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Federal ministers reconnect with proNAFTA allies in US as new stage nears

first_imgOTTAWA – Federal cabinet ministers have fanned out south of the border in hope of energizing U.S. supporters of the beleaguered NAFTA deal as yet another critical round of talks is set to begin in Montreal later this month.In this latest effort to sing NAFTA’s praises to the Americans, the stakes appear highest for Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay.On Sunday, MacAulay will deliver Ottawa’s message from a big stage in Nashville, where he will become the first Canadian cabinet minister to deliver a keynote address at the annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation. The conference is a huge gathering of more than 5,000 delegates from across the U.S. agricultural industry.MacAulay’s speech comes at a crucial time for the future of the deal, which he says has had big impact on the continent’s farming sectors.But the significance of his address will be even greater given the higher-profile event on the convention calendar expected in the days after his appearance — a speech by U.S. President Donald Trump.Trump, who will become the first American president to address the convention since George H. W. Bush in 1992, has repeatedly threatened to begin withdrawing the U.S. from the agreement.“It’s without a question a big deal,” MacAulay told The Canadian Press in an interview when asked about speaking before Trump at the same convention.“This is very important, this meeting, in my opinion, and I’m very pleased to be there and hopefully it works well.”Fortunately for MacAulay, the U.S. farming lobby has been a leader in opposing the push to abandon NAFTA, which means his pro-trade message is likely to get a warmer reception than that of his presidential counterpart.In his address, MacAulay is expected to remind the crowd how about 80 food and agriculture organizations sent a warning to the U.S. administration that pulling out of NAFTA would immediately hurt their industries and kills tens of thousands of jobs.MacAulay, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale have all been meeting political and business leaders in the U.S. this week to promote NAFTA’s benefits.Their visits come ahead of the next round of bargaining, which starts Jan. 23 when negotiators from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico reconvene in Montreal.Goodale met with strong pro-NAFTA officials in Kentucky, including Gov. Matt Bevin and the leaders of the state’s chamber of commerce.In prepared remarks for his speech Friday, he stressed the importance of identifying and dealing properly with any genuine unfairness in the deal, rather than “tanking the whole relationship.”Meanwhile, McKenna travelled to California for meetings Friday with officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown, who also supports NAFTA.Canada’s message hasn’t changed as it renews its defence of the trade deal, said McKenna, who continues to repeat the mantra that NAFTA is key to tackling environmental challenges and boosting economic growth in all three countries.“I think what we’re doing is just looking at all the opportunities to make the case for why NAFTA is really important,” McKenna said.One U.S.-based trade expert said the “maple charm offensive” by Canadian political leaders over the past year has been effective at providing outside support to pro-NAFTA supporters in the U.S. Congress.But Dan Ujczo, a lawyer for Dickinson Wright in Columbus, Ohio, doesn’t think the needle has moved much for those opposed to or even undecided on the deal.“I don’t think hearts and minds have been changed,” said Ujczo, who wants Canada to deploy a fresh set of messengers — and messages.It’s time to go beyond touting NAFTA’s benefits and start acknowledging that there have been some losers in North American integration, Ujczo said — and explain how best to help those people.Canadian businesses should also be playing a bigger role in the U.S. outreach effort, he added.January is likely to be a critical month for NAFTA, since it includes another round of potentially substantive negotiations as well as Trump’s latest State of the Union address.Until then, Trump’s NAFTA message Monday will be “an important measuring stick” on how the administration plans to proceed, he said.“While I don’t expect the president to make any promises about not withdrawing from NAFTA, I think his comments will add some clarity as to how effective the farm lobby’s advocacy has been.”— Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitterlast_img read more

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Dawson Creek receives application for a nonmedical cannabis store licence

first_imgDAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The City has received another application for a non-medical cannabis retail store licence.The City shared, ‘Pursuant to the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, the City of Dawson Creek hereby advises that Earth to Sky Cannabis Company Ltd., under the proposed establishment name of FLORA Cannabis, has made an application for a Non-Medical Cannabis Retail Store Licence to be located at #4, 11612 8th Street, Dawson Creek, BC.’The City advises anyone that feels they may be affected by this application to submit their written comments no later than 4:30 pm on March 1, 2019, to: Cindy Fisher, Deputy Corporate OfficerCity of Dawson CreekP.O. Box 150, 10105 12A StreetDawson Creek, BC V1G 4G4Email: admin@dawsoncreek.caIf you require further information regarding this application please contact Aaron Thompson, City Planner, at 250-784-3601.last_img read more

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Rohit hits 1st 50 of IPL 2019 but CSK bowlers keep MI

first_imgChennai: Skipper Rohit Sharma struck his first half-century of the season before Chennai Super Kings bowlers fought back brilliantly to restrict Mumbai Indians to 155 for four in an Indian Premier League match here on Friday. Rohit top-scored for MI with 67 from 48 balls with the help of six fours and three sixes, but it was Kiwi left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner who starred with the ball for CSK with brilliant figures of 2 for 13 from his four overs. Also Read – We will push hard for Kabaddi”s inclusion in 2024 Olympics: RijijuSent in to bat by stand-in captain Suresh Raina after Mahendra Singh Dhoni was ruled out of the match due to fever, MI couldn’t capitalise on a good start, faltering against some accurate bowling by the home team. From 103 for two in 13 overs, MI could only muster 52 runs in the final seven overs. The big-hitting Hardik Pandya (23 not out off 18 balls, 1×4, 1×6) and Kieron Pollard (13 off 12 balls, 2x4s) couldn’t do much damage but still managed to get MI past the 150-run mark. Also Read – Djokovic to debut against Shapovalov at Shanghai MastersRohit led from the front with a typically elegant half-century, his first of the season, during which he hit some big sixes and looked in control for the most part. He was holed out to Murali Vijay at long-on off Santner, who bowled a brilliant spell. Krunal Pandya, pushed up the order in a bid to speed up the scoring rate, fell for just one run, caught by Santner in the deep off Imran Tahir’s bowling. West Indies power-hitter Evin Lewis (32 off 30 balls, 3x4s, 1X6) added 75 runs with Rohit for the second wicket and took the attack to the CSK bowlers. The fast improving Deepak Chahar got the first wicket for CSK in the form of dangerous Quinton de Kock (15 off 9 balls, 1×4, 1×6) with a slower ball. The South African’s attempt to turn the ball to leg-side resulted in a top-edge which was taken by Ambati Rayudu, donning the big gloves in place of the indisposed Dhoni. Earlier, CSK won the toss and elected to field but were dealt a big blow ahead of the match with captain Dhoni missing out due to fever. Also, Faf du Plessis and Ravindra Jadeja missed out and Santner, Murali Vijay and Dhruv Shrorey came in. Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians: 155 for 4 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 67, Evin Lewis 32; Mitchell Santner 2/13) vs CSK.last_img read more

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India resigned to US decision to end zerotariffs status

NEW DELHI — India’s commerce ministry says it won’t try to hold onto its preferential zero-tariffs status with the United States after Washington decided to drop it from its Generalized System of Preferences program.A ministry spokeswoman, Monideepa M. Mukherjee, said India did not expect the U.S. to relent on the issue.On Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that India and Turkey would lose their GSP status within 60 days. He said India had failed “to provide the United States with assurances that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors.”Mukherjee said India disagrees, but has outgrown GSP.The GSP program gives developing countries duty-free treatment for exports of thousands of products. It is meant to help such countries grow their economies by encouraging trade.The Associated Press read more

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Resettlement of Myanmar refugees from Thailand tops 30000 – UN agency

25 June 2008The number of Myanmar refugees that have left Thailand to begin new lives in third countries since January 2005 topped 30,000 this week, marking a major milestone in the world’s largest resettlement operation, the United Nations refugee agency said today. Almost all of the 30,144 men, women and children that have left since the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began the resettlement programme were living in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border after fleeing fighting and oppression in their homeland.“Some of the refugees have been here for nearly two decades. Some were born in refugee camps, grew up there and are now raising their own families in refugee camps,” said UNHCR Regional Representative Raymond Hall. “For them, resettlement offers a way out of the camps and the opportunity for a fresh start in life.”The majority of those that have left – 21,453 – have gone to the United States, while Australia has received 3,405 and Canada 2,605. The rest have gone to Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.“We are very grateful to resettlement countries for making it possible for so many refugees to get a new chance at building productive lives,” Mr. Hall said.UNHCR noted that some 300 Myanmar refugees leave Thailand every week for resettlement, and nearly 8,000 more could leave by the end of this year. Nearly 124,000 refugees and asylum-seekers remain in the nine camps along the border.Meanwhile, relief efforts are continuing in the wake of the deadly cyclone which battered Myanmar in early May and left as many as 2.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that a joint relief and early recovery assessment team, involving 250 staff from UN agencies, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and 18 Government ministries, has confirmed the need for continued relief efforts to cover unmet needs.One component of the survey – the Village Tract Assessment – showed that nearly three quarters of households do not have enough food to last more than a week, and nearly half are dependent on humanitarian aid to eat. “Considering that 42 per cent of all food stocks were destroyed, continued food assistance is required,” the team noted.Meanwhile, 60 per cent of households say their access to clean water is inadequate, and many are now depending on rainwater since ponds are full of salt water. In addition, while there has been no major disease outbreak to date, preliminary data show that open defecation has more than doubled, posing serious risks for the spread of diseases. The assessment will be used to revise the humanitarian appeal, which is set to be issued in early July. The $201 million appeal launched following the cyclone is currently 66 per cent funded. More than 134,000 people are dead or missing as a result of Cyclone Nargis and the subsequent tidal wave which struck the South-East Asian nation, causing the greatest damage to Ayeyarwady Delta area and Yangon, the country’s most populous city. read more

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Respect for rule of law key barometer of Africas progress Annan says

That vital legal response “gives lawyers and all others involved in the pursuit of justice a critical role in the continent’s future,” Mr. Annan said in his message to the All-Africa Conference on Law, Justice and Development, which was delivered on his behalf by UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Hans Corell. He stressed the importance of that approach in meeting the demands of democratization, governance and accountability; as well as in working to eliminate discrimination against women and to combat corruption, terrorism and other forms of criminality. The Conference, set to run through Friday, is an initiative undertaken by an informal Coalition of African Jurists (CAJ) under the leadership of Muhammadu Lawal Uwais, Chief Justice of Nigeria. The CAJ believes that sustainable economic growth and development are achievable for each African country within the next few decades if Africa recommits itself to re-affirming the pre-eminence of the rule of law and if it acts resolutely to promote justice for all of its people.”You can set an example for peaceful discourse,” Mr. Annan said in his message. “You can educate others and find strength in advocating together for human rights and fundamental freedoms.” While noting that Africans have played a vital role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and are becoming a party to international treaties and legal regimes, he stressed it was not enough for States to simply give their consent to be bound by such treaties, or “to take action only to give the appearance of compliance.””You can press your leaders to fulfil their commitments while urging leaders around the world to honour their pledge to the Millennium Declaration to help Africans in their struggle for lasting peace, poverty eradication and sustainable development,” Mr. Annan said. “Africans have long dreamt of a just and prosperous continent governed by the rule of law,” Mr. Annan said, noting that while that dream may not have yet have been realized, efforts toward it are intensifying. “Democratic roots are becoming firmer, and the rule of law is now understood as the sine qua non for stability and development.” read more

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Venezuela denounces imperialist US sanctions threat

Former presidents Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia, Andres Pastrana of Colombia, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica and Miguel Angel Rodriguez of Costa Rica (AFP Image)Opposition leaders said they would step up their campaign against the constituent assembly.They are planning a general strike for Thursday. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned it “risks further polarising the country and increasing confrontation”.In response, Mr Maduro called her “insolent” and said that Venezuela was not a colony of the EU.Venezuela also banned five former Latin American presidents from entering the country.Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada said that Mexico’s Vicente Fox, Bolivia’s Jorge Quiroga, Colombia’s Andrés Pastrana and Costa Rica’s former presidents Laura Chinchilla and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez had been declared personae non gratae.The former leaders had been part of a delegation who agreed to monitor Sunday’s unofficial referendum organised by the Venezuelan opposition. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada said the constituent assembly would go ahead (AFP Image)(BBC) The Venezuelan government says it will hold elections for a controversial constituent assembly despite the threat of US sanctions.The assembly would have the power to rewrite the constitution and to bypass the opposition-controlled legislature.On Monday, US President Donald Trump said he would take “economic actions” if the constituent assembly went ahead.Mr Trump also called President Maduro “a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator”.Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada denounced Mr Trump’s words as an “insolent threat”.Mr Trump had warned that “if the Maduro regime imposes its constituent assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions”.But he did not give any details as to what those actions may be.Mr Trump’s warning came hours after the opposition said that 7.6 million people had voted against the constituent assembly in an unofficial referendum on Sunday.The Venezuelan government disputed the figure given by the opposition and called it a “gigantic fraud”.Increasing pressureCalls within Venezuela and abroad have been mounting since the results of the referendum were announced.Opposition politicians say Mr Maduro wants to use it to entrench himself in power, while Mr Maduro argues a new constitution will promote dialogue in the polarised country.Colombia, France, Spain and the European Union have also demanded that the Venezuelan government drop its plan for the assembly.The opposition said that 7.6 million people took part in the unofficial referendum (EPA Image) Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedVenezuela’s Maduro claims poll victory as opposition cries foulJuly 31, 2017In “Regional”Maduro rallies military as Venezuela opposition plans protestJanuary 30, 2019In “Regional”Canada expels Venezuela diplomat in tit-for-tat moveDecember 26, 2017In “World” read more

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Players want Pytlick fired

← Previous Story No surprises in Velenje: HSV in control, 29:36 Next Story → Mickael Robin to Cesson Rennes! Denmarkhandballhandball coachJan Pytlick It was Hamlet that said “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” and it is also the case in recent days, but nobody would suspect that there was any reason for unrest in the “Hearth of Handball” in the aftermath of the EHF Euro and the World championship; all crowned with medals.As reported by the Danish media, the newly installed Sports manager at the Danish Handball Federation (DHF) Ulrik Wilbek is now trying to dampen the situation in the women’s national team camp, after the last few days of internal turmoil.As the Danish media, most notably BT (www.bt.dk) report on Monday, several prominent players on the women’s national team have criticized the style of play coach Jan Pytlick used during the World Cup in Serbia. It was also reported that it had gotten to a stage when the players want Pytlick fired.Sporten.tv2.dk says that Danish national team coach Jan Pytlick is believed to have heard nothing about the unrest among the players that won the bronze medal at the World championship in Serbia last December.Since neither Wilbek nor Pytlick are in control of the situation, there’s a likelihood that the DHF governing body is going to be included in solving the situation.As per sporten.tv2.dk it is understood that the DHF Secretery-general Morten Stig Christensen has Jan Pytlick’s job under revision, but silence from the DHF and lack of any official statement means that the federation is currently in support of the under-fire coach.Ulrik Wilbek wasn’t as tight lipped about the situation, and the Sports manager did not hide the uncertainty about Pytlick’s job in the future.“It may well be, that Jan Pytlick gets fired at some point, but right now there are no plans to fire him”, said Wilbek .Danish national team players have reportedly held an internal meeting with the DHF governing body, and the dismissal of Pytlick was discussed- according to BT.Nevertheless, none of the national team players would confirm to tv2.dk that such a discussion had taken place between the players and the DHF.It is understood that the meeting between Jan Pytlick, his assistant coach Ulrik Kirkely and the National team Sports manager Ulrik Wilbek would be held his week. There are no guarantees that anything will be decided at the meeting, as it is only an evaluation; Although it is certain that the conclusions made will help, when another evaluation meeting takes place in March, when the national team players will also participate.TEXT: NEMANJA SAVIC read more

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Migrant women a hidden economic asset

first_imgA qualitative survey canvassing the views of 63 new migrant women arriving on a partner visa, as well as employers and service providers by settlement agency AMES Australia, found significant barriers to these women getting into employment.The research paper, titled ‘Hidden Assets: skilled migrant women and the Australian workforce’, concluded that early intervention to help migrant women find work could help Australia harness what is a “hidden asset”.Lead researcher Dr Lisa Thomson said migrant women were not considered in economic terms as valuable and skilled assets but rather regarded as “trailing spouses”.“With assistance from government-funded services and input from employers via early intervention programs, these women can become job ready and available to enter the labour market, fill job vacancies and meet skill shortages,” Dr Thomson said.“This not only provides them with financial security and autonomy, it enriches the settlement process, mitigates the risk of social isolation and makes the transition into life in Australia much easier,” she said.The study, funded by the federal government’s Office for Women, was aimed at understanding the experience of skilled migrant women from non-English speaking backgrounds entering Australia as partners under the skilled and family streams who are seeking employment.Dr Thomson said Australian government policy had long prioritised skilled migration but had ignored the disparity between men and women in relation to how they transition to life in Australia. “The women in this study demonstrated resilience, ingenuity and initiative in their approach to job searching and the challenges of navigating the labour market in a new country,” Dr Thomson said.“They did not expect handouts, and had a strong desire to work and contribute to the community. Most wanted to work in a professional job but settled for lower status jobs to gain local experience. “Many experienced significant changes in career trajectory in terms of downgrading or having to move into another area of employment outside their training and expertise,” Dr Thomson said.She said women in rural areas were the most disadvantaged because of limited or no job vacancies.“Their first priority was to be with their partner and to keep the family together. This meant that they either had to remain unemployed or take low level jobs if they were available,” Dr Thomson said.She said unemployment or underemployment had a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing on a number of respondents. “With support these women felt that they could more easily navigate the Australian labour market and secure employment,” Dr Thomson said. The study noted that between 2010 and 2015 more than 157,000 women aged over the age of 18 migrated in the family stream – the majority were partners or spouses.More than 181,000 women migrated in the skilled stream and more than 70 per cent of these were married or partnered.The study identified barriers to finding work including employers not understanding about temporary visas and work rights and a lack of knowledge of Australian workplace culture and recruitment practices among migrants.Lack of local experience, domestic responsibilities, access to transport and proficiency in English were also recognised as barriers to employment.The study found migrant women from non-English speaking countries tended to have: low labour force participation rates; higher unemployment and underemployment; lower earnings relative to their skills and qualifications; and, a high proportion of those in both the skilled and family migration streams are degree qualified.Upon arrival in Australia many partner migrant women experience: re-domestication; de-skilling; and disrupted careers, the study found.Dr Thomson said support and buy-in from employers was essential in getting migrant women into work.“Employers need to be involved in the development of an intervention to assist skilled migrants and skilled migrant women into the Australian Workforce,” she said.Dr Thomson said some employers were more proactive than others in employing skilled migrants and that organisations needed to embrace diversity in their workforce.“A diverse workforce is good for business – organisations are better at innovation, problem solving and finding solutions,” she said.“An organisation’s workforce should reflect the cultural diversity of the community in which operates and/or is located.“Having people from CALD backgrounds in senior leadership roles enhances diversity in an organisation,” Dr Thomson said. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

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La Réunion face à une sécheresse inédite depuis 50 ans

first_imgLa Réunion face à une sécheresse inédite depuis 50 ansAlors que Météo France n’annonce pas de pluie sur l’île avant trois mois, La Réunion fait actuellement face à une période de sécheresse “inédite depuis 50 ans”, alerte la Confédération paysanne. D’importantes mesures ont été prises pour préserver les réserves d’eau, mais l’agriculture est sévèrement menacée.Comme le rapporte l’AFP, la Confédération paysanne appelle l’Etat à décréter sans plus attendre l’état de catastrophe naturelle sur les zones les plus touchées par la sécheresse. Une aide financière visant à soutenir les petites et moyennes exploitations agricoles est également réclamée au gouvernement. À lire aussiCet homme a fabriqué un Jurassic Park miniature pour sa tortueL’association évoque les “conséquences désastreuses pour le secteur agricole de l’île” de ce manque de précipitations qui touche depuis plusieurs mois La Réunion. Quelque 3.500 paysans, la moitié de ceux qui exercent sur l’île, seraient directement affectés par la sécheresse, les cultures de canne à sucre, de bananes, d’ananas, de palmes et d’agrumes étant les plus touchées.D’importantes mesures ont été prises face à cette situation. Ont ainsi été interdits par décret le lavage des véhicules, des bateaux, des bâtiments et des voiries, de même que l’arrosage des jardins privés et publics. Le remplissage et le maintien à niveau des piscines privées et des plans d’eau de loisirs ont également été interdits, comme l’usage des douches de plage. Mais ces mesures ne suffiront pas à sauver les cultures, qui ne pourront l’être que par des précipitations.Le 24 janvier 2011 à 16:55 • Emmanuel Perrinlast_img read more

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Game of the Year FMV Games

first_imgStay on target Review: ‘Fantasy Strike’ Is A Fighting Game That Understands…Game of the Year: Jordan Minor’s Best Video Games of 2018 For too long the definition of “Game of the Year” has been unfairly narrow. How boring is it to see every website shower the same stale AAA games with praise at the end of each holiday season? So at Geek.com we’re doing what we can to put a stop to this in Game of the Year, a new column celebrating worthy alternative picks for the year’s greatest game regardless of genre, platform, year of release, or even quality. Here, any game can be Game of the Year!Once news of the unexpected, triumphant HD return of full-motion video (FMV) ironic masterpiece video game Night Trap broke, obviously it rocketed to the top of my personal Game of the Year shortlist. It would be the only proper way to honor the memory of Dana Plato. But Game of the Year is all about expanding the scope of what a Game of the Year can be, and how often we can hand out that award. So why limit myself? Night Trap is this week’s Game of the Year, but it’s not the only one. Today we’re celebrating the whole dang FMV genre.FMV games are games that make extensive use of recorded, live-action footage, featuring real flesh-and-blood human actors and everything. Developed in the 80s, the fad really took off in the 90s as a way to show off new storage media with greater capacity. Compressing video for a cartridge was tough, but you could stuff a brand new technical marvel like a CD-ROM full of dopey, sub-sitcom video clips. Go out and buy a Sega CD to bolt onto your dying Genesis, kids! Dana will totally revive it.It was intriguing technology. Games are always pushing to make graphics more realistic and what’s more realistic than a video of real life? But the visual gimmick put a lot of restrictions on gameplay. Player interaction was basically limited to triggering different, slow-loading video clips if they passed or failed an arbitrary challenge. It’s the same issue that plagued the beautifully animated but inert Dragon’s Lair game by Don Bluth.However, even if FMV games weren’t good, they were still great. Poor video quality, non-existence budgets, and video game nonsense applied to real actors led some absolutely incredible, barely interactive schlock entertainment. The cowboy antics of Mad Dog McCree. The action movie cheesefest of Sewer Shark. The neon fever dream of Hologram Time Traveler. Tim Curry’s Russian accent in Red Alert (a game that uses FMV as a surreal space for an otherwise solid strategy game). FMV games were almost like the grindhouse of gaming.And like grindhouse movies, FMV games weren’t afraid to get a little controversial. A huge “benefit” of using live-action footage over pixels is the ability to show live-action, semi-naked women. The sleazy adventure game Phantasmagoria, from legitimate gaming design legend Roberta Williams, spent a surprising amount of money mixing violence, sex, horror, and blue screens. Its sequel was subtitled A Puzzle of Flesh, which should tell you something.That brings us back to Night Trap. If you look at the game now, it’s almost quaint. Watching these teen girls get stalked by knock-off vampires is about as extreme or titillating as a found footage Disney Channel show. However, the video game industry at the time had never seen anything like this. And because the industry was so new and adjacent to children, parents were afraid. Games like Night Trap and Mortal Kombat caused congressional hearing about video game violence that ended up leading to the creation of the ESRB ratings board. And it took until 2011 for the Supreme Court to finally declare video games protected speech. Thanks, Dana!These days FMV games are largely a funny relic of gaming past, but like all good schlock, they have seen some nostalgic revivals. The Kinect game The Gunstringer featured a side mode called The Wavy Tube Man Chronicles that played like the FMV game Troma Entertainment never got to make. The studio’s next game, LocoCycle, even featured an FMV cameo from Guardians of the Galaxy director (and Troma alum) James Gunn. Other recent games with inexplicable FMV footage include Contradiction, Need for Speed, the FMV fighting game (really) Stay Dead, The Witness, and famous baby simulator 1-2 Switch.Meanwhile, 2015’s Her Story was a genuinely great game that finally found an intelligent use for FMV. Players are a detective trying to solve a murder by watching countless live-action video clips of the suspect. It’s absolutely mesmerizing and would not have worked nearly as well without the real footage.I’m counting down the days until the Night Trap re-release. Maybe it will do well enough to get a Twin Peaks-style revival and kick off a whole new FMV boom. You’ll be caught in the night, in the Game of Year!Check back next week to read about the next Game of the Year!last_img read more

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Researchers Teach Autonomous Cars to Predict Pedestrian Movement

first_imgStay on target University of Michigan researchers are teaching self-driving cars to recognize and predict pedestrian movements with greater precision.By studying and three-dimensionally recreating humans in motion, the team designed a “biomechanically inspired recurrent neural network.”With it, they can predict poses and future locations for one or several pedestrians up to 50 yards from a vehicle—about the scale of a city intersection.“Prior work in this area has typically only looked at still images,” according to Ram Vasudevan, a U-M assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “It wasn’t really concerned with how people move in three dimensions.“But if these vehicles are going to operate and interact in the real world, we need to make sure our predictions of where a pedestrian is going doesn’t coincide with where the vehicle is going next,” he said.That’s easier said than done, though.Most existing autonomous technology relies on machines that learned in 2D—i.e. still photographs. Show a computer several million images of a stop sign, and it will eventually recognize the red octagon in real time in the real world.Short video clips, however, provide a different perspective on the minutiae of human movement: the pace of a gait, the symmetry of limbs, the way foot placement affects stability. “We’re training the system to recognize motion and making predictions of not just one single thing—whether it’s a stop sign or not—but where that pedestrian’s body will be at the next step and the next and the next,” Matthew Johnson-Roberson, associate professor in U-M’s Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, explained.A human driver, for instance, can spot a passerby playing with their phone and know the person is distracted while crossing the street. A self-driving car, however, can’t. At least not yet.U-M’s initial findings were published online in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters; the study will appear in a forthcoming print edition.More on Geek.com:Waymo One Autonomous Car Service Rolls Out to PublicWill Autonomous Cars Become Brothels on Wheels?People Prefer Driverless Cars Hit Animals, the Elderly Help NASA Develop Autonomous RoversU.S. Army To Test Remote-Controlled Combat Vehicles last_img read more

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SAS Software offers choice and support to staff

first_imgFor SAS Software, a key component of its benefits philosophy is that it offers its employees choice to enable them to pick benefits that support them throughout their career, while retaining a sense of being a paternalistic employer.Its UK headquarters, situated on a 110-acre estate on the bank of the River Thames, provides impressive staff facilities, including a football pitch, cricket pitch, employee allotments and even a local dry-cleaning drop-off and pick-up service. The software firm strongly believes that employee benefits need to be relevant to staff. Chris Carter, head of rewards, says: “Employees are individual people. Our benefits have to be able to reflect their own lifestyles, so our philosophy is still relatively paternalistic, but they should be able to pick and choose the benefits that are applicable to them, at the time when they need [them].”Retirement savingAddressing the impact of the changes to the annual allowance and lifetime allowance on high earners has been a key area of focus for SAS in recent months. The organisation has a number of employees that could potentially be affected, so it had to assess how it would be able to maintain motivation levels among affected employees, while managing the government legislation.Carter explains: “We’ve retained a bit of our [organisational] philosophy of being quite paternalistic in as much as that we want people to be able to save to retire. So we’re doing all we can to encourage people to save for retirement.”To address the reductions in the annual and lifetime allowances, the organisation set up the SAS saving account, which went live on 6 April 2016. Where employees are affected by the change in annual allowance or lifetime allowance, rather than giving them cash in place of pension contributions, SAS offers an alternative savings mechanism. For example,  employees can invest, through the savings account, in stocks and shares, or an individual savings account.While the organisation cannot dictate that an employee must save, Carter believes that the alternative savings method is more in line with the spirit of a pension. “All we can do is encourage them and make it as easy as possible,” he says. “We’ve done that through salary deduction, so it goes straight into a savings account that is personal to them.”The savings scheme was set up to be zero cost to the organisation; employees are paid the cash amount minus the organisation’s costs for tax and national insurance (NI).In addition, this year SAS has included a new savings scheme within its flexible benefits offering, My Choice. The organisation’s pension contribution levels are dependent upon length of service: for up to two years’ service, the employer pays 6.5%, and over two years, this stands at 10%. The employee pays a minimum of 2.5%. This year, SAS is allowing those with more than two years’ service to reduce their employer contribution down to 6.5% and take the difference to spend on benefits, or as cash, less the organisation’s costs for tax and NI.“We keep the employee contribution low because we want to actively encourage people to join the pension scheme early in their careers, and not have to say, ‘the reason I haven’t joined is because I can’t afford it’, says Carter. “We felt that [a matching scheme] would dissuade, particularly people who are new into work, or those with a new family and with here-and-now needs. That’s the paternalism coming out, we want people to save for their retirement.”Employee choiceIt is this approach to employee choice that has shaped the benefits offering at SAS, along with the acknowledgement that the employee base is becoming a lot more diverse in terms of lifestyles. “We’re now seeing five generations in the workforce,” says Carter. “Within those five generations, [there are] a multitude of lifestyles: people are widowed, divorced, married, have grandchildren, families. It’s all about trying to offer a competitive package that employees feel motivated to use. It’s that old adage that I don’t want benefits to be the reason people leave, but I do appreciate that benefits won’t hold people alone. But it’s got to be that foundation level of satisfying their base needs while they’re here at work.”Along with core benefits, SAS offers a flex fund that all employees are able to take up if they choose. It is not compulsory so if employees do not select any benefits at the annual enrolment window, or choose to take the pot as cash, they will lose it. But with the scheme achieving 99% take-up, many employees value the benefits offering.Carter believes that one of the most under-valued benefits by employees is income protection, which is offered to state pension age. “We want to look out for their welfare, even if as an employee they don’t want that. The employee thinks about the here and now, as an employer we’ve got a duty to say, ‘how can we satisfy the here and now, but what is the what if? What if you’re suddenly struck down, what if you can’t work? What’s the [organisation’s] obligation to your family?’” he explains. “So we try and balance that but it’s becoming harder because employees don’t recognise that they have that benefit. For us, we want employees to be focused on their job knowing that we’ve got their families taken care of.”Employee wellbeingThe organisation’s wellbeing focus comprises three key areas and promoted throughout the year. The first is a health and wellbeing session, usually in the first quarter of the year. This will include things such as weight and height measurements, biometric machines, and this year a nutritionist came on site to talk to employees. In addition, the employer brings experts in certain fields to hold awareness sessions on breast cancer or prostate cancer, for example.The second focus is on financial wellbeing, with on-site sessions held for staff. Last year, this focused predominantly on pensions and retirement savings, and saw great take-up from employees.The third focus is on mental health; last year SAS piloted some online self-mediation sessions for staff.SAS introduced the wellbeing theme in order to support employees and meet the needs of the changing workforce. “If you do something piecemeal, people forget about it, so we’ve tried to incorporate it into one wellbeing theme,” explains Carter. “The healthy activities were something we wanted to do because, with an ageing population, there’s predicted to be more illness among the over 50s. Mental health is a growing concern, so we wanted to bring this out head on and be proactive in supporting people.”The challenge ahead for SAS is that it continues to offer benefits that are appreciated by staff, but that are also beneficial to the organisation. “The most important strategy is that we provide benefits that the employees value but also underpin the company culture. There’s also the cost equation in that, so [we] try and balance those three elements. There’s no point offering a benefit that nobody wants or uses, that’s not good value for money,” says Carter.SAS Software at a glanceSAS is an analytics software organisation, which has been operating for 40 years. Its main focus is on business software: it analyses vast amounts of big data, and also uses it for predictive analytics.SAS has been in the UK for 35 years and operates across all industry sectors. It has a research and development arm that focuses on public security.SAS has around 750 employees in the UK, of which 70% are male and has an average age of 42. Business objectivesTo continue to grow its presence in the big-data market.To continue its phased reorganisation and change from a country-based to global-based operating model. Career historyChris Carter, head of reward, UK and Ireland, joined SAS Software in 2010 as an HR business partner. He then moved into the reward role in 2013. Previously, he held business partner roles in technology organisations, but the early part of his career was spent as a telecoms engineer. The change in career is a proud achievement for Carter. “That made my eyes open to say, anything is possible if you want to do it.”Carter has carried that philosophy through to his work at SAS, and appreciates being able to introduce new schemes that benefit both the organisation and its employees.“It’s probably the first time I’ve been in a small [organisation] with more autonomy and control of direction: it was my decision to bring in flexible benefits. Although we don’t advertise it very much, we’re quite a progressive [organisation] from a benefits and reward perspective. A lot of that is down to me seeing where we need to go, listening to employees, and driving stuff through.”center_img The benefits offered by SAS SoftwarePensionDefined contribution (DC) stakeholder plan for all employees as a core benefit.Employer contribution levels are 6.5% for up to two years’ service, 10% for over two years.Minimum employee contribution of 2.5%.Employees with more than two years’ service can choose to reduce their employer contribution to 6.5% and take the difference as cash or add to their flex fund.Additional voluntary contributions (AVC) through flex.Healthcare and wellbeingPrivate medical insurance (PMI) as a core benefit for employees only.Employees cover dependants through the flex scheme.Life assurance at four-times salary as a core benefit. Employees can trade down to two-times or up to 10-times salary through flex.Group income protection as a core benefit.Dental insurance through flex.Critical illness insurance for employees and their partners through flex.Health cash plans through flex.Gym membership through flex.Health screening through flex.TravelSalary sacrifice car scheme.Bikes-for-work scheme.Travel insurance through flex.Work-life balance25 days of holiday. Employees can buy or sell up to five days a year through flex.Enhanced parental leave.Informal work from home one day a week.Birthday given as holiday.Childcare vouchers scheme.Other benefitsTastecard and Gourmet card through flex.Payroll giving through flex.Salary sacrifice gadget scheme.Shopping discount portal.Local discounts.Long service vouchers every five years.Social activities and on-site servicesFree tea, coffee and juices.Subsidised restaurant at UK headquarters.Sports club, which runs an internal global football tournament.Photography club with studio for employees at the UK headquarters.Employee allotments at UK headquarters.Cricket club at UK headquarters.Football pitch at UK headquarters.Dry-cleaning service and personal post at UK headquarters.last_img read more

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Traffic reopens after gas leak in Little Havana

first_imgMIAMI (WSVN) – Miami Fire Rescue was on the scene of a gas leak in Little Havana on Thursday morning.7Skyforce flew over the scene, where firefighters were seen near a Walgreens.The gas leak did shut down traffic in all directions at the intersection of West Flagler Street and 12th Avenue, but it has since reopened.No evacuations took place. Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img

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Lowes pulls the plug on the Iris smart home platform

first_img Aug 31 • Alexa can tell you if someone breaks into your house 7 CNET Smart Home: Everything you need to know about connecting up your house.Smart home compatibility: Figure out what works with what, with our handy tool. 52 Photos Share your voice reading • Lowe’s pulls the plug on the Iris smart home platform CNET Smart Home Aug 30 • Battling bot vacs: iRobot Roomba S9+ vs Neato Botvac D7 Connected CNET Smart Home Tyler Lizenby/CNET Lowe’s is discontinuing its Iris smart home line — and even ending online support for existing Iris products — at the end of March. The Iris by Lowe’s smart home system offered a subscription-based alternative to the likes of SmartThings and Wink. While the app could be tedious and some of the fees didn’t make sense, Lowe’s hoped a wide range of compatible products and an intricate and customizable rules system would improve its appeal.Now, Iris users will need to find another option. After initially announcing the shutdown last November, Lowe’s sent an email to customers on Thursday with the shutdown date. All related services will end on March 31. Iris offered a hub as well as several sensors and connected gadgets that communicated with the hub. Those devices will no longer work as of the end of March. In theory, customers could find another hub to talk to their sensors. The Iris by Lowe’s site offers Samsung’s SmartThings as a comparable replacement that should work with a few Iris sensors. For any that don’t, and the Iris hub itself, Lowe’s is offering prepaid Visa cards. Head here if you have Iris gadgets and would like to file a claim with the company. Given that some gadgets are transferable and customers can get a refund for others, Lowe’s is handling the Iris shutdown better than other extinct hubs. The popular Revolv hub ended up completely bricked when parent company Nest shut down the service and all compatible gear was rendered useless. Iris angered customers with a poorly handled jump from its first- to its second-generation hub. The migration tool wasn’t ready at launch and a lot of first-gen sensors couldn’t connect to the new hub and system. On top of that, the Iris app charged for some basic app-enabled smarts that were free with a number of competitors. This will be a bitter pill for customers who followed the brand through those murky waters and paid the requisite fees, but again, hopefully the prepaid cards help. That said, many will still need to essentially start over if their smart homes were built on the Iris app. A Lowe’s representative emailed the following statement to CNET:”We apologize for any inconvenience to our Iris customers and are committed to providing the resources and support needed to transition to a comparable smart home platform. We have created an online redemption process that will allow Iris customers to receive a Visa prepaid card for eligible, connected Iris devices.”After carefully evaluating a range of options, the decision was made to shut down the Iris platform once it was determined that none of the alternatives would allow Iris to continue to deliver the experience our customers have come to expect of us. Lowe’s remains committed to carrying the breadth and depth of smart home products and brands to meet our customers’ needs now and in the future.”center_img • See All Comments Aug 31 • The best coffee grinders you can buy right now Aug 31 • Best smart light bulbs for 2019 (plus switches, light strips, accessories and more) Tags Check out all the smart home products at CES 2019 Smart Homelast_img read more

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More flood protection planned for Dalton Highway

first_imgDalton Highway. (Credit Alaska DOT)The Alaska Department of Transportation is taking additional steps to protect the northern section of the highway that leads to North Slope oil fields.Highway officials will build a gravel berm next to the Dalton Highway to protect it from overflow from the Sagavanirktok River, generally referred to as the Sag River.The berm is planned east of the highway from Miles 394 to 397. Construction is expected to begin by mid-February.The Dalton Highway begins north of Fairbanks at the Elliott Highway and ends at Deadhorse.Miles 395 to 405 last spring saw unprecedented highway flooding.Crews over the summer raised nine miles of road 8 to 10 feet. Crews this year have built snow berms and burlap fences. The burlap wicks water and freezes, forming a barrier.last_img read more

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Police Woman Robbed While Going to Hospital in Labor

first_imgANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Police say a woman reported to be in labor and her boyfriend were robbed in Annapolis as they headed to a hospital.The couple was confronted by three men with guns as they left an apartment on Copeland Street early Sunday. When the woman’s boyfriend fled, police spokeswoman Cpl. Amy Miguez says, the suspects tried to get the woman to let them into an apartment, but she didn’t have a key.That’s when two of the men took off in the woman’s car, Miguez says. After a chase, police arrested 24-year-old Devery Kelley of Annapolis and 44-year-old Cornell Robinson of Washington and charged them with robbery and assault.The woman was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center, but a hospital official did not have details about her condition.last_img read more

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Now Customers Can Hail an Uber From Your Website

first_imgSeptember 29, 2016 3 min read Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. In an ideal scenario for brick-and-mortar businesses, when a customer is done browsing your website and decides she wants to buy something, she would just visit your store and you could make a sale then and there. A new partnership between Uber and Yext wants to help make that scenario more of a reality.You may not be familiar with Yext, a 10-year-old New York-based advertising and marketing firm that helps companies use location data to better engage with customers, but if you’ve used platforms such as Google Maps, Apple Maps and Yelp to figure out where to grab dinner or get your car fixed, or used a Snapchat geofilter, it’s likely you’ve run into its work.Related: Uber Launches Global Assault on Food Delivery MarketWith this new partnership, Yext for Uber, if a company is a Yext customer, it can include a rideshare button on its website, in an app or in promotional emails. When a user hails a ride using that button to get to the location of the store, he or she will then gain access to special offers from the business directly through the Uber app.Image credit: Courtesy of Yext “It allows for a branded experience on the way to the store,” says Marc Ferrentino, Yext’s EVP of product and strategy. “Imagine sending an invite to an exclusive event to some of your top customers and being able to have a ride with Uber button in that announcement … and then the entire experience that they have driving in the Uber to that location is now branded.”Ferrentino said that the branded experiences can be tailored to many kinds of businesses. For example, restaurants could provide a list of daily specials, retailers could show what is on sale that day and hotels could include a link to a concierge service so you could book a spa treatment before you arrive. Some of the companies that are already utilizing the partnership are Cole Haan, home health care service BAYADA and Guitar Center.Related: How Purple, Uber and Airbnb Are Disrupting and Redefining Old Industries”It’s all about extending the brand experience past the door and starting it with the journey to the store itself,” Ferrentino says. “The experience of the brand doesn’t start when you get there — it starts really when you click on that button.”He explained that even if the business in question is a chain of stores, whether it’s two or 200, each individual location can have its own branded experience thanks to information that Yext already has at its disposal.Ferrentino says he believes that location-oriented services will only continue to grow, moving beyond something such as Google Maps and into ride sharing, messaging apps such as Snapchat or even the sheer phenomenon that is Pokémon Go. “You’re [going to be] seeing more and more of these non-directory type services that need location,” he says, “where location is really the center of the value that it delivers.”center_img Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Register Now »last_img read more

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Recap A53 partially blocked due to accident

first_imgUPDATE: Traffic has now returned to normal and this accident has cleared. The A53 iwas partially blocked due to an accident in Newcastle Borough this afternoon. Inrix, the traffic data company, reported the A53 Etruria Road was affected in both directions. The accident took place between Basfrod Roundabout and Albert Street. We have no further information about the nature of the vehicles involved. Inrix first reported the accident at 4.13pm this afternoon (Sunday November 25). For the latest news and breaking news visit www.stokeontrentlive.co.uk Read MoreLive: Lanes closed due to accident on M6 in North Staffordshire Get all the big headlines, pictures, analysis, opinion and video on the stories that matter to you. Follow us on Twitter @SOTLive – the official Sentinel account – real news in real time. We’re also on Facebook – your must-see news, features, videos and pictures throughout Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire & South Cheshire. Read More Want to keep up to date with the latest traffic and travel news?Each day Stoke-on-Trent Live journalists bring you the latest news on the roads and railways across Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire, South Cheshire and further afield to help keep you on the move. For the very latest updates on roads including the M6, A500, A50 and more, visit our dedicated traffic and travel news channel here. We also run a live news feed each weekday, which you can access on our website’s homepage from 7am to 9pm from Monday to Friday. And for more as-we-get-it updates on the roads across the region and beyond, join The Sentinel’s traffic and travel Facebook group here.16:51End of live feedSince this has now cleared, this live feed will now shut down.16:49Route clearedWe’re now getting reports the accident has cleared and traffic is returning to normal16:31Traffic heavy in the areaInrix is reporting heavy traffic in the area as a result of the accident.16:23Affected stretch of the A53Affected stretch of the A53last_img read more

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TORONTO – Between a Mad Max spoof a fight betwe

first_img TORONTO – Between a “Mad Max” spoof, a fight between a sasquatch and a unicorn, and a pirate-ship scene, it’s clear fantasy will be a main feature of the upcoming “Corner Gas” animated reboot.Creator and star Brent Butt says the animated version that premieres April 2 on The Comedy Network will include the same types of fantasy sequences that were in the beloved live-action version, only ramped up.“It fits into what people expect of ‘Corner Gas’ but we just have a little bit of wiggle room to go a little farther now,” Butt said Monday in a phone interview.Viewers got a first taste of that fantasy on Sunday night when a promo for the Canadian animated series premiered during the Super Bowl on CTV.The promo sees Brent’s grouchy dad, Oscar Leroy (played by Eric Peterson), leading a “Mad Max”-style trucker gang to the show’s signature gas pumps in the fictional community of Dog River, Sask.Butt said the series will also “see a sasquatch and a unicorn fight.”“We would not likely have been able to do that in the real world, especially as graphically violent as we did in the animated world,” deadpanned the comedian.In another episode, Fred Ewanuick’s character Hank imagines himself on a pirate ship with Brent, who is holding a lightsaber.“Corner Gas” was the No. 1 sitcom in Canada throughout its entire six-season run, which ended in 2009. The cast reunited for “Corner Gas: The Movie” in 2014. The entire “Corner Gas” series and the movie are streaming now on CraveTV.Butt said the reboot is set in contemporary times but the relationships between the characters are the same as they were in the live-action show and not the movie, in which Brent and Lacey (played by Gabrielle Miller) were dating.The goal with the animation was “to make a show that would stand up quality-wise against any U.S. network prime-time adult animated show — ‘Bob’s Burgers,’ ‘The Simpsons,’” Butt said, noting the look is “open and bright” and colourful, like the Saskatchewan sky.“We also wanted to keep it fairly clean, which adult prime-time animation is generally.”Butt said season 1 will have a guest appearance, and he’s already writing a season 2 in the hopes the show will be renewed.The 13-episode, half-hour reboot sees the return of all the beloved characters of Dog River — but with a new voice.Corrine Koslo stepped in to voice long-suffering matriarch Emma Leroy, who was played by the late Janet Wright in the original series.Wright died in November 2016, when they were “pretty far down the road in terms of production,” Butt said.Wright’s husband emphatically stressed to Butt that she would want Emma to be a part of the animated series. Her husband then suggested she be voiced by Koslo, who was a friend of the late actress.“Her voice is really similar and she does understand Janet and her rhythms,” Butt said.“It was just nice that it was a friend of Janet’s and a recommendation of Janet’s husband.” by Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press Posted Feb 5, 2018 12:59 pm PDT Last Updated Feb 5, 2018 at 5:00 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Brent Butt says animated ‘Corner Gas’ series pumps up the fantasycenter_img A scene from the animated “Corner Gas” show is shown in a handout. Between a “Mad Max” spoof, a fight between a Sasquatch and a unicorn, and a pirate-ship scene ??? it’s clear fantasy will be pumped up in the upcoming “Corner Gas” animated reboot. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-The Comedy Network MANDATORY CREDIT last_img read more

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