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Air Canada reviewing how crew left passenger on parked plane

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 03:12
Air Canada said Sunday it’s looking into how crew members could have disembarked from a plane without noticing a sleeping passenger who was left behind. The airline was responding to an incident involving a woman who described waking up “all alone” on a “cold dark” aircraft after a flight to Toronto earlier this month. “I think I’m having a bad dream bc like seriously how is this happening!!?!” Tiffani Adams recounted in a June 19 Facebook post sent by her friend, Deanna Noel-Dale. The airline confirmed the incident took place but declined to comment on its disembarking procedures or how the passenger may have been overlooked. “We are still reviewing this matter so we have no additional details to share, but we have followed up with the customer and remain in contact with her,” Air Canada told the Associated Press. Adams wrote that after she woke up, she called Noel-Dale to try to explain what happened, but her phone died and she couldn’t charge it because power to the plane was off. She said she was “full on panicking” by the time she found the “walky talky thingys in the cockpit,” which also didn’t work. After no one saw the “sos signals” she made by shining a flashlight out the window, she unbolted a cabin door. Facing a steep drop to the tarmac, she leaned out of the aircraft and called over a ground crew, who got her out. The passenger wrote that Air Canada personnel asked if she was OK and whether she would like a limo and hotel, but she declined the offer. She said airline representatives apologized and said they would investigate. “I haven’t got much sleep since the reoccurring night terrors and waking up anxious and afraid I’m alone locked up someplace dark,” she wrote. The AP attempted to reach Adams through Noel-Dale’s Facebook account but had not received a response by late Sunday morning. Air Canada said in a Facebook response to the post that it was surprised to hear the story and “very concerned,” asking Adams to send a private message with her flight details. “We’ll take a look into it,” the airline wrote. Natalie Schachar, The Associated Press

In the news today, June 24

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 02:15
Four stories in the news for Monday, June 24 --- SAINT-JACQUES SET TO RETURN FROM SPACE MISSION David Saint-Jacques is getting ready to head home today after more than six months in space. The Canadian astronaut is set to return aboard a Soyuz capsule along with a NASA astronaut and Russian cosmonaut, landing just before 11 p.m. Eastern. Saint-Jacques’ mission began on Dec. 3 and will be the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian - 204 days in orbit. His mission included milestones such as a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk in April and operating Canadarm2 to perform a “cosmic catch” of SpaceX Dragon cargo in May. He also oversaw numerous health science experiments and chatted from space with children across Canada. --- INDEPENDENT SENATORS GROWING MORE ASSERTIVE In the final hours of Justin Trudeau’s four-year experiment with a less-partisan Senate, Independent senators came within a whisker of biting the hand that feeds them. On Bill C-48, which follows through on the prime minister’s 2015 election commitment to ban oil tankers from the northern coast of British Columbia, senators voted 49 to 46 to accept the bill, even though Trudeau’s government had rejected one of two Senate amendments to the controversial legislation. Those voting against included all the Conservative senators plus more than a dozen Independent senators. --- SURVEY SUGGESTS CANADIANS HAPPIER AFTER AGE 55 A new national survey suggests Canadians are happier after age 55 and when they earn a higher income, but it also indicates that most don’t consider money to be a key factor affecting their happiness. The Happiness Index compiled by Leger, asked Canadians across the country to rate their level of happiness on a scale of one to 10 and note which factors they believe influence their happiness the most. The online survey, conducted between June 11 and 17, found about half of respondents ranked their happiness as at least eight out of 10, with almost no difference between rural and urban areas. --- MUST LOVE SNAKES: RATTLER WRANGLER ALWAYS ON CALL One rattlesnake got caught in freshly laid tar under someone’s stairs. Others typically get trapped in garden netting. Ryan Heavy Head comes to the rescue of both the vipers and the terrified homeowners. “I call myself a rattlesnake wrangler,” says the 47-year-old, who runs a rattlesnake mitigation program in Lethbridge, southeast of Calgary. He’s also on call with the program’s rattlesnake hotline, which runs April to October. The line gets anywhere from 60 to 170 calls a year, and the number has been rising along with new housing developments on bluffs above the city’s river valley. --- ALSO IN THE NEWS: - Finance Minister Bill Morneau in Kitimat, B.C. to announce the largest private sector investment in Canadian history. - Release of BC Court of Appeal ruling on the government application to preserve indefinite solitary confinement in Canadian prisons. - Conference in support of revitalization of Indigenous languages around the world opens in Victoria. - Pro-choice rally at Edmonton Legislature featuring speakers on bodily autonomy and reproductive justice. - Lethbridge, Alta., retrial of David and Collet Stephan who were convicted of failing to provide the necessaries of life in the death of their son. - OPSEU members from the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa to hold a rally against the Ford government. - Media invited to attend first crossing of refurbished Samuel De Champlain Bridge in Quebec. --- The Canadian Press

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques set to return after more than six months in space

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 02:10
LONGUEUIL, Que. - David Saint-Jacques is set to return to Earth on Monday after more than six months aboard the International Space Station. The Canadian astronaut will join NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko aboard a Soyuz capsule that’s expected to land just before 11 p.m. ET. Saint-Jacques’ mission began ahead of schedule on Dec. 3, when he was part of the first crewed Soyouz mission following a rocket mishap that forced a spacecraft carrying two astronauts to abort and make an emergency landing last October. The Saint-Lambert, Que., native will set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days. Saint-Jacques, 49, took part in a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk in April and a “cosmic catch” of SpaceX Dragon cargo using Canadarm2 - the first time a Canadian astronaut has operated the robotic arm to perform the feat. The engineer, astrophysicist and family doctor also oversaw numerous science experiments and had numerous discussions with kids across the country during his mission. In his final days, Saint-Jacques said he was refamiliarizing himself with the Soyuz craft that has been parked for the duration of their stay and will take them home starting Monday afternoon. He tweeted over the weekend the craft was in fine form despite being parked for six months. “It will take a few hours but we’ll fall back to Earth - literally,” Saint-Jacques explained to reporters last week. “After crossing into Earth’s atmosphere, the parachutes will open, we’ll land in Kazhakstan and be picked up by Russian team and taken to the airport where we’ll return to Houston to be reunited with our families.” The married father of three young children said he’s looking forward to seeing his family again. Saint-Jacques told reporters last week that he’s aware of the physical challenges that await after six months in zero gravity - that includes blood circulation problems, muscle pains and an elongated spine that will return to normal. That could mean trouble walking and moving around for a while. Saint-Jacques’ recovery is first and foremost on the minds of Canadian Space Agency officials. “A big aspect for us here at the agency is to prepare his return in the next few weeks - rehabilitation, physical reconditioning, adapting back to life at 1G,” said Gilles Leclerc, the agency’s director of space exploration. Saint-Jacques is expected to take part in a news conference on Friday from Houston and will return to Canada in mid-July to visit the agency, just south of Montreal. As for the next mission, Leclerc said negotiations are underway to have another member of the corps serve aboard the International Space Station before 2024. -By Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal. The Canadian Press

Who you gonna call? Alberta rattlesnake wrangler keeps serpents, citizens safe

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 02:00
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - One rattlesnake got caught in freshly laid tar under someone’s stairs. Others typically get twisted and trapped in garden netting. Ryan Heavy Head comes to the rescue of both the vipers and the terrified homeowners. “I call myself a rattlesnake wrangler,” says the 47-year-old, who runs a rattlesnake mitigation program in Lethbridge, southeast of Calgary. He’s also on call with the program’s rattlesnake hotline, which runs April to October. The line gets anywhere from 60 to 170 calls a year, and the number has been rising along with new housing developments on bluffs above the city’s river valley. Heavy Head estimates there are about 600 rattlers living along the deep ravines and coulees of the Oldman River. A deserted area that was once a dump with half-buried slabs of concrete has become a rookery where female snakes gather before they give birth. “It’s just like snake heaven,” says Heavy Head as he carefully walks through the area. He’s wearing open-toed sandals, a short-sleeved T-shirt, camouflage shorts and a hat. Without hesitation, he approaches one snake with a short stick and lifts it up off the ground. The distinctive sound of its shaking tail doesn’t phase him. “I’ve got to be careful because I’m still within the strike range and if she were to pull back - she’s coiled tight enough - she could lunge her body at me,” he says. Heavy Head manages to get the snake into a long, clear plastic tube so he can get a closer look. “She’s got golden eyes. You see those eyes? They’re dragon eyes,” he says admiringly. Heavy Head, originally from Oregon, says he loves snakes. He got his first pet snake, a boa constrictor, when he was eight. After a stint in the United States army and completing a degree in cultural anthropology, he took over the Lethbridge rattlesnake program. One recent hotline call came from the University of Lethbridge, where some small rattlers had worked their way through the vents and into a maintenance room. Heavy Head put them in a dark case made out of strong plastic that attached to his backback. He then returned them to a den in the area.  Dogs are most at risk of being bitten. Rattlesnake bites in humans are rarely fatal, he says. He recalls how one woman learned the hard way how quickly a snake reacts. She was in her yard with her husband, who was using a lawn trimmer. Because the machine was so loud, she didn’t hear the warning rattle of a nearby snake. “She reached under a bush and put her hand right on the snake and it bit her,” he says. “By the time she travelled to hospital she said her hand was like a lobster claw.” Heavy Head says the size of the snake doesn’t matter. “They’ve got the same venom, so it still hurts.” So far, he hasn’t been pierced with rattlesnake fangs. “But I am going to get bit eventually.” - Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter   Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

More assertive Independent senators come close to defeating government bills

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 02:00
OTTAWA - In the final hours of Justin Trudeau’s four-year experiment with a less-partisan Senate, Independent senators came within a whisker of biting the hand that feeds them. On Bill C-48, which follows through on the prime minister’s 2015 election commitment to ban oil tankers from the northern coast of British Columbia, senators voted 49 to 46 to accept the bill Thursday, even though Trudeau’s government had rejected one of two Senate amendments to the controversial legislation. Those voting against included all the Conservative senators plus more than a dozen Independent senators. Almost two dozen Independents flexed their muscles again a few hours later on Bill C-83, aimed at creating a more humane way to segregate dangerous prison inmates. The bill passed easily in the end, by a vote of 56 to 26, but only because most Conservative senators uncharacteristically supported the Liberal government’s rejection of a Senate amendment to require judicial review when an inmate is placed in a “structured intervention unit” - the replacement for solitary confinement. Had senators voted to insist on the Senate amendments, the two bills would have theoretically gone back to the House of Commons where the government could have sent messages back to the Senate once again rejecting the upper house’s amendments - embarking on a game of potentially endless legislative ping pong between the two houses of Parliament. But with the House of Commons adjourned for the summer and only a slim chance of it being recalled before the fall election, such a move would have effectively killed both bills. It’s the closest the Senate has come to defying the will of the elected chamber since Trudeau instituted an arm’s-length advisory body to recommend non-partisan appointees to the upper house. Had the bills gone down, Independent senators would have handed ammunition to critics of Trudeau’s Senate reforms, some of whom have been predicting from the outset that it will inevitably lead to a constitutional crisis with an empowered, unelected chamber thumbing its nose at the elected government. And they’d have given a boost to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who has promised he’ll return to the traditional way of appointing senators, naming only Tory partisans to the upper house should he become prime minister. Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, head of the Independent Senators Group, a loose affiliation of most of the non-partisan senators that helps them operate under old Senate rules, said there’s “no question” senators are becoming more assertive as they settle into their roles. But he insisted that’s “tempered” by the recognition that they are not elected. “As the senators become more experienced and more informed of the role of the Senate and the passion on certain policy issues, that (assertiveness) is inevitable,” agreed Sen. Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Senate. Still, he thinks there is simultaneously “a broader recognition that we are a chamber of revision but not a chamber of defeat” - a principle he believes Conservative senators also accept, as demonstrated in their support for C-83. “That too is an expression of independence,” Harder suggested. Independent Sen. Andre Pratte, who voted against accepting C-83 without the judicial-review amendment, saw the Conservatives’ move to save the bill as a sign of respect for parliamentary institutions but also of Conservative self-interest. “They believe that they might be in government soon in a few months if they win the election and they felt that if we defeated the motion it would set some kind of precedent that they might have to live with once they’re in government,” Pratte said. For his part, Conservative Senate whip Don Plett said he and his colleagues weren’t comfortable voting for a Liberal government bill but they did so because it was better than the amended version championed by many of the Independents. Their move, he argued, is proof that Conservative senators are not the obstructionists they’ve been made out to be. Plett scoffed at the notion that Trudeau’s Senate - “this ridiculous sham of pretending to be independent” - is any different from upper houses in the past. The Independents are all still appointed by Trudeau on the recommendation of an advisory body appointed by Trudeau and they’re all Liberals no matter what they call themselves, he asserted. “As I’ve said many times on record, when it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck,” said Plett, mocking what he called the Independents’ tendency to “amend something and stand there on their soap box and thump their chest, then when the government says no, they capitulate and say, ‘OK.’ “ If Scheer becomes prime minister, Plett added, he’ll “call a duck a duck … Andrew Scheer will appoint Conservative senators and he will admit that he’s appointing Conservative senators. No difference. Only in what they call themselves.” But Pratte is an example of the evolution in the way Independent senators view their role. During debate on C-83, he reminded senators that three years ago he ultimately deferred to the elected chamber on a bill legalizing medical assistance in dying, even though the government had rejected amendments he believed were necessary to adhere to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That was a mistake, he said Thursday. He should have stood up for grievously ill Canadians whose right to an assisted death was denied by the government’s restrictive approach to the issue. It was a mistake he wasn’t going to repeat on C-83, when the rights of prison inmates, “a very small, very vulnerable minority,” were at stake. “That’s our mandate, to protect minority rights,” Pratte said later in an interview.   “The Senate exists, right? I know many people would like to get rid of it but it exists so we might as well use it for a good purpose.” Overall, Harder said the more independent Senate is working “very well,” transforming the upper house into “a different institution” where senators are “beginning different practices” than the rote voting along partisan lines that used to be the norm. He pointed to the fact that the Senate passed 88 government bills, 33 of them with Senate amendments accepted by the government and all of it done without once having to impose time allocation to limit debate. Moreover, he noted that with the addition of 49 Independents appointed by Trudeau, the chamber is now very close to gender parity, with much more diversity in the backgrounds of senators, including 12 who are Indigenous. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

More Canadians report high levels of happiness after age 55: survey

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 02:00
A new national survey suggests Canadians are happier after age 55 and when they earn a higher income, but also indicates most don’t consider money as a key factor affecting their happiness. The Happiness Index compiled by Leger, asked Canadians across the country to rate their level of happiness on a scale of one to 10 and note which factors they believe influence their happiness the most. The online survey, conducted between June 11 and 17, found about half of respondents ranked their happiness as at least eight out of 10, with almost no difference between rural and urban areas. Slightly more participants reported a high level of happiness in the East Coast and Quebec - 56 and 55 per cent respectively - with British Columbia coming in third at 52 per cent. Ontario participants were at the bottom of the list, with only 47 per cent reporting a high level of happiness. High happiness scores remained steady at 44 per cent for participants between the ages of 18 and 54, but spiked to 61 per cent after age 55. Participants with higher incomes were also more likely to have a high happiness score. Forty-four per cent of those making $40,000 or less per year reported a high level of happiness, but that number rose to 53 per cent for those earning up to $80,000 per year and to 58 per cent for those with even higher incomes. Yet only eight per cent said the state of their finances was a key driver of their happiness, on par with satisfaction with romantic relationships, the study indicates. The factors participants deemed most influential on happiness were a sense of freedom and the belief they were living the life they had imagined for themselves, with 24 and 19 per cent of respondents identifying those as key. Between five and seven per cent highlighted recognition from peers and family, health, how worried they are about the future and the courteousness of others as main factors affecting their happiness. “Maybe making more money means that you can do more things (and) that allows you to feel happy,” but money itself is not what people believe makes them happy, said Dave Scholz, Leger’s president of communications. “If you take away those first two - sense of freedom and living the life you’ve always dreamed - the next six are really all tied,” and close together in importance, he said. “I think if you don’t have a satisfying romantic relationship, if you don’t have your health, you may not be able to have a sense of freedom or live the life that you want.” Overall, there is a greater focus on happiness now, particularly in the workplace, a shift that appears largely driven by millennials, the first generation to come of age in this millennium, Scholz said. “Millennials are asking for more, and part of being happy is being happy with what you have,” he said. “But 55 and over is happiest because they’re in the place they want to be - retired.” Regional variations in happiness are likely linked to cultural differences relating to way of life, Scholz said. “One of the things that sets Quebec apart is their joie de vivre, their joy of life - that’s actually a well documented and discussed topic of what makes Quebecers different than the rest of us,” he said. “They’re more in the moment.” The East Coast is similar, he said. “It’s enjoy your family, enjoy the life you have, and enjoy the space you’re in now,” he said. “You move into Ontario, that had one of the lowest scores, we tend to be looking over our shoulder sometimes and maybe looking too far ahead sometimes.” The survey also showed more respondents reported high levels of happiness when they owned homes rather than renting (57 per cent compared with 40), and lived with others rather than alone (53 per cent compared with 43). “Especially in our current rental and buying environment, if you’re already owning where you’re at, you’re in pretty good shape,” Scholz said. The online survey polled 2,504 Canadians, though the sample was increased to 3,540 for the question involving rating their happiness - and all related demographic questions - to ensure a baseline number from each province participated. Polling industry experts say online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not generate a random sample of the population. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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