Groundbreaking Fossil Find in Newfoundland Reveals a Peculiar Life Form

“Rangeomorphs” were among the earliest living organisms to display complex physiology and anatomy. A rangeomorph fossil, known as “Fractofusus,” was recently found in Trinity Bay North. It might be the oldest physical evidence we have of an organism able to reproduce.

An interesting twist is that their method of reproduction is reminiscent of plants. Weirder still: they exist as composites of three generations in a cluster. This implies these animals could reproduce asexually (i.e, independently of sexual fertilization), as well as sexually. This would make it a very complex biological system.

Their location at the very bottom of the sea rules out that Fractofusus was a plant – there’s no sunlight down there. But there’s no way to determine from fossils exactly what form of life these were. Calling them “early animals” is only a best guess.

Animals are typically defined as organisms having muscle (being mobile), who reproduce sexually. So where Fractofusus sits in the tree of life is a mystery. For now, provincial legislation protects these fossils where they are. The hope is future technologies will unlock the answers.

Grants Replace Provincial Student Loans to Offset Social Issues of Student Debt

We’re officially the first province to fully forgo its student loan system. The hope or logic behind the decisions is that student debt cripples new graduates, rendering them unable to buy a home here, and start a family as soon as they would have, were they not debt-stricken.

More families settling down sooner will ideally curb the province’s issues with young people moving away. Students not drowning in debt will also be able to buy themselves a car and other luxuries, or be better prepared to start a business or practice, and therefore contribute more to the local economy of the province.

We’ve already invested $12.6 million on implementing this, with another $50.6 million going into it between now and 2019. Approximately 7,000 students will to be eligible for the funding. Provincial student loans cover 40% of a student’s financial assistance. Federal student loans must be sought for the remainder.

Cab Driver Fights Back Against Knife-Wielding, Would-be Assailant 

When a 26 year old woman pulled a knife on a cab driver on Regatta Eve, she wound up more surprised than the cab driver, who physically confronted her, disarmed her, and called the RNC to come get her. This all took place in Ropewalk Lane, 4 am.  Thanks to his vigilante heroics, she won’t be pulling that stunt on his cab-driving kin. She’s already been in court for charges of armed robbery, assault with a weapon and uttering threats.

Turns Out MUN tested Their Lead Levels Wrong

One of last week’s big news stories was the dangerous levels of lead found in the water at MUN. It shut the campus down, in fact. Turns out they were just testing their water incorrectly – though it doesn’t seem as simple as that.

Officials were testing the water near industrial piping outside the buildings, not at the points where people drink from. It’s still mystery why lead levels would be so high at these building entry points. In summary, there is lead in the water there, but it’s at levels “within Canadian Drinking water guidelines.”

Man Falls into 8 feet of Slime and Maggots

Drowning to death in a slimy pile of maggots sounds like a nightmare movie scene, but for one local man, it’s something he lived through. Given he was in over his head, he’s lucky to have survived, and he knows it. This happened near Goobies, on a routine walk to a fishing hole.

It was an abandoned septic tank he’d fallen into, and scarier still: no one was with him. He works at Bull Arm, and stays in an RV park, alone, during his work rotation. Luckily his job required him to take a “confined space safety course.”

Given the maggots present, and the reported stink of rotten flesh, it’s likely he wasn’t alone in there – the maggots were feeding on something, perhaps a moose, perhaps worse (the man does want to be assured there wasn’t a dead person in there with him).

He escaped with a fractured arm and a constellation of bruises. It took him 15 minutes to escape, with his head going under multiple times. Had he not luckily spotted an old pipe in a wall, he might not have been able to haul himself out of there.

Liberals Promise Annual Healthy Living Assessments for Seniors, if Elected

These annual “healthy living assessments” would be voluntary, for seniors 70 years and older. The in-house assessments would cost an estimated maximum of $6 million a year. Assessments would be done right before or right after someone leaves a hospital on discharge, to gauge the senior’s living environment.

It is being touted as a “a proactive, innovative” program that “will lead to less hospital stays, less emergency room visits, and most importantly, seniors’ abilities to live in their own homes, and in their own communities.”

New Brunwick has recently introduced a similar healthy aging program, and similar programs offered in countries like Denmark and Australia have worked well to increase healthcare benefits for people, and to decrease healthcare costs.

Local TV Personality Christopher Hyndman Found Dead in Toronto Alley

Christopher Hyndman, co-host of the award-winning lifestyles show Steven and Chris, was found dead in Toronto in a laneway between Queen Street and Broadview Avenue, near his apartment. The cause of his death remains unknown, but suspicions are afloat it was an accident related to sleepwalking.

Hyndman is from St. Phillips, and he and his partner Steven Sabados once ran a store on Water Street called Decadence by Design. This was before the two achieved great success in the TV world with shows like HGTV’s Chic with Steven and Chris, Design Rivals and Designer Guys airing in 80 countries worldwide.

Steven and Chris was launched on CBC in 2008. Jennifer Dettman, CBC’s executive director, said “Certainly for the CBC, he will leave a hole. He really touched so many Canadians across this country. We saw the emails day in and day out of what he meant to them.”

Tara Bryan’s Art Installation Marks Progress of Convention Centre Construction

Artwork, commissioned from artist Tara Bryan,  for the Water Street-facing exterior façade of the new Convention Centre, has been erected. “Aftermath (cracking up)” depicts a local icon – the iceberg. Tara Bryan operates Walking Bird Press and has exhibited at galleries throughout North America and Europe, including The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery in St. John’s.

“Incorporating art and design in our buildings is an important element of creating quality urban design – a significant element of the Envision St. John’s, our municipal plan,” said Councillor Sandy Hickman, Chair of the City’s Arts Advisory Committee. “This piece demonstrates artistic excellence, our environment, and is timeless and enduring. We believe this installation adds significantly to the downtown landscape.”

The two-dimensional image is approximately 17 meters wide and 9 meters high and was constructed using a new method that recreates the original image through the manipulation of coin-sized discs cut into aluminum panels.

Premier Paul Davis is not Backing Stephen Harper in Fall Election

Our Conservative Premier will not be backing our Conservative Prime Minister in the fall election. He says he’ll instead back whichever leader’s platforms are most in line with the needs of Newfoundland & Labrador. His decision largely stems from …. not trusting a word that comes out of that man’s mouth, more or less.

Fentanyl — the “Green Monster” Wreaking Havoc in Town

It a drug not 10 but 100 times stronger than morphine, and it’s confirmed to have killed 4 people here this year, making it responsible for more than half of opioid-related drug deaths in Newfoundland & Labrador this year. The fact that it has caused as many deaths in the last year as it had between 2000-2013 is proof it’s a growing problem.

Professional healthcare workers are likening fentanyl to the wave of Oxy use that burst onto the scene 10 years ago, and feel the government should create something similar to its Oxycontin task force. Steve kent, Health Minister, says it’s on their radar to do so.

Burger King Coming to Ropewalk Lane

Not sure when, but the city has officially approved it