COMMENTARY: Economic summit is key to bay area’s future – Hamilton

Today is a special day and an important day for the Hamilton/Burlington area and our economic future.

The third annual Bay Area Economic Summit is happening at the Royal Botanical Gardens, which straddles the two growing communities.

There was a time, not too many years ago, when the two cities looked at themselves as competitors for jobs and business growth, in spite of the fact that there is far more that binds the two cities together than separates them.

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For years now, community organizations such as the YMCA, the Realtors Association and the United Way have seen the benefits of collaboration between our two cities and lately, the economic partnerships between Hamilton and Burlington have paid huge dividends.

Numerous urban planning and economic publications have designated Hamilton and Burlington as two of the best cities in which to invest and the new developments and investments by the private and public sector show that we’re making progress.

But we still have  immense challenges with affordable housing and poverty and skills training for the jobs of tomorrow, to name just a few.

But we can accomplish much more together than we can separately and  today’s Bay Area Economic Summit will help develop  plans to face those challenges head on and chart a course for a brighter economic future for both cities.

Bill Kelly is the host of Bill Kelly Show on AM 900 CHML and a commentator for Global News.

©2017Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Alberta silent on decisions about who speaks at energy hearings

EDMONTON – The Alberta government has refused to release documents on its decisions about who gets to speak at public hearings on energy development.

The issue of public input has generated increasing concern and at least one court case.

The Canadian Press filed a freedom-of-information request nine months ago seeking paperwork on the eligibility of groups or individuals to address Alberta Energy Regulator hearings. The request yielded 260 pages of correspondence, reports and briefing notes. Every page was blank.

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“A package consisting of 260 pages with no disclosure” is how Alberta Environment’s freedom-of-information office described the release in a letter received by the news agency last week.

The request was made after a Queen’s Bench judge ruled in late 2013 that the department wrongly refused to grant an environmental coalition the right to appear at a hearing into a proposed oilsands development.

The judge concluded that documents from a disclosure hearing suggested the group was shut out because of its critical stance on the oilsands.

Since that ruling, environmental groups and First Nations have been denied standing to speak at public hearings at least nine times.

In one case, hearings on a proposed oilsands expansion were cancelled after six groups that had asked to speak were turned down.

The issue has spread beyond energy regulation. On June 25, the office of the province’s consumer advocate was turned down after it asked to address an Alberta Utilities Commission hearing into alleged electricity price manipulation.

That same month, two aboriginal bands took the government to court after they were refused standing at Alberta Energy Regulator hearings.

Legal experts have voiced public concerns about what they call a restriction on public input. The judge in the case that brought the issue to light urged the government to draw its circle of consultation as wide as possible.

Alberta Environment says the rules haven’t changed, even though many of those shut out had previously been routinely granted the right to address hearing panels.

Wade Clark, director of policy and regulatory alignment for both Alberta Environment and Alberta Energy, said all documents were kept secret because they could reveal how legislation creating the new energy regulator was developed.

“What I’m referring to there are the various drafts of the legislation,” he said. “That’s the type of thing that’s routinely not disclosed.

“As I interpreted the request, it related more to the deliberations during that time frame, which related to the (new) regulations and rules.”

No officials during the time the request was under consideration suggested that interpretation to The Canadian Press. No attempt was made to clarify the request, although the news agency contacted the government numerous times to check its progress.

Clark suggested the ruling could be reconsidered.

“I think we could sit down and work out the wording (of the question).”

Rachel Notley, environment critic for the New Democrats, said the difficulty in getting information on how important decisions are made is typical of the governing Tories.

“Only in Conservative Alberta would a public body, tasked with consulting the public, in public, keep its rules around how to do that secret,” she said.

Magnetic brain stimulation shows promise in treating depression and PTSD – Toronto

TORONTO- In an armed forces career that lasted more than 30 years David, whose family has asked his last name not be released, helped many comrades deal with depression and post traumatic stress disorder. By 2010 it was clear that he had also fallen victim to it.

“I was spiralling out of control,” he told Global News. “I couldn’t go to work anymore and not only that, I basically stayed in my garage for almost two years.”

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David sought conventional treatment through medication and counselling sessions with psychiatrists and psychologists but it was only this year that he found real progress after participating in a research project at Toronto Western Hospital.

“It’s given me a new start,” he said.

It is called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, or rTMS. It was demonstrated for a Global News camera by researcher Dr. Jonathan Downar, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

With the help of an assistant, he showed how they make a detailed map of a patient’s brain and use it to pinpoint powerful and focused magnetic pulses to an area linked with depression. Dr. Downar pointed out that these kinds of techniques were pioneered in the 1990s, but it is only recently that new, more sophisticated technology has allowed clinicians to reach deeper inside the brain, to a region called the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex.

His team studied its effects on 47 volunteer patients, including David, and the results were surprising. 24 saw a dramatic improvement in their symptoms.

It had minimal effect on the other 23. Some of the best results were with people suffering from eating disorders or PTSD.

“The area that we’re stimulating is not so much a happy button, where if you stimulate it you boost the person’s mood,” said Dr. Downar. “What this circuit in the brain does is helps us self regulate our thoughts and our behaviors and our emotions.”

Given the clear disparity in results, his team is now investigating whether a detailed mapping of the brain can indicate in advance whether the treatment is likely to be successful. But for David, 30 treatments have made a dramatic difference in his life.

He still has his bad days but now finds he is better able to bounce back.

“At least now I feel there’s some light again and I feel like I can move forward.”

Ukrainian soldiers enter Russia with both sides giving conflicting reasons – National

MOSCOW – A Russian border security official said Monday that more than 400 Ukrainian soldiers have crossed into Russia, although both sides gave conflicting accounts as to why they did it.

The Russian official said the soldiers deserted the Kyiv government and the Russian side opened a safe corridor. A Ukrainian military official, who did not give a number for the soldiers involved, were forced into Russian territory by rebel fire after running out of ammunition.

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READ MORE: Ukraine’s army advances on rebel stronghold of Donetsk

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have been battling the Kyiv government since April, a conflict that has claimed at least 1,129 civilian casualties, according to a U.N. estimate. Ukraine and Western countries have accused Russia of providing the rebels with equipment and expertise, a claim that the Russian government has repeatedly denied.

The West has also accused Russia of most likely providing the insurgents with surface-to-air missiles that may have been used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over rebel-held territory on July 17, killing all 298 people on board.

A Dutch plane carrying victims’ remains from the disaster took off from Kharkiv on Monday. The plane was also carrying personal belongings of victims back to the Netherlands.

The Interfax news agency reported Monday that Russia’s air force began military drills in central and western regions of the country, a move that could spark further fears that Moscow is ready to flex its military muscle in Ukraine.

The drills will start Monday and last through Friday, air force chief Igor Klimov was reported as saying, and will involve more than 100 fighter jets and helicopters.

Vasily Malayev, head of the Federal Security Service’s border patrol in the Rostov region, said that 438 Ukrainian soldiers had crossed into Russian territory on Monday. He said the Russian side had allowed the soldiers to safely enter the country overnight.

Malayev later said that 180 of them requested to return to Ukraine and were being sent there in buses. He said the move was not an exchange, but did not give further details.

Russia’s Defence Ministry couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The Ukrainian military confirmed that part of a brigade had most likely crossed into Russian territory, although it disputed Russia’s version of events and wouldn’t say how many soldiers went over.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation in the east, Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, said troops from the army’s 72nd Brigade were penned into their position and came under a sustained barrage of fire from separatist forces. Rebel fighters used tanks, mortars, artillery and Grad missile launchers over four hours, Dmitrashkovsky said, and eventually the brigade was forced to divide up into two sections.

“One was meant to break out and join forces with a support unit. The other unit had the task of providing fire cover,” Dmitrashkovsky said. “In doing that they fired their weapons until no ammunition remained, after which they abandoned their position and reached a place near a border crossing on Russian territory.”

Dmitrashkovsky said it was too early to confirm how many soldiers had crossed into Russia.

“We do not have such information. The Russians are capable of claiming anything they want,” he said.

Yuras Karmanau contributed to this report from Donetsk, Ukraine.

©2014The Associated Press

Burlington area highways reopen after Monday’s flooding – Toronto

WATCH: Cindy Pom has incredible pictures of flooding Monday night in Burlington, that shut down major roads and highways. Meterologist Ross Hull has an update on the weather and rainfall in the area.

TORONTO – Many highways in the Toronto area have reopened after Monday’s flooding that was caused by severe weather.

GO Transit also had to suspend service throughout the evening hours yesterday.

READ MORE: Burlington cleaning up after record rainstorm

Environment Canada had issued severe thunderstorm warnings for Toronto and parts of the surrounding GTA Monday afternoon.

Flooding on Appleby Line south of the QEW Monday, August 4, 2014.

Jeremy Cohn, Global News

Several Burlington residents reported flooded basements and power had to be cut to many homes in the Cheviot Ct. area as sewage backed up.

A flooded basement in the Cheviot Ct. area of Burlington Monday, August 4, 2014.

Jeremy Cohn, Global News

Four people were struck by lightning at Scarborough’s Morningside Park earlier in the day.

All four victims were transported to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries.”

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LinkedIn to pay nearly $6 million in overtime wages, damages – National

NEW YORK – Professional networking service LinkedIn has agreed to pay nearly $6 million in unpaid wages and damages to 359 current and former employees, the Labor Department said on Monday.

The U.S. Department of Labor said an investigation found LinkedIn Corp. in violation of overtime and record-keeping rules that are part of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. It said the violations occurred at company branches in California, Illinois, Nebraska and New York.

RELATED: Keep up with Global News on LinkedIn

A representative for Mountain View, California-based LinkedIn did not immediately respond to a message for comment.

LinkedIn agreed to pay the back wages once it was notified of the violations and to take steps to prevent them from happening again.

Federal law requires that hourly employees get paid 1.5 times their regular hourly rates for hours they work beyond 40 per week.

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©2014The Canadian Press

Helicopter pilot believes he was shot at with flare gun over Ladner skies

VANCOUVER — No good deed goes unpunished, at least not for Daryl Goodwin.

He’s a Ladner pilot and donates helicopter rides to different charities in the area that they sell off for silent auctions. Recently, he took the most recent winners up for a tour. They were a mother and a daughter; the mother was 90-years-old.

Part way through the flight, something exploded in the sky in front of them.

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“It was basically vertical, straight vertical, right up in front of us. I have no idea what they were trying to do but it could have been a catastrophic disaster,” Goodwin told Global News. 

The trio had toured the North Shore and were checking on one of Goodwin’s turf fields along the journey, flying at 250 to 300 feet, when Goodwin noticed what looked like a flare.

“I’ve been flying helicopter for over 20 years, retired from the airline for 33 years and I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” he said.

One of the passengers saw it too and they turned the chopper back to see what the flash could have been. They saw two men on the ground, and one walked 20 feet out and started gesturing toward the helicopter with his finger, according to Goodwin. He said he believes someone intentionally shot at his chopper with a gun powder-based bird banger, which are supposed to be shot horizontally and not up in the air.

The consequences could have been deadly for the pilot and his passengers. Goodwin says the propeller might have disintegrated on impact or the engine could have exploded if hit in the right spot. He reported it immediately to Air Traffic Control in Richmond, and the Delta Police and Transportation Safety Board are now investigating the incident.

— With files from Darlene Heidemann.

Israeli rights don’t justify ‘massacre’ of civilians: France – National

PARIS – Israel’s right to security does not justify the “massacre” of civilians, France’s foreign minister said Monday in unusually harsh language against a close ally. The French president said Gaza was among the wars that called into question any ability to remain neutral.

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“How many more deaths must there be to stop what must be called the carnage in Gaza? The tradition of friendship between France and Israel is old and Israel’s right to security is total, but this right does not justify the killing of children and the massacre of civilians,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

The Gaza war, in its fourth week, has killed more than 1,800 Palestinians and more than 60 Israelis.

READ MORE: Israeli airstrike kills militant leader in Gaza Strip ahead of truce

Fabius said a cease-fire, followed by a two-state solution, is needed and “should be imposed by the international community because, despite numerous attempts, the two sides have shown themselves to be incapable of concluding negotiations.”

In a speech commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, French President Francois Hollande said wars raging near Europe’s borders called neutrality into question. In a grim litany of violence, he cited Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and, finally, Gaza.

“How can we remain neutral, when in Gaza a deadly conflict endures for nearly a month?” Hollande said. “There is an obligation to act.”

US airports screen for passengers with Ebola’s flu-like symptoms  – National

WASHINGTON – Government agents at U.S. airports are watching travellers from Africa for flu-like symptoms that could be tied to the recent Ebola outbreak, as delegations from some 50 countries arrive in the nation’s capital for a leadership summit this week.

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Border patrol agents at Washington’s Dulles International and New York’s JFK airports in particular have been told to ask travellers about possible exposure to the virus and to be on the lookout for anyone with a fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash or red eyes.

READ MORE: Health agency urges Canadians to stay away from Ebola-affected countries

Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland, which will receive several African heads of state, is screening passengers too, while U.S. Secret Service agents in charge of security for the three-day summit have been briefed on what to look for and how to respond, officials said Monday.

If a passenger is suspected of carrying the deadly virus, they would be quarantined immediately and evaluated by medical personnel, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which provided the additional training to local airports.

“There is always the possibility that someone with an infectious disease can enter the United States,” CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said Monday.

“The public health concern is whether it would spread, and, if so, how quickly.”‘

The Ebola virus causes a hemorrhagic fever that has sickened more than 1,300 people in Africa, killing more than 700 mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. It is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood or urine, unlike an airborne virus like influenza or the common cold. A person exposed to the virus can take up to 21 days to exhibit any symptoms, making it possible for infected travellers to enter the U.S. without knowing they have it.

READ MORE: Ebola treatment kept secret: Possible serums and effect on survivors

While the CDC says it is not screening passengers boarding planes at African airports – the job of local authorities there – the centre said it has encouraged vulnerable countries to follow certain precautions. Outbound passengers in the countries experiencing Ebola are being screened for fevers and with health questionnaires, Reynolds said.

Health officials say the threat to Americans remains relatively small, even with the uptick in travel this week between Africa and the United States. In the past decade, five people have entered the U.S. known to have a viral hemorrhagic fever, including a case last March of a Minnesota man diagnosed with Lassa Fever after travelling to West Africa.

Reynolds said in all five instances, U.S. officials were able to contain the illness.

A vaccine against Ebola has been successfully tested with monkeys, and there is hope it could become available as early as next July, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told “CBS This Morning” television on Monday.

©2014The Canadian Press

Toledo mayor lifts water ban for 400,000 residents – National

WATCH ABOVE: After a weekend without water – like is getting back to normal in Toledo Ohio. The water there was contaminated with a toxin, but this morning testing showed it is once again safe to drink.

TOLEDO, Ohio – A water ban that had hundreds of thousands of people in Ohio and Michigan scrambling for drinking water has been lifted, Toledo’s mayor announced Monday.

Mayor D. Michael Collins lifted the ban at a Monday morning news conference, and said the city’s drinking water is safe.

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Ohio’s fourth-largest city warned residents not to use city water early Saturday after tests at one treatment plant showed readings for microcystin above the standard for consumption, most likely from algae on the lake. Ohio Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency.

Early Monday, Collins kept in place an advisory against drinking or using the water pending additional tests. At a 3 a.m. news conference, Collins said it was his decision to keep the advisory in place at least into the morning hours, even though latest test results suggest the algae-induced toxin contaminating Lake Erie had probably dissipated to safe levels. The mayor said two tests had come back “too close for comfort.”

READ MORE: Toledo’s tainted tap water improving, but should still be avoided: mayor

With the warning, worried residents told not to drink, brush their teeth or wash dishes with the water descended on truckloads of bottled water delivered from across the state. The Ohio National Guard was using water purification systems to produce drinkable water.

Oliver Arnold, of Toledo, loaded up on bottled water Sunday so that he could give baths to his six children, including 4-month-old twins. “We’re going through a lot. I know by tomorrow, we’re going to be looking for water again,” he said.

Some hospitals cancelled elective surgeries and were sending surgical equipment that needed sterilized to facilities outside the water emergency, said Bryan Biggie, disaster co-ordinator for ProMedica hospitals in Toledo.

READ MORE: Too early to tell what caused toxic spike in Toledo’s water supply

In southeastern Michigan, authorities were operating water stations Sunday for the 30,000 customers affected by the toxic contamination.

Drinking the water could cause vomiting, cramps and rashes. But no serious illnesses had been reported by late Sunday. Health officials advised children and those with weak immune systems to avoid showering or bathing in the water.

Amid the emergency, discussion began to centre around how to stop the pollutants fouling the lake that supplies drinking water for 11 million people.

“People are finally waking up to the fact that this is not acceptable,” Collins said.

The toxins that contaminated the region’s drinking water supply didn’t just suddenly appear.

Water plant operators along western Lake Erie have long been worried about this very scenario as a growing number of algae blooms have turned the water into a pea soup colour in recent summers, leaving behind toxins that can sicken people and kill pets.

In fact, the problems on the shallowest of the five Great Lakes brought on by farm runoff and sludge from sewage treatment plants have been building for more than a decade.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a satellite image showing a small but concentrated algae bloom centred right where Toledo draws its water supply, said Jeff Reutter, head of the Ohio Sea Grant research lab.

The bloom was much smaller than in past years and isn’t expected to peak until early September. But instead of being pushed out to the middle of the lake, winds and waves drove the algae toward the shore, he said.

“Weather conditions made it such that bloom was going right into the water intakes,” said Reutter, who has been studying the lake since the 1970s, when it was severely polluted.

The amount of phosphorus going into the lake has risen every year since the mid-1990s. “We’re right back to where we were in the ’70s,” Reutter said.

Almost a year ago, one township just east of Toledo told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps. That was believed to be the first time a city has banned residents from using the water because of toxins from algae in the lake.

Researchers largely blame the algae’s resurgence on manure and chemical fertilizer from farms that wash into the lake along with sewage treatment plants. Leaky septic tanks and stormwater drains have contributed, too. Combined, they flush huge amounts of phosphorus into the lake.

Environmental groups and water researchers have been calling on Ohio and other states in the Great Lakes region to drastically reduce the amount of phosphorus flowing into the lake. Ohio lawmakers this past spring took a step toward tackling the algae problem when they enacted a law requiring most farmers to undergo training before they use commercial fertilizers on their fields. But they have stopped short of mandating restrictions on farmers.

The International Joint Commission, an advisory agency made up of Canadian and U.S. officials, said last year urgent steps are needed to reduce phosphorus applied to fields, suggesting among other things that states ban the spread of manure on frozen or snow-covered ground.

That report came after a state task force in Ohio called for a 40 per cent reduction in all forms of phosphorus going into the lake.

Agriculture industry groups have been asking farmers for more than a year to reduce phosphorus runoff before government regulators step in and impose their own restrictions.

“We’re clearly showing progress,” Reutter said. “You have to decide for yourself whether you think it’s fast enough.”

In Michigan, Detroit’s 4 million-user water system gets its water from Lake Huron and the Detroit River. In the face of the Toledo water crisis, Detroit officials plan to review their contamination procedures Monday, water department Deputy Director Darryl Latimer told The Detroit News. He said it was unlikely Detroit would face a problem like Toledo’s.

“The system is tested every two weeks for blue-green algae,” Latimer said. “We haven’t seen the precursors for this type of toxin.”