Archive for December, 2018

Texas woman wakes up from surgery with British accent

Monday, December 24th, 2018

A woman in Texas claims she suddenly developed a British accent after undergoing a routine jaw surgery to correct an overbite.

“People who don’t know me, they’re like, ‘Hey, where are you from?’” Lisa Alamia told KHOU, a Houston, Texas television station.

But despite her accent, she grew up in Texas.

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    According to a press release from Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, Alamia has been diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome – a rare neurological disorder that has impacted fewer than 100 people worldwide since it was first described in 1907.

    READ MORE: Foreign accent syndrome – Can you suddenly develop a foreign accent?

    Alamia started speaking with a British accent right after her surgery in December 2015, according to the release. She underwent a complete neurological exam, including a MRI scan, and all tests came back normal.

    To her neurologist, Toby Yaltho, it’s a mystery.

    He told CTV News that he was initially suspicious of the woman, thinking she was maybe making it up. “If you talk to her, I’ll call her just to get an update on how she’s doing, she picks up the phone, she still talks like that. So this is definitely something that she’s not making up.”

    WATCH: A Texas woman who underwent jaw surgery claims she woke up to discover she had a British accent, part of what her doctors are calling an extremely rare case of foreign accent syndrome.

    But he has no idea what’s causing the accent.

    “I don’t think it can be explained. I looked back, talked to the doctors, tried to figure out if there was something that happened, tried to figure out if something happened during surgery. As far as we could tell it was not a complicated surgery. There was no injury or otherwise.”

    In the press release, Yaltho called Alamia’s condition a “fascinating and very rare case.”

    He is working with Alamia to reduce the accent through speech therapy.

    “I’ve learned that not everything in life has an answer,” said Alamia in the press release, “but the accent doesn’t define who I am. I’m still the same person I was before surgery; I just talk differently.”

Deal finalized for Quebec’s US$1 billion investment in Bombardier CSeries

Monday, December 24th, 2018

MONTREAL – After months of negotiations, Bombardier Inc. has reached a definitive agreement with the Quebec government on a US$1-billion investment in the CSeries passenger jet program

The two sides have been working out details of the agreement since the plan was originally announced in October.

The Montreal-based company is slated to receive the money in two instalments of US$500 million, the first June 30 and the second Sept. 1.

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    Once the Quebec government’s investment is complete, it will own 49.5 per cent of a new limited partnership with all the assets, liabilities and obligations of the CSeries aircraft program, including larger versions of the plane beyond the CS100 and CS300 should they be developed.

    Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare said the investment demonstrates the provincial government’s confidence in the company’s largest aircraft.

    “Their investment will accelerate the momentum we’ve created, strengthen customer confidence in the aircraft and provide Bombardier with the financial flexibility needed to compete and win,” he said in a statement.

    Premier Philippe Couillard has said Quebec’s intervention in the CSeries was key to securing orders from Air Canada and Delta Air Lines.

    READ MORE: Delta deal’s signed, but Bombardier still wants federal cash

    Air Canada said Thursday that it continues to work on finalizing a contract with the manufacturer for up to 75 CSeries planes after the Senate passed amendments giving it relief from obligations under the Air Canada Public Participation Act, which required it to perform heavy maintenance on its fleet in Montreal, Winnipeg and Mississauga, Ont.

    Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the federal government is continuing to negotiate potential financial support for Bombardier, which is seeking $1 billion from Ottawa.

    “We believe that long-term it’s (the aerospace sector) one of the more innovative places in the economy, so in that regard having a leading company like Bombardier is important and we’re engaging with them to think about how we can ensure that the sector remains successful,” he told reporters after speaking in Toronto to the Economic Club of Canada.

    Morneau wouldn’t discuss stumbling blocks but Ottawa has reportedly pushed Bombardier to change its voting structure, something the founding family that controls the company through multiple voting shares insists it has no intention of doing.

    The CSeries aircraft is two years behind schedule and has incurred about US$2 billion in cost overruns. The first plane is slated to be handed over to Swiss Airlines next week and enter into service July 15.

    READ MORE: Transport minister denies claims gov’t pressured Air Canada to buy Bombardier jets

    Quebec Transport Minister Jacques Daoust said the partnership with Bombardier will ensure the employment of up to 2,500 workers on the program.

    “So this is a win-win relationship that will benefit all Quebecers and the entire aviation sector,” he said in a news release.

    The new entity will be headed by Fred Cromer, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. The board will contain three Bombardier nominees — former Quebec premier Daniel Johnson, who will be chairman, Bellemare and chief financial officer John Di Bert. Quebec will nominate two members.

    Under the revised deal, Quebec will receive warrants to purchase up to 100 million Bombardier shares or about 4.26 per cent of its outstanding shares. That’s half as many at the same price of $2.21 per share that was outline in the preliminary deal.

    Spokeswoman Sylvie Gauthier said the change was made to reflect Bombardier’s improved financial position.

    “We’ve derisked [sic] the program, we’ve had sales; the shares are nearly double where it was so that all comes to play in the negotiations,” she said in an interview.

    She said Quebec’s contribution will be used to help ramp up production until it reaches a break-even point in 2020 with 90 to 120 planes produced a year.

Woman who defaced U.S. national parks, posted exploits on social media, pleads guilty

Monday, December 24th, 2018

A San Diego woman who painted and drew on natural rock formations at U.S. national parks across the west and shared her work on social media, pleaded guilty June 13 to defacing government property.

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Casey Nocket, 23, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Fresno, Calif., to seven charges for the autumn 2014 painting spree at seven national parks including Yosemite in California and Zion in Utah.

She also admitted to defacing rocks at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

“The defendant’s defacement of multiple rock formations showed a lack of respect for the law and our shared national treasures,” said acting U.S. Attorney Philip Talbert.

Nocket used Instagram and Tumblr to document her trip and her graffiti-like work, which led to broad outrage on social media. (Many of her original posts have since been taken down.)

READ MORE: Young Sequoia National Park visitor returns cone with apology note

Reddit users began posting about Nocket’s drawings, tipping off National Parks Service investigators.

NPS spokesman Jeffrey Olson told Global News that NPS staff used the Reddit thread to advance their investigation which started in October 2014.

Olson said social media has been both a boon and bane to the NPS.

“It has spawned some copycats but it has also helped us solve a crime,” he said. “There was quite a backlash on social media, shaming [Nocket] – some of it appropriate, some very inappropriate and threatening.”

Nocket was sentenced to two years’ probation and 200 hours of community service. She is also banned from all national parks for her probation period.

READ MORE: Spectacular ‘firefall’ at Yosemite park lights up social media

The vandalism spree caused serious cleanup problems at the national parks. The sandblasting and chemical stripping used to remove paint can cause even more damage to irreplaceable natural features, so cleanup crews have been relying on water, time and elbow grease.

“It’s very low tech and time consuming,” said Olson. “And therefore very expensive.”

At two parks, Crater Lake and Death Valley in California, the cleaning has yet to be completed nearly two years later.

A later hearing will determine how much Nocket will have to pay to help with the cleanup.

— with files from the Associated Press

Follow @jennynotjen

Deliberations continue in Michael Robertson murder trial

Monday, December 24th, 2018

A jury continues to deliberate the fate of Michael Robertson, accused of killing 42-year-old Rocky Genereaux in March 2015.

The second-degree murder trial wrapped up Wednesday afternoon and was handed over to the jury hearing the case.

Robertson was charged following a cell phone dispute in a home on Avenue I South.

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    READ MORE: Saskatoon man recounts 2015 stabbing on the stand at his murder trial

    He testified that he left his BlackBerry device at the residence and it was not working correctly after retrieving it.

    During the trial, Robertson said he confronted Genereaux about the device, believing he had tampered with it.

    Roberston testified that during the altercation, Genereaux became agitated, claimed to have HIV and lunged at him with an uncovered needle. He said the stabbing was in self defence.

    The jury heard closing arguments before beginning their deliberations Wednesday afternoon.

    READ MORE: Trial begins in 2015 Saskatoon homicide case

    Defence lawyer Brent Little claimed that Robertson’s testimony matched the majority of the other witnesses called and therefore it should be believed.

    “He did not want to cause Rocky Genereaux’s death,” said Little during his closing argument.

    “Imagine how quickly this happened.”

    Little argued it was understandable that Robertson fled the scene after the incident, since he was on parole and didn’t want to get arrested.

    READ MORE: Woman sentenced in fatal stabbing over cell phone

    During his testimony, Robertson claimed he didn’t know he killed Genereaux until two days later when he was shown a news report.

    Crown prosecutor Jennifer Claxton-Viczko contended that the evidence shows Genereaux didn’t show the demeanor of a man who just attacked someone with a needle in the aftermath of the incident.

    She argued that Genereaux sounded bewildered in the background of a frantic 911 call played in court and there was no open or used needle recovered at the scene.

    She added that “there’s no evidence that Rocky had any reason to attack Mr. Robertson” and questioned why he would lunge at the accused, who testified that he was holding a roughly two-foot knife in his defence.

    “Why would he advance … why would he lunge his body toward a two foot knife,” Claxton-Viczko asked the jury.

    “Is he suicidal?”

    She also argued that Robertson could have used the much larger object to defend himself without killing the victim.

    “He can chop his arm off if need be,” said Claxton-Viczko to the jury.

Are you satisfied with your work schedule? Most Canadians aren’t

Monday, December 24th, 2018

Canadians want more workplace flexibility, a new survey stresses. Our schedule satisfaction lags behind seven countries in Europe, as well as India and the U.S.

Of the more than 7,000 Canadians polled by recruiting firm Randstad, nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) said they’d like to work remotely at least occasionally.

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    And contrary to what we often hear, it’s not just millennials who crave the freedom.

    Over one-fifth (21 per cent) of employees aged 45 to 65 would love to work outside the office every day. That’s actually more than their younger counterparts.

    What can employers do?

    It’s time managers get with the changing times, said Randstad Canada’s human resources senior vice-president Faith Tull.

    “I don’t think anybody can be stuck in their ways nowadays. It won’t bode well for attracting the talent you need.”

    Companies that want to retain their employees and keep them motivated, she added, should survey staff to find out what’s important to them. Then make sure to actually listen and find ways to accommodate those desires.

    “There’s nothing like asking for feedback and then not implementing anything.”

    READ MORE: Secret to successful telecommuting? Moderation, research shows

    “You certainly can’t give them the world,” Tull acknowledged. But she believes managers can introduce work-life balance policies without decreasing productivity.

    In fact, “in comparison with employees who came into the office, at-home workers were not only happier and less likely to quit but also more productive,” Harvard Business Review reported in 2014.

    If working remotely isn’t an option due to the nature of the job, Tull said employers can offer alternatives like:

    A compressed schedule (a 10-hour workday that allows for a four-day work week)Summer hours (that let employees leave early on Fridays)Flexible hours (that don’t involve a set start time)

    There’s a “high positive correlation between flexible working hours and employees’ motivation,” according to a 2013 study published by the Canadian Centre of Science and Education.

    READ MORE: 6-hour workday catching on in Sweden; could it work in Canada?

    “Organizations just need to not be stuck in one way of doing things,” she said.

    Tips for employees

    Tull encourages workers to:

       Bring up the subject during performance reviews. She suggests saying: “If I can’t get a [raise], what I would really value is some flexibility.”Look at their upcoming projects and see what can be done remotely. Come up with a plan that’s broken up into set deadlines and see if their boss is willing to work with them on it, given regular check-ins and progress updates.

    People searching for jobs are urged to research companies’ work-life balance policies online. The annual rankings of Canada’s top 100 employers is a good place to start.

    A closer look at schedule satisfaction

    Out of 15 industries Randstad polled, economists and consultants said they were most satisfied (77.7 per cent) with their current schedules. Those working in education were the country’s least satisfied (45 per cent).

    “People would think teachers have it good,” Tull said. But they often have to work after-hours and it can be tricky to find a replacement.

    The field also includes people (like administrative staff and day-care workers) who don’t get the luxury of time off during the summer and holidays.

    Here’s the full list of how Canada ranks globally when it comes to schedule satisfaction:

       Luxumberg Poland Netherlands Belgium France Sweden India Switzerland USA Canada