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Gaps in wildfire science leave Canadian researchers fighting blind against growing risks

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Canada has never spent more to combat wildfires, yet efforts to understand and adapt to the fast-evolving hazards have faltered, hampered by the attrition of key researchers and acute funding constraints. As a result, the country lacks a comprehensive framework for assessing risks. There is no national system that maps where cities, towns and infrastructure are in relation to vegetation, what the fuel loads are and what sort of fire behaviour they might generate.

Costs to suppress fires have jumped roughly $120-million a decade since the 1970s and now approach $1-billion or more every year, posing a major challenge for cash-strapped governments at all levels. But the primary tool used by provincial wildfire agencies and crews to predict and respond to daily threats, the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System, has not been updated in several decades.

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Toronto CAMH patient who left Canada one of three to flee hospital’s care in two months

Patients not voluntarily returning to the CAMH facility expose the challenges of balancing the rights of patients found not criminally responsible with the need to keep them under supervision. The goal of the system is to rehabilitate patients with the hope of reintegrating them into the community.

Zhebin Cong’s disappearance and flight out of the country is the second of three instances in two months that a patient with a violent past has failed to return to the country’s largest mental-health hospital. Mr. Cong was reported missing to police July 3 while on a day pass in the community. He boarded an international flight the same day but police have not revealed where he went. The other two patients have been found.

As viewership drops, CBC’s the fifth estate eyes a series about Paul Bernardo

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A proposed series of programs about Paul Bernardo by the fifth estate has divided the staff of the CBC’s flagship investigative TV program and outraged women’s-rights advocates, who say it is unconscionable that the serial rapist and murderer might be given a national platform.

In response to questions from The Globe, Catherine Legge, executive producer of the fifth estate, said in an e-mail: “As you might anticipate, we would never comment on any story that is still in the formative stages. That said, the bar for any story must meet the public interest.”

Alberta declares provincewide syphilis outbreak amid surge across Canada

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, said on Tuesday that syphilis rates in the province have reached levels not seen since 1948. The 1,536 cases reported in 2018 were a tenfold increase over the 161 reported in 2014, and the rate of increase is only getting worse, she warned. However, experts say it’s unclear why a contagion that seemed close to eradication a few decades ago is now thriving.

A number of theories exist for why the infection has spread so rapidly, including risks to marginalized communities due to substance abuse highlighted by the continuing opioid crisis, the spread of smartphone apps that facilitate anonymous meetups and declining condom use among young Canadians.

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Conservatives remove names, photos of detained Canadians from fundraising video after family’s complaint: The e-mailed appeal to Conservative supporters – targeting what the party considers Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “blunders abroad” – includes mention of the Liberal government’s failure to secure the release of former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent remarks were ‘offensive’: Scheer said he believes people should be free to criticize their governments without having their backgrounds questioned or being told to leave the country.

Cardinal Energy cleaning up after 320,000-litre spill: The Alberta Energy Regulator has few details about Saturday’s spill on its compliance reporting website, but says the substances leaked after a problem with pump equipment.

Ontario man calls out Eric Trump for tweet that used son’s image: Jeremy Rupke says Donald Trump’s son Eric showed “disrespect” and lack of forethought when he included an image of four-year-old Mason Rupke in a recent social media broadside against Democrats.

U.S. House blocks Democrat Texas Rep. Al Green impeachment call: Even so, the roll call also showed that the number of Democrats open to impeachment remains substantial and may be growing.

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WHO declares Ebola outbreak in Congo a global health emergency: A WHO expert committee declined on three previous occasions to advise the United Nations health agency to make the declaration for this outbreak, although other experts say it has long met the conditions.


Stocks sink

Global shares slipped on Thursday on growing signs that a trade dispute between the United States and China was taking a toll on corporate earnings, with nerves spreading from Wall Street through Asia to European markets. Tokyo’s Nikkei shed 2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.5 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite 1 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 were down by between 0.4 and 0.9 per cent by about 6:30 a.m. ET. New York futures were also down. The Canadian dollar was at about 76.5 US cents.


‘The Squad’ is Donald Trump’s ticket to a second term

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Konrad Yakabuski: Had it not been for President Donald Trump’s most toxic tweet yet, inviting four progressive congresswomen of colour to ‘go back’ whence they came, the big story in Washington this week would have been about an internal Democratic poll showing the same four women scaring off white voters in the very swing states the party needs to win in 2020.”

We cannot solve abortion-pill prescription problems without rethinking our gatekeeper approach

Joanna Erdman: In legal terms, the prescription is an authorization – a permission slip – and in this way represents a continuation of, rather than a break from, our abortion past, with abortion as health care having long been overregulated and guardedly practised.” Erdman is MacBain Chair in Health Law and Policy at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law.

Alberta is changing the game on internal trade

Trevor Tombe: But what if the politics are manageable? What if governments are too hesitant? If a large province such as Alberta unilaterally moves, and shows opening its market can succeed, then others might follow. It’s certainly worth a try.” Tombe is an associate professor of economics at the University of Calgary and a research fellow at the School of Public Policy.


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Brian Gable

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


Looking to unwind the old-fashioned way this year? Zone out of your technology and tune into the world around you before the summer ends.The Globe has created the ultimate guide to disconnecting from your phone, with tips, stories and examples to follow. Some ideas include going to a restaurant with a no-phone policy, and discover why it’s important to disconnect while dining. You could read the story about one woman who forgot her cell when she went on vacation, and needs to figure out how to enjoy her trip without her phone. Or, have you ever heard of Dolce far niente? Maybe the Italian art of doing nothing might help you unplug. For more details, read the full guide.


Shoemaker-Levy 9 Impact on Jupiter -- This image of the giant planet Jupiter, by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, reveals the impact sites of fragments "D" and "G" from Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

H. Hammel/MIT / NASA

July 18, 1994

In 1990, Canadian amateur astronomer David Levy teamed up with Eugene Shoemaker, a planetary geologist who had helped train the Apollo astronauts, and his wife, Carolyn, a schoolteacher turned scientist, to hunt for comets at the Mount Palomar Observatory in California. Over a five-year period, the trio discovered 13 comets, but it was their ninth find, first photographed in 1993, that would prove historic. “It looks like a squashed comet,” Carolyn Shoemaker said when she spotted the misshapen smudge near Jupiter. Follow-up observations revealed that the comet had broken into several pieces under the influence of Jupiter’s gravitational field and the fragments were on course to collide with the giant planet over several days in July, 1994. Observatories around the world watched intently as the first small pieces disappeared into Jupiter’s atmosphere. But on July 18, after the first kilometre-sized fragment hit, the effect was shocking. As the impact site rotated into view, the planet’s cloudy atmosphere presented a vivid black eye of sooty residue from a six million-megaton explosion. For the first time, humans were eyewitnesses to the devastating force of an extraterrestrial impact – a sight that promptly led to systematic searches for incoming asteroids and comets that may one day threaten Earth. Ivan Semeniuk

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