How to watch Sunday’s ‘super moon’ lunar eclipse in Alberta

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by
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It’s another “super moon” month, but this time we get an extra treat: a lunar eclipse.

READ MORE: Get ready for September’s ‘super moon’ lunar eclipse

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The lunar eclipse — which takes place on the evening of Sept. 27 during the Harvest Moon — will be visible right across Canada, and occurs when the moon is closest in its monthly orbit, making it a “super moon” of an eclipse. Though likely not that perceptible to us, the moon will appear roughly 13 per cent larger in the sky.

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has events across the country, including in Calgary, and just outside the city at Glenbow Ranch Park from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Edmontonians can join in at the Observatory at TELUS World of Science at a special lunar eclipse event from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. weather permitting. The Lethbridge Astronomy Society is hosting an open house with more information on Saturday Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. and urges residents to head outside on Sunday.

“Glenbow Ranch provincial park is just between Calgary and Cochrane just off of Highway 1A, and so it’s an easy drive to get out there and it’s a great place to get a bit away from the city lights just to get a better view,” said Jill Sawyer from Alberta Parks.

But if you don’t want to head out to a public event, you can easily enjoy it at home. And you don’t need anything but your two eyes to enjoy it (though a chair might make it a bit more comfortable).

Timelapse of lunar reveal following total eclipse


Timelapse of lunar reveal following total eclipse


Images of “supermoon” eclipse from around the world


Early view of lunar eclipse and supermoon


Calgary in for a treat if skies stay clear for Sunday’s eclipse


Where to watch this weekend’s super moon eclipse

Unlike a solar eclipse, watching a lunar eclipse is safe. That’s because the moon is passing into Earth’s shadow. Another great thing about a lunar eclipse as opposed to a solar eclipse: you can walk out several times and catch the eclipse in various stages over hours.

“8:47 p.m. is the middle part of the eclipse, however I would say the most dramatic part—I think—is when the moon is entering and exiting the darkest part of the shadow,” said  Roland Dechesne from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. “That starts at about 8:11 p.m. and ends at 9:23 p.m. That’s when we see the deep reddish glow that envelops the moon during a total lunar eclipse.”

If you don’t have clear skies, NASA will be broadcasting the eclipse on its Ustream Marshall Space Flight Center channel.

So try to get out there if the weather allows it. The next total lunar eclipse for Canada won’t come until Jan. 31, 2018. And the next super moon eclipse won’t occur again until 2033.

According to Global Weather Anchor Jodi Hughes we should have mostly clear skies for the majority of the lunar event tonight. “Some areas in Central Alberta may have some light scattered showers-but for the most part the conditions will be good to allow you to witness this rare event. It will begin to be visible in Alberta at 7:21 p.m. and will end by 10:27 p.m,” said Hughes.


Feeling lucky? There’s a record Lotto Max jackpot up for grabs

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by
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EDMONTON – The odds of winning haven’t improved, but lotto dreamers are flocking to kiosks thanks to a record-setting jackpot.

This week, the Lotto Max grand prize has reached $60 million.

Friday’s draw will lead to the second largest lotto prize in Canadian history after a $63.4 million Lotto 6/49 draw in April, 2013.

READ MORE: Lotto Max jackpot to jump by $10 million  

That jackpot means lineups.

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Barrie Westerhaug works at the lottery kiosk in Edmonton’s Southgate Centre. He says sales have been brisk.

“Lineups have been 10 deep on that side and 10 deep on that side.”

The kiosk has two cash registers and both have been staffed for the expected glut of lotto hopefuls. And, the dreamers have come.

Some, like Glenda Orr, have never played before. When the jackpot hit new heights, Orr felt it was time to start.

“I might win. I’m just crossing my fingers and I might get lucky because I’m a non-gambler,” said Orr.

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Many others only buy tickets for these big jackpots. In fact, they say the bigger, the better.

David Van De Vliert says he’s “not a big lottery guy, but when you get this kind of number, you can make a difference in so many people’s lives even if you share it with 10 or 15 people.”

READ MORE: Group of 20 Quebecers wins Friday’s $55 million Lotto Max 

In July, the group of lottery corporations that oversees Lotto Max decided to change the maximum prize.

Prior to the change, the largest possible jackpot was $50 million. That cap had been in place for six years.

“We decided it was time to change it up a little bit, add some interest for our customers,” said Andrea Marantz with the Western Canada Lottery Corporation. “And this seemed like a good way to make a change.”

This week is the first time the prize reached the new cap and Marantz says sales across the country have been lively.

On top of the grand prize, lotto hopefuls could also win one of 25 MaxMillion prizes of $1 million each.


Saskatoon murder trial focuses on witness testimony

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by
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SASKATOON – A former drug dealer, turned police informant is “dishonest” argued a defence lawyer at the first degree murder trial of the 2004 killing of a prominent drug trafficker.

Jonathan Dombowsky, Kennith Tingle and Long Nam Luu have been on trial, facing murder charges, for more than a year.

A fourth man, Neil Yakimchuk, was convicted of carrying out the murder in 2014 and is serving a life sentence after admitting to killing Isho Hana to an undercover officer in a “Mr. Big” sting operation.

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Noel Harder, a key witness in the case, was involved in the drug trade at the time of Hana’s death.

READ MORE: Isho Hana murder trial back in Saskatoon court

Harder has testified that Dombowsky told him about a hit placed on Hana by Long Nam Luu. He added that Luu was known to have issues with Hana.

In 2014 Harder was detained by police on conspiracy to commit murder in the Hana case. He testified that he felt the measure was taken so he would speak on the record about his knowledge of the killing.

On Thursday Dombowsky’s defence lawyer George Combe continued his cross-examination of Harder. He suggested Harder was “simply just spinning facts in [his] best interest,” and had “no personal knowledge of anything.”

The court also heard a recorded conversation Harder had with an undercover police officer in 2004, where Harder is heard discussing what he would do to Hana if he became a problem for his business. Harder is heard saying he could live with any action and would make the call.

Harder has testified that he was putting on an act during the meeting in order to help secure a deal with the undercover officer who he thought was a drug supplier. He also claims the suspected supplier was intimidating and pressured him during the meeting.

Combe had the recording stopped at points where Harder claimed he felt pressured or intimidated. The defence lawyer at one point said it was Harder, not the undercover cop, who was pushing the conversation about Hana.


Fordham, Marquette universities rescind Bill Cosby’s honorary degrees

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by
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NEW YORK – Fordham and Marquette universities have rescinded from Bill Cosby his honorary degrees amid allegations from women accusing the comedian of sexual assault.

In Milwaukee, Marquette’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution Thursday rescinding an honorary degree presented to Cosby in 2013. The degree was immediately rescinded, the school said.

Fordham’s Board of Trustees also voted to take back an honorary doctor of fine arts degree given to him in 2001.

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Both Jesuit schools said it is the first time they have rescinded an honorary degree.

READ MORE: Canadian accuser questions Cosby’s ability to ‘read’ sexual cues

Cosby admitted having extramarital relationships with several women, including some who now accuse him of sexual assault. He has never been charged with a crime.

“As a Jesuit university, Fordham could no longer stand behind the degree it had bestowed upon Mr. Cosby, hence this unprecedented action,” the New York City university said.

Marquette President Michael Lovell and Provost Daniel Myers issued a letter to the university community after the vote that said, “By his own admission, Mr. Cosby engaged in behaviours that go entirely against our university’s mission and the Guiding Values we have worked so hard to instil on our campus.”

Fordham and Marquette are the latest schools to distance themselves from the comedian, joining Central State University, Temple University and Spelman College.


Canadian Muslims call for more government intervention after tragedy in Mecca

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by
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TORONTO — After a stampede killed more than 700 people during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mecca on Thursday, opinions have been split among Muslim Canadians as to how much more the Saudi Arabian government should be doing to keep pilgrims safe.

Some think the Canadian government should also be playing a role in ensuring their well being.

More than two dozen members of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto congregation are in Mecca. All are believed to be safe according to the Imam.

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READ MORE: Canadian tour company’s 400 pilgrims safe after deadly hajj stampede

He said they feel for the hundreds who died, but that is tempered with knowing they died in the path of spirituality.

“It was obviously shocking, but at the same time as believers, as Muslims, we believe it was a blessed death as well,” said Imam Yusuf Badat.

While there is no official word yet, Badat heard the deadly stampede started when someone reported a campfire out of control, sending people fleeing down a road right into an oncoming crowd.

Badat said every year he’s been to Mecca, he’s seen improvements in crowd control by Saudi Arabian officials.

“The heat there right now is approximately 60 degrees and you are in crowds of two million doing the same thing and you are in the same place. There’s bound to be some form of difficulty,” said Badat.

READ MORE: ‘It was like a wave’: Stampede at hajj in Saudi Arabia kills more than 700

The President of the Markham Muslim Association suggested the Canadian Government should be doing more to ensure the safety of pilgrims. He said their should be consular services available to pilgrims.

“Even just for the specific time. I went there a few times and I felt I am left alone and I have nothing to fall back on, should I run into any issue,” said Abdul Huq Ingar.

There is an embassy in Saudi Arabia, but it is several hundred kilometres away from Mecca in the capital of Riyadh.

Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs points out there are travel warnings on its website.

READ MORE: Glance at major hajj-related incidents in Saudi Arabia

However, Ingar believes the federal government should also be working with the Saudi Arabian government to educate pilgrims to that they can stay safe there.

“That is the thing we need from our side here as a Canadian,” he said, adding that despite any risk, he would love to go back.

“It’s a one in a lifetime experience. It’s something you can never forget.”


Reality check: Does making booze harder to buy make people safer?

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by
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Ontario’s announcement this week that it plans to sell certain kinds of beer in select grocery stores starting three months from now came as good news to some, but it also raised public health alarm bells.

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Groups including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse are calling on the province to adopt a provincial “alcohol strategy,” slow down its liberalization of alcohol retail regulations — and maybe change tack altogether.

“From a public health perspective, a move in this direction really is heading down the wrong road,” says Wayne Skinner, CAMH’s Deputy Clinical Director of Addiction.

Does greater access to alcohol mean greater likelihood of abuse and harms resulting from its consumption?

It’s complicated.

READ MORE: The fine print in Ontario’s new beer agreement

WATCH: Beer is coming to grocery stores – so what’s the catch?

Canada’s patchwork of provincial liquor laws makes it difficult to measure. The country’s been inching toward liberalization — from the partial privatization of liquor sales in Ontario, B.C. and elsewhere to the loosening of restrictions on buying booze in one province and taking it to another.

That worries Skinner.

“You need to be really careful about expanding alcohol availability.”

“These are unpopular opinions,” he admits. “But … from a public health perspective the goal should be, ‘How can we actually reduce the harms around alcohol consumption? How can we educate people around moderate drinking practices but also educate people not to drink?’”

Dan Malleck doesn’t buy it.

The Brock University health sciences professor and author of Try to Control Yourself: The regulation of public drinking in post prohibition Ontario calls these public health objections “histrionics.”

“It’s not like everyone in Alberta is drunk all the time,” he said.

“We have this utter fear of alcohol.”

READ MORE: Harper says it’s ‘ridiculous’ Canadians can’t bring alcohol across provincial borders

There is concerning evidence, however.

A 2011 study from the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia found a positive correlation between the number of liquor stores per 1,000 residents and the rate of alcohol-related deaths: The more liquor stores there were in a given health region, the more people in that region died of alcohol-related causes.

“As the number of outlets in an area goes up, consumption goes up. And also alcohol-related deaths go up,” said Tim Stockwell, the centre’s director and the paper’s primary author.

“It’s not a huge effect, but it’s there.”

Ontario health officials have cited Stockwell’s study, concerned something similar could happen in Ontario.

But there are far more factors at play — including price, culture, education and socioeconomic inequities — determining the extent of alcohol abuse, misuse, addiction and deaths.

A 2013 study by the same B.C. Centre for Addictions Research found a much stronger price association: Higher alcohol prices meant fewer alcohol-related hospital admissions.

“Price is much more powerful than the density … of liquor outlets,” Stockwell said.

“So if you want to reduce problems and harm, particularly paying attention to the floor prices that the heaviest drinkers and the youngest drinkers gravitate towards, that’s where you get a lot of impact.”

And provincial drinking rates don’t appear directly correlated to alcohol availability:

The Northwest Territories and Yukon have the highest rate of people who say they’re “heavy drinkers,” even though sales in both are largely restricted to government-owned stores.

Newfoundland and New Brunswick have heavier drinking rates than Quebec and Alberta, despite having more government-controlled liquor sales.

And high alcoholism rates in some rural areas are likely attributable to factors other than accessibility.

“Maybe people have less things to spend their money on in rural areas, the entertainment is less diverse and they perhaps have more restricted movements,” Stockwell said.

“I think one has to think … about helping communities be cohesive without the default … drinking occasions.”

Impaired-driving rates don’t appear to correlate with alcohol deregulation, either:

The Northwest Territories, Yukon and Saskatchewan have significantly higher police-reported drunk driving rates than any other regions, despite having more government regulation of their liquor sales than Alberta, Quebec and, arguably, B.C.

Saskatchewan addressed its high drunk-driving rates with minimum alcohol pricing in 2010, Stockwell said.

“We have detected significant drops in impaired driving since then.”

Quebec is another counter-intuitive example: certain kinds of alcohol are much more readily available and the province has high overall alcohol consumption rates, but it has a lower rate of self-reported heavy drinking, according to Statistics Canada. That means there’s less binge drinking and more moderate consumption in the province.

“When alcohol was introduced in grocery stores in the ’70s, everybody expected there would be a high rise in heavy drinking — It did not occur,” said Catherine Paradis, senior research and policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse.

“Quebec has a drinking culture that is different. Prevention is done way differently than elsewhere in Canada.”

Paradis cites a multi-million-dollar campaign educating Quebecois about binge drinking, which public health officials define as — brace yourself — more than five drinks at a time for men, and four drinks at a time for women.

Tackling problem drinking and alcohol-related illness and death goes beyond making it inconvenient to buy booze, Paradis said.

She also points to important regional differences in what people drink and when they drink it: Quebecois are most likely to drink wine and least likely to drink spirits, the inverse of the prairie provinces, according to a 2010 study Paradis co-authored. Maritimers report more binge drinking and are less likely to drink with meals.

“Drinkers from Québec, Ontario and BC show a drinking style that is closer to the Mediterranean culture, i.e., men and women in these provinces drink more often, drink more wine, drink less spirits, and drink during a meal more often than drinkers from the other provinces,” the study reads.

(That study also found women in the Maritimes drink coolers more than elsewhere in Canada.)

“Alcohol-related harms and outcomes are not simply related to availability,” she said.

“I worry [governments are] going to loosen the rules without making the necessary effort on the other side.”

A 2013 study evaluating Canadian provinces on their alcohol public health interventions recommended minimum pricing, government-controlled retail, limiting the “physical availability” of alcohol and limiting advertising that targets young people, among other things.

“There are so many economic, demographic and other factors that it’s not reliable or usual practice in policy research to make simple comparisons across different jurisdictions at one point in time,” Stockwell said.

“Also, there is no simple correlation between having a monopoly and having good policy –  a monopoly only provides an opportunity for good policy which may not be taken.”