Analysis suggests Harper government all but abandoned protection of fish habitat

first_imgThe Canadian PressA statistical analysis of the Conservative government’s changes to environmental laws and procedures suggests Ottawa has “all but abandoned” attempts to protect Canada’s lakes and rivers.“Over the last decade, what we’ve seen is a not-so-gradual abandonment of the fish habitat protection field,” said University of Calgary law professor Martin Olszynski.He has sifted through reams of data and dozens of development applications to conclude that federal protection for fisheries and waterways has been declining for more than a decade.Olszynski found environmental oversight by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans dropped dramatically during the 2000s – a time when Canada saw huge spending in the resource industries.And he concludes changes to environmental law in 2012 weren’t intended to cut red tape, as the government suggested, but to lower the environmental bar.“What my data suggests is that the narrative provided doesn’t add up in terms of this unduly intrusive regulatory regime. It was never really about reducing red tape.”Fisheries and Oceans was not immediately available for comment.In a paper for the Journal of Environmental Law and Practice, Olszynski shows the number of proposals to the department’s Central and Pacific regions fell to fewer than 4,000 by 2014 from more than 12,000 in 2001.The drop came in two stages.In 2004, the government decided to minimize oversight for projects deemed low-risk, which cut the number of projects it reviewed in half. The rest of the decrease came in 2012 after the government revamped environmental laws.Over that same period, enforcement fell off a cliff.Olszynski reports that environmental warnings and charges under the Fisheries Act fell to about 50 from about 300. Staff time allotted to enforcement dropped to 10,000 hours from 35,000.The department’s budget was cut by $80 million in 2012. Another $100 million in cuts are planned over three years beginning this year.The analysis shows officials are granting approvals without seeing a developer’s plans to fix any problems, despite federal law that says such plans must be approved before a project goes ahead. Olszynski’s suggests most approvals are now granted with the understanding a developer will file a plan later.Meanwhile, records show that the pace of development on rivers and lakes has kept roughly stable. A number of studies and peer-reviewed papers have also documented rapidly increasing impacts on forests and waterways.The federal government has argued it’s getting out of the regulatory end, so provinces can take over and duplication is reduced.Olszynski said that if red tape alone had been the issue, it should have been solved in 2004 when Ottawa first backed off overseeing some projects.He writes: “(Department of Fisheries and Oceans) appears to have been exemplary in reducing the administrative burden on proponents carrying out what it deemed to be low-risk activities.“Rather, the problem appears to have been substantive; government (or) proponents, or both, deemed actual compliance (i.e. avoidance and mitigation of impacts to fish habitat) too burdensome.”Provincial approvals for development projects still have to abide by federal law. Olszynski said his analysis shows the department doesn’t even see many of those proposals.Scaling back assessments for low-risk developments can be a valid way to reduce regulatory burdens, Olszynski said. But to work, he said, it requires credible oversight and enforcement.“DFO says we will reduce the burden on you, but you still have to comply with the act. What evidence is available suggests that industry did not keep their end of the bargain.“The strong deterrent signal wasn’t there … in terms of enforcement.”last_img read more

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Man injured in Sherman Heights stabbing

first_imgFacebookTwitter Posted: March 18, 2018 KUSI Newsroom SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A 63-year-old man remained hospitalized today following a stabbing in Sherman Heights.The injury was inflicted at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the 2200 block of Imperial Avenue.The victim was arguing with a 19-year-old man, according to Officer Robert Heims of the San Diego Police Department. During the argument, the latter is suspected of stabbing the former once in the left rib cage below the armpit, Heims said.The suspect then fled in an unknown direction. He was described as Hispanic, about 5 feet-8 inches tall, thin and wearing a brown jacket and gray hoodie.The victim was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Heims said. Man injured in Sherman Heights stabbingcenter_img KUSI Newsroom, Categories: Local San Diego News Tags: Crime, sherman heights, stabbing March 18, 2018last_img read more

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Giant prehistoric lion fossil discovered hiding in museum drawer

first_img Sci-Tech Share your voice 59 Photos An artist’s rendering of Simbakubwa kutoaafrika, which lived 22 million years ago and had a huge skull, as large as a rhinoceros. Mauricio Anton Matthew Borths discovered a giant prehistoric lion on his lunch break.While examining drawers at the Nairobi National Museum in Kenya, Borths, a carnivore paleontologist, opened a drawer of Ice Age specimens and noticed a row of huge teeth staring back at him. He immediately realized the gigantic jaw was not an Ice Age specimen at all. A few years earlier, Nancy Stevens, a paleontologist at Ohio University, had opened the same drawer and noticed the same set of teeth.The fossils, which date back 22 million years, were originally unearthed when Kenyan researchers were scouring the African plains looking for ancient ape bones decades ago. They’d been hidden away in the wrong museum drawer for years. When Borth and Stevens came along, the duo quickly realized they had found a new species of prehistoric lion. The team were able to examine portions of the creature’s skull, its jaw and parts of its skeleton and discovered it is the oldest specimen of a group of mammals known as hyaenodonts.The new carnivore has been dubbed Simbakubwa kutoaafrika, which is Swahili for “big lion from Africa”. It is described in a study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology on April 18, which suggests the beast was bigger than a polar bear and had canine teeth as big as an adult foot.borths-vs-simbakubwaDr. Matthew Borths shows off the giant jaw of Simbakubwa kutoaafrika. Matthew Borths The researchers believe that Simbakubwa was one of the apex predators of its era and although it is part of the hyaenodont group, it is unrelated to modern-day hyenas. “From its teeth, we can tell Simbakubwa was a hypercarnivore, which means its diet was over 70% meat,” says Borths. “Simbakubwa barely has any grinding surfaces on its teeth, so it wouldn’t have processed food that wasn’t meat very efficiently.”Their analysis suggests that these giant carnivores originated in Africa around 30 million years ago, moving further north over time, as the continents of Africa and Eurasia collided. At the same time, the ancient relatives of modern day cats, hyenas and dogs began to filter south.”It’s a fascinating time in biological history,” Borths says. “Lineages that had never encountered each other begin to appear together in the fossil record.”But Simbakubwa ultimately went extinct around 10 million years ago as global ecosystems shifted thanks to tectonic movement and changing climates. Borths and Stevens have been investigating why that might be, hoping to better inform present-day studies of how ecosystems respond to these sweeping changes.”Understanding large-scale patterns of how organisms respond to environmental change through time can offer insights into ecosystem fragility and resilience in the modern world,” explains Stevens.And to think, it would have remained off the fossil record entirely, if not for a Kenyan museum storing away the sample and some inquisitive paleontologists checking a few extra drawers.”Discoveries like this one underscore the importance of museums as troves of information about our planet’s past,” says Stevens. Tagscenter_img Take a bite out of ‘Jurassic World’ Lego (pictures) 1 Commentlast_img read more

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Crude oil prices may fall to 20 a barrel in coming months

first_imgGlobal glut and growth concerns may pressurize the crude oil market further, leading oil prices to fall to as low as $20 a barrel in coming months, according to a global brokerage firm.Brent oil prices fell nearly 2% or 71 cents to touch an 11-year low of $36.17 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange on Monday, while the US Benchmark West Texas Intermediate dropped 32 cents, or nearly 1%, to trade at $34.41 a barrel.The decline in oil prices comes on the back of growing concerns over the global growth, which could weigh on the oil demand in the coming months. A slowdown in demand may worsen the oversupply conditions that have been rattling the oil market since June 2014.”We reiterate our concern that ‘financial stress’ may prove too little too late to prevent the market from having to clear through ‘operational stress’ with prices near cash costs to force production cuts, likely around $20/barrel,” said Goldman Sachs in a note to its clients.”Our base case remains that the global oil stock build will on aggregate remain shy of storage capacity, although the storage buffer has once again narrowed. But this rebalancing is far from achieved…,” Business Standard quoted Damien Courvalin, Abhisek Banerjee, Raquel Ohana of Goldman Sachs, as saying in a report.Oil prices are also under pressure from an unchanged decision on production levels by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at its recent meeting. The oil cartel remains reluctant to cut the oil output, as it fears loss of market shares to other oil-exporting countries.”OPEC can’t take a unilateral decision, for example, to cut production and others … raise production. Either we all go to cut production to really defend prices or we have to wait and see,” Iraq’s oil minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told Reuters on Sunday.A slowdown in China and resumption in oil exports from Iran are also expected to keep oil prices lower for a prolonged period.last_img read more

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Mark Zuckerberg Talks Workouts Telepathy and AI

first_imgJuly 1, 2015 5 min read Enroll Now for Free Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now In a townhall Q&A session on Facebook yesterday, Marc Zuckerberg answered a handful of user-posed questions, tackling the specific (his workout routine, what’s on his reading list, the average number of hours he clocks in at the office each week) as well as the more far-reaching (predictions for Facebook’s future, the future of AI and the importance of creating a connected world).Below are a few highlights from the session, which drew questions from Richard Branson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others.On his workout routineZuckerberg works out three times a week, usually first thing in the morning, and tries to take his dog for a run whenever he can, saying it makes for a “hilarious” scene because it’s “basically like seeing a mop run.”(Fun fact: This nugget of information comes courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who asked Zuckerberg to shut down the whole “but I’m too busy to work out” excuse millennials are apparently fond of throwing around. “Mark, I always tell people that nobody is too busy to exercise, especially if Popes and Presidents find time,” he wrote. “You’ve got to be one of the busiest guys on the planet, and younger generations can probably relate to you more than they can the Pope – so tell me how you find time to train and what is your regimen like?”)On his work scheduleWhile he’s only physically in the office 50 to 60 hours a week, Zuckerberg doesn’t unplug when he leaves the building. “If you count all the time I’m focused on our mission, that’s basically my whole life,” he wrote.Related: Surprise! Mark Zuckerberg Isn’t a Workaholic. Well, Not Exactly.On the benefits of a connected world Richard Branson was on hand to ask Zuckerberg about why he’s working to connect the entire global population to the internet.While there are tangible benefits – such as “access to education, health information, jobs and so on,” he wrote – Zuckerberg believes that connecting more people will lead to more innovation. “Think about how many brilliant entrepreneurs there are out there who have great ideas and the will to change the world, but just lack basic tools to do so today,” he wrote. “If you go by the population, almost two-thirds of these entrepreneurs don’t have Internet access today. Once they get connected, we may have three times as many good ideas and amazing new services built that will benefit everyone around the world.”On artificial intelligenceIf Facebook’s ability to recognize and tag individuals in photos freaks you out, you won’t like what’s coming. “Our goal is to build AI systems that are better than humans at our primary senses: vision, listening, etc.,” Zuckerberg wrote. “For vision, we’re building systems that can recognize everything that’s in an image or a video. This includes people, objects, scenes, etc. These systems need to understand the context of the images and videos as well as whatever is in them.”On virtual realityLast year, Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion. So what are Zuckerberg’s plans for the company? In part, Zuckerberg says we can expect to see the social network use virtual reality to enhance online communication: “Just like we capture photos and videos today and then share them on the internet to let others experience them too, we’ll be able to capture whole 3D scenes and create new environments and then share those with people as well. It will be pretty wild.”Related: Mark Zuckerberg: I Would Only Hire Someone to Work For Me If I Would Work For ThemOn telepathyWhen asked “whats going on with facebook in the future?” Zuckerberg again focused on new methods of communication, this time going beyond advances in VR.If Facebook has anything to do with it, in the future we will be able to communicate telepathically. According to Zuckerberg, it’s the next natural advancement once swapping virtual reality experiences with one another becomes mainstream. “After that, we’ll have the power to share our full sensory and emotional experience with people whenever we’d like,” he wrote. “One day, I believe we’ll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology. You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you’d like. This would be the ultimate communication technology.”On pokingWhy’d he come up with the now defunct feature? “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”You can find Zuckerberg’s entire townhall session here, including answers to questions from Shakira, Arianna Huffington and Stephen Hawking. Related: To Improve His ‘Media Diet,’ Mark Zuckerberg Announces Virtual Book Club This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience.last_img read more

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