NASA's Phoenix Mars lander landed and began transmitting images back this week following a 10-month journey to Mars. Launched Aug. 2007, Phoenix was designed to study the geological history of Mars and search for evidence of a habitable zone in the planet's soil. Although its mission is slated to last for 92 days, scientists are already discussing similarities between Earth and Mars based on one of the first images transmitted by Phoenix, displaying polygonal-patterned cracks on the surface similar to those caused by ice wedging on Earth.
UBC art thef
The University of British Columbia is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the return of artwork stolen from a campus museum last week. A dozen pieces of jewelry by B.C. artist Bill Reid, valued at $2 million, were stolen from UBC's museum of anthropology May 23. Museum officials are concerned that the pieces may be melted down for their gold, valued at $15,000 based on weight. Law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate the break-in. RCMP spokesperson Annie Linteau noted art theft is not very common in the province and the RCMP are working with police abroad to track down the culprits.
Hurricane season a-comin'
The upcoming Atlantic hurricane season is not expected to be anything unusual, the United States government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced in a report released last week. Based on current climate conditions, NOAA estimates the 2008 season has a 90 per cent likelihood of a "near or above normal season." An average hurricane season features 11 named storms, including six hurricanes with two reaching major hurricane status. National Hurricane Center director Bill Read said his forecasters are ready to track any storm in the Atlantic Ocean once hurricane season begins June 1 in a NOAA news release May 22.
Grand Theft Auto: Calgary
A Calgary man has been charged in connection to a wild crime spree over the weekend. The suspect stole seven cars and took hostages twice--including a nine-year-old girl and a 75-year-old man--over a daring two-hour string of car-jackings. Richard David Barker has been charged with robbery, forcible confinement and assault with a weapon in connection with the spree. He is also facing charges of three failed car-jacking attempts and a series of robberies on the same day. The suspect was brought into custody with injuries after the car he was driving was forced into a pole by police, although witnesses claimed they were a result of police violence. Calgary Police Service Staff Sgt. Keith Cain acknowledged the use of force in bringing the suspect into custody in a Calgary Sun news article Tuesday, but praised the officers for their restraint in light of how many people were in harm's way.
The NDP pens net neutrality bill
The federal New Democratic Party brought legislation aiming to tackle the issue of internet neutrality to Parliament this week. Introduced as a private members bill, Bill C-552 was unveiled as a reaction to recent actions by Canadian internet service providers to limit their customers' use of the internet. Companies like Rogers and Bell claim that the use of mass-downloading applications such as BitTorrent slow down their networks and, in response, have reduced their connection speed during peak access times. NDP digital spokesman Charlie Angus called the internet "a critical piece of infrastructure" in a CBC news article Wednesday. He argued the bill, aiming to amend the Telecommunications Act to block internet providers from limiting access, would protect Canada's innovation agenda.
Spokane Chiefs captain Chris Bruton insists he did not break the Memorial Cup after his team won it last week. The Calgary-born hockey player said the trophy, a replica of the 89-year-old trophy given to the champions of the Canadian Hockey League, simply broke apart in his hands. Nicknamed "Butter-fingers" by the media following the incident in Kitchener, Ontario, Bruton has become an internet sensation in the interim with over 100,000 views of the video on YouTube. The trophy has since been repaired by CHL officials and the original, first presented in 1919, remains in one piece at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.