Posts Tagged With: Alina Smirnova

CIDA and Afghanistan

Alina Smirnova Writes about CIDA and Afghanistan – Photo Courtesy of

Alina Smirnova - May 2, 2010

By Alina Smirnova

Canada’s role in Afghanistan after troop withdrawal will include training teachers.

The Canadian International Development Agency hopes that having better teachers will draw more students to go to school.

The CIDA is looking for companies that will certify and train teachers. They will pay $1 million for the firm to design the program which will include accrediting teacher training schools and be creating a curriculum, Canadian Press reports.

Overall, the project will cost $10 million. According to the Canadian Press, it is not yet clear if the money will come from money already allocated to education in Afghanistan.

The CIDA is also looking at the possibility of setting up a long-distance program that will allow students to learn from teachers in different parts of the world.

After the decided troop withdrawal date of 2011, Canadian involvement may last up to another 10 years, Canadian Press reports.

Since 2002, the mission claimed the lives of 142 Canadian soldiers and two civilians.

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U.S.A. and Russia

Alina Smirnova Writes about U.S.A. and Russia – Photo Courtesy of

Alina Smirnova - April 22, 2010

By Alina Smirnova

U.S. President Barack Obama warns of rising nuclear terrorist attack.

At a summit in Washington, Obama told world leaders the risk of a nuclear attack is increasing.

He urged world leaders to act, and not just talk, in order to prevent the acquisition of the weapons by the wrong hands, BBC reports.

Forty-seven nations are present at the summit, excluding representatives from North Korea and Iran, who were not invited because of disputes over their nuclear programs, BBC reports.

Obama said that by the end of the summit, there will be concrete action plans to make the world safer.

Convincing nations of the dangers won’t be a challenge, the Globe and Mail report, but convincing leaders to open their secret and sensitive sites to outside scrutiny so that all materials could be tracked will be harder.

The summit will end on April 13 and is part of Obama’s ambitious goal to make the world free of nuclear weapons, one that he admits he may not see within his lifetime.

According to the Globe and Mail, the immediate goals are tracking, accounting for and repossessing warhead-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

Before the beginning of the summit, Canada and Ukraine both pledged to eliminate their stockpiles of enriched uranium, which could be used in the construction of a weapon.

Last week, U.S. and Russia signed a treaty to reduce the number of their nuclear weapons by a third.


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Mongolian Herders

Alina Smirnova Writes about Mongolian Herders – Photo Courtesy of

Alina Smirnova - April 3, 2010

By Alina Smirnova

Thousands of Mongolian herders lose their livestock because of cold weather.

The International Red Cross is now appealing for help, saying $900,000 is needed to provide assistance to affected families, BBC reports.

They say that millions of animals, almost 10 per cent of the country’s population, have died as temperatures dropped to as low as -40C.

According to BBC, nearly half of Mongolians are herders or farmers, with livestock representing an important asset to them.

Weather is not expected to get better until May, with the next few weeks being the hardest yet, BBC reports.


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India to Fight with Food

Alina Smirnova Writes about Food in India – Photo Courtesy of

Alina Smirnova - March 27, 2010

India to fight with food.

The Indian army is set to use the world’s hottest chili, bhut jolokia, to make hand grenades to fight terrorism, Associated Press reports.

After conducting tests, the military decided the chilies will make a non-toxic weapon that can be used to immobilize suspects since it has a pungent smell.

Bhut jolokia-based aerosol sprays are also being developed for defensive use by women and crowd control by police, New Delhi director of Defense Research and Development Organization told AP.

With more than 1 million Scoville units, the bhut jolokia has been accepted as the world’s hottest by Guinness World Records three years ago.

Scoville units are used to measure the spiciness of chilies – Classic Tabasco sauce has 2,500 to 5,000 units, and jalapenos from 2,500 to 8,000, AP reports.


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Movie Pirater Sentencing

Alina Smirnova Writes about Movie Pirating – Photo Courtesy of

Alina Smirnova - March 21, 2010

By Alina Smirnova

Canada may see its first jail sentence for breaching cinematic copyright laws.

On March 16, a Montreal man known as the country’s biggest movie pirate will be sentenced for distributing illegal copies of Hollywood films, CBC reports.

The 27-year-old Geremi Adam pleaded guilty to two counts of disseminating copyrighted materials online.

The exact number of movies Adam recorded in theatres and sold over the Internet is not known, according to CBC, but he had a reputation for cheap but high-quality movie copies under the name “Maven.”

According to authorities, he copied and sold two films in August and September 2006 – Invincible and How to Eat Fried Worms, CBC reports.

Recording movies in theatres became a criminal offence only in 2007, punishable by a fine up to $25,000 and a six-month jail sentence.

The defense lawyer asked for community service on the grounds that Adam is struggling with depression and a troubled childhood, CBC reports. The Crown prosecutor, however, suggested a four-month jail sentence.

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Ski Hills

Alina Smirnova Writes about Ski Hills – Photo Courtesy of

Alina Smirnova - March 6, 2010

By Alina Smirnova

Two public ski hills and one playground in Toronto may be privatized to save money for the city.

This will not only end free skiing for those with a low-income but also raise the ski lift prices for everyone else, the Globe and Mail report.

According to the Globe and Mail, the facilities being considered are Centennial Park Ski and Snowboard Centre in Etobicoke, Earl Bales Ski and Snowboard Centre in North York, and Glen Rouge Campground in Scarborough.

The 2010 budget was released two weeks ago, but the ski hill issue only arose on March 1, the Globe and Mail report.

In order to go ahead, the proposal has to pass a vote by the budget committee and the council.

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China tightens rules for creating a website

Alina Smirnova Writes about the Internet in China – Photo Courtesy of

Alina Smirnova - March 1, 2010

By Alina Smirnova

China has introduced new rules for registering a domain and creating a website.

People will now be required to meet with regulators in person and provide identification documents in order to set up a site, BBC reports.

These rules are introduced as a three-month freeze on registration is lifted on Feb. 23, according to BBC.

This measure is intended to fight to control offensive content online, such as pornography, China’s technology ministry said.

But Internet activists see this as further censorship and government control, BBC reports.
China has the largest number of online users – over 380 million people. The country already blocks websites such as Facebook, Youtube and several media outlets such as BBC.


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Guantanomo Prison

Alina Smirnova Writes about Guantanomo Prison – Photo Courtesy of

Alina Smirnova - February 21, 2010

By Alina Smirnova

Spain will take five Guantanamo inmates.

Miguel Angel Moratinos, Spain’s foreign minister, announced on Feb. 15 that the country will accept five prisoners from Guantanamo.

The transfers are a part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to close the prison. His initial goal was to shut it down by Jan. 22, 2010. But despite 40 inmates being transferred during his first year in office, almost 200 still remain in the prison.

Previously, Maratinos said that Spain would take only two prisoners – a Yemeni and a Palestinian, BBC reports. Now they are willing to take three more. Their names or nationalities have not yet been released.

Other countries that have accepted prisoners include Hungary, France, Italy, and Portugal. None have taken as many as five.

Obama says he still wants to close the prison this year, but has not specified a set date, BBC reports.


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Comfort Foods, Millionaires and the Olympic Games

Alice Hoang Writes About Comfort Foods - Photo Courtesy of

Alice Hoang - February 14, 2010

Alice Hoang
Online story 2

Indulging in comfort foods is a vicious cycle of craving, satisfaction, and more craving.
Gregory Smith, of the psychology department at the University of Kentucky, said that the act of eating becomes something we do to achieve a desired emotional effect.

“If most often eating alleviates my negative mood state, then over time, that cognitive memory will become the salient, predominant one,” said Gregory Smith, of the psychology department at the University of Kentucky.

Trying too hard not to eat a certain food, only further pushes us to think about it, while feeling deprived increases the reward value of food. We try to fill that void, as desire turns into need, and we eventually give in to that piece of cream cake.

This only makes us feel worse, and turns into a bad habit of losing control, as we begin to associate “good feelings” with sweets, and resort to comfort foods to deal with our “bad feelings.”
While people who are busy and under constant stress tend to eat high-energy foods to get through the day, it isn’t the best solution in the long run.

Instead, chronic stress should be handled with healthier alternatives. Norman Pecoraro, the University of California at San Francisco professor of physiology, said that relaxation techniques reduce the psychological drives on stress output, which can be the root causes of stress.

Exercise, yoga, meditation, sex, and baths all stimulate neurochemicals that activate regions of the brain that stimulate pleasure.


Alina Smirnova Writes About a Millionaire Who Wants to Lose it All - Photo Courtesy of

Alina Smirnova - February 14, 2010

Austrian millionaire renounces his money
by Alina Smirnova

After realizing that money was a source of misery for him, millionaire businessman Karl Rabeder, 47, decided to give it all up.

According to The Daily Telegraph, he says he wants to have nothing left, saying that money doesn’t let happiness come to him.

Rabeder is in the process of selling all his material possessions, including a luxury villa and a collection of six gliders, with the intent of giving all the money to charity. Instead, he says he wants to live in a simple dwelling, such as a wooden hut in the mountains.

Rabeder said he began feeling guilty on gliding trips to Africa and South America.

“I increasingly got the sensation that there is a connection between our wealth and their poverty,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

And although he said he has been having doubts about his wealth for a while, a luxurious trip to Hawaii with his wife was what pushed him to act. He said he felt shocked at how disingenuous the experience was.

“… in all that time, we had the feeling we hadn’t met a single real person – that we were all just actors,” he told The Daily Telegraph. ”The staff played the role of being friendly and the guests played the role of being important and nobody was real.”

Rabeder added that although he feels this is the right thing for him to do, he does not judge others who would rather hang onto their possessions.

Amanda Kwan Writes About Protests at the Olympics – Photo Courtesy of

Olympic censorship
Amanda Kwan

As athletes from around the world came to Vancouver on Friday, critics of the Olympics are being blocked from entering Canada.

Martin Macias, a Chicago journalist and member of No Games Chicago, was detained at Vancouver International Airport when he arrived Saturday, because he was planning to cover the anti-Olympic protests in the city.

Macias told the Vancouver Media Co-Op he was interrogated by authorities, who kept questioning him about his motives and the anti-Olympic conference organized by the Olympic Resistance Network.
“They asked me why I was there, and I tried to establish that I was there as a radio journalist to talk to some people from the conference, residents of Vancouver who are outspoken about the Games or against the Games,” he said.

Macias is not the first critic to be stopped at the border and questioned about the Olympics. Last November, Democracy Now host Amy Goodman was held by Canadian border guards while on her way to speak at the Vancouver Public library.

There have been two more cases where American activists were denied entry, according to the Olympic Resistance Network.


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UTSC-Centennial Online Stories

Micro Pig - January 25, 2010

Alina Smirnova

An experiment in which scientists buried pigs in the snow to monitor their death was halted due to an outcry from animal activists.

The experiment was carried out in Austria with the goal of determining what allows humans to survive an avalanche in an air pocket without sustaining brain damage.

According to the Associated Press, Hermann Brugger, co-director of the test, responded by saying that the pigs were sedated before-hand and did not suffer.

The animal rights organization Four Paws have put up an offer on their website to take the surviving 19 pigs into their sanctuary in Austria. This offer has not yet been taken up. Four Paws further demand an immediate end to the experiment, claiming that information on death related to avalanches has been known for years.

German and Austrian animal-rights groups have filed a lawsuit, calling the experiment is cruel. The decision whether to proceed with the case now lays with the prosecutors in Innsbruck.

Angela Rotundo Writes About Hope for Haiti

myarchangels - January 11, 2010

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Angela Rotundo – 300480070
Online Story Ideas

Haiti makes appearance at Golden Globes

It’s now that time of year again – the time for red carpets and high fashions. Hollywood’s award season has officially begun with this year’s Golden Globes now behind us, and it was refreshingly heartfelt to see that even Hollywood’s elite could not ignore the tragedy that has swept over Haiti over the past few weeks.

In a land where the image is everything, Hollywood did not skip on the chance to show its philanthropic side. While some of the biggest names in movies and television gathered for Sunday’s glamorous annual event to honour their peers’ achievements, the biggest support shown was visible in the ubiquitous multicolored “Remember Haiti” ribbons dotting tuxes and gowns.

Throughout the night, actors served as presenters for selected categories. Yet, there were extra roles to fill this year as well. Hollywood stars decided to remind fellow actors and the audiences at home to donate as generously as they could several times throughout the show.

According to, the disaster in Haiti was never far from anyone’s mind, especially visible during Jason Reitman’s acceptance speech for his film, Up in the Air, starring George Clooney in which he said, “George doesn’t even want to be here tonight. He wishes he was in a soundstage setting up 20,000 phone lines for a benefit for Haiti right now.”

With the help that Haiti needs right now, Hollywood’s award season this year will prove to be about more humanitarianism than the glitz and glamour it’s used to.

To Read more:,8599,1954535,00.html?xid=rss-topstories#ixzz0d4uzK2mB

Billy Courtice Writes About Deadly Games


Technology - January 2, 2010

Billy Courtice

“Funky Chicken”, and “Space Monkey” sound like far-out slang words from the ‘60s—an era where getting high was just another hobby. In the present day, teenagers are using these terms to describe a different sort of high: a choking game in which the goal is a euphoric brainlessness that treads the outskirts of consciousness.
And some kids aren’t waking up.

Parents and experts in the medical community have raised concerns about online videos being posted by teenagers “glamorizing” the dangerous game. The videos are advertising a great high which is achieved by depriving the brain of oxygen while firmly grasping the throat.

Françoise Cochet, a parent who recently lost a child to the deadly game, has now established the Association of Parents of Young Victims of Strangulation in France. Cochet’s son told her about the game, but she didn’t grasp the concept before she could prevent his death. Now Cochet is hoping parents will finally realize the dangerous nature and growing popularity of the fatal game.

“If I had understood what my son was talking about that afternoon, he would still be alive,” said Cochet in an article published in Britain’s Independent.

The game dates back to the 18th century, where a “scarf game” is mentioned in French medical records. In many countries, each death is passed off as an isolated case, and the game is never recognized.,8599,1953653,00.html

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