if you have sunglasses and eye black, it doesn’t help.”

    Donaldson, who has appeared in every game this season, and the Jays get a welcome break Thursday before opening a road trip in Minnesota on Friday night.

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    The VICE Guide to Right Now: Christian Ted Cruz Supporters Released an Insane Rap Song

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Jennifer Schaffer

    [youtube src=’//www.youtube.com/embed/IWTzcOgKTLo’ width=’100%’ height=’360′]
    As the Christian Right
    loses its footing and youth church attendance continues its sharp decline, a rogue band of Christian superheroes called We Are Watchmen is out to …

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    Educational Training

    Government of Canada helps youth in La Baie and area get jobs

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Canada News Centre - National News

    The Government of Canada is helping equip youth in La Baie and the surrounding area with the skills and experience they need to find jobs. The announcement was made today by the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Interg…

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    Boy, 16, charged with ‘swatting’ incidents near Barrie

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

    The OPP have charged a 16-year-old male from New Tecumseth, a town a town in Simcoe County, for incidents related to “swatting.”

    Since February, the Nottawasaga OPP have received multiple false calls that have required a high level police and emergency response. After investigation into these incidents, a male has been charged with public mischief, false messages, and two other charges.

    Police have been investigating two recent “swatting” incidents in the GTA.

    A lockdown on Tuesday at a Brampton school and hold and secures at four other schools were caused by a false threat phoned into a school.

    On Sunday, an emergency task force responded to a fake call at a home in Richmond Hill.

    The OPP is reminding the public that placing fake emergency calls to innocent residents is a criminal offence.

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    Educational Training

    Government of Canada helps youth in Lac-Saint-Jean-Est regional county municipality get jobs

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Canada News Centre - National News

    The Government of Canada is helping equip youth in the Lac-Saint-Jean-Est regional county municipality with the skills and experience they need to find jobs. The announcement was made today by the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Member of Parliament for Roberval–Lac-St-Jean, on behalf of the Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Employment and Social Development.

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    The top 15 gaming products you can buy

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Jon Turi

    The approach of summer might mean it’s time to unfurl the Slip N Slide, but there’s only so much gaming you can do while flopping around in the water. Yes, you should get outside while the weather’s nice, but there are also worlds to explore back in …

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    Tracy Morgan — Walmart Did Right By Me … Settles Crash Lawsuit

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  TMZ Staff

    Tracy Morgan has reached a settlement with Walmart, and says he’s satisfied with how the corporation took care of him financially after the accident that left him severely injured. Tracy’s attorney and Walmart’s attorneys announced the settlemen…

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    Minister Clement to speak at the International Open Data Conference

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Canada News Centre - National News

    The Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, will speak about the future of open data at the International Open Data Conference (IODC).

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    Judge rejects application to toss charges in fatal impaired driving case

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Anonymous

    A teen charged with impaired driving causing death will not have his charges thrown out, despite the “unacceptable negligence” of scientists at the Centre of Forensic Sciences and a violation of his Charter rights, a judge ruled Wednesday.

    Sabastian Prosa, 21, has admitted to having a blood alcohol level around twice the legal limit when he drove his SUV the wrong way down Highway 427, crashing into a minivan carrying Jayantha Wijeratne, 49, his wife, Antonette and their 16-year-old daughter Eleesha.

    Jayantha and Eleesha were killed in the Aug. 5, 2012, collision, while Antonette and Prosa survived with serious injuries.

    During the trial, Prosa’s lawyer argued that the loss of critical evidence should lead to a stay of the proceedings.

    Prosa, who was at a downtown nightclub with friends earlier on the night of the crash, may have had his drink spiked with a substance such as date-rape drug GHB, the defence argued.

    MORE:

    Defence seeks to have fatal drunk driving case stayed over lost evidence

    Man accused of causing drunken fatal crash takes stand

    However, his last remaining blood sample was not sealed properly by scientists at the Centre of Forensic Sciences, and it leaked while in transit to an independent lab for testing at the defence’s request.

    Prosa’s defence lawyer Alan Gold argued that the lost evidence “has resulted in irreparable harm to Mr. Prosa’s ability to make full answer and defence.”

    Justice Glenn Hainey found the failure of the CFS to ensure that the test tube containing key evidence in a serious criminal matter was sealed — a violation of policy and after being warned about the same issue just two months before — was “unacceptable negligence.”

    But while this does breach Prosa’s Charter rights, it does not amount to abuse of process and should not result in a stay of the proceedings, Hainey ruled.

    “The result of the proposed testing … might have assisted Mr. Prosa. However, the results might have confirmed the Crown’s case or they might have supported neither,” said Hainey. “This was no more than a realistic possibility.”

    Hainey also noted that Prosa was still able to support his defence of being drugged with evidence from a defence toxicologist that the detected blood alcohol level alone would not explain his “bizarre and purposeless driving behaviour or his en bloc memory loss.”

    Hainey will deliver his verdict on the 12 charges Prosa faces on June 26.

    “My heart was racing in there,” said Brian Wijeratne, standing next to his mother outside the courthouse surrounded by the dozens of family and friends who packed the courtroom to capacity. “Our family deserves justice and we are relived this case will continue.”

    Antonette said she hopes the case, which began in January, will finally come to an end in June.

    “I’d like to have closure on the legal part,” she said. “I know there is no closure in what happened in our lives.”

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    Arrival of Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands

    Posted  May 27, 2015  by  Canada News Centre - National News

    What a pleasure it is to welcome Your Majesties and the members of your delegation to Rideau Hall in springtime.

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