Archive | February, 2015

Freezing Temperatures in Edmonton May Lead to a Freezeway

Edmonton Freezeway

Rather than cursing the cold weather, the city of Edmonton is turning lemon into lemonade – or rather turning sub-zero temperatures into an 11-kilometre long “freezeway” which would allow residents to strap on a pair of skates and glide to work.

The Freezeway, which was proposed two years ago by UBC landscape architecture graduate Matt Gibbs, would be an 11-kilometre greenway with a “winter skating lane” that would allow Edmontonians and visitors to skate around the city. And in the summer (wait… does Edmonton have a summer?) the path could be used by pedestrians and cyclists.

Gibbs took the idea from an offhand comment made by a city councillor back in the 90s.

“Why don’t we just crack the fire hydrants open, flood the streets and let people skate to work in the winter?” Former city councillor Tooker Gomberg said in the 1990s.

Maybe because the last thing people want to do on a Monday morning is skate in below-freezing temperature with a briefcase in their hand and then have to walk the rest of the way to work carrying their skates? Or maybe because investing the money is a working LRT system might be more useful than a seven-mile ice rink?

Nevertheless, Gibbs took the idea and built a design – winning him first place in the 2013 COLDSCAPES international design competition, which focuses on maximizing the potential of cold climate cities.

The idea garnered plenty of attention and Edmonton city organizers, eager to follow in the footsteps of Ottawa’s Rideau Canal, are now planning a pilot project for as early as next winter.

Councillor Scott McKeen said the Freezeway would be a welcome addition.

“Edmonton has not exploited to any great extent one of its greatest natural resources – winter,” said Mr McKeen. “Like other North American cities in colder climates, we’ve tried to engineer our way out of it. … Even most of our hockey facilities are now indoors and heated.”

But not everyone agrees.

Councillor Mike Nickel called the Freezeway “the stupidest idea I’ve heard”.

Meh, worst case the Edmonton Oilers can use it to practice. Actually, better keep the Oilers off it – they might get in the way of people who can skate.

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Measles Mania

Measles WHO

Another year, another series of measles outbreaks. The World Health Organization say they are “taken aback” by more than 22,000 cases in 2014 and the first months of this year and countries must step up their measles vaccinations.

“When we consider that over the past two decades we have seen a reduction of 96% in the number of measles cases in the European region, and that we are just a step away from eliminating the disease, we are taken aback by these numbers,” Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said.

“We must collectively respond, without further delay, to close immunization gaps.”

“It is unacceptable that, after the last 50 years’ efforts to make safe and effective vaccines available, measles continues to cost lives, money and time.”

The measles comeback is largely due to a growing number of parents who are refusing to vaccinate their children (thanks Jenny McCarthy) or are facing barriers in getting the immunizations they need. Considering measles is one of the most contagious diseases known to man and can be easily spread through coughing and sneezing, this isn’t very good. In fact, measles had the ability to turn Disneyland from the happiest place on earth into measles ground zero after hundreds of people were exposed to the virus.

U.S. health officials announced Monday that the country has had 154 measles cases thus far in 2015 – which isn’t great considering they declared measles to be eliminated in 2000 after years of vaccination efforts.

But measles mania isn’t just a North American problem. Over in Europe, an 18-month-old child in Berlin who had not been vaccinated against measles died of the virus this week. Berlin has seen more than 600 cases since a measles outbreak began in October, prompting a nationwide debate about whether immunizations should be made mandatory.

To sum up, VACCINATE YOUR CHILDREN – unless, of course, you don’t want them to develop autism.

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Turkish Men Show Their Balls by Wearing Miniskirts

TURKEY-WOMEN-RIGHTS-DEMO

Men throughout Turkey and neighboring Azerbaijan are tweeting images of themselves in miniskirts to protest the death of a young woman who was murdered after fighting off a sexual assault by a minibus driver.

The brutal death Ozgecan Aslan, a 20-year-old student who fought off an attempted rape before her body was burned and dumped in a riverbed, provoked a widespread reaction on social media and spurred Turks everywhere to protest violence against women.

On Wednesday, a group of men in Azerbaijan are believed to have started the hashtag #ozgecanicinminietekgiy, which translates to “wear a miniskirt for Ozgecan.” The hashtag went viral and thousands of men from Azerbaijan and Turkey have since tweeted out images of themselves wearing skirts in honor of women’s (and Scottish men’s?) rights.

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A Facebook page supporting the campaign explains, “If a miniskirt is responsible for everything, if [wearing] a miniskirt means immorality and unchastity, if a woman who wears a miniskirt is sending an invitation about what will happen to her, then we are also sending an invitation!”

On Saturday the protest went from the internet to the streets as hundreds gathered in dresses, skirts and miniskirts to march through Istanbul in solidarity with women who have been protesting violence against women since the recent murder of Ozgecan Aslan.

Miniskirts Protest

Prominent Turkish lawyer and activist Hulya Gulbahar said the skirt protest is “very effective” and the first time women’s rights have been so widely endorsed in Turkey.

“The women’s movement is trying to tell society, ‘My dress is not an excuse for your rape or sexual harassment.’ But society didn’t want to hear these voices. People try to find excuses for rapes and killing. But they didn’t find any in this case, because Aslan was very innocent, purely innocent. The protest shows that a short skirt is not an excuse for rape.”

Women’s rights in Turkey don’t exactly have a stellar rep. Reported sexual and physical violence against women in Turkey has risen 14-fold since 2002. Just last summer a Turkish court ruled that a woman who was attacked and wounded with a knife by her ex-husband had “provoked” him by wearing leggings. And President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hasn’t been much help tackling the issue, declaring last year that he doesn’t believe in men and women’s equality. So if Turkish men have to take to the streets dressed in miniskirts to drive the point home, then they might as well look good doing it:

Turkey Skirt

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Gov. Scott Walker Won’t Admit Obama is Christian… But At Least He Didn’t Say Obama Hates America

Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, an unfortunately likely contender for the 2016 Republican nomination for President, says he doesn’t know whether or not President Obama is Christian.

Side note: if you’re unfamiliar with Gov. Walker, just picture a younger George W. Bush – but without the education. Seriously, he never graduated.

In an interview at the JW Marriott hotel in Washington, where he was attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, Gov. Walker replied “I don’t know” when asked if he thought President Obama was a Christian.

When informed that Obama had often spoken publicly about his Christian beliefs, Walker continued to play dumb.

“I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that,” Walker said, his voice calm and firm. “I’ve never asked him that,” he added.

A spokesman for Walker later said the governor was taking a principled stand by not answering irrelevant questions, not casting doubt on the president’s faith. Plus, he simply wanted to confirm his conservative voters suspicions that Obama is a raging Muslim.

But at least Gov. Walker didn’t come out and say Obama hates America. That gem belongs to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” said the former New York mayor at an event supporting Gov. Walker. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.”

Scott Walker could have taken the John McCain route and actively challenged conservatives attacking Obama’s patriotism and citizenship… but instead he took the Scott Walker route and pleaded ignorance, declining to condemn or condone Giuliani’s comments.

“I don’t know, I honestly don’t know, one way or the other,” Walker said about Obama’s patriotism. “I’ve said that 100 times, too.”

You could fill a book with things Gov. Walker doesn’t know: Obama’s religion, Obama’s level of patriotism, whether or not evolution is real… In retrospect it probably wasn’t a good idea for him to drop out of school.

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Bill O’Reilly May Have Pulled a Brian Williams

brian-williams-bill-oreilly

Is Bill O’Reilly the new Brian Williams? Well, one is a highly respected news anchor while the other is blowhard book salesman with his own show on FOX – but both have been accused of making false claims about covering war zones.

Just two weeks after NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was suspended for six months without pay for misrepresenting events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003, Bill O’Reilly has been accused of making false claims about his  coverage of the Falklands War in 1982.

Mother Jones’s David Corn reports that O’Reilly’s stories don’t add up with the facts from the war. O’Reilly has said on multiple occasions that he had spent time in a “war zone” while covering the Falklands conflict as a reporter for CBS News, but CBS News’s chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer says that the only “war zone” was in and around the islands, and “nobody from CBS got to the Falklands.”

For example, in his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America, O’Reilly stated, “You know that I am not easily shocked. I’ve reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands.” And in a 2004 column about US soldiers fighting in Iraq, O’Reilly noted, “Having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash.”

Turns out O’Reilly’s dramatic stories from his time in the Falklands combat zone were actually from Buenos Aires – a thousand miles from where the fighting was. Schieffer, who was the network’s lead correspondent covering the war at the time, said he “came close” to reaching the Falklands, but the task proved “impossible.” He, O’Reilly and other CBS reporters were based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Shortly after the Mother Jones report was published, O’Reilly went on an angry tirade, calling the story a “giant piece of defamation,” “a lie,” and a smear.

“I was not on the Falkland Islands and I never said I was!” O’Reilly told Politico.

He went on to call one of the writers, David Corn, a “disgusting piece of garbage,” a “guttersnipe liar,” and a “far-left assassin.”

While Brian Williams got a hefty suspension for padding his war reporting, Bill O’Reilly will continue on with the O’Reilly Factor. Makes sense. If FOX News got rid of every anchor who lied or exaggerated, there wouldn’t be anyone left. The whole “Paris No Go Zone” fiasco alone would have cost them half their staff.

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ISIS Threatens to Come to Rome… Traffic Permitting

 ISIS to Rome

The Italian government is on high alert after the Islamic State threatened to conquer Rome – with Allah’s permission, of course.

A recent video that appeared to show the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya included balaclava-clad extremists armed with an ominous message.

“Today we are south of Rome,” one masked militant said. “We will conquer Rome with Allah’s permission.”

Since Libya is just a stone’s throw across the Mediterranean Sea from Italy, Italian authorities are playing it safe by deploying 5,000 troops to guard embassies and monuments across the country. I mean, if thousands of refugees can make it across every year (minus a few drownings…), how hard can it be? Which is exactly why Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano urged NATO to intervene “for the future of the Western world,” adding “ISIS is at the door. There is no time to waste.”

But the Italian people aren’t too worried about the impending threat – because they know how bad Italian traffic is.

Using the Twitter hashtag “#We_are_coming_o_Rome”, Italians have responded to the Islamic State with warnings about traffic, bureaucratic corruption, and a few restaurant recommendations – because why not?

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Besides, could ISIS really do more damage in Rome than Dutch football fans?

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Strauss-Kahn: My Orgies Were Legal… And They Only Happened 12 Times

dominique-strauss-kahn

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is firmly denying charges of aggravated pimping at a trial in northern France.

Strauss-Kahn, best known for firmly denying raping a New York City hotel maid in 2011, is facing pimping charges along with 13 others, including a former police commissioner and a brothel owner nicknamed “Dodo the Pimp.” The once French presidential hopeful, whose career pretty much unraveled amid allegations he raped a hotel maid, is accused of helping procure sex workers for a prostitution ring based at a hotel in Lille. Paying for sex with anyone over 18 is not illegal in France, but it is against the law to procure prostitutes for others or to run a prostitution business.

But Strauss-Kahn insists he is innocent, arguing that he did not organize the orgy parties and he didn’t know the women engaging in anal orgies were prostitutes.

“I committed no crime, no offence,” Strauss-Kahn said when he took the stand Tuesday.

While the ex-IMF head admitted to participating in a few rare sex orgies organized by businessman David Roque in Lille, he said prosecutors had greatly exaggerated the frequency of his “licentious evenings”.

“The prosecution gives the impression of unbridled activity,” he told the court. But, he added: “There were only 12 parties in total – that is four per year over three years.”

Only 12? What a prude.

On the second day if his trial, it was revealed that in addition to sex parties, Strauss-Kahn allegedly brought a prostitute with him to IMF headquarters in Washington, D.C. Once again, Strauss-Kahn denied knowing she was a prostitute – he was simply under the impression that hot young girls dig orgies with fat grey bankers.

If convicted, Strauss-Kahn and 13 other defendants face 10 years in prison and a $1.7 million dollar fine.

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