Prairie Post

5 things you absolutely must know today

1. U.N. now suspects Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons

Only a day after Israeli airstrikes killed an alleged 42 Syrian soldiers in Damascus, U.N. human rights investigators have said that it’s the rebel forces in Syria who are to blame for the use of chemical weapons.

“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” said commission member Carla Del Ponte.

The statement by the U.N. further complicates some messy international politics—the U.S. has been struggling to keep from getting involved in the country after its chemical weapons “red line” was crossed, and Russia, who are being pressured to withdraw their support for Bashar al-Assad, will now have more reason to support the Syrian government. [Reuters]

2. Saudi Arabian girls now allowed to play school sports

Saudi Arabia’s official press agency has reported that private girls’ schools are now allowed to play sports, as long as they’re under supervision and are “dressed decently”. The decision is just one in a series of small changes as Saudi Arabia, which adheres to Sharia law, begins to increase women’s rights. Even after the policy changes, female athletes are still banned from entering national trials and are not allowed to register for sports clubs or league competitions. [National Post]

3. YouTube to begin charging for subscriptions

A new paid subscription model may begin to show up on YouTube throughout the coming week. Though it will only affect an extremely small portion of uploaded content (approximately 50 channels), the new service aims to give paid users premium content while making companies enough money to compete with services like Netflix and Hulu. The fun part is, at least you’ll be able to say to your grandkids you were alive when you could still watch a cat video for free. [Atlantic]

4. New study says ageing is triggered by molecules in the brain

A group of researchers in New York have discovered a molecule in the brains of mice that becomes more active as the mice grow older. Animals that were injected with a substance inhibiting the activity of the molecule lived up to 20 per cent longer. The hope is that the research can be used to eventually develop human treatments for age-related illnesses like arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. The study will come as especially promising news to fans of eccentric futurist Ray Kurzweil, who predicted in an April interview that humans will have developed practical immortality within the next 15 years. [Nature, Wall Street Journal]

5. Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole leaving TSN’s SportsCentre

Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, the charming and hilarious duo who hosted SportCentre for the past decade, are moving to Fox Sports in L.A.

“The moment I was paired with Dan on SportsCentre, I knew we had the chance to do something Canadians would really love,” said Onrait in a TSN release. “For the last decade we have received more love from our viewers than we could have ever imagined – and for this, we are eternally grateful.”

Click here to watch a best-of compilation of Jay and Dan over the years. [National Post]

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