• Sweet surprise or or an in-flight nightmare?

    After boarding their US Airways flight to New Orleans, passengers were stuck on the tarmac in Indianapolis for a whopping five hours.

    Flight attendant Keri Mann, knowing passengers were growing restless with the maintenance delay, decided to recruit some morale-boosting help.

    She asked Port City Sound, a Maine barbershop quartet onboard, to serenade the plane.

    They did, cheering up their fellow passengers with an impromptu performance.

    “Our flight to New Orleans today was delayed for maintenance AFTER we had boarded. I started talking to the passengers and realized we had a barbershop quartet in our presence. I asked them to sing and most of the passengers began video taping! It was such a great moment… The mood changed and our passengers were awesome for the whole 5 hours they were on the plane!” Mann wrote on Facebook.

    In May 2012, Toronto’s Lemon Bucket Orkestra grabbed their instruments and broke out into song during a 20-minute delay

    Read More »from Barbershop quartet serenades passengers on delayed flight
  • Hidden infections may shorten our lifespans

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: Thinkstock
    Could mild and even undetected infections reduce our lifespan? New research published in the journal Science is suggesting the possibility that mild illnesses throughout ones life, even those that may not produce any symptoms whatsoever, could speed up the aging process in the long run.

    Scientists at Lund University in Sweden looked at malaria-infected migratory birds and found that their illnesses shortened their telomeres—the caps at the ends of their chromosomes that protect their DNA from damage.

    Telomere lengths decrease naturally as we age and when they shorten to a certain length, the cells will no longer be able to divide and aging and disease follow. So the longer the telomeres can keep their lengths intact the greater the chance of living longer.

    However it seems, in at least the great reed warblers, mildly-infected individuals had their telomeres shorten much faster than healthy individuals. Even those infected birds that appeared to function normally in their daily lives,

    Read More »from Hidden infections may shorten our lifespans
  • (Photo courtesy Thinkstock)(Photo courtesy Thinkstock)

    An amazing story of neighbourliness, charity and altruism recently came out of a small Ontario town this week, offering the country a shining example of community policing done right.

    The incident occurred in Cornwall, Ont., where officers were recently called to a home on a suspected domestic violence incident and instead found an elderly man and his sick wife struggling so much to makes ends meet that he had pawned his wedding ring.

    The officers responded by collecting money to purchase the couple some groceries and buy the husband’s ring back.

    The story, which has since been picked up by international media, was first reported in the Cornwall Seaway News.

    The couple has been married for 54 years and, with his wife suffering Alzheimer’s, the husband was having trouble putting food on the table.

    He sold several household items and eventually had to part ways with his wedding ring.

    It was surely a tough decision. Which is why it was so heartening to learn that the officers called to

    Read More »from Elderly Ontario man pawns wedding ring for groceries, charitable police buy it back
  • Pearl Harbor survivors salute during ceremonies honoring the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Reuters)Pearl Harbor survivors salute during ceremonies honoring the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Reuters)

    “… let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan…” … Extract from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 1865.

    From these few words have grown the gigantic U.S. veterans’ affairs industry. Veterans’ benefits have become one of the “third rails” of U.S. federal/social spending that is untouchable with expenditures beyond criticism and budgets always rising. But when personnel costs are now over half of the defense budget and veterans pensions/benefits a significant portion of these, enough is enough.

    Today’s 21st-century “Total Army” is in no way comparable to the 1960s draftee armed forces and associated military reserves. Today mobilized reservists are expected to have (roughly) comparable competence to active duty forces. And our active duty forces have no match in the armed forces of any other nation.

    For over a generation, we have not drafted a single U.S.

    Read More »from Support our troops: America's veterans expect the best, but it comes at a steep price
  • Members of the Winnipeg Rifles stand at attention at a Remembrance Day service in Winnipeg. (The Canadian Press)Members of the Winnipeg Rifles stand at attention at a Remembrance Day service in Winnipeg. (The Canadian Press)

    The removal of Julian Fantino as Minister of Veterans Affairs in early 2015 by Prime Minister Harper is one of countless indications that Canadians hold strong views about how our veterans should be treated.

    Another is the widespread public opposition to the federal Justice Department spending to date almost $700,000 in legal fees to fight a class action by injured veterans in B.C. seeking lifelong disability payments rather than lump sum settlements. The lump sum approach was an all-party decision under the Martin government that has proven to have disastrous impacts on Canadian soldiers returning from the battlefield. The lifelong monthly payments model should be restored immediately as an option. The crux of the legal case is whether there is a binding social contract on governments for the care of veterans and their families.

    Those who serve in our armed forces, who are wounded while in combat or in training for such missions, should be given assistance to return to military

    Read More »from Support our troops: Canadian veterans shouldn't have to fight for benefits and services
  • School zones are an obvious place to slow down, but Ontario is looking to expand lower limits further (CP)School zones are an obvious place to slow down, but Ontario is looking to expand lower limits further (CP)

    The Ontario government is currently considering reducing speed limits in residential areas as part of a plan to protect pedestrians in the case of automobile accidents. 

    In many ways, that debate is a unique one. In other ways it is well-debated territory that, in most previous cases, has fallen on the side of slower speeds for the sake of safety.

    According to CBC News, the potential shift would make the limit in areas where no speed limit is posted 40 km/h. Default speed limits in Ontario are currently 50 km/h.

    "It makes a big difference, we live in denser communities, cars are getting faster, our population numbers are much higher now,” said Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi.

    "Scientific research has shown us that even a reduction by 10 kilometres increases the likelihood of a person surviving (a collision) and reduces injuries as well.”

    That claim is backed up by a 2010 coroner’s inquest. And in 2012, Toronto’s chief medical officers recommended the city cut speed limits by as

    Read More »from Ontario's possible plan for slower speed limits faces a bumpy road ahead
  • Late Monday night, someone stole a Budget moving van filled with Beth Fisher’s belongings.

    On Wednesday morning, police found the abandoned van in an industrial area of Salt Lake City. It had been intentionally set on fire, destroying almost everything inside it.

    “It’s completed devastated,” John Wall, a friend of Fisher’s, told Fox 13. “They lit it on fire and it’s just destroyed. Everything she owns, her whole life in the back of a truck, destroyed.”

    "You just have to find the little victories,” Fisher said. “They were able to recover my laptop which had plenty of photos on it, lots of photos of my dad.”

    Amateur video taken of the Budget truck when it had been lit on fire. (KSL)Amateur video taken of the Budget truck when it had been lit on fire. (KSL)

    Fisher, a pilot with the University of Utah’s AirMed service and former Marine, was moving cross-country for a new job. Both the moving van and the trailer towing her car were stolen during the night before the big move, leaving her with nothing.

    Police are still searching for her 2005 black Subaru Legacy Outback and the trailer it was on.

    “Everything that has meaning to her has

    Read More »from Strangers help woman start over after thieves steal, burn all her belongings
  • Emma and 'Flat Levi' (Make-a-Wish Ohio/Facebook)Emma and 'Flat Levi' (Make-a-Wish Ohio/Facebook)

    When 6-year-old Levi Mayhew became eligible for a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Indiana boy was too sick to travel — so he gave his wish away.

    Knowing he couldn’t make the trip to Florida with his family, he gave the vacation to his closest friend, 10-year-old Emma Broyer.

    For the past year, as Levi lost his ability to walk, talk and even eat independently due to a rare and fatal genetic disorder on the Zellweger spectrum, Emma has been one of Levi’s biggest supporters and cheerleaders, writing him notes of encouragement and recruiting other friends to do the same.

    Emma, Levi and his family (Rebecca Drake/Facebook)Emma, Levi and his family (Rebecca Drake/Facebook)

    "Just having Emma say ‘Hi’ to Levi made a world of difference. It opened two hearts at once," Levi’s mother, Rebecca Drake, told WTHR.

    To thank Emma for her friendship and support, Levi and his family wanted her to have his Make-A-Wish trip to Florida, “to visit the theme parks and see the ocean,” and surprised her with the news at a local restaurant.

    Levi gave her a T-shirt that read, “Levi wished for ME to

    Read More »from Little boy, too sick to travel, gives Make-A-Wish vacation to his best friend
  • If you ask any Torontonian, they’ll probably already tell you they live in the best city in the world, but thanks to a series of ego-inflating studies by The Economist, now there’s some validation.

    The city was named the best overall place to live, after scoring highly on the U.K.-based magazine’s business environment, democracy, food security, safety and livability indices.

    Montreal, the only other Canadian city in the rankings, clinched second in the shortlist of 25 cities. 

    “Deciding where to live is a personal choice for many city residents. For some, safety will be paramount. Others will prioritise culture and creativity. Two neighbours may hold opposite views on democracy and the cost of living,” acknowledges the Economist’s Intelligence Unit in the report. “The average rankings for the 25 best-performing cities are set out below – Toronto in Canada is a consistent performer across the five other indexes, putting it top overall.”

    While, Toronto placed fourth on both the Business

    Read More »from Toronto named world's best city to live: Economist magazine
  • The surprise in the Emma Paulsen case was not that the Vancouver-area dog walker was convicted of allowing six animals in her care to die of heat stroke in the back of her pickup truck, then lying about it.

    After all, she pleaded guilty last fall to leaving the dogs in the truck while she went shopping and, returning to find them dead, dumped them in a ditch on a country road. Then she concocted a story that they’d been stolen while she was in the washroom at an off-leash park.

    No, the surprise was when provincial court Judge Jim Jardine on Wednesday sentenced Paulsen to six months in jail – three months for allowing animals to continue to suffer and three more for mischief in connection with her elaborate cover-up, which included tearful TV interviews about the purported theft. She’s also banned from working with animals for life and from owning them for 10 years.


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    Puppy mill uncovered on a farm in Quebec’s Eastern Townships

    Advocates seek improved legal status for

    Read More »from Dog walker's jail sentence shows courts getting tougher on animal cruelty

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