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India's anti-satellite test left debris that could endanger space station, NASA says

India’s anti-satellite test left debris that could endanger space station, NASA says

India declined to comment Wednesday on a statement by a U.S. space official that India’s recent test of an anti-satellite weapon created debris that could threaten the International Space Station.

India’s Defence Ministry spokesman Col. Aman Anand said there was no official response to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine’s statement at a town hall event in Washington on Monday. Bridenstine said in shooting down one of its own satellites with a missile last week, India had left debris high enough in orbit to pose a risk to the International Space Station.

India’s External Affairs Ministry in a statement after the March 27 test said that whatever debris generated would decay and fall back to Earth within weeks as the test was in the lower atmosphere.

The International Space Station serves as a research laboratory and has hosted astronauts from various countries since it was launched into orbit in 1998.

Bridenstine said NASA had identified 400 pieces of the debris and tracked 60 of them.

24 pieces higher than ISS 

“We know that 24 of these are going above the apogee of International Space Station. That’s a terrible, terrible thing to create,” he said.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the test last week and said the destruction of the satellite demonstrated India’s capacity as a “space power” alongside the United States, Russia and China.

A family in India’s Uttar Pradesh state watches Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi address the nation on March 27 to announce that an interceptor missile built in India had shot down a low-orbit Indian satellite. It was the first time that India has ever successfully tested such technology. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/Associated Press)

Pallava Bagla, a science writer at the New Delhi Television Channel, said Wednesday that Indian officials have clearly indicated that the debris will decay in three weeks.

“The amount of debris which the United States itself has created in space is gigantic as compared to a few pieces of debris from the Indian test. In orbit, we have 2,000 functional satellites. Eight hundred of them belong to the United States. India has only 48 functional satellites in the orbit,” he said.

In Washington, the vice commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command, Lt. Gen. David Thompson, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week that the Air Force detected about 270 objects in the debris field created when India destroyed the satellite and the number was likely to increase.

He said the Air Force will inform satellite operators if any of those objects become a threat to satellites in orbit.

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More delays for Boeing's new space capsule for astronauts

More delays for Boeing’s new space capsule for astronauts

Boeing’s new space capsule for astronauts faces more launch delays.

The Starliner capsule was supposed to make its debut this month, after a series of postponements. But the first test flight has now been put off until August, with a launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The second test flight, with astronauts, won’t occur until sometime late in the year.

NASA announced the revised lineup Wednesday. 

At the same time, officials said the first Starliner crew will remain at the International Space Station longer than the few weeks originally anticipated. The length will be decided later.

SpaceX, NASA’s other commercial crew provider, flew its new Dragon capsule to the International Space Station last month. The first Dragon with astronauts could fly this summer, but the schedule is under review.

Boeing said the last major milestones have been cleared and the capsule is almost finished. But scheduling conflicts with an early summer Air Force launch helped push the Starliner’s debut into August.

The Starliner will fly on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket, the same kind of rocket needed for the Air Force’s critical mission in late June, from the same pad.

While the first SpaceX astronauts will visit the space station for a few weeks at most, the Starliner’s three-person crew will move into the orbiting complex for an extended period. The typical station stay is about six months.

NASA wants to reduce its reliance on expensive Russian Soyuz capsules as soon as possible, and so the Boeing test flight will double as a taxi mission for station residents. NASA astronauts have been stuck riding Russian rockets since the end of the space shuttle program.

SpaceX Dragons and Boeing Starliners will return human launches to Florida, following the eight-year hiatus. NASA contracted with the two companies to handle space station ferry flights, so it could focus on getting astronauts to the moon and, eventually, Mars.

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Residents far from home: B.C. killer whales spotted in California waters

Residents far from home: B.C. killer whales spotted in California waters

A recent sighting of southern resident killer whales near Monterey, Calif., has researchers taking note — as the pod usually calls the waters off B.C. and Washington state home.

Josh McInnes, research coordinator at Marine Life Studies in Monterey, was one of the scientists who spotted the pod of killer whales that had ventured more than 1,000 kilometres south.

McInnes was on a project studying transient whales that hunt grey whales migrating north.

“I saw a bunch of spouts in the distance and tall dorsal fins,” he told On The Island host Gregor Craigie.

“As they got closer, I took a photograph and looked right away and I recognized L pod, which is … one of the local southern resident pods that frequents the waters off Washington and British Columbia.

“I’ve spent many years in the water watching them. I knew right away by their markings on their dorsal fin, the saddle patches, that was them.”

The findings shocked McInnes and his colleagues, who had never seen the resident whales so far south.

A researcher thinks the whales may have been looking for food in California. (Marine Life Studies)

Could be travelling for food

So why were the whales — around 25 of them — so far from home?

McInnes says salmon are starting to come to the ocean in that part of the U.S. and the whales, which eat the salmon, might be looking for food.

“It’s a really positive thing to see, that they’re possibly in a different region where salmon might be better off, than, say, up in the Pacific Northwest, where we know chinook is critically endangered,” he suggested.

It’s not known if travelling south for food could become a trend for the southern residents. Whale research, he said, only began in the 1970s and historical data is poor.

More studies are required, but McInnes says it is possible the whales are becoming more willing to travel to find food.

The whales he observed on their California sojourn, at least, appeared to be in good health.

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Marine scientists warn of risky rescue of orcas and belugas from Russian 'whale jail'

Marine scientists warn of risky rescue of orcas and belugas from Russian ‘whale jail’

Some of the world’s top marine biologists are meeting in Moscow this week to try to save nearly 100 whales — including 11 orcas and 87 belugas — held captive since autumn in what critics have dubbed Russia’s “whale jail.”

Since November, the cetaceans have been kept in small pens, which are often on the verge of freezing over, in a bay not far from Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific Coast.

The whales were captured by several Russian companies intent on selling them to Chinese aquariums, a practice that until now has been perfectly legal in Russia.

“These are conditions that the animals shouldn’t be in. Their health is slowly deteriorating,” said Grigory Tsidulko, a marine mammal expert who’s been consulting with Greenpeace over the fate of the creatures.

The team arriving in Moscow on Thursday is headed up by Jean-Michel Cousteau, the 81-year-old son of the famous French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. The group, which includes international experts as well as some of Russia’s top whale researchers, is expected to travel to Vladivostok over the weekend to survey the health of the whales and present options to Russian authorities for releasing them.

A public outcry led by animal welfare activists in Russia and supported by Hollywood celebrities such as Canadian-born animal welfare campaigner Pamela Anderson, pushed the government of President Vladimir Putin to pronounce that the whales should be freed.

If that happens, biologists say it could be the largest mass release of captive cetaceans ever. But many who’ve been following the saga of the “jailed” whales have their doubts it will.

An overhead view of the pens holding belugas and orcas at the facility in Srednyaya Bay, in southeastern Russia. (Reuters)

There’s also a growing debate about whether the animals could survive. “It would be absolutely irresponsible if you just open the pens and let those whales swim away,” said Tsidulko, noting that orcas are highly social creatures and maintain close family units in the wild.

“They have never been in the places where they’re being kept in captivity. Right now, there’s not enough food for them where they’re being held.”

Brisk trade

Russian environmental groups have been pushing the Putin government for years to stop the trade in ocean mammals. The four companies that captured these animals were issued legal permits to keep the whales for “educational” reasons. They then quickly turned around and cut deals with Chinese marine parks, where an orca can sell for up to $5 million US each, according to several animal welfare groups that have investigated the practice.

Greenpeace estimates a beluga can sell for up to $150,000 US.

Marine parks have been rapidly expanding in China, with more than 60 already operating and dozens more in the planning stages. The environmental group the China Cetacean Alliance claims 491 marine mammals have already been put into captivity in the country.

Statistics from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) suggest as many as 13 orcas caught in Russian waters were sold to China between 2013 and 2016.

Marine mammal expert Grigory Tsidulko has been consulting with Greenpeace over how the captive whales should be freed. (Pascal Dumont/CBC)

In April 2018, Russia passed a new law to close a loophole allowing the “educational” capture of belugas and orcas. Tsidulko said it’s unclear how the new rules are being enforced, and whether companies will use other parts of Russia’s fishery act to continue catching whales.

Russia’s fisheries department does not consider orcas or killer whales to be endangered species.

Distant homes

Russian police intervened to stop the sale of the whales in the Vladivostok pens last month, claiming the companies didn’t have the proper permits, leaving the animals in limbo.

Many of the whales were captured near Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk, which is more than 1,500 kilometres away from where the sea mammals are being kept now.

Russian authorities have suggested the companies responsible may need to lift the whales onto barges and transport them back to the places where they were captured. However, the region won’t be ice-free — and thus easily accessible — until the summer.

There are also concerns that the youngest belugas, some of which were babies when they were caught, have become too accustomed to being fed by humans in the months they’ve been in captivity.

Tsidulko said his fear is that some, perhaps even most, of the whales may be deemed “non-releasable,” and end up being sold to clients in China.

The video below shows some of the whales being held in captivity:

Since November, beluga and orca whales have been kept in small pens not far from Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific Coast. 4:06

All of this has led activists to wonder how many of the whales will ever live in the wild again.

“At the moment, nobody has said these animals will be released, and nobody has said they no longer belong to the companies,” said Tsidulko.

Catching continues    

Later this month, the fisheries department will hold public hearings on setting a total allowable catch (TAC) of 10 orcas and 82 belugas for 2020. 

While some of the animals may be slaughtered and used for food by Indigenous communities, Tsidulko laments the fact that Russia “remains one of the few countries that sells live cetaceans for public displays and shows.”

“On the one side, we are saying that they are so intelligent and so much like humans. On the other hand, we’re saying if someone wants to have a 20-minute show with a bucket of popcorn, then we can catch them and bring them for public pleasure. There’s something really wrong with this.”

In Canada, a bill that would ban aquariums from having dolphins and whales in captivity has already passed through the Senate, and is now in the House of Commons. Critics, including the owners of Marineland in southern Ontario, have said the bill will hurt science and legitimate research programs.

Vancouver’s Aquarium, which used to keep orcas and belugas for public performances, also initially strongly opposed the legislation. It no longer puts the whales on public display.

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Manitoba will challenge federal carbon tax in court, has 'credible greenhouse gas-reduction plan': premier

Manitoba will challenge federal carbon tax in court, has ‘credible greenhouse gas-reduction plan’: premier

The Manitoba government will go to court over Ottawa’s imposition of a carbon tax.

Premier Brian Pallister revealed Wednesday his government will launch a legal challenge against the federal government, which imposed its new levy as promised on Manitoba, along with three other provinces, Monday.

“We’re going to court, sadly, to challenge the Ottawa carbon tax because Ottawa cannot impose a carbon tax on a province that has a credible greenhouse gas-reduction plan of its own, and we do,” he told reporters.

Manitoba’s climate change plan originally included a carbon tax, which Pallister withdrew in a surprise move last October.

The federal government’s carbon tax came into effect April 1 for four provinces — Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick — that didn’t meet Ottawa’s standard for a sufficient carbon pricing system.

The carbon tax is now charged on 21 different fuel inputs in those provinces, including gasoline, at a rate of $20 per tonne of carbon emissions. That will gradually rise to $50 per tonne by 2022.

Pallister said Wednesday his government has a strong legal case against the federal tax, separate from a court challenge already launched by Saskatchewan, and backed by Ontario and New Brunswick, because it originally proposed its own tax.

Manitoba backed away from that plan, which proposed a flat carbon price of $25 per tonne, when the federal Liberal government declared it didn’t go far enough.

The premier also said it wasn’t fair that the federal government had offered exceptions to other provinces, but not Manitoba.

He’s previously said Quebec’s cap-and-trade program is much less stringent than the flat $25-per-tonne price he proposed before he withdrew the Manitoba carbon tax, and has argued Manitoba isn’t given credit for the clean energy it produces.

“I’m the only Conservative premier in the country that took steps to develop a green plan, which actually involves our people here contributing somewhat to a levy.”

The federal Liberal government will begin levying its carbon tax on greenhouse gas-emitting fuels today in the four provinces that have refused to take part in the pan-Canadian climate framework. 4:35

Pallister said his decision was influenced by discussions with government lawyers, and that Manitoba’s legal argument is more convincing now that the federal backstop is in place.

“There’s no point launching the case unless they were going to intrude on Manitoba’s jurisdiction,” he said of the federal government. “They didn’t do that until this past Monday.”

Manitoba will withdraw the court challenge, which may take two to three years to wind through the legal channels, Pallister said, if the Saskatchewan court challenge succeeds, or if the Trudeau government is defeated in the next federal election. 

“My hope would be it’s resolved by previous court decisions and we don’t need to carry it further,” Pallister said. “I guess I could be accused of trying to save money, yet again.”

If Ottawa’s plan is rejected, Pallister wouldn’t say whether he would implement the carbon tax plan his government originally proposed.

Manitoba has ‘flip-flopped’: environment minister

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is dismayed by Pallister’s thinking.

“I think it’s really ironic,” she said from Ottawa.

“The day after we release a climate report for Canada by our scientists that said that Canada’s warming is double the world average that we have the premier of Manitoba deciding to take us to court, to spend taxpayer money fighting climate action as opposed to fighting climate change,” McKenna said.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna condemned the Manitoba government for choosing to fight Ottawa in court over the carbon tax, just one day after a report found that Ottawa was warming at twice the world’s average. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

“Manitoba had an opportunity to have a plan and, unfortunately, they flip-flopped so many times.”

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew pointed out the province received a legal opinion two years ago that said the federal government has the right to impose a carbon tax.

He said this lawsuit, which he described as “frivolous,” won’t change that. 

“We can debate the merits of the carbon pricing measure, but I can tell you one thing for sure: taking the federal government to court on this is just going to waste taxpayer money and it’s going to do absolutely nothing to fight climate change here.” 

The legal opinion said the province could legally snub the federal carbon tax scheme if it demonstrated that its plan was equally effective at cutting emissions. 

The government would be better off returning to the negotiating table with the federal government, argued Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont.

“To go against the advice of a very well-respected law prof who you’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars to give you advice on this matter doesn’t make any sense to me.”

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Bridge: A Canadian school trying to smash the tech sector's glass ceiling

Bridge: A Canadian school trying to smash the tech sector’s glass ceiling

After graduating with a masters degree in chemical engineering from the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi, Meltem Kilic decided to pursue a different career path — in software development.

“Male colleagues of mine, developers, they’ve actually been so much in contact with technology since they were really young,” Kilic said. “That wasn’t the case for me.”

Although she now works as a software developer at Toronto-based software maker, the 28-year-old said advancing her career in the sector came with some doubts due to her late start.

Meltem Kilic, a graduate of Bridge, says she definitely sees less women in leadership roles and those who are new to the technology industry need more gender-diverse role models to look up to. (Submitted by Meltem Kilic)

That was compounded by the lack of gender diversity in leadership roles in her chosen field.

“When I look at the industry and community I see definitely less women in leadership roles,” Kilic said.

New people in the tech industry need more gender-diverse role models to look up to, she says, so the lack of them makes climbing the career ladder even harder than it would otherwise be.

After going to a coding bootcamp, Kilic decided to join Bridge School, a not-for-profit organization based in Toronto that offers free programs in advanced software development and product design to marginalized groups.

She is among 92 graduates from the school since it was founded in 2016.

“We started Bridge largely in response to a problem that is in the tech industry but in many male dominated industries,” said Emily Porta, executive director at Bridge School. “An issue where there is nowhere near enough women, agender and non-binary professionals working.”

Porta began Bridge as a passion project while also working at, which is one of the school’s lead sponsors, along with the Royal Bank of Canada. Bridge operates its business through funding from sponsors and donations. 

She said the organization is for those who are already in the technology industry, but don’t know what their next career step might be. The programs are meant to help professionals advance their careers in technology.

Emily Porta, the executive director of Bridge, says the Bridge team wanted to remove the economic barriers that many students in the technology industry face by offering the school’s programs for free. (Melissa Bennardo/CBC News)

Porta said the number one challenge the tech industry faces are people saying no to excellent talent, because they have preconceived gender-based biases that they may not even be aware of.

“You walk into a room and immediately you’re just labelled as a junior developer or junior in your career no matter how much experience you have,” said Purvi Kanal, the organization’s director of software development.

Removing economic barriers

Kanal said it’s common for marginalized groups to have to work exceptionally harder to get into the sector by paying for supplementary education like bootcamps that teach you skills to start a career in development and design.

Kanal said these bootcamps aren’t very cheap and they can cost about $10,000, which is why she wanted to ease that burden a little for people who already face an uphill struggle.

Economic disadvantage is just another way to marginalize  people.– Emily Porta , executive director of  Bridge School

“We really wanted to take those people who are willing to work so hard and give them those extra skills that they would need to stay in the industry and hopefully, eventually become leaders,” Kanal said.

There is a moral imperative to offer these programs for free, according to Porta.

“Economic disadvantage is just another way to marginalize people,” Porta said. “Coming from a low economic background myself … we didn’t want to put that barrier in front of our students.”

Tech’s diversity problem

Almost 80 per cent of companies globally haven’t fully prioritized putting more women in leadership roles, according to a recent study from the IBM Institute for Business Value

The study surveyed 2,300 executives and professionals — an equal amount of men and women — across 10 industries worldwide including the technology industry.

The study showed that only 18 per cent of the companies surveyed had women in top leadership positions.

Paul Papas, the global leader for IBM digital strategy & iX, said what gets in the way of a company having better gender diversity and representation in the workplace is the lack of urgency in making this a priority.

Papas said striving for gender equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, but there are real benefits to having more diverse representation at the top.

Only 12 per cent of the firms surveyed made advancing women in leadership roles a business priority. “They outperformed along key metrics of revenue growth, profitability and innovation,” Papas said.

He added that those people already in leadership roles should be fostering a culture of inclusion. According to the study, most of those leaders are men. 

No easy fix

Porta said this problem in the technology industry is not easy to fix, and companies need to be dedicated in order for change to happen.

“I think most companies and the people who run most companies don’t prioritize it anywhere near highly enough,” Porta said. “I don’t know why they don’t just look at the numbers and make some changes.”

In a short amount of time, both Porta and Kanal said they’ve seen graduates go on to advance their careers.

“Slowly we can see some progress there as well where we’ve seen a few of our graduates take on advance leadership roles in development and become team leads,” Kanal said.

Graduates like Kilic are still giving back to the place that helped kick-start their careers. She is now a mentor at Bridge, and she hopes she can share her story with other women beginning their careers in the tech sector.

I know a lot of women are in my situation where somehow in their careers they thought about tech, but they felt that they weren’t really caught up for that,” Kilic said.

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Methane-munching crabs may be adapting to climate change: report

Methane-munching crabs may be adapting to climate change: report

Crabs that have a normal diet of plankton have been seen munching on methane-filled bacteria off British Columbia’s coast in what experts say could be their way of adapting to climate change.

Researchers with Ocean Networks Canada, an initiative of the University of Victoria and Oregon State University, discovered the snow crabs using other food sources because their main meal may be disappearing with a warmer climate.

The crabs were previously thought to exclusively eat phytoplankton and researchers say this is the first evidence that a commercial species is finding some of its nutrition from other food sources.

The study’s co-author, Fabio De Leo, senior scientist at Ocean Networks Canada, says this shows the crabs may be able to adapt if their common food source becomes scarce.

De Leo says that by collecting these specimens, researchers can learn how a variety of sea-dwelling species are adapting to ongoing changes linked to climate change.

“There are other mobile species, not only crabs, but fish species that are commercially harvested. We’re excited to start tracking other food webs to see if we find the same signature,” said De Leo. 

The crabs were previously thought to exclusively eat phytoplankton and researchers say this is the first evidence that a commercial species is finding some of its nutrition from other food sources. (The Canadian Press)

The crabs have also found a creative way to ingest the methane, De Leo said.

“It was quite funny because of the way the crab accumulated the methane bubbles under its body and kind of lifted off from the sediment, took a turn and flipped head first into the sediment,” he said.

The crabs were feeding on methane-processing bacteria in methane seeps, which are found over fissures on the ocean bed. The seeps support a variety of species including clams and mussels that rely directly on the energy provided by such bacteria.

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Mysterious underground vault discovered on grounds of N.S. legislature

Mysterious underground vault discovered on grounds of N.S. legislature

Archaeologists expected the land surrounding Province House in downtown Halifax to be fertile ground for finding artifacts, but they never expected to uncover an underground stone vault roughly the size of a living room. 

“It was a total surprise to the archaeologists and the construction crew,” said April MacIntyre, principal archaeologist, in recalling the work she supervised over three months last summer and fall.

The structure was discovered Aug. 7 during part of the work to remodel the grounds surrounding the Nova Scotia legislature.

Crews had already dug a series of trenches to install a new electrical system and run audio and video cables, when a backhoe hit what was assumed to be bedrock near the corner of Prince and Hollis streets.

“When they tried to break up the bedrock, it very quickly fell away,” said MacIntyre.

“What we discovered was an open, dry-stone-laid chamber with a semicircular, vaulted-type roof.”

In MacIntyre’s recently filed report to the government, she described the mysterious chamber as “a subterranean stone-walled feature measuring approximately six metres north-south by four metres east-west and approximately three metres high to the top of the silt that has collected on the floor.”

April MacIntyre stands at Province House in Halifax. She was the principal archaeologist on site during work to remodel the grounds last year. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

That’s an approximation, because it wasn’t deemed safe for crews to enter the chamber to gather precise measurements. They used remote cameras instead to investigate and photograph the chamber. 

“The full extend to the top of the feature was not exposed and extended eastward beneath the lawn inside the fence of the property,” the report said.

There’s no record of anything of that nature being here on the property.– April MacIntyre , principal archaeologist

During the 48 hours she had to examine the structure, MacIntyre’s only access was the shoulder-width hole the backhoe had initially made.

Despite its size and prominent location, MacIntyre has been unable to find any information related to the structure, its origin or use.

“There’s no record of anything of that nature being here on the property,” she said. “No indications on maps or any records that we’ve been able to find.”

MacIntyre works on the grounds of Province House last July. She said the chamber discovered underground is ‘a pretty big room and quite deep from what we could tell.’ (Jean Laroche/CBC)

The only clues were artifacts found on the roof which dated to the very later part of the 18th century or early 19th century. 

“We’re not entirely certain as to what it is, but it’s similar in construction to some powder magazines that were built around that period,” said MacIntyre, whose report noted a similar underground store was built in the late 1790s at Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal, N.S. 

Chamber left mostly undisturbed

The entrance hole has since been covered over with a dark cloth and the area filled with crushed stone to mark the site.  

Would MacIntyre have liked a closer look?

“Absolutely,” she said with a chuckle.

She has recommended the government investigate further using ground-penetrating radar.

“Future interpretive endeavours may also be possible and may include further archeological excavation of the feature, though it is believed to be stable at this time and, therefore, essentially mitigated,” said her report.

Lynette MacLeod of the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, said the report is still being reviewed, and next steps have not yet been determined.

Overall, the excavation work and subsequent examination by archeologists unearthed a total of 1,534 objects, many of them glass or pottery. Some of the fragments have been pieced together to form half-finished bowls, goblets or basins.

“It’s actually unusual how complete some of the material is,” said MacIntyre, who found most of it in a midden, or local dumping ground, adjacent to where MLAs park their vehicles.

All of it has been identified and catalogued and will be handed over to the province for safekeeping. Some of it may be displayed, but most will be stored.

Much more to discover

Other features uncovered include a well, a coal chute, numerous stone walls, storm drains and drain pipes.

There are plans to, some day, rip out the paving on the parking lot side of the building to change it into a park. MacIntyre said she would love to have access to that land, given what archaeologists uncovered when part of the lot was dug up this past summer.

“There is now buried a portion of a stone enclosure wall which we think may have been related to either the governor’s cottage or the later governor’s mansion,” she said. 

Archaeologists try to get a closer look at a well discovered on the grounds of Province House. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Those structures were among the first and most prominent buildings in Halifax around the time of its founding.

“So the fact that we are still seeing those sorts of resources intact tells us that there may also be remnants of the cottage and the mansion, potentially outbuildings as well.”

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No Roll Up the Rim? Kids ask Tim Hortons to make contest greener

No Roll Up the Rim? Kids ask Tim Hortons to make contest greener

Three young people in Calgary are challenging Tim Hortons to roll up the rim for the planet.

Mya Chau and Eve Helman, both 12, and Ben Duthie, 16, are behind a petition asking Canada’s iconic coffee chain to introduce a fully compostable or recyclable paper cup.

They also think the coffee chain, which has more than 4,600 stores worldwide and claims to sell two billion cups of coffee every year, can use its popular Roll Up the Rim to Win contest to encourage customers to bring in reusable mugs.

“We think that if they could make a better cup … then that would be great,” Helman said. “Because all their disposable cups are going into the landfills and affecting the environment.”

Roll Up the Rim to Win has been run by Tim Hortons since 1986, and this year’s version of the contest launches Wednesday.

The kids say the company could, for example, give people who bring in reusable cups two chances to win rather than just one, or it could move the entire game online.

“If Tim Hortons had some sort of electronic version of the Roll Up the Rim to Win, I think that would be a much more environmentally positive way to run the contest,” said Duthie.

You don’t need to make a purchase to enter contests such as Tim Hortons’ Roll Up the Rim to Win. But sometimes the alternatives are just as costly. (Tim Hortons )

While theoretically the plastic-lined single-use coffee cups used by chains like Tim Hortons and McDonalds can be recycled, most municipal recycling systems aren’t equipped to do it. The kids say more than 600 billion single-use cups are produced worldwide every year and all companies need to find a way to be better about reusing, composting or recycling them.

The kids’ previous efforts to reduce waste from Starbucks have been successful. With Tim Hortons, they see the popular contest to be a unique challenge.

Duthie said he understands the contest would have to be rebranded if disposable cups were eliminated altogether.

“I do think that would be a challenge for them but I think it’s certainly possible,” he said.

Other options like app, stickers

Tim Hortons has had some electronic components of its game, including Scroll Up the Rim to Win, which was introduced last year on the company’s mobile app. The prizes on the app version were limited to coffee and doughnuts. The prizes available to people playing by rolling up the rims of their coffee cups include cars.

Chau said she knows using the app may be too large of a transition for some loyal Timmies customers. 

​”They can bring in their own mug but they wouldn’t get the Roll Up The Rim challenge,” she said. 

To keep those people involved, she suggested using stickers or a receipt that customers can scan. Or, she said, get on board with innovating a fully biogradable coffee cup, as other major brands have started doing.

Jane Almeida, a spokeswoman for Restaurant Brands International, which owns Tim Hortons, said in a written statement the company is working on a packaging strategy to reduce its environmental footprint, offers china dishes for customers eating in its shops, and has discounts for customers who bring their own reusable cups.

“Working closely with industry, Tim Hortons will also begin testing a new, strawless lid in 2019 and increasing the amount of recycled content in our packaging,” Almeida said.

Good position to influence, Greenpeace says

Sarah King, head of the oceans and plastics campaign at Greenpeace Canada, said Roll Up the Rim is a fun contest that Canadians love but it inherently encourages people to use cups that will mostly end up in the garbage.

She said the company is in a good position to influence change given its popularity and loyal customer base.

Several restaurant companies are addressing concerns about plastic packaging. Starbucks last year began a quest to find someone to design a biodegradable liner for its coffee cups, a move that came after Chau and Helman petitioned it to build a better cup.

McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are partners in the Starbucks biodegradable cup challenge.

Mya Chau and Eve Helman asked Starbucks last year to sell only fully recyclable disposal coffee cups. (Rachel Ward/CBC, Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

Chau and Helman say they haven’t received a satisfactory response from Tim Hortons yet. When they petitioned Starbucks, the company’s president met with them ahead of launching the better cup quest.

They hope all of Restaurant Brands International’s businesses, including Popeye’s and Burger King, will do what’s outlined in their petition.

Duthie also petitioned Starbucks to stop giving out plastic straws, and the company is phasing those out by 2020.

Their petition for Tim Hortons now has nearly 105,000 signatures.

A now-closed petition targeting Roll Up the Rim received roughly 19,000 supporters.

With files from Rachel Ward and the Calgary Eyeopener.

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Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX seeks creditor protection after founder's death

Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX seeks creditor protection after founder’s death

Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange is due in court on Tuesday as it seeks creditor protection in the wake of the sudden death of its founder and chief executive in December and missing cryptocurrency worth roughly $190 million.

Vancouver-based QuadrigaCX says it filed an application for creditor protection on Jan. 31 and the Nova Scotia Supreme Court will be asked on Feb. 5 to appoint a monitor to oversee the proceedings.

In an affidavit, the widow of Gerald Cotten, Quadriga’s founder, CEO and sole director, said he died suddenly on Dec. 9 due to complications from Crohn’s disease.

Court filings show that after his death, Quadriga employees have been unable to locate or access roughly $190 million worth of digital money.

The company says in a statement that it has been trying to “locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves,” for several weeks, but “unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful.”

In Quadriga’s legal filings it says it currently owes roughly 115,000 users $70 million in currency, plus an additional $180 million worth of cryptocurrencies, based on market prices in December — most of which can’t be accessed.

Court documents show that Quadriga had been facing liquidity issues over the past year but a major issue arose in January 2018 when CIBC froze roughly $25.7 million of its funds held in the account of a third-party processor.

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