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‘High energy objects’ likely downed Malaysia Flight MH17: Report

WATCH: A preliminary report on the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 found there was no warning before the plane was hit by multiple high-velocity objects. Mike Armstrong has the details.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands  — Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was likely struck by multiple “high-energy objects from outside the aircraft,” causing it to break up over eastern Ukraine, a preliminary report into the deadly aviation disaster concluded Tuesday.

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The report by the Dutch Safety Board stopped short of saying the Boeing 777 was shot down by a missile, but its findings appear to point to that conclusion. It also did not say who might have been responsible.

READ MORE: Malaysia prepares to mourn as bodies from plane shot down return home

The Boeing 777 suddenly plunged out of the sky July 17 over pro-Russian rebel-held territory in Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board.

“The damage observed in the forward section of the aircraft appears to indicate that the aircraft was penetrated by a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft,” the report said. “It is likely that this damage resulted in a loss of structural integrity of the aircraft, leading to an in-flight break up.”

WATCH: Tjibbe Joustra, chair of the Dutch Safety Board, outlines the report’s main findings including that Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was likely downed by ‘high-energy objects’.

The board is leading the international investigation into the cause of the disaster. Its full report is expected within a year of the crash.

“The initial results of the investigation point toward an external cause of the MH17 crash,” the board’s chairman, Tjibbe Joustra, said in a statement. “More research will be necessary to determine the cause with greater precision. The Safety Board believes that additional evidence will become available for investigation in the period ahead.”

Christopher Yates, an aviation safety specialist at Yates Consulting, told the AP the report “is extremely consistent with damage from a missile for the simple reason there are penetration marks.

READ MORE: Families of Flight MH17 victims seek answers; parents believe daughter is still alive

“It must have been moving at very high velocity to create the damage,” he said. “It could only be a missile of the type that would reach the altitude that would have struck the aircraft, potentially a BUK missile.

WATCH: Malaysian officials comment on Dutch report that Flight MH17 was shot down

He said the report gave no indication whether the missile had been fired from the ground or from another aircraft, but it likely came from the ground as there were no military aircraft known to have been flying at the time. The missile could not have been shoulder-fired because it would not have reached the necessary altitude, he added.

Because of the ongoing conflict between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces, investigators from the board have not visited the fields where the wreckage of Flight 17 plunged to the ground. That likely contributed to the board’s cautious assessment of what happened.

“Detailed examination of the structural damage is ongoing,” the report said. “Forensic examination will be performed if the wreckage can be removed.”

Investigators so far have studied photos of the crash site, radar data and information gleaned from the downed jet’s “black boxes” — its cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder. They all indicated that there was no technical fault that may have caused the plane to disintegrate.

The cockpit voice recorder “revealed no signs of any technical faults or an emergency situation,” the Safety Board said. “Neither were any warning tones heard in the cockpit that might have pointed to technical problems.”

READ MORE:  Missile shrapnel hit Malaysia Airlines, says Ukraine

Pro-Russian rebels officially deny having shot down the plane, but unofficially one senior rebel admitted they were behind a missile strike.

Just three hours before the plane was shot down above rebel-held territory in Eastern Ukraine, the Associated Press reported on the passage of a Buk M-1 missile system — a machine the size of a tank bearing four ground-to-air missiles — driving through the rebel-held town of Snizhne, near the crash site.

A highly placed rebel officer told the AP in an interview in the aftermath of the disaster that the plane was shot down by a mixed team of rebels and Russian military personnel who believed they were targeting a Ukrainian military plane.

Intercepted phone conversations between the rebels released by the Ukrainian government support that version of events.

In those tapes, the first rebels to reach the scene can be heard swearing when they see the number of bodies and the insignia of Malaysia Airlines.

FULL REPORT: Preliminary report points towards external cause of MH17 crash

View this document on Scribd

©2014The Canadian Press

As Scots eye independence, rest of UK gets nervous

BERWICK-UPON-TWEED, England – All Gavin Jones has to do is scan the shelves of his impossibly quaint shop on England’s border with Scotland to know he’ll have a big problem if the Scots declare independence next week.

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There are teddy bears in Campbell clan tartans and shelves of shortbread from Scotland — just above the red jams made in England. After independence, the Scottish goods would be subject to import duties, and customers would likely pay in two different currencies. Business in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England’s northernmost town, could soon be crushed by bank transaction costs.

“If Scotland chooses independence, it changes our concept of local,” he said. “There are then barriers put in place.”

READ MORE: UK offers Scotland more financial autonomy

Berwickers like to think of themselves as neither English nor Scottish. Little wonder: this enclave has changed hands 13 times over the centuries. But there is no getting away from the fact that the locals in Berwick (pronounced BEAR-ick) could be dramatically affected by the Sept. 18 referendum.

In that way, they are like the rest of Britain. While the vote may alter the balance of power in British politics, increase the likelihood that the U.K. will leave the European Union and weaken the nation’s economy and currency, the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will have no say in the outcome. Only residents of Scotland are eligible to cast ballots.

Constitutional Chaos

Britain’s left-leaning Labour Party would be the biggest political victim of independence — it is often joked there are more pandas in Edinburgh’s zoo than there are Conservative Party lawmakers in Scotland. Scottish voters elected 41 Labour members of Parliament in the 2010 election and only one Conservative.

If the next general election due in May were held today, eliminating Scottish votes would give Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives a 37-seat majority win.

That could drag Britain toward yet another high-stakes vote — on whether the country as a whole should leave the EU. Cameron has promised a referendum to appease voters concerned about immigration and meddling by bureaucrats in Brussels. Scotland has been very pro-EU, so losing its votes would weaken the camp that wants Britain to stay.

Leaving the EU could have huge consequences for Britain. The EU guarantees freedom of movement for people, goods and money, a big advantage for companies that want to do business across the bloc, which with its 500 million people is the world’s largest combined economy. If Britain were to leave the bloc, multinational companies that have their EU headquarters in London — from Starbucks to many of the world’s biggest banks — may seek to relocate, taking money and jobs with them.

“These are very crucial times for the U.K.,” said Patrick Dunleavy, a professor of political science at the London School of Economics. “The U.K. has been united for 300 years and it’s been in the European Union since 1973. These two referenda, plus the general election all coming very close together, one way or another, we’re going to have five years of constitutional chaos.”

Financial Unknown

More immediately, the loss of Scotland could hurt Britain through the amount of financial uncertainty it would generate over the next 18 months — the time it would take Scotland to sever its ties with Britain. During that period, policymakers would have to agree on whether Scotland would continue to use the pound as its currency as well as how to split British public debt and North Sea oil revenue.

The currency question is the murkiest. While independence leaders say they will continue to use the pound, politicians in London have ruled out a currency union.

“It would be a fairly long 18 months,” said Monique Ebell, an economist at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

Because the result of the talks would affect the value of the pound, foreign investors in Britain could delay big decisions — opening a factory, for example, or hiring new staff — until a time when they can better gauge the risks and costs.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs last week warned that while there was no reason an independent Scotland couldn’t prosper in the long-run, “in the short-to-medium-term, the consequences of a surprise ‘Yes’ vote for the Scottish economy, and for the U.K. more broadly, could be severely negative.”

Kevin Daly, Goldman Sachs’ chief U.K. economist, said that uncertainty about the pound’s future value could trigger a run on the currency. The Bank of England is working on contingency plans to manage the pound in the event of a Yes vote.

The potential for trouble was made clear on Monday, when the pound nosedived after a poll showed the No campaign had lost its lead. The pound shed two cents to trade at $1.6130, the lowest since November.

“Our base view is the proposal will be defeated,” said Bill O’Neill, the head of the U.K. investment office at UBS Wealth Management. “But clearly the market will be watching for the polls.”

The people of Berwick, meanwhile, are increasingly concerned. What would happen if there were suddenly a border between them and their Scottish neighbours? What happens if you suddenly need a passport to get across the few miles separating the town and Scotland?

In his shop, surrounded by items inspired as much by “Braveheart” as English icons like London phone booths, Gavin Jones can’t help but worry.

“It adds complexity and cost, for no additional revenue” Jones said of separation. “We’re Berwickers. We’re neither English, nor Scottish.”

That is true for now at least.

John Tory defends SmartTrack plan as campaign to woo voters released

WATCH: John Tory admits the need to ‘tunnel’ in order to complete SmartTrack plan 

TORONTO – John Tory says he will do whatever it takes, even tunneling underground, to complete a portion of the west-end Toronto rail line for his SmartTrack transit plan.

“90 per cent of SmartTrack runs on existing GO train tracks and we knew the part to the west was the part where there are no GO train tracks,” Tory said in an interview with Global News.

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“If that involves tunneling in that area, then we’ll tunnel.  The west end of it will be built because it’s going to make it more complete to the west end of the city, including out to the jobs in Mississauga.”

Tory responded to criticism from fellow mayoral candidate Olivia Chow after she said SmartTrack will take “heavy rail from Mount Dennis to Mississauga” right next to homes that will be built in the area.

“He says he won’t need to buy any properties. He says he won’t go near a street. So how will he get heavy rail from Mount Dennis to Mississauga?” Chow told reporters at the corner of Eglinton Avenue West and Widdicombe Hill Boulevard in Etobicoke Tuesday morning.

Tory said the cost of underground tunneling is already incorporated into the $8 billion price tag to electrify the GO train lines and buying new trains.

“We came up with an estimate per kilometre of construction,” he said.

Tory’s defense of his SmartTrack line comes on the same day he released a television advertisement campaign and an interactive website to convince voters about the benefits of his transit plan.

A digital tool called the ‘SmartTracker’ was launched that allows people to find out how much time it takes for them to travel from one destination to another.

The website claims commute times are estimated to be cut in half for some riders who travel from the west-end of the city towards downtown Toronto and from as far as northeast of Toronto to the city’s core.

“Commuters who live in Scarborough or Etobicoke and work downtown, for instance, who have to transfer from buses onto packed subway platforms, will save 20 or 30 minutes on a one way trip,” Tory said in a media release.

The so-called “SmartTrack” line is a two-way surface subway service Tory says will run all-day from around Pearson Airport in the west-end of the city to all the way northeast to Unionville, Markham.

“The numbers of how long it’s going to take to get from place to place comes from the GO electrification study,” Tory told Global News.

“They were trying to determine themselves in making the decision to electrifying the GO train lines consistent with provincial policy.”

READ MORE: Tory wants to exploit GO Transit lines

Tory says the cost to build and implement the 53 kilometres rail line will be split between the city, the province and the federal government.

“The $8 billion is the capital cost to electrifying the GO train lines, doing the work in the west end, buying the trains,” said Tory.

“The operating cost will be the responsibility of Metrolinx. The concept I’m going to champion with Metrolinx and provincial government is it be fare integrated with the TTC.”

Tory hopes to keep the cost of using the line equivalent to a $3 TTC fare.

Tory’s advertising campaign comes a week after Mayor Rob Ford announced his transit plan for an extensive subway expansion as a main campaign platform in his re-election bid.

READ MORE: Rob Ford to ‘bore’ his subway plan through ‘until the cows come home’

Ford’s plan was largely criticized for being too costly and impractical.

His rapid transit vision would see 32 kilometres of new subways built across the city at a cost of $9 billion.

Meanwhile, Olivia Chow questioned both her adversaries plans based on funding models she says will ultimately lead to property tax increases for Toronto residents.

WATCH: Olivia Chow critical of John Tory’s SmartTrack plan

Chow also criticized how Tory’s SmartTrack plan would be built along routes requiring new infrastructure and the costs that will entail.

The former downtown Toronto federal MP said her transit plan includes spending $15 million to increase bus service, build light rail along Finch Avenue and Sheppard Avenue and have the Scarborough subway replaced with above ground rail.

With a report from Mark McAllister

Cherryvale’s 87-year-old covered bridge being disassembled – New Brunswick

CHERRYVALE, N.B. – Debris from the Cherryvale covered bridge is being be removed from the Canaan River this week, after flooding and ice broke the bridge free in the spring.

Flooding in April washed the bridge 20 kms downstream, wedging it below a span of the Trans-Canada Highway. The bridge has sat there until now.

Crews are disassembling the bridge and throwing most of it away.

“Mother Nature is cruel and when you get older, she’s crueler,” said foreman Gordon Mitten.

“It was built in 1927 and ice took it out.”

But a part of the bridge is being preserved. Crews managed to salvage a 40-foot portion of the historical structure which will be saved and stored by the province.

They may use the wood to built another structure someday. But there are no plans right now to replace the 165-foot piece of New Brunswick history.

One of New Brunswick’s 59 covered bridges.

Steve Fiander/Global News

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Moncton’s Heritage and Culture Coordinator Lawren Campbell said it’s another heartbreaking loss for the province.

“They are part of the fabric of every corner of our province so little bits of our heritage are being lost every time we lose one of these bridges to fires or floods or what have you,” Campbell said.

Of the hundreds of bridges that once spanned rivers across the province – 59 are left standing.

The province says it recognizes the heritage and tourism value of covered bridges and can provide funding to municipal and non-profit groups to assist with preserving covered bridges.

But the Cherryvale bridge one is gone for good.

“I hope a day doesn’t come when all we are doing when we talk about the history of covered bridges is that we see pictures and photographs and memories,” said Campbell.

Piece by piece – crews dismantle and pluck the Cherryvale bridge from the Canaan River.

Steve Fiander/Global News

Hampstead celebrates its 100th anniversary – Montreal

ABOVE WATCH: Hampstead’s 100th anniversary parade

MONTREAL — The Town of Hampstead pulled out all the stops to celebrate their 100th anniversary on Sunday.

Despite the wet weather, hundreds joined the festivities, including our Global Montreal team, Camille, Richard and Jessica, Jamie Orchard and Elysia Bryan-Baynes.

A parade kickstarted the celebrations. Starting at Queen Mary Road and Northcote at noon, it headed east on Fleet and ended in Hampstead Park with a full afternoon of music and fireworks in the evening. 

The parade showcased over 60 groups and more than 850 participants, including 15 ethnic dance groups, antique and exotic cars, salsa groups, bands, circus performers, celebrities and dignitaries, free giveaways and an amazing birthday cake float created by local public works employee Olivier Roy.

GALLERY: Hampstead celebrates 100 years 

The Town of Hampstead is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a float made by a local municipal worker.

HO/Town of Hampstead

Montreal Auxiliary Fire Department at the Hampstead parade

Global News

The Damned Truth join the festivities in Hampstead.

Global News

Kids celebrating Hampstead’s 100th birthday

Global News

Montreal police on duty at the celebrations in Hampstead

Global News

The reviewing stand at Hampstead’s 100th anniversary

Global News

Despite the rain, hundreds came out to celebrate Hampstead’s 100th anniversary

Global News

The festivities kicked off with a parade to celebrate Hampstead’s 100th anniversary.

Global News

The concert in the park featured Ginette Reno (singing the national anthem), special guest Guy Lafleur and several well-known acts, including local rock’n’roll band The Damn Truth, two-time Grammy nominated American R&B, pop, soul, and house singer Martha Wash, American house music singer and songwriter Crystal Waters and the Montreal Backbeat Show Band.

Ginette Reno arrived in spectacular fashion, via helicopter accompanied by Montreal mayor Denis Coderre and former hockey player and NHL superstar, Guy Lafleur.

WATCH: Denis Coderre, Guy Lafleur and Ginette Reno fly into the festivities on a helicopter 

The Royal Montreal Regiment also attended in full regalia with close to 100 soldiers to exercise Hampstead’s Freedom of the City bestowed in 2008.

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Parkland to buy Chevron fuel assets for $1.5B

Fast-growing Parkland Fuel Corp. has struck a $1.5-billion deal to buy Chevron Canada‘s downstream fuel business, including 129 retail gas stations in the Vancouver area and the Chevron refinery in Burnaby, B.C.

READ MORE: Chevron considers selling its stake in Alberta oilsands project: report

The Red Deer, Alta.-based company says the new stations will complement its existing 44 Chevron-branded sites in British Columbia and cement its position as one of Canada’s largest fuel retailers with more than 1,800 service stations.

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    Parkland Fuel reports second-quarter loss on higher income tax expenses

The sale also involves 37 commercial cardlock and three marine fuelling locations, as well as three terminals in B.C. and a wholesale business that includes aviation fuel sales to the Vancouver International Airport.

“I believe we’ve found an opportunity that is an ideal next step for Parkland on its growth trajectory,” said CEO Bob Espey on a conference call.

“I’m certainly excited for the road ahead for Parkland.”

He said the acquisition will support Parkland’s existing operations in B.C., leading to between $35 million and $50 million in annual operating cost savings within three years.

The purchase of the refinery gives Parkland access to the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Alberta as well as a marine dock on Burrard Inlet that will open new opportunities in fuel imports and exports, Espey said.

Parkland plans to issue 24 million shares to raise $660 million to help finance the Chevron purchase, which is expected to close at the end of the year.

READ MORE: Calgary-based Chevron Canada Resources to cut 130 jobs

In August, Parkland announced it would pay about US$750 million to acquire the Canadian retail fuel assets of Texas-based CST Brands.

Last March, Parkland bought Esso stations in Saskatchewan and Manitoba as part of a deal by Imperial Oil to sell its remaining 497 Esso retail stations in Canada to five fuel distributors for $2.8 billion.

©2017The Canadian Press

Tickets for next year’s Women’s World Cup final to go on sale tomorrow – BC

Beginning tomorrow, soccer fans will be able to purchase tickets for the final match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be played right here in B.C.

The tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The match will be played July 5 at BC Place in Vancouver.

Prices start at just $50 for Category 4, $85 for Category 3, $125 for Category 2, and $165 for Category 1.

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The Women’s World Cup landed at the center of controversy last month when international women’s soccer stars threatened legal action against FIFA and Soccer Canada, demanding the World Cup be played on natural grass rather than artificial turf.

Many of the Canadian venues, including BC Place, have artificial turf.

The women say FIFA would never allow men to play on artificial turf and having the women’s World Cup on a second class surface amounts to gender discrimination.

Forty athletes have sent a letter, claiming it is gender discrimination because they are being forced to play on a substandard and widely-held inferior surface.

Hollywood actor Tom Hanks even waded into the debate, saying female players deserve to play on real grass.

The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup runs June 6 to July 5 in six Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montréal and Moncton.

WATCH: Canada’s Women’s National Soccer Team Coach John Herdman talks about next year’s World Cup and Canada’s chances

Neil Yakimchuk guilty of contempt of court in murder trial – Saskatoon

Watch above: Murder trial witness handed two-and-a-half year sentence for contempt

SASKATOON – A convicted murderer has been found guilty of contempt of court for refusing to testify at the trial of three men accused in the murder of Isho Hana in 2004.

Neil Yakimchuk was called as the first Crown witness Monday in the murder trial of Jonathan Dombowsky, Kennith Tingle and Long Nam Luu.

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  • Convicted killer refuses to testify against 3 acquaintances

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  • Neil Yakimchuk guilty in shooting death of Isho Hana

Yakimchuk, who was found guilty earlier this year of the first-degree murder of Hana and is serving two life sentences for that murder and another in Alberta, refused to testify.

On Tuesday, the Judge Richard Danyliuk told Yakimchuk “considering your two first-degree murder sentences, the consequences of your contempt may not seem daunting to you.”

Danyliuk went on to say the “refusal of a witness to testify is an offence … as it affects citizens of Canada.”

He went on to point out that as a key witness, the refusal to testify has implications on the Crown’s case against the three other men accused of their involvement in Hana’s death.

Danyliuk handed Yakimchuk a two-and-a-half year sentence for contempt to be served concurrently to his two life sentences.

Yakimchuk testified during preliminary hearings in January 2013 and court is deciding whether those statements can be used as admissible evidence in the current trial.

Questions on sale still surround Negro Community Centre – Montreal

MONTREAL — For the past two weeks, word has swirled around the Negro Community Centre that the iconic building has been sold to condo developers. But so far efforts to learn the exact contours of a sale agreement involving the crumbling structure on 2035 Coursol Street have generated little more than speculation.

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  • Questions, but few answers, emerge about NCC

  • A community left in the dark when it comes to NCC’s future

An agreement in principle appears to be in place between the bankruptcy trustee, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and an unknown buyer for around $300,000, according to Thierry Larrivee, a spokesperson for the Sud-Ouest borough where the NCC is located. But Global News was unable to confirm the transfer of the property  through the municipal tax assessor’s office, and city spokesperson Patricia Lowe confirmed Tuesday that any sale has not been finalized.

Other documents that have come to light do little to clear up a situation that has morphed into an ongoing saga in recent weeks. Accounting by PWC indicates that the NCC owed $166,037.58 at the time it went into bankruptcy protection earlier this year, with the city of Montreal being the largest unsecured creditor with a total debt of more than $130,000. The accounting office of Steven T. Tabac is listed as being owed almost $25,000, but no one there had heard any news of a sale.

PWC has said it does not comment on the deals it brokers.

Watch: NCC closure debate

If the building is in fact bought by a developer, a real estate group would face a number of legal hurdles before turning it into condos or any housing for that matter. First off, as recently as June 11, city officials wrote a concerned citizen to confirm that the building has a historical designation  (“immeuble d’interet patrimonial”) under the borough’s by-laws.

According to city councillor Craig Sauve, the zoning of the building would also have to be changed if the property were to be developed. Currently it is zoned as “educational-constitutional” by the city of Montreal.

The board of directors of the Negro Community Centre is also reluctant to talk to the media. Global News has confirmed that around the time it went into bankruptcy, the amount of cash-on-hand the organization claimed — more than $235,000 — well exceeded its liabilities. And although concerned citizens have been holding ad hoc meetings in the basement of the Universal Negro Improvement Association with an eye toward saving the historic building, the six board members of the NCC have not attended them. Attempts by Global News to contact the board have also been unsuccessful.

Watch: NCC on verge of bankruptcy

The organization was founded in Little Burgundy within the former home of the Union United Church in 1927. It became a hub for black cultural life during most of the 20th Century; it housed dance classes, piano lessons and athletic events in addition to being an informal meeting place for field trips and other community events.

The NCC fell on hard times sometime in the mid-1990s, and the building was abandoned in the midst of gentrification and massive demographic change in the neighbourhood. Former members of the NCC’s board say overhead costs in recent years topped $30,000 a month.

“Time is of the matter, so we have to really work rationally and see what can be done within a reasonable amount of time,” Michael Farkas recently told Global News, a concerned citizen who used to be on the board of the NCC.

Another meeting is set for the UNIA Thursday night. Community leaders believe that by meeting and sharing information about the NCC they may be able to save the building for future generations.

Silence of the bees: ‘It has to stop. It just has to stop.’

TORONTO – Davis Bryans is a fourth-generation beekeeper at Munro Honey in Alviston, Ontario. It’s a lifestyle he loves. It may be a long day – 12 to 14 hours in the summer – but he’s outside, learning about the natural world around him and watching as life flourishes season by season.

But what he’s noticed lately is that life is declining around him. In particular, that of insects.

For the past six years or so, Bryans has noticed a steep decline in his bee crop.

Davis Bryans, owner of Munro Honey, with just some of his hives.

Courtesy Munro Honey

“We’re out the environment and we’re really noticing other pollinators that aren’t there,” Bryans said. “Like the leaf-cutter bee, the bumble bee, the butterflies…they’re just not there.”

And it’s not just his crop, others are also in decline. The culprit responsible, Bryans believes – along with other beekeepers around the world – are neonicotinoids, known as neonics or NNIs. In fact, in 2013, the European Union put a temporary ban on NNIs.

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  • Beekeepers warn 6/10 of Ontario’s bees died during harsh winter

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  • Up to 20 million bees swarm after truck overturns in Delaware

READ MORE: EU bans pesticides in effort to save bees

The first time Bryans started to notice something was wrong was around 2007. His crop was declining, but cropping practices had remained the same.

He and other beekeepers in the same area were perplexed.

Bryans tried replacing the queens. But that didn’t stop the bees from dying, sometimes a twitching mess in front of the hive, sometimes just laying dead in a pile.

Finally, in 2012, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), a branch of Health Canada, sent investigators to the region from both the Ontario Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

Full Episode: 16×9’s Flight of the Bees (Encore)

The report from this investigation was published in October 2013. In part, it read:

“The information evaluated suggests that planting of corn seeds treated with the nitro-guanidine insecticides clothianidin and/or thiamethoxam contributed to the majority of the bee mortalities that occurred in corn growing regions of Ontario and Quebec in Spring 2012…The unusual weather conditions in the spring of 2012 were likely also a contributing factor.”

Clothianidin and thiamethoxam are two types of insecticides. Part of the neonicotinoid (NNI) family, they are used on about 95 per cent of corn crops in Canada and the U.S., as well as about 70 per cent of soy. The report clearly identified the pesticide as contributing to the majority of bee losses in a key region of corn and soy production. But there was no ban.

Then in July 2014, the Ontario government made an unprecedented move: the Liberal government confirmed that it was seeking to restrict the use of these pesticides.

But for some beekeepers, it wasn’t enough. That’s why on Sept. 3, a proposed class-action lawsuit was launched against Bayer AG and Syngenta, two major manufacturers of neonics. Two of the beekeepers involved in the $450 million lawsuit were Munro Honey and Sun Parlour Honey.

Countries are reporting widespread bee deaths, attributing them to the use of insecticides.

Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images

Ontario beekeeper Tibor Szabo said that he plans on joining the lawsuit as well.

“I have been heavily affected by these chemicals for sure,” he said. This year, he’s lost 1,165 hives, each with 1000 bees.

READ MORE: California honey production dries up amid record drought

Szabo is a third-generation beekeeper. His father, once a leading bee research scientist, was awarded the Order of Canada in 1987 for his work with bees.

Trying to make a living

Both Bryans and Szabo question why NNIs are being used straight across the board when not all farmers may need it.

“To put it on 100 per cent of crops without knowing if they need it?” Bryans said. “That’s a crime.”

“It’s mobile, persistent and systemic,” Szabo said. “Putting it on every agricultural field in southern Ontario is nothing but insanity.”

And the use of the pesticides, these men believe, is making it harder to run their businesses.

“We try to run 2,700 hives,” Bryans said. In each of those hives there are 80,000 bees. “But it’s hard to keep those numbers up.”

For Szabo, who raises queens, this year he was only able to produce 2,000. He used to be able to produce 6,000-7,000.

“We just can’t keep the hives going,” he said.

The dismaying part is that bee losses used to be largely relegated to winter, but that is no longer the case. At any point during the year, Szabo is faced with the possibility that a large part of his crop is dead or unhealthy. And Szabo lays the blame on NNIs.

“It has to stop. It just has to stop.”

WATCH: ‘Neonic’ pesticides killing bees, harming environment: scientists

The key to keeping their businesses going, both men agree, is diversifying.

“You do what you can,” Szabo said. “You have to adjust and do different things, but it’s crazy.”

Bryans said that his losses are making his business more costly and labour-intensive. One example is trying to find a sick bee in 2,700 hives.

“You have to go down and try to find that one bee in 80,000. It’s very labour-intensive. It’s gotten to the point…we’re having a hard time of it.”

Bee losses across Ontario this past year are estimated to be around 58 per cent, Szabo said. While some may blame last winter – a particularly long and harsh one – Szabo said that it’s not the winter. It’s that unhealthy bees – bees that are “essentially brain damaged” – can’t make it through the winter. They lose their ability to function properly – such as clustering to stay warm.

WATCH: Manitoba apiarist concerned about bees’ survival

And don’t try to tell him it could be varroa mites, a mite that can be lethal to bees.

“Poisoning symptoms are so, so different,” he said.

As for the lawsuit – put before the courts by Munro Honey and Sun Parlour Honey – Bryans said that he feels like there was little else he could do.

“When your back is up against the wall you’ve got to do something. And if they’re going to take our industry away, they’re going to have to pay us to do it. But I don’t think the average person wants this industry gone.”

“We feel if we don’t say anything, the rest of the environment is suffering,” Bryans said.

CropLife, who represents the manufacturers of these pesticides, declined to comment on the suit.

Syngenta only issued a release that read in part, “While Syngenta has not received the complaint in question and cannot comment on any specifics, we do take concerns about bee health very seriously. The scientific evidence, including field studies conducted in Canada, clearly shows that bees and other pollinators can coexist safely with modern agricultural technologies, including neonicotinoids.”

WATCH: Beekeepers to launch lawsuit

But both men hope that the lawsuit will stop the widespread use of these pesticides.

READ MORE: U.S. wildlife refuges phasing out GMO crops, some pesticides to help bees

“I would like to see, realistic and proper risk-assessment on all insecticides, especially systemic insecticides, before any of it is released,” Szabo said.  “This stuff shouldn’t happen… Regulators need to get with the program. I’d like to see some accountability from the federal government.”

Bryans said that bees – believed to be responsible for more than half of the world’s pollination – are too important to lose.

“They pollinate stuff that you hardly even realize that they’re pollinating, like wild flowers, maple trees, clovers, hay in the hay fields,” he said. “It’s very important and we feel like we’re doing a service to the environment.”

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2 Calgary men killed in workplace accident in Saskatchewan

CALGARY- Two Calgary men have been killed in a workplace incident in Saskatchewan.

RCMP say three men were working on sewer lines on a road near Fox Valley, when two of them fell about 12 feet—triggering a partial collapse.

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The third man was able to call 911, and emergency crews responding to the scene pulled a 25-year-old man out of the hole. He was rushed to hospital, but died of his injuries.

Due to noxious fumes, first responders had trouble getting to the second man. A local farmer eventually showed up with equipment that was able to hoist the 24-year-old victim out. However, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

An investigation is now underway, and poor weather including rain and high winds may have played a factor.

The victims have not been identified, but officials say both men worked for a company in Swift Current.

How much is your stolen credit card data worth, anyway? – National

If you’re one of the unfortunate shoppers who may have had their credit-card information stolen during a trip to Home Depot or a U.S. Target location over the past year, you may be under the impression your data commanded a small fortune.

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Not so.

According to Trend Micro, a data security company, credit card numbers poached by cybercriminals in data breaches like the kind Home Depot confirmed this week regularly sell for as little as $0.50 in underground online markets such as the Russian forums reportedly hawking numbers stolen from store locations in the United States and Canada dating as far back as April.

MORE: Home Depot confirms data breach at Canada, U.S. stores

Even a high-end price for an unblemished, freshly stolen account number is typically under $50, according to Trend Micro. The median price meanwhile is far lower than that.

“We’ve tracked prices over the past couple of years and the average range seems to be about $1–5 USD,” Mark Nunnikhoven, vice president of cloud and emerging technology says.

Falling prices

As for stolen Canadian cards, most are now generally protected by chip-and-pin technology that requires a PIN punched in at the store to make a successful purchase. Experts say the the added layer of technology has made stolen Canadian card numbers less valuable to cybercriminals and their customers.

Another reason prices are so low is that the so-called “valid rate,” or the percentage of cards that haven’t been cancelled by banks, credit-card companies or individuals following a breach, is falling with each new high-profile incident.

The more attention such breaches receive (when they’re discovered and disclosed), the more awareness has gone up and faster stakeholders have responded.

Prior to the Target breach late last year, stolen card numbers fetched fees of more than $150, because the valid rate and probability of a successful purchase were very high.

The price on stolen numbers acquired in the Target breach, in contrast, were initially high but quickly plummeted in the weeks following the breach’s disclosure as cards were rapidly cancelled.

Brian Krebs, the security blogger who first broke the Target and Home Depot stories, lays out a more detailed analysis here.

The sheer volume of a breach on Target’s scale – and possibly Home Depot’s – also dilutes the value of a stolen card, according to Trend Micro.

“The cybercriminal underground economy is much like any other type of business economy. It experiences pricing highs and lows, depending on demand and supply,” Trend Micro said in recent paper. “Incidents such as the massive breaches involving popular retailers increases the supply of such credentials, driving prices down.”

Still, while individual returns appear to be diminishing for stolen cards, experts say criminals are keeping ahead of the barricades that security firms are racing to put up, innovating new ways to exploit systems and steal profit-generating data.

“Even though the prices of most products and services sold in the underground market have been decreasing, that does not mean that business is not doing well for cybercriminals,” Trend Micro’s report said. “It can even mean that the market is growing.”

WATCH: Home Depot hack job

University of Saskatchewan axing TransformUS – Saskatoon

Watch above: University of Saskatchewan acting president scraps cost-cutting program TransformUS

SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan will not go through with its cost cutting initiative TransformUS, according to its interim president.

The announcement was made on campus Tuesday by interim president Gordon Barnhart.

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    University of Saskatchewan students sign letter calling for end of TransformUS

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He said that the change will not just be “in name,” but a significant difference in how the university tackles it’s projected deficit. Instead, TransformUS will be replaced by a smaller set of priorities.

“Any changes will be driven by mission, not just money,” said Barnhart during the announcement.

Eight priorities for action were set for this year, including an accelerated commitment to aboriginal achievement and the continued restructuring of the College of Medicine.

“University leadership tried to do too much in a time period that was too short,” said interim provost and vice-president academic Ernie Barber, on the past cost cutting process.

In 2012 the university identified a projected deficit of $44.5 million by 2016.

University officials say that over the last two years, the university has reduced that number by generating roughly $32 million through savings and revenue.

The university is still projecting a $3-million deficit for the 2014-15 academic year, which officials say is manageable.

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