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  • Man charged with making death threats against father of Rehtaeh Parsons

    HALIFAX - Police in Halifax have charged a young man accused of making death threats against the father of Rehtaeh Parsons.

    Police won't disclose the name of the alleged victim or of the 19-year-old accused, who has yet to appear in court.

    But Parsons' father, Glen Canning, said Saturday the charges relate to online threats made against him last year.

    Canning also said police told him the accused is one of two teens facing child pornography-related charges in connection with his daughter's case.

    "They called me on Thursday night and mentioned that charges were filed in relation to the online threats that I had received," Canning said in an interview.

    Canning's daughter, Rehtaeh Parsons, was taken off life-support last April after attempting suicide in her Halifax home. Her family says the 17-year-old was relentlessly tormented after a photograph of her allegedly being sexually assaulted in November 2011 was passed around her school.

    Two teens face charges of distributing child pornography in connection with the case, while one of them also faces a charge of making child pornography. They cannot be named because they were under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offences and both are charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

    RCMP spokesman Cpl. Scott MacRae said police began investigating the alleged death threats last Aug. 2 after receiving a complaint from a 49-year-old man.

    "It did take until April of this year to move the investigation along," he said. "There are means to eventually determine the ownership of the computer or possibility of who made the threats, albeit a complex process."

    MacRae said police executed a search warrant at a home in the suburb of Eastern Passage and seized a computer and electronic storage devices. A 19-year-old man was arrested at the home Thursday.

    He is due in court May 20 on charges including uttering death threats and criminal harassment.

    Canning, who has been an outspoken advocate for victims of sexual assault and cyberbullying, said he and his family have been the targets of online harassment since his daughter's death.

    But Canning said some comments went too far and that's when he contacted police.

    "I believe they were just threatening to kill me if I didn't shut up," he said.

  • Looking for a forever home, Penticton SPCA Pet of the Week

    Doves

    The Penticton SPCA is currently have 2 adult doves and 2 baby doves in their care.

    All are looking for a forever home.

    The SPCAs ask any potential adopters to do their research on doves in regards to the amount of space and care they require.

    They require a large home, preferably an aviary. These birds are quite tame and make the funniest noises, often found giggling and cooing away.

    If interested please contact the Penticton SPCA 250-493-0136.

  • Free Yukon Blonde concert

    KELOWNA – Yes. A free concert by up-and-coming pop rockers Yukon Blonde.

    Frontman Jeff Innes, guitarist Brandon Scott and drummer Graham Jones originally hail from Kelowna where they started out as Alphababy in 2005.

    The trio reinvented themselves in 2005 as Yukon Blonde.

    The free concert goes May 19 at City Park and is part of the Red Bull Hometown Tour.

    The band’s debut album Everything in Everyway, was recorded in 2009 in Vancouver.

    You can RSVP for the Kelowna concert at Red Bull’s website.

    To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at aproskiw@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

  • VIDEO: Air Canada under fire over video showing baggage being dropped

    TORONTO - Air Canada is apologizing after a video purporting to show a baggage handler dropping luggage from roughly six metres off the ground hit social media.

    The video, taken by a passenger on board a plane, shows a baggage handler dropping bags from a boarding gate to a luggage bin.

    The video posted April 18 on YouTube is titled "How Air Canada Handles Your Baggage," but it doesn't say where or when the incident occurred.

    It's generating a wide range of comments both on the video site and Twitter, with some people lambasting Air Canada and saying they won't fly on the airline again.

    Others were more charitable saying the airline should not be judged by the actions of one baggage handler.

    In Twitter posts on Saturday, Air Canada says it has launched an investigation and is "very disappointed & sorry about the actions in the video."

    "The actions don't reflect our procedure. We apologize for this," the airline said in another tweet.

  • Killer sponge discovered off Vancouver Island

    VANCOUVER - They look like fuzzy fingers, waving gently from the depths of the ocean floor but make no mistake — they're stone cold killers.

    Scientists have discovered four new species of carnivorous sponge off the Pacific Coast, including one deadly variety found hanging from the deep-sea ridges off southern Vancouver Island.

    Fortunately, these killers are about the size of a piece of spaghetti and they feed only on the tiny, shrimp-like amphipods and copepods that drift through the sea.

    "Sponges characteristically feed on small particles, like bacteria, little tiny guys," said Henry Reiswig, a retired professor of biology at McGill University, volunteer taxonomist at the University of Victoria and the Royal British Columbia Museum, and self-described "sponge guy."

    But these meat eaters feed on tiny crustaceans.

    "It's a snaring process involving spicules, pieces of glass on their surfaces that they use to snare," said Reiswig, who is "77 or something like that."

    Two of the newly discovered species were collected by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute off the California coast and another from a hydrothermal vent field in the Gulf of California off Mexico. The fourth hails from a formation called the Endeavour Segment on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, off south Vancouver Island.

    The Canadian beast, Cladorhiza caillieti, looks like a skinny bottle brush. The samples were five to seven centimetres long and only millimetres wide, found attached to the underside of overhanging ledges of basalt more than two thousand metres below sea level.

    Reiswig and William Austin, of the Khoyatan Marine Laboratory on Vancouver Island, were enlisted by marine biologist Lonny Lundsten from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to help identify the sponges.

    Carnivorous sponges were only discovered in 1995. Since then, only 137 species have been described, including these four. Just 11 of them were found in the North Pacific.

    They've been described as the Venus fly traps of the deep sea, a "truly extraordinary species," wrote Lonny Lundsten, the lead author of an article published in the most recent edition of the scientific journal Zootaxa.

    Lundsten said the samples were collected by remotely operated vehicles during other research, most of it geological surveys of the sea floor.

    Their meat-eating ways are believed to be an adaptation to the nutrient-poor environs of the deep sea, where most are found.

    "Typical sponges must continually beat the flagella of choanocytes to create a current which flows through their bodies. From this current they strain single celled organisms and bacteria, which they eat," Lundsten said in an email interview.

    "But constantly beating these flagella is not efficient, energetically, when food is largely unavailable. Rather than creating a current, carnivores act more like spiders webs, with a matrix of tiny hooks waiting to catch any plankton that drift past them in the currents."

    They're ancient. Specimens have been found in Jurassic sediment dating back 200 million years.

    Reiswig believes a single mutation is responsible for the many descendants being discovered today.

    "They're all over the world: Sweden, Antarctic and throughout the equatorial zones," he said. "But it only takes a million years or so for sponges to get around."

    So far, they've only been found in very deep water ranging from 600 to 3400 metres offshore. But we now know there are at least 11 species found in the northeast Pacific, he said.

    It's another small step in understanding the biodiversity of the largest and least known habitat on Earth, Lundsten said.

    "Each time we dive, we get a sense of what the early explorers must have felt exploring new worlds and seeing things no one had ever seen before. In that sense, we will continue exploring this last remaining wild frontier on planet earth."