• Baerwald is hoping to cover a funding gap in her bats research with public donations. (Reuters)Baerwald is hoping to cover a funding gap in her bats research with public donations. (Reuters)

    A Calgary grad student is taking a page out of Zach Braff’s playbook and is asking the public to fund her personal project. Not to film an indie movie, but rather to study the migratory habits of bats.

    And she’s not alone. Crowdfunding – the hot funding strategy of the 21st century – has become a bit of a haven for scientific research and innovation as government funding dries up and money gets tight.

    University of Calgary’s Erin Baerwald recently took the leap into crowdfunded science, posting a call for assistance on Indiegogo for her doctoral research into the migratory pattern on bats and the impact of wind turbines.

    As of Tuesday morning, Baerwald had collected more than $6,000 toward her target of $15,000, much of it from those with a specific interest in her research topic.

    "There’s limited funds for basic research and things that aren’t going to make money, things that aren’t research and development (with an) industrial focus, it is a big problem," Baerwald told CBC News.

    Read More »from Bats and bacteria: Students, scientists turn to crowdfunding for research projects
  • Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell, right, reads a statement to the media Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. (CP)Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell, right, reads a statement to the media Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. (CP)

    You've likely heard of Occam's razor – the principle that the simplest answer is most often the correct one.

    But you may not have heard about Mel Lastman’s razor – the principle that there must always be at least one Canadian mayor making outrageous headlines.

    How else can you explain the past four years of Rob Ford in Toronto, or the sudden rise of Richard Atwell, the current embattled mayor of Saanich, B.C.?

    The newly-appointed Atwell made headlines this week after he admitted he had lied about having an extramarital affair and then ordering B.C. police to investigate an apparent covert conspiracy against his leadership.

    According to the Victoria Times-Colonist, Atwell confessed to the affair but accused spies of leaking details to the media about himself in a dispute with the woman’s boyfriend.

    He further claimed that city staff members installed spyware on his office computer and that he was being targeted by regional police.

    "[O]n Dec. 11 I became aware that a member of the

    Read More »from Saanich, B.C., Mayor Richard Atwell hints at covert conspiracy against his leadership
  • Newly-appointed Minister of Veterans Affairs Erin O'Toole leaves Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Monday, January 5, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickNewly-appointed Minister of Veterans Affairs Erin O'Toole leaves Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Monday, January 5, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
    If part of new Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole’s mandate was to mend the public relations fences trampled down by his predecessor Julian Fantino, he’s not off to an auspicious start.

    O’Toole, who replaced the politically tone-deaf former cop on Jan. 5, slowly has been reaching out to veterans organizations, but at least a couple of the more vocal dissidents say they have a feeling they’re going to remain frozen out.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper demoted Fantino to junior defence minister last week as he prepared the Conservative government for its anticipated fall re-election campaign. Fantino’s apparent insensitivity to the concerns of disabled veterans and inability to sell policy changes by his department made him a political liability in what had become a high-profile portfolio.

    O’Toole, a one-time RCAF navigator turned Toronto corporate lawyer, is supposed to reset the government’s relationship with veterans, whose problems generally get a sympathetic reception from the

    Read More »from Some veterans groups say new minister still marginalizing them
  • An oilsands facility is seen from a helicopter near Fort McMurray, Alta., Tuesday, July 10, 2012. (CP)An oilsands facility is seen from a helicopter near Fort McMurray, Alta., Tuesday, July 10, 2012. (CP)

    Residents in Eastern and Atlantic Canada are increasingly looking towards the lucrative West for job opportunities, but a new survey shows that the emotional toll for those jobs is a steep one.

    A new survey out of Prince Edward Island shows the conflicting emotions at play when an Islander chooses to seek his or her fortunes in the west, often having to leave behind friends, family and children in the process.

    The authors of the ‘Out West’ survey say that many residents of P.E.I. are looking for an income more in line with their cost of living, prompting them to seek their fortunes in places like Alberta and Saskatchewan where the economies are booming. Companies are often willing to offer perks like flights home, in addition to higher salaries, to those willing to work out west at least temporarily.

    But Christy Morgan, owner of CollaborentHR – the firm that conducted the survey – notes that the emotional cost of leaving home is a major factor in deciding whether to move west.

    “It

    Read More »from Emotional toll is high for out-of-province workers seeking fortune in the Prairies
  • Frank Van Den Bleeken, who has spent the past 30 years in a Belgian prison. (IB Times)Frank Van Den Bleeken, who has spent the past 30 years in a Belgian prison. (IB Times)

    What if Canada had a right-to-die law and Justin Bourque, the guy who gunned down three Mounties in New Brunswick last year, wanted to make use of it, rather than spend at least the next 75 years in prison?

    It's not as absurd a question as it sounds. Canadians are headed into a renewed discussion on the right to die as the Supreme Court this year prepares to rule on a couple of constitutional challenges to the law forbidding assisted suicide and Quebec implements its dying with dignity legislation.

    What makes the discussion even more tangible is the debate going on in Europe after a rapist-murderer in Belgium who's spent 30 years behind bars successfully won court approval to die under the country's broad euthanasia law. Frank Van Den Bleeken, who was found not criminally responsible for his crimes, argued he could not psychologically deal with the prospect of ending his days in prison.

    The Belgian government ultimately blocked the decision this week, but meanwhile more than a dozen

    Read More »from Should inmates fed up with prison be allowed the right to die?
  • Leslie Roberts, Anchorman for Global News seen in Toronto on Dec. 17, 2007. (CP/Globe and Mail)Leslie Roberts, Anchorman for Global News seen in Toronto on Dec. 17, 2007. (CP/Globe and Mail)

    It came as a shock to many when Global Television news anchor Leslie Roberts was suspended this week. No one expected to see one of the preeminent faces of the Toronto news scene and three-decade veteran of the craft suddenly brought to his knees by allegations of unethical double-dipping.

    The Toronto Star reported on Thursday that Roberts was the co-owner of BuzzPR, a public relations firm that represented several businesses whose executives had appeared as guests on Roberts’ news program.

    It immediately raised questions of transparency, in an industry where the public trust is everything.

    "I’ve worked in the PR industry for over 30 years. I’ve never heard of such a thing," Carol Panasiuk, a veteran of the PR industry, told Yahoo Canada News on Friday.

    "You’re either a journalist or you are in the PR industry. You can’t have your foot in both camps. It is unheard of certainly from a PR perspective."

    Global Television has told the Canadian Press that Roberts had been suspended

    Read More »from TV anchor Leslie Roberts’ ethical breach 'unheard of' in PR industry
  • Screengrab showing front page of Metro Toronto free daily newspaper for Jan. 9, 2015. (TorStar)Screengrab showing front page of Metro Toronto free daily newspaper for Jan. 9, 2015. (TorStar)

    If you’ve followed the coverage of recent changes announced in The Beer Store’s ownership structure in Ontario, you’d get the sense that craft brewers remain frustrated by the conglomerate.

    If you saw today’s Metro newspaper in Toronto, however, it would seem to be another story.

    A full-page advertisement, paid for by The Beer Store, appears at first glance to be a front-page story in the daily commuter newspaper, with the headline “Poll: Beer Store Change Wins Approval.”

    The ad comes at a time when the province’s beer retail system is facing its harshest demands for change and ongoing accusations of monopolistic tendencies.

    The message in question is the result of a public opinion survey on recent changes to The Beer Store’s ownership structure, announced amid outrage following the release of documents detailing a cherry deal the group secured from the government.

    According to the survey, commissioned by The Beer Store and conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights, 84 per cent of

    Read More »from Front page ad for Beer Store offers misleading take on Ontario’s beer war
  • One RCMP officer is accused of abusing his authority, another is accused of shirking his duties, and there are questions being raised about how the complaints were handled.

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police faced disappointing headlines this week, after two shocking cases of apparent inappropriateness at the hands of RCMP officers.

    CBC News reported on one of these incidents on Thursday, detailing an apparent indiscretion between a northern Manitoba officer and a drunk woman he brought into custody.

    You arrested her, you can do whatever the f--k you want to do.
    — Senior officer at a Manitoba RCMP detachment

    According to documents obtained by the network, Const. Kevin Theriault arrested an intoxicated aboriginal woman on Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in 2011, taking her briefly into custody before later driving her to his home.

    The report says other officers teased him about “how far he would go” with the woman, while another joked about

    Read More »from RCMP conduct questioned — again — after Mountie takes woman in his custody home
  • When American satirical news website The Onion posted a cartoon of Jesus, Moses, Buddha and Ganesha engaged in sexual act several years ago, they titled it “No One Was Murdered Because Of This Image.”

    And to this day, that appears to be true.

    So why is it that a group of terrorists in Paris, France walked into the offices of Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 and killed 12 people, allegedly in reaction to cartoons the satirical paper published of the Prophet Muhammad?

    "The images that were portrayed in this particular magazine, they were very offensive,” notes Amira Elghawaby, human rights coordinator for the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

    “Some Muslims would find that hurtful because they do really look up to the Prophet Muhammad. He is a very central figure in Islamic tradition. He is considered to be someone we look up to, someone we emulate. A role model.”

    It goes without saying that the National Council of Canadian Muslims abhors all forms of violence. But Elghawaby agreed to speak

    Read More »from Why the cartoons of 'Charlie Hebdo' drew rage from the Muslim community
  • A person holds a pen as crowds gather at Place de la Republique in ParisA person holds a pen as crowds gather at Place de la Republique in Paris

    Editorial cartoonists are used to their work triggering a backlash from those they lampoon, whether it’s angry letters to the editor, demands they be fired and threats of cancelled advertising.

    But the deadly attack by alleged Islamic extremists on Charlie Hebdo, the Paris-based satirical magazine, has shocked Canadian cartoonists and advocates for journalistic freedom.

    They fear it may induce a chill of self-censorship, if not by the acid-penned artists themselves then perhaps from the publications they work for, out of concern that some cartoon might trigger bullets instead of angry words.

    “I certainly hope there won’t be a chill on any form of free expression but it’s hard to imagine how there couldn’t be,” Tom Henheffer, executive-director for Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, told Yahoo Canada News.


    Related stories:

    French satirical weekly has history of drawing Muslim ire with Muhammad caricatures

    Cartoonists respond with art to shooting at Charlie Hebdo offices in

    Read More »from Could the Charlie Hebdo attack cause a rise in media self-censorship?

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