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Radita trial told starving diabetic boy likely had scurvy

WARNING: This story contains content some readers may find disturbing. Discretion is strongly advised.

A medical expert says starving diabetic teen Alex Radita was literally skin and bones and appeared to be suffering from scurvy when he died at his family’s home.

“To call this neglect, you’d need a new word,” Dr. Michael Seear said Thursday at the first-degree murder trial of the boy’s parents.

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  • Former RCMP officer breaks down on stand at Radita trial

  • Doctor testifies Raditas called in fake blood sugar readings for diabetic son who died

  • Radita trial: BC doctor felt diabetic teen ‘not safe’ with parents in 2003

    READ MORE: Doctor testifies Raditas called in fake blood sugar readings for diabetic son who died

    Emil Radita, 59, and his wife Rodica, 53, have pleaded not guilty in the death of their 15-year-old son, who weighed less than 37 pounds when he died in Calgary in 2013.

    Seear was the attending physician both times that Alex was admitted to the British Columbia Children’s Hospital–initially in 2000 when the child was diagnosed and again three years later.

    He said he has treated countless patients over the years, but the Radita case was “sufficiently unusual” that it stuck in his mind.

    Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of the trial of Emil and Rodica Radita

    ‘The child was dead, and now is alive’: Parents of Alex Radita told friends of ‘resurrection’


    ‘The child was dead, and now is alive’: Parents of Alex Radita told friends of ‘resurrection’


    More details and testimony in Radita trail


    Photos of ’emaciated’ Alex Radita released a court case resumes for parents


    Photos of 15-year-old Alex Radita released during trial


    Crown alleges Calgary parents knew not treating son could kill him


    Parents plead not guilty in the first degree murder of teenage son

    Seear appeared visibly shaken as he looked at a number of photos in court, including one of Alex on his 15th birthday, just a few months before the boy’s death. Seear said the teen appeared to be trying to put on a brave face.

    “I see he’s sitting in bed with a blanket over his legs. He is a severely malnourished boy. This boy is emaciated, miserable, with an ulcer on his neck and a bruise on his forehead. He’s very, very miserable.”

    READ MORE: ‘The child was dead, and now is alive’ – Parents of Alex Radita told friends of ‘resurrection’

    But it was pictures taken of Alex on the day he died that caused Seear the most distress. Several times he took a deep breath before answering.

    “Aye, yi, yi. My God,” he muttered.

    “The teeth have rotted down to stumps. There’s blood on his lips and blood on his gums. That is scurvy and that’s something that hasn’t been seen for a hundred years.

    “This is utter neglect with this emaciated corpse in the middle of it. He has no muscle. The common expression is skin and bones. There is only tendon and bones.

    “There’s nothing left.”

    The doctor said the boy’s first visit to the children’s hospital years earlier was pretty much normal for a child presenting with Type 1 diabetes, but the mother was adamant that her son did not have the illness.

    READ MORE: Diabetic teen filled with infection, covered in ulcers, court hears during parents’ murder trial

    Seear told court the boy’s appearance had changed when he saw him again in October 2003.

    “It was such a shocking sight it sticks in your mind. He was in the last stages of malnutrition,” said Seear.

    “He came in the door close to death. He had a swollen belly because of the fluid. He had no ability to mount an immune response. We started him on antibiotics … and as it turned out he had blood cultures that were positive for bacteria,” he testified.

    “You can see how thin his hair is. He looks almost as if he’s had chemotherapy. His hair at this stage would be falling out in clumps.”

    An RCMP constable testified Wednesday about being called to the hospital to investigate a report of possible abuse. Charlene Beck said Alex was a skeleton, couldn’t lift his head, arms or legs and talked in whispers a few words at a time.

    READ MORE: Former RCMP officer breaks down on stand at Radita trial

    “I had never seen a child in that state,” she said as she choked back tears.

    Court has heard Alex was put into foster care after that–and thrived–before being returned a year later to his parents, who eventually moved their family to Alberta.
    Below: Photos of Alex Radita on his 15th birthday, taken just months before his death







IN PHOTOS: Arcus cloud rolls over Regina

An interesting cloud sighting over Regina excited many on social media Thursday morning.

At 6:30 a.m, people started posting photos of an eerie looking arcus cloud rolling over the city. This particular cloud is known as a shelf cloud, which is often seen on a stormy day.

Shelf clouds are wedge shaped and appear at the leading edge of a thunderstorm. They are formed by the outflow from a developing storm cell.

Another type of arcus cloud was spotted north of Melville, Sask. by Colleen Schofer early Thursday afternoon. Roll clouds are formed when warm, unstable air moves over cooler air and winds start to shift while changing speed. This causes the cloud to “roll” and take on a cylindrical, rolling pin type shape.

Colleen Schofer snapped this photo of double roll clouds near Melville, SK in the afternoon on June 9, 2016.

Colleen Schofer

There is potential for thunderstorms and severe weather in eastern Saskatchewan Thursday. If you capture any interesting clouds that you’d like to share, send them to [email protected]长沙夜网

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Parliamentary press gallery dinner part of government business: McNeil

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says attending the annual press gallery dinner in Ottawa on the weekend was part of government business.

The gala evening was part of a three-day trip to Ottawa, where McNeil says he had meetings with federal ministers and senior government officials.

Asked whether the gala was government business McNeil said “yes.”

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“I would encourage any premier to go to it, I had access to many senior ministers but I would argue equally as important, I had an opportunity to meet many people of the press gallery in Ottawa,” McNeil said.

The Ottawa trip went Friday to Sunday. McNeil said he met with Transport Minister Marc Garneau on Saturday to talk about the Emerson Report, which is a review of the federal transportation act.

McNeil said he specifically talked about foreign ownership in airlines and the “impact that may potentially have on Atlantic Canada.”

READ MORE: Party leaders trade barbs, gags at Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner

McNeil attended the Saturday gala with his top advisor Laurie Graham, whose connections with the press gallery run deep having first been a member of the gallery as a national reporter with CBC and then with CTV. Graham was not on government business for the dinner.

The sold-out dinner was also attended by Prime Minister Justine Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, all three major party leaders, and Governor General David Johnston.

Each politician or political staffer is invited to the dinner by a journalist —; in McNeil’s case he went with a CBC producer. Tickets for the event are paid for by the journalist who invites the guest.


Shooting of Vancouver gangster Sukh Deo in Toronto ‘targeted,’ police seek witnesses

Police are asking witnesses to come forward in the “targeted” daytime shooting of an alleged Vancouver gangster in midtown Toronto, while releasing limited information on the suspects or the victim’s criminal past and admitting their investigation is operating within a “vacuum.”

Thirty-five-year-old Sukhvir Singh Deo, known to family and friends as “Sukh,” was gunned down at close range while sitting in a white Range Rover on Cowbell Lane, near Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, just before 3 p.m. Tuesday.

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Two suspects were seen fleeing the area but police have not provided descriptions of them other than that they were wearing construction vests and fled in a 2001 to 2003 black Honda Civic.

READ MORE: ‘Extremely violent’: Vancouver gangster shot dead in Toronto linked to Wolf Pack gang

“This was absolutely a targeted shooting,” Homicide Det.-Sgt. Joyce Schertzer told reporters at a news conference Thursday.

“I can tell you that he wasn’t a member of this community, it wasn’t a random shooting, it was targeted.”

Several members of the Deo family, including Sukh, were well-known to police in Metro Vancouver. His brother Harjit Singh Deo was convicted in 2007 for a 2005 kidnapping for ransom in which the victim was held inside the Deo family home in New Westminster.

Sukh Deo made headlines in May when he was escorted out of his courtside seat at a Toronto Raptors playoff game for heckling referees.

A police source told Global News that Deo moved to Ontario in 2013 was known to investigators in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland as being affiliated with the Independent Soldiers gang and was suspected of being involved in cocaine trafficking.

WATCH: Former Vancouver gangster killed in Toronto

Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, with the B.C. Combined Forces Special Enforcement, told Global News Deo was aligned with several people in leadership positions of the notorious B.C. gang, which extends into the “shell company” criminal organization known as the Wolf Pack.

“People who would self identify as being a part of the Wolf Pack even though they may belong to other gangs such as the Hells Angels, do have a presence in Ontario, they have a presence almost entirely across Canada,” Houghton said.

“If history tells us anything, especially here in British Columbia, when we have individuals —; no matter where they are placed on the gang hierarchy if you will —; any time one of them is a victim of violence, whether its murder or attempt on their life, in the past 10 years we’ve seen tit for tat reprisals.”

Houghton said that police in B.C. regularly work closely with other police jurisdictions across the country in targeting violent gangs like the Independent Soldiers and Wolf Pack, adding that they had been “very actively communicating with them on sharing intelligence.”

READ MORE: Toronto shooting victim identified by father as Sukh Deo, former Vancouver gangster

“I can tell you that he was known to police. All I can say is he had no prior contact with the Toronto Police Service, but that he was known to the police,” Schertzer said in response to questions about Deo’s gang affiliations.

“At this time and point in the investigation this is all that I’m prepared to release to the public and I understand that we’re operating in somewhat of a vacuum but I would really like and appreciate information on this vehicle.”

Schertzer said Deo was visiting friends or “socializing” at the time of the shooting and he was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. 

Deo’s father, Parminder Singh Deo, is also wanted in an Interpol warrant from India with charges including narcotic drug smuggling, forgery, thefts, and criminal conspiracy.

Toronto Police say Sukh Deo was ‘new to us’ prior to deadly shooting Tuesday


Toronto Police say Sukh Deo was ‘new to us’ prior to deadly shooting Tuesday


Toronto Police read email written by Sukh Deo’s family

A statement from the family said that they were going through a “difficult time” and that they were “shattered” by his death.

“There have been many things written and said about Sukh alleging all manner of things that are not true,” the statement read.

“To his family, he was a loving son, a loving brother and a loving husband and father of two very young children.”

Schertzer echoed the previous statement of 53 Division Unit Commander Supt. Reuben Stroble, who called the shooting in the “quiet” midtown neighbourhood “shocking.”

READ MORE: Deadly shooting in Toronto’s Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood, police seek 2 suspects

“We’ve had great cooperation from the public so far and we’re hoping through your help that cooperation can continue,” Stroble said Thursday.

“This individual was not known to the Toronto Police Service, we have no investigations, no history with him, he is new to us. So, again, any information that we’ve received, I mean you’ve mentioned Vancouver, this is the same type of information that we’re now starting to gather that’s again all new to us.”

An image of the Honda Civic the suspects escaped the area in was released and Schertzer said the car was identifiable because it had “distinctive rims” that were once popular among car owners but are no longer common.

Police have released this image of a 2001 to 2003 Honda Civic allegedly driven from the scene of the fatal shooting of Sukh Deo on June 7, 2016.

Toronto Police Service/Handout

“We have downloaded hours and hours of video and accessed a number of different CCTV cameras in the area depicting different angles. We’re still analyzing that video,” she said.

“For the time being, I wanted to release this while it’s still maybe fresh in the minds of some potential witnesses if they saw this vehicle or know of a vehicle. … if I had a plate number I’d probably be releasing it.”

Schertzer said witnesses can upload video and images they had recorded at the scene of the shooting to investigators directly via Toronto police’s website, in addition to contacting 53 Division, homicide detectives or Crime Stoppers anonymously.

With files from Andrew Russell and John Daly

Police respond to a shooting in Toronto’s Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood on June 7, 2016.

Craig Wadman/Global News

Police respond to a shooting in Toronto’s Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood on June 7, 2016.

Craig Wadman/Global News

Police respond to a shooting in Toronto’s Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood on June 7, 2016.

Ashley Carter/Global News


Fewer high school kids having sex, study finds

NEW YORK – The troubles with kids these days … are not as common as they used to be. U.S. teens are having a lot less sex, they are drinking and using drugs less often, and they aren’t smoking as much, according a government survey of risky youth behaviours.

“I think you can call this the cautious generation,” said Bill Albert, spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Among a decline in several risky behaviours, a sharp decline in sexual activity stood out to researchers.

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  • Montreal teen who penned viral sex-ed quiz answers wasn’t suspended

    The survey found 41 per cent said they had ever had sex, after it had been about 47 per cent over the previous decade. It also found marked declines last year in the proportion of students who said had sex recently, had sex before they were 13, and students who had had sex with four or more partners.

    The results come from a study conducted every two years by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The surveys included 16,000 students at 125 schools, both public and private. Participation was voluntary and required parental permission, but responses were anonymous. Results were released Thursday.

    National surveys have seen a levelling off in recent years in the proportion of kids who said they had sex, after earlier declines. That led researchers to largely attribute continuing declines in teen pregnancies and abortions to more and better use of birth control.

    But the new numbers suggest less sex is a factor, too. The drops are surprising enough that government officials said they’d like to see what the next survey shows to make sure it’s not a statistical blip.

    If it is a true drop, the reason is not clear why. “We’re trying to look at reasons why this might be happening,” said Dr. Stephanie Zaza of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who oversees the survey.

    One possibility, Albert said:

    “It may be that parking at Lookout Point has given way to texting from your mom’s living room couch,” he said.

    READ MORE: Online porn, sexting should be included in sex ed. curriculum, Alberta professor says

    In the new survey, about 42 per cent said they played video or computer games or used a computer for something that was not school work for more than three hours per day on an average school day.

    Beth Mattey, who until last year was a nurse at a high school in Wilmington, Delaware, suggested a factor may be how much more common it is for teens to openly discuss sex and sexual orientation.

    “We want kids to have a healthy sexuality built around self-respect and self-esteem,” said Mattey, who is now president of the National Association of School Nurses.

    READ MORE: ‘Like spreading peanut butter’: Bad sex ed makes you believe the ridiculous

    Why would more discussion of sex reduce the amount of sex kids are having? One theory: “Culturally we may have shifted away from sex being a taboo that adolescents would sort of reach out for,” said Beth Marshall, a Johns Hopkins University scientist focused on adolescent health.

    The survey found the 30 per cent of the students surveyed said they’d had sex in the previous three months, down from about 34 to 35 per cent reported in each of the previous six surveys.

    About 11 per cent had four or more sex partners, down from the 14 to 15 per cent seen over the previous decade. And about 4 per cent said they’d had sex before they turned 13, down from 6 to 7 per cent.

    Other findings from the survey:


    Fewer than 11 per cent of the teens smoked a cigarette in the previous month — the lowest level since the government started doing the survey, when the rate was more than 27 per cent. But the fall is not surprising — another CDC survey has put the high school smoking rate at about 9 per cent.


    Just under a third had at least one alcoholic drink in the 30 days before the survey, down from 35 per cent in the last survey and down from 45 per cent in 2007. About 63 per cent had ever had a drink, down from 66 per cent in 2013 and 75 per cent in 2007.


    The survey for the first time asked about electronic cigarettes, which have exploded in popularity in the past few years. It found about 24 per cent had used electronic cigarettes or vaping products in the previous month — a much higher estimate than seen in other recent CDC youth surveys. CDC officials noted that the surveys are done differently, so a variation in the numbers is not that surprising.


    A little under 22 per cent of teens said they used marijuana in the previous month. That’s down a bit from the previous two surveys. The proportion who said they had ever tried marijuana, and who had tried it before they were 13, also slid a bit. The finding is considered mildly surprising, but is consistent with drops in the use of other illegal drugs like heroin (2 per cent), cocaine (5 per cent), ecstasy (5 per cent), and hallucinogenic drugs like LSD (6 per cent).


    About 17 per cent of the surveyed students said they had taken prescription drugs without a prescription, in response to a question that listed as some possible examples painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin and ADHD drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. That statistic has been declining, but is still alarmingly high, Zaza said.


NFL Play 60 campaign promotes exercise at Royal Vale School

MONTREAL —; Royal Vale School hosts an annual flag football tournament that has grown so fast in popularity – that the NFL took notice.

The organization’s Play 60 campaign planted its flag in the school’s backyard, the first time it’s ever done something like this in Canada, to sponsor the event, held by the Greater Montreal Athletic Association, a coalition made largely of English schools.

READ MORE: Quebec native the father of sports mascots worldwide

To celebrate the Play 60 campaign, NFL Indianapolis Colts players, cheerleaders, team mascot ‘Blue’ and the first female coach in NFL history – Dr. Jen Welter – attended the tournament.

Royal Vale School gym teacher Norman Katz was involved in a charity jump rope competition when he received a text from NFL Canada.

Billy Shields/Global News

ChangSha Night Net


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    Hockey greats turn out to remember Quebec sports journalist Richard Garneau

    “Royal Vale School has shown, within four short years, that they have been able to grow the tournament from four to 17 schools,” said Tammy Johnson, a spokesperson with NFL Canada.

    Royal Vale officials were thrilled that the league sponsored their games.

    Gym teacher Norman Katz said he was participating in a charity jump rope event when he received a text message from NFL Canada.

    “It was like a Cinderella story,” he told Global News.

    Play 60 is a football exhibition that the league puts on in schools across the United States, in an effort to promote exercise for both boys and girls.

    This year, the program is slated to come to three other Canadian schools.


Calgary teen with rare genetic disorder has unforgettable moment on rugby pitch

The Forest Lawn High School rugby team didn’t win a single game this season–but it doesn’t matter.

No one will remember the final scores or their record. But they will remember May 16.

In the final game of the season against the best team in junior rugby, Doug Jarvis–a Grade 10 student with a rare genetic disorder–not only got on the field, but stole the spotlight.

Click through the photo gallery below to see Doug in action:

Doug’s school picture at Forest Lawn in August.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug showing off his Forest Lawn Titans jersey.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug on the practice field at Forest Lawn with his teammates.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug Jarvis dancing on the practice field at Forest Lawn High School.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug in the huddle during football season with the Forest Lawn Titans.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug on the sideline, in uniform during a high school football game.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug on the sideline during a Forest Lawn Titans game.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug running onto the field during a division 3 game against Lester B. Pearson.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug showing how much weight he’s lost since the start of the school year in September.

Rolene Maliteare

Weighing 170 pounds.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug with his grandma from Dauphin, MB.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug with his mom, Rolene, and siblings.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug posing with his teammates on the Forest Lawn wrestling team.

Rolene Maliteare

Doug in his ‘Yes I Can’ T-shirt. It’s a motto he lives by.

Rolene Maliteare

In the dying seconds, Doug grabbed the ball and ran the length of the field to score his first-ever try–a moment captured in the video above.

His teammates, elated by the triumphant moment, hoisted him onto their shoulders and carried off the star of the game chanting his name: “Jarvis, Jarvis, Jarvis!”

“I’ve never been so proud of my son, to see what he’s accomplished,” said his mother, Rolene Maliteare. “He’s a special gift from God, that boy.”

WATCH: Calgary teen with rare genetic disorder has unforgettable moment on rugby pitch

ChangSha Night Net


  • Marriage proposal on rugby pitch in Ontario goes viral

  • ‘Inspiring moment’ during Alberta school relay race has all the feels

  • Athletes helping rival athletes: 5 examples of true sportsmanship

    Doug became the star of Forest Lawn athletics this year, and not because he led the team in touchdowns or tries, but because he led them in personality and positivity.

    “You see him yelling and screaming ‘let’s go guys’. Just the most energetic and happy guy to be around…even on the worst of days,” fellow Grade 10 student Samuel Steward said.

    Born with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), Doug has an insatiable appetite, low muscle tone and a learning disability.

    “Overall, he just wants to eat all the time. Food is his favourite thing,” Maliteare said. “It’s his passion.”

    WATCH: Global Calgary learns how Doug Jarvis’ positive attitude has impacted other students, when he visits with his mother Rolene Maliteare and his coach Keith Daye

    Doug has a new passion now: sports.

    Never one to turn down an opportunity, it all started on registration day when a student invited him to join the football team. Doug obliged.

    “Doug approaches it in a simple way that I wish a lot of other people could. Somebody said, ‘here’s an opportunity,’ he said ‘OK, I’m in,” Forest Lawn wrestling coach Keith Daye said.

    At the start of the school year, Doug weighed 257 pounds.

    WATCH: Global cameras were running when the Forest Lawn Titans handed the ball over to their most valuable player for an unforgettable moment.

    By the end of the season Doug had played Titans football, wrestling and rugby. He also lost nearly 100 pounds.

    “He was diabetic, Type 2 on insulin,” Rolene said. “No more insulin. No more finger pokes.”

    “Just a totally different kid than he was a couple years ago. I just think, if he can do it, why can’t other people do it? He inspires me every day, and I’m his mom.”

    According to the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research Canada (FPWR Canada) the disorder affects one in 15,000 people. The most dominate symptom of PWS is extreme hunger, which means a person never feels full. There are currently no effective treatments to regulate appetite in PWS.


Over 32 million Twitter passwords have been leaked online

桑拿会所’s hacking woes may be just beginning. Tens of millions of 桑拿会所 passwords and login credentials have been leaked online and are reportedly for sale on the dark web.

According to Leaked Source, a website that collects and analyzes leaked data, a user by the name of Tessa88 is selling over 32 million 桑拿会所 password and email combinations. It is believed the user is asking for around 10 bitcoins, approximately C$7,323 at time of publishing, in exchange for the data.

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Over the last week, a growing number of celebrities – including Drake, Kylie Jenner and the NFL – have had their 桑拿会所 accounts taken over by hackers who use the accounts to poke fun at their victims and spark rumours of celebrity deaths.

READ MORE: Drake, Kylie Jenner, now the NFL – why are celebrity 桑拿会所 accounts being hacked?

It’s unclear why or how so many accounts are being hacked, but some have speculated hackers were using information from a recently released database of passwords and user names stemming from old data breaches at LinkedIn and Myspace to hack the accounts.

However, this latest data dump does not appear to be connected to those data breaches.

Leak Source believes the passwords in this new data dump may have been obtained through malicious software that tricked users into handing over their login information.

“The explanation for this is that tens of millions of people have become infected by malware, and the malware sent every saved username and password from browsers like Chrome and Firefox back to the hackers from all websites including 桑拿会所,” read the organizations blog.

桑拿会所’s chief security officer Michael Coates confirmed Thursday that the company is aware of the situation, adding, “We’re confident that our systems have not been breached.”

He also said 桑拿会所 is working with Leaked Source to obtain the stolen data.

What should you do if you are a 桑拿会所 user?

In the wake of this data dump and the recent increase in account hacking, 桑拿会所 has been actively encouraging users to increase the security on their accounts.

First, you should consider changing your 桑拿会所 password. We have compiled a list of tips to help you create a secure password here.

READ MORE: How to protect yourself from security breaches on social media sites

You may also want to turn on two-step authentication for your 桑拿会所 account. This means you will add your cellphone number to your 桑拿会所 account; once activated, you will be required to input a six-digit code sent via text message, along with your password, each time you sign in to your account.

The idea is that a potential hacker would have a much harder time accessing your account without access to your phone.

Instructions to turn on two-step authentication for 桑拿会所 are available here.


Why heat, droughts and dwindling glaciers threaten Alberta’s oil sands

Oil sands production depends on water — a lot of it.

Bitumen is either extracted from the soil with steam or with heated water. It takes about two and a half barrels of water to produce a barrel of oil.

Much of that water comes from the Athabasca River, which is filled by rainfall and snowpack high in the Rockies. At the moment, oil sands production uses a small percentage of the Athabasca’s flow.

ChangSha Night Net


  • Alberta Energy Regulator restricts river water use by oil sector, cites drought

  • Oilsands water plan short-sighted: Athabasca River study

  • Oilsands water restrictions a climate change ‘preview:’ study

  • Albertans tell province to protect fresh water

    But three interconnected threats may make the river’s flow far smaller in the future than it is today:


    The Athabasca River’s flow has been measured since the early 1950s and water allocation decisions are based on that data, says University of Regina geography professor David Sauchyn. But recent research shows that recent decades have been a wet period. The region’s deeper history shows long, severe droughts.

    Sauchyn studied rings on trees in the Athabasca’s headwaters, in Jasper National Park, which were up to 900 years old. They told a story of regular droughts — in the 1930s, the 1860s, and a long one through the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries.

    Over time, the region has seen cyclical droughts, and it’s a question of when, not if, the next one will arrive.

    The drought that started in 1790 lasted for 17 years, the tree rings show. Hudson’s Bay Company records from the period complain that canoes were damaged in low water and that trade routes were disrupted. The region also saw large forest fires.

    One drought in the Middle Ages lasted 56 years, and another lasted for nearly a century.

    READ MORE: Oilsands water restrictions a climate change ‘preview:’ study

    “In a normal year, they’re only taking a few per cent of the river flow,” Sauchyn says. “It’s a fairly large river, and they’re taking a relatively small amount in an average year. If you take a dry year, or a very dry year, that proportion goes way up.”

    The region’s droughts will come again, Sauchyn says.

    “The oil sands industry has only existed since 1967, and since ’67 there haven’t been consecutive dry years. But there have been consecutive dry years for decades.”

    Rising temperatures 

    A new danger, though, comes as we combine cyclical drought with global warming. A long drought, like the one that started in 1790, would have much more serious effects.

    “The water was below average for 17 consecutive years. If that was to reoccur in the future, it’s reoccurring in a warmer climate. It’s much warmer now than it was in the 1790s – much, much warmer. So it’s a double-whammy.”

    “It’s amplifying the problem, because you’re without water, but you’re without water in a much warmer climate where there’s a much higher demand for water.”

    READ MORE: 7 major changes the Prairies will see as the climate warms

    The combination of the two factors could be dangerous, says Shawn Marshall, a glaciologist at the University of Calgary: “The fear, I guess, and it’s a legitimate one, is what that’s going to look like.”

    In May, climate researchers at the University of Winnipeg’s Prairie Climate Centre predicted that the region will see a steadily increasing number of days with temperatures over 30 C.

    Fort McMurray, which now has about four over-30 days a year, will see about 20 by mid-century, they say. That’s similar to the climate of modern-day Estevan, Sask., which is almost on the U.S. border.

    Shrinking snowpack and glaciers 

    Part of the Athabasca River’s flow comes from meltwater hundreds of kilometres away, in the Rockies. As the snowpack and glaciers shrink, however, that source can’t be relied on.

    As the glaciers shrink, however, water flows could actually increase — temporarily.

    “A few years ago, they thought that the upper reaches of the Athabasca were actually getting increased flows because of the huge amount of glacier melt coming off,” Marshall explains. “But after you’re getting your peak water it starts to decline, because you don’t have as much glacier left.”

    “It’s essentially fossil water that you start off with, from the 1700s, 1800s, and we’re burning through that, and we’ve enjoyed that kind of extra water, but then you’ve spent it and then it’s gone, and then you lose your fossil water completely. “

    By the time it reaches Fort McMurray, meltwater forms a fairly small part of the river’s flow, Marshall says, though in a drought it would form a proportionately larger one.

    If it keeps flowing, that is.

    READ MORE: Oilsands water plan short-sighted: Athabasca River study

    “As long as the snow keeps falling, in the mountains, there will still be water in those rivers, but there will be less flow, especially in the late summer. You lose that sort of regulator — the glaciers sort of act like a reservoir to store some of that water, but in this case it stores it for centuries, in the case of the Columbia icefield.”

    “I think the industry feels like they have the water supplies they need from there, but a lot of people think that might not be true, because we haven’t really seen what it looks like when it gets hot and dry in a warmer climate,” Marshall reflects. “And we’ve lost that glacier input.”

    VIDEO: Water use restrictions have been placed on dozens of energy companies due to low flows on the Athabasca River. As Margeaux Morin explains, some experts think that this summer is just a preview of what we can expect in the coming decades.


Kris Kristofferson says his memory loss was due to ticks, not dementia

For years, doctors were telling Kris Kristofferson he was grappling with Alzheimer’s disease as his memory quickly deteriorated. Turns out, he had Lyme disease – a discovery that has helped the 80-year-old country singer take back his health.

In a candid interview with Rolling Stone Country, Kristofferson conceded that his memory had slipped so much, he’d often forget what he was doing in the moment.

ChangSha Night Net

He even wrote about it: “I see an empty chair/Someone was sitting there…I’ve got a feeling it was me/And I see a glass of wine/I’m pretty sure it’s mine.”

He forgot about that song too, according to the magazine.

READ MORE: What you need to know about ticks and Lyme disease

Kristofferson dealt with lingering head injuries from playing contact sports, such as boxing, football and rugby in his teenage years. At his age and with his health history, doctors guessed dementia was setting in.

But this year, a test for Lyme disease came back positive. Kristofferson’s wife, Lisa, says he could have picked up a tick while shooting a movie in a Vermont forest for six weeks.

“He was taking all these medications for things he doesn’t have, and they all have side effects,” she told the magazine. The medications to treat his alleged Alzheimer’s and depression didn’t help.

He traded them in for three weeks of Lyme disease treatment. That’s when Lisa saw a change in his mood.

“All of a sudden he was back…some days he’s perfectly normal and it’s easy to forget that he is even battling anything,” she said.

Lyme disease and ticks

Lyme disease is a bacteria that’s transmitted through the bites of infected deer tickets, which can be about the size of a poppy seed. Female ticks can grow up to 100 times their original size after feeding on blood, experts say.

READ MORE: Climate change may be reason ticks are spreading across Canada

Unlike mosquitoes that can transfer West Nile to humans with a single bite, the tick has to be attached to the body for at least 24 to 36 hours.

How to protect yourself against ticks:

Wear light-coloured clothing. It makes ticks easier to see and remove before they can attach to feed.Wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt, closed footwear and tuck your pants into your socks.Use a tick repellent that has “DEET.”  Apply it to your skin and outer clothing.Examine yourself thoroughly for ticks after a day out and use a mirror to check the back of your body.

How to safely remove a tick:

If you do find a tick, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible. If it’s removed soon enough, treatment may not even be necessary.

Try not to squash it.Do not apply matches, cigarettes, or petroleum jellies to the tick as these may cause an infected tick to release the bacteria into the wound.

Symptoms to watch out for:

If you have been infected by the potent bacteria ticks can carry, you could show the following symptoms within three to as long as thirty days:

A rash at the site of the biteHeadachesFeversMuscle achesChills

These symptoms appear to be the onset of Lyme disease.

If it’s left untreated, it could move onto the second stage of the disease. The tick’s victim is left with multiple skin rashes, arthritis, heart palpitations, and central and peripheral nervous system disorders.

A third is recurring arthritis and neurological problems, according to Health Canada.

You can find more information on the multitude of Lyme disease symptoms on the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation website.

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