Archive for January, 2019

2016 Saskatchewan crop development well ahead of normal

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Warm weather and rain in the past week are having a positive effect on the 2016 Saskatchewan crop.

According to the weekly crop report, growth and development are well ahead of normal for this time of year, with the majority of the crops reported to be in good-to-excellent condition.

Earlier this week, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan said some crops could be harvested in as soon as 30 days.

APAS president Norm Hall said the potential for a larger than average crop in Saskatchewan and across the prairies grows each week.

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    READ MORE: Railways need to be ready to move a larger than normal crop: APAS

    The weekly crop report states that “99 per cent of fall cereals, 96 per cent of pulse crops, 95 per cent of spring cereals and 94 per cent of oilseeds are at or ahead of their normal stage of development for this time of year.”

    The report also found that while excessive moisture is a concern in some areas, less than two per cent of the cropland and pasture is considered flooded.

    Topsoil moisture is rated at 86 per cent adequate, six per cent surplus and eight per cent short, while hay land and pasture is rated at 86 per cent adequate, three per cent surplus and 11 per cent short.

    READ MORE: Grain handler Richardson to create new $15M research farm in Saskatchewan

    The area most in need of moisture is crop district 4B in the southwest, where moisture is rated 38 per cent short on crop land and 45 per cent short on hay land and pasture.

    The wettest district is CD2B in the southeast part of the province, which is rated 26 per cent surplus on crop land and 20 per cent surplus on pasture and hay land.

Here’s why you shouldn’t peer at your smartphone in the dark with one eye closed

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

We’ve all done it: lie in bed at night, squinting at our smartphones in the dark with one eye open. But in a quirky case study, doctors are warning this habit could tamper with your vision and, in some cases, trigger temporarily “blindness.”

It happened to two British women, the new study reports. In one case, a 22-year-old woman couldn’t explain why her right eye would fail her a few nights each week. She could see perfectly out of her left eye, but could barely make out shapes in the room through her right.

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    In another case, a woman, in her 40s, lost her vision for about 20 minutes at a time.

    Doctors put the women’s health under a microscope to figure out what was going on. They had medical exams, MRIs and heart tests. They prescribed one of the women with blood thinners.

    READ MORE: How digital gadgets ruin your hand health

    The doctors thought she could have been having a stroke because vision loss is one of the common symptoms.

    Turns out, they were grappling with what the researchers have called “transient smartphone ‘blindness.’”

    “I simply asked them, ‘What exactly are you doing when this happened?’” Dr. Gordon Plant, of Moorfield’s Eye Hospital in London, told CBS News.

    The younger patient would look at her smartphone before going to bed. Her left eye was typically covered by her pillow.

    The other patient checked her phone in the mornings before sitting up. She got her smartphone about a year ago, which was the same time she had injured her cornea.

    READ MORE: 4 ways your digital gadgets are ruining your body

    Dr. Omar Mahroo, an ophthalmologist at the hospital and co-author of the letter, told NPR there wasn’t permanent damage to their eyes. One retina was adjusting to light but the other was adapting to dark.

    “The retina is pretty amazing because it can adapt to lots of different light levels, probably better than any camera. It can reduce its sensitivity, so that when you’re on the beach or in the bright snow you can still see relatively well,” he told the broadcaster.

    The doctors reassured the women that the temporary vision loss was harmless. And if it’s an issue you’re grappling with, stick to looking at your smartphone with both eyes, and preferably, in light, the doctors say.

    The full findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Led Zeppelin found not guilty of stealing ‘Stairway to Heaven’ riff

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

LOS ANGELES – Led Zeppelin did not steal a riff from an obscure 1960s instrumental tune to use for the introduction of its classic rock anthem “Stairway to Heaven,” a federal court jury decided Thursday.

The verdict in Los Angeles settles a point that music fans have debated for decades but didn’t find its way to court until two years ago, when the trustee for the late Randy Craig Wolfe filed a copyright lawsuit.

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The trust claimed that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page lifted a passage that Wolfe, better known as Randy California, wrote for “Taurus,” a short work he recorded with his band Spirit in 1968.

Page and singer Robert Plant, who wrote the “Stairway” lyrics, said their creation was an original. In several hours of often-animated and amusing testimony, they described the craft behind one of rock’s best-known songs, all the while denying knowledge of one of the genre’s least-known tunes.

READ MORE: Led Zeppelin songwriter ignorant of similar Stairway riff

Plant cracked up the courtroom when said he didn’t remember most people he had hung out with over the years.

In closing arguments, Francis Malofiy, a lawyer representing Wolfe’s trust, criticized Page and Plant’s “selective” memories and “convenient” truths on the witness stand.

In trying to show the works were substantially similar, the trust had the tricky task of relying on sheet music because that’s what is filed with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Jurors were not played the “Taurus” recording, which contains a section that sounds very similar to the instantly recognizable start of “Stairway.” Instead, they were played guitar and piano renditions by musicians on both sides of the case. Not surprisingly, the plaintiff’s version on guitar sounded more like “Stairway” than the defence version on piano.

Experts for both sides dissected both compositions, agreeing mainly that they shared a descending chord progression that dates back three centuries as a building block in lots of songs.

The trust’s experts, however, went further and noted several other similarities that made the two works unlike the many other tunes they were compared to, including “My Funny Valentine,” and The Beatles’ “Michelle.”

Led Zeppelin’s lawyer said the trust didn’t own the copyright and that the plaintiff failed to prove a case that should have been brought more than 40 years ago when Wolfe was alive and Page and singer Robert Plant would have had better memories.

“How can you wait a half century and criticize people … 45 years later for the delay you caused?” Peter Anderson said. “They should have sued in 1972.”

READ MORE: Origin of Stairway to Heaven questioned at Led Zeppelin copyright trial

Wolfe, who drowned in 1997 saving his son at a beach in Hawaii, had spoken with lawyers over the years about suing, but they never took on the case because it was old, said Glen Kulik another lawyer for the trust. A Supreme Court ruling in 2014 over the movie “Raging Bull” opened the door to bring a copyright case at any time with damages only dating back three years and continuing into the future.

Malofiy asked jurors to give Wolfe a songwriting credit and millions of dollars in damages, though he didn’t provide a specific figure. The defence said record label profits from the past five years were $868,000, but Anderson reminded jurors that only a fraction of the eight-minute song was being challenged.

The trial took jurors and lucky observers who managed to pack into the courtroom on a musical journey through the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Spirit, a California psychedelic group that blended jazz and rock was achieving stardom as the hard-rocking British band was being founded.

Stops on the tour of testimony included Spirit shows at “love-ins” during the “Summer of Love,” Led Zeppelin’s U.S. debut as an opening act for Spirit and Vanilla Fudge in Denver in December 1968 and, finally, to a country house in the south of England where Page, Plant and bassist John Paul Jones described how “Stairway” was born.

READ MORE: Led Zeppelin lawyers ask judge to toss Stairway to Heaven case

Page said his ambition was to write a song that would accelerate to a crescendo and he first shared the opening with keyboardist and bassist John Paul Jones to get an ally in his scheme.

Singer Robert Plant said he was sitting by the fire at Headley Grange in the spring of 1970, when Page played the intro on acoustic guitar and he offered the start of a couplet he had been working on: “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold/and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.”

Jurors never heard a note from Page or Plant live, but they were treated to lo-fi vintage recordings of the band creating the song, renditions on guitar and piano by other musicians and, finally, the full recording of one of rock’s most enduring anthems.

Page, 72, bobbed his head and moved to the tune while Plant, 67, sat still. Both men wore sharp suits, white shirts and ties throughout the trial and had their hair pulled back in neat ponytails.

They didn’t chat with anyone in the gallery, including several fans, and were escorted by personal bodyguards to the restroom and in and out of the federal courthouse each day. One afternoon, a group of women clapped and Page flashed a smile as the rock stars were hustled across the courthouse corridor to a private hallway.

The case is not the first time Led Zeppelin was accused of swiping another artist’s work. The lawsuit listed at least six other songs in which the band reached settlements over songwriting credits for works including “Whole Lotta Love,” ”The Lemon Song,” and “Dazed and Confused.”

Led Zeppelin – Studio Albums | PrettyFamous

Democrats end 25-hour plus sit-in over gun control legislation

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

WASHINGTON – Exhausted but exuberant, House Democrats vowed to fight on for gun control Thursday as they ended their high-drama House floor sit-in with songs, prayers and defiant predictions of success. Republicans offered a dose of political reality, denying House Democratic demands and holding a Senate vote designed to show a bipartisan gun compromise can’t pass.

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“They’re staging protests. They’re trying to get on TV. They’re sending out fundraising solicitations,” House Speaker Paul Ryan complained in an angry denunciation of the Democrats’ 25-hour occupation of the Capitol chamber. “If this is not a political stunt, then why are they trying to raise money off of this, off of a tragedy?”

Ryan said the House would not be giving in to Democrats’ calls for votes on legislation expanding background checks for gun buyers and keeping people on the no-fly list from getting guns in the wake of the Orlando shooting. And in the Senate, GOP leaders scheduled a vote on a bipartisan compromise by moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, but only to show the “no-fly” legislation does not command the 60 votes needed to pass.

READ MORE: ‘No bill, no break’: Democrats hold sit-in, continue push for gun control vote

A visibly deflated Collins suggested Senate leaders were intentionally draining support from her bill by allowing a GOP alternative to also come to a vote.

“Let us not miss an opportunity to get something done,” she pleaded on the Senate floor. But Republican leaders, unmoved, were ready to move on.

“I think we need to be engaged in something more constructive that would have actually stopped shooters like the Orlando shooter,” said the No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas.

Yet while they may have lost the legislative battles at hand, Democrats on both sides of the Capitol were congratulating themselves on a remarkable success in gaining attention for their demands for action to curb the widespread availability of firearms, first by a 15-hour Senate filibuster last week and then with their extraordinary occupation of the House floor.

Annual Firearm Background Checks | InsideGov

That latest effort broke up around midday Thursday after going through the night, even after Ryan moved up the Fourth of July recess and gaveled a chaotic House out of session in the early morning hours. Democrats chanted, “Shame! Shame!” and “No bill, no break.”

On Thursday Democrats streamed onto the steps of the East Front of the Capitol, where cheering crowds welcomed them with cries of “We’re with you!” under humid skies. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights icon who helped lead the sit-in, urged the crowd not to give up and to vote in the fall elections.

“We’re going to win,” Lewis declared. “The fight is not over. This is just one step.”

Lewis’ voice was firm as he evoked phrases from the civil rights movement, but the 76-year-old also showed his age and the hours of protest as members around him called “Help him up” as he stood on a makeshift podium to speak.

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For hours on the floor of the House, Lewis had led members in delivering speeches that mixed victory declarations with promises not to back down in their drive to curb firearm violence. Placards with photos of gun victims were prominently displayed. As night wore into morning some members rested with pillows and blankets, sustaining themselves with snacks sent over by allied Democrats in the Senate.

The public could see it all, because even after Republicans shut off the cameras in the House chamber, Democrats began recording the action on their cellphones, and C-SPAN and other networks carried the feeds. It was not the first time the minority in the House commandeered the floor, but was the first time social media allowed the world to see it, giving Democrats a public relations success and a megaphone.

Democrats said public opinion is with them and will shift votes on the issue over time. The National Rifle Association disputed that. In an interview, Chris W. Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, said of Collins’ bill: “What the vote today showed was she doesn’t have 60 votes, and the reason she doesn’t have 60 is because it’s an unconstitutional approach” lacking an effective appeal process for people denied guns.

Pressure has built on Capitol Hill following the shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando this month that killed 49 people and injured 53 others. The assailant also died. The attack followed other violent incidents over the past years including the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

—;

Associated Press writers Richard Lardner, Matthew Daly, Mary Clare Jalonick, Sarah Taylor and Alan Fram contributed to this report.

Canadians in US prisons unlikely to transfer home

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

TORONTO – For Canadians serving time in American prisons, the odds of being allowed to transfer to Canada are akin to winning a lottery, even with a Liberal government that has promised to do more for those detained abroad.

Extensive data obtained by from several sources — including Global Affairs Canada, Correctional Service Canada, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Dept. of Justice — show most Canadians incarcerated south of the border are held in state facilities.

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In all, 964 Canadians were imprisoned in the U.S. as of May 18, 2016 — by far the biggest proportion of Canadians held in foreign prisons. Of those, 420 were held in state facilities and 394 in federal facilities.

READ MORE: A severely sick man spent 400 days in solitary. This isn’t an anomaly: In Canada, it’s common

However, states, which are generally responsible for prosecuting violent crime, are notoriously reluctant to let them transfer to serve out their sentences in Canada, the data show.

Under the International Transfer of Offenders Act, prisoner transfers from the U.S. to Canada require both state and federal approval. Between 1978 when the deal was negotiated and 2014, U.S. federal authorities allowed 1,256 Canadians to return to Canada.

The states, however, allowed just 161 Canadians to transfer. Florida, for example, which holds the most Canadians among states, allowed just four of them to leave between 2000 and 2010.

United States Jail Population | Graphiq

“There’s a great skepticism on the part of the states that sending someone who has offended against their state laws to a foreign country to serve their sentence is a good idea,” says Sylvia Royce, the former head of the prisoner transfer program in the U.S. and now a lawyer in Washington, D.C.

“They’re just not in that mindset.”

Many Americans see the Canadian system as too soft, given that U.S. criminal justice tends to fall on the “far right side of the spectrum” compared to countries such as Canada, where sentences are “so much more relaxed and humane,” Royce said.

READ MORE: Prison raids and selfies: Canadians reveal what it’s like to be locked up in Panama

Overall, the U.S. turns down more than half of Canadian transfer requests. In the past decade, American authorities approved 803 transfer applications — 759 federal and 44 state. They denied 867 applications — 639 federal and 228 state.

Other data show Ottawa approved 253 transfers from Canadian offenders over the past five years only to have 17 of those denied by American authorities. However, the proportion of state denials is likely much higher given that applications may not get as far as receiving Canada’s OK without prior state-side approval.

Among states, Florida holds the most Canadians, 97, in its federal and state prisons, while Texas at 90 and Pennsylvania at 85 round out the top three. Global Affairs Canada refused to break out the numbers by state and federal prisons, citing unspecified privacy concerns.

One such case is that of William (Russ) Davies, of Richmond Hill, Ont., who was sentenced to life in Daytona Beach, Fla., for a 1986 murder when he was 18 years old. Canada has previously agreed to take him back. Florida, without giving reasons, has consistently refused to let him go.

Davies, now 48, has a new application in process — he filed it two years ago — but there’s been no indication this one will be successful.

In an interview, Joseph Daou, the head of Canada’s transfer program, said Canada has to respect American jurisdiction when it comes to transfers.

“These decisions are discretionary,” Daou says. “It’s on a case-by-case scenario.”

Nevertheless, Daou said the system was working “very well.”

Rachel Smith, who runs the private International Transfer Services in Laguna, Calif., said states often look to see how Canada will deal with an offender before making a transfer decision.

“I think they’re stickier because they just want people to serve their sentence,” Smith said. “They’re just opposed to people transferring.”