• When it comes to politics I'm a knee-jerk moderate, so it's very rare I find myself agreeing with the folks over at Sun News Network. It happens about as often as the lunar eclipse we had this week.

    But we're more or less on the same page over word that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford took time to pose for photos with people outside Jim Flaherty's funeral.

    Commentators on the conservative-oriented news network especially took Trudeau to task for leaning in for a selfie on his way into the solemn church service for the former finance minister, who died suddenly of a heart attack last week.

    A smiling Trudeau is shown gazing into a woman's smart phone before heading into the Toronto's St. James Cathedral.

    Ford, a close family friend of Flaherty (who once publicly broke into tears over the mayor's drug problems), also allowed himself to be photographed in a shot that went up on Instagram.

    [ Related: Obama’s Mandela ‘selfie’ controversy overblown: photographer ]

    Read More »from Rob Ford, Justin Trudeau taking heat for selfies outside Flaherty’s state funeral
  • This artist's concept shows Kepler-186f orbiting around its star, along with its four siblings that orbit closer in.

    Astronomers working with data from the Kepler Space Telescope have hit another milestone in the search for exoplanets as they've reported the very first confirmed Earth-sized planet discovered in the habitable zone of its star, making it a potential haven for both liquid water and alien life.

    This newly-discovered exoplanet, named Kepler-186f, is just 10 per cent larger than Earth, meaning it's most likely a rocky world but more importantly, the planet orbits its star every 130 days or so. This puts Kepler-186f near the outer edge of the star's habitable zone — the ring-shaped region around a star where there's just enough heat from the star that a planet there could have liquid water on its surface.

    This video animation shows the planet orbiting the star along with its sibling-worlds. The green band that circles the star represents the habitable zone.

    "We're always trying to look for Earth analogs, and that is an Earth-like planet in the habitable zone around a star very much the

    Read More »from Astronomers discover first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone
  • Canada's SenateThe media often uses the term 'historic' too loosely.

    But in this case, it seems to be appropriate.

    Next Friday — April 25 — the Supreme Court of Canada will offer a 'historic' opinion to the Harper government's reference about what it would take to reform or abolish the Senate.

    Canada's highest court is expected to answer the following questions put to it by the Harper government in a legal 'factum' filed last year:

    - Can Parliament enact term limits on senators so they serve eight or nine years rather than having a job for life?

    - Can Parliament set in place a democratic vote to recommend names to the prime minister for the Senate?

    - Can the provinces hold a democratic vote of their own to recommend names to the prime minister for the Senate.

    - Can the Parliament remove antiquated property ownership requirements for Senators?

    - Can the Parliament abolish the Senate without the unanimous consent of the provinces?

    The so-called reference was heard in November, where the Harper

    Read More »from Ruling from Supreme Court on Senate reform (or abolishment) coming next week
  • In democracies there is always tension between the “good ideas” that government has for spending taxpayers’ monies and taxpayers’ desire to spend it themselves.

    And increasingly nationally financed broadcasters such as PBS in the United States and CBC in Canada are questioned regarding value received for value expended.

    In dictatorships there is no argument. If Putin wants to spend $50 billion on the Sochi Winter Olympics, it is spent. If Beijing’s leadership wants to spend uncounted billions for the 2008 Summer Olympics, it is spent. But the Atlanta summer Olympics (1996) and the Salt Lake City winter Olympics (2002) were essentially privately financed. Less glitter and glitz, but less public expense.

    [ David Kilgour: Canada still needs a healthy public broadcaster ]

    And comparable points are relevant for government funding of news media: newspapers, television, and radio. It smacks of official “party line” control leaving readers cynical about whether there is any “news” in Pravda

    Read More »from Future of the CBC: It’s time to pull the plug on taxpayer-funded broadcasters
  • In the ongoing debate about the roles of the CBC/Radio Canada and private broadcasters, the recently-announced cuts at the corporation of 657 jobs and some programming will add high-octane fuel. The other David will write about commercial broadcasting; the focus here will be on the public broadcaster.

    For more than 75 years, CBC/Radio Canada has attempted with varying degrees of success to be our national public broadcaster in two official and now eight aboriginal languages. Today, whether by television, radio, the Internet or social media, it continues to reach millions of households across the country every day. Many of us assert that its 82 radio stations in local communities are what provide the major appeal of the CBC for most Canadians.

    There are also 27 television stations and 11 foreign bureaus. As of March 2012, it had 7,304 permanent full-time employees, 469 temporary full-time employees and 1003 contractors. According to a mid-2011 study by Deloitte, the contribution of

    Read More »from Future of the CBC: Canada still needs a healthy public broadcaster
  • Video is circulating of an amusing exchange between Broward County, Florida Judge John “Jay” Hurley and a man who recently appeared in his court (watch the video here)

    Judge Hurley is seen on the video announcing his next case, “How about Edward Cocaine.” He then quickly questions what he just read with a stunned, “What?”

    Edward Cocaine (Broward Sheriff's Office via Sun Sentinel)

    As reported by the Sun Sentinel, Edward Cocaine, 34, was arrested on Tuesday in Pembroke Pines and brought before the judge on drug possession charges for…Xanax. The judge had Mr. Cocaine state his name and a voice off-camera is heard confirming that “Edward Cocaine” is indeed the man’s legal name and is on his driver’s license. After several long pauses and courtroom laughter, Judge Hurley said, “You know, I’d thought I’d seen it all.”

    The judge’s surprise over the name prompted him to ask, "How many times have police told you to step out of the car sir, in your life?" Cocaine replied, “Just about every time I get pulled over.”

    When it was explained to the judge

    Read More »from Cocaine shows up in court, judge delighted
  • We may soon have word about the future of Mike Duffy.

    Multiple media outlets are reporting that the RCMP are in the final stages of their investigation regarding the suspended Senator's alleged false expense claims and his acceptance of a $90,000 gift from Nigel Wright, the prime minister's former chief of staff.

    Both Global News and the Toronto Star are reporting that a decision on whether or not to lay charges could come within the next month.

    [ Related: RCMP drop investigation into Nigel Wright’s $90,000 gift to Mike Duffy ]

    The reports come just days after RCMP decided not to lay charges against Wright.

    "In June 2013, the RCMPs National Division initially launched an investigation of Nigel Wright with respect to his gifting of $90,000 to Senator Mike Duffy," the Mounties noted in a statement on Tuesday.

    "When the RCMP initiated the investigation there were sufficient grounds to pursue the matter with regards to the offences of breach of trust, bribery, frauds on the government, as

    Read More »from Duffy's fate should be decided in the coming weeks
  • A postcard received two days ago by Alan Marion gives a whole new meaning to the term “snail mail.”

    The postcard, which was meant for Marion’s great-grandmother Florence, was postmarked with the date February 20, 1940.

    After the postcard first arrived at a post office in Butte Falls, Oregon, in July of last year, it took post office employee Sunny Bryant nearly ten months to track down one of Florence’s relatives.

    Written in pencil decades ago, the postcard reads:

    Arrived in Portland at 8 o’clock. Having a fine time. Be home sometime Sat. –Blanche.

    Marion received the long-overdue postcard on April 14, 2014.

    “To me, it’s one of those things that must have been meant to be,” said Marion.

    [ More Buzz: Train selfie takes a turn when guy gets kicked in the head ]

    Bryant, who had only been working at the Butte Falls Post Office for one month, noticed the card in circulation and was astonished. “I looked at it, and I’m like, ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’” she said.

    So she began to

    Read More »from Man finally receives postcard sent in 1940
  • Opera star entertains Paris Metro commuters

    Christophe Menager gives a comedic performance in a subway station under the City of Light

    Surprises during commutes are rarely pleasant. More often than not, they involve traffic jams, delayed trains or horrible weather that makes getting home a type of Greek odyssey.

    So, we imagine it must have been a nice treat for the Paris commuters who were lucky enough to come across opera star Christophe Menager giving a performance in a bustling Metro station.

    We don't know what Menager is singing about, but we do know that he's giving it his all. According to the person who recorded the two minutes of video, Menager "sometimes goes to the Metro to sing for the people that can't afford to go or wouldn't otherwise be interested in going to opera."

    Of course, the opera, especially as performed in subway stations, isn't for everybody. Some commuters stop to listen and interact, while others hurry past, eager to get to wherever it is they're going. Maybe the opera?

    Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).


    Read More »from Opera star entertains Paris Metro commuters
  • Chinese zoo uses a TV to cheer up its lonely panda

    When most of us are home alone and bored, we turn on the TV.

    Now Sijia the giant panda can do the same.

    Sijia, a resident of Yunnan Wild Animal Park in Kunming city, China, recently said goodbye to her pen mate, Meixi.

    Sijia and Meixi had been rescued from the Wolong National Natural Reserve in Sichuan province following the devastating 2008 earthquake that left them both orphaned and homeless.

    Last month, Meixi was released back into the wild. Keepers deemed Sijia not ready to join her.

    [ Good News: 8-year-old hands over foul ball to prevent epic meltdown ]

    It wasn't long before staff at the park noticed Sijia was exhibiting signs of loneliness and depression since her best friend left. She began throwing tantrums and wasn't eating well.

    So they tried to distract her with toys, and then a playground set: parallel bars, swings and a climbing apparatus. When Sijia still appeared downtrodden, they gave her a flat screen TV that plays footage of Sijia and Meixi playing together as cubs.

    Read More »from Chinese zoo uses a TV to cheer up its lonely panda


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