• With warmer, dryer weather here, that means more people will be getting out on their bikes. Whether it’s commuting to work, cycling for fitness, or going for easy-going evening rides with your kids, biking is one of those feel-good, fresh-air physical activities that burns calories, improves health, and contributes to a greener planet.

    And depending on where you live, it’s safer in some places than others. While comprehensive, uniform data comparing cycling safety in cities across the country is lacking, a few studies have looked at some of Canada’s best biking spots. Perhaps not surprisingly, West Coast cities consistently come out on top.

    The country’s least bike-friendly cities appear to be St. John’s, Moncton, Charlottetown, Montreal, Ottawa, and Edmonton.

    St. John’s ranked lowest on the Bike Score, which was created by UBC’s Cycling in Cities Research Program in partnership with the Seattle-based company that developed Walk Score. It’s calculated by taking into account factors

    Read More »from The most dangerous cities to cycle in Canada
  • On Sunday morning, a distraught man called 911 saying that his father had gone crazy and was armed with an assault rifle in the house. 

    “He’s shooting a gun,” the man said, adding he thought his father just shot his mother and that he was next.

    The dispatcher advised him to stay hidden and tried to reassure him saying that police officers were almost there.

    But when York Regional Police arrived on the scene at 5:41 a.m. that Sunday, they burst through the front door only to find Vincent Yan, his wife and their two young children sleeping inside their Richmond Hill, Ont., home.

    Yan and his family were the unsuspecting victims of a fake 911 call that police refer to as swatting. 

    What is swatting?  

    According to the FBI who first warned about this practice in 2008, pranksters place a convincing call to 911 about a fake emergency, such as a bomb threat or a threatening gunman, to get police ­— usually a SWAT team — to respond.

    How does it happen?

    The agency, which declined to comment,

    Read More »from What is "swatting" and why does it keep happening?
  • Fred Hahn, president of CUPE, Ontario speaks to high school teachers and their supporters on May 14.Fred Hahn, president of CUPE, Ontario speaks to high school teachers and their supporters on May 14.
    Students at three Ontario school boards are getting an early summer break this year: final exams have been cancelled.

    Classes resumed in the Rainbow, Peel and Durham districts on Wednesday after teacher strikes were ruled illegal earlier in the week. Athough the unions are threatening to be back on strike in June 10, the Ontario government is promising back-to-work legislation this week that would prevent those strikes.

    With teachers back at work, the question turned to what will be required of the returning students. The answer, in a nutshell: not much. The provincial government said final exams have been cancelled; the students will be graded instead on their schoolwork throughout the semester.

    Students were also told before the strikes began that they weren’t expected to work on any class assignments or projects while the strike was in effect.  There’s now a one-week moratorium =on any assignments or assessments, meaning students won’t have to hand anything in until early June –

    Read More »from Thanks to strikes, some Ontario students won't have final exams
  • A portion of one of B.C.'s special commemorative provincial birth certificates.A portion of one of B.C.'s special commemorative provincial birth certificates.
    When a child is born, their name, date of birth and sex are recorded on their birth certificate.

    Penis: M. Vagina: F.

    But a group of transgender British Columbians wants that to end. They’ve filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal alleging that identifying newborns as male or female discriminates against transgender individuals.

    “Every time a compulsorily gendered person is requested to produce a birth certificate which does not ‘match’ either their gender identity or their gender presentation or both, they are exposed to ridicule, censure, discrimination and/or life-threatening danger,” says the complaint filed by the Trans Alliance Society and eight transgender people.

    Although transgender people can apply to change the sex designation on their birth certificates, it’s an unnecessary barrier, the complaint says, and one that is not helpful for gender variant transsexuals, gender non-conforming cisgender or intersex individuals.

    The human rights tribunal did not respond

    Read More »from Transgender group wants sex dropped from B.C. birth certificates
  • A volunteer at the Food Bank transfers food donated by a supermarket to charity in France. (Reuters)A volunteer at the Food Bank transfers food donated by a supermarket to charity in France. (Reuters)

    Wasted food is a tremendous global problem. Depending on how you define waste, anywhere from 30 per cent to – in developed countries – upwards of half the food grown for human consumption ends up being thrown away.

    Almost everyone involved, from farmers to consumers, bear a share of the blame but France is taking a radical step to address it by targeting its supermarkets. A new law will make it illegal for large grocers to dispose of food that’s still edible into the garbage stream.

    The law, approved last week by the National Assembly, requires store operators to donate unsold still-edible food, whether packaged or fresh, to charities. To ensure compliance, they’ll be required to make contracts with recipient organizations.

    Food no longer fit for human consumption must be processed into animal feed or compost.

    It took a grassroots campaign by one French politician to bring about the legislation because, as in Canada, this serious issue flies pretty much under the public’s radar.

    Read More »from Would France’s anti-food waste law work for Canada?
  • It was March 1944.

    War had ravaged Europe for almost five years. In a few months, thousands of Canadian and other Allied troops would make landfall at Normandy in the D-Day invasion. In a little more than a year, the Allies would accept Germany’s surrender.

    But the Commonwealth officers in the German prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III – Canadians among them - were planning an operation of their own.

    Under cover of darkness the night of March 24, 80 airmen crawled through a 400-foot tunnel they’d dug by hand, secreting the dirt out for more than a year hidden in pant legs and pockets.

    The daring breakout was immortalized in the 1963 movie “The Great Escape,” starring Steve McQueen and James Garner.

    The fictional, Americanized film was a huge success but there were only two Americans involved in the real escape. About a third of the 2,000 men involved were Canadian; others were British, Australians, New Zealanders and other Commonwealth airmen.

    “It’s terrific entertainment but it’s a

    Read More »from The Great Canadian Escape: author recounts untold story of WWII drama
  • A man carries his luggage at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on December 20, 2013. A man carries his luggage at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on December 20, 2013.

    This week, anyone flying out of Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson Airport with Air Canada will want to pay special attention to their baggage, emotional and otherwise. The airline began issuing red tags to those passengers whose carry-on luggage conforms to the company’s size regulations. Every passenger is allowed one standard suitcase or bag measuring no more than 23 by 40 by 55 centimetres, and one personal item, like a backpack, laptop bag, or handbag. If your effects exceeds these limits, no tag for you. You’ll be asked to check the offending piece of luggage for a $25 fee.

    When the crackdown announcement was made last week, it was met, predictably, with collective grumbling. The salvo represented a new turn in the so-called Carry-on Crisis that began last fall when the airline announced it would start charging for checked bags on domestic flights. (A fee had already been attached to international trips.)

    Air Canada claims it’s clamping down on carry-on transgressions as a way to

    Read More »from Dear Air Canada, you’re clamping down on the wrong behaviour
  • 25I-NBOMe can be sold as a cube, liquid, powder, or blotted onto paper. (Thinkstock)25I-NBOMe can be sold as a cube, liquid, powder, or blotted onto paper. (Thinkstock)

    A relatively new hallucinogenic drug, 25I-NBOMe, was thrown into the spotlight again this week after a CBS News story out of Boston highlighted the case of two young people who were arrested “for displaying strange, self-destructive behavior” while under its influence.

    A similar case occurred just before New Year’s in the quiet bedroom community of Stouffville, Ont. just north of Toronto.

    Police say the drug is being marketed as a cheap version of LSD, but is less predictable and potentially more dangerous.

    “25I-NBOMe is much more potent than LSD, and if taken accidentally or in excess, can lead to erratic behavior, seizures, cardiac arrest and possibly death,” says Constable Andy Pattenden of the York Region Police, which investigated the Stouffville case.

    “It comes in a variety of forms, including cubes, liquid, powder and blotted onto paper. Its common street names are 2-5-I, N-Bomb, Wizard, Future and Smiles.”

    A big part of the attraction? It’s cheap. Gauging the price of street

    Read More »from 25I-NBOMe and other designer drugs proving difficult to police
  • Two day hikers in the Whistler Mountain alpine with Fitzsimmons, Overloard and Fissile mountains behind are shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Paul MorrisonTwo day hikers in the Whistler Mountain alpine with Fitzsimmons, Overloard and Fissile mountains behind are shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Paul Morrison
    It’s one of the most popular ski destinations in the world and, after this month, Whistler-Blackcomb will be smoke-free.

    As of May 31, tobacco, marijuana, e-cigarettes and vaporizers will be prohibited anywhere on the mountain, including chairlifts, ski runs, hiking and biking trails and parking lots.

    It’s a move resort president Dave Brownlie says fits with Whistler-Blackcomb’s healthy, family-oriented philosophy.

    It’s also a move spurring debate over the new wave in tobacco control – prohibition in outdoor spaces or even city-wide bans.

    “A lot of these restrictions on outdoor areas are simply driven by the community,” Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society, tells Yahoo Canada News.

    “As people become accustomed to smoke-free areas, they’re not accustomed to being exposed to a smoky place so they don’t like it – even just as a nuisance.”

    Since smoking was reluctantly banned in hospitals and retail stores in 1976, Canada has seen some of the toughest

    Read More »from Resort’s crackdown on smoking puts public health first, but questions over personal freedoms persist
  • Ducklings try to cross race course during a 2013 IndyCar practice. (Screengrab/YouTube)Ducklings try to cross race course during a 2013 IndyCar practice. (Screengrab/YouTube)

    The urge to protect and rescue the helpless is ingrained in most human beings, so you can understand the reflex some motorists have to stop when they see some confused waterfowl on a busy roadway.

    But should they? The answer experts give is no in most instances.

    Toronto police actually closed a section of the busy Don Valley Parkway, the main artery into downtown, last Sunday to allow a Canada goose and her goslings to cross the expressway. The incident produced a couple of humorous tweets from the department.

    Police spokeswoman Const. Caroline de Kloet said the the decision to act as wildlife crossing guards for the little critters likely stemmed from concern for their safety and the potential mayhem of drivers moving at freeway speeds trying to dodge the gaggle of birds. Or, god forbid, someone stops.

    The consequences of that were demonstrated in Quebec five years ago when a woman stopped her car in the left-hand lane of a provincial highway to try to corral some motherless

    Read More »from Should you rescue ducklings on the highway? Most times no, experts say


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