New smartphone app could reduce wait times for patients – Halifax

HALIFAX – A Halifax doctor is working on a new app to reduce waiting times for hip and knee replacement patients.

Dr. Michael Dunbar is an orthopaedic surgeon who is dissatisfied with the province’s long waiting times.

“We see a lot of patients waiting a long time to see us and a lot of patients, when they get here, are often told they didn’t need to see us,” he said.

The situation doesn’t become any better after patients undergo surgery.

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“It’s often necessary to bring them back, to interview them, look at their x-rays. So they can come back every year, year and year, and that uses a tremendous amount of resources,” he said.

It’s a situation Coline Damczyk knows all too well.

The Fall River woman had both knees replaced within a few years.

While she’s grateful for the improvement to her life, she admits the doctor visits can be arduous process.

“From where I live, it’s about three hours of your time gone because of the travel in, finding a parking spot, time in the reception, time in the office, time to get out of the Halifax office to get back home,” she said.

This particular experience of patients is the reason Dunbar is developing an app that can be downloaded on the smartphone called the gait monitoring system. Gait is the pattern of movement of limbs.

Using technology that is already in the smartphone, the app will help monitor body movements.

“This is a way of taking of taking our knowledge of what we see when we see our patients directly and putting it into a remote, reliable computer based fashion that we can follow without having to see the patient,” Dunbar said.

The app would monitor a patient’s centre of mass displacement, which can detect whether something is amiss post-surgery.

“Instead of me calling you back once a year after your hip replacement or your knee replacement, I would just send you a text once a year saying, ‘Turn this device on. Put it on your back. Go for a walk. Push a button.’. When you push a button, it will send [data] to us. We will analyze that signal, compare it to your previous one and send you a text back whether you need to see us,” Dunbar said.

“They can give us real time, evidence based, patient specific outcomes directly from their home.”

The surgeon is hopeful it will bring radical change to the healthcare system in terms of reducing wait times for patients and streamlining work for doctors.

“We have a tremendous opportunity in this province. We have some very serious challenges with respect to accessing healthcare. We have an older population. We have a lot of disease morbidity,” he said.

“Instead of everybody coming centrally to the big hospitals. Let’s keep them in their community. It’s better for the patients. I should have more time to see patients who really need to see me, who really need my expertise in a certain area.”

Patients like Damczyk say anything that makes the process easier for patients is a good thing.

“I think it would be wonderful to have anything that would cut down on the time you waste parking, traveling and waiting.”

The app could also be used to help cardiac, stroke and spinal cord patients.

The app is still in the development phase but Dunbar is hopeful it will be tested soon.

Dunbar said 100 people will be recruited from the Halifax to try the app.

It would be downloaded for a cost, with proceeds funneling back into the province’s healthcare system.

Turkey blocks Twitter – National

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey restricted access to 桑拿会所 on Friday hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “root out” the social media network where wiretapped recordings have been leaked, damaging the government’s reputation ahead key local elections this month.

Many users trying to access the network early on Friday were confronted with a notice from Turkey’s telecommunications authority, citing court orders for the site’s apparent closure.

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桑拿会所 spokesman Nu Wexler said the company was “looking into this now,” without saying whether an outage had occurred in the country.

桑拿会所’s (at)policy account earlier sent out messages telling Turkish users in both English and Turkish they could send out tweets by using short message service, or “SMS.” It was unclear if tweets sent this way would be viewable within the country.

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes criticized the ban on her 桑拿会所 account as “groundless, pointless, cowardly.”

“Turkish people and the (international) community will see this as censorship. It is,” she said.

The Internet has in the past weeks been awash with incriminating leaked recordings, including one in which Erdogan allegedly instructs his son to dispose of large amounts of cash from a residence amid a police graft probe. Erdogan, who denies corruption, said the recording was fabricated. Links to the recordings were posted on 桑拿会所.

At an election rally on Thursday, Erdogan vowed to take steps against 桑拿会所 regardless of “what the international community will say.”

Erdogan insists the recordings are fabricated and part of plot by followers of an influential U.S.-based Muslim cleric to discredit the government ahead of the March 30 elections.

©2014The Canadian Press

Crosby cruising to Hart Trophy – National

The only thing that can stop Sidney Crosby from winning his second Hart Trophy as league MVP is an injury. With less than a month to play in the regular season, the race is little more than a formality.

Of course, the last two times Crosby was cruising towards a Hart Trophy—2007-08 and 2012-13—he did suffer an injury, forcing him from the race. But even if Crosby sat out the rest of the season, his league-leading 91 points would still be more than either Ryan Getzlaf or Phil Kessel, second and third in league scoring, are on pace to finish with this season.

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Heading into Thursday night’s games, Crosby was leading the NHL in scoring by a staggering 17 points. You have to go back to 1998-99—when Jaromir Jagr led the league in scoring by 20 points—for someone to have crushed the competition so badly.

Crosby isn’t just a play-making, shot-taking, goal-scoring superstar either. Increasingly, head coach Dan Bylsma has used Crosby like a checking centre, having no problem going power-versus-power and sending out Crosby against the other team’s top line. And it’s worked. When Crosby is on the ice at even-strength, the Penguins prevent shots about as well as the New Jersey Devils, the stingiest team when it comes to shots against. They get all that and elite offence. Not a bad strategy.

Crosby’s dominance is also particularly impressive because of who he plays with. Although the Penguins have the likes of Evgeni Malkin and James Neal, Crosby spends the majority of his minutes with Chris Kunitz and, since the trade deadline, Lee Stempniak. Both are fine players, but Crosby is turning Stempniak into a first-line player and Kunitz into an Olympian.

Sure, there are other contenders. After a slow star,t Claude Giroux has turned it on and is once again a point-a-game player, putting the Flyers in a playoff position that, at one point, seemed like an impossibility. Phil Kessel has elevated the Maple Leafs with what could be a 40-goal season. And reigning MVP Alex Ovechkin will most likely be the only player to break the 50-goal barrier. But none come close to Crosby’s dominance.

If you want to nitpick, you can complain that Crosby doesn’t kill penalties for his team, like Ryan Getzlaf does for the Ducks, but that’s a quibble. Getzlaf aside, most Hart contenders don’t play much on the penalty kill because they are much more valuable to their team elsewhere. Teams have grinders and defensive specialists for a reason. You could make a case that short-handed play tilts the argument when all else is equal, but it isn’t.

The season is far from over, and the sprint to the post-season is heating up. But for the Hart Trophy the race is as good as done. Crosby is the best and it isn’t even close.

Turkish attempt to ban Twitter appears to backfire – National

WATCH: (Mar. 21, 2014) Turkey’s prime minister blocked 桑拿会所 because he said it was being used to spread allegations of corruption inside his government. It was down for a hours, but the whole plan backfired and brought more attention to the very thing he was trying to hide. Mike Drolet reports.

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ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey’s attempt to block access to 桑拿会所 appeared to backfire on Friday with many tech-savvy users circumventing the ban and suspicions growing that the prime minister was using court orders to suppress corruption allegations against him and his government.

Turkey’s telecommunications authority said it had blocked access to the social media network hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “rip out the roots” of the website. Tweets have proliferated with links to recordings that appear to incriminate him and other top officials in corruption.

Lutfi Elvan, Turkey’s minister in charge of transport and communications, said Turkey was merely obeying court orders — although an Istanbul lawyers group argued the court decisions were about blocking access to parts of websites deemed to be violating privacy — not entire websites.

Turkey in the past has blocked access to YouTube, but this is the first ban on 桑拿会所, which is hugely popular in the country — to the point where Turkish hashtags routinely appear in global trends. The social network was instrumental in organizing flash protests against the government last year.

By midday Friday, tweets were continuing unabated as users swapped instructions online on how to change settings. One enterprising user spread the word by defacing Turkish election posters with instructions on beating censors.

President Abdullah Gul was among those who circumvented the order, which he contested in a series of tweets. Gul, once a political ally of Erdogan, has spoken out against Internet censorship in the past, although last month he approved government moves to tighten controls over the Internet.

“I hope this implementation won’t last long,” he wrote.

Links to leaked recordings have been popping up on two Turkish 桑拿会所 accounts, including one in which a voice resembling Erdogan’s instructs his son to dispose of large amounts of cash from a residence amid a police graft investigation. Erdogan, who denies corruption, said the recording was fabricated and part of a plot by followers of an influential U.S.-based Muslim cleric to discredit the government before March 30 local elections.

“Prime Minister Erdogan’s move spells the lengths he will go to censor the flood of politically damaging wiretap recordings circulating on social media,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Andrew Przybylski, a researcher at Britain’s Oxford Internet Institute, said the ban appeared to be working through Domain Name System — or DNS — blocking, which was easy to work around.

He said many 桑拿会所-hungry Turks manually changed the DNS settings on their computers and in their phones to point to Google’s Domain Name System, which isn’t affected by the ban.

Earlier, many users trying to access the network instead saw a notice from Turkey’s telecommunications authority, citing four court orders.

Turkey’s lawyers’ association asked a court to overturn the ban, arguing it was unconstitutional and violated Turkish and European human rights laws. Turkey’s main opposition party also applied for a cancellation.

桑拿会所’s @policy account tweeted: “We stand with our users in Turkey who rely on 桑拿会所 as a vital communications platform. We hope to have full access returned soon.”

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes criticized the 桑拿会所 ban in Turkey — a country that is seeking to join the European Union — as “groundless, pointless, cowardly.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Washington had conveyed “serious concern” to the Turkish government and said it supported the “people of Turkey in their calls to restore access to the blocked technologies.”

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “Actions like this are contrary to Turkey’s own expressed desire to be a model of democracy, to uphold the highest standards of democracy.”

The telecommunications authority accused 桑拿会所 of violating “personal rights and the confidentiality of private lives” and said access would be restored only when 桑拿会所 removes illegal content.

“Turkey is not a country that bans the Internet,” Elvan said. “We have to stand together against insults and unlawfulness.”

Technology Minister Fikri Isik said officials were holding talks with 桑拿会所 and that the ban would be lifted if an agreement is reached.

The original source of the leaked recordings is unclear. The ban comes amid rumours and news reports that even more damaging recordings are about to emerge.

In Berlin, the German government’s human rights commissioner, Christoph Straesser, called on Turkey to reverse the decision immediately. Britain’s Foreign Office said social media had a “vital role to play” in modern democracy.

Raphael Satter and Cassandra Vinograd in London, Lara Jakes in Washington, Raf Casert in Brussels and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.

©2014The Canadian Press

Mayor Iveson sets goal of eliminating poverty in Edmonton – Edmonton

EDMONTON – Although Edmonton’s economy is booming, poverty impacts thousands of people in the city. And on Thursday, Mayor Don Iveson outlined his vision to put an end to the issue.

“Our thinking needs to change. Right now we’re just managing poverty like a problem, rather than thinking about strategically changing things,” Iveson said at a symposium at the Shaw Conference Centre Thursday morning.

The city says there are more than 100,000 Edmontonians living under the poverty level, nearly 30,000 of whom are children.

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  • Edmonton is a shining example of reducing homelessness: report

“For me, that is not acceptable,” said Iveson.

Iveson has formed a task force focused on the issue. His goal as co-chair is to see it gone within a generation.

“We have many brilliant, forward-thinking minds in our city,” he said. “By drawing from this vast knowledge and learning from people who have experience with poverty, I believe the members of this task force can find innovative solutions to empower Edmontonians and close the door on poverty.”

“Unless you set a bold goal then you just make do,” added fellow co-chair Bishop Jane Alexander. “With the incredible resources we have in Edmonton we could actually transform the nature of how we think about poverty, its existence, and do something quite extraordinary. But you have to have a bold enough vision that uses a word like elimination.”

The task force will be made up of 18 community advocates, academics and business leaders.

Julian Daly, the executive director of Boyle Street Community Services, says he would like to see the task force come up with recommendations on three key areas: racism, mental health and addiction services, and affordable housing options.

“If we can begin to address those, I think we can begin to take large numbers of the poorest of the poor in our city out of poverty,” added Daly.

The creation of the task force comes as the city continues to work on its 10-year plan to end homelessness.

“If we actually want to — not just eliminate homelessness — but prevent new people from falling into homelessness, you have to start talking about poverty reduction and poverty elimination,” explained Iveson.

A series of recommendations on the issue of poverty in Edmonton is expected by this time next year.

For more information on poverty in Edmonton, visit the city’s website.

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News. 

©2014Shaw Media

Global News’ Carolyn MacKenzie wins leadership award – Toronto

TORONTO – Global News’ Carolyn MacKenzie will be honoured by District 60 Toastmasters International for her achievement in the field of Communication and Leadership.

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An award-winning journalist who has spent more than 15 years covering the biggest stories in the GTA and Canada. Carolyn joined Global News in 2005 as weekend anchor of Evening News before moving to her current role as weeknight anchor on News Hour Final.

“We’re pleased to congratulate Carolyn on winning the reputable Toastmasters award,” said Ward Smith, Senior Director, Eastern Region, Global News. “Carolyn is a strong leader within the community, working with many charitable organizations. She brings her passion and dynamic leadership traits into our newsroom every day.”

When not reporting news, Carolyn enjoys time with her husband Chris, a Toronto firefighter, and her two children, Kate, 5, and Matthew, 2.

“I am so honoured to be receiving this award but even more proud about what it says regarding the work we do here at Global News,” she commented on the win.

“We strive to reach people, to connect with them on some level. This award proves we are doing just that, and for me, truly validates the hard work we do every day.”

Carolyn will be presented with the award Saturday, April 5 at the Communication and Leadership Award Luncheon at the Old Mill Hotel in Toronto.

The Communication and Leadership Award is given to a non-Toastmaster member of the community who has contributed to the well being of the community through their communication and leadership.

©2014Shaw Media

4 pedestrians hit by vehicles Thursday: Halifax police – Halifax

HALIFAX – Halifax police report four pedestrians have been hit by vehicles within 24 hours.

The latest incident happened at 7:45 p.m. Thursday on Woodlawn Road in Dartmouth. A 40-year-old woman was crossing at Mount Edward Road when she was struck by a vehicle turning left. She was assessed by paramedics and released.

The 39-year-old female driver was ticketed for failing to yield to a pedestrian.

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  • Man taken to hospital after being struck by vehicle

At 5 p.m. on Thursday, a 20-year-old woman was struck in a crosswalk on Spring Garden Road. The vehicle’s side mirror hit the woman, spinning her around, then the rear tires ran over the woman’s foot. She was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The 40-year-old female driver was charged in the incident. Police said heavy rain and busy traffic may have contributed to the crash.

Earlier in the day, a 24-year-old woman was hit at Upper Water Street. She was crossing at Duke Street when a vehicle swiped her; she was not injured. The 62-year-old male driver stopped to help and, so far, police have not pressed charges.

Then just before 5 a.m. on Thursday, a 56-year-old man was taken to hospital after he was hit near Citadel Hill.

The 66-year-old male driver was ticketed in that case.

©2014Shaw Media

NDP MLA takes Disneyland trip cited in audit

WATCH (above): The provincial government has released details of an audit of the Portland Hotel Society. The results have many people shaking their heads. Geoff Hastings reports. 

A New Democrat who represents a Vancouver riding has admitted she and her family took two trips cited in scathing government audits that revealed lavish spending by a non-profit group funded to look after some of Canada’s poorest people.

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Jenny Kwan said Thursday that she was concerned when she heard previous directors of the Portland Hotel Society claimed for trips.

In a statement, issued hours after the audits were released, Kwan said she and her two children joined her husband on two vacations in 2012.

“I was assured at the time by my former partner that he paid out of his pocket for the family portion of the travel expenses,” said Kwan, who has championed herself as an anti-poverty advocate.

“I would never have gone had I known that the family portion of the travel would appear to have been paid for by PHS,” she said.

Her ex-husband, Robert Dan Small, is among the executives of the society and is listed in the independent audit as the director of policy, research and fund development for the society since 1998.

A $2,600 trip for two adults and two children to the Disney resort in Anaheim, Calif., was singled out in the audit, along with several other trips to destinations including Paris and Vienna.

Kwan did not return calls requesting an interview but New Democrat caucus chairman Shane Simpson confirmed she went to Disneyland and Europe in 2012.

“I believe the European one was her ex-husband was going to participate in a conference around drug policy and the family accompanied him,” he said, adding he didn’t think Kwan would resign over the scandal.

The audits detailed more than $8,600 spent on limousine rides last year, a stay in a United Kingdom hotel that cost almost $900 a night.

It also found that society credit-card expenses for 764 restaurant meals amounted to $69,000. One bill came to $1,636 for a staff appreciation event. Travel costs expensed for trips to Vienna, Paris, Istanbul, New York City, Banff and Jasper and Ottawa amounted to $300,000.

The Portland Hotel Society provides social housing and other services, including North America’s only safe-injection site where addicts shoot up their own drugs to prevent overdoses and infectious diseases such as HIV.

Health Minister Terry Lake said Thursday that four society executives had been fired and an interim board has taken over operations of the largest social service provider in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to ensure people who need services will continue getting them.

The audits spearheaded by BC Housing and Vancouver Coastal Health also showed the non-profit society is in weak financial shape, is more than $113,000 into its bank overdraft and drew $1.2 million from lines of credit and a business loan.

“The findings speak for themselves and they include unsupported expenses including out-of-country travel, entertainment and catering, misuse of corporate credit cards, missing receipts, inadequate approval of expenses and unusual payments to companies set up and owned by Portland Hotel Society personnel,” Lake told a news conference.

Questions over spending by the society that received $28.5 million for the current fiscal year prompted an internal review and audit that led to an external audit covering three fiscal years, from March 2010 to March 2013.

Most of the funding for the Portland Hotel Society comes from the Crown agency BC Housing and Vancouver Coastal Health. The society also received Health Canada grants and $100,000 in donations in 2013.

Mark Townsend was co-executive director of the society along with his wife Liz Evans for more than 20 years. He said in an interview Wednesday that the management team had agreed to resign so there would be no interruption in services for people in the impoverished area. But he did not fully respond to questions about the society’s spending irregularities.

Lake said the government had negotiated an agreement with the society for its four managers to step aside by the end of the month and that the new board had taken over on Thursday.

“While we were prepared to ask the court to appoint a receiver the solution we have arrived at will let us avoid costs involved with court action and also help us to move quickly to address the financial and operational issues that threaten programs and services delivered by the society,” Lake said.

The society managers will get severance pay, though Lake could not provide a dollar amount.

It’s up to police to pursue any criminal charges over finances, Lake said. Sgt. Randy Fincham of the Vancouver Police Department said he was not aware of a criminal investigation involving the society.

Besides its contract for Insite, the supervised-injection site, the Portland Hotel Society handles 17 contracts, including rental of at least 12 buildings to low-income tenants.

The federal government has been criticized for wanting Insite to be shut down over concerns it promotes drug use, but the Portland Hotel Society and several drug users have won a series of legal battles against Ottawa.

WATCH: Keith Baldrey has more insight into the audit of the Portland Hotel Society

Bankrupt bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox finds 200,000 missing bitcoins – National

Bankrupt bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox said it found 200,000 bitcoins, which were previously thought stolen, in disused electronic wallets. Another 650,000 bitcoins still remain unaccounted for.

The Tokyo-based company said in a statement posted on its website Thursday that the 200,000 bitcoins were identified Mar. 7 after “old format” wallets were searched as part of Mt. Gox’s bankruptcy proceedings.

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The online exchange for the virtual currency was unplugged in late February as rumours of its insolvency swirled, adding to doubts about the viability of bitcoins overall.

READ MORE: 16×9: An investigation into Bitcoin’s remarkable rise

It then filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and said nearly all its 850,000 bitcoins were missing, most likely as a result of theft. About 750,000 of the bitcoins belonged to people who used the Mt. Gox exchange.

At current prices, the rediscovered bitcoins have a market value of about $120 million.

Mt. Gox’s problems have been a setback for bitcoin, a virtual currency that has grown in popularity since its 2009 creation as a way to make transactions across borders without third parties such as banks.

The restoration of some of the missing virtual currency is potentially good news for bitcoin enthusiasts who invested at Mt. Gox but also raises further questions about the running of the exchange.

Mt. Gox’s statement said the 200,000 bitcoins had been moved to offline wallets. It didn’t specify the type but offline wallets include USB sticks and paper documents.

©2014The Canadian Press

Thai court rules February election invalid – National

BANGKOK, Thailand – Thailand’s constitutional Court ruled Friday that a general election held in February was invalid, setting the stage for a new vote and dealing another complication to the country’s political crisis.

The judges voted 6-3 to declare the Feb. 2 election unconstitutional because voting was not held that day in 28 constituencies where anti-government protesters had prevented candidates from registering. The constitution says the election must be held on the same day nationwide.

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“The process (now) is to have a new general election,” Pimol Thampitakpong, the court’s secretary-general, said at a news conference announcing the decision.

There was no immediate indication of when new polls might be held. The date is normally set by the government in consultation with the Election Commission.

The ruling would appear to have little practical effect in either alleviating or worsening Thailand’s political crisis, which began late last year when protesters demanded that the administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra be replaced by an unelected “people’s council” to implement reforms they say are needed to end corruption and money politics.

Yingluck refused to resign and called early elections in a bid to ensure a fresh mandate. But the protesters tried to prevent the election from taking place, physically blocking and intimidating both potential candidates and voters. It was their efforts that prevented voting from being completed on the same day.

At the same time, the main opposition Democrat Party – closely linked to the protest movement – boycotted the polls. Because voting was never completed, no results were announced, even for areas where there were no problems.

The Democrats indicated earlier this week that they would boycott fresh polls if held under Yingluck’s caretaker government.

Even if new polls go smoothly, Yingluck faces several legal challenges that could force her from office, faced with a judiciary which has a record of hostility toward her and her political allies.

The protesters, whose main strength is in the Democrats’ southern strongholds and Bangkok, have maintained constant, sometimes violent street demonstrations in the capital. In turn they have been the target of gun and grenade attacks by unknown parties. The attacks, along with street battles against the police and political rivals, have left at least 23 people dead and hundreds hurt.

Police Col. Kamthorn Auicharoen said Friday that two grenades fired overnight from an M79 launcher landed on houses near a constitutional Court judge’s residence in Bangkok, injuring one man. It was the latest in a series of such incidents, with most but not all targeting opponents of the government.

Thailand has seen political conflict since 2006, when then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s brother, was ousted by a military coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. Thaksin’s supporters and opponents have since taken to the streets for extended periods in a power struggle.

The constitutional Court issued its ruling after being petitioned by the state ombudsman, who accepted a complaint lodged by a university lecturer.

©2014The Canadian Press