Dec 16

11 States sue Obama administration over transgender bathroom directive

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas and 10 other states are suing the Obama administration over its directive to U.S. public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

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The lawsuit announced Wednesday includes Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Arizona, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia. It asks a North Texas federal court to declare the directive unlawful in what ranks among the most co-ordinated and visible legal challenges by states over the socially divisive issue of bathroom rights for transgender persons.

READ MORE: Obama tells public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms of their choice

The Obama administration has “conspired to turn workplace and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights,” the lawsuit reads.

Many of the conservative states involved had previously vowed defiance, calling the guidance a threat to safety while being accused of discrimination by supporters of transgender rights. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has previously said “there is no room in our schools for discrimination.”

The White House had no comment on the lawsuit. The Justice Department said it would review the complaint and did not comment further.

WATCH: Obama tells public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms of their choice

Texas’ lieutenant governor has previously said the state is willing to forfeit $10 billion in federal education dollars rather than comply. The directive from the U.S. Justice and Education Departments represents an escalation in the fast-moving dispute over what is becoming the civil rights issue of the day.

Pressed about whether he knew of any instances in which a child’s safety had been threatened because of transgender bathroom rights, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said “there’s not a lot of research” during a news conference about the lawsuit. He said he his office has heard from concerned parents, but didn’t say how many, and said he did not meet with any parents of transgender students before drafting the lawsuit.

The states claim that the directive demands “seismic changes” in schools across the U.S. and forces them to let students choose a bathroom “that match their chosen ‘gender identity’ on any given day.”

Two school districts joined the states in the lawsuit: one is the tiny Harrold school district in North Texas, which has roughly 100 students and passed a policy this week requiring students to use the bathroom based on the gender on their birth certificate. Superintendent David Thweatt said his schools have no transgender students to his knowledge but defended the district taking on the federal government.

“It’s not moot because it was thrusted upon us by the federal government,” Thweatt said, “or we were going to risk losing our federal funding.”

WATCH: ‘Some people are gay, get over it’: Teen told pro-LGBTQ shirt violates school dress code 

The question of whether federal civil rights law protects transgender people has not been definitively answered by the courts and may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. But schools that refuse to comply could be hit with civil rights lawsuits from the government and could face a cutoff of federal aid to education.

The guidance was issued after the Justice Department and North Carolina sued each other overs a state law that requires transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate. The law applies to schools and many other places.

Supporters say such measures are needed to protect women and children from sexual predators, while the Justice Department and others argue the threat is practically nonexistent and the law discriminatory.

Education officials in Arizona said campuses already had policies to protect students from bullying and discrimination “regardless of their gender identity.” A small Arizona school district also joined in the lawsuit.

“The fact that the federal government has yet again decided that it knows what is best for every one of our local communities is insulting and, quite frankly, intolerable,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said.

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Dec 16

Tiny male seal pup named Timbit rescued and in the care of Vancouver Aquarium

A tiny male seal pup, only a few days old, is the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre’s newest resident.

Aquarium staff named him Timbit and said the tiny seal weighs just over eight kilograms, is covered in the soft fur of a preemie pup and still has remnants of the umbilical cord attached.

The pup, which was underweight and dehydrated, was found by a person in Bella Bella, B.C. and flown to Vancouver for care.

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Along with getting hands-on attention from the aquarium’s mammal rescue centre, Timbit is also being fed a nutrient-rich formula five times a day.

“This is the start of pupping season along B.C.’s coast,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

“At this time of year, you’ll sometimes see newborn pups left to rest while their mothers forage for food. The mother will often come back, although unfortunately, not always. We ask those who find a seal pup not to touch it and to keep their pets away. Call us, and we’ll assess the animal.”

The aquarium rescues, rehabilitates and releases more than 100 animals a year, and last year the team rescued 145 animals.

Although it is tempting to touch a stranded or injured animal, the rescue centre advises to not approach it, keep pets away and call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-7325 for immediate assistance.

PHOTO GALLERY:

Up close with the tiny seal pup named Timbit

Vancouver Aquarium

Up close with the tiny seal pup named Timbit

Vancouver Aquarium

Up close with the tiny seal pup named Timbit

Vancouver Aquarium

Up close with the tiny seal pup named Timbit

Vancouver Aquarium

Up close with the tiny seal pup named Timbit

Vancouver Aquarium

Up close with the tiny seal pup named Timbit

Vancouver Aquarium

Up close with the tiny seal pup named Timbit

Vancouver Aquarium

Up close with the tiny seal pup named Timbit

Vancouver Aquarium

Up close with the tiny seal pup named Timbit

Vancouver Aquarium

Up close with the tiny seal pup named Timbit. He was rescued in Bella Bella and is recovering at the Vancouver Aquarium Mammal Rescue Centre.

Vancouver Aquarium

Dec 16

Celebration plans for Canada’s 150th anniversary announced in Saskatoon

A national physical activity advocate will receive $5.4 million from the Canadian government to help mark the country’s 150th anniversary next year, according to an announcement made in Saskatoon Wednesday morning.

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    The Toronto-based non-profit ParticipACTION will undertake a “150 Play List” project to mark the number of years since Canada became a country. The group will ask the public to help come up with a list of 150 uniquely Canadian activities and challenge citizens to complete as many as possible in 2017.

    “As a country we’re just not as physically active as we should be,” said ParticipACTION President and CEO Elio Antunes to reporters after Wednesday’s announcement.

    “We thought this was a good opportunity as part of the 150th celebrations to really put a spotlight on this issue.”

    READ MORE: Feds hoping to build support for update of Parliament Buildings

    The funds will go towards creating an online platform and conducting more than 100 community events across Canada, to promote the project, according to Antunes.

    “It’s a national program that goes to coast-to-coast-to-coast and so we want to be relevant in every community and touch every Canadian.”

    The Canadian media company Corus Entertainment will also help champion the project through “everything from PSA’s, commercial inventory, to on the news or radio mentions,” according to Gary Maavara, its executive vice president. Corus owns numbers television and radio stations, including Global.

    “Our creative folks are going to be working on a lot of different things to really entice Canadians to start telling us about what is that quintessential Canadian thing that we do that is going to help people get fit,” said Maavara.

    “Watching television is important to us, but it’s only part of the day and it doesn’t do us any good at all to have kids in front of the set all the time.”

    Engaging the youth is one of the government’s main themes in its vision for next year’s anniversary, according to Heritage Minister Melanie Joly. At Wednesday’s announcement she said activity can bring Canadians together.

    “There’s different sports that are linked to our past history, our common history,” said Joly. She and the other dignities took part in a canoe launch at the announcement, demonstrating one potential activity that could mark Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Lucky duck! Winnipeg police step up to help orphaned duckling

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WINNIPEG —; They can fit in the palm of your hand and thanks to some kind Winnipeggers, a group of ducklings are lucky ducks.

“We actually received quite a large number of ducklings,” said Lisa Tretiak, with the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

Over the past few days 14 ducklings have been brought to the rescue organization. Seven of them were saved by bystanders along Kenaston Boulevard after their mother was hit by a vehicle.

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“The babies were trying to get back to their mom in the middle of the road, so they managed to keep them off the road and called one of volunteers who was able to come with a box,” said Tretiak.

Wednesday night six more ducklings were turned in. On Thursday morning, Winnipeg police officers found a little duck and called the organization.

“They are very difficult to foster to a wild mother which is what we would like to do,” Tretiak said. “Wild duck mothers can be a little more knowing of her own so it is difficult to add more ducklings unless she is what we call a super mom.”

The rescue group says gosling and ducklings have started to hatch around the city and is reminding people to be careful while driving. If someone comes across a lone duck without a mom there are a few things you can do.

“They can eat on their own but can’t keep themselves warm at night or protect from predators, so if they do spot one it is important they bring them into us,” said Tretiak.

“We can then amalgamate it with other babies of the same kind. A lot of time we have different ages and we will match them up with the proper ages so they form a group, they don’t get used to people and we can release them into the wild.”

Once the ducks are a few weeks old they will be taken to a marsh and released.

If you find gosling or duckling that is in need of help you can reach the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre at 1-204-510-1855.

Legalized marijuana: Capitalizing on cannabis or profiting from potheads?

Featured

VANCOUVER — 420 is a mega-marijuana mart in Olympia, Washington — a big box store selling pot from local producers with names like “time bomb.”

But business is certainly booming, according to owner Chad Champagne, and there was a steady stream of customers the morning and afternoon Global News paid a visit to the store.

ChangSha Night Net

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    “Demand is high,” Champagne told Global News. “People now feel comfortable coming in and buying pot.”

    He said his customer base is a bit older than many might expect. “People in their mid-40s and mostly male.”

    The cash-only joint is run like Fort Knox, with three different security systems and night patrols.

    But in the backroom, vaults are filled with the green stuff rather than greenbacks.

    Washington state law allows for adults over the age of 21 to purchase pot to be consumed in the privacy of their own homes. Initiative 502 made recreational pot legal in Washington state in 2012 and retail stores have been allowed to operate since 2014.

    READ MORE: Colorado pot report: More adults smoking weed, not kids

    According to the website 502data长沙桑拿, pot shops in the state can take in anywhere from US $5,000 to $50,000 a day. 420 is somewhere in the middle.

    “The overall scope of the business is growing,” Champagne said.

    The green rush happening in Washington state is proving to be a boon for both business owners and the state.

    So far, overall revenue is at about $1 billion, while the state has collected $210 million in taxes.

    “The idea was if you regulate it like alcohol, that money can be used for the state rather than for the black market,” said Rick Garza, director of the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board.

    WATCH: Is cannabis Canada’s next cash crop? Robin Gill reports.

    Washington charges a 37 per cent excise tax, as well as a 9 per cent sales tax. Some stores include it in the overall price. Others add it at the till.

    But Mark Kleiman, who advised the state on how to proceed with its public health policy, is critical of the current situation and believes the state — and the industry — is profiting from potheads.

    “The vast majority use marijuana occasionally and they contribute nothing to revenue,” said Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University. “It comes from people who are smoking all the time.”

    He said the only way to manage this problem is to keep prices high.

    Right now, however, prices are down because there is plenty of pot to go around. In fact, the state is allowing licenced producers to grow up to 12.3 million square feet of marijuana, or the equivalent of about 300 football fields, to supply the medical and recreational marijuana markets.

    “A gram used to sell for $20 to $30,” 420’s Champagne said. “Now, it’s $8 to $15.”

    Low-cost pot is a big concern for those opposed to legal marijuana sales.

    Derek Franklin is with the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention — a group that fought to stop Initiative 502 and lost.

    He calls legal pot a “public health disaster.”

    “Our culture likes to abuse things. This is an abusable substance,” Franklin told Global News.

    But, the state argues it was the will of the people.

    “People felt marijuana is as available as alcohol and alcohol is regulated and taxed highly,” said. Garza.

    Follow @Robin_Global

    WATCH: More reporting on Canada’s plans to legalize marijuana

    Toronto Mayor John Tory asking city to regulate marijuana dispensaries

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420 Toronto marijuana rally in support of pot legalization