PROTIVIN, CZECH REPUBLIC — Workers at a brewery in the Czech Republic have a new “co-worker” in their midst: Crayfish. The Protivin brewery is using crayfish equipped with high-tech sensors to keep their water supply pure, according to Reuters. The creatures react quickly to changes in the aquatic environment, and the bio-sensors monitor their heartbeat and movement. “When three or more crayfish are moving or change their pulse activity, we know that the water parameters have changed. We can react quickly because we have the result within three minutes,” said head brewer Michal Voldrich. Other detectors react quickly to a very low concentration of pollution but only to one specific agent, according to Pavel Kozak, director of the South Bohemia University’s Research Institute of Fish Culture and Hydrobiology: “We are using crayfish like a living chemical laboratory — like a bio-indicator and bio-sensor together.”
Just another day on the road
BALZAC, ALTA. — Truckers have to be prepared for all kinds of incidents on the road, but two quick-thinking drivers saved the day recently in Alberta, according to the Canadian Press. A horse was spotted galloping down the middle of the Queen Elizabeth II Highway near Balzac early one morning after escaping from a racetrack stable nearby. Fortunately, two semi-trailer truck drivers were on hand and they positioned their trucks to corral the animal in a ditch. “The horse had kind of stopped in the headlights and started to move toward a ditch,’’ said Const. Dan Martin, an RCMP spokesperson. “One truck stopped and blocked the horse from getting back on the highway. The other driver stopped to help and, between the two of them, they were able to approach it and put the harness on. Police arrived shortly after.’’
Not so millennial
TOKYO — Japan recently marked Respect for the Aged Day, and there were plenty of older people on hand to pay respect. The number of people 65 and over has risen to a record high of 27.7 per cent of Japan’s population, according to Reuters. And the number of seniors who still work has also hit a record, as both the public and private sectors vie to keep more elderly in the workforce longer to battle labour shortages. There are 35.14 million Japanese people who are 65 or older, and 7.7 million of them have jobs. The country is facing a declining birth rate, as there are now 1.45 births per woman, and many economists say a developed country needs a birth rate of two to prevent the population from shrinking. Japan’s elderly ratio is the highest among the Group of Seven nations, followed by Italy at 23 per cent, Germany at 21.5 per cent and France at 19.7 per cent.
OTTAWA — Saskatchewan MP Gerry Ritz found himself in hot water recently after calling the environment minister a “climate Barbie,” according to the CBC. The now-retired politician, responding to an article on the Paris climate accord, tweeted “Has anyone told our climate Barbie!” referring to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna. She quickly responded on Twitter, calling out Ritz’s sexist language: “We need more women in politics. Your sexist comments won’t stop us.” NDP MP Nathan Cullen called the comment idiotic: “Let’s have a serious debate about climate change… going into insults and derogatory statements says a lot more about the person sending the tweet than the person receiving it.” Ritz later deleted the tweet and apologized, saying the word Barbie was “not reflective of the role the minister plays.” The retiree is no stranger to controversy, having also said the political damage from the 2008 outbreak of listeriosis that killed 20 people in Canada was “like a death by a 1,000 cuts. Or should I say cold cuts.”
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — Two medical staffers at a military hospital in Florida have been barred from caring for patients after disturbing images surfaced online, according to the Washington Post. One video shows a woman in medical scrubs holding a young infant by the armpits, moving the baby’s body as music plays in the background. And a photo — apparently from a Snapchat account — shows an employee flipping a middle finger at an infant, with the caption: “How I currently feel about these mini Satans.” Unprofessional and inappropriate social media behaviour is inconsistent with both the core values of honour, courage and commitment as well as medical ethics, said Navy surgeon general vice-admiral Forrest Faison. “In an age where information can be shared instantly, what we say and post online must reflect the highest standards of character and conduct, in both our personal and professional lives.” The Navy said it is investigating the incident and will take appropriate action.
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