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Monthly Archives: May 2019

Water woes: The drought beyond California

While the word “drought” is on the lips of Americans as a result of historic dry conditions in California, America’s most populous state is far from being alone. Drought-like conditions are plaguing other parts of the world as well.

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A recent found that this past June and July, Europe experienced its worst drought since 2003. The European Drought Observatory (EDO) found that the countries affected most were France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, northern Italy and northern Spain.

The region has seen little rain and record-breaking temperatures.  In Spain, maximum daily temperatures hovered near 30 C for more than a month with little rainfall making for a troublesome combination.

Sao Paulo, Brazil — a city with a population of 44 million people — is experiencing the worst drought in 80 years. In October 2014, its main dam dropped to just 3.3 per cent its capacity, the lowest in its history.

According to Ben Cook, a co-author of a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, North Korea endured a particularly long drought, though it seems to be coming out of it. West Africa is also experiencing drought conditions leaving millions without access to clean, potable water and the inability to grow crops, he said.

However, “The two big ones right now outside of the U.S. is Europe and Southeast Asia.”

In particular, he notes that Thailand is enduring one of is worst drought in years and is beginning to impact its rice production, a vital staple and economic driver of the country.

Though people may be concerned about California, he said, “I think people really are going to start paying attention [to Thailand].”

Worse still is that with this being a year we could see historic El Nino conditions, it could exacerbate areas that are already delicately balanced on the water scale.

Speaking about the California drought, Cook said, “What it means is that we have to be smarter about the water we do have.”

But the same could be said around the world.

Though many parts of the world are enduring their own form of drought conditions, that’s not to say that the situation in California isn’t dire: As of writing this story, the state’s major reservoirs were only around 40 per cent capacity.

This lack of water is also occurring in the country’s most populous state, affecting more than 37 million people — that’s more than the entire population of Canada. Economically, this drought could cripple the agriculture industry, the main user of the state’s water resources.

A look at California

“I think it’s fair to say it’s because California being California it’s brought attention to climate change and how it can affect us,” said Lowell Stott, Earth Sciences professor at the University of Southern California.

Warming ocean waters interacting with atmospheric variability alter the jet stream which takes most precipitation out of the region. If ocean temperatures continue to rise as a result of increased greenhouse gases, the results will be similar.

WATCH: Why does California’s drought matter for Canadians?

But about 45 per cent of the United States is experiencing drought conditions. Not just California.

READ MORE: Watch – Bill Gates drinks water that was once poop — for a good cause

The state suffered a mega-drought about 1,000 years ago. Stott said that the current drought is concerning, particularly due to its “persistence and length.”

“We may be seeing the beginning of that kind of climate system, in the northern hemisphere, at least.”

Cook agrees. “This is pretty close to the mega-drought.”

“I have concerns that we’re entering a climate system similar to that of 1,000 years ago,” Stott said. “The consequences of that would be catastrophic if it played itself out.”

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Ontario government signs political accord with First Nations Chiefs – Toronto

TORONTO – The Ontario government signed a political accord Monday with the Chiefs of Ontario that Premier Kathleen Wynne said will guide relations between First Nations and the province.

“As we’ve seen time and time again, when this relationship is not respected or when the trust is broken, the consequences are painful and long-lasting,” said Wynne.

The accord signed by Wynne and Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day in a ceremony at the legislature creates a formal bilateral relationship between the government and First Nations.

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“We’ve taken an important step to renew the relationship between First Nations and Ontario,” she said. “I want to acknowledge that in some cases the relationship has to be built, that it’s not even a matter of rebuilding, but it’s a relationship that has to be built almost from scratch.”

The accord affirms that First Nations have an inherent right to self-government and that the relationship with Ontario is based upon respect for that right, but exactly what that means remained unclear.

“As I understand it, as we have discussions about education or social services or as we talk about economic well-being and resource revenue sharing, we need to define that self-government responsibility within each of those contexts,” said Wynne. “I don’t think that there’s a blanket definition.”

Treaty rights and the right to self-government “really aren’t in question any more,” said Day.

“What’s in question is how do we start to rearrange the relationship with all levels of government to suggest that we have a rightful place at the table, and that we do need to start building those systems so that we can start taking responsibility in our communities.”

Treaties should have some sort of enforcement mechanism just like trade agreements between countries, added Day.

“These are the hard discussions that we’re going to have to have,” he said. “We must create criteria on what that enforcement means.”

The deal also commits the government and First Nations to work together on a range of issues, including resource benefits sharing and jurisdictional matters, and calls for two meetings a year with the premier.

Day called it “the most important collective milestone in modern times,” and said it will help advance First Nations jurisdiction and Treaty rights “on our own terms.”

One of the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was to add details on Treaties, residential schools and First Nations history to Ontario’s education curriculum, which will be done starting with a distribution of Treaty maps to every public school, said Wynne.

“Everybody needs to understand the Treaty promises our ancestors made that have since been broken, as well as our rights and responsibilities as Treaty peoples today.”

The premier said she would also apologize for the “horrors” of the residential schools and the “’60’s scoop” of children from First Nations communities.

“We want to work with First Nations partners to make this apology formal, a full apology for these wrongs that I can deliver this fall on behalf of the government and all Ontarians.”

©2015The Canadian Press

Judge overturns Terrence Howard divorce settlement – National

LOS ANGELES — A judge overturned Terrence Howard’s divorce settlement with his second wife Monday, finding the actor was coerced into signing the settlement by her threats to leak private details.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Trent Lewis’ ruling means Howard and his ex-wife, Michelle Ghent, will now have to renegotiate the financial terms of their divorce.

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“The evidence of extortion or duress was unrebutted,” Lewis said.

Howard contended he signed a 2012 settlement to end his marriage to Ghent out of fear she would leak private details about him, including phone sex recordings with other women and a video of him dancing naked in a bathroom.

READ MORE: In courtroom and witness chair, ‘Empire’ star Terrence Howard is forced to confront his past

The agreement entitled Ghent to a share of Howard’s earnings, which would include a portion of his salary from the hit Fox series Empire, which opens its second season in the fall.

Ghent’s lawyers have said she denied extorting the actor in a deposition and argued he didn’t prove threats she made in 2011 forced him to sign the agreement a year later. She was not allowed to testify at a recent hearing because her attorneys did not file a sworn declaration from her before the proceedings began.

Lewis presided over a four-day hearing that revealed numerous private details about the Oscar-nominated actor, including that he had cheated on Ghent during their engagement, he was physically violent with his first wife, and he has already divorced his third wife.

Lewis also heard a 2011 call in which Ghent berated Howard and threatened to sell private information about him if he didn’t pay her money by the end of the day. Howard’s accountant sent Ghent $40,000 in response to the call, which he called “hush money.”

The actor called it “blood money.” He told Lewis that leaking the information at the time would have ended his acting career.

Ghent has accused Howard of multiple instances of domestic violence and has an active restraining order against the actor.

Howard, 46, has denied he abused Ghent.

The actor was nominated for an Academy Award for his starring role in 2005’s Hustle & Flow.

His career has re-surged since the debut of Empire, a hit series for Fox that had steadily improved ratings each week in its first season. The show’s second season, set to debut on Sept. 23, is highly anticipated.

Work on the show’s second season continues. Howard spent four days in court during a recent hearing, testifying for portions of three of those days. His absence didn’t impact the show’s shooting schedule.

©2015The Associated Press

It’s time to get over your unfounded turkey burger hang-ups – National

It really is time for all of us to get over our hesitation about turkey burgers. I get that people are nervous about turkey burgers being dry and flavourless, but that really isn’t necessary.

Avoiding a dry, tasteless turkey burger — or any type of burger, for that matter — is easy. Start by not overcooking them. Kind of obvious, but true. Get the burgers off the grill as soon as they hit 165 F. And during cooking, never press down on the patties with the spatula. That squeezes out all the delicious juices no matter what meat you are using.

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With turkey burgers, it also helps to use a mix of dark and light ground turkey, which adds a bit more fat and flavour. Ground turkey labeled “93 per cent lean” will have enough dark meat mixed in to keep it moist and delicious. I try to avoid 99 per cent lean ground turkey, which can produce those tasteless burgers we all fear.

You also can add an ingredient or two to the meat to help keep them juicy, plus lend a boost of flavour. Play around with all kinds of ingredients, from ketchup and mayonnaise to shredded apple and sauteed onions. A touch of olive oil doesn’t hurt either, both as a juiciness enhancer and a flavour booster. In my recipe, the oil is used along with barbecue sauce and the mild heat of chipotles in adobo sauce to add both flavour and moisture.

Chipotles packed in adobo sauce usually come in small cans. I used them pureed in this recipe. Just dump the entire can in a food processor or blender, then puree until smooth. Leftovers can be frozen in small amounts (ice cube trays are handy for this) and kept on hand for future recipes.

If you don’t wish to grill them, the burgers can be cooked in a lightly oiled skillet or under the broiler for roughly the same amount of time. There is a sauce that goes along with these burgers, but you are welcome to use plain old mustard or ketchup if you prefer. I wish for world peace, and for more people to like turkey burgers. Today I’ll start with turkey burgers.



Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

For the sauce:

3 tablespoons mayonnaise1 teaspoon pureed chipotles in adoboKosher salt and ground black pepper

For the burgers:

1 tablespoon olive oil1/4 cup finely chopped scallions1/4 cup barbecue sauce2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs2 teaspoons pureed chipotles in adobo1 pound 93 per cent lean ground turkeyKosher salt and ground black pepper

To serve:

4 hamburger bunsSliced red onionsSliced tomatoesRomaine lettuce leaves

Heat the grill to medium-high.

To prepare the sauce, in a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise, chipotles and a hefty pinch each of salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a small skillet over medium, heat the olive oil. Add the scallions and saute for about 4 minutes, or until the scallions are softened. Transfer to a large bowl, then add the barbecue sauce, breadcrumbs and pureed chipotles. Stir well, then add the turkey and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Using your hands or a spoon, mix well, but try to handle the meat gently. Form the mixture into 4 patties, pressing slightly to create indentations at the centre of each.

Grill the burgers for about 5 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through and have reached an internal temperature of 165 F.

Place the cooked burgers on the bottom halves of the buns, then top with the sauce and layer on onion, tomato and lettuce.

Nutrition information per serving: 440 calories; 200 calories from fat (45 per cent of total calories); 22 g fat (4.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 90 mg cholesterol; 800 mg sodium; 33 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 26 g protein.


Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.”

©2015The Canadian Press

‘Straight Outta Compton’ tops box office for second week – National

NEW YORK – Straight Outta Compton easily maintained its box-office lead with an estimated $26.8 million in ticket sales over a sleepy late summer weekend at North American multiplexes, according to studio estimates Sunday.

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Universal’s N.W.A biopic, a much buzzed-about hit, dominated over the late August releases that often characterize Hollywood’s dog days of summer. It has now made $111.5 million in two weeks, and continued to drive moviegoers, both male and female, despite renewed charges of misogyny in N.W.A lyrics and the film overlooking claims of Dr. Dre’s abuse of women.

In a statement Friday, the rapper and producer of Straight Outta Compton said: “I apologize to the women I’ve hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives.”

READ MORE: Like N.W.A, ‘Straight Outta Compton’ likely to inspire imitations

Of the weekend’s new releases, the low-budget horror sequel Sinister 2 fared best, opening with an estimated $10.6 million for the Blumhouse production – well below the $18 million the 2012 original debuted with. The result was good enough for third place, behind Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which made $11.7 million in its fourth weekend of release.

Fox’s assassin thriller Hitman: Agent 47, the second attempt in eight years to adapt the popular video game, disappointed with $8.2 million. It will hope to do better abroad, where the 2007 original made $60.3 million. It began with $8.5 million over the weekend internationally.

Lionsgate’s stoner action-comedy American Ultra, starring Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg, also failed to spark much interest, opening with $5.5 million.

The three new releases – all violent, R-rated, poorly reviewed options – divided up a similar audience. The box office was down 7.5 per cent from the same weekend last year, according to box-office data firm Rentrak.

Without a much-anticipated release scheduled over the next two weeks, the lull is likely to continue through Labor Day weekend.

In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics Grandma, a well-reviewed comedy starring Lily Tomlin, opened on four screens with a strong per-screen average of $30,214.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday:

1. “Straight Outta Compton,” $26.8 million.

2. “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” $11.7 million ($25.2 million international).

3. “Sinister 2,” $10.6 million.

4. “Hitman: Agent 47,” $8.2 million ($8.5 million international).

5. “Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” $7.4 million ($8 million international).

6. “American Ultra,” $5.5 million ($1 million international).

7. “The Gift,” $4.3 million.

8. “Ant-Man,” $4.1. million ($2.9 million international).

9. “Minions,” $3.7 million ($8.8 million international).

10. “Fantastic Four,” $3.7 million ($16.2 million international).

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theatres (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak:

1. “Terminator Genisys,” $27.4 million.

2. “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” $25.2 million.

3. “Bride Wars,” $23.6 million.

4. “Fantastic Four,” $16.2 million.

5. “Go Away Mr. Tumor,” $13 million.

6. “Inside Out,” $10.7 million.

7. “Veteran,” $10.5 million.

8. “Minions,” $8.8 million.

9. “Hitman: Agent 47,” $8.5 million.

10. “Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” $8 million.

©2015The Associated Press