News Briefs


Distracted driving fines to double by March 18

Ontario distracted driving fines will soon be almost double the current $155 penalty, according to <em>CBC News. </em>

The new total of $280 includes a $25 victim surcharge, as well as five-dollar court costs. While distracted driving is not subject for demerit points, should the incident be ruled with a dangerous driving charge, up to six demerit points may be in order.

Come March 18, drivers may be fined if the displays of a cellular phone, computer, tablet, or MP3 player are visible while driving. GPS screens will be exempt from the raised fine.

Threats of separation raise tensions in Ukraine

Anger in the east and south due to President Oleksandr Turchynov’s rise to power over former president Viktor Yanukovych threatens the separation of Ukraine, reported Euro News.

Pro-Russian rallies are on the rise in the southern region Crimea, where nearly 60 per cent of the region&rsquo;s population is native Russians.&nbsp; Residents have been signing up for self-defence and pro-Russian groups out of fear of violence by Ukrainian extremists.

Crimea, making moves to protest the new national government, is seeking secession from Ukraine.

Turchynov along with fellow MPs have voiced fears of a split, and feel that anyone participating in or responsible for separatist acts should be punished.

New software partnership promises up to 100 times faster results to HIV/AIDS patients

According to The Globe And Mail, Vancouver-based PHEMI Health Systems, alongside software world leader SAP, has teamed up to create an all-new genetic sequencing system which will allow for faster identification of a patient’s strain of HIV.

The new software consists of a two-step process in which basic genetic information from patients&rsquo; blood samples will be extracted using PHEMI software at St. Paul&rsquo;s lab in British Columbia, then sent off to SAP&rsquo;s system to be analyzed.

The resulting genetic maps of the virus will also allow doctors to determine which of the dozens of HIV drugs a patient should be receiving. In simplest terms, the development of the program means faster and cheaper treatment.

The projected goal is to transition from doctor&rsquo;s notes and printed lab results to &ldquo;searchable information&rdquo; by summer for the Vancouver area, after which expansion will occur to partnering facilities already established in China, South Africa, and Panama.

&ldquo;This will help us save time and money while also significantly decreasing the number of new HIV and AIDS cases. For the first time, we shall have access to vast amounts of information and get answers immediately,&rdquo; said Dr. Montaner in a statement to <em>The Globe.</em>

<b>LGBTQ Ugandans in danger after national tabloid exposes list of top 200 homosexuals</b>

According to <i>CBC News,</i> a Ugandan tabloid published a list of 200 of the country&rsquo;s homosexuals, putting those named at risk of violence due to the recent passing of an anti-gay law.&nbsp;

The newly passed bill punishes same-gender sexual activity with a life sentence in prison, as well as seven years for anyone who promotes or aids homosexuality. While no LGBTQ people have been arrested since the bill was signed, two have been taken into custody and more than a dozen have fled the country since December. 

The Red Pepper tabloid list featured full names and pictures of several Ugandan gay activists as well as people who were not previously publicly gay in a front page story titled “EXPOSED!” The tabloid is said to have released enough personal information for the general public and employers to be able to identify many of the targeted group, raising fear of persecution and violence among those named.


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