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5 things you absolutely must know today

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Close to 60,000 litres of oil spills over Alberta muskeg

Nearly 60,000 liters of crude oil spilled into a muskeg area in northern Alberta, according to reports. The Alberta Energy Regulator filed paperwork pointing to a mechanical failure in a Canadian Natural Resources Limited oil pipeline about 27 kilometres north of Red Earth Creek. The report, issued Thursday, says cleanup has already begun, but the regulator, an oil-industry watchdog, has been so far unable to attend the site due to poor weather conditions. While this leak stands out as large, oil spills, especially unreported ones, happen quite often. In the last four months, there have been 90 reported oil spills, and a total 133 reported incidents, which could be tailings pond breaches or anything else industry related. In April of 2013, upwards of 100,000 litres of oil spilled in Manitoba. The Brandon Sun covered it. Specator Tribune covered it. But it went largely unnoticed. “There are a lot of issues that come with oil, and the province likes to keep that quiet,” Carlyle Jorgensen told Spectator Tribune at the time. “It’s one of the biggest spills we’ve ever had here in Manitoba.”[Source: Global, West Coast Native News, Spectator Tribune]

Campaign begins to open McDonald’s franchise in a church: #feast4jesus

A New Jersey-based, Christian design firm, in jest or in earnest – with humanity’s fate clinging to the former – has begun a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for building a McDonald’s franchise inside a church. The firm: Lux Dei Design. The hashtag: #feast4jesus. The title: McMass Project. The reason: “Churches need to innovate.”

“By combining a church and a McDonald’s we can create a self-sustaining, community-engaged, popular church, and an unparalleled McDonald’s restaurant.We need your help: your contribution will help us get the McMass Program off the ground and save a church community in need. The McMass Project was founded on the idea that churches need to innovate.  Our goal is to establish a precedent and a model for an entrepreneurial church. Our team at the McMass Project saw the many challenges churches today are faced with, and decided it was time to try something new. Our founder, Paul Di Lucca, one of the creative directors at Lux Dei design, a church branding agency; many of our team have also joined from there. Together, we decided to apply a design thinking process to solve the vacant church problem. Eventually, we arrived at an exciting, entrepreneurial solution. We want to demonstrate a bold new vision for how churches can engage with their surrounding communities, and thrive in the future.” Of course this could all be a joke. They are asking for $1M but have so far only raised slight over $100. [Source: Death and Taxes, Indiegogo]

I Do Day: mass wedding held for low-income couples in Brazil

Close to 2,000 people got married in an enclosed sports arena in Brazil over the weekend. It was the biggest mass wedding in Rio de Janeiro’s history, according to the BBC. The event, called I Do Day, aimed to give low-income couples who would otherwise not be able to afford a wedding, the chance to have one. Volunteer civil judges officiated, and any couple with a combined income of USD $1,000 or less were welcome. About 12,000 people attended the annual event. [Source: BBC]

Clashes between protesters and police escalate in Hong Kong

At least 40 people were arrested and just as many taken to hospital overnight, in what were possibly the worst police-protester clashes in the two months since the pro-democracy occupation began. The Guardian’s coverage reads grim: “Police baton charges left some protesters prostrate and bleeding, while volleys of pepper spray left others vomiting and temporarily blind. At least 40 people were arrested and 40 taken to hospital; one officer was knocked out cold in a scuffle and taken away on a stretcher.” The skirmishes reportedly began late Sunday night when protesters surrounded government buildings, temporarily making them inaccessible to workers. Officials drove them out and forced them back to the encampments, hours before clashes would begin and police would reclaim a sizeable chunk of the protest site, where activists have been stationed in an attempt to wrest independence from the hands of Beijing. “The police have been beating us so many times,” 24-year-old Kenci Wong told The Guardian. “But what we are asking for is right. The government hopes we will get tired but we are very determined.” [Source: The Guardian]

This winter forecasted to be warmer than last

Thank you, David Phillips. It may be a placebo. It may have been something you felt compelled to say in order to placate a population that every year forgets that Canadian winters are cold. But whatever the case and whatever the motivation, thank you for forecasting a milder winter than last. “We won’t have to be migrating and hibernating like we did last year,” the Environment Canada climatologist told CTV News Monday, summarizing the weather program’s newly released Winter Outlook. El Niño is to blame, thank, hold responsible for the warmer temperatures predicted to arrive.  [Source: CTV News]

Honourable mention: Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former U.S. secratary of state, and likely 2016 presidential nominee, will be giving the keynote address at a Winnipeg Convention Centre event on Jan. 21. [Source: Winnipeg Free Press]


Follow Toban Dyck at @tobandyck.

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