• The people of Elliot Lake say the loss of the Algo Centre Mall has had a major impact on their town.The horrific collapse of the Elliot Lake mall in June is something that's unlikely to stop reverberating in the small Ontario town for many years.

    The town made national headlines for weeks after a partial structure failure at the Algo Centre Mall caused a section of the rooftop parking deck to crash through several levels to the ground floor.

    Structural instability meant that rescue crews were also delayed in reaching the bodies of two women who died in the accident. Twenty other mall-goers received non-life-threatening injuries.

    But now that the debris has settled, the Canadian Press writes that Elliot Lake's 13,500 residents are gearing up for a winter without a central shopping — or meeting — place.

    [ Related: Mall roof collapse was a 'surprise', owners claim ]

    While plagued by leaks and water damage, the mall was reportedly the focal point for many townsfolk who found myriad uses for the indoor complex.

    Sixty per cent of the town's retail space was lost when the ceiling crumbled.

    Read More »from Elliot Lake residents continue to struggle following mall collapse
  • There seem to be two narrative threads running through the history of Canadians at war.

    One involves Canadian soldiers taking on seemingly insurmountable challenges and triumphing, such as the victory at Vimy Ridge in 1917, seen as a defining moment in the creation of Canada's identity.

    The other involves under-appreciated Canadians being used as cannon fodder by their British superiors, as in any number of First World War campaigns, the brave but futile Battle of Hong Kong in 1941 and, of course, Dieppe.

    70 years laterToday marks the 70th anniversary of the ill-fated invasion in Dieppe, France, that resulted in the deaths of more than 900 Canadians. Veterans have returned to remember the fallen

    These threads often intertwine, such as at Hong Kong, where units of under-trained Canadians held out for days against an onslaught of seasoned Japanese soldiers before being overwhelmed.

    [ Related: Commemorative services mark 70th anniversary of Dieppe raid ]

    The common denominator is

    Read More »from Disastrous Dieppe Raid 70 years ago example of Canadian courage under fire
  • This Sunday, 15-year-old Annaleise Carr became the youngest person to ever complete the 52-kilometre swim across Lake Ontario, from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Marylin Bell Park.

    Her swim raised more than $90,000 for Camp Trillium, a summer camp for children with cancer, the Toronto Star reports.

    The teen's triumph is one of many recent headline-making accomplishments by teens, challenging the assumption that today's kids are spoiled, self-centred, fame-seeking, entitled and lazy.

    A gruelling swimAnnaleise Carr emerged from the water at Toronto's Marilyn Bell Park Sunday night, becoming the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario

    Canadian teen Habiba Cooper Diallo, 16, recently founded Women's Health Organization International (WHOI) in response to a trip to Ethiopia, with the goal of encouraging women of the African Diaspora, specifically those suffering from obstetric fistula, to take responsibility for their own health-care matters.

    "If disenfranchised women can achieve full autonomy

    Read More »from Annaleise Carr swims across Lake Ontario to raise money for charity, joins ranks of other awesome teens
  • After thunderstorms rolled through London, England on Sunday, a BBC weather forecaster apologized after calling for a hot, sunny day.I'm sure it comes as a real shock to many that a weatherman got the weather wrong.

    BBC forecasters were calling for a hot, sunny Sunday for London and the surrounding countryside, despite the UK Met office computer models showing the potential for thunderstorms that afternoon.

    After the thunderstorms rolled through, weatherman Philip Avery made a public apology on the BBC News channel:

    "There are thunderstorms which were not represented in our forecasts over the past couple of days or so," he said. "I have to say we can't even blame the computers, the computers actually wanted to put those thunderstorms in there but forecasters thought that it wasn't supported by enough evidence and so we went for the dry, hot option. Having said that, apologies to anyone who has had their next few hours ruined."

    After forecasting weather for the past 12 years, I have to say that sometimes a forecaster does have to go on his or her gut feeling. The computer models aren't perfect. One of the first

    Read More »from Incorrect forecast prompts BBC weatherman to apologize for thunderstorms
  • This mosaic image with a close-up inset shows the rock chosen as the first target for NASA's Curiosity rover to zap with its Chemistry and Camera instrument.
    In a fun twist on the classic sci-fi story War of the Worlds, humanity has sent a 1-ton, atomic-powered robot to Mars to roam around and blast things with a high-powered laser. Twisting things a little further, the robot isn't there to destroy all life, but instead is searching for life — or the signs of it, at least.

    Sunday marked NASA's first test of the Curiosity rover's 1-megawatt laser, and whereas blasting things with a laser can be fun, this is (at least mostly) for science.

    Remember on Star Trek, whenever the Kirk, Spock and McCoy (or Riker, Data, and Worf) were trapped on a planet's surface, they'd stay warm by blasting rocks with their phasers, making them glow red-hot? That's pretty much what Curiosity is doing, except it's not to stay warm.

    [ Related: Curiosity to take first Martian drive this week ]

    The phasered rocks glowed because the phaser's beam added energy to the rocks' atoms and molecules. Those atoms and molecules then radiated heat and light. If they wanted to

    Read More »from Curiosity starts blasting martian rocks … in the name of science
  • The Arctic. CBC photoThe Northwest Passage, the Arctic waterway claimed by Canada, has long been a lure for adventurers. Lately, climate change, which is producing a longer ice-free season, is making it even more attractive.

    That makes Michael Byers nervous.

    Byers is Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia and an expert on the Arctic. In a column this week in the Globe and Mail, Byers warns Canada's thinly stretched coast guard is not up to the challenge of a large-scale rescue effort in far northern waters.

    And it may just get an opportunity, he contends, when the 196-metre ship The World attempts a transit of the Northwest Passage later this month.

    Byers describes The World as the largest privately-owned yacht on the planet. The Bahamian-registered vessel is more of a floating luxury condo complex, he says, with 165 individual units valued at up to $13 million apiece.

    "The voyage will not undermine Canada's legal position that the Northwest

    Read More »from Looming cruise ship traffic in Arctic raises search-and-rescue concern
  • A severe drought in the U.S. this summer has food prices on the rise, with prices expected to increase as much as 4 per cent next year, according to a recent projection by CIBC. While that's only half the increase caused by the 2008 food crisis, it's double the national average. And with Canada only recently climbing out of a recession, the increase is particularly bad timing for lower-income families.

    Food security experts currently working on the U.N.'s Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are warning of impacts beyond the U.S. drought, though.

    "It has not been properly recognized yet that we are dealing with a food system here. There is a whole chain that is also going to be affected by climate change," said Dr. John Porter, a Professor of Agricultural Systems Ecology at the University of Copenhagen.

    [ Related: Canadians believe in Climate change ]

    If severe weather such as droughts and flooding become more widespread due to climate change, the

    Read More »from Climate change, severe weather affecting food prices and availability
  • In a controversial move — but not a unique one — the city of Kelowna, B.C., is considering flying a pro-life flag outside its city hall during Protect Human Life Week.

    The week has been an annual event for the past five years, taking place during the last week of September, but the flag would be a new addition to the week, CBC reports.

    Marlon Bartram, executive director of the Kelowna Right to Life Society, says that their original design was rejected when the city council determined that the 'From conception to natural death' slogan along the bottom of the flag violated the council's policy of not advocating a particular point of view. But Bartram says that the new flag has more of a general statement.

    "I think 'pro-life' is a very — I mean, it maybe has some history to it, for sure, but if you break it down, it's just we're for human life," Bartram told CBC. "There's nothing controversial, there's nothing particularly political or religious about that statement."

    Pro-life flags have

    Read More »from Kelowna considers flying pro-life flag at city hall
  • A solar flare erupting from the sun (AP Photo/NASA)The Sun is a fascinating object. A fusion generator almost 1.4 million kilometres across, it's so big that you could pack 1.3 million Earths inside it, and it's so massive that even with giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn on our side, it still tips the scale with 99.98% of the mass of our entire solar system.

    Sunspots regularly dot its surface, and it frequently throws off large flares, some of which disrupt our satellites and communications. It has a magnetic field so powerful that it extends far beyond the orbit of Pluto, where even at that distance it diverts potentially harmful cosmic particles around our solar system, similar to how the Earth's magnetic field protects us from the Sun's solar wind.

    So, with all of that, the last thing I thought I'd hear that was baffling scientists about the Sun was its shape.

    [ More science: Earth's oceans get low grade on new Ocean Health Index ]

    However, a team of four astronomers from the U.S. and Brazil has used the Helioseismic and

    Read More »from Astronomers continue to be baffled by Sun’s nearly perfect shape
  • We've heard the accusations and we've heard the defence. Now we're going to get an investigation. Good.

    After days of news stories alleging the popular Marineland was abusing and neglecting its marine mammals, the Ontario SPCA will conduct an on-site inspection of the popular Niagara Falls tourist attraction.

    "We've got to do what's best for the animals' welfare," Connie Mallory, chief licensing inspector for the SPCA, told the Toronto Star, whose reports this week spurred the move.

    "As soon as the concerns came forward, we started to move the wheels. We treat very seriously what was brought forward in the paper."

    The decision to go check out Marineland seems to have been made late Thursday. A statement on the Ontario SPCA's web site posted just before 9 p.m. EDT makes no mention of the inspection.

    "Neither the Niagara Falls Humane Society nor the Ontario SPCA have received complaints regarding the care of sea mammals at Marineland," says the statement.

    "As concerns have been alleged,

    Read More »from Opinion: Government needs to regulate sea parks like Marineland

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