Canada

A Legal Name Change Puts 'None of the Above' On Canadian Ballot (foxnews.com) 171

PolygamousRanchKid writes: The ballot to fill a legislative seat in Canada next month includes none of the above—and it's a real person. Sheldon Bergson, 46, had his name legally changed to Above Znoneofthe and is now a candidate for the Ontario legislature, the CBC reports. The election is Feb. 11. The ballot lists candidates in alphabetical order by surname so his name will be the 10th of the 10 candidates as Znoneofthe Above, according to CBC. One of his opponents is running on the line of the None of The Above Party. Maybe the American folks can learn from their cousins up north? Shouldn't every election have a line for "None of the above"? I can't wait until Little Bobby Tables hits 35.
Government

Canadian Government Lobbies Europe To Pass CETA (freezenet.ca) 69

Dangerous_Minds writes: The Canadian government isn't just siding with the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Justin Trudeau is also actively lobbying Europe to try and pass the Comprehensive economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Freezenet points out that the agreement contains many provisions including a three strikes law and website blocking.
Encryption

Police Say They Can Crack BlackBerry PGP Encrypted Email (sophos.com) 117

schwit1 writes: Police in two countries have claimed that they can read encrypted data from BlackBerry devices that are being marketed as having "military-grade security." The story originally broke when Dutch website Misdaadnieuws (Crime News) published documents from the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), a Dutch law enforcement agency, stating that police were able to access deleted messages and read encrypted emails on so-called BlackBerry PGP devices. A representative from NFI confirmed that "we are capable of obtaining encrypted data from BlackBerry PGP devices," according to a report from Motherboard. On Tuesday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) also told Motherboard they can crack encrypted messages on PGP BlackBerrys.
Government

TPP Signing Ceremony To Take Place In February (freezenet.ca) 192

Dangerous_Minds writes: New Zealand officials are hoping that the TPP signing ceremony is to take place in February in Auckland, New Zealand. According to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, it is expected that all 12 countries are going to sign the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Those 12 countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and Vietnam. Note: signing doesn't necessarily make the agreement law, but it is one critical step closer to ratification.
Space

Comet Catalina Coming To a Night Sky Near You (www.cbc.ca) 26

TigerNut writes: CBC is running a story on the upcoming closest approach of Comet Catalina. While the headline makes it sound like a one-night deal for the morning of January 1, the best viewing may actually occur next weekend (Jan 8-10) because the moon will not be a bright distraction at that time. The CBC reports: "Comet Catalina, which is less than 20 kilometres across, was discovered in 2013 by the Tuscon, Ariz.-based Catalina Sky Survey, which looks for potentially hazardous near-Earth objects. At first, it was thought to be a very large near-Earth asteroid. But astronomers soon realized it was actually a very long, near-parabolic orbit and observations with the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope showed 'modest cometary activity.'"
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars Pulls In $1 Billion At Record Speed (reuters.com) 467

New submitter henrydan798 writes to note that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has set a new record for ticket sales, becoming the fastest movie ever to earn a billion dollars at the till. As the L.A. Times reports, The latest installment in the "Star Wars" franchise grossed an estimated $153.5 million in the U.S. and Canada in its second weekend, beating the lower end of analyst expectations of $140 million. This drives the J.J. Abrams-directed picture to a to-date domestic gross of $544.5 million. "The Force Awakens," which cost an estimated $200 million to produce, debuted last weekend to record domestic ticket sales of $248 million. It also grossed $281 million overseas for a global total of $529 million, topping the previous worldwide debut benchmark set in June by "Jurassic World" ($525 million). This week, with an international estimated gross of $546 million to date, the film became the fastest to surpass $1 billion globally. Were any of those dollars yours? If so, do you think they were well spent?
Bug

Boeing 787 "Blacklisted" From Some Air Traffic Control Services (flightglobal.com) 96

An anonymous reader writes: A software glitch causes the Boeing 787 to report its position incorrectly, which has led Australia and Canada to 'blacklist' the aircraft from using ADB-S and until it is resolved the latest Boeing is treated as an aircraft without ADS-B capabilities. The practical implication is that the aircraft is not allowed to use reduced separation procedures and an maximum altitude limit of 29,000 feet was also considered. Boeing denies that the bug causes a safety hazard because existing services (radar) still allow safe operation. A bugfix is coming to restore ADS-B functionality.
Canada

Canadian Cable Company Shames Non-Paying Customers Publicly On Facebook (hothardware.com) 149

MojoKid writes: If you've ever been late on paying a bill, it's unlikely that you ever thought that you were running the risk of being publicly shamed about your shortcomings. However, for a few unfortunate individuals, one Canadian cable TV provider doesn't see things quite the same way. Recently, Senga Services, which is located in Canada's Northwest Territories, decided to begin posting the names of customers that had overdue payments to its Facebook page. The initiative was spearheaded by company employee Jennifer Simons, who felt so strongly about her right to expose late bill payers, that she debated with those on a Facebook community page who thought she was in the wrong in doing so. Simons claims that public shaming has proven to be the most successful method of getting customers to pay up. Exposing someone's name and amount owed might be a gross breach of ethics, but Simons claims that it's not illegal. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada urged the company to pull the post outing these tardy customers, and the company has since obliged. The Privacy Commissioner is now mulling whether this issue is worth investigating further.
Python

Choose a Better Train With Web Scraping (hackaday.com) 50

szczys writes: Tired of his trains being constantly late, Eric Evenchick headed to the Via Rail (Canada's communter train service) website to find which trains had a better on-time rate. Unfortunately they only offer three days worth of data through the dropdown selections — but a bit of investigating showed the GET requests were open for about the last six months. Evenchick built a web-scraper with Python, along with a web interface that queries the resulting SQL db. The harvested data shows system-wide delays that average more than twelve minutes (mostly due to commercial rail having the right-of-way). The good that comes of this? You can now choose your train based on smallest likelihood of delay..
Space

Canadian, UK Law Professors Condemn Space Mining Provisions of Commercial Space Act (examiner.com) 218

MarkWhittington writes: The Commercial Space Launch Act, which includes provisions allowing American companies the right to keep resources that they mine in space, was recently signed into law by President Barack Obama. While the act has been hailed as groundbreaking in the United States, the space mining title has gotten an angry reaction overseas. In an article in Science Alert, Gbenga Oduntan, Senior Lecturer in International Commercial Law, University of Kent, condemned the space mining provisions as environmentally risky and a violation of international law. Ram Jakhu, a professor at Canada's McGill University's Institute of air and space law, adds that space mining is a violation of the Outer Space Treaty and should not be allowed.
Japan

Japanese Rocket Launches Its First Commercial Satellite (upi.com) 31

schwit1 writes: Using its H-IIA rocket, upgraded to lower cost, Japan launched its first commercial payload today, putting Canada's Telestar 12V into geosynchronous orbit. UPI reports: "Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency said the H-IIA rocket was upgraded for the launch, permitting the satellite to stay closer to its geostationary orbit. Tokyo's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he hoped the launch would exhibit the quality of Japan's rocket engineering, and that the successful launch would result in more orders from other global corporations. Following the launch, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries vice president Naohiko Abe said the firm plans to actively promote the H-IIA for satellite launches."
Education

Value of University Degree Continues To Decline (www.cbc.ca) 393

BarbaraHudson writes: Following up from an earlier report from Statistics Canada (pdf), the Parliamentary Budget Officer warns that an increasing number of university graduates are overqualified for their jobs. The CBC reports: "Last year, 40 per cent of university graduates aged 25-34 were overqualified for their job. Five years ago, that percentage was only 36 per cent. In 1991, it hit a low of 32 per cent, or less than one out of every three university graduates. The problem is bigger than that, because those young workers spent money, time, and resources to get those qualifications.
Canada

Quebec Introduces Bill To Mandate ISP Website Blocking (michaelgeist.ca) 137

An anonymous reader writes: The Government of Quebec has introduced new legislation that requires Internet service providers to block access to unlicensed online gambling sites. The provisions are contained in an omnibus bill implementing elements of the government's spring budget, which included a promise to establish website blocking requirements. The bill provides that "an Internet service provider may not give access to an online gambling site whose operation is not authorized under Québec law." The government's lottery commission will establish the list of banned websites.
Democrats

Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline (washingtonpost.com) 369

An anonymous reader writes: The Keystone XL pipeline controversy is finally coming to a close. On Friday, President Obama denied a construction permit for the pipeline, ending a seven-year political fight. Obama said, "America's now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership. And that's the biggest risk we face — not acting." Secretary of State John Kerry added, "The reality is that this decision could not be made solely on the numbers — jobs that would be created, dirty fuel that would be transported here, or carbon pollution that would ultimately be unleashed. The United States cannot ask other nations to make tough choices to address climate change if we are unwilling to make them ourselves." The decision comes as no surprise to the oil industry, and they've been busily working on other ways to transport the oil. "U.S. imports of oil from Canada hit a record high of 3.4 million barrels a day in August, up from just under 2 million barrels a day in 2008, the year the pipeline was proposed."
Canada

Muzzled Canadian Scientists Can Now Speak Freely With Public (thestar.com) 197

Layzej writes: Over the last 10 years, policies were put in place to prevent Canadian scientists from freely discussing taxpayer-funded science with the public. "media relations contacts" were enlisted to monitor and record interactions with the press. Interviews and often the questions to be asked were vetted ahead of time, and responses given by scientists frequently monitored or prohibited. Nature, one of the world's top science journals, called the policy a "Byzantine approach to the press, prioritizing message control and showing little understanding of the importance of the free flow of scientific knowledge."

The new government in Canada is lifting these restrictions. Scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were told Thursday they can now speak to the media. In a statement on Friday afternoon, Navdeep Bains, Canada's new minister of innovation, science and economic development said "Our government values science and will treat scientists with respect. This is why government scientists and experts will be able to speak freely about their work to the media and the public."

Medicine

Controversial Company Offers a New Way To Make a Baby (sciencemag.org) 80

sciencehabit writes: A controversial fertility company called OvaScience is preoccupied by an enduring mystery in human biology--why eggs fail--and the palpable hope that we can do something about it. The company offers a new treatment, called AUGMENT, based on what it considers to be egg precursor cells found in a woman's ovaries. AUGMENT, which costs UP TO $25,000, along with thousands more in clinic fees and roughly $25,000 for the IVF cycle that must accompany it, relies on mitochondria from putative egg precursor cells to boost the success of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Seventeen babies have been born so far. The company, which has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars from investors, is poised to introduce a second treatment. But many scientists doubt that egg precursor cells actually exist.
Canada

Canada Reinstates Mandatory Census, To Delight of Social Scientists (sciencemag.org) 284

Eloking writes with news that the government of Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be reinstating the mandatory long-form census that the outgoing government had ended. Science reports: "The new Canadian government today announced it would restore the country's mandatory long-form census. 'Our plan for open and fair government starts today with restoring the long-form census,' said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development, speaking in Ottawa alongside Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of families, children and social development. 'We're focused on good evidence-based policies.' Bains said that Statistics Canada would be able to meet the 2 May deadline to roll out the 2016 census, which is conducted every 5 years, and that there would be no additional costs to making it mandatory. He confirmed that residents who fail to fill out the census could face criminal prosecution, an issue that contributed to the decision by the Harper government to make the 2011 census voluntary."
Software

EPA Finds More VW Cheating Software, Including In a Porsche (nytimes.com) 142

schwit1 writes with this news from the Times that Volkswagen's emissions scandal just expanded to include more expensive vehicles with larger diesel engines, including Porsche, and Audi sport-utility vehicles. According to the article: "The Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday that it had discovered emissions-cheating software on more Volkswagen and Audi cars than previously disclosed and, for the first time, also found the illegal software in one of the carmaker's high-end Porsche models. The German carmaker disputed the claims, however, saying it had not installed defeat software on the models in question that would 'alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner.' The company pledged in a short statement that it would cooperate with the E.P.A. 'to clarify the matter in its entirety.' The latest findings by environmental regulators put significant new pressure on Volkswagen and its new chief executive, Matthias Müller, who was previously the head of Volkswagen's Porsche division. E.P.A. officials indicated the latest violations were found during testing performed by federal regulators and their counterparts in California and Canada. The implication is that Volkswagen did not provide the information."
Biotech

Bumblebees Used For Targeted Pesticide Deliveries (gizmag.com) 23

Zothecula writes: Chemical pesticides are generally a bad thing for the environment and pollinators like bees that our agriculture relies on. Now a company out of Vancouver, Canada, called Bee Vectoring Technology (BVT) has brought the two together in a system that uses bees to deliver tiny amounts of natural pesticides and beneficial fungi while pollinating crops.
Biotech

FDA Approves Drug That Uses Herpes Virus To Fight Cancer (nature.com) 76

An anonymous reader writes: U.S. regulators have approved a first-of-a-kind drug that uses the herpes virus to infiltrate and destroy melanoma. Nature reports: "With dozens of ongoing clinical trials of similar 'oncolytic' viruses, researchers hope that the approval will generate the enthusiasm and cash needed to spur further development of the approach. 'The era of the oncolytic virus is probably here,' says Stephen Russell, a cancer researcher and haematologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. 'I expect to see a great deal happening over the next few years.' Many viruses preferentially infect cancer cells. Malignancy can suppress normal antiviral responses, and sometimes the mutations that drive tumour growth also make cells more susceptible to infection. Viral infection can thus ravage a tumour while leaving abutting healthy cells untouched, says Brad Thompson, president of the pharmaceutical-development firm Oncolytics Biotech in Calgary, Canada."

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