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Monday, August 12, 2013

Huge python that killed two boys was being kept illegally, New Brunswick authorities say

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 11/13

   By Jim Fox

   New Brunswick authorities say a pet store owner was illegally keeping a 15-foot-long African rock python that killed two children.
   The snake managed to squeeze out of its enclosure and smother Connor Barthe, 6, and his brother Noah, 4, who were sleeping in an apartment in Campbellton.
   The 100-pound snake escaped from its glass tank and made its way into the living room where the boys were during a sleepover with the store owner’s son.
   They were in the apartment above Reptile Ocean, an exotic pet store, owned by the friend’s father, Jean-Claude Savoie.
   Police said he had taken the boys to farm before the sleepover and it is suspected the snake was attracted by animal scents on their clothing.
   The snake has been euthanized and other animals, including four large alligators, six crocodiles, tortoises, turtles and snakes, were seized and sent to Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton and the Indian River Reptile Zoo near Peterborough.
   Mountie Sgt. Alain Tremblay said preliminary results of autopsies showed the boys were asphyxiated.
   “We recognize that this has touched the hearts of people across the world and that people want to know how this could have happened,” he added.

(For more Canadian news of the week, click)

   Taxpayers could be stuck with a bill in the hundreds of millions of dollars after the deadly derailment of an oil-tanker train in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.
   The Quebec Superior Court granted bankruptcy protection to U.S.-owned Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Canada Co. to allow protection from creditors as executives seek ways to avoid bankruptcy.
   Cleanup costs after an unmanned runaway train derailed and exploded, killing 47 people and destroying much of the downtown of the town of 6,000 people could top $200 million, the company said.
   Town officials and the Quebec government have sent legal notices to the railway demanding payment of $7.8 million for initial environmental clean-up costs after millions of gallons of crude oil were spilled.


   News in brief:
   - An alleged terrorist plot could lead to Via Rail Canada instituting greater scrutiny of checked baggage and security checks of passengers. The measures are being considered after police arrested three men in April for allegedly plotting to derail an Amtrak-Via passenger train en route to Toronto from New York.
   - The Canadian government is tightening rules on its controversial temporary foreign worker program. Employers must now pay a $275 processing fee for each request to import a foreign worker and can only request proficiency in languages other than English and French when another language is essential for the job. They must also make greater efforts to hire Canadians through additional advertising of job openings. There was a public outcry when it was learned the Royal Bank had laid off information technology workers to be replaced with less-expensive help from India.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar advanced to 97.22 cents U.S. on Friday while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0285 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,545 points and the TSX Venture index 914 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Aug. 7) 19, 21, 29, 32, 34 and 47; bonus 8. (Aug. 3) 2, 3, 9, 17, 29 and 40; bonus 41. Lotto Max: (Aug. 2) 2, 9, 23, 29, 30, 34 and 43; bonus 40.


   Regional briefs:
   - Two unnamed Halifax 18-year-olds have been arrested on pornography charges in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, who committed suicide over cyber bullying. Her family said she felt helpless after a digital photo of her being sexually assaulted was circulated to classmates. Police said there wasn’t enough evidence before her death to arrest the youths.
   - Parade safety is being reviewed after Rueshad Grant, 18, was run over and killed by a float in the Toronto's Caribbean Carnival. Organizers are looking at adding additional barriers and safety devices along the parade route. The annual festival and parade attract two-million visitors.
   - A "moderate" earthquake was reported in the Pacific Ocean west of Vancouver Island but there were no reports of damage or injury. The 5.7-magnitude quake was felt in Port Alice, Port McNeill, Tahsis, Sointula and Alert Bay.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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