SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – David Hatfield, an Arkansas wildlife photographer and minister, rose before dawn on Monday and headed to Lake Conway.
Even though he had lived nearby for 25 years, Hatfield never knew of the threat now oozing near this 6,700-acre habitat 25 miles north of Little Rock, the largest game and wildlife commission reservoir in the United States.
"It surprised me that we had a pipeline here," he said.
But ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline has been buried here for more than six decades, quietly propelling oil between Texas and Illinois beneath the backyards of Mayflower, Arkansas. Pegasus' years in obscurity ended March 29, when it ruptured, spilling at least 12,000 barrels (504,000 gallons/1.9 million liters) of heavy Canadian crude oil and water into the neighborhood. (See related "Pictures: Arkansas Oil Spill Darkens Backyards, Driveways.")
Now, the broken conduit is at the center of a national debate—the plan to transport much larger volumes of heavy oil from the Canadian tar sands through the United States, through both older pipelines like Pegasus and new ones like the proposed Keystone XL. (See related interactive map: "Keystone XL: Mapping the Flow of Tar Sands Oil.") The line break in Arkansas may provide a real-world test of a hotly contested issue: Is tar sands oil more corrosive and damaging than other types of crude? . (See related story: "Keystone XL Pipeline Path Marks New Battle Line in Oklahoma.")
Although the U.S. State Department's environmental impact analysis last month concluded that there was no evidence that tar sands oil was worse than other forms of crude oil, it noted the issue was still under study. The results of a National Academies of Science review of the literature are due in July. But with President Barack Obama's decision on a permit for Keystone XL expected sooner than that, the Arkansas spill is providing new ammunition for foes of the project.
"The tragedy is a lot of these issues haven't been given the attention they merit," said Anthony Swift, an attorney with the international program of the environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). In the wake of the Arkansas spill, he and other opponents intend to make sure questions they have long been raising about tar sands oil—the risks to pipeline integrity, and the challenges for cleanup—get a greater hearing.
Oiled Ducks, Uncertain Risks
As Hatfield approached Lake Conway on Monday morning, a couple of miles from the line break, he saw children at a bus stop holding hankies or towels to their faces. "The smell of oil was almost overwhelming," he said. "I grew up in Oklahoma, so it's a familiar smell." But by afternoon, Hatfield said, the odor had been eliminated. Also, he didn't see any oil encroaching on the lake itself, just plenty of workers in hazmat suits, digging contaminated soil.
The oil sullied backyards and poured down at least one storm sewer, and 22 homes were evacuated. But emergency workers said they stopped the flow before it reached Lake Conway. Still, 16 ducks, two turtles, and a muskrat were oiled. Before an ExxonMobil contractor, Wildlife Response Services of Seabrook, Texas, took over the rescue effort, a local all-volunteer nonprofit group, the HAWK Center (Helping Arkansas Wild "Kritters"), washed and cared for the animals, posting some photos on its Facebook page. Lynne Slater, HAWK Center founder and director, said it was impossible to identify some of the ducks (there were gadwalls, mallards, and blue-wing teals) until some of the oil was removed with dishwashing soap. "It was really like removing peanut butter and tar mixed together," she said. "It was super, super sticky."
But it's an open question whether heavy Canadian oil—and specifically, oil from Alberta's tar sands—is any worse than conventional crude, which has proven its ability to cause damage whether in Prince William Sound, the Gulf of Mexico, or the sands of Kuwait.
The raw product extracted from Alberta's tar sands is known as bitumen, and it is as viscous as cold molasses. It can't be transported in pipelines unless it is processed or diluted. (Exxon Mobil says the oil that spilled in Mayflower was not diluted bitumen, but heavy Canadian oil. But there may be little practical difference between the two, since the company did confirm the presence of dilutants in the oil. And Canada's National Energy Board says western Canada heavy crude contains some bitumen.)
Questions on the properties of diluted bitumen, known as dilbit, first came to the fore in 2010 when a pipeline operated by Calgary's Enbridge burst near Michigan's Kalamazoo River, contaminating 40 miles of river and wetlands with dilbit. Workers are still cleaning up the site, at a tab now running north of $800 million, making it the costliest onshore oil spill in U.S. history.
Oil typically floats on water, so booms were deployed at the surface to contain the damage to the Kalamazoo, Swift said. But the barriers proved useless when the heavy oil sank beneath them.
In the wake of Kalamazoo, NRDC conducted its own analysis of U.S. pipeline spill statistics, concluding that pipelines in the northern Midwest, which have been carrying dilbit since the late 1990s, longer than other pipelines in the United States, spilled 3.6 times as much crude per mile than the national average between 2010 and 2012. Swift and his colleagues at NRDC argue that the influx of tar sands on the U.S. pipeline network will pose greater risks to pipeline integrity and challenges for leak detection systems, and will significantly increase impacts to sensitive water resources when spilled. "It's thicker, it's heavier, it moves at higher temperatures because it generates friction," Swift said.
But other studies have reached different conclusions.
A study released this year by consultants for the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) concluded that dilbit "is no more corrosive than comparable heavy sour crudes and in many cases may be less corrosive." The report argued that the industry need not take any additional measures for corrosion control "over and above what is already standard practice."
That study has been derided by some critics for its affiliation with CEPA, a pipeline industry group, but the findings largely have been corroborated by researchers at the University of Washington. That report addresses the "highly debated topic with oil sands products . . . the degree of corrosivity with respect to pipeline transport." That report, too, concludes that "ongoing research suggest that oil sands products are not more corrosive than standard crude oils and thus do not pose an increased risk for transmission pipeline corrosion."
In its environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the U.S. State Department examined Alberta's crude oil pipelines, which carry massive amounts of diluted bitumen. The study found that corrosion is indeed the main case of pipeline spills, accounting for 37.7 percent. But the report found that percentage not significantly greater than in the United States, where it's 34.4 percent. "Therefore no evidence is found that Alberta's pipeline contents are more corrosive than average crude oil."
The study has not yet been completed, so there is much anticipation—from environmental and industry groups alike—around the National Academies' effort. Results are expected this July; in the meantime, committee members aren't talking. If the study finds that dilbit is more corrosive than traditional crude, a second phase will endeavor to figure out what to do about it.
Kevin Garrity, past president of an association of corrosion engineers called NACE International, said his group is keeping a close on the process. "We at NACE want to know if we need to do anything different so that we can develop the standards and test measures to address that."
Heavy and Sticky
But the National Academies study will look only at the corrosion issue, not the equally contentious question of whether dilbit behaves differently in the environment. The State Department's EIS on the Keystone XL pipeline says that diluted bitumen is lighter than water, and would tend to float like crude oil. But once dilbit spills from a pipeline, says Swift, "it doesn't stay in combination for long." The heavy bitumen separates from its dilutants, which are natural gas liquids like benzene that evaporate easily.
"It's very hard to get off," said Steve Hamilton, a professor of ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry at Michigan State University, who advised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Enbridge on the Kalamazoo spill. Because the river was high, the bitumen eventually coated a vast expanse of land as the water dropped. "The only way to get it off was to harvest all the vegetation and scrape the soil," Hamilton said. At one point, the enterprise occupied more than 2,000 workers. "People literally were going in with shovels and clippers and plastic bags collecting all this stuff." Detergents were ineffective, Hamilton said. And dispersants work only in saltwater.
Today, bitumen still lies on the river bottom, and when it is disturbed, sheens appear on the surface. Nevertheless, wildlife and vegetation are returning.
Hamilton believes accidents like the one in Kalamazoo need more oversight and scrutiny, but those are only short-term answers. In the long run, he is more concerned about the source of the bitumen—Alberta's tar sands. "It's an immense reserve of fossil fuel," he said. "I think the most serious issues involving this material is its ultimate effect on climate." (See related photos: "Satellite Views of Canada's Tar Sands Over Time.")
But climate activists believe that how Alberta's oil gets to market will have a decisive impact on the climate question. Keystone XL, with a capacity of 800,000 barrels per day, would be the first direct pipeline connection to the advanced-technology refineries of the Texas Gulf Coast. ExxonMobil's now-closed Pegasus pipeline, with a capacity to move 90,000 barrels a day, has been one of the few circuitous routes for moving tar sands oil to the Gulf refineries until now. Pegasus long had transported Texas oil into the Midwest, but in 2006, Exxon reversed its direction to send northern oil south. The EPA issued a corrective action order on Pegasus this week, ordering ExxonMobil to find the cause of the spill, noting that a change in direction of flow can affect the hydraulic and stress demands on the pipeline.
If so, it's yet another risk connected to the influx of Canadian oil. Other pipeline reversals to move heavy Canadian oil south and east are being contemplated or have taken place—the largest was the reversal earlier this year of Enbridge's Seaway pipeline, which now has capacity to move 295,000 barrels per day from Oklahoma to Texas.
There are other hazards. Already, some tar sands oil is moving by train; a train derailed in western Minnesota and spilled 350 barrels (14,700 gallons/55,566 liters) two days before the Arkansas spill. (See related story: "Oil Train Revival: North Dakota Relies on Rail to Deliver Its Crude.") And there will be a push for other conduits, because Canada plans to triple oil sands production to 5.1 million barrels per day by 2035.
That's why those concerned about the atmospheric impact of tar sands development are focusing attention on what happens on the ground.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The major extinction that paved the way for the rise of the dinosaurs was caused by the eruption of massive volcanoes in what is now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, the northeastern U.S. and Morocco, a new study says.
"This is one of the largest lava flows on Earth here in the Bay of Fundy… and quite capable of producing poisonous gases that affect the Earth's environment in an eruption," said Greg McHone, a geologist based on New Brunswick's Grand Manan Island, who co-authored the study published online in Science this week.
The End-Triassic Extinction wiped out half the world's species about 200 million years ago, including early crocodile relatives, tree lizards, broad-leafed plants, eel-like fish called conodonts, and ammonites, which are squid-like sea creatures with shells.
Up until now, there was some scientific debate about whether the extinction was caused by a meteor impact, like the one thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs 135 million year later, or a major volcanic eruption like the ones that caused most other major extinctions.
The new study, led by Terrence Blackburn at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shows that eruptions in Morocco likely kicked off the mass extinction, while eruptions in Atlantic Canada and the northeastern U.S. ramped it up about 3,000 and 13,000 years later, respectively. The study also pinpoints the time of both the Moroccan eruption and the start of the mass extinction at 201,564,000 years ago.
The deadly ancient volcanoes weren't mountains. Rather, they were long, magma-spewing fissures in the Earth, similar to the Krafla eruptions in Iceland, but "much, much bigger," McHone said.
The retired geology professor helped the research team locate and sample the basalt rocks that were once part of the ancient lava flow, as well as estimate the gases that might have been emitted by those massive volcanoes.
At the time of the eruptions, the Atlantic Ocean didn't exist, and Africa and North America were joined as part of a big continent known as Pangaea. Over 600,000 years, the eruptions in an area known as the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province, deposited roughly 10 million cubic kilometres of lava.
Extreme climate swing
The massive eruptions would have blasted carbon dioxide gas and a thick sulphurous smog into the skies. Initially, the smog would have blotted out the sun, causing a multi-year winter. Once the sulphurous dust had settled, the carbon dioxide would have caused rapid warming — possibly as fast as the human-caused warming taking place today, said a news release from Columbia University, where study co-author Paul Olsen is based.
McHone said one reason why it had previously been so difficult for scientists to figure out when and how the mass extinction occurred is that the layered, sedimentary rocks containing the fossil evidence of the extinction were not necessarily in the same places as the rocks formed from the lava flows.
"So much has been eroded away from the Earth's surface for the last 200 million years."
For example, the rocks in Morocco didn't contain any evidence of the extinction. Meanwhile, the rocks in North America showed the extinction, but it seemed to occur below — and therefore before — many of the lava flows, said Blackburn in an interview.
He solved the puzzle by analyzing crystals of zircon that form as the lava cools, trapping small particles of uranium in the process. The uranium decays into lead at a consistent rate. By measuring the ratio of uranium to lead, it was possible to precisely calculate the age of the basalt layers.
The analysis was possible thanks to "huge advancements" in this type of analysis in the past five or 10 years, Blackburn added.
The method can't be used on the sedimentary rocks containing the fossils. However, Olsen developed a way to measure the relative age of sedimentary rocks using the fingerprint left by changes in the Earth's orbit over time — a technique called astrochronology. In cases where the sedimentary rocks were sandwiched between basalt, he was able to calibrate the astrochronological fingerprint to actual dates and use that to figure out the dates of events in sedimentary rock samples that weren't close to any basalt layers.
By carefully comparing the data in many parts of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province, the researchers showed that the eruptions very likely caused the End Triassic extinction and were able to reconstruct how the events unfolded.
Remnants of the basalt deposited by the eruptions can still be seen in low-lying parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, including on Grand Manan Island.
"When I look out my window, I can see a ridge of this same lava flow that is in the Bay of Fundy, now linked to the mass extinction," McHone said. "So it's quite fun."
The End-Triassic extinction was the fourth known major extinction in the history of life on Earth. The die-off is thought to have opened up opportunities for the dinosaurs to diversify and thrive in the 135 million years that followed.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Preach and they will come, although many will not be worshippers.
That was the fate of Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet Sunday when journalists flocked to see him celebrate mass in likely his last public appearance before Tuesday’s conclave to elect a new pope.
With buzz about Ouellet’s chances of becoming pope still high, about 70 journalists from around the world descended on a church near the Vatican, much to the surprise — and some grief — of an equal number of Catholic faithful.
“Journalists are not very discreet, to be honest,” said worshipper Pascal Guelfo, 35, referring to the constant chatter and movement during the mass. “They didn’t show much respect for the Eucharist. You have invaded a little too much.”
Ouellet began his sermon with an explanation.
“We are all waiting for the next conclave — not only the faithful of the Catholic Church but the whole world awaits this great event,” The Quebec-born Ouellet said in fluent Italian.
The February resignation of Pope Benedict XVI — the first pope to quit in 600 years — has created “a rather unique time in the history of the church,” Ouellet added. In apparent response to Catholics who believe popes should die in office, he said 85-year-old Benedict had “thought at length” about his decision.
“We’re all trying to better understand the will of God on His church,” Ouellet said. “I can’t doubt that (Benedict) did it according to the will of God and for the good of the church.”
After the mass, it wasn’t difficult to find worshippers who described Benedict’s radical move as calculated shock-treatment for a Vatican mired in infighting and plagued by scandal.
“I worked there for years,” said Adamo Rossi, 72. “Believe me, I came to know a few things.”
“I found him simpatico,” he said of Ouellet, 68. “We need younger people like him or we’re not going to resolved anything.” The cardinal, Rossi added, seems to have the backbone and political smarts to whip an unruly Vatican bureaucracy into shape.
Parishioner Santo Strati, a freelance writer who has seen Ouellet preach several times, described him as “a great papal candidate.
“He’s younger than a lot of others, he’s well cultured and has good experience all around,” added Strati, 62. “The church needs someone who can spark the interest even of non-Catholics. There’s a great loss of faith that increases every day.”
All cardinals celebrated mass Sunday at the church they’re officially attached to in Rome. Ouellet’s is Santa Maria in Traspontina. He celebrated evening mass as pouring rain outside turned streets and sidewalks into rushing streams.
Ouellet is often described as a possible compromise candidate, if the two cardinals widely speculated as the current front-runners — Italy’s Angelo Scola and Brazil’s Odilo Pedro Scherer — remain deadlocked. All three are conservatives, as are pretty much all of the 115 cardinals who begin voting for a new pope Tuesday.
Benedict quit after serial leaks of personal documents linked the Vatican to a notorious gangster buried in a Roman basilica, money laundering, corruption in the awarding of contracts, the kidnapping of a 15-year-old Vatican resident and assassination plots against Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II. Benedict’s butler was convicted of stealing and leaking the documents, but few observers believe he acted alone.
Archbishop of Toronto Cardinal Tom Collins said cardinals have had much to talk about in closed-door, pre-conclave meetings. Many went on for so long a decision was made to set a five-minute limit.
“When the time is about up you hear a ‘ding’ and see a green flashing light,” Collins said in an interview. “But the cardinals just keep on going.”
He said a vow of secrecy prevented him from publicly discussing the topics being wrestled with. But he seemed to make clear that placing greater oversight and accountability on the Vatican bureaucracy in Rome was a priority.
“It’s a great idea (for cardinals) to meet frequently, maybe once a year, just to get us together and to share what’s going on,” Collins said. “And it’s a kind of accountability for the (Vatican) people here in Rome because the church is the whole world.”
Collins seems to be suggesting a plan to break the power — and at times myopia — of an Italian-dominated Vatican bureaucracy, known as the Curia. Many insist the time is right, noting that while Europe is rocked by sex abuse scandals, experiences dwindling vocations and emptying pews, Catholicism is growing in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
If cardinals adopt the plan it might sound like a good start to reform-minded priests in Europe. Many of them are in open revolt against the church’s three-decade-long centralization of power in Rome. They want a more grassroots, transparent and democratic church. A church more in touch with its community might eventually lead to a reconsideration of priestly celibacy, the ban on women priests and range of issues dealing with sexuality.
Reformers argue Benedict may have got the ball rolling on decentralization because his resignation weakened the absolute power of the papal office. If a pope can resign due to age and lack of physical strength, as Benedict says he did, then why not for mismanagement or scandal?
Collins made clear, however, that while Benedict’s bombshell resignation is a sharp break with tradition, the cardinals are not considering imposing a mandatory retirement age.
“We’re not putting in some kind of term limit or an age of retirement,” he said, after celebrating mass for about 40 people at a church near the famous Via Veneto.
Collins described the pre-conclave gatherings as an education.
“You get a kind of crash course in the church,” he said. “There are (cardinals) from all kinds of countries with all kinds of issues.
“We were all very conscious looking around that the pope is here somewhere,” Collins added. “You look at all the papabile in the room and you say, ‘Oh, maybe it’s him.’ Whoever it is, he was in the room and he heard everything. And that’s a good thing.”-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -More than 10,000 people have taken to the streets of Greece's second largest city to protest a planned gold mine they see as an environmental risk.
Police blocked the crowd's march to the Canadian Consulate in Thessaloniki, but Saturday's protest took place and ended peacefully. Eldorado Gold Corp., based in Vancouver, Canada, has been granted the rights to the gold mine in Halkidiki peninsula, east of Thessaloniki.
The company has established a camp employing 1,200 people and plans to begin digging soon.
The issue has bitterly divided Halkidiki residents, with some claiming the mine will harm tourism and release toxic substances, and others denying that and saying new jobs are crucial during Greece's severe economic crisis.
Last week, about 3,000 residents demonstrated in favour of the mine.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, one of the leading candidates to succeed Pope Benedict, suggested in an interview broadcast Monday that other candidates for pope might do a better job.
He also said it would not be surprising for the pope to come from outside Europe after that continent's long dominance of the papacy.
"There was a focus on Europe obviously for centuries, and centuries, and ... someday it is to be expected that a pope would come from Asia, would come from Africa, would come from America," hetold the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "Nowadays it wouldn't be a surprise."
Ouellet, 68, is one of a handful cardinals seen as papal material, but he played down his qualifications. "I have to be ready even if I think that probably others could do it better," he said.
Ouellet, who now works in the Vatican, served as archbishop of Canada's French-speaking province of Quebec from 2002 to 2010, a fractious time where uncompromising positions from the Vatican often ran counter to the widespread secularism in Quebec.
Pope Benedict subsequently named him to the influential position of prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, which recommends the appointment of bishops to the pope.
'It makes me somewhat afraid'
In a separate interview with the French-language CBC, Ouellet recognized that his name does come up as a possible replacement for Benedict, who stepped down on March 1.
"I can't not think about the possibility. Reasonably, when I go into the conclave of cardinals, I have to say to myself, 'What if, what if...' It makes me reflect, it makes me pray, it makes me somewhat afraid. I am very conscious of the weight of the task," he said. "So you have to be ready for any outcome, but I think a certain number of people have more chance of being elected than me."
Ouellet said he recognized that the church and the next pope needed to take advantage of social media. Benedict started tweeting in December, as @pontifex. Ouellet said he has been busy, but knows he needs to start tweeting.
Ouellet, who once said becoming pope "would be a nightmare," faced controversy in Quebec in 2010, months before being brought over to the Vatican, when he restated the Church's position that abortion is wrong even in the case of rape.
That remark drew condemnation from Quebec politicians, and one newspaper columnist wrote that he hoped the clergyman would die a long and painful death.
As he left Quebec, he said "the message of truth is not always welcome," but he also asked forgiveness for any harm he may have brought to people.
A Canadian journalist who interviewed Ouellet several times described him as a cross between John Paul II and Benedict, more reserved than the former but more photogenic than the latter. But even his friends say he is not charismatic.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – According to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Dutch data authority College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens (CBP), the popular cross-platform messaging application WhatsApp violates privacy laws. A joint investigation between the two groups revealed that, with the exception of devices running iOS 6, the app requires access to a customer's address book in order to use the software. This stipulation results in non-user contact information being recorded to WhatsApp servers without permission, which contravenes Canadian and Dutch privacy laws. In September of 2012, the company added encryption to its services as a response to these investigations, but both the OPC and CBP remain concerned about unauthorized data collecting. As it stands, both organizations will continue to monitor WhatsApp's progress toward compliance, with the Dutch agency reserving its right to impose fines against the firm if necessary.
WhatsApp's violation of privacy law partly resolved after investigation by data protection authorities
Canadian and Dutch data privacy guardians release findings from investigation of popular mobile app
Ottawa, Canada and The Hague, The Netherlands, January 28, 2013 -The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Dutch Data Protection Authority (College bescherming persoonsgegevens, (CBP)) today released their findings from a collaborative investigation into the handling of personal information by WhatsApp Inc., a California-based mobile app developer.
The coordinated investigation is a global first, as two national data protection authorities conducted their work together to examine the privacy practices of a company with hundreds of millions of customers worldwide. This marks a milestone in global privacy protection.
"Our Office is very proud to mark an important world-first along with our Dutch counterparts, especially in light of today's increasingly online, mobile and borderless world," said Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner of Canada. "Our investigation has led to WhatsApp making and committing to make further changes in order to better protect users' personal information."
Jacob Kohnstamm, Chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority, adds: "But we are not completely satisfied yet. The investigation revealed that users of WhatsApp – apart from iPhone users who have iOS 6 software – do not have a choice to use the app without granting access to their entire address book. The address book contains phone numbers of both users and non-users. This lack of choice contravenes (Dutch and Canadian) privacy law. Both users and non-users should have control over their personal data and users must be able to freely decide what contact details they wish to share with WhatsApp."
Key findings and outcomes
The investigation focused on WhatsApp's popular mobile messaging platform, which allows users to send and receive instant messages over the Internet across various mobile platforms. While WhatsApp was found to be in contravention of Canadian and Dutch privacy laws, the organization has taken steps to implement many recommendations to make its product safer from a privacy standpoint. At this time however, outstanding issues remain to be fully addressed.
The investigation revealed that WhatsApp was violating certain internationally accepted privacy principles, mainly in relation to the retention, safeguard, and disclosure of personal data. For example:
In order to facilitate contact between application users, WhatsApp relies on a user's address book to populate subscribers' WhatsApp contacts list. Once users consent to the use of their address book, all phone numbers from the mobile device are transmitted to WhatsApp to assist in the identification of other WhatsApp users. Rather than deleting the mobile numbers of non-users, WhatsApp retains those numbers (in a hash form). This practice contravenes Canadian and Dutch privacy law which holds that information may only be retained for so long as it is required for the fulfilment of an identified purpose. Only iPhone users running iOS6 on their devices have the option of adding contacts manually rather than uploading the mobile address numbers of their address books to company servers automatically.
At the time the investigation began, messages sent using WhatsApp's messenger service were unencrypted, leaving them prone to eavesdropping or interception, especially when sent through unprotected Wi-Fi networks. In September 2012, in partial response to our investigation, WhatsApp introduced encryption to its mobile messaging service.
Over the course of the investigation, it was found that WhatsApp was generating passwords for message exchanges using device information that can be relatively easily exposed. This created the risk that a third party may send and receive messages in the name of users without their knowledge. WhatsApp has since strengthened its authentication process in the latest version of its app, using a more secure randomly generated key instead of generating passwords from MAC (Media Acess Control) or IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) numbers (which uniquely identify each device on a network) to generate passwords for device to application message exchanges. Anyone who has downloaded WhatsApp, whether they are active users or not, should update to the latest version to benefit from this security upgrade.
The OPC and CBP have worked closely together, but have issued separate reports, respecting each country's data protection law (Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and the Dutch Data Protection Act (Wet bescherming persoonsgegevens (Wbp)). Following the issuance of their respective reports of findings, the OPC and CBP will pursue outstanding matters independently.
Following investigation, the Dutch Data Protection Act provides for a second phase in which the CBP will examine whether the breaches of law continue and will decide whether it will take further enforcement actions. The Dutch legal framework contains the possibility to enforce the Dutch privacy law by imposing sanctions.
Under Canada's PIPEDA, the OPC will monitor the company's progress in meeting commitments made in the course of investigation. In most cases, companies are cooperative in meeting their obligations, and WhatsApp has demonstrated a willingness to fully comply with the OPC's recommendations. Unlike the CBP, the OPC does not have order making powers.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- a new Bank of Montreal survey which found higher expectations for everything from investment to hiring.
The survey, conducted in November by Pollara, found that 38 per cent of the 1,000 respondents believe their employers will hire more people this year – up 21 percentage points from 2012.
“This increased optimism can also be seen with the 45 per cent that expect their employer to make investments in new equipment and technology – up 25 percentage points from last year,” BMO said.
Meanwhile, the survey found that 42 per cent of those questioned nationally expect employee training and development programs to be offered by their employer this year – up 24 percentage points from last year.
“Canadian companies are making strategic investments to upgrade technology and processes, open up new markets, and invest in people,” Steve Murphy, senior vice-president, BMO Commercial Banking, said of the survey results.
“Businesses are looking to become as productive as possible and that may mean taking advantage of historically low interest rates to finance their growth plans and upgrade their talent pool.”
Regionally, Albertans were the most likely to say that their employer will be hiring more people in the coming year (52 per cent ).
They were also among the most likely to say that they will be investing in training (55 per cent) and purchasing new equipment (55 per cent).
However, the greatest increase in employee optimism was in Atlantic Canada. The survey found 38 per cent of respondents there expect more hiring (up from 6 per cent in 2012); another 38 per cent believe employers will invest in training (up 21 percentage points); and 47 per cent expect employers to upgrade technology and equipment (up 34 percentage points from 2012).
Nationally, Quebeckers are the least optimistic about improved hiring, with only 27 per cent expecting more hiring at their workplace. That compares with 40 per cent in Ontario, 42 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and 52 per cent in British Columbia.
On employee training, 35 per cent of Quebeckers surveyed expect employers to offer training this year; 44 per cent in Ontario; 43 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan; and 40 per cent in British Columbia.
Thirty-nine per cent of Quebeckers expect employers to invest in new equipment and technology, compared with 46 per cent in Ontario, 47 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and 42 per cent in British Columbia.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) --Chris Hadfield made his name by reaching for the stars, but as he recorded a song from the International Space Station it was the “faraway land . . . there in my window” that was on his mind.
The tune, “Jewel in the Night,” is about planet Earth and the people Hadfield left there as he became the first Canadian to command the International Space Station.
The song, written by Hadfield’s brother Dave, is believed to be the first recorded from space. It’s also the first of many the astronaut hopes to record while circling the planet over the next five months, eventually laying down tracks for an entire album recorded in zero gravity.
Hadfield posted the track online for download and streaming on Christmas Eve.
“So bright / Jewel in the night / There in my window below / So bright / Dark as the night / with all of our cities aglow,” the song begins.
On the recording, you can hear the buzz of the space station’s fans as Hadfield strums a Larrivee P-01 Parlor guitar built in British Columbia and shipped to space more than 10 years ago. Playing guitar in space means adjusting your hands to where the frets are when you’re in free fall — almost like learning to play all over again.
“I’m really pleased Chris sang it,” Dave Hadfield said.
“It’s very much of a morale raiser to be able to play and sing for other people.”
Just as much as music helps Hadfield ease his homesickness while in space, it helps his brother connect with him before he blasts off.
Before every space mission Hadfield embarks on, Dave finds a way to jam with his brother immediately before he launches.
This time was no different. Before blastoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 19, Dave got medical clearance to visit his brother in the quarantine facility.
“The Russians have the safest large rocket delivery system on the planet,” Dave Hadfield said.
“Still, when it’s your brother going up, there’s a certain amount of concern.”
Playing music in the empty room in the quarantine facility wasn’t the same as playing on the family farm near Milton, where the Hadfields grew up having old fashioned singalongs.
But it was a more emotional experience than a casual living room jam, with the empty room’s natural echo deepening the brothers’ voices and making the sound reverberate powerfully throughout the room.
They sang a song called “Eleanor’s Song”, about growing up on the farm and playing music together. It was written for their mother, who Dave says can play any tune on piano by ear.
“There’s a tree in the corner as big as the room / Tinsel and garnish and stockings up soon /A table that’s laden with every delight / Her hands, the piano, and carols all night.”
“That was a very poignant and, for me, an emotional time,” Dave Hadfield said.
“It was very pleasant. We’ll both remember that room.”
But the fact that Chris Hadfield is now in space doesn’t mean he’ll jam alone the entire five months.
Thousands of people will have a change to sing along with the astronaut on May 6. An organization called Music Makes Us has deemed that date Music Monday, a national day of celebrating music education in schools.
A song Hadfield wrote with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies called “I.S.S.” (Is Somebody Singing) will be released on CBC Music and taught to thousands of schoolchildren across Canada in various languages and arrangements. They’ll perform the song simultaneously with Robertson on Earth and Hadfield in space.
“Chris Hadfield has been very clear that he was a farm boy who dreamed of going to space. He believes that with focus and hard work that you can fulfill your dreams and he would like that to be one of his messages to young people,” said Holly Nimmons, Music Makes Us executive director.
“It’s aligned with what teaching music is all about. We hope that the song will be a unifying experience.”
For Hadfield, meanwhile, music-making comes at the end of every work day; at a time when most people would be leaving work for home, Hadfield gets a couple of hours to catch up on emails, exercise and play guitar.
That’s when he plans on writing and making the music that could land on his first space album.
“I hope he writes something while he’s up there . . . that’s a reflection of what he sees. I’m looking forward to whatever he comes up with,” Dave Hadfield said.
Jewel in the Night — Chris Hadfield’s Christmas carol from space
Jewel in the night,
There in my window below.
Dark as the night,
with all of our cities aglow.
It’s long been our way,
To honor this day,
And offer goodwill to men.
Where ever we go,
It’s come around to Christmas again.
Shines every star,
There without limit to see.
Beckoning, calling to me.
And let it be shown,
Wherever we go,
In all of the wonders above.
With all that we bring,
There’s no finer thing,
Than this message, this promise of love.
Love for the families that gather below,
Love for the stranger that you’ll never know,
For those who are with you,
who wander above.
Jewel in the night,
There lies the cradle we knew.
All that we love,
And all of our memories too.
It shall be our way to wander away,
To take with us all that we know.
And never cease,
This message of peace,
From Bethlehem so long ago.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Canadians expressed outrage Thursday after the release of Guy Turcotte, a cardiologist who in 2009 confessed to killing his children as they slept in their beds.
What many wanted to know was how a father who stabbed his children dozens of times could be free after 46 months of confinement. Those voices echo the grief of Turcotte's ex-wife, Dr. Isabelle Gaston, the mother of 5-year-old Olivier and 3-year-old Anne-Sophie.
As Gaston pored over her children's autopsy reports, she wished she had no idea what they meant. But as a physician and a coroner, she knows it's true: Her children suffered a long, gruesome death.
"I knew it was not a short death. You know, my little boy received 20 stabs of a knife, he had seven marks of defense," she told CNN in an interview at her home before Turcotte's full release. "He had no wound that was the one that gave him death," she added, trying to hold back tears.
"My little girl, she had 19 wounds, maybe she was luckier? Because she had one that was more mortal than the other. But she felt 19 shots, that's for sure," Gaston said.
Turcotte confessed to killing his children in February 2009 but a year later a Canadian jury failed to convict him of the murders, finding him not criminally responsible due to mental illness.
At trial, Turcotte testified that he was distraught over his crumbling marriage and snapped, insisting he blacked out and doesn't remember killing his children.
The jury believed the testimony of two psychiatrists paid for by his defense. They testified that Turcotte could not have known what he was doing when he repeatedly stabbed his children.
"Why don't I accept that he is mentally ill is when I look at the facts," Gaston said. "We have a person that is a cardiologist that never had a psychiatric incident, not at all. I have trouble to understand how someone in five hours or six hours will do an interview of someone and have a conclusion that he is not a danger to society or is mentally insane."
Even the Canadian government has weighed in, calling Turcotte's release "unacceptable."
"We believe that Isabelle Gaston does not deserve to live in fear of her children's killer and neither do victims of similar crimes across Canada," said James Moore, a federal cabinet minister.
The Conservative government of Prime Minster Stephen Harper is drafting legislation to make it more difficult for mentally ill offenders to be released from psychiatric facilities, but the pending legislation is not expected to influence Turcotte's case.
In fact, Turcotte told the psychiatric review board that released him that he is looking forward to leading a normal life in the future and hopes to practice medicine and have children again.
"To know that my children faced the person that they should have trusted the most and they were left by themselves to die. No one holding their hand," Gaston said. "I struggle, OK, I struggle all the days, every day of my life and I think till I die I will struggle."-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Finding Islam three years ago, Amanda Redmond, a native of eastern Canadian city of Nova Scotia, has launched a new business for hijab fashion to help her fellow Muslim women find appropriate clothes according to her faith.
“When you feel something is right and you’re not doing it, you think about it all of the time,” Redmond told The Chronicle Herald.
“I knew I wanted to do it and it was nagging and nagging, and I didn’t know why I wasn’t wearing the hijab and fully converting to Islam.
“After I made the change, that was the kind of freedom I got.”
Getting stuck in a New York airport three years ago, Redmond found Islam accidently three years ago at a New York airport.
Stuck in the airport overnight, the soft light of the airport mosque called the 23-year-old Canadian in.
It was 3 am and sleep was unlikely, so she picked up a copy of the Qur’an and began to read.
She was taken aback when the words of the ancient text resonated and she found herself nodding in agreement.
“The values it teaches and what’s written in the Qur’an all make sense to me,” Redmond said in a recent interview.
“I’ve always had a fleeting interest, and I wasn’t any religion to start with, so the more I learned about Islam, the more it made sense to me.”
Choosing Islam, she decided to wear veil a few months later.
“I dabbled for a couple of months, and then one day it was just me,” she said.
“It felt right. But then I found it really difficult to find the appropriate clothing I felt comfortable with, on a modest guideline.”
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
There are more than 4,000 Muslims living in Nova Scotia.
Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the Christian-majority country.
Aspiring to offer her fellow Muslim women a modest fashion, Redmond started her small business on a Facebook profile.
“It really baffled me that there was nowhere else in all of Atlantic Canada to buy this stuff,” Redmond told The Herald.
“I wanted these things, all of my friends bought these things and there are other women here who are asking for these things, so why aren’t they here? I guess I’ll do it.”
Titled Al-Qamar, or The Moon, her new business was named after the 54th sura of the Qur’an.
Last September, she launched its official online store and has now garnered more than 1,200 Facebook fans and a growing reputation as a go-to shop for Muslim women.
The shop offers an assortment of contemporary clothing and accessories for veiled Muslim women.
Al-Qamar has shipped to buyers across Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and even Sri Lanka.
Operating in a tight niche market, Redmond said it is important that her products stay affordable and that she doesn’t saturate the market with duplicates.
“I’m focused on bringing in 10 or so of each item,” she noted.
“There’s a small pool of women here, and if everyone has the same thing, it’s pretty obvious.
“I want to stay focused on contemporary, modest clothing for Muslim women,” se added.
Juggling school, work and the demands of her online business, Redmond is focused on her next goals; growing the network of Muslim women in the region and opening up a brick-and-mortar retail shop.
“It will take time, but I’m patient,” she said.
“People who know me know I don’t just jump into something without doing my homework.”- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam