Canadian freed from Ethiopian jail wants review of Ottawas role in his

first_imgOTTAWA – A Canadian who says he was unfairly imprisoned in Ethiopia in abysmal conditions for more than a decade wants an independent review of Ottawa’s actions in his case.In his first public comments since being released, Ethiopian-born Bashir Makhtal said Tuesday there were mistakes and lost opportunities in Canada’s efforts to protect him over the years.“I have to start my life all over again,” Makhtal told a news conference as his wife Asiso looked on.He was accompanied by lawyer Lorne Waldman and Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, who fought for years to secure his release.Makhtal moved to Somalia as a youngster to attend school and settled in Canada as a refugee in 1991. He later moved back to Africa, opening a used-clothing business to help support his family. Makhtal was working in Somalia when Ethiopian troops invaded in late 2006.He fled back to Kenya, but was detained along with several others at the Kenya-Somalia border.Makhtal was later convicted of terrorism-related charges in Addis Ababa — proceedings Waldman has denounced as a “kangaroo court” that ignored important evidence.Makhtal, 49, was suddenly freed last month, a development Waldman attributes to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s intervention in the case.Makhtal’s ancestry is rooted in the Ogaden people of Ethiopia, who are ethnically Somali. His grandfather, who pushed for greater rights and protection for the minority, was imprisoned and subjected to house arrest.As a result, Makhtal was worried in early 2007 when two Ethiopian security agents came to question him alongside Kenyan officials.“I had not been back in Ethiopia since I left when I was seven, and did not trust the Ethiopian officials at all.”Makhtal alerted Canadian officials in Kenya. They came to see him three or four times, but they only wrote two letters of concern to the Kenyan foreign ministry, he said, and his case was not raised at more senior levels.Makhtal said he was whisked from his cell on a Saturday, taken to the Nairobi airport and beaten when he refused to board an aircraft. “I was then tied up, blindfolded and forced into the plane.”He and dozens of others wound up in Addis Ababa.Makhtal said he was held in solitary confinement in a damp, underground cell measuring two metres by two metres.He was interrogated repeatedly. “Their aim was to encourage me to become a collaborator with the Ethiopian government to spy on the Ogaden people,” he said. “I constantly said I had done nothing wrong and that I would not turn against my people.“They threatened to go after my family as well, which they did.”In mid-2007, Makhtal’s brother and his son, his sister and her son, and other family members were also arrested.When his brother Hassan was finally released in 2009, his health was so poor — including infection from a broken rib that had punctured his lung — that he died only a few days after he was freed.Makhtal’s nephew, arrested as a teenager 11 years ago, remains behind bars.On the morning of April 18, a prison official whispered in Makhtal’s ear that he was to be freed. Forty-eight hours later he was on a flight back home to Canada.Former Conservative foreign minister John Baird made efforts on Makhtal’s behalf. Waldman, however, said Stephen Harper, who was prime minister at the time, refused to get involved.“What’s notable about Bashir’s case is that Prime Minister Trudeau took a different attitude and intervened directly, and it was after that intervention that Bashir was released,” he said.“So I think that’s an important fact. The role of the prime minister in these complex consular cases is crucial.”When Makhtal was detained in Kenya, Canadian officials should have flagged the matter to Ottawa, and headquarters should have approached the Kenyan ambassador, Waldman said. “The Kenyan officials didn’t have any sense that Canada was concerned, and that’s why they were able to get away with what they did.”Waldman called on the Canadian government to help free Makhtal’s nephew.He said Ottawa should also establish an independent review of Makhtal’s case that includes access to relevant documents and witnesses.An examination would help highlight the “many important lessons to be learned here,” Neve said.Parliamentary secretary Omar Alghabra, who met with Makhtal in Ethiopia, spoke with him again Tuesday, said Adam Austen, spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.The government is “always looking for ways to improve Canada’s consular services,” Austen said in a statement.“This includes listening to recommendations on consular services from Canadians who have faced difficulties abroad — as Mr. Alghabra is doing today — as well as to views from civil society.”— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitterlast_img read more

New citizenship oath to include reference to treaties with Indigenous Peoples

first_imgA revised oath of citizenship that will require new Canadians to faithfully observe the country’s treaties with Indigenous Peoples is nearly complete.The proposed new text was put to focus groups held by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in March, following months of consultation by departmental officials.It reads: “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”The language comes from the 94th and final recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the legacy of Canada’s residential schools.Implementing that recommendation was one of the tasks given to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen when he was sworn into his portfolio in January 2017, but work on it began soon after the commission delivered its recommendations in late 2015, briefing notes for the minister suggest.The notes, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, show the government also wants to modify the script delivered by those who preside over citizenship ceremonies. The proposed notes say the script should refer to ceremonies taking place on traditional territories, and include remarks on the history of Indigenous Peoples.When it comes to the oath, the inclusion of a reference to treaties is the only proposed change.Changing the wording requires a legislative amendment to the Citizenship Act. The Liberals are currently in the process of overhauling the act in a bid to make citizenship easier to obtain.When the proposed text was put to focus groups composed of both recent immigrants and longtime Canadian residents, reaction was generally positive, according to a report posted online by the Immigration department this week.But there was a caveat: “Participants only agreed with the modifications insofar as newcomers are adequately educated about Indigenous Peoples and the treaties,” the report said.“Many felt that they themselves would struggle with this new formulation, given their own limited knowledge of the treaties.”Some wondered about the need for changes at all.“A few participants took it upon themselves to question the need to modify the oath and that it might represent a precedent whereby other groups in Canada will want to be represented in the oath,” the report said.The new oath comes along with a major overhaul of the study guide used for the citizenship exam. A draft copy obtained by The Canadian Press earlier this year revealed it, too, will include extensive references to Indigenous history and culture.The Liberals had originally been aiming to unveil both the new guide and oath around Canada Day, but work is ongoing.last_img read more

US tax cuts Fiscal pros weigh in on how Canada should respond

first_imgWASHINGTON, United States of America – While they have slightly differing views on the landmark tax cuts just adopted in the U.S., and their potential effect on Canada, some of the country’s leading fiscal-policy experts agree on one thing.In short: Don’t expect Canada to engage in a corporate-tax-cut-war with the U.S. That’s according to three prominent fiscal experts contacted by The Canadian Press as the U.S. passed a bill that will make it cheaper to do business down south.Kevin Page, Jack Mintz, and Kevin Milligan all agreed Canada has different policy tools to respond. And they expressed doubt the likeliest tool involves taking a chainsaw to corporate tax rates.The University of Calgary’s Mintz believes Canada should worry about its neighbour’s tax reform; he’s expressed it in National Post pieces with titles like, “Trump’s tax tsunami is about to wallop Canadian jobs and investment.”His view is that for several decades Canada had two business advantages: lower corporate taxes, and free trade. Now the taxes are about equal, and free trade is in jeopardy. He said Canadian businesses also face new challenges, like carbon taxes; while the U.S. eliminates regulations.But he said Canadian policy-makers can respond with a variety of solutions. One is tax rates. Others include simplifying regulation, or designing tax policy to benefit investment, say, by steering the proceeds of carbon taxes back to businesses.“There are a gamut of different policies,” he said in an interview.“It’s wrong to think that a single nugget is going to solve, deal, with the issue.”He suggests Canadians seek some clues in an annual World Bank document. In the bank’s annual Doing Business report, Canada scores high in several places — it’s No. 2 in the world for ease of starting a business.But it points to sore spots.Overall, Canada ranks as the 22nd-best country to run a business, sandwiched between Lithuania and Malaysia — 13 spots behind its neighbour, the U.S. It’s 57th in dealing with construction permits, and 108th in getting electricity.Page, Canada’s first parliamentary budget officer, also doubts copycat tax cuts are coming.“I think it is unlikely Canada will try to match U.S. tax cuts,” Page said in an email.“Tax reform pressures will likely build in Canada over the next few years leading up to the 2019 elections but it is more likely to have a broader agenda than tax reductions , including fairness, sustainability, growth, (the) environment.”He said corporate income taxes are one important cost of doing business — but that companies look at a variety of things: dividend, capital and payroll taxes; regulations; and production costs like wages.He said Canada might even draw some early benefit from the U.S. tax bill. That’s because economic growth in the U.S. tends to spill into Canada. Scotiabank’s models estimate that for every percentage point of growth in the U.S., there’s a half-point growth in Canada.Page said he expects a short-term positive impact for Canada. But he said that dissipates as the bill’s less-desirable aspects kick in — like the $1.5 trillion added to the debt, Republicans’ talk of offsetting that through social-spending cuts, growing inequality, and the diminished fiscal manoeuvring room whenever another recession hits.He offers a term to describe the temporary boost for Canada: “A sugar high.”Kevin Milligan, a UBC economist who has advised the Trudeau Liberals on tax reform, said he’s not nearly as concerned about this bill as he would be if it gave U.S. businesses a permanent tax advantage of, say, five percentage points, rather than simply putting the countries at similar rates.“Then we’d be in a world where we’d be really, perhaps, in trouble — where you’d see firms wanting … to shift profits out of Canada. The fact that we’re tied, at about the same rate, means there’s no incentive to move profit,” he said.“That’s why I don’t have apocalyptic concerns that some others might have expressed.”He said businesses will continue making choices based on numerous factors, like the cost of providing health insurance to employees, a significant issue in the U.S.; good transit links; pleasant communities; workforce training; and the ability to attract talented immigrants — an area where Canada has gained some advantage, he said, given the current U.S. political climate.“So that’s the question,” Milligan said.“Are we best off getting into a tax-rate competition with the U.S., or competing on other grounds?”last_img read more

BC man accused of threatening woman with a gun appears in court

first_imgVERNON, B.C. – A British Columbia man accused of threatening a woman with a gun wants a trial by a Supreme Court judge.Curtis Sagmoen is facing seven charges including pointing a firearm, uttering threats and disguising his face with the intent to commit an offence over allegations that date back to an August incident in the North Okanagan.The 37-year-old appeared in Vernon provincial court via video link Thursday, where his lawyer requested a preliminary inquiry.Sagmoen did not enter a plea and his next court appearance is set for Jan. 26 when a bail hearing will be scheduled.Sagmoen’s arrest prompted a warning to the general public and sex workers to use precautions for their safety around Salmon River Road.It is the same area where the remains of 18-year-old Traci Genereaux were found by police on a farm owned by Wayne and Evelyn Sagmoen in October, but no charges have been laid in connection with her death.(CJIB)last_img read more

Search resumes of Toronto property connected to suspected serial killer

first_imgFor the second straight day, forensic officers are combing through a Toronto residence as part of a probe into accused killer Bruce McArthur.Cadaver dogs have been brought to the scene as they continue their search of the property, which now includes a nearby ravine.Police dog now sniffing inside the garage of the home on Mallory Crescent. Also—- scene has grown to include nearby ravine.— Faiza (@CityFaizaAmin) January 21, 2018Forensic investigators have been spotted going in and out of the house, emerging with at least one bag. There’s no confirmation on what is in the bag or what they have retrieved.McArthur, 66, a self-employed landscaper, was arrested and charged Thursday as part of an investigation into the disappearance of Selim Esen, 44, and Andrew Kinsman, 49, from Toronto’s Gay Village.It’s unclear what McArthur’s connection is to the property but one neighbour recalls he was a frequent visitor to the house.“I’ve seen him many, many times,” Kevin Lahey told CityNews. “He used to come here three or four times a day, in the summer especially because he owns a landscaping business. I’m just shocked that this happened.”Forensics o/s in Leaside continuing investigation into alleged McArthur murders. Neighbors say he frequented house @CityNews @CityFaizaAmin— Ken Townsend (@KenTownsend) January 21, 2018Forensic officers have also been collecting evidence at four other locations, including a nine-acre property in Madoc, Ont.last_img read more

Liberal MP who weathered gunregistry fight not worried about new firearms bill

first_imgOTTAWA – He’s the Liberal MP for a large, rural Ontario riding with lots of gun owners, but Bob Nault says he is not worried about a voter backlash over the government’s new firearms bill.The Conservatives say the legislation would unfairly target law-abiding hunters and target shooters with fresh measures.Nault, however, sees nothing in the bill that could stir up the sort of controversy that erupted over the universal long-gun registry in the 1990s — a fight he remembers well.The latest legislation will have no major impacts on legitimate firearms owners, Nault, 62, said in an interview. “I think this is going to be put to bed fairly quickly.”Not if the Conservatives have any sway.Since the bill’s introduction last month, Tory MPs have called the move to tighten controls on the sale and tracking of firearms the creation of a new national long-gun registry.The bill would require retailers to keep records of firearms inventory and sales for at least 20 years, a measure intended to assist police in investigating gun trafficking and other crimes. It would also require a gun seller to ensure a buyer’s licence is valid prior to the transaction.“By going to the store level as opposed to the home, the Liberals are trying to bring in the registry by a back door,” Conservative MP Erin O’Toole said in the House of Commons. “In several Parliaments in the past we saw that it did not work, it did not hit crime, it cost hundreds of millions of dollars and it targeted law-abiding people as opposed to lawbreakers.”The Conservative government dismantled the long-gun registry, a Liberal initiative that mushroomed into a costly computer boondoggle and stoked resentment in the firearms community.The Liberals are quick to note the new plan to require commercial retailers to keep sales records would revive a measure that existed from 1979 until 1995, when universal registration of guns essentially replaced the store ledgers. Most merchants already record sales for safety and liability reasons and because it affects their insurance, the Liberals say.As for greater scrutiny of sales, it’s the buyer’s licence, not the gun, that’s being verified, and no information about the firearm is exchanged, they add.The Conservatives are using the firearms bill as “a wedge issue” to capitalize on the wariness of rural residents, said Nault, who won the northern Ontario riding of Kenora by just 498 votes in the 2015 election.But he prefers to view the latest federal effort to control firearms as one step on a long path that stretches back to the late 19th century.Nault, a gun owner whose father taught him to shoot as a youngster, was one of the MPs who provided advice to the government about what the Liberal caucus was hearing in the mid-1990s as Allan Rock, then justice minister, pushed ahead with the long-gun registry.The current bill is nowhere near as far-reaching, Nault said. As of late last week, he had heard from 45 constituents with concerns about the legislation in his sprawling riding that covers one-third of the province.Among the reservations: a measure that would restore the authority of RCMP experts to classify firearms without political influence, repealing cabinet’s authority to overrule Mountie determinations, and another that would roll back some automatic authorizations to transport restricted and prohibited firearms, such as handguns and assault weapons.“As I’ve said to my colleagues, of course we’ll lose some votes in rural Canada, because whenever you talk about firearms, people naturally get upset about it,” Nault said.But he insisted the bill is “quite balanced” and will have “virtually no impact” on 98 per cent of gun owners.He stressed the importance of a provision that would expand the scope of background checks on those who want to acquire a gun. Instead of just the five years immediately preceding a licence application, personal history questions would cover a person’s entire lifetime.“In Canada, owning a firearm is a privilege, not a right,” Nault said.“Hopefully people will start to see this more as a non-partisan issue.”— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitterlast_img read more

Bee yard to be installed at Hamilton port lands to level population

first_imgExperts say there aren’t enough bees in our ecosystem — a problem the Hamilton Port Authority is trying to solve. The organization has partnered with Humble Bee, a Hamilton-based urban beekeeping company, to install a bee yard on the city’s waterfront.Twelve boxes will be installed on the land, each of them separated into three miniature hives that will each carry about 500 bees. The project’s goal is to provide food and shelter for pollinator bees in the area, which will in turn provide a breeding ground for local honeybees.“The port lands … offer ideal conditions for honeybee breeding, and the establishment of new ‘queendoms’, as we’ve been calling them,” said Sharon Clark, the Hamilton Port Authority’s Community Relations Manager, in a statement.Additionally, because the area is isolated from other hives, beekeepers will be better able to track and control the genetics of both the queen bees and the drones they mate with.Beekeeper Dan Douma of Humble Bee said the major losses in the bee population are largely due to chronic exposure to insecticide. The most commonly used farming pesticides, neonicotinoids, often affect much more than the intended area, he said.“It’s not a spray, like most people think about when they think about pesticide,” Douma said. “It’s a systemic, so it’s actually coating the seeds before they are planted.”Pesticides of this kind are so commonly used that they can even be found in some of the flowers homeowners plant specifically to attract bees. Douma said he would encourage people to ask about pesticides before purchasing outdoor plants.Neonicotinoids contain a neurotoxin that attacks bees’ neural functions, making it hard for them to adapt to changing conditions like cold weather. Douma believes that’s what causes so many winter losses in the bee population.That poses a significant problem, because he says pollination by honeybees is a crucial part of food production.When it comes to pollinating large crops, “the honeybee is the only pollinator that’s up the task,” Douma said. Bumblebees, for instance, “simply don’t have the workforce to pollinate 100 acres of apple trees that are in full bloom all at once,” he said.“You need honeybees to do that kind of work.”The port land project will accelerate the breeding process, adding more honeybees to the ecosystem. It will also allow beekeepers in other parts of Ontario, and elsewhere in the country, to “get good local queen stock for their own beekeeping operations,” said beekeeper Luc Peters, the other half of Humble Bee.Both Douma and Peters said they would encourage people who are afraid of bees to reconsider.“Honeybees often get a bad reputation because they get confused with yellow-jacket wasps,” Douma says. But he explains that honeybees “get all their nectar from flowers that they turn into honey. They really have no interest in anything other than flowers.”He says it’s very rare for honeybees to sting people, and they only do it if they feel threatened.“Bees are really gentle,” he says. “The last thing they ever want to do is sting someone.”last_img read more

Vancouver police search for man who pushed victim into traffic during assault

first_imgVANCOUVER – Vancouver police are appealing for help as they investigate a strange assault where a man was seriously injured when he was pushed into the path of an oncoming vehicle.Police say it happened on East Hastings Street on the night of July 15 after two men stopped to check on the well-being of a woman who appeared intoxicated.The woman assured them she was fine but police say in a news release that the men were confronted moments later by an agitated man who had been walking behind the woman.Police say in a news release the man pushed a 37-year-old Surrey man into the street, where he was hit and seriously injured by a sport utility vehicle.The driver of the vehicle pulled over and other witnesses tried to hold the suspect for police, but both the man and the woman, believed to be his friend, ran off.Const. Jason Doucette says the victim is still recovering and detectives want to speak to anyone with information about the attack or the suspect, described as in his mid-20s, about 6 feet tall, with a heavy, athletic build.“We have obtained dash-cam video from the SUV involved in the collision,” Doucette says in the release.“We are asking the suspect to turn himself in, but if he doesn’t, we are confident that someone will come forward to identity him and his friend.”A composite drawing issued by investigators shows the suspect has short dark hair, dark facial stubble and police say he was wearing a black crew-neck T-shirt and dark shorts.The woman is described as Asian, 20 to 25 years old, with a slim build, medium length black hair and she was wearing a white tank top or a sun dress.last_img read more

Relatives arriving in NS to support mother and father of seven fire

first_imgHALIFAX — Several family members of the mother of seven children who died in a fast-moving house fire are arriving in Halifax today to bring support to their grieving relative.Andy Fillmore, a Halifax MP, said in a news release that “in difficult times, it is family that brings the greatest comfort.”The family members are entering Halifax with visitors’ visas to assist Kawthar Barho and her severely burned spouse, Ebraheim Barho.Kawthar had asked federal officials last week to assist her in bringing family members to Canada to support her, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters during a visit to Halifax that his government was working to expedite the visas.A spokeswoman for the private sponsorship group assisting the family said the names of the family members and their relationship to the mother wouldn’t be released at this time.The news of the arrival of family members comes after a massive turnout at a funeral for the seven victims of the fire.More than 2,000 people showed up to the service at a waterfront hall on Saturday, which was held in memory of the Barho children who died in the early hours of Feb. 19 when the blaze moved rapidly through their home.The Barhos arrived in Nova Scotia in September 2017 as refugees from war-torn Syria, among 1,795 Syrian refugees who have come to Nova Scotia in recent years.On Saturday, as the seven small caskets were brought on stage, their mother could be heard sobbing.Many others also cried as the children’s names were read: teenager Ahmad; Rola, 12; Mohamad, 9; Ola, 8; Hala, 3; Rana, 2; and Abdullah, who was born in Canada on Nov. 9.A local imam said the service was made public so the children’s mother could see firsthand that the community is standing behind her.The father continues to recover from extensive burns.He underwent an operation on Monday but the family and the private support group has decided not to share information about how he fared.When they first arrived in Nova Scotia, the Barho family lived in Elmsdale, a 30-minute drive north of Halifax, where they were embraced by the local community.They later moved to the Halifax suburb of Spryfield to take advantage of language training and other immigrant services, but had planned to return to Elmsdale next month.The cause of the blaze in their Spryfield home remains unclear.The response to the tragedy has been swift and impassioned: several businesses have donated their profits to the Barho family, and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised to assist the couple.Michael Tutton, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Ministers set to discuss timing of carbon tax legal challenges during meeting

first_imgSASKATOON — Attorneys general from Alberta and Ontario say they will discuss the timeline of the different legal challenges launched against the federal carbon tax when they meet in Saskatoon today.The two justice ministers will be joined by their legal teams and their counterparts from New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.Saskatchewan is hosting the meeting to discuss the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. It argues a federally imposed carbon tax on consumers is unconstitutional, but lost its case in a 3-2 split decision in its own appeal court.The provincial government appealed to the Supreme Court and says it has a tentative hearing date set for Dec. 5.Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer says his government is trying to play catch-up to Saskatchewan and Ontario when it comes to mounting its own legal challenge.He says it’s important for the ministers to compare notes about what they’re hearing from their legal teams and he wants the provinces to work together so that the matter is heard by the Supreme Court in a “co-ordinated and thoughtful way.”Schweitzer says he wants Alberta’s case heard by the Alberta Appeal Court before the country’s highest court rules on the issue, so the Supreme Court has the opportunity to consider the province’s evidence when it makes its decision.“We’re trying to work out (the) strategy to make sure each province can bring forward its strongest case to the Supreme Court,” he said.Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey says his government has until August to file a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court after that province’s appeal court upheld the federal carbon tax in a split decision.“It’s my understanding that (Saskatchewan) may be looking to have some of the cases consolidated so that … the Supreme Court’s hearing more than one at a time,” said Downey.He said there are pros and cons about presenting the cases together, but wouldn’t comment on his government’s preference or strategy.“From what I understand Saskatchewan is asking for an extension or for more time.”— by Stephanie Taylor of The Canadian PressThe Canadian Presslast_img read more

Stars Draw The Line For Bill Of Reproductive Rights

first_imgThe Center for Reproductive Rights recently announced the launch of an innovative new campaign— DRAW THE LINE — in support of the Center’s Bill of Reproductive Rights. The Bill of Reproductive Rights provides an opportunity for Americans to join together and tell lawmakers that they stand strongly behind a woman’s right to safe reproductive health care.With support from a number of luminaries including Kevin Bacon, Sandra Bernhard, Billy Crudup, Olympia Dukakis, Jenna Fischer, Caroline Kennedy, Lisa Kudrow, Tea Leoni, Audra McDonald, Oliver Platt, Martha Plimpton, Amy Poehler, Kyra Sedgwick, Sarah Silverman, Meryl Streep, and Louis Zorich, the Center is calling on women and men across the country and from every walk of life to fight against attacks made on a woman’s fundamental and constitutional rights by signing the Bill of Reproductive Rights at its 20th anniversary this year, the Center for Reproductive Rights is the only global legal advocacy organization dedicated exclusively to advancing and defending reproductive rights. With expertise in both U.S. constitutional and international human rights law, the Center fights to ensure strong legal protections for reproductive rights, and affordable and unhindered access to a full range of reproductive health care services—including contraception, pregnancy care, abortion, and fertility treatments.Across the United States, the Center has brought the full power of the U.S. Constitution and courts to bear to ensure that anti-choice politicians do not turn back the clock on reproductive rights. Just this past year, the Center’s efforts have blocked extreme attacks on women’s rights and health care in Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.“Over the last several years, the increasingly relentless and hostile nature of the attacks on women’s reproductive rights have been on full display—underscoring just how critical it is to for Americans to take action and demand these rights be recognized as fundamental,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “It’s time that a women’s right to safe and accessible reproductive health care be safeguarded from the political tactics of those who seek to chip it away. It’s time for women and men to send a strong message to lawmakers across the country that we are drawing the line.”As the country approaches 40 years since the historic Roe v. Wade decision, it has never been clearer what is at stake if the onslaught of anti-choice measures is allowed to continue. These laws—such as forced ultrasound laws, restrictions on which health care services are covered by insurance plans, and zealous efforts to drive women’s doctors out of practice—place women at risk of grave harm, demean and humiliate their autonomy and ability to make their own decisions, and build significant barriers between women and safe reproductive health care services, including abortion.To join the conversation online, use the hashtag #DrawTheLine.last_img read more

Celebrity Shoe Auction To Benefit Small Steps Project

first_imgThe Small Steps Project team has been swamped by stars falling over themselves to give up their shoes for their annual celebrity shoe auction – and they are thrilled to announce they now have over 100 pairs.2013 is their best collection yet, with A-listers from both sides of the Atlantic eager to take small steps. It all kicked off at Glastonbury with rocking shoe donations from and The Rolling Stones, Professor Green, Kenny Rogers and Rita Ora.Tennis season served up some aces from Wimbledon players Roger Federer, Tim Henman, Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal.From the catwalks of London and Paris Fashion Weeks shoes flew in from Vivienne Westwood, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Natalia Vodianova, Twiggy and regular donor Kate Moss.Visit their Celebrity Shoe Donor page to see all of the celebrities who are taking part including Kate Winslet, Eminem, Elton John, Sienna Miller, George Clooney, Noel and Liam Gallagher, Florence Welch, Brian May, Kiefer Sutherland, Mark Ronson, Rachel Weisz, Ewan McGregor, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger, Taylor Swift, Chris Martin, Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and Madonna.The Small Steps Project’s mission is to deliver shoes, aid and medical care to children surviving on rubbish dumps all over the world.The auction runs from Dec 5 – 15, and can be accessed here.last_img read more

Kylie Minogue To Headline Butterfly Ball

first_imgOrganisers of one of the UK’s most prestigious charity balls have announced that global pop superstar, Kylie Minogue, will be headlining the event in London on May 15th.Kylie Minogue To Headline Butterfly BallThe multi award-winning artist will perform an exclusive set for guests attending the Caudwell Children Butterfly Ball at Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane.The annual event regularly raises in excess of £1.7million to provide life-changing practical and emotional support for disabled children through the charity, Caudwell Children.“I’m delighted to be a part of this fantastic event which does so much to help disabled children in the UK.” said Kylie.With a musical career spanning over three decades and worldwide record sales of over 70million, Kylie’s success includes seven UK Number No.1 singles and four UK No.1 albums, making her one of the UK’s bestselling female artists of all time.Kylie Minogue – Kiss Me OnceOn the back of the release of her critically acclaimed new album, ‘Kiss Me Once’ (released March 17), Kylie promises guests of the star-studded event a glamorous stage show featuring performances of hit songs including new single ‘Into The Blue’ and the worldwide smash, ’Can’t Get You Out of My Head’.The Butterfly Ball is renowned for attracting some of the UK’s most influential business leaders and celebrities as well as Royalty and Government Ministers.Kylie is the latest superstar to perform at the high profile event, which raises funds to provide vital support for disabled children living in the UK. Founded by successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, John Caudwell, the charity has provided services worth over £28million and helped change the lives of thousands of children across the UK.Chief Executive, Trudi Beswick, said: “The Butterfly Ball is such an important event for us, not just because it raises such a lot of money but because it helps to spread awareness of the work we are doing with thousands of families in communities around the UK.We are thrilled to have Kylie performing at the event this year; she has had a glittering career during which she has also done some amazing work for charity. She’s an inspiration to millions and we are really excited to work with her.”The Butterfly Ball takes place in The Great Room at Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on Thursday 15th May 2014.The Charity’s ambassadors include Hollywood actress and author, Joan Collins, actress Elizabeth Hurley, Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster, Peter Andre, Bruce Forsyth and singer, Robbie Williams. The late Boyzone singer, Stephen Gately, was also a Goodwill Ambassador for the Charity.For more information about the Butterfly Ball and Caudwell Children, visit their website at or call 01782 600112.last_img read more

Muppets Most Wanted Cast Sign Green Piano For Charity

first_imgIn celebration of the upcoming home entertainment release of Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” on August 12, Yamaha Entertainment Group is auctioning off an incredible Yamaha Disklavier grand piano that has been signed by 18 cast members including Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, and Josh Groban and is valued at almost $74,000.Josh Groban with the Muppets-Inspired Green PianoBidding begins on Monday, July 28 at 9:00 EST and is open through Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 at 2 p.m. EST through leading charity site Proceeds will benefit VH1 Save The Music Foundation, devoted to restoring instrumental music education programs in America’s public schools, and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education.Beginning Monday, July 28, consumers can bid on the chance to own the Yamaha Disklavier E3 piano, which combines technology with tradition. A modern day “player piano,” it can accurately record piano performances and play back piano performances with all of the expression and nuance of the original performance. As an added bonus, this Kermit-inspired bright green piano comes with the seven songs from the “Muppets Most Wanted” soundtrack.“We are always thrilled to work with Disney and the Muppets, and the fact that we can come together and donate such a magnificent instrument for music education is a true gift,” says Yamaha Entertainment Group Founder and Vice President Chris Gero. “We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has contributed their time and talents to make this a reality. The winning bid of this grand piano supports the gift of music, an indispensible part of a child’s education.”“This is a very special piano both in color and sound,” says Josh Groban. “The only downside to owning it is my seething life long jealousy associated with that responsibility. It’s not easy being green (with envy).”The piano features signatures from a diverse group of the cast and crew, including: Co Stars Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell; Cameos Josh Groban, Danny Trejo, Ray Liotta, and Chloe Moretz; Director James Bobin; Musicians Bret McKenzie, Christophe Beck, and Chris Caswell; as well as Muppet Performers Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz, Eric Jacobson, Bill Barretta, Matt Vogel, David Rudman and Peter Linz.last_img read more

Samantha Barks Wants To Keep Fish Off Your Plate

first_imgProving that she would do anything to help animals, I’d Do Anything and Les Misérables star Samantha Barks didn’t hesitate before stripping down and plunging into a tank of cold water to pose for a new PETA advert that challenges, “Imagine Not Being Able to Breathe”, explaining that fish suffocate when pulled out of the water.Samantha Barks’ PETA AdThe advert goes on to implore, “Please Try to Relate, and Keep Fish off Your Plate.”“Fish have the same capacity to feel pain and to suffer as dogs and cats do”, says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi. “PETA are delighted to have teamed up with Samantha Barks, a long-time vegetarian, to encourage the public to help all animals by leaving them off their plates.”Biologists have found that fish develop relationships with each other and grieve when their companions die. Some fish are capable of using tools, while others gather information by eavesdropping. These intelligent, sensitive animals are so good-natured that Dr Sylvia Earle, the world’s leading marine biologist, has said, “I wouldn’t deliberately eat a grouper any more than I’d eat a cocker spaniel.”Each person who goes vegetarian or vegan spares 100 fish and other animals immense suffering every year.Winner of multiple awards for her debut film role in Les Misérables, Barks has starred in stage productions of Cabaret, Les Misérables, Oliver! and others. She next stars in A Hundred Streets alongside Gemma Arterton and Idris Elba.Barks joins a growing list of celebrities – including Vivienne Westwood, John Bishop, Joss Stone, Paul McCartney and Joaquin Phoenix – who have teamed up with PETA to promote the group’s motto, which reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”.last_img read more

Jim Belushi And The Sacred Hearts To Perform At American Indian College

first_imgThe American Indian College Fund (the College Fund) has signed Jim Belushi and The Sacred Hearts to perform live at its 25th Anniversary Gala, to be held Friday, May 8 from 6:30-10:30 p.m. at the legendary Drake Hotel.The formal fundraising event will benefit Native American higher education and celebrate the College Fund’s mission to provide access to higher education for all Native people.VIP ticket-holders will enjoy a special reception and the opportunity to meet Jim Belushi.A silent auction featuring Native art and unique items will also be held at the event. In addition, the College Fund will be accepting bids for a guest to perform the song “Soul Man” with Jim Belushi and The Sacred Hearts that evening.All VIP packages, tickets, individual tickets, tables, and sponsorships are available for purchase now. Visit to learn more or call 303-426-8900.25th Anniversary event sponsors include Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.; Comcast NBCUNIVERSAL; Wieden+Kennedy; Ford Foundation; San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; The Walt Disney Company; AT&T; and McDonald’s Corporation.
The American Indian College Fund (the College Fund) is the nation’s largest private provider of scholarships for Native American and Alaska Native students. Founded in 1989, the College Fund has been “Educating the Mind and Spirit” of Native people for 25 years and provides an average of 6,000 scholarships annually. The College Fund also supports the nation’s 34 accredited tribal colleges and universities located on 77 campuses on or near Indian reservations. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators. For more information, please visit read more

Xavier Dolan hopes Oscar nod will boost audience for new film

first_img Twitter It’s the first time the Quebec director has made it this far in the selection process and he says he’s “very happy and quite moved” by the recognition.While the film did screen in Canada and France in the fall, Dolan conceded he’s disappointed by the scope of the movie’s release overall and hopes an Oscar nomination will give it another push. The academy will announce the Best Foreign-Language Film nominees on Jan. 24. Xavier Dolan is thrilled his movie It’s Only the End of the World is one of nine films in the running for a Best Foreign-Language Oscar nomination.He just wishes more people could see the film.On Thursday night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it had narrowed the pack of foreign-language film contenders from the 85 that were being considered for a nomination. Advertisement “I’m not thinking of this in terms of what this could bring to my career, I’m thinking of this in terms of what could it bring to this film in terms of exposure,” Dolan told Canadian reporters during a conference call on Friday. Facebookcenter_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Login/Register With: Advertisement Advertisementlast_img read more


first_imgAdvertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR FILM?I was inspired by watching old John Wayne Westerns. He always has a comedic sidekick – played by Walter Brennan, Gaby Hayes, Andy Devine, etc – who is played for humor, but who John Wayne relies on, intimately. I wanted to know who that sidekick was.WHAT WERE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED DURING THE FILM?We were shooting a Western in 20 days in the middle of nowhere Montana. Every day we had to race the sunset, fight the weather. It really was an adventure.WHAT APPEAL DO YOU THINK YOUR FILM WILL HAVE FOR AUDIENCES?It’s a modern twist on the classic Western that I hope appeals to fans of the genre and folks looking for a good movie.WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A CREATOR?To tell stories that make people think and influence their perspectives.WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NEXT?A sci fi script.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING FILMMAKERS?Go make your movie.WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 FAVOURITE FILMS OF ALL TIME?Too many to name … Unforgiven, Once Upon A Time In The West, The Ballad of Cable Hogue among many others.IF YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE YOUR FILM IN THREE WORDS … WHAT WOULD THEY BE?Coming-of-age WesternIF YOU COULD RESHOOT ANY FILM MADE IN THE PAST 20 YEARS, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU CHOOSE AND HOW WOULD YOU CHANGE IT?I wouldn’t want to touch someone else’s creation like that.WHISTLER FILM FESTIVAL SHOWTIMES:NOVEMBER 30, 2017, 8:30 PM – RAINBOWDECEMBER 1, 2017, 3:15 PM – RAINBOWGET YOUR TICKETS AT: A coming-of-age Western for a 65 year old man.CASTING AND CREDITSExecutive Producer: Niraj Bhatia Higher Content (Production Company), Om Films (Production Company), Armian Pictures (Production Company), Rival Pictures (Production Company)Producers: Jared Moshe, Edward Parks, Neda Armian, Dan Burks, Higher Content, Om Films, Armian Pictures, Rival PicturesCast: Bill Pullman, Kathy Baker, Jim Caviezel, Joe Anderson, Diego Josef, Tommy Flanagan, Peter FondaCinematographer: David McFarlandEditing: Terel GibsonScreenplay: Jared MosheDistribution/Print Source: A24 Bill Pullman Peter Fonda Joseph Lee Anderson Michael Spears Emily Jones THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN Twitter Facebook Login/Register With:center_img DIRECTOR’S BIO: Jared Moshe is an American-born film director, screenwriter and producer of independent films. He wrote and directed the feature Westerns Dead Man’s Burden (2013) and The Ballad of Lefty Brown (2017). He has also produced the features Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011), Silver Tongues (2011), Beautiful Losers (2008), Low and Behold (2007), Kurt Cobain About a Son (2006), and Destricted (2006).FILM: THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN Advertisement Advertisement GET YOUR TICKETS FOR THE WHISTLER FILM FESTIVAL TODAYlast_img read more

Fashion trends of 2017 all about female empowerment

first_img Facebook The year 2017 will go down in the fashion books as the moment women reclaimed their power. From the Women’s March in January to the swell of the #metoo movement in the fall, the call of voices demanding gender equality has been emboldened.Naturally, the expression extended to fashion choices and it showed up in both obvious and subtle ways.The power of pinkA sea of people wearing pussy hats gathers for the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2017. The hats, a protest against comments made by U.S. President Donald Trump, became a symbol of female empowerment. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)During the Women’s March in Washington on Jan. 21, as far as the eye could see, heads were topped with handmade pink knitwear. In addition to the main march in Washington the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, more than 600 “sister marches” happened worldwide. Advertisement Advertisement Login/Register With: The 2017 fashion year was all about bold colours, bright prints and flouncy ruffles, reflecting a swell of female empowerment that was part of the zeitgeist in North American culture. (Catwalking/Giuseppe Cacace/Pascal LeSegretain/Getty Images)center_img Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment What began as a viral response to Trump’s infamous reference to the female body part turned into a global pro-woman movement. The must-have march accessory was dubbed the “pussy hat” and served as a metaphorical peace sign. Or was it more of a raised fist? Twitterlast_img read more

John Harris The Man Who Breeds Success

first_imgIf we are to measure a person by their achievements, Harris Institute’s founder and president, John Harris, has to be to be one of the Canadian music industry’s most underrated success stories past or present.His namesake, Harris Institute, ranked best private school for a 6th year in Jim Lamarche’s 2018 ‘Media Arts Education Report’. The annual index that serves as the quintessential source of information on media arts education in Canada states, “Harris Institute is the best school of its kind. Highly Recommended”.Alumni and faculty contributed to Leonard Cohen’s Memorial Concert on CBC, Neil Young’s live concert from Omemee, Shania Twain’s Grey Cup half-time show, Gord Downie’s Juno-winning Secret Path, The Weeknd’s #1 album Starboy and Oscar-nominated ‘Earned It’, The Tragically Hip’s final concert film and Alessia Cara’s Platinum album, Know It All. Login/Register With: Advertisement Advertisement Advertisement The man behind it all likes to bang the drum about his graduates and their accomplishments and has forever taken the long-road in building the faculty and the curricula over personal aggrandizement.“The school’s results are due to a remarkable 62-member faculty that includes many award-winning leaders”, Harris says in an interview. “We set out 29 years ago to strengthen the Canadian music industry, and our graduates are now helping to achieve that objective”. Facebook LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Twitterlast_img read more