Wolf hungry for first action with Flames

September 17 2014 01:18PM

CALGARY, AB -- David Wolf is hoping that less is more.

The rough-and-tumble Calgary Flames winger has streamlined his physique, dropping 13 pounds since making his debut at development camp in July.

Then, the 6-foot-3 force checked in at 236...

Giordano raising expectations for Flames' season

September 17 2014 01:00AM

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Mark Giordano's expectations for the Calgary Flames this season are simple. In fact, they're the same as the 29 other N...

Flames need additions, young players to produce

September 17 2014 01:00AM

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Simply competing isn't going to be enough for the Calgary Flames in 2014-15. Though the Flames continue their rebu...

Flames prospects prepare for game with University of Calgary Dinos

September 16 2014 12:02PM

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames prospects returned home from The Young Stars tournament in Penticton, BC today with a 2-1 record. The next competition for the prospects will be a game against the University of Calgary Dinos Men’s Hockey Team on ...

Numerology: Flames vs. Canucks

September 15 2014 09:37PM

6 - After falling behind 1-0 in the first period, the Flames stormed back in the final two periods and scored six goals on Canucks goaltender Austin Lotz.

3 - Three of the Flames six goals came on the power play. The Canucks ended the night wit...

Flames fine-tuned in 6-1 win over Canucks

September 15 2014 08:09PM

PENTICTON, BC -- For those prospects heading to main camp with the Calgary Flames, the Young Stars Classic was set to serve as a tune-up.

Consider them tuned.

The Flames scored six straight goals, including a pair from Michael Ferland, en ro...

Flames hammer Canucks in Young Stars finale

September 15 2014 05:21PM

PENTICTON, BC -- The Calgary Flames closed out the 2014 Young Stars Classic with a 6-1 triumph over the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

The Canucks opened the scoring with a goal from Jonathon Martin at 15:26 of the first period but the Flames res...

Toronto trustees expense everything from $28 cookies to $4,000 walking tours of Israel

September 15 2014 04:17PM

Toronto public school board trustees have charged taxpayers for everything from $19 worth of groceries — including nuts and hand lotion — to a tour of Israel that cost almost $4,000.

An internal audit of questionable expenditures filed by Toronto District School Board elected officials, obtained by the Star, includes scores of reimbursed claims that are not allowed or for which it is “unclear” as to how they relate to the job of trustee:

Gerri Gershon: a $22.82 floor mat, “frequent meal claims,” and a book at the airport. The veteran trustee charged a $3,765 tour of Israel, explaining to the Star that the trip was to promote interfaith relations after one of her schools came under fire for providing space for Muslim prayers. She said she “Tweeted the entire trip.” Howard Kaplan: groceries, including lotion and nuts, and a $25 clock radio for his office. He told the Star he has “no idea what the nuts are,” and that the lotion is at his board office because his hands get “red and chapped, especially in the winter.” He said he made an error in filing that and offered to pay back the amount, but was told not to bother. John Hastings: a $205 aerial tour of the oilsands in Alberta, which he explained as part of his ongoing interest in promoting the trades to students. The tour was part of his trip to the west coast for a conference, where he booked and paid for two rooms in Whistler, B.C. — which he said was in case the reservation on the first room fell through. He booked another room in Richmond, B.C., to hold meetings with “key personnel” before heading to Calgary. Mari Rutka: purchased an iMac Air computer for $1,771.11, complaining the Dell purchased under board contract, as required by spending policies to keep costs down, kept breaking down and was too heavy for her to carry around. Elizabeth Moyer: charged taxpayers “frequent purchases at Starbucks and fast-food restaurants … also regular early morning meetings on weekends” that aren’t properly documented, which she explained are meetings with constituents. She also charged $11.30 for chocolate bars and purchased “numerous TTC tokens” without reasons provided, and claimed 265 kilometres for a 76-kilometre trip to the airport. “This claim was questioned by the accounting department and approved based on the explanation given,” she told the Star. Moyer also claimed “numerous downtown Toronto parking expenses were claimed … the parking locations appear to be near Moyer’s place of employment,” the audit says. Moyer’s explanation: “In discussion with finance staff, they agreed that the TDSB policy was to choose the lowest cost option. Parking near my office was cheaper than taking a cab to these meetings, and finance approved based on this discussion.” Several trustees, including Hastings, Moyer, Gershon and Shelley Laskin have racked up tens of thousands of dollars for out-of-town conferences. They also charged taxpayers to stay in a downtown Toronto hotel for a conference, when they all live in the city — Laskin just 7 kilometres away. Trustee Howard Goodman, who has insisted on accountability and transparency at the board, refused to allow his information in the audit to be released. However, when approached by the Star, he provided his portion of the audit. Little was questioned, other than conferences he attended as part of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, for which he said he did not need prior approval.

Some portions of the report, obtained through a freedom of information request, are redacted, a decision the Star is appealing with Ontario’s privacy commissioner.

Trustees contacted by the Star said some of the expenses were approved by the chair of the board or staff who should have told them if they were ineligible, or that the rules were unclear.

However, after Toronto Catholic trustees were excoriated years ago for spending abuses — including a sun lamp and lingerie — there has been a heightened awareness about what expenses are eligible and appropriate.

Several trustees bought gift cards or even a CD for parent council members or guest speakers, which they also billed taxpayers for.

A new spending policy was brought in last May. However, unlike their Catholic counterparts, Toronto public trustees still don’t post their expenses online, with receipts. They voted last Friday to post expenses online in broader categories, with trustees Sam Sotiropoulos, Harout Manougian, Sheila Cary-Meagher, Jerry Chadwick, Pam Gough and Shaun Chen unsuccessfully pushing for more details to be published.

Kaplan, when questioned about his expenses, which included a desk lamp and the clock radio, wondered why the matter was newsworthy.

“It was three years ago and so picayune, ” said Kaplan. “It was on a bill with other purchases, I submitted them all together and they got in there by mistake.”

He added “my God, it’s not even a rounding error in a $3-billion budget. You are going to waste ink on something that costs less than $20? . . . If anyone wants to complain about $20, then I’m happy to donate it. It’s nickel-and-diming, really.”

Recurring problems included high hourly wages for constituency assistants, meals without proper receipts or details, and mileage claims that don’t match distances using online map. Other trustees expensed mileage for meetings they weren’t recorded as attending. Trustees were also cited many times for not seeking pre-approval for purchases over $500, as is required.

Education Director Donna Quan said the audit was a chance for the board to look at financial controls, and “I think the findings clearly indicate that we have some process control matters to deal with” and that trustees need to be trained as to the rules on spending.

“We have to have the courage to call the question and to challenge when we know that maybe a policy or procedure is not followed or not as strong in place as it could be,” she said.

She said policies and procedures now are far more clear, “and we are more aware that trustees needed professional development on it.”

Trustees each have $27,000 to spend each year, a limit most trustees abided by.

“These are public funds, and how we spend those funds must be help up to a high level of scrutinty,” Quan added.

Three trustees expensed alcohol — Moyer, David Smith and former chair Chris Bolton — with Bolton saying his bill was at a restaurant in China and the alcohol waas mistakenly included. He also billed $28 for what the audit described as a cookie, but he said includes food ordered during the crisis when former director Chris Spence was resigning from the board after he admitting to plagiariam.

Moyer said she is embarrassed by the alcohol claim, which is ineligible, and has repaid it.

Trustee Stephnie Payne spent $4,216 mostly on courier costs to deliver ward newsletters, when the board average is $327. She also spent $2,527 in cabs.

Trustee Irene Atkinson paid guest speakers $1,000 an hour and expensed a $250 parking ticket, which she told the Star she won’t repay.

Long-distance phone bills and international roaming charges were also an issue previously reported by the Star — with some trustees, including David Smith, making calls during the Christmas or summer break without any obvious link to board business.

Smith also had roaming charges in excess of $2,000.

Trustee Sheila Ward expensed $2,000 of Joomla website training for her assistant.

Fire breaks out at Quebec City museum

September 15 2014 01:55PM

QUEBEC—Fire has broken out at the Museum of Civilization in Quebec City.

Smoke and flames were visible on the roof of the building, which is located in the old part of the city.

There are no immediate reports of injuries and it is unclear whether there are damages to any of the museum’s collections.

Because the museum is closed on Mondays, there were no visitors.

There is no immediate word on the cause of the fire, although workers were on the roof at the time.

The museum opened its doors in 1988.

BLOG: Ortio switches things up with new mask

September 15 2014 01:28PM

Joni Ortio worked with David Gunnarsson, a Swedish artist, over the course of the summer to design his new mask for the 2014-15 season.

"He does most of the masks in the NHL," Ortio told CalgaryFlames.com. "I worked him the first year I was ove...

Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Canucks

September 15 2014 01:02PM

PENTICTON, BC -- There will be no rest for Sam Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau at the Young Stars Classic.

Both prospects will suit up in the Calgary Flames finale against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

“In conversations with (general manager)...

Meet the McGill professor who got inside Anonymous

September 14 2014 07:00AM

MONTREAL—At 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 14, Gabriella Coleman dragged herself from the bedroom of her apartment to her desk, where her laptop had sat running overnight.

Coleman, a McGill University professor, toggled between windows of a chat client, trying to catch up. Some kind of vote was underway. The context was hazy. Finally, she pieced it all together.

Anons, as members of the shapeshifting online collective Anonymous are known, had potentially uncovered the name of the police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking weeks of protests . Their evidence seemed shaky, though.

Getting the name wrong would mean renewed portrayals of Anonymous as dangerous, immature hackers. Getting it right meant being cast in their most complimentary incarnation: as mischievous cyber-populists who remould the media agenda in their image and hold the powerful to account.

For a bleary Coleman, either way meant a maelstrom. As the world’s foremost — and pretty much only — scholar on Anonymous, she has become the lightning rod that attracts the world’s crackling media whenever Anonymous does something newsworthy, which is often.

Coleman is an anthropologist. Had she been a different kind of scholar, her experience might have been different. But just as traditional anthropologists might live amid a village or tribe to observe their customs, Coleman spent years “living” online, logging long days and sleepless nights in a quest to understand the language, culture and ethical codes of a notoriously amorphous group. As Anonymous evolved from pranksters to political “hacktivists,” taking on targets from the Church of Scientology to African autocrats, she was one of a tiny few watching courtside.

That perspective has put Coleman in demand, and informs her soon-to-be-published book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous . But it has also pitched her into sticky ethical positions, and often left her exhausted, paranoid, and, after the FBI zeroed in on Anonymous, potentially a target.

“I’m not a full insider,” she says. “At the same time, I’m not a full outsider, either.”

When Anons rang in 2014 quietly, Coleman pondered new projects. Then came flare-ups of activity — and, finally, Ferguson.

Anonymous released the wrong name. “Things were crazy.”

As a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Coleman planned to study spiritual healers in Guyana. But she fell ill and, unable to travel or even attend classes, she found herself spending more and more time online. When she recovered, she realized she hadn’t fallen behind on her Guyanese project so much as become embedded in a fascinating new world: that of open-source software hackers.

Very few anthropologists were examining electronic culture. “It was pretty unusual,” says Jean Comaroff, her graduate adviser. Amid these new technologies, “she saw very familiar debates about ethics, about knowledge, about enclosure or public openness — about freedom really.”

Yet Comaroff tried to warn Coleman off the project. Anthropologists usually work for geographically based faculties: Comaroff, who studies post-colonial South Africa, now works for Harvard’s department of African and African-American studies. Coleman’s research had no corresponding place in the physical world, and Comaroff feared that Coleman wouldn’t find a job within the analog-era infrastructure of academia.

She did. Her research created a stir, and after stints at New York University and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, she moved to Montreal in 2012 to accept her “dream job”: the Wolfe chair in scientific and technological literacy at McGill. (Comaroff wasn’t wrong: Coleman is officially attached to the art history and communication studies department.)

By then, her research focus had shifted. In 2007, Fox News dubbed a largely unknown group of Internet trolls the “Internet Hate Machine.” Fox was responding to hijinks that included invading Habbo Hotel, a social media community popular with Finnish teens. The pranksters gave their avatars the same digital disguise — a grey suit and an Afro — and picketed the hotel’s pool, forming human swastikas and declaring it “closed due to fail and AIDS.”

The group had grown out of a free-for-all online image and message board called 4chan, where users are given the moniker “Anonymous” by default and where gross and offensive content rules the day. The stated motivation for this offshoot collective was “lulz,” a term derived from LOL — “a deviant style of humour and a quasi-mystical state of being,” as Coleman explains in her book.

Media attention seemed to breathe life into this strange golem. It certainly fortified them during their next, distinctly more high-profile operation: taking down the Church of Scientology. In lulzy fashion, Anons ordered mystery pizzas and faxed reams of black paper to church offices. They also disabled the Scientology website and joined real-life protests .

Coleman, trying to write a book on open-source hackers that would be important to future tenure decisions, was rapt.

“She really got sucked into this,” says Christopher Kelty, an anthropologist at UCLA who straddles the same techno-anthro world. “But it is to her credit that she knew she was onto something interesting. That’s a rare commodity in academia, that research intuition.”

By late 2010, Biella, as she is known online and off, was a constant presence on Internet Relay Chat (IRC), logging on for five hours daily at minimum. She lurked in debates and discussions about future “ ops ” (operations), trying to interpret the cacophony of jargon and shifting usernames.

It was exhausting, Coleman says. But just like field work in the physical world, “if you only go once or twice, you may not see the conflicts that are a part of a social group.”

Anons grew to trust her, but acceptance did not correspond to a reduction in anxiety. Anonymous had become increasingly political and increasingly powerful, taking on targets like the repressive Tunisian and Egyptian governments and PayPal , which had frozen donations to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. Two favourite tactics were DDoSing, or disabling a website with a flood of requests, and doxing, dumping personal information (social insurance numbers, home addresses) online.

Mainstream media lapped it up. But they often painted Anonymous as an organized group of hackers, or sought leaders to profile. In reality, anyone can adopt the mantle of Anonymous. There are shifting internal allegiances and fierce disagreements about philosophy, tactics and targets. Few Anons are hardcore hackers, and fame-seekers are ostracized. Anons are also not the pasty teenage losers that reporters assume: Anonymous skews heavily male, but includes parents, people of colour, queer members, and more.

Coleman, practising what anthropologists call “participant observation,” became Anonymous’ chief interpreter, fielding countless calls from reporters and shaping their stories into more accurate — but also often more flattering — narratives.

“What she did as a participant was to broker these relationships and educate journalist after journalist after journalist about the culture,”

says Kelty. “Biella is this really great liminal figure who can do that.”

Anthropology has different standards of objectivity than journalism. Yet it was impossible not to grow uncomfortably close to Anonymous, says Quinn Norton, a tech reporter and another of the few observers invited in.

“Anonymous is basically a giant creature of attention,” says Norton. “By speaking about it and speaking to it, you create it. That is ethically a difficult position for an anthropologist or a journalist to be in.”

Anonymous’ increasingly brazen exploits also ratcheted up law enforcement interest. Unlike journalists or lawyers, academics enjoy no source-protection privileges. Coleman urged Anons not to brag about their hacking exploits to her, and stayed out of discussions of illegal ops. But a spate of arrests, including that of Barrett Brown, a similar insider-outsider unofficial spokesperson, sowed paranoia.

Then, in March 2012, Fox News outed Hector Xavier Monsegur , a key figure in two Anonymous hacker-offshoot groups, as an FBI informant. Coleman had met Monsegur in person and chatted with him often online. He repeatedly asked about Jacob Appelbaum, a friend of Coleman’s who is a hacker and Tor developer, software that provides online anonymity. Coleman still doesn’t know whether Monsegur’s questions were fed to him by FBI handlers, though it seems likely.

With key figures arrested, Anonymous was less often in the headlines. But the Ferguson doxing fiasco brought all the reporters running. The next day, authorities released the real officer’s name. Some believed Anonymous forced that concession to transparency, while critics, including other Anons, say they simply incited chaos.

But chaos has always animated Anonymous, down to its very structure. “You can’t arrest an idea,” one Anon tweeted shortly before being arrested himself.

Chaos would not be a bad word to describe the role of Anonymous in the life of their favourite anthropologist, either.

“For anthropologists, when you go away to a region in the world, it is so shocking to come back,” says Coleman. With Anonymous, “it doesn’t have the jarring before and after — it’s a constant presence.”

For oil-rich Norway, it’s not easy being green

September 14 2014 06:00AM

OSLO, NORWAY—For a country where oil generates a fifth of economic output, Norway is surprisingly green.

Ever since it struck oil under the North Sea in the late 1960s, Norway has tried to find a balance between profiting from oil and natural gas and protecting the environment in a country as rich in beauty as it is in fossil fuels.

Groups that closely monitor nations’ environmental records consistently give Norway high marks. Canada now gets constant criticism. On Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index, Norway ranks 10th out of 178 countries. Canada is 24th.

Norway also wins over Canada when it comes to meeting its international commitments to fight climate change.

Norway is one of only five countries making sufficient progress toward their target for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding international agreement to combat climate change.

Canada is way down on the inadequate list, just above China, the world’s biggest producer of the emissions blamed for global warming, according to the experts at Climate Action Tracker.

For 23 years, Norway has had a national carbon tax, which many economists and climate experts argue is the fairest incentive to persuade business and consumers to reduce their carbon footprint.

Last year, Norway got even more aggressive against climate change and doubled the carbon tax on offshore oil production, further squeezing energy companies that already pay one of the world’s highest tax rates.

The government also created a $6-billion fund to back renewable energy and other projects to help slow global warming, while reducing energy waste. That’s on top of more than $2 billion in aid pledged to fight deforestation in Brazil, Indonesia and Guyana.

Canada slides

In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to take a hard line against a national carbon tax, insisting it’s a job killer even though expert studies have concluded British Columbia’s carbon tax has reduced fuel use without harming the economy.

Harper officially withdrew Canada from the Kyoto agreement in 2011, arguing it’s too costly and imbalanced because the U.S. hasn’t signed on and targets for reducing greenhouse gases don’t apply to China.

Norwegians are still committed to the deal and they’re spending billions of dollars trying to be true to their promise.

That’s partly because of a fundamental difference in how Norwegians and Canadians view their countries’ natural resources.

To Norwegians, those resources are the people’s property, a precious national treasure that shouldn’t be squandered.

The cardinal virtue was practically carved in stone in 1971, two years after Norway discovered the first of its vast oilfields under the North Sea, when the country’s parliament passed what are now known as the Ten Oil Commandments.

The first enshrined the guiding principle that: “There should be national governance and control of all petroleum operations,” while the Eighth Commandment declared: “A state oil company should be established.”

Norway’s Statoil remains a global giant in oil and natural gas today.

While it’s a great source of pride and considerable profit for Norwegians, many see Statoil as a national embarrassment because it’s working in Alberta’s oilsands, now a global symbol for dirty energy. But more on that later.

Why Canada should imitate Norway

It’s time Canadians adopted Norway’s energy ethic, says Ed Whittingham, executive director at Alberta’s Pembina Institute, which researches and promotes sustainable energy solutions.

“When you see something like flaring (burning off natural gas produced from an oil well because it’s cheaper than capturing it), Norwegians consider that not only environmental polluting, but also a total waste of resources that shouldn’t happen,” Whittingham says.

Pembina campaigns for Canadians “to think and act like owners” when it comes to energy resources, but “we still don’t see regulations that actually encourage that,” Whittingham adds.

“Too often, I think, as Canadians we’re divorced from the resources instead of thinking that they’re ours.”

To Norwegians, the small group of civil servants and politicians who wrote the basic principles for exploiting riches, without sacrificing social justice and the environment, are almost mythically wise patriots.

Their decisions opened the way to a sovereign wealth fund that has amassed more than $885 billion and contributes around 10 per cent of the national budget, while still growing each year.

But some Norwegians want to see even higher standards for environmental oil.

“What’s happened during the past 10 or 15 years is that the whole energy sector, and our knowledge about how energy affects our climate, have changed a lot,” says Ingrid Lomelde, who heads the World Wildlife Fund’s climate and energy team in Norway.

“And in this period, we haven’t had politicians who have been equally foresighted in taking care of Norway’s reputation, and also in making sure that we actually contribute to changing our energy systems the way we need to.”

Norway’s environmental groups are lobbying hard to get the people’s money out of dirty energy, including industries that mine or burn coal, and Alberta’s oilsands, the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases in Canada.

They’re forcing Norwegians to question their inner greenness.

Their state-owned Statoil bought Calgary-based North American Oil Sands for $2.2 billion in 2007, acquiring 1,110 square kilometres of oilsands leases in northern Alberta’s Athabasca region.

Statoil injects steam underground to thin the bitumen and then pumps it to the surface. After diluting the bitumen with lighter hydrocarbons, it is sent to refineries.

Known as in-situ or in-place drilling, the process burns up a lot of energy to produce a single barrel of crude oil. It also produces two or more times the greenhouse gas emissions per barrel than open pit mining in the oilsands, according to the Pembina Institute.

On the brighter side, Statoil points out, “project well-pads resemble conventional oil drilling projects, resulting in dramatically less surface disturbance than open-pit mining. They also do not require the use of (toxic) tailings ponds.”

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, officially called the Pension Fund Global, has indirect stakes in the oilsands through shares in companies such as Shell that are major players in the oilsands.

“It’s a huge embarrassment for Norway,” Lomelde says. “And there are several reasons for that. Maybe the most embarrassing thing is that Statoil likes to use its investments in tarsands as a further way of building its reputation.

“So they’re saying that, ‘We’re probably the ones doing this kind (of) exploitation in the best way, in the most environmentally friendly way. So that’s why we need to do it instead of other companies.’ Which is just hugely hypocritical.”

Several years ago, WWF joined with Greenpeace to buy a single share in Statoil, which it uses each spring to ask the company’s general meeting for a vote to pull out of the oilsands.

“It’s always the state representative that votes us down because the state has the majority of the stocks,” Lomelde says.

Radical change?

Public unease about Norwegian investments in foreign fossil fuels with the worst reputations is forcing a policy shift. The question is how radical that will be.

Norway’s government has promised to require the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, to invest in renewable energy. But it’s studying the issue to decide appropriate criteria to guide the fund managers’ decisions.

Norwegian activists, and even some investment firms, are pressing politicians to give the global fund a mandate to invest directly in renewable energy infrastructure, and not simply to buy shares in well-established, publicly traded companies.

“Since we have all this capital, we could at least send some signals to the market that might spur other investors to also change their criteria,” Lomelde says. “And then you would really change the energy markets.”

But that would also upend the conservative investment rules that have helped make the fund so successful, which worries a lot of Norwegians wary of gambling the security of their welfare state on green startups.

“Investing in more fossil fuels is undermining the physical reason for our existence,” Lomelde argues. “So we need to secure our environment in order to also secure our welfare state.”

A majority in Norway’s parliament, the Storting, along with activist groups, including the WWF, want the fund to lead the way against coal by withdrawing from all of its coal-related investments, Lomelde says. Those holdings are estimated at $9.8 billion.

“For Norway, the situation is special because we earn so much of our money from fossil fuel investments,” she adds. “And then we reinvest that in new fossil fuel investments in other countries.

“So the risk for us, for our economy, is really quite huge — if you think that politicians around the world are going to start taking climate change seriously. The coal lobby came flying in from Australia to lobby our parliamentarians directly because what our sovereign wealth fund does has a huge effect.”

Flames future showcased in setback to Oilers

September 13 2014 11:52PM

PENTICTON, BC -- The result wasn’t what the Calgary Flames were looking for. The showcase was.

Sam Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau each recorded a goal and an assist as the Flames fell 4-3 to the Edmonton Oilers in a penalty-filled ‘Battle of Alber...

Penalties sink Flames on Saturday

September 13 2014 10:51PM

PENTICTON, BC -- The Calgary Flames parade to the penalty box was their downfall on Saturday, falling 4-3 to the Edmonton Oilers at the Young Stars Classic.

The Oilers scored on three of their 11 power play opportunities and received goals from...