Calgary police warn local Pokémon Go players about dangers of virtual reality

It’s an augmented-reality craze sparked by a game now officially available in Canada and it has Calgarians eager to hit the streets in search of treasured digital creatures.

By Monday afternoon, Calgary police had already responded to about 10 calls for service related to the new Pokémon Go app since Friday. They included suspicious person calls, trespassing calls and other disturbances.

“We had some trespassing where some kids wandered in to a construction site,” Cst. Mark Smith, with Calgary police’s digital communications unit, said. “They didn’t realize that they were trespassing but we attended and we just gave them some words of advice.”

Smith admits he’s testing out the new phenomenon firsthand.

WATCH: The Baltimore Police Department released video of a car crash that was the result of the driver being distracted while playing Pokemon Go.

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    “I actually caught a Weedle right here.”

    READ MORE: Pokemon Go officially launches in Canada, crashes app’s servers

    While the risks of distracted walking, trespassing and other Pokémon Go concerns have been widespread, even more serious warnings are emerging.

    “Be aware of people that are looking to steal cellphones and things like that. They might set a lure to get people to come and then you get crimes happening that way as well,” Smith said.

    Across the county, ads are popping up on online sites.

    Websites like Kijiji have people offering services like driving Pokémon Go players around Toronto to “Catch ’em all” – enticing them by providing snacks, charging cords, and air conditioning.

    READ MORE: Pokémon Go players can now hire a chauffeur in Vancouver

    In Calgary, a quick Kijiji search found a “23 year old woman looking for someone to play Pokémon Go with” and others offering unique babysitting services to take kids out searching for Pokémons.

    Police said while many ads may be legitimate, it’s important to be diligent.

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    “It kind of comes down to the common sense. You’ve just got to ask yourself, ‘What risks are involved and is it worth that risk? Is it worth catching a legendary Pokémon and what could happen?’”

NewLeaf adds new destination and online flight bidding service

NewLeaf Travel has added Edmonton to its list of non-stop flights from Winnipeg, according to a news release Monday.

On the same day, NewLeaf announced it is partnering with Calgary company, Jump On Flyaways, to offer travelers a chance to bid on unsold seats.

READ MORE: NewLeaf Travel to take flight this summer

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    The company will accept and gather bids on the eleven routes and present them to NewLeaf, according to a news release Monday.

    “Our bidding platform was developed to allow ‘Jumpers’, or flexible travellers, to bid on potentially unsold airline seats,” said Roger Jewett, CEO, Jump On Flyaway in a release. “We receive bids during the flight booking period and present them to NewLeaf, who may accept high bids at their discretion. ”

    NewLeaf can accept the bids anytime up to 48 hours before the flight. When a bid is accepted the flyer’s credit card is charged and the ticket is sent two days before takeoff.

    READ MORE: NewLeaf facing several hurdles with launch date fast-approaching

    NewLeaf Travel has faced a number of hurdles and challenges as the company approaches its first scheduled flights on July 25.

Wet weather puts a chill on local charities

Last week’s rain put a damper on many things in the Calgary area, even for folks used to extreme adventure.

Organizers of the Banded Peak Challenge decided to pull the plug on their annual event on Thursday.

The event sees participants get a little dirty and raise a whole lot of money. The backcountry hike and bike race takes place west of Calgary and has been a big fundraiser for Alberta Easter Seals for the past 16 years. The money raised is used to help send kids with disabilities to Camp Horizon.

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    “Over 90 per cent of those dollars went right back to Easter Seals Camp Horizon and went to the subsidies for the families to make sure they didn’t have to pay any more than 50 per cent of those costs,” Patti Brewin, Easter Seals Camp Horizon’s campaign director, said.

    “We knew this weekend with the rain, already the trails on Thursday were in really bad shape. Very unsafe for people to be on them at all. So we made the call to cancel it,” Brewin said.

    For Easter Seals, the news has gone from bad to worse. The charity used to hold their annual race on Banded Peak near Bragg Creek. But when the floods of 2013 hit, the trail they used was wiped out and is still closed. Since then, the race has been held on nearby Moose Mountain but it hasn’t been nearly as popular.

    “You still mountain bike and you still hike, but it’s Moose Mountain,” Brewin said. “It’s one of those trails that you could do any weekend. It’s very accessible, very easy to do. So the uptake from the public just isn’t as strong there for people to come out and really feel like they’re doing something exceptional.”

    That has translated into fewer participants and a lot less cash. The Banded Peak Challenge used to typically bring in $80,000 every year for Easter Seals. The year it was moved, fundraising totals dropped to $50,000 and this year it was only projected to bring in $11,000.

    “We’ve had a really tough time out there with the weather,” Brewin said. “It does put more pressure on us in terms of our other events. This is a tough year in Calgary. It’s a very depressed economy out there and those donations aren’t coming as freely as they were in the past so we are really feeling the effects. And we have taken measures already to reduce our operating costs for the year.”

    Camp Horizon hasn’t been affected yet and families are still being subsidized to help cover the $1,200 cost of sending a child to camp for a week but that could change.

    “We will be having all those big conversations I think this fall because this economy and the situation is probably not going to change,” Brewin said.

    Another charity hit by the weather is the Rotary Club of Calgary. They were expecting to raise around $175,000 dollars at the annual Oxford Stomp event at Fort Calgary, which was cancelled Friday.

    READ MORE: Calgary has already exceeded July average rainfall totals

    “Public safety was and always remains a primary concern for ourselves with events like this and it just look too risky,” Joe Fras, with the Rotary Club of Calgary-Downtown, said on Monday. “So with great reluctance, we had to make the tough call.”

    Organizers said it’s the first time in the event’s history at the Fort Calgary location that it’s had to be cancelled. Ticket sales were already down by 20 per cent because of the economy.

    On the plus side, the Rotary Club recently purchased event cancellation insurance for the Oxford Stomp.

    “The good news is that we have the event cancellation insurance and we will be able to recover – hopefully – a good portion of that projected $175,000 plus our cost that we’ve incurred,” Fras said. “The weather patterns in Calgary and in other parts of the world are becoming a little more severe and unpredictable and this has just become a fact of life.”

    The over 9,000 ticket holders will be contacted regarding refunds, however the process could take up to two months.

How does Zika spread? Utah infection raises new questions

NEW YORK – Health officials are trying to unravel how a relative may have picked up a Zika infection from a Utah man who died.

The tropical virus rarely spreads from person to person, not like the flu or the measles. The virus can pass from a pregnant woman to her fetus and cause birth defects. And it can also be spread through sex. But it is mostly spread by mosquitoes.

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    In the Utah case, health officials are looking for other explanations. Only the elderly man, who died in late June, had been in a country with a Zika outbreak — not the relative who had been caring for him.

    HOW IS ZIKA USUALLY SPREAD?

    The bite of a mosquito. That’s behind the large outbreaks in dozens of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. It’s the same mosquito — Aedes aegypti — that can spread other tropical diseases, like dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever. In fact, the bug was known as the yellow fever mosquito for many years.

    READ MORE: What doctors know about how Zika virus potentially spreads

    HOW DOES THAT WORK?

    It starts with a person who is infected with Zika. A female mosquito bites that person and drinks in blood, which it needs to make eggs. Then it spreads the virus when it bites another person nearby. Health officials don’t think that’s what happened in Utah; the Zika mosquito hasn’t been seen in Salt Lake City. But it’s theoretically possible that an infected mosquito returned with the elderly man from his trip abroad — perhaps in his suitcase — and bit the relative.

    WHAT ABOUT BLOOD?

    Zika can be spread through blood, but official stress that mosquito bites are the way most people are infected. There’s been at least one instance of a lab worker who was accidentally infected through blood. The virus stays in the blood for about a week. The Food and Drug Administration has recommended that blood banks decline donations from people who have travelled to Zika areas within the previous month.

    READ MORE: Should Canadians worry about Zika virus?

    BUT, WHAT ELSE?

    Evidence of Zika infection has been found in number of other body fluids, including saliva, urine, semen, vaginal fluid and even breast milk. Scientists have established that it’s been spread through sex, mostly by men to their partners. Health officials say there’s no evidence that Zika can be spread through coughing or sneezing or routine touching.

    WHAT HAPPENED IN UTAH?

    The elderly man had an extremely large amount of virus in his blood — the most ever seen. That helped make this case highly unusual, said officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Higher levels of virus in the blood can make someone more contagious.

    His infection was only confirmed through tests after he died. He had another health condition, which health officials have not identified, and it is unclear if Zika played a role in his death. Disease detectives are investigating the possibility that the relative somehow caught it while caring for the elderly man at a home and in a hospital. The male relative had developed a mild Zika illness and quickly recovered. In most people, the virus causes a mild illness at worst.

    Investigators are doing more interviewing and testing other family members and health-care workers who may have been in close contact with the man who died. They also are trapping local mosquitoes.

    ___

    Online:

    CDC Zika page: 长沙桑拿按摩论坛长沙夜生活cdc.gov/zika/

Lethbridge police charge two men with fraud to local businesses; believe there’s more victims

LETHBRIDGE – Two medicine hat men are facing charges after police say they defrauded three Lethbridge businesses.

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During a week-long investigation, members of the Lethbridge Police Service Economic Crimes unit, alongside Medicine Hat Police, tracked the subjects’ activity as they used fake credit cards to purchase items. The men would attempt to use an admin card to manipulate the point of sale terminal, cards with no banking or financial labeling associated to them, and manually entering the numbers of the credit card. As a result, the transactions would display as approved, only for the merchant of the business to be later informed the card number is invalid.

Police located the subjects on July 14, but the men refused to stop and fled from officers. They were discovered a short time later in a south-side parking lot, and were arrested without further incident. During a search of the vehicle, officers recovered a small quantity of cocaine and drug paraphernalia, multiple credit and debit cards, a written list of what appears to be more credit card numbers, receipts, and an array of property, including electronics, liquor and cigarettes.

Police believe the men visited Lethbridge solely with the purpose of defrauding local businesses.

James Robert Stuart, 27, of Medicine Hat, is charged with breach of a recognizance, flight from a peace officer, possession of stolen property, fraud and two counts of attempted fraud.

Nicholas Dwaine Belanger, 27, of Medicine Hat, is charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of stolen property, attempted fraud and fraud.

Both men made their first court appearance Monday morning and were remanded in custody. Their next court appearance is Wednesday.

Police believe there may be other victims, and are therefore, releasing photos of the men. If you recognize the suspects or believe that they may have attended or defrauded your business, you are asked to contact police at 403-328-4444.