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Sun, 26 Sep 2021
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Canada, British Columbia: Outdoor smoking ban coming to capital region, mayors say

© timescolonist.com
Smoking in parks may been soon banned in the Greater Victoria area
The days of enjoying a leisurely smoke on a Greater Victoria park bench or at the beach could be numbered.

The capital region will undoubtedly follow other municipalities in considering a smoking ban in outdoor areas such as parks, playgrounds, beaches and trails, local politicians say.

"It's a big issue for parents," said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, adding residents are often as much concerned about smokers tossing cigarette butts as they are about second-hand smoke.

"I've had several people raise it as an issue for them. It's something we should take a look at."

The trend for smoke-free parks, playgrounds, beaches and trails is picking up steam.


US, Washington: Vancouver City Council to consider banning smoking, drinking in public parks, recreation centers

© unknown
Over the next months, Vancouver City Council members will consider a few new rules to add to the city code regarding parks. If adopted, that means no more booze and cigs in public parks.

The City of Vancouver Law Department and the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department on Monday proposed to completely ban smoking any form of tobacco in public parks, trails and recreation centers, citing scientific research on the dangers of second-hand smoke. City staff also recommended prohibiting the possession and use of liquors, except during special events permitted by the city and state.

Also proposed is keeping people out of parks for unruly and disruptive behavior. The draft ordinance includes rules on how long a person can be banned from a public park or recreation facility. This can be as short as seven days or as long as one year, depending on the nature of the misconduct and prior violations of park rules.

Bizarro Earth

NATO: Qaddafi loyalist resilience surprising

A general overseeing the air campaign says loyalists are taking advantage of urban settings that prevent heavy airstrikes
© Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Smoke is seen after heavy artillery fired by anti-Gadhafi fighters during clashes in Sirte Oct. 10.

Washington - The commander of NATO's air campaign in Libya has said that hundreds of organized fighters loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi pose a "resilient and fierce" threat in the two remaining pro-Qaddafi strongholds, and are exploiting the urban settings to complicate the alliance's mission to protect civilians.

In the coastal city of Surt and the desert enclave of Bani Walid, pro-Qaddafi snipers on rooftops and loyalist gunmen in pickup trucks are terrorizing residents, killing some and intimidating many others, said the officer, Lt. Gen. Ralph J. Jodice II of the United States Air Force.

General Jodice said a mix of African mercenaries and Qaddafi loyalist troops have successfully sustained command-and-control and supply lines in staunch defense of the cities, despite a NATO air campaign that is now in its seventh month and a multipronged ground assault in Surt by anti-Qaddafi fighters.

"It's really been quite interesting how resilient and fierce they've been," General Jodice said in a telephone interview on Sunday from his command center just north of Bologna, Italy. "We're all surprised by the tenacity of the pro-Qaddafi forces. At this point, they might not see a way out."

General Jodice's comments, coming on Sunday as former rebel fighters battled their way into the heart of Surt and then were driven back by sniper and mortar fire, tempered the boasts of anti-Qaddafi forces that Surt would soon be theirs and once again underscored the limitations that have confronted NATO throughout the air campaign.

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Thieves Steal Entire Bridge for Scrap, Forget to Check Steel Prices First

Stolen Bridge
© Minyanville

As commodity prices have soared, thefts of said commodities have, too.

Church roofs have gone missing as the price of lead hit all-time highs, used fryer grease has disappeared from behind fast food restaurants and resold for biofuel, and thieves have robbed beauty salons, making off with -- not cash -- but tens, sometimes hundreds, of thousands of dollars worth of hair extensions.

Now, an entire bridge has been stolen for scrap -- only the folks who stole it didn't time the market particularly well.

The 50-foot bridge, made of corrugated steel and formerly located in New Castle, Pennsylvania, was valued at "about $100,000," according to the Associated Press.


Optimism Is a Brain Defect, According to Functional MRI Scans

© cathyse97 via Flickr
Eternal Optimists - It'll definitely happen, Cubs fans. Someday.

Pervasive, persistent optimism is one of those uniquely human traits/flaws - we tend to believe things are better than they really are, or that negative consequences won't befall us, even if they befall others. It stands to reason that people would adjust their expectations when confronted with harsh reality, yet they don't. Our brains are to blame, according to a new study - we're wired to have a positive outlook.

Neuroscientists have been searching for the physiological underpinnings for this sanguineness, because there are actual harms that can come from an "it-can't-happen-to-me" or "it'll-get-better-this-year" attitude. People might make reckless decisions or have unrealistic expectations, in everything from personal health to finance. Researchers have thought this rose-colored outlook is mediated in the brain centers involved in error processing, so a team from England and Germany set about studying this using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

To study optimism, they examined how people under-estimated the impact or possibility of future negative events, because this "it-can't-happen-to-me" feeling has implications for how people protect themselves. The research team gave participants a list of 80 different negative life events, including getting Alzheimer's disease, being fired, being cheated on by a spouse, and so on. They were asked to rate how likely they were to experience these events, and then they were told their actual probability for experiencing the events. Then they were asked to estimate their own likelihoods of experience again. The scientists monitored brain activity during these tests.

Eye 1

US, Florida: Are Fingerprint Scanners Really Necessary On School Buses?

© unknown
The Washington County school system in Florida believes it has come up with the best way to take attendance. Ditching the typical roll call, the school system will use fingerprint scanners that log everyone as they step off the bus.

The school system already uses scanners inside the school, but their location makes its difficult to keep track of every student. Soon, the school will begin installing the scanners on select buses. If this initial trial goes as well as expected, the scanners will be installed on the school's entire fleet of vehicles. School officials hope this system will improve attendance.

But you have to wonder, are school officials opening a Pandora's box filed with privacy issues and money concerns? Each scanner is pricey, costing the school district a hefty $30 per student per year. The scanner also captures your fingerprint which is a unique, identifiable piece of information, stores it in a database, and links it to a name.

Yes, parents can opt-out and request their children be tallied the traditional way. But still, it seems kinda Orwellian that the school wants you to flash your fingerprint before you can learn your reading, writing and arithmetic.

Source: WJHG via PopSci


US: Occupy Phoenix gets training in preparation for protest

There's a growing protest movement against corporate greed and government inaction. It's called Occupy Wall Street, and it's spreading to Western states, including Arizona.

There was an event Thursday in Flagstaff and there is another one Saturday in Tempe. An even bigger protest is planned next week in Phoenix.


US: Occupy Portland largest 'Occupy' event to date

Officials in Phoenix are watching other cities across the U.S. as they prepare for the Occupy Phoenix protests, which are scheduled to begin October 15.

Protests were held in several major cities around the country last week, the largest being in Portland, Oregon. Protesters started gathering just after noon on Thursday at Portland's Waterfront Park beneath the Burnside Bridge. At around 2:30 p.m., thousands walked city streets to Pioneer Courthouse Square, which they occupied for about an hour before marching through city streets to two city parks.

"The corporations have taken our futures away from us and we're just not going to stand by and let that happen," one protester told a reporter from KGW.

© Michael Moreali
"We are not the problem," another man said. "The problems are the bankers on Wall Street that destroyed this economy."

See all 35 photos


US: Occupy Boston protesters march to Charlestown

Boston -- Hundreds of students from 10 area colleges marched through downtown Boston on Monday as part of the national Occupy Wall Street movement.

The protesters gathered on Boston Common and marched in front of the Massachusetts Statehouse carrying signs that read "Apathy isn't working, Raise your voice," and chanting slogans like "Fund education, not corporations" and "We got sold out. Rich got bailed out."

Francis Rick, a sophomore at Framingham State University, said many of her friends are struggling to pay for their education even while holding down part time jobs.

[Actual Protest coverage begins at 30 seconds]

"A lot of us are already in debt and we haven't graduated yet. A lot of my friends, even though they work 20 hours a week, that is not enough to cover their expenses," said Rick, 19, a psychology major. "A lot of us can't even afford to get sick."

The protestors met on Boston Common at about 1:30 p.m. A half hour later they began their march and looped around the Common, passing by the Statehouse before heading toward Dewey Square in downtown Boston, the focal point of the Occupy Wall Street protests in the city.


'Occupy London' in the offing?

© Gary Lew
Hardly has London regained peace and quiet from the recent protests that it should brace itself for further unrest as the Occupy Wall Street Movement seems to have inspired the country's youth.

Is the Wall Street Movement creeping into Britain? Or is what is unfolding in England and other parts of Europe the continuation of the same uprising that started in North Africa and the Middle East? It is certain that a movement the size and proportion of the Occupy Wall Street movement which gradually engulfed the whole USA will be too much of a shock for the British government, which is still convalescing from the horror of its recent riots.

Reports say that 'Occupy London', a group inspired by the American uprising, will pitch tents in London's financial district starting Oct. 15 in a symbolic move to show that most of the working people can't really afford to live comfortably. Chiefly composed of activists, the group is planning to protest the social inequalities, iniquities and injustice rife in the country. Kai Wargalla, the creator of the Occupy London group on Facebook, has stated that it is now time to start the revolution in London and that people should step up and voice their anger at the top of their lungs.