• Reconstruction of a dinosaur from the Catalan pre-Pyrenees, about 70 milion years ago.

    It has been known for years that the Deccan Traps, an area of volcanic rock in central India, was an active volcano around 65 million years ago. It has even been suggested that it was massive volcanic eruptions from that region that killed the dinosaurs, rather than an asteroid impact. A new study indicates that environmental changes had already been causing mass extinctions on the ocean floor at the time the asteroid hit Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.

    A research team from the University of Washington examined sediment and fossils from Seymour Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula, using a method called magnetostratigraphy — comparing the magnetic polarity of the sediment to known changes in Earth's magnetic field over time. The unusually thick layers of sediment on Seymour Island gave the researchers better accuracy in their estimates of when the layers, and any fossils in the layers, were deposited.

    "The eruptions started 300,000 to 200,000 years before the [asteroid] impact, and they may

    Read More »from Dinosaur die-out may have been second of two close extinctions
  • Alberta Oil Sands Employment said it puts clients' names in an online database for prospective employers in the oilsands.
    There has always been a degree of complacency in Canadian business that sets them apart from our more enterprising neighbours to the south.

    Perhaps it's a legacy of our branch-plant culture. Numerous articles have been written on how Canadian companies are often less productive than they can be, less willing to take risks in order to grow, less aggressive in seeking overseas markets for their products.

    Now a new report warns that such inertia is undermining Canada's boast of being a global energy superpower.

    The paper by the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto warns Canada is falling dangerously behind its competitors when it comes to developing and exporting energy technology, the Globe and Mail reports.

    "Becoming an energy superpower requires more than just taking things out of the ground and selling them around the world," report author Tatiana Khanberg concludes. "What is missing is energy technology."

    The Mowat Centre report says Canada and Ontario need to make energy

    Read More »from Canada’s claim to be energy superpower rings hollow, new report says
  • Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney talks to reporters after a brief meeting with a group of veterans in Concord, New Hampshire September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
    It has shades of Dr. Evil written all over it.

    Thieves are demanding $1 million to return Mitt Romney's stolen tax records. (Just picture them asking with one pinky finger delicately poised at the corner of the mouth.)

    You would think that with such potentially damaging information at a critical time in the U.S. presidential election, they could have at least upped the ante a little.

    Also, the fact that the request came via Internet, from individuals who claim a PricewaterhouseCoopers insider helped them "gain access to… network file servers and copy over the tax documents for one Willard M. Romney and Ann D. Romney" sounds like the sort of hoax conjured up by a group of remarkably intelligent college kids.

    But as the Globe and Mail reports, this is the sum required to end one of the strangest high-stakes blackmail schemes in recent memory — and it's serious enough that the Secret Service has started investigating.

    To provide some context, Romney is a rich man. A very rich man who has

    Read More »from Thieves demand $1 million to either access or destroy Mitt Romney’s tax records
  • It's a cruel truth that the name of the nutbar in the home-made ninja suit who shot Denis Blanchette to death at the Parti Quebecois victory rally Tuesday night likely will be remembered longer than his victim, except of course by Blanchette's heartbroken friends.

    The 48-year-old lighting technician was working the event at Montreal's Metropolis theatre when fate put him in the path of alleged killer Richard Bain.

    Bain, who ran a rural Quebec fishing-tourism operation, crashed the PQ's triumphal party. He allegedly opened fire when Blanchette tried to stop the armed man from entering the hall.

    Blanchette, father of a three-year-old daughter, was killed and colleague Dave Courage was wounded by bullets from an assault rifle. The shooter than retreated and tossed a Molotov cocktail, setting a small fire at the theatre's entrance.

    Victim of Quebec election shooting rememberedMourners gathered Wednesday night to remember the victim of the Quebec election shooting. Denis Blanchette, 48, was

    Read More »from ‘Nothing political’ about killing of technician Denis Blanchette at PQ victory rally
  • Pigeon poacher with an air rifle creates high alert at Etobicoke schools

    A pigeon is pictured at the annual Homing Pigeon World Show.
    Here's a useful tip: If you're going to scare pigeons away, don't do it with an air rifle.

    Etienne Brule Junior Public School and St. Mark Catholic School in Etobicoke, Ontario were put into lockdown mode Thursday when a man wielding a rifle was spotted on the roof of a nearby apartment building.

    A passerby spotted the man shortly after 9 a.m. and immediately called police, who put the schools in a hold-and-secure situation. The exterior doors were bolted shut until police gave the all-clear.

    [ More Daily Brew: 'Diefenbaby' believes he can finally prove he's the former PM's son ]

    The weapon turned out to be an air rifle, and the shooter was simply a 54-year-old man who wanted to get rid of the pigeons that had been roosting on his building. He said he was trying to scare the birds by shooting at the roof's flashing.

    It's the second time since the school year began three days ago that a Toronto-area school has been placed in a hold-and-secure situation. On Tuesday, Cardinal Leger

    Read More »from Pigeon poacher with an air rifle creates high alert at Etobicoke schools
  • On Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, 500 scientists around the world reported their findings on the complex functions occurring in the rest of DNA, much of it involved in regulating genetic activity.
    Yesterday, after years of studying the human DNA sequence, ENCODE - the Encyclopedia Of DNA Elements - released their preliminary findings, showing the complexity of the human DNA chain and that so-called 'junk' DNA is more important than originally thought.

    When the Human Genome Project mapped out the chemical composition of human DNA, they determined that only a few percent of the whole chain was really important in determining the structure of the human body and how it worked, and concluded that the rest was just unused 'junk' that was simply left over from the process of our evolution. The US National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) started ENCODE nine years ago to study these initial findings and expand our knowledge of the sequence.

    The papers from ENCODE, published in the journals Nature, Genome Research and Genome Biology, reveal two major discoveries: Over 80 percent of the DNA sequence can be linked to specific biological processes, and there are over 4 million

    Read More »from Scientists crack ‘junk’ DNA mystery with massive worldwide effort
  • George Dryden believes former PM John Diefenbaker may have been his father.
    Toronto's George Dryden has been trying to prove former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker is his father for nearly two years.

    Last week, Dryden received a call from Harvey Tenenbaum, head of the DNA-testing company, Accu-Metrics. Tenenbaum told Dryden that DNA found on the nub of a Q-Tip exhibited "some genetic overlap," the National Post reports.

    "There is a familial linkage," Tenenbaum told Maclean's. "I can't say what it is, but it's more than just strangers passing in the street."

    After more than 20 of Diefenbaker's known relatives refused to provide Dryden with DNA samples, a private investigator tracked down a distant relative of Diefenbaker and found a "very well used" thrown-away Q-Tip.

    "They bagged it, sealed it, took it directly to the DNA lab where they did the tests, which confirms that I am definitely related to that family," Dryden told 680News.

    Dryden, who strongly resembles Diefenbaker, believes that the DNA results prove his case.

    "I'm taking the position that

    Read More »from ‘Diefenbaby’ George Dryden believes he can finally prove he’s the former PM’s son
  • Forecasters are keeping an eye on Hurricane Leslie, but they are being very cautious about raising any alarms.

    Leslie started out a week ago with the austere name 'Tropical Depression 12' and has been moving so slowly since that it's still at the same latitude as Miami, Florida.

    The storm's slow advance is why forecasters are being so cautious. Computer models are predicting a very wide 'potential track' for the storm, currently ranging from a direct hit on Halifax, to sweeping over Newfoundland, to just sweeping by out-to-sea. Leslie added to the problem by stalling overnight, moving at only around 3 or 4 km/h.

    Hurricane Leslie, Tornadoes in Wake of IsaacSevere weather follows tropical storm that hit the Gulf Coast.

    Hurricanes move due to 'steering currents', which are the prevailing winds around the storm. The major influence over the steering currents, and thus where hurricanes will go, is the Bermuda High (also called the Azores High). This region of high pressure sits over Read More »from Hurricane Leslie’s path could cast a wide swath from Bermuda to Newfoundland
  • (Canadian Press photo)

    The image of Canada's human rights tribunals has taken hits over the years for giving an ear to what critics often dismiss as frivolous complaints.

    These quasi-judicial bodies have done a lot of good over the years, defending people against discrimination based on race, religion or sexual orientation.

    But you can see the eye-rolling by their critics now over the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal's decision to hear Una St. Clair's complaint against B.C. Hydro over the alleged damage a new smart meter is doing to her health.

    St. Clair heads something called Citizens for Safe Technology, which campaigns against the encroachment of wireless technologies.

    St. Clair claims to suffer from electromagnetic sensitivity, which she says leaves sufferers feeling ill when they're exposed to devices such as cellular phones, Wi-Fi hotspots and now the wireless electrical meters the Crown-owned utility is installing in homes and businesses.

    St. Clair says "microwave environments" trigger in her an array of

    Read More »from B.C. Human Rights Tribunal slammed for hearing complaint about wireless electrical meter’s health effects
  • Members of the horse racing industry gathered earlier this summer to protest the Ontario government's proposal to pull slot machines from racetracks.
    The collapse of the Ontario horse racing industry will be devastating for the individuals who dedicate themselves to the breeding, care and maintenance of the regal animals who provide their livelihood.

    But loss of income is little compared to the loss of life. Because according to the Toronto Star, that's what could happen to anywhere between 7,500 and 13,000 thousands horses next year if the province's troubled industry collapses.

    "The question is: If (a horse's) value is zero, how do you justify feeding them when you have no way to make a living anymore because the tracks you need to be in existence are gone?" thoroughbred owner and trainer Ian Howard told the paper. "That's when it gets ugly."

    The trouble began in March, when the Ontario government announced it would be terminating its $75 million slots revenue sharing program (SARP) with the province's racetracks.

    Instead, the funds will be funneled into other provincial programs like education and healthcare.

    [ Related: Tory MPP

    Read More »from Collapse of Ontario’s horse racing industry could lead to mass-slaughter of horses


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