B.C. aims to tackle money laundering at casinos

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VANCOUVER – British Columbia is attempting to crack down on money laundering at casinos with help from the province’s anti-gang police agency and strategies that encourage gamblers to come without a wad of cash.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said 22 officers with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit will eventually be dedicated to investigating groups that use gaming facilities to legalize proceeds of crime.

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He said Monday that police will work with the B.C. Lottery Corp. and the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch as part of the Illegal Gaming Investigation Team.

“British Columbians that attend our casino and gaming establishments do so in the knowledge that they are participating in a lawful form of entertainment. They want to know and deserve to know that the people sitting at the tables with them are doing so on the same basis.”

Ernest Yee, executive director of the BC Gaming Industry Association, said in a statement that his group welcomes the new team and looks forward to working with authorities on the new initiative.

“We welcome the joint team’s efforts to raise public awareness of the role that casino operators play in identifying and reporting financial transactions,” the statement said.

A provincially funded RCMP team that targeted illegal gaming in B.C. was disbanded in 2009.

De Jong said suspicious currency transactions of $20.7 million last July led in part to the creation of a new unit, which will get 30 per cent of its funding from the federal government through the RCMP.

Government figures show that was the highest transaction between April 2015, when $11.8 million in dubious activity was recorded, and March 2016, when the figure was $7.3 million.

He said the government’s anti-money laundering strategy involves developing and promoting the use of cash alternatives at gaming facilities.

“We’re at a point now where it isn’t really necessary for people to enter casinos with vast sums of cash,” he said. “Operators will tell you that there is still, in some cultures, the propensity to do so.”

Other strategies include restricting patrons from exchanging small bills for large currency denominations and temporarily banning people from establishments while they are being investigated.

Solicitor General Mike Morris said the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Agency already deals with money laundering and organized crime and the new team is ready to take on illegal gamblers.

“It’s going to make a dent,” he said. “These folks are going to feel the brunt of this organization.”

Morris said the province’s civil forfeiture program stands to benefit as proceeds of crime are seized and money is funnelled into crime prevention strategies.

Supt. Kevin Hackett of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit said officers will target high-level, violent crime groups that launder money through a lucrative source of funding to further their criminal exploits.

Where you live and what you earn help determine life expectancy

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CHICAGO – The richest Americans live at least 10 years longer on average than the poorest, but that gap isn’t as wide in many communities, especially affluent, highly educated cities, a major study found.

The research emphasizes that where you live and what you earn help determine life expectancy, along with changeable behaviours including smoking and lack of exercise.

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Stanford University economist Raj Chetty and colleagues analyzed more than 1 billion tax records between 1999 and 2014, along with government records on nearly 7 million deaths. They used the data to estimate life expectancy at age 40 by income and geographic area.

READ MORE: Living in poverty in Winnipeg can lower life expectancy by 19 years: report

Their analysis was published online Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It comes during an election season marked by heated debate about income equality and the endangered middle class.

The report examines the well-known connection between income and longevity, but with more precision and detail than previous research, Princeton University economist Angus Deaton said in a journal editorial.

“The infamous 1 per cent is not only richer, but much healthier,” Deaton said.

READ MORE: Report shows life-expectancy gap between high and lowest income is almost 20 years

KEY FINDINGS

Men with the top 1 per cent in income lived 15 years longer than men with the lowest 1 per cent in income; for women that gap was 10 years.

Between 2001 and 2014, life expectancy didn’t change for people in the lowest 5 per cent of income, but it increased by about 3 years for men and women in the top 5 per cent. Those changes, and life expectancy in general, varied substantially by region.

The poorest Americans lived the longest in areas where smoking, obesity and inactivity were scarce, and access to medical care had less influence than previous studies have suggested.

READ MORE: Inuit life expectancy trails rest of Canada

The study did not include people with no income.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Data from Dallas, Detroit and New York help illustrate the findings. Among the lowest-income men and women, life expectancy was lowest in Detroit and Dallas and highest in New York. Among men at the lowest income level, life expectancy was 72 in Detroit, but almost 80 years in New York — a nearly seven-year difference. Among men at the top income level, it was about 86 years in Detroit and 87 years in New York, a difference of just one year. The gap was smaller among women.

The lowest life expectancies for the poorest men and women — less than 78 years — were in Indiana, Nevada and Oklahoma. For the richest, the lowest life expectancies — less than about 85 years — were in Hawaii, Nevada and Oklahoma.

READ MORE:Death by postal code: Income still dictates lifespan in Ontario

THE IMPLICATIONS

The poorest Americans fared best in affluent cities with highly educated populations. These tend to be areas with health-related public policies including smoking bans and high levels of funding for public services, the researchers said.

The findings raise the possibility that community-based public health approaches could help address the income-based longevity gap, a journal commentary said.

Life Expectancy by Country | HealthGrove

Durham Bridge residents tired of illegal dumping problem

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Residents in Durham Bridge are fed up with their roadways being used as illegal dumping sites.

Many of the roadways in Durham Bridge are littered with garbage that has been illegally discarded and some people in the area have had enough.

“They think they can get away with it and put it in someone else’s backyard so to speak,” said Donna Bliss who walks several kilometres with her neighbour each morning, noting various types of trash along the way.

“I’ve seen automobile gas tanks, I’ve seen bicycles…the type of plastic that can be recycled, wood construction pieces that could go to be reused.”

Although she says she’s not surprised by the items she comes across, she admits some have made her scratch her head.

“I’ve seen dryers,” she said. “You can take metal to the land fill and they’ll pay you for it. You don’t have to dump it out here.”

“People feel they have a right to bring their garbage and dump it wherever they feel,” Bliss said.

Conservation officers say they’re as puzzled by the practice as residents are.

“The tipping fees aren’t expensive at the landfill,” says Conservation Enforcement Superintendent, Rick Nash.

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“A lot of the time they’ll drive a long ways into the woods to find a spot to dump it and I would think that it would be cheaper to pay the tipping fees than some of the gas to go there.”

Nash says each year another 50 or so new illegal dumping sites are found.

He says it can be a difficult crime to catch someone committing, but still the risk isn’t worth the reward.

“Anybody caught dumping, it’s a $604.50 ticket,” he explained.

“The second thing we’ll normally do is issue an order for them to pick it up. Failure to comply with the order can result in a daily penalty of up to $500 a day.”

With the snow melting and many looking to get rid of unwanted items during the spring season, Bliss fears her morning walks will only uncover even more discarded trash in her area, but she hopes those thinking about dumping their garbage will reconsider.

“You have choices this should be a no-brainer that its not a choice,” she said.

“We are fortunate that we have garbage pick up, we have landfills, we have places where you can recycle. There’s no excuse for bringing it out and just dumping it.”

Anyone who witnesses illegal dumping is asked to call the Conservation office or Crime Stoppers.

Former home of Alvin and Kathryn Liknes demolished

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A home in southwest Calgary, formerly occupied by a couple who police say were murdered along with their grandson, has now been demolished.

The house that once belonged to Alvin and Kathryn Liknes, became a crime scene after they disappeared along with their five-year-old grandson, Nathan O’Brien, in June of 2014.

The couple had been having their grandson over for a sleepover but when O’Brien’s mother came to pick him up the next day, the trio had vanished.

The case shocked people across Canada and around the world and an Amber Alert was issued that lasted for weeks.

READ MORE: Timeline: Missing Calgary family Nathan O’Brien, Alvin and Kathryn Liknes

The home was located in the 100 block of 38A Avenue S.W.

A southwest Calgary home that became a crime scene following the 2014 disappearance of Alvin and Kathryn Liknes and their grandson, has been demolished.

A southwest Calgary home that became a crime scene following the 2014 disappearance of Alvin and Kathryn Liknes and their grandson, has been demolished.

Loren Andreae/ Global News

A southwest Calgary home that became a crime scene following the 2014 disappearance of Alvin and Kathryn Liknes and their grandson, has been demolished

Loren Andreae/ Global News

A southwest Calgary home that became a crime scene following the 2014 disappearance of Alvin and Kathryn Liknes and their grandson, has been demolished

Loren Andreae/ Global News

A southwest Calgary home that became a crime scene following the 2014 disappearance of Alvin and Kathryn Liknes and their grandson, has been demolished

Loren Andreae/ Global News

A southwest Calgary home that became a crime scene following the 2014 disappearance of Alvin and Kathryn Liknes and their grandson, has been demolished.

Loren Andreae/ Global News

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  • Missing Calgary family: Who were Nathan O’Brien, Alvin and Kathryn Liknes?

    Douglas Garland appears in court, friends of Liknes family launch trust fund

    Following an investigation, police confirmed a ‘violent incident’ had taken place in the Liknes home.

    READ MORE: Accused triple murderer Douglas Garland’s trial to begin in 2017

    Douglas Garland has been ordered to stand trial for three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of the Liknes couple and O’Brien.

    Garland’s trial is set to begin in January 2017.

    READ MORE: Police believed Liknes couple, Nathan O’Brien ‘likely murdered’ within 1st hours of investigation

    The bodies were never found.

    The home was sold before the trio disappeared. Family confirmed the buyers had always planned the demolition for a future infill.

    The demolition began on Friday and crews are still working away on the concrete foundation.

Feds to crack down on tax dodgers, looking to recoup $2.6 billion

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OTTAWA – The Canada Revenue Agency is boosting its efforts to hunt down tax dodgers – including those who shelter cash offshore – under an expanded plan expected to recoup $2.6 billion in unpaid taxes over the next five years.

The agency shared some specifics Monday on how it will improve detection, auditing and prosecution of tax cheaters with help from a five-year, $444-million government commitment – an investment nearly one-sixth of the anticipated return.

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“We really want to put the axe into everything that touches tax evasion,” Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier told a news conference in Ottawa.

“There are people today, I imagine, who must be nervous.”

Details of the agency’s plan follow media reports on the so-called Panama Papers, some 11.5 million records leaked from a Panamanian law firm that shed light on the use of offshore tax havens around the world.

The extra government funding to fight tax evaders was announced in last month’s budget.

Under the plan, Ottawa will intensify its detection work abroad by examining all international funds transfers over $10,000 to and from Canada. So far, the agency said it has already collected information on all such exchanges since January 2015.

WATCH: NDP wonders what steps Trudeau government will take to crack down on overseas tax evasion following ‘Panama Papers’ release

The agency will also zero in on four selected international jurisdictions this year for deeper scrutiny.

The first place on the list is the Isle of Man, which saw $860 million worth of electronic transfers with Canada over a 12-month period. The agency said it has assessed the risk for all 3000 transactions involving about 350 individual taxpayers and 400 companies.

Lebouthillier declined to release the names of the other three jurisdictions that will go under the microscope. She said she didn’t want to tip off tax dodgers and give them the opportunity to transfer their offshore assets to avoid being caught.

READ MORE: Following leaked Panama Papers, Ottawa to study ‘tax gap’

The agency will also launch a special program aimed at stopping groups that create and promote tax evasion and tax avoidance schemes for the wealthy. It said it will be able to increase its investigations of such schemes 12-fold.

The government investment will allow the agency to hire more auditors and specialists, who will focus on “high-risk” individuals and multinational corporations.

“It’s unthinkable and it’s also intolerable that people can pay specialists to allow them to evade taxes,” Lebouthillier said.

“There are people who defraud the government, who do not pay their part.”

Her agency also reiterated that it will begin its work to estimate the so-called “tax gap,” the difference between what is owed in taxes and what is actually collected.

Lebouthillier has indicated Canada will work with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which uses the tax gap measure to help develop policies that target tax evaders.

She said she will attend an OECD meeting this week in Paris that will address the issue of tax shelters. Ottawa plans to collaborate with international partners on the matter.

Lebouthillier also announced that a new advisory committee has been created to explore the issue of offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax planning.

The committee will be made up of seven experts and chaired by Western University law professor Colin Campbell. The vice-chair will be Dalhousie University professor Kimberly Brooks.

Investigators visit Panama Papers law firm’s office

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PANAMA CITY – Panamanian prosecutors visited the offices of the Mossack Fonseca law firm Monday to look into its allegations that a computer hacker was behind the leak of a trove of financial documents about tax havens the firm set up to benefit influential people around the globe.

Public ministry spokeswoman Sandra Sotillo said the visit to the offices of Mossack Fonseca was made by investigators from the intellectual property prosecutor’s office.

WATCH: NDP wonders what steps Trudeau government will take to crack down on overseas tax evasion following ‘Panama Papers’ release

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The firm filed a complaint charging the security breach shortly before media reports appeared last week using the documents to detail how politicians, celebrities and companies around the globe were hiding assets in offshore bank accounts and anonymous shell companies.

“Finally the real criminals are being investigated,” firm co-founder Ramon Fonseca said in a message to The Associated Press.

Fonseca has maintained that the only crime which can be taken from the leak was the computer hack itself. He has said he suspects the hack originated outside Panama, possibly in Europe, but has not given any details.

Panama’s government has said it will co-operate with any judicial investigation arising from the documents.

READ MORE: Panama Papers: Law firm regularly used name of Red Cross to hide money

Some critics of the government have called for a rapid investigation of the law firm, which is one of the most important in the world for creating overseas front companies.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela has defended the country’s financial sector, which is considered of strategic importance for the economy. But Varela has also promised the international community that he is willing to make reforms to make the sector more transparent.

Saving the Famine Irish exhibit comes to Montreal

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MONTREAL – It is a story of survival and compassion.

“Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger,” hosted by the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation, is playing at the Centaur Theatre from April 11 until April 17.

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    The exhibit comes from Connecticut’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, which hosted the exhibition from March 17, 2015 until March 17, 2016.

    The exhibit tells the story of the Grey Nuns, who helped sick Irish immigrants landing in Quebec after they fled the famine during the summer of 1847.

    “The story of the Grey Nuns and of the other religious orders who helped the dying Irish immigrants is one of kindness, compassion and true charity,” said Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac.

    Kinealy is also one of the curators of the exhibit.

    “Nonetheless, almost 6,000 Irish immigrants perished in the fever sheds of Montreal,” she said.

    “They had fled from famine in Ireland only to die of fever in Canada. This is a remarkable story that deserves to be better known.”

    READ MORE: Montreal’s Irish community remembers Black ’47

    The foundation hopes the exhibit will help highlight the Black Rock monument – an engraved boulder that sits under Montreal’s Victoria Bridge in commemoration of the Irish famine victims.

    The foundation would like to see the monument become a green space and cultural park to honour those who perished, as well as the people who helped them during the trying times.

Family of Oakridge home invasion victim speaks out as questions surround person of interest

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Five days after a brutal attack, police continue to watch the Hayer family home in Vancouver’s Oakridge neighbourhood.

Inside, Jasbinder Hayer recovers from an attempted home invasion.

“She’s suffering, she’s 86 years old. But we’re lucky she survived,” son Gurpreet Hayer told Global News.

Police say Jason Anthony White is a person of interest in the assault that left the elderly woman with a broken hand.

White has 34 convictions to his name and spent eight years in jail for violently sexually assaulting a 74-year-old woman.

WATCH: Convicted sex offender arrested near UBC

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The courts recognized he was at high risk of committing more offences, but he was released anyway.

“It’s this incredible hypocrisy in the system,” Angela Marie MacDougall of Battered Women’s Support Services said. “On one hand the system recognizes how dangerous this man is. On the other hand, we’ll let him go and it’ll be an experiment — truly gambling with the lives of girls and women.”

White was designated a dangerous offender, a status that could have kept him in jail for life. But he appealed and won because — despite his lengthy criminal history — there was no evidence proving White couldn’t be controlled in the community.

“They just had to put some evidence before the court for the court to consider,” lawyer Paul Doroshenko said. “The court might have rejected that evidence or accepted that evidence, but it was a failure to put that evidence before the court that led to the court of appeal overturning the original decision for dangerous offender status.”

White was arrested on UBC’s Point Grey campus over the weekend after he breached a condition of his release. The Hayer family said he never should have been let out of jail. They have high praise for police, but feel the justice system let them down.

“This kind of guy, they should be keeping him inside somewhere,” said Gurpreet Hayer. “The system is soft. The judge should keep an eye on this guy.”

Experts say it will take another serious crime before White can be considered a dangerous offender again.

– With files from Tanya Beja

Real or fake? Snowboarder says she captured video of bear chase without knowing

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Kelly Murphy’s snowboarding video is unbelievable. The YouTube user — reportedly a 19-year-old student from Sydney, Australia — posted footage of a bear chasing her down a slope in at the Hakuba 47 ski resort in Japan.

Murphy claims she captured the shocking chase without even knowing.

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“OMG! I was going through my snowboarding videos and I found a bear chasing me!!! I nearly got eaten!!!,” she said in the description of the video posted online Apr. 10. “Be careful people!!!”

WATCH: Playful gray whale entertains beach-goers in California surf

The video begins with Murphy on her own at the top of a hill, strapping on her snowboard. Her friends were taking a lesson, she told the Telegraph, so she hit the slope by herself.

“I’ve been snowboarding since I was a kid so I felt safe,” she said.

The footage, apparently recorded with a small camera attached to the end of a selfie stick, shows Murphy wearing headphones and mumbling the words to Rihanna’s song Work — which is presumably why she can’t hear the ferocious grunts of a large bear charging towards her.

The bear is seen chasing Murphy down the hill. As she weaves back-and-forth, her apparent hunter moves in-and-out of the camera’s frame. Fortunately, the beast never catches up with her and the 77-second video ends with Murphy blissfully unaware that she might have been attacked lunch.

Within hours of its posting, Murphy’s video was capturing international headlines and attention.

But it wasn’t long before social media sleuths started crying “fake.”

One 桑拿会所 user pointed out that, in one frame of the video, the bear’s back appears to split in half, as though part of the image is missing.

Others suggested that it looked more like a brown bear, which inhabit Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, some 800 kilometres north of Hakuba. Asiatic black bears, however, are known to frequent the village of Hakuba in in the summer and they can be aggressive.

In the absence of firm evidence, an online debate raged over the video’s authenticity.

Global News asked some experts to weigh-in.

David McKay spent six years with the RCMP and now runs a video forensic analysis firm in Vancouver. He said, without the original raw video, it’s impossible to know whether the video is authentic.

“[But] where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” he said. “Our eyes are pretty complex. And if we can visually look at something, and something just doesn’t feel right or just doesn’t seem right, that’s probably the case.”

He said the video’s resolution, contrast and even the audio are questionable.

“Where that animal was compared to the camera, I don’t think you could pick up that type of sound,” he said, referring to the bear’s audible grunts. “It seemed very crisp and clear, and you probably wouldn’t have that audio resolution on a video like that.”

WATCH: Police pursue Chihuahua in low-speed chase on San Francisco Bay Bridge

“It would be entirely possible to create this (video) in your bedroom, relatively easily,” says Vancouver-based visual effects artist Conrad Olson. “The low contrast, fast movements and snow surface make it easier to get the interaction with the ground correct.”

Olson explained there are websites where you can buy pre-made 3-D animal models. “So it’s pretty easy to create that, especially at that distance.”

McKay said the snowboarding video reminds him of another — a 2012 video of an eagle swooping down and snatching a toddler from a Montreal park. That viral video horrified millions, before being revealed as a hoax by three Canadian animation students.

Whether this latest video proves to be another prank, social media can’t bear to wait.

Prior to the bear chase video, Murphy had only posted two other videos on her YouTube page — both videos of her snowboarding, uploaded five days earlier.

Follow @JeffSempleGN

Former Sask. Huskie Donovan Dale ready to prove he belongs in the CFL

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SASKATOON – Donovan Dale is sick of being told that he isn’t good enough. When he went undrafted at the 2015 CFL Draft, he used the snub as motivation and went on to have his best season in the CIS. Dale was a monster on the defensive line for the Saskatchewan Huskies in 2015, registering eight sacks in eight games.

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    “Luckily because I’ve been busting my butt, I’ve been able to put forward some really good seasons which have turned some heads and got teams interested,” said Dale

    The Ottawa Redblacks certainly took notice, as they signed the three time Canada West All-Star to his first CFL contract in late March.

    “I feel very vindicated now, getting that next shot,” said Dale. “I believe that hard work always pays off.”

    READ MORE: Saskatchewan SWAT excited for debut in top junior division

    Dale’s a busy man these days. In the morning, he’s in the gym pushing his body to the limit in preparation for his first CFL season. During the day, he’s at the University of Saskatchewan, working towards obtaining his Masters in Kinesiology. At night, he’s back at the gym for four to five hours, coaching high performance athletes.

    His favourite part of these long and exhausting days, is coming home to see his wife Charissa and their newborn baby girl Evie.

    “I think my wife would agree with me that I’m definitely better at the snuggling and getting the baby to sleep,” says Dale as he turns to Charissa and smiles. “I take great pride in that for sure.”

    By signing a deal with the Redblacks, Dale is close to achieving his lifelong goal of playing pro football. The next step is actually making the team. In order to accomplish that feat, Donovan will be spending more time in the gym, and less time with his family. It’s not not an ideal situation, but Donovan says that his wife, Charissa has been tremendous throughout this whole process.

    “She’s definitely my rock.” said Dale. “She’s been 100 per cent supportive of me the entire time.”

    Dale has excelled at every level in his football career. He was a stand out player with the CJFL’s Saskatoon Hilltops, and a three time Canada West All-Star while playing CIS football. This summer, Donovan is out to prove that he has what it takes to thrive in the CFL.

Survey says 1,267 UFOs sighted in Canada in 2015, Quebec leads way

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WINNIPEG – The 2015 Canadian UFO Survey says Quebec leads the country when it comes to sightings of unidentified flying objects.

The annual survey by Winnipeg-based Ufology Research was released Monday and says last year had the second-largest number of sightings in the last three decades, with 1,267.

The year with the most UFO reports — a whopping 1,981 — was 2012, which was also supposed to be the year the world ended, according to the Mayan calendar.

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READ MORE: Argentines gather for international intergalactic alien festival

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland reported more UFO sightings last year than the year before, but Quebec alone is responsible for about 35 per cent of all reports in 2015.

That’s way up from previous years, when Quebec’s percentage was between five and 15 per cent.

READ MORE: Man uses selfie stick to record space debris crossing daytime sky in Thailand

There were 97 reports in Montreal alone, followed by 78 in Toronto and 69 in Vancouver; Edmonton was a distant fourth with just 36 sightings.

The study said the typical sighting lasts about 16 minutes and more than half of the reports were of simple lights in the sky.

WATCH: A UFO in Lumby? Unusual lights captured on video

The study noted the number of reported UFO sightings remains high and suggested several reasons why, including more secret military flights, better access to reporting sightings, or “even that the downturn in the economy is leading to an increased desire by some people to look skyward for assistance.”

The study also acknowledged “there is no incontrovertible evidence that some UFO cases involve extraterrestrial contact. The continued reporting of UFOs by the public and the yearly increase in numbers of UFO reports suggests a need for further examination of the phenomenon by social, medical and/or physical scientists.”

Saskatchewan farmland prices see small growth in 2015: FCC report

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Farm Credit Canada (FCC) says Saskatchewan producers should prepare for a possible easing of farmland values. The price of farmland went up again in 2015 but not as in previous years, according to a new report.

In Saskatchewan, the average value increased 9.4 per cent in 2015.

Values have continued to rise since 2002 but nearly half of the province recorded either little or no increases in farmland values last year.

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    While Saskatchewan has recorded significant increases over the last four years, FCC says the average valuation of farmland appears “fair” based on the current strength of crop receipts.

    READ MORE: Average farmland prices up 10.1% in 2015: Farm Credit Canada report

    Nationally, average farmland values showed a 10.1 per cent increase in 2015. This is the second consecutive year Canadian farmland values have slowed down.

    FCC’s chief agricultural economist, J.P. Gervais, said profit margins and demand for agriculture commodities remain strong, mostly due to the low value of the Canadian dollar.

    “We’re now seeing lower commodity prices offset by low interest rates and a weak dollar. The weak loonie not only makes our exports more competitive, but helps producers receive a better price for their commodities that are mainly priced in U.S. dollars,” Gervais said.

    The farmland values report showed that gains slowed in six provinces last year. Increases range from a low of 4.6 per cent in New Brunswick to a high of 12.4 per cent in Manitoba.

    Corinna Mitchell-Beaudin, FCC executive vice-president and chief risk officer, recommends producers ensure they account for a possible “softening” of farmland values.

    “Despite a recent strong performance in the agriculture sector, agriculture will always be cyclical so producers should be prepared for the ups and downs along the way,” Mitchell-Beaudin said.

Calgary residents concerned about timeline for demolition of flood-damaged homes

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It’s been almost three years since the biggest natural disaster in Alberta’s history hit Calgary but the demolition of some flood-damaged homes is only now underway.

One of the hardest hits streets is in the upscale inner-city neighbourhood of Roxboro where multi-million dollar homes are now being turned into piles of rubble.

But it’s a slow process and it’s causing concern for some people living nearby.

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    More than a dozen homes along Roxboro Road were torn down last Thursday. Broken lumber and debris still sit in their place. Insulation and smashed windows are piled into a heap.

    “Their schedule said it will go on to the end of September,” Roxboro resident James Maxim said. “Why can’t they speed it up? With the weather and the amount of people out of work, why can’t this be done sooner and faster for everybody concerned? And why should we put up with the dust and pollution that’s here as well as the danger of these sites for vandalism and people coming in and hurting themselves?”

    The June 2013 flood caused billions of dollars in damage across southern Alberta

    A dozen houses along Roxboro Road S.W. were destroyed.

    The Alberta government spent more than $30-million to buy properties deemed inhabitable, in order to compensate the owners.

    Now that the demolition process is finally underway, it will also involve recycling and reclamation.

    The government suggests completing the job could take months.

    The future of the empty lots is still another matter of debate.