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CBC News - Ottawa - Canada's airlines fear violating privacy under new U.S. rules

Canadian airline companies are in a bind regarding passengers in flights that pass through US airspace, even if the plane never lands on US soil. The US Secure Flight program requires that they provide the name, gender, and birth date of all passengers so that they can be vetted against a security watch lists; however, doing so violates Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. The US has agreed to drop the requirement to disclose passenger information if an equivalent system were created in Canada. The airline companies favour this approach but don't want to have to pay for it.
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CBC News - Ottawa - Candu reactor division to be sold

The Federal government announced on 17 December that it will be selling its CANDU reactor division, although it will retain ownership of the Chalk River Laboratories facility that generates medical isotopes.
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N.B. Power, Hydro-Quebec ink multi-million energy deal

This is old news (October 29), but I appear to have missed it at the time. Hydro Quebec has negotiated a $4.7 billion deal to take over the distribution, transmission and generation assets, with the exception of the coal-fired plants, from cash-strapped NB Power. The deal includes 7 hydroelectric stations and a nuclear facility. In return, residents and businesses willbe able to obtain electricity at a lower rate than they currently pay. The agreement will be signed in March 2010.
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Facebook breaches Canadian privacy law: commissioner

According to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Facebook's sharing of personal information with developers breaches Canadian privacy law, specifically the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents ACT (PIPEDA). The commission's report cited four points that breached the act (insufficient safeguards for what information is given to developers, the indefinite retention of information from deactivated accounts, the retention of information from the accounts of deceased people "for memorial purposes", and allowing users to provide information about non-users without their consent) and made recommendations about how these issues could be addressed.
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Major breakthrough in lithium battery technology reported

Canadian researchers have demonstrated the first robust lithium-sulphur battery, as well as a new approach to creating composite materials. Lithium-sulphur batteries have been long been sought because they have potential for high energy densities and sulphur is cheaper to obtain than materials currently used in lithium-based batteries. The team developed a nano-casting technique consisting of a structure of nanoscale carbon rods seperated by empty channels. The rods kept the channels open until molten sulphur was added. Capillary forces drew the sulphur into the channels where it solidified into sulpher nanofibers. The resulting battery demonstrated 3 times the storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries. The researchers are currently ironing out the details with an eye to commercialization.
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TheSpec.com - BreakingNews - Canadian astronaut to test remote-control rover at space agency

Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk wil spend several weeks remotely operating a rover-type robot from space using an amateur ham radio when he arrives on the International Space Station some time after his May 27th launch from Kazakhstan. The rover will be in a backlot of the Canadian Space Agency in Montréal. The study will explore the challenges of remotely controlling a robot for purposes of terrain-mapping under the constraint of having only a 10-minute window every day or every several days with which to communicate his instructions to the robot. The experiment will test several Canadian-made technologies for terrain exploration and will be applied to designs for rovers that may be sentto other planets and controlled either from Earth or from space.
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First comprehensive geological Arctic map published

Canada has unveiled the first comprehensive Arctic atlas, detailing geological features that point to where oil and gas, gold and diamond deposits are likely hidden beneath snow and ice.
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A look at Larry O'Brien's troubles

For those interested in Ottawa politics, a chronology of how charges came to be laid against Mayor Larry O'Brien.
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Sickened puppies ate Ontario teen's marijuana stash

The moral: actions have consequences. Case in point, an 18-year-old boy decides to get rid of some marijuana-laced muffins he had left over from several house parties he'd had while his parents were away on vacation. For some reason, he decided that the local park was a good place to leave them. Enter 4 dogs who ate the discarded muffins and became sick, leading to a police investigation of suspected anti-freeze-laced muffins. The boy was caught and explained what had happened, the dogs eventually recovered, and the teen has agreed to personally apologize for his actions rather than face criminal charges.
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Wind turbines causing health problems, some Ont. residents say

Some Ontario residents are claiming that noise generated by wind turbines are causing a variety of health issues including dizziness, sleep disturbances, queasiness, weight changes, and increased blood pressure. The Canadian Wind Energy Association counters that there are no peer-reviewed studies indicating the presence (or absence) of a problem, but concedes that the technology is new so there are a lot of things we don't know yet.
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Call of duty: Nova Scotia MPs guide beaver to Ottawa River

Strange but true. Two Liberal MPs from Nova Scotia found a beaver on Sparks Street (one block from the Parliament buildings, for those who have never been to Ottawa) and guided it across Wellington (6 lanes of traffic), past the Parliament buildings and into the Ottawa River. 
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globeandmail.com: Operation tarmac: Politicians go undercover to expose security flaws at Pearson

Liberal Senator Colin Kenny and Conservative Transport Minister John Baird walked onto the tarmac of Pearson airport in disguise but unchallenged. The spent half an hour chatting up refuelers and baggage handlers and were only once asked by a pilot to stop taking photos of his plane. The pair had been issued passes by the GTAA and were followed by plainclothes RCMP officers, but they were never once asked to produce documentation showing that they belonged there. The GTAA responded by revoking the escort privileges of the RCMP officers involved. Transport Canada is investigating whether this constitutes a security breach, although the GTAA concedes that aird has a legal right to inspect airports.
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globeandmail.com: Quebec signs historic power deal

Newfoundland and Labrador have signed a five-year deal with Québec in which NL leases Québec's lines for $20-million/year to transport approximately 130 kilowatts megawatts from Upper Churchill to a brokerage firm in the US. Previously, NL had to sell power to Québec who then resold the power to the US for a substantial profit.
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Lobster, the new bologna: marketers

There is, apparently, a glut of lobster in the Maritimes. Queue forms to the right to help them consume the excess....
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Transformer blaze cuts power to homes - Timmins Daily Press - Ontario, CA

Apparently the transformer fire that knocked out power to section of the city doesn't rate more than a short article in a community newspaper. It never showed up on the headlines of the Ottawa Citizen.

Edit: Photos uploaded

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the physics arXiv blog » Blog Archive » Space Station simulator given emotions

The next generation training software for the Canadarm 2 has an unusual feature, courtesy of Universite de Sherbrooke. They have added the software equivalent of emotions, called the Conscious Tutoring System, to help the system manage and priotize the vast amount of data it must contend with.
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Union vote for arbitration ends Ottawa transit strike

And with that, the strike is officially over. If you bought a bus pass for December, they will honour it through February. Also, all train and bus service will be free until the 15th of this month, and on weekends the entire month of February.
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Nortel to cut hundreds of jobs with WiMax unit

Several hundred jobs, mostly in Ottawa, are expected to be cut. Because Nortel is currently under bankruptcy protection, those employees who are let go will receive no severance pay or benefits.

Edit: After speaking with someone who has friends at Nortel, it turns out the "no severance package" is technically not correct, but is practically accurate. Employees let go now are offered the same monetary package as those let go before bankruptcy protection, but the employee has to get in line behind the secured creditors who get to pick over the bones first before they can see any money. Whatever is left of the company's liquidated assets is split among the unsecured creditors, such as those with the severance package, only after the secured creditors have been paid off. As a result, they MIGHT receive a PORTION of the severance package, but not for a year or more. They're only hope is that the company becomes profitable again (so that they can call in the package), or that there are sufficient assets remaining to cover their package (Nortel's current debt is $1 billion, but has $4 billion in assets).

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Registered with the do-not-call list? Expect more calls, says consumer watchdog

According to the president of the Consumer's Association of Canada, people who registered for the do-not-call list through the CRTC are now experiencing an increase in calls from telemarketers because the CRTC sells the registry online, charging $50 for 600,000 names. The privacy commissioner is aware of the problem and is currently investigating the matter.
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NFB makes films free online

Canada's National Film Board plans to eventually make all of its films free online. They will be making 10 new films available each month. Those outside of Canada will more than likely be unable to access them unless you perform some software gymnastics.

January 2010

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