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Sperm switch is the new contraception (maybe)

Germany’s Clemens Bimek, carpenter, dreamer, risk taker, came up with the idea of a physical, embedded switch that would control the flow of sperm from a man’s testicles about 20 years ago. Today, for Bimek, it’s a reality, one he hopes will be a historic breakthrough in contraception. Urologist Hartwig Bauer performed the operation that saw two switches installed on his vas deferens, just beneath the skin of his scrotum. He had one switch installed for each testicle. This year, trials begin with 25 men in line to undergo the surgery. The switch is about an inch long and weighs less than a tenth of an ounce. [Source: National Post]

TansCanada to sue the U.S. over failed KeystoneXL project

TransCanada plans to sue the U.S. a sum of $15 billion over Obama’s decision to prematurely end the controversial KeystoneXL pipeline project. “TransCanada has been unjustly deprived of the value of its multibillion-dollar investment by the U.S. administration’s action,” read a statement made by the company. “Rather, the denial was a symbolic gesture based on speculation about the (false) perceptions of the international community regarding the administration’s leadership on climate change.” The pipeline, if completed, would have connected Alberta’s oil sands to U.S. refineries stationed along the Gulf Coast. Obama expressed concern over the project at the outset, and went over the head of Congress to make sure the pipeline wouldn’t cross the border. TransCanada is also filing a lawsuit asking that the decision to end the project be overturned, calling the decision to do in the first place “arbitrary and unjustified.” [Source: NYTimes]

Treasure hunter finds 125-year-old bottle of Alexander Keith’s 

Jon Crouse, scuba driver, warehouse worker, and treasure hunter, found a 125-year-old bottle of Alexander Keith’s india pale ale on the bottom of the Halifax Harbour last year. It was half-full, corked, and the colour of wheat, apparently. Crouse brought the beer to Dalhousie University where a team of scientists began running tests on the ancient liquid, looking specifically at pH, density, colour, and bitterness. They confirmed that the bottle did in fact contain beer. So, a few decided to sample the brew: “It tasted surprisingly good, and surprisingly like beer,” said a local bar owner. A different sampler said it’s undrinkable and detected notes of meat. [Source: CTV News]

Group of First Nations to purchase rail line servicing remote communities in northern Manitoba

OmniTrax Canada is planning to sell all of its Manitoba assets, including the Hudson Bay Railway and the Port of Churchill, to a group of First Nations situated in the province’s north. The company’s decision to sell came in early December after what it says was a poor year in grain shipments. “We’ve managed the rail and the port well, and we’ve put it in a position where it can be profitable, but as a private investor, you have to make a return,” said president Merv Tweed at the time of the sale. “I think it’s time for new ownership to see what they can do. Having visited many communities along the rail line, it became clear that the rail line serves as a utility for these remote communities. And for the line and assets to truly succeed, First Nation participation in ownership and management was essential.” The Hudson Bay Railway also functions as a supply line for many remote communities in northern Manitoba, and Tweed believes the line will have its best chance at success under the ownership of the region it serves. No further details about the purchasing groups have been released, and the sale will only be final following the completion of a 45-day due-diligence period. [Source: Thompson Citizen]

National Geographic announces 2015 photo winners

National Geographic has announced the winners of its 2015 photo contest. There are many winners, and an excellent gallery of photo submissions, but the grand prize went to James Smart of Melbourne, Australia for his capture of a tornado kicking up a column of dirt. Click on the source article link at the end of this brief to see his and other winning photos of 2015. [Source: National Geographic]


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