Archive for April, 2009
Thursday, April 30th, 2009
The World Health Organization has now raised its alert level for the spread of swine flu to phase 5, putting it on the brink of declaring a pandemic. Canadian and even Wpg. doctors meantime, are working on a vaccine for this outbreak, but, it could be sometime before one gets produced. The flu is now suspected in 168 deaths in Mexico, and there are now 19 cases in this country.
Manitoba’s top Doc says this flu has no doubt spread to Manitoba already. Dr. Joel Kettner says there are likely people out there carrying the virus, but they either don’t feel sick or are only mildly ill. Kettner says it only makes sense given all the traveling that’s done by Manitobans to Mexico. So far 9 Manitobans have been tested for the swine flu, but all have come back negative.
And for all you lotto 6/49 “pool-ies” this morning….there’s someone walking around Quebec that’s got a pretty rich piece of paper. It turns out there was only one winning ticket for last night’s 6/49 draw, and the lucky winner is somewhere in “La Belle Province.” Last night’s draw by the way was worth 32.9 million dollars.
There will soon be a new attraction in Winnipeg. The Zoo will become the only one in the Western Hemisphere to have a permanent display of Asian lions. Apparently, a million dollars is being spent on renovations to the old Panda exhibit, in order to house the endangered cats. The Zoo doesn’t actually have any of the rare cats yet…but, they’re hoping once the exhibit is done, they’ll be able to find a couple.
Police and child welfare officials in California have questioned Octo-Mom, Nadya Suleman, after a teacher reported that her 4 year old autistic son showed up at school with a black eye and bite marks. Suleman’s lawyer says it’s not clear if any action will be taken against the mother of 14. He says the child likely fell and may have been bitten by a younger sibling.
This news will make people happy….especially those who are getting a little tired of heading out to cast a vote. The Harper government has drawn up a plan that would see it avoid an election this year. Apparently the P.M. wants his minority government to survive until after the Vancouver winter Olympics next year, so it can bask in the glow of the games.
Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
Monday we told you how the Trappist Monastery was getting a face lift south of the city. Today, North America’s oldest intact stone fur trading post, is getting some attention. The feds are putting 4 million dollars worth of reno’s into the Lower Fort Garry site. The money will help preserve and pay for improvements in parking and water. The fort was built back in 1830.
Manitoba’s chief medical officer is asking people to use common sense precautions in dealing with this swine flu outbreak. Dr. Joel Kettner says he’s worried people who’ve come back from Mexico, the center of the outbreak, will swamp doctor’s offices, even if they don’t feel sick. So far, there are no confirmed cases in Manitoba.
Meantime, the flu keeps spreading in Europe, with Germany now joining Britain and Spain with reported cases. Canada’s confirmed case total, rose yesterday to 13. Ontario has 4 cases. Alberta has 2. B.C. has 3. There are also 4 cases of swine flu in Nova Scotia.
Not often we get to give you this kind of news ! One of your monthly bills will soon be going down. Yesterday, the Public Utilities Board decided to drop natural gas rates. That means your bill will be going down by 7.5 per cent….or about 90 dollars a year.
Looks like Wpg.’s new waterpark has taken a step back. Yesterday, the city announced they’re looking for a new private partner to help build an indoor park in the city….this since Canad Inns backed out. So far, there’s no word on why Canad backed out…but, the city is now going send out a tender for new bids.
Sarah Jessica Parker and husband Matthew Broderick are having more kids. This time, a surrogate for them is pregnant with twin girls and is due later this summer. The couple already have one child, a son named James who’s 6 and a half.
Even in camouflage he still stands out. Mr. T was called for jury duty in Chicago yesterday. But the 1980’s film and t.v. star won’t be deciding any cases. After spending several hours posing for, and signing autographs, Mr. T was dismissed as a potential juror.
Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
Well, Manitoba appears to be well stocked in case the swine flu virus spreads to our province. The province’s top doc says they have 200 thousand doses of antiviral drugs if needed. So far, there are no reported cases in Manitoba, but the virus has been linked to more than 150 deaths in Mexico.
Meantime, it’s not a pandemic, but the World Health Organization has raised its global alert level for the swine flu outbreak to Phase 4. That’s 2 notches below a pandemic…..enough for Ottawa to make a move. The country’s public health agency issued a travel advisory overnight, warning against travel to Mexico where the swine flu originated.
Help is on the way for a gem from Manitoba’s past. The province has announced it’ll spend one million dollars to help preserve what’s left of the Trappist Monastery Provincial Park, south of the city. The monastery was established along the LaSalle river in the late 1800’s, and was actually occupied until 1978, when new housing drove the monks away.
Homeowners affected by the recent flooding, are hoping the province will make a decision quickly on buy-out packages. Emergency Measures Minister, Steve Ashton is in Ottawa today to discuss the issue with the feds, and says mandatory buyouts may be needed.
Anyone wondering which North American city offers the best quality of life, may want to take a look at Vancouver. A new global survey released today rates Vancouver tops among North American cities, for quality of life, and 4th best in the world behind only Vienna, Zurich and Geneva. The survey also ranks Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Calgary higher than any major U.S. city.
Late night t.v. host, Jay Leno will visit Ohio next month, as part of his “Comedy Stimulus” show. 4 thousand tickets for the free show have already been handed out in the layoff plagued region.
A low flying plane zipping through Manhattan yesterday stirred memories of September 11th and unleashed a flood of startled office workers into the streets. What turned out to be a photo op for one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s official planes, is now just stirring up anger. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the decision displayed “poor judgement.”
Monday, April 27th, 2009
Manitoba’s public health officer says while no cases of the potentially fatal swine flu have surfaced, they are monitoring the situation closely. Dr. Joel Kettner says officials are working to identify any cases of severe respiratory illness associated with travel in Mexico or the U.S. So far, more than 100 people have died in Mexico, since the outbreak of the virus.
Meantime, the death toll in Mexico is rising. Officials reported last night that the number of cases there has climbed to just over 1600. The country continues to hand out millions of surgical style masks, and has essentially shut down its capital city in hopes of containing the deadly outbreak.
The hunt is on for 7 suspects believed to be responsible for a number of fires this weekend. Cops say the arsonists, at least 3 of which are believed to be teens, are responsible for torching a vacant house, a garage and a garbage bin. The fires caused thousands of dollars in damage.
There are more problems resulting from the recent heavy flooding in Manitoba. Preliminary tests show that the Portage diversion, which has been in use for a month to avoid flooding on the Assiniboine river, is now dumping algae causing phosphorus into Lake Manitoba. However the province says the lake’s water quality is still good….but they will continue to run a series of tests.
General Motors has decided to kill the Pontiac brand as it plans to announce the end of more factories and jobs, as part of a massive restructuring plan. G.M. execs, will announce the news this morning, as the automaker makes an offer to its bondholders to swap debt for company stock.
People magazine may have twice named him the “Sexiest Man Alive,” but even Brad Pitt can look a little goofy in his blue “Maid of the Mist” poncho. The superstar actor was in Niagara Falls this weekend, taking in the sights of the world famous falls. Pitt’s partner, Angelina Jolie was just down the road in Albany, New York. She’s filming a new movie called “Salt.”
There’s a new flick at the top of the weekend box office. The fatal attraction type thriller, “Obsessed” staring singer Beyonce, was the weekend’s top draw in Canadian and American theatres, taking in 28 million in its debut. Way back in second and third place was “17 again” and “Fighting.”
Friday, April 24th, 2009
A 27 year old Winnipeg woman has been convicted of manslaughter in the death of one of her triplets. It was the 3rd trial for Michelle Camire in the death of her 3 month old son, in October of 2004. 2 prior trials ended with hung jury’s. A date for sentencing will now be set on May 13th.
Great news about that boy who nearly drowned in a flooded culvert a couple of weeks ago. Samuel Gross was playing with friends on the Westroc Hutterite Colony, northwest of the city, when he got sucked into the culvert. He was under water for nearly 20 minutes. But, after being in a coma for 13 days, yesterday he came out of it. No word yet though, on any long term damage.
The number of Canadian soldiers to die in this Afghan mission, has now risen by one to 118. 30 year old Michelle Mendes body was found in her room at the Kandahar air base yesterday. The cause of death is now under investigation.
Looks like Chrysler will soon be breathing easier. The Canadian Auto Workers says the union should reach a cost cutting deal with the automaker this morning. The major issue is a demand by Chrysler for its labour costs to be cut by 19 dollars an hour. Right now, the 2 sides are only 2 dollars apart, and both think a deal will get done today.
Canadian health officials have their eye on an illness that has broken out in Mexico. A severe respiratory illness in Mexico is now blamed for at least 20 deaths in this country.
The recession is hurting the bottom line at Microsoft, one of the world’s most profitable companies. In the first quarter of this year, the software giant says its profit fell to just under 3 billion U.S. That’s about a third less than the same time last year. But, I’m sure there are many a company out there who’s saying…so what?!….you still made a profit.
NBC aired a rerun of the “Tonight Show” last night, after host Jay Leno checked into an L.A. hospital with an undisclosed illness. Leno’s publicist says the illness is mild, and Jay should be back at work next week. Leno’s 17 year run as host of the show will come to an end in 5 weeks.
Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
Despite some pretty mixed results, the province is not giving up on its electronic ankle bracelet monitoring project. Justice Minister Dave Chomiak is in fact extending the project for another year. Last year by the way, there were 17 incidents of youths removing the devices, some more than once. The bracelets are put on to monitor high risk car thieves.
Farmers along the Red River say there’s a good chance this year’s flooding will have a more harmful effect on their operations than the flood of 97. Analysts say even though water levels are not expected to go any higher it’s the slow rate at which they’re receding, that’s got everyone concerned.
The mayor of an R.M. north of the city says, no more homes should be built in the flood prone area. And, Steve Strang the mayor of St. Clements says people living there should be bought out and relocated. Strang says it’s not fair that taxpayers are on the hook for rescuing and compensating people who choose to live in a flood zone.
A lack of sales, and growing inventories of unsold vehicles, is forcing General Motors to shut down a bunch of its factories in the U.S. for more than 2 months this summer. No word yet if any of G.M.’s Canadian operations might also see an extended summer shutdown.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the feds are working on regulating credit card companies. But so far, he won’t give any details on what kind of changes he has in mind. Flaherty only said that, kinda surprising that interest rates for credit cards remain high, despite huge rate reductions by the Bank of Canada.
5 years and 241 shows later, Elton John has taken his final bow at Caesars Palace. In his farewell to the Las Vegas strip last night, John opened the door to coming back someday. Early next month, he’ll hook up with Billy Joel for a joint tour through Canada, the U.S. and Europe.
And, moms-to-be, who are sick of morning sickness might feel a whole lot better after hearing results of a new study today. Apparently, children born to women who suffered from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy may be smarter.
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Well this news will make a lot of people very happy. Shareholders of the Crocus Investment Fund, are now just a few months away from getting some of their money back. Crocus, once the darling of the province’s venture capital scene, collapsed in late 2004. Officials now say an initial payment of cash to investors who lost everything, should be made in about 2 and a half months.
Just in time for Earth Day today….a Canadian company that focuses on sustainability, just released a “green” provincial report. The Corporate Knights report looks at all provinces, and ranks them on how they’re doing on such topics as greenhouse gases, green jobs and water use. This year? B.C. came in first. P.E.I. finished dead last.
On this, Earth Day today, the city is struggling with what to do with all that sand and salt that got laid down over the winter. The question is, can Winnipeg re-use that sand, and save millions of dollars in the process? Well according to officials it would cost about 20 per cent more if they recycled it. But environmentalists say a better way has got to be found.
A lot of people will probably be re-thinking their mortgages today. That’s because yesterday, the central bank dropped its key lending rate to a low of .25 per cent…..the lowest its been since 1934. Mortgage analysts say that means the average Canadian could now get a mortgage running at about 3 per cent interest. And they think a lot of people will now start renegotiating.
Apparently that love shown to Cuba from the U.S., was a little premature. Fidel Castro says President Obama “misinterpreted” his brother Raul’s recent sentiments towards the U.S. He says there’s no reason for Cuba to concede or get friendly on any issue, as Obama suggested.
And their thumbs must really be sore today ! 2 Pennsylvania friends spent most of March in a text messaging record attempt, exchanging a thumbs flying total of 217 thousand. No word yet from the Guiness people on whether or not this’ll be a record.
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
It’s yet another night away from home for about 2300 people forced out by flooding in Manitoba. So far, more than 500 homes have been damaged. Provincial experts say it’ll take weeks for the Red River floodwaters to recede.
The Red River may have crested in much of southern Manitoba, but officials say it’ll be weeks before life returns to normal. Flood forecaster Alf Warkentin says the swollen Red River is now 22 kilometers wide in some places. Normally, the river is about 200 meters wide. Officials say they’ll be watching existing dikes, and the weather forecasts, closely in the coming weeks.
The provincial government has been criticized for not doing enough to keep kids from dropping out of school. Tory Leader, Hugh McFadyen says instead of focusing on the high dropout rate, the government is spending its time micromanaging school boards, and creating convoluted taxes. New numbers released recently show Manitoba has the highest high school drop out rate in the country at 12.6 per cent.
Crewmembers of that CanJet Airlines plane that was hijacked in Jamaica on Sunday night, are now getting some much needed rest before talking to RCMP later today. The 6 crewmembers arrived home in Halifax late last night. CanJet describes the 6 as positive, but understandably very tired and emotional about the whole ordeal.
Prime Minister Harper is heaping praise on the Jamaican government and its security force. He says he’s grateful for the force’s success in storming the plane, freeing the crew and arresting the armed hijacker without injury to anyone. Harper by the way will wrap up his official visit to Jamaica today.
“Grey’s Anatomy” star, Ellen Pompeo is pregnant. The actress who plays Dr. Meredith Grey, the future bride of Dr. McDreamy on the popular t.v. show, is a first time mommy to be in her real life. She is married to record producer Chris Ivery. So far, no due date has been given.
Monday, April 20th, 2009
It’s insult to injury north of the city this morning. Flooding has now contaminated drinking water in the R.M. of St. Clements. Mayor Steve Strang says some of the water piped into rural homes may now be so contaminated, it might not be fit to even shower in, let alone drink. Strang says all residents are being urged to boil any water they use, first.
People in the Red River valley are keeping their eyes on the sky, hoping there’s no significant rain this week. While the flood situation south of the city has eased, Emergency Measures says rain in the forecast for later this week is a concern.
A gunman who’s hijacked a Canadian charter plane on the tarmac near Montego Bay, Jamaica is being called “mentally challenged.” CanJet Airlines says all passengers on the plane were safely removed, but 6 crew members are still being held hostage this morning. Airport officials say so far, nobody has been injured….but, the hijacker is demanding to be flown to Cuba.
Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado will be closed today, the 10th anniversary of the massacre that took the lives of 13 people. A private service for families of the victims will be held tonight near the memorial site.
Talks resume this morning in Toronto to help save Chrysler Canada from bankruptcy protection or even liquidation. Chrysler and the Canadian Auto Workers will begin negotiating more labour concessions. The automaker has until the end of this month to reach a new deals with its unions, in order to get more bailout cash.
It’s the battle of the Disney kids. Zac Efron’s new comedy, “17 Again” debuted at number one at the box office, taking in 24 million U.S. That drops fellow Disney t.v. star, Miley Cyrus and her “Hannah Montana” movie from first place to fourth. Opening in 2nd was “State of Play” followed by “Monsters vs. Aliens.”
Friday, April 17th, 2009
While some residents are breathing easier, other areas around the province are being told to keep their guard up. Water levels in the city, started slowly receding yesterday, after ice finally moved off the Assiniboine River. That bit of good news came just hours after the city declared a partial state of emergency for some neighbourhoods along the Red River. However, officials also say that rising water north and west of Winnipeg continues to pose a serious flood threat.
Police have charged some residents just north of the city for violating an evacuation order in an attempt to see how badly their homes have been damaged. Property owners in North Breezy Point, got by a security blockade and then refused to leave the area, which was badly damaged by flooding and fast moving ice, last weekend.
More job cuts have been announced at overseas tech companies today. Toshiba says it’ll cut an additional 3900 jobs by March of next year…that’s on top of the 4500 cuts made this past January. And Mobile phone maker, Sony Ericsson is cutting another 2 thousand jobs effective immediately.
Britney Spears apparently can’t escape the attention. California authorities have arrested a camouflage-wearing, camera-toting woman who was caught peeking into Spears windows the other night. Police in L.A. says deputies issued the woman a citation for trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Well the decades long chill between the U.S. and Cuba could be about to thaw…..somewhat. Cuban President Raul Castro says he’s willing to hold talks with the U.S. on “everything” including human rights and freedom of the press. Earlier this week, the Obama administration softened sanctions, including family travel.
They’re preparing a hero’s welcome in Underhill, Vermont today. Captain Richard Phillips is headed back to his hometown, after his high seas hostage ordeal. Phillips was rescued Sunday by Navy sharpshooters who killed 3 Somali pirates who’d been holding him captive in a lifeboat.