• Details emerge on Toronto body parts victim Guang Hua Liu

    Peel Police have identified Guang Hua Liu as the victim in the Toronto-area body parts investigation.Guang Hua Liu, identified by Peel Regional Police as the victim in a Toronto-area body parts investigation was a holistic practitioner who became the owner of a spa this past May, according to the Globe and Mail.

    Ms. Liu lived in a townhouse in Scarborough, Ontario not far from the creek where her calves, arm and thigh were discovered.

    She lived with her adult son, while her two younger children lived with their father. Reports suggest that Ms. Liu was planning on shutting down her business and moving back to China with her estranged husband.

    The Globe reports that a friend dropped her off at the Forget-Me-Not Health Care Spa in Scarborough around dinner time on Friday, August 10.

    Hikers made the first discovery of Ms. Liu's body parts in Hewick Meadows Park in Mississauga, west of Toronto. 

    The 41-year-old was identified by Peel Regional Police Insp. George Koekkoek during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

    [ Related: Police identify remains of woman found scattered in

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  • Melting ice on the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic.A week ago, I talked about new evidence suggesting that with current melting rates being detected by satellite, in 10 years there could be days in the summer where there will be no ice in the Arctic.

    Yesterday, a report came out from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the U.S. agency that tracks the amount of ice in the Arctic, stating that the extent of Arctic sea ice will reach a new record low next week.  Since Arctic ice typically reaches its lowest yearly level in mid-September, the ice will continue to melt for a few more weeks, pushing this record even lower.

    "Chances are it will cross the previous record while we're still in sea ice retreat." says Ted Scambos, the lead scientist at the NSIDC.

    The extent of Arctic ice has a yearly cycle. In the winter, the extent reaches between 13 and 14 million square kilometres, and then steadily declines as we head into spring and summer. The extent typically reaches its lowest level in mid-September, and then gradually builds again,

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  • Deadbeats beware, the Canadian government is getting serious about your unpaid fines. It's hiring a collection agency, so screen your calls and keep the shades drawn.

    The Canadian Press reports Ottawa has posted a letter of interest on a web site for potential contractors revealing thousands of Canadians owe a total of $129 million in unpaid fines as of March 31.

    "The (Public Prosecution Service of Canada) requires the services of firm or agency specialized in collection services," the letter says.

    "Specific services of PPSC are required to collect outstanding federal fines owed to Canada, including Criminal Code fines, surcharges and court costs ordered with the federal fine at sentencing. This includes legal costs where applicable, using appropriate collection methods."

    The document offers a revealing insight into the extent of this law-scoffing.

    Some 2,009 people owed fines of more than $10,000, and 1,049 owned between $5,000 and $10,000. The letter lists almost 5,900 fine evaders

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  • Monsoon clouds loom over the Kathmandu skyline, August 12, 2012. The monsoon season in Nepal typically last from June to August. REUTERS/Navesh ChitrakarGeoengineering — the use of technology to make large-scale changes to the environment — has been making the news lately.

    Similar to a previous idea, a new proposal for "marine cloud brightening" suggests using a network of remote-controlled, self-sustaining Flettner ships to spray salt water into the upper atmosphere over the oceans. This would create long-lasting clouds which would reflect more sunlight back into space and help cool the planet. Using salt water — instead of the previously-proposed sulphur dioxide — would prevent potential damage to the ozone layer.

    Methods like these could have unexpected effects, with some scientists saying that cloud brightening over the Atlantic Ocean could cause the South Atlantic to cool, which would mean less evaporation of ocean water into the air and less rainfall over the Amazon rainforest, turning the area into a desert. However, according to the lead author of the paper, Jonathan Latham of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in

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  • Douglas Channel, the proposed shipping route for oil tanker ships in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, is pictured in an aerial view just south of Kitimat, B.C., on Tuesday January 10, 2012. More research has been released giving credence to B.C.'s argument that it would get far fewer economic benefits from the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline compared to Alberta and Ontario.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl DyckOpponents of the massive Northern Gateway pipeline might be asking themselves today whether the game is rigged.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper insists a decision on whether to proceed with the Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.'s $6-billion proposal to pipe oil sands bitumen from Alberta to a new export terminal at Kitimat on the northern B.C. coast will be based on independent scientific evaluation.

    But The Canadian Press is reporting budget cuts have made it unlikely that scientific evidence will be available by Harper's decision deadline at the end of next year.

    More ominously, a memo by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), suggests it's mainly looking at how to minimize the risk of a bitumen spill in the sensitive coastal waters and along the pipeline route, and deal with it through "appropriate mitigation and compensation measures."

    Documents filed with the National Energy Board suggest DFO seems to have resigned itself to the National Energy Board approving the project, a key

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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