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5 things you absolutely must know today

Cars and Bodies. Photo Credit: Yann Rabanier

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It’s time to make your own maple syrup

It’s famously Canadian, and it’s stirring in our maple tress right now, gosh darnit. Full disclosure: I’m talking about syrup, traditionally extracted from the sugar maple tree, found predominantly in eastern Canada and sold to everyone with functional taste buds. But according to an arborist interviewed by CBC Manitoba, our maples here in Sellinger’s province produce a syrup just as tasty. Manitoba maples are everywhere, and now is the time to tap them for sap, which you can easily reduce to syrup. It’s easy: go to Lee Valley Tools, purchase a spile (tree tapper), and drive it into a maple tree above a bucket. The hole will not damage the tree, but you’ll need a lot of sap to generate not a lot of syrup: 40 to one is the sap to syrup ratio. “Sap flows when daytime temperatures are above zero, and nighttime temperatures are below zero,” Ken Fosty told the CBC. “It’s sustainable and it’s seasonal and it’s a lot of fun.” [Source: CBC]

George Takei says boycott Indiana

Lawmakers in Indiana are looking for ways to amend the sate’s controversial “religious freedom” law after critics and much of the nation, including the White House, have panned it as a tool to justify discrimination against gays and lesbians. Connecticut has prohibited state-funded travel to the state, and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has also spoken out against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows business owners to reject patronage from those who threaten their own beliefs. Governor Mike Pence wrote it into law last week. The intent of the law, apparently, was inclusion and not exclusion. George Takei says boycott Indiana. [Source: BBC]

Two men dressed as women allegedly attempt NSA breach, one killed

Yesterday morning, and all this remains alleged, two men dressed as women driving a stolen SUV apparently attempted to breach the gates outside the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. One of them was shot and killed, and the other wounded by police fire. An official NSA statement read that, “when they attempted to drive a vehicle into the National Security Agency portion of the installation without authorization. NSA security personnel prevented them from gaining access to the installation.” Few details are known at this time, but some reports speculate that the two had been partying nearby and possibly didn’t intentionally target the NSA. Fort Mead employs 29,000 civilians and 11,000 military personnel. [Source: The Atlantic]

Harper ends crop-hauling measure in place to help farmers

Stephen Harper’s government told Canada’s farmers and the rest of the nation that it would not renew measures forcing the Canadian National Railway Co. and the Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. to haul a minimum amount of crops to market or port each week. The announcement was made on Saturday. The government enacted the weekly minimums after a groundswell of farmers complained about the poor rail service that was keeping a record crop from an interested, international market. Without pressure on Canada’s rail companies to move grain, canola, and other crops, many cars allegedly get earmarked to move more lucrative products like crude. And without movement, farmers, often faced with tight, high-risk margins, are unable to sell their products. CN and CP deny favouritism and blame the cold winters for the slow service. The takeaway: Canada’s rail system needs work. “We can’t export more coal and forest products and manufactured goods and grain with the same rail network that we have today and the same number of locomotives, same number of rail cars,” said Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association. “We need the railways to expand that capacity. If our objective is to expand Canada’s economy, then we’re not going to do that without some major attention paid to the rail system.” [Source: Globe and Mail]

Cars and Bodies is visually interesting, hilarious, and telling

The installation Cars and Bodies is the visually stunning, clown-like, yet serious genius of three French artists: film director Romain Dussaulx, photographer Yann Rabanier, and transportation architect Thomas Cestia. They stuffed as many people as would fit into various vehicles at various sites around Los Angeles and photographed the experience. The installation comments on a culture where most drivers drive alone. “Most of the people in the cars didn’t know each other when we started but they definitely felt close after the shoot,” said Dussaulx. “I’m pretty sure that a lot of those people are now friends.” The group has their eye on doing something similar in other large cities around the world. [Source: Wired and Cars and Bodies]


Follow Toban Dyck at @tobandyck.

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