WATCH ABOVE: The Monday, January 19, 2015 traffic report and weather forecast for Edmonton, Alberta and the surrounding area.
EDMONTON – Drivers in and around Edmonton are in for difficult road conditions Monday after freezing rain fell overnight. The rain started in northwestern Alberta late Sunday evening, moving southeast through the Capital Region early Monday morning.
“The next band of freezing drizzle followed by light snow will move in [Monday] evening. We could see around five centimetres of snow,” said weather specialist Mike Sobel, who said the snow could continue into Tuesday morning.
Some freezing drizzle moved through the #yeg region. Warnings in effect for Eastern Alberta. #yegwx @GlobalEdmonton pic.twitter苏州夜网/ljn91qXRLQ
— Mike Sobel (@mikesobel) January 19, 2015
Paved surfaces like highways, sidewalks and parking lots may be icy and slippery.
“Use extreme caution this morning,” said Daintre Christensen, traffic specialist on the Morning News.
“Freezing rain is one of the most difficult road conditions to navigate, namely because it creates road ice that is not easily distinguishable,” she said, adding that ice can be patchy and cause sudden road condition changes within a few kilometres.
WATCH: Preventing falls during winter running
“Take extra care along exit ramps and river crossing. Bridge decks are particularly susceptible to icing, and are treacherous to navigate,” she added.
FREEZING RAIN in the Edmonton area. Drive with caution this morning. Especially along bridge decks #yegtraffic pic.twitter苏州夜网/gNzrN4L6z6 — Daintre Christensen (@Daintre_) January 19, 2015
One of the best ways to track locally hazardous driving conditions is from local viewer reports. The #yegtraffic hashtag is often used by 桑拿会所 users reporting traffic issues within Edmonton.
If safe to do so, share your weather photos with us via the Global Edmonton Facebook and 桑拿会所 accounts. You can also post updates from your community using the hashtags #yegwx and #abstorm.
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In the space of two years, Toronto’s taxi licences plunged in price from a high of $360,000 in mid-2012 to below $100,000 in mid-2014.
New municipal rules, for one.
The taxi app, whose business practices are either disruptive or illegal, depending whom you ask, has proven wildly popular among some consumers and caused consternation among taxi drivers and local governments, many of which – Toronto included – have tried to kick them out.
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Chris Livisianos just sold a taxi licence for his father on Kijiji. He got $200,000 for it – bought in the 1980s for about $100,000, he broke even, adjusting for inflation.
It was the last of three licences he owned – each sold for less than the previous one.
“It kind of sucks that it dropped so much,” Livisianos said. “He sold his first one for $295,000, he sold his second one for $225,000, now the last one for $200,000.”
His father has been in the taxi business for close to four decades, Livisianos said. “He bought three plates, and he’s just been renting them out to drivers for that long.”
Until recently, that was the norm.
But last February, Toronto councillors decided to phase out traditional taxi plates by 2024. Owners of the new plates, unlike the current standard plate, must drive the cab for at least 167 hours a month. Standard plate owners, on the other hand, can rent their plates out to drivers.
The change pleases Sajid Mughal, who heads the iTaxiworkers Association – the closest thing drivers have to a union.
“The industry was held hostage to investors who had no direct interaction with the public, but just took money out of the system,“ he said.
“This is not the stock market. It’s a hard job. Drivers are working twelve hours a day, seven days a week, and they still don’t make enough money. ”
But it undercuts the value of standard licences that were a significant investment for their owners, says Kristine Hubbard, operations manager at Beck Taxi.
“They didn’t have an alternative. The city said that owning and operating a taxi can be a profitable business, and this is what they were lured in by. Now we have this future of no value, no opportunity, no ability to run a business and stay in business – who is the next generation cab driver?”
For plate owners, leasing plates to drivers was often the basis of a retirement plan, Hubbard says.
“That gives them the opportunity to maybe stop driving twelve hours a day for seven days a week, and hire someone to generate some income. As long as they’re doing a good job managing their business, why are they not allowed to retire?”
Plate values started to fall after August 2012, when Uber entered the Toronto taxi market. Their value never recovered.
Click here to view data »
In 2014, licences sold for an average of $118,235, down from $153,867 in 2013 and $227,976 in 2012.
“You’ve got bandit cabs that are flooding the city, out in the open, which is like deregulation, so why would someone pay for a licence when they don’t really need one?” Hubbard asks. “People don’t know if they’ll be rendered worthless.”
The market peaked with Standard licence #1859. It sold on September 10, 2012 for $360,000, just a few weeks after Uber entered the Toronto taxi market, followed by rival Hailo (which has since left of its own accord). Licence prices have never recovered.
Last fall Toronto announced it would ask for a court order to shut Uber down as an unlicenced taxi company. Uber argues it’s a technology company, not a taxi company, and therefore not subject to the rules.
The lawsuit followed a city probe in which regulators hired private investigators to probe Uber’s Toronto operations. The case will be heard in May.
However, after the city asked for the injunction, newly elected mayor John Tory said that Uber and companies like it were “here to stay,” and that “it is time our regulatory system got in line with evolving consumer demands.”
“I would consider them kind of the organized crime element of the age-old bandit cab problem,” Hubbard says of Uber. “My father drove a taxi, both my grandfathers drove taxis – bandit cabs are not new, but this is the new way of somehow trying to make them seem legitimate when they’re not.”
(Uber declined to speak with Global News on the record for this story. It has brushed off similar critiques in the past as coming from people resistant to innovation and consumer choice, arguing the taxi system is “broken.”)
Mughal sees UberX, a low-cost version of Uber that uses drivers without taxi licences, as the real problem.
“It’s a cancer, and spreading very fast. I’m surprised that the city is taking so long to take any action about UberX. Uber is not as harmful as UberX,” he said.
“UberX is just killing the cab industry. Drivers did not feel much impact when Uber was working, but UberX, with only a few weeks in the market, drivers are feeling the impact.”
Mughal also suspects licence costs will continue to plummet.
“Let’s say a plate is worth about $150,000. If the city does not stop UberX, in about a year’s time the value of this plate will be zero.”
Global News obtained taxi licence price data from the City of Toronto under an access-to-information request.
City data shows that the taxi plate lease business is holding its value, at least for now:
Click here to view data »
SASKATOON – Some members of Saskatoon’s Muslim community say there is no true right to free speech. Holding signs that said “Freedom of speech has limits” and “Insults aren’t freedom of speech,” the group rallied Sunday outside of city hall.
While they say they condemn the recent attack in Paris against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for publishing depictions of the prophet Muhammad, rally-goers said the magazine’s cartoons went too far.
Story continues below
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“We have to stop it, and we have to come to an intellectual debate,” said organizer Mustafa Mustaan.
“Whoever defends this insult has to know that they are accepting intellectual defeat because we, as human beings, are not to insult, but to intellectually debate each other.”
The group says Islam continues to face an unfair onslaught of insults daily.
“The insult is when my beliefs are made fun of, that’s when I’m insulted,” said Mustaan. “Insults in general are not allowed for anyone and should not be accepted for anyone.”
READ MORE: More than a million march for unity in Paris after terrorist attacks
Over a million people took to the streets in Paris on Jan. 11 in a rally for unity and freedom after two terrorist attacks left 17 people dead.
The attacks in France and the publication of Charlie Hebdo last week have also sparked violence, protests and polarization around the globe.
READ MORE: Afghans burn French flag in rally against Charlie Hebdo
With files from Amber Rockliffe
WINNIPEG – There were more signs of turmoil within Manitoba’s governing New Democrats Sunday — a party trying to find a civil resolution to an internal revolt against Premier Greg Selinger.
The latest volley in the war of words came on the weekend from Rob Altemeyer, a longtime backbencher who has been critical of the five former cabinet ministers who suggested in November that Selinger resign. One of the five, Theresa Oswald, is now leading the coup and running against Selinger in a leadership contest set for March 8.
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In a letter to NDP members in his Wolesley constituency, Altemeyer accused the former ministers, and government staffers who have recently taken leave from their jobs to work for Oswald, of abandoning the government.
“It is never a good thing to abandon your post in a time of need. Yet the five (former ministers) decided that just prior to our throne speech was a good time to resign,” Altemeyer wrote.
“More recently, with a crucial budget due in the spring, many senior political staff have simultaneously taken ‘vacation time’ to go work on Theresa Oswald’s leadership campaign. It is an appalling abdication of responsibility in both instances.”
Oswald, who has served as minister of health and of jobs and the economy, said Sunday she wants to keep the debate respectful, and said staff working for her campaign are only using vacation time they’re entitled to.
“March the 9th is going to come, and we’ll all need to come together … and so I think the best thing for all of us is to stay above the fray.”
Oswald’s campaign has attracted some people who were Selinger’s top advisers until the revolt erupted, including Anna Rothney, head of the government’s priorities and planning cabinet committee. Other workers who were part of Selinger’s daily briefings are also on leave and working for Oswald, leaving Selinger to find replacements or leave key positions open.
Altemeyer said he had not yet chosen which candidate to back, but said it would not be Oswald. That leaves him to pick between Selinger and Steve Ashton, a former infrastructure minister who was not part of the revolt.
The NDP is also facing internal wrangling over how the March 8 leadership vote will be conducted. Some 2,000 delegates are expected to take part, and the party executive decided Saturday that delegates will have to be at the Winnipeg convention in order to vote.
That upset Steve Ashton’s camp. Ashton, who represents the Thompson constituency in northern Manitoba, wanted options such as mail-in ballots or satellite convention offices for people in remote communities.
“The cost for a northern delegate to (be) present in Winnipeg in some cases is a drive of 1,000 kilometres or a flight, and on top of that hotel … plus food, child care as the case may be,” Ashton campaign spokesman Christopher Sanderson said Sunday.
The party subsidizes some of the cost but it is “nowhere near enough”, according to Tyler Duncan, a member of the NDP council, which is being asked to review the executive’s decision.
“For an entire section of this province to not be allowed to elect the next leader of the NDP, the next premier of Manitoba, is borderline discrimination to northern people.”
Oswald and a spokesperson for Selinger said their respective campaigns also want the decision changed. The council is expected to meet as early as next weekend to discuss the matter.
The three candidates had until Jan. 6 to sell memberships to potential supporters. They are now reaching out to members in each constituency who will elect delegates for the convention.
The only candidate making a campaign promise Sunday was Oswald, who said she would implement a provincial pension plan to top up the Canada Pension Plan. It would be mandatory for all workers under provincial jurisdiction who are not covered by a company pension plan, and be funded jointly by workers and their employers.
“Benefits have not kept pace with need, and fewer and fewer working families are saving enough to fund their retirement,” Oswald told reporters.
Oswald said she envisions a plan similar to one being introduced in Ontario. Workers and employers there will each contribute 1.9 per cent of the employee’s annual earnings, to a maximum of $1,643. Critics have called it a tax grab that will squeeze businesses and cost jobs.
Oswald said the numbers in Manitoba may be different, and such details would only be worked out after consultations with business and labour groups.
Watch above: Taking a short cut across the river proved to be a harrowing experience for a Saskatchewan woman over the weekend as her vehicle went through the thin ice. Joel Senick takes a look at when and where vehicles should be driving over ice roads.
SASKATOON – Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency (WSA) has issued a thin ice warning. Officials say warm temperatures are creating some very hazardous conditions across the province.
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Missing Saskatchewan man found dead underneath ice
Daring rescue from the South Saskatchewan River
Of particular concern is the South Saskatchewan River near Saskatoon. On Friday evening, a woman was rescued after her car broke through the ice while crossing the river at the Clarkboro ferry.
READ MORE: Woman escapes car breaking through ice on South Saskatchewan River
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure has put up a barricade at the crossing and says anyone who wants to attempt to drive the route, does so at their own risk.
“It’s no different than someone snowmobiling or ice fishing,” said Doug Wakabayashi, a communications official with the ministry.
“Once you venture out on the ice, you do so at your own risk.”
Wakabayashi added that the province maintains and tests a number of ice roads in northern Saskatchewan, however the Clarkboro crossing is not one of them.
WSA officials also say winter flows continue to be released from some reservoirs in the province resulting in active flows under ice on the major systems.
Unseasonably warm weather, combined with rainfall from last summer and fall, is also creating issues on creeks and streams. Many streams that are usually dry by fall were still flowing at freeze-up and may continue to flow through the winter.
Officials are warning people to use extreme caution near lakes and rivers and to ensure the ice is thick enough for crossing or winter activities.
Here are the recommended thickness levels:
at least four inches to walk on;six inches to drive a snowmobile or ATV;eight inches for a car or light truck; and12 inches for a heavy truck.
With files from Joel Senick
Seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard’s quest to match her stellar 2014 record in Grand Slam tournaments started on a positive note: She beat Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany 6-2, 6-4 Monday in the first round of the Australian Open. There were some sour faces captured throughout the match — but even those outside of her “Genie Army” of fans would likely admit she’s still Canada’s most adorable tennis player.
Last year, Bouchard advanced to the semifinals at three majors but lost in the Wimbledon final.
Take a look at Bouchard in action on Day 1 of the Australian Open in the gallery below:
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WATCH ABOVE: Police in Kenya used tear-gas on school children protesting the removal of their playground.
NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenyan police Monday tear-gassed schoolchildren demonstrating against the removal of their school’s playground, which has been allegedly grabbed by a powerful politician, said a Kenyan human rights activist.
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The students from Langata Road Primary School were in the front line of people pulling down a wall erected around the playground which has been acquired by a private developer said to be a powerful politician, said Boniface Mwangi. Primary school children in Kenya are usually between six and 14 years of age.
READ MORE: Kenya police brutality turns beat cops into killers
“The governor, the senator and other government officials are all scared of the politician, they cannot do anything to stop the playground from the being taken,” Mwangi said. Television footage showed children, some being carried away, writhing in pain, screaming and choking because of the tear-gas. Police officers later brought dogs to the playground.
Acting police chief Samuel Arachi said he had suspended the police officer who was in charge at the scene of the protest.
In such an incident tear gas is not used because the protests were not violent, Arachi said. He said five people have been arrested; three for vandalism and two for incitement.
“We will never allow officers to use force not only on any citizen more so on children whether in a demonstration or otherwise,” he said.
Elijah Mwangi, who was in charge of the police officers at the school, said he was following orders.
Opposition politician Eliud Owalo said last week that the playground had been grabbed to construct a parking lot for the politician’s hotel adjacent to the school.
READ MORE: Chaos, fights erupt in and out of Kenyan parliament over terror laws
“This is brutality beyond words and greed beyond description. It is difficult to believe that police can actually deploy against primary school children and lob tear gas at them to defend a land grabber. This image of a nation determined to steal forcefully from its own children cannot be what we aspire to. It cannot be the legacy we want to bequeath the children,” said opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Allegations of land seizures by Kenyan officials has become a controversial issue in the country.
WATCH: A 10 cent fare hike will be coming to TTC riders as of March 1. Dave Trafford has all the details.
TORONTO – Toronto Mayor John Tory is proposing a 10 cent Toronto Transit Commission fare hike as of March 1 to help cover the cost of expanding service to riders.
“During the election campaign I committed along with all the other candidates not to raise transit fares in 2015,” Tory said during a press conference outside of Joyce Public School in North York Monday morning.
“It was not until the transition period after the election that I was fully able to comprehend and see put in front of me, all the facts as to the scope and extent of transit cutbacks imposed by the previous administration.”
WATCH: Toronto mayor John Tory announces a big new influx of funds for the Toronto Transit Commission that will repair and renew a host of services that have been reduced over the years.
Tory said he wants to increase funding to the TTC by $95 million, which includes a number of measures such as allowing people under 12 years of age to ride for free, adding new express bus routes, restoring bus and streetcar routes that were cut in 2011 and adding two more subway trains on Line 1 and 2 during morning and afternoon rush hour.
The #Toronto 2015 Budget will #getTOmoving https://t.co/wg1rfSgMyG
— John Tory (@johntoryTO) January 19, 2015
“I came to the difficult decision that when it came to ways to pay for it, that the fare increase had to be part of it,” Tory said, while cash fares will be exempted.
“One thing I would not do, I would not increase fares and not improve service and I would not decrease service and increase fares which is what my predecessor did.”
VIDEO: TTC fares to be raised by 10 cents in March
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Transit advocate, Steve Munro said this move is a step in the right direction when it comes to improving service.
“They’re committing not just to putting back service that was lost but to making some significant improvements that had been long overdue,” said Munro.
“If we were doing this four years ago, sort of picking up from where the system was before the cuts, it would have been a good next step.”
Munro said the city has lost its transit momentum and Monday’s announcement needs to come with more action over the next four years.
“There are still some other issues to be dealt with such as one of the proposals that were in Andy Byford’s list last August, that wasn’t in the list today, the two hour fare, an integral part of integrating Presto.”
The two hour fare is a recommendation to allow transit riders to use the TTC in any direction for a total of two hours from the beginning of their commute.
It was a recommendation Byford.
The two hour fair refers a recommendation by Byford’s to allow transit riders a two hour window to use the TTC, in any direction, from the beginning of their commute.
Tory’s funding announcement comes one day ahead of the city’s first draft budget to be released Tuesday at the budget committee.
“In that budget, we will provide for the investments in public transit and a number of other things,” explained Tory. “We will do that in the confines of the property tax increase at or below the rate of inflation.”
Tory went on to blame former Toronto mayor Rob Ford for service cuts that has pushed the TTC to its breaking point.
“Deliberate decisions were made under m y predecessor to reduce service and increase crowding levels on the transit system,” he said.
The fare increase and the additional $95 million transit investment is subject to the approval of the TTC commission and city council.
VIDEO: Tory announces that kids will ride TTC for free
WATCH: According to a new U.S. report, this year’s flu shot is only 23 per cent effective. Su-Ling Goh reports.
TORONTO – Canadians may have seen the worst of this year’s flu season — while H3N2 is still widespread across most of the country, the number of cases may have peaked at the start of the year.
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The flu is still spreading across British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland. In Alberta, the same regions have reported widespread activity for a third week straight, according to the latest update from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The beginning of 2015 saw the country’s highest number of outbreaks in long term care homes – 152, a record number over the past five years.
But the number of positive flu cases decreased between Jan. 4 and Jan. 10, “suggesting that the seasonal influenza has peaked,” the Flu Watch report says.
At the start of the year, there were 4,579 positive cases, down from the 5,313 recorded at the end of 2014.
READ MORE: 5 ways to protect yourself from the flu
Laboratory detections, prescriptions for antiviral drugs and hospitalizations have all calmed down after a nasty season that hit seniors hard and left emergency rooms swamped.
It’s been an ugly flu season for a couple of reasons: for starters, H3N2 is the predominant strain and it’s traditionally more potent. Doctors told Global News that it could lead to more hospitalizations.
“It’s possible this might be a flu season where we’ll see people get more ill, which causes people to require hospitalizations versus riding out the flu at home,” Dr. Gerald Evans, a Queen’s University medicine professor and chief of infectious diseases at Kingston General Hospital, said.
By early December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the flu vaccine on hand was a mismatch. Last week, it reported that the flu vaccine is only 23 per cent effective, which is among one of the worst results since they started tracking how well the vaccines work.
Ideally, the best flu vaccines are 50 to 60 per cent effective.
The northern hemisphere, more or less, uses the same vaccine – there are only miniscule variations by product and manufacturer, which means the vaccine was just as effective in Canada, too.
READ MORE: Nasty H3N2 flu season worsens as cases rise across Canada
The Public Health Agency of Canada has already conceded that the vaccine isn’t “optimally matched” to protect against H3N2. In an emailed statement, an agency spokesperson said the Canadian situation mirrors the U.S.
“To date, the available Canadian data estimates a low level of vaccine effectiveness against the H3N2 strain consistent with the U.S.,” the statement read.
Each year, strains of the influenzas mutate and re-emerge, infecting victims and triggering a new season. Those of us in the northern hemisphere keep a watchful eye over the flu in the southern hemisphere, which affects residents during their winter (or our summer).
READ MORE: Nasty flu season strikes as H3N2 cases spike across Canada
Picking out three strains for a vaccine is guesswork, and by the time influenza makes its way into the northern hemisphere, it’s had time to mutate or “drift.” But by then, the flu vaccine is already formulated.
This year, the vaccine isn’t as effective but health officials say it’s still worthwhile to roll up your sleeve and get the shot.
READ MORE: This year’s flu shot may not be the right match, CDC tells doctors
Overall, this year’s flu season – the way it started a little early and tapered off at the start of the New Year – is similar to last year’s season, the Flu Watch report suggests.
ABOVE: Filmmaker Michael Moore and actor Seth Rogen – both no strangers to film-centered controversy – are among the celebs weighing in on the new film American Sniper.
This post has been updated with additional comments from Moore and Rogen.
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TORONTO — American Sniper was the No. 1 movie at the box office on its first weekend in wide release — prompting filmmaker Michael Moore to take aim at snipers.
On Sunday, the Bowling for Columbine director said they “aren’t heroes.”
American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Clint Eastwood, is based on the book by Chris Kyle, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.
Kyle boasted of 255 kills, of which 160 were confirmed by the U.S. military.
The Navy Seal was killed in 2013 on a shooting range in Texas by Marine Corps veteran Eddie Ray Routh.
Moore, who earlier used 桑拿会所 to encourage people to see the movie Selma “because it is a piece of brilliant filmmaking, the likes of which are so rare,” tweeted:
My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 18, 2015
But if you’re on the roof of your home defending it from invaders who’ve come 7K miles, you are not a sniper, u are brave, u are a neighbor.
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 19, 2015
Later, on Facebook, he elaborated.
“My dad was in the First Marine Division in the South Pacific in World War II. His brother, my uncle, Lawrence Moore, was an Army paratrooper and was killed by a Japanese sniper 70 years ago next month,” he wrote.
“My dad always said, ‘Snipers are cowards. They don’t believe in a fair fight. Like someone coming up from behind you and coldcocking you. Just isn’t right. It’s cowardly to shoot a person in the back. Only a coward will shoot someone who can’t shoot back.’”
Moore said his tweets were not directed at the movie American Sniper. He praised Bradley Cooper’s performance as “one of the best of the year” and gave kudos to the film’s editing, costumes, hair and makeup.
Moore was less enthusiastic about American Sniper director Clint Eastwood.
“Too bad Clint gets Vietnam and Iraq confused in his storytelling. And that he has his characters calling Iraqis ‘savages’ throughout the film,” he wrote.
Canadian actor-director Seth Rogen appeared to compare American Sniper to the Nazi propaganda film Stolz der Nation (Nation’s Pride), in which a German sniper killed Allied soldiers from a clock tower.
American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) January 18, 2015
Later, though, Rogen denied he was comparing the films.
I just said something “kinda reminded” me of something else. I actually liked American Sniper. It just reminded me of the Tarantino scene.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) January 19, 2015
I wasn’t comparing the two. Big difference between comparing and reminding. Apples remind me of oranges. Can’t compare them, though.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) January 19, 2015
But if you were having a slow news day, you’re welcome for me giving you the opportunity to blow something completely out of proportion.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) January 19, 2015