Prairie Post

5 things you absolutely must know today

1. House of Commons passes anti-terrorism bill

In a vote of 183 to 93, Canadian MPs have passed a bill that will give law enforcement officials more power to detain and question individuals suspected of terrorist involvement. The bill, known as S-7, adds several provisions to Canada’s already-existing Anti-Terrorism Act, including “preventative detention”, in which terrorism suspects can be held for up to three days without charge, and “investigative hearing”, in which someone suspected of having terrorism knowledge can be forced to answer questions. Failure to comply with either of these laws could result in up to 12 months in prison. [CBC, National Post]

2. Winnipeg woman dies by assisted suicide

Susan Griffiths, a 72-year-old Winnipeg woman with multiple-system atrophy, has died by assisted-suicide in Zurich, Switzerland. Multiple-system atrophy is a degenerative disease that affects the brain’s nerve cells, and is both incurable and largely untreatable. Since assisted-suicide is against the law in Canada, Griffiths chose to travel to Switzerland with relatives and close-friends to have the procedure performed. The day before she died, Griffith’s talked about her legal struggle with CBC’s Donna Carreiro.

“I’ve had the most amazing response from friends, [and] from people that I have not seen for ages and ages, to say it’s what they would like to see happen as well. And I would like to think that they will pester their member of Parliament to get a debate started.” [CBC]

3. Death toll in collapse of Bangladesh factory continues to rise

Officials are now saying 238 people were killed (though BBC is reporting more than 250) after the collapse of a clothing factory in Bangladesh. They say 2,000 people worked at the factory which manufactured, among other items, Joe Fresh, Superstore’s brand of inexpensive clothing. Though the owners of the factory are now in hiding, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that those responsible for the catastrophe “will be found and brought to justice.” [BBC, CTV]

4. Minaret of 11th century mosque is destroyed by Syrian fighting

The minaret of the Great Mosque of Damascus has fallen after it was damaged by nearby fighting between Syrian rebels and the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The minaret, which was the oldest surviving part of the mosque, dated back to 1090.

“This is like blowing up the Taj Mahal or destroying the Acropolis in Athens. This mosque is a living sanctuary,” said Beirut Professor of Archaeology Helga Seeden to the Associated Press. “This is a disaster. In terms of heritage, this is the worst I’ve seen in Syria. I’m horrified.” [AP]

5. U.S. biotech company 3-D prints working liver

Though it only lasted for five days, a U.S. biotechnology company 3-D printed a tiny, fully-functioning liver. The company hopes to eventually print large enough amounts of tissue that they can sell it to drug manufacturers for disease modelling. For all those heavy imbibers out there, the scientists involved are warning people not to get too excited just yet—3-D liver printing is a long-term project.

“I’m not saying I’m going to give you an entire liver in a box, but I do believe we will see implantable liver tissue in my lifetime,” said CTO Sharon Presnell. [Wired]

Mark Schram grew up on a ranch in southwestern Manitoba and now writes out of Winnipeg. If you would like to offer him a job or ask him about how to pull a calf, you can contact him at