By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 0 Comments
Shocking news: actor James Gandolfini has died suddenly at the age of 51. TMZ and others are reporting that he suffered a heart attack while attending a film festival in Italy.
Gandolfini, of course, is best known for playing Tony Soprano on The Sopranos. This was a seminal performance on the seminal TV drama of its era, perhaps of all time. As everyone noted, he didn’t look or sound anything like the kind of person who would have been allowed to play leads on any conventional TV drama in 1999: by that time, network television was already on an inexorable march towards conventionally beautiful leads. Gandolfini was not conventionally beautiful, he always seemed older than he was (he wasn’t even 40 when he got the part of Tony Soprano), and he had already become typecast, at a young age, as gangsters or people with gangland connections. (After he first gained attention, he played the doomed, mob-connected brother in a Broadway version of “On the Waterfront.”) That made him perfect for “The Sopranos,” a show that wasn’t going to play by the rules that regular TV dramas had set down, and a show that depended on a leading man who could convincingly embody a mobster and make him a real person – not an epic figure like the gangsters in movies, but someone who could commit crimes and still be realistic enough to play all the family and therapy scenes.
Gandolfini did it, and in doing so he became the model for almost every anti-hero performance on modern TV drama: the guy who is relatable enough to invite into our home week after week, yet edgy enough that we can’t forget what a louse he is. And while he didn’t have beauty, he had something far more important – charisma. You could believe him as a leader, as a boss. He dominated his scenes, and he didn’t need big speeches to be dominant; he just knew what to do so we would look at him. The power of his presence is so great that other shows wished they could find a Gandolfini; the creator of “Boardwalk Empire,” a former Sopranos writer, said publicly that Gandolfini was the person who came to mind when he wrote the character. And the people who have come after Gandolfini, the great anti-heroes of television, have all at least had Gandolfini to look back on and learn from. Gandolfini had almost nothing in TV to base his character on: there were movie gangsters and TV anti-heroes to learn from, yes, but never a man like this as the hero of a continuing series. In essence, he had to take the character of a typical TV villain – someone who is used to committing crimes and sees it as a normal part of life – with the character of a typical TV hero, the man who deals with family and work issues that are familiar to us. And on top of that combination, he had to layer in the moral ambiguity of a man who doesn’t live up to what is expected of him in any of his roles. He and David Chase made that character almost from nothing – and from that character came everything we take for granted in TV today.
Here is what is often cited as the seminal moment in the series, and in all of modern television: the scene in an early episode where, for the first time, we see Tony Soprano murder someone. This was the turning point, since it was the exact moment where we lost the chance to consider Tony a cute lovable gangster; Chase wrote the scene so there would be no redeeming quality in the murder, no question of the other guy asking for it or taunting him (like in The Untouchables, let’s say). We had to see it as something that Tony does in the course of his professional duties, and something he also enjoys doing. And after playing Tony for only a few weeks, Gandolfini had to play all this and yet make the character someone we would still want to watch as the protagonist of a series. The performance is impressive in and of itself, but again, it was also uncharted territory for a TV hero; Gandolfini had to figure out how to play this episode, play it without compromise, and still remain a guy we wanted on our screens. It’s hard to say exactly how he does it, except by being so incredibly watchable, so much so that your eyes go to him at all times.
By Charlie Gillis - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 5:07 PM - 0 Comments
Just when you’ve lost confidence in Parliament to accomplish the simplest thing, it goes and accomplishes the simplest thing.
This will come as a relief to foreign couples who flocked here to marry after Canada legalized same-sex nuptials back in 2005, then found they were incompatible. Many were in marital limbo: they couldn’t get divorced at home because their countries didn’t recognize their marriages in the first place; they couldn’t do so here because Canada doesn’t grant divorces to people who haven’t lived in the country for at least a year.
The remedy was obvious: waive the one-year residency requirement for the people in this predicament. Yet the bill got stalled at second reading, raising concern Parliament wouldn’t push it through before the summer break. Adding to the worry was the spectre raised by some Conservative insiders of a prorogation, which would have wiped the legislative slate clean and delayed the fix indefinitely.
How the parties managed to drag out such an anodyne item so long is a good question (the NDP is blaming Conservative “foot-dragging” over its proposed amendments; but were its amendments so important?). So too is why politicians and federal lawyers overlooked the divorce issue when they amended Canada’s Civil Marriage Act in 2005.
But I’m happy set those misgivings aside and admit I underestimated our MPs. Turns out they’re able to do the least they can do.
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 4:58 PM - 0 Comments
U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke just finished speaking at a much-awaited press conference in which he was expected to clarify whether, when and how the bank is going to start winding down its its current $85 billion a month bond-buying program known as quantitative easing.
What went down:
Tapering of bond-buying program set for late 2013.
The Fed plans to start drawing down on the amount of bonds it buys every month starting later this year and end such purchases by mid 2014, with the unemployment rate around seven per cent, Bernanke said. Such policy development, however, is contingent on the U.S. economy continuing to grow as the Fed expects. “Our policy is in now way pre-determined,” the chairman said, possibly in an effort to assuage concern among investors that the Fed might withdraw monetary stimulus even if the recovery shows signs of wavering. The slowdown in asset purchases, Bernanke said, is the equivalent of the Fed easing pressure on the gas pedal somewhat. It is not a slam on the breaks.
The Fed could keep interest rates at rock bottom even after U.S. unemployment hits 6.5 per cent.
In December 2012 the central bank said it would keep the target for short-term interest rates at between 0 and 0.25 per cent until the jobless rate had fallen to 6.5 per cent, assuming inflation didn’t rise past 2.5 per cent. Today, however, Bernanke seemed to hint that the Fed could decide to stick to record-low rates for longer. The 6.5 per cent benchmark is a “threshold,” not a “trigger,” the Chairman said. Reaching the benchmark would prompt the Fed to consider hiking rates. It would not set off an automatic policy decision.
The Fed also updated its economic predictions today, indicating the jobless rate could fall to 6.5 per cent in 2014. Still, most members of the Fed committee that sets interest rate policy expected a hike to happen in 2015, not 2014. The Fed’s target for the labour market, Bernanke explained, remains full employment—the situation in which every job seeker can easily find work—which the bank believes corresponds to 5-6 per cent unemployment in the U.S. (even in an ideal market, a certain number of people would be unemployed at any given time as they switch jobs). Thus, the Fed might decide to keep rates at extremely low levels even as unemployment falls past 6.5 per cent.
The Fed is not concerned about low inflation. The central bank continues to view the current low inflation as a temporary fluke. Price levels will continue to influence the Fed’s decision on its bond-buying program, Bernanke said, but there is little reason to believe ultra-low inflation will last.
The Fed is optimistic that the economy has finally turned the corner. Bernanke seemed confident that the private sector will continue to propel the recovery even with less of a push from the Fed, just as it has been able to keep GDP growing even as government cut spending and raised taxes earlier this year. The chairman cited rising house prices and growing consumer confidence among the chief developments colouring the Fed’s rosy view of the future.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 3:39 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Quebec’s upstart pro-independence party has lost its founding leader.
Jean-Martin Aussant — who created, led, and was the public face of Option nationale — has announced he’s leaving politics, placing his party before an uncertain future.
The former Morgan Stanley economist was seen in opposition as a rising star on the Parti Quebecois benches and as a candidate for finance minister in any future PQ government, but he left in 2011 to create a party that would be more aggressive in pursuing sovereignty.
Option nationale failed to win a seat in last year’s provincial election. However, the party had unnerved some in the PQ because of its youthful leader, growing grassroots, and energetic online presence.
The 43-year-old Aussant said he wants to spend more time with his young family. He suggested he might return to politics eventually.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 3:38 PM - 0 Comments
The Wayne Gretzky of Wayne Gretzky collectors has netted some big bucks in an auction of many of his choicest memorabilia pieces.
Shawn Chaulk of Fort McMurray, Alta., received hundreds of thousands of dollars for jerseys, skates, helmets, gloves and pucks used in action by the Great One.
The highest price fetched at the auction, which ended this morning, was for the jersey Gretzky wore in 1986 when he scored his 500th NHL goal.
The battle-scarred copper-and-blue silk went for nearly $300,000.
Chaulk says the deals may be dwarfed by those yet to come, as private buyers sniff around what’s left of what was probably the greatest Gretzky collection ever assembled.
The sticks alone number over 100 and range from one used in the 1978 world junior tournament from one used in Gretzky’s last game with the New York Rangers in 1999.
By The Associated Press - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 3:01 PM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it will maintain the pace of its bond-buying program to keep long-term interest rates at record lows. But it offered a more optimistic outlook for the U.S. economy and job market.
The brighter view of the economy could be a hint that the Fed is moving closer to reducing its bond purchases. But the statement issued after its two-day policy meeting gave no indication of when that might happen.
Investors reacted initially by selling both stocks and bonds. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 70 points shortly after the statement came out; minutes earlier, it had been down just 16. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note shot up to 2.27 per cent from 2.21 per cent just before the statement came out.
In the statement, the Fed says the economy is growing moderately. And for the first time it said the “downside risks to the outlook” had diminished since fall.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 2:59 PM - 0 Comments
QUEBEC – The Quebec government is now open to imposing a back-to-work law during Quebec’s first construction strike in over a quarter-century.
Premier Pauline Marois appears to be hardening her government’s position.
Her labour minister had ruled out a special law and said the dispute would be settled by negotiation alone. That was two days ago. Now the premier says she’s prepared to take what she calls more drastic measures if there’s no deal within two weeks.
Marois says a special law is not her preferred option, however.
About 175,000 workers in the residential, industrial and commercial sector laid down their tools Monday for the strike after negotiations broke off with the builders’ alliance.
Civil engineering and road work are affected. So are Quebec City’s pro-hockey arena project, two Montreal super-hospitals, the $8.5-billion La Romaine hydro-electric facility on Quebec’s North Shore, and several multimillion-dollar housing developments in Montreal and Quebec City.
Sticking points in the dispute are wages and working conditions, such as overtime pay.
The union says it wants a three-per-cent wage increase in the first year, and that the builders’ alliance has offered one per cent.
Labour Minister Agnes Maltais, who had seemed to rule out a special law on Monday, is working to get negotiations moving.
She has convened the four builders’ associations and the five construction unions to a meeting in Quebec City on Thursday.
The province’s last construction strike was in 1986.
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 2:04 PM - 0 Comments
Here’s the text of the statement issued a few minutes ago by the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee:
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in May suggests that economic activity has been expanding at a moderate pace. Labor market conditions have shown further improvement in recent months, on balance, but the unemployment rate remains elevated. Household spending and business fixed investment advanced, and the housing sector has strengthened further, but fiscal policy is restraining economic growth. Partly reflecting transitory influences, inflation has been running below the Committee’s longer-run objective, but longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.
Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic growth will proceed at a moderate pace and the unemployment rate will gradually decline toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate. The Committee sees the downside risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as having diminished since the fall. The Committee also anticipates that inflation over the medium term likely will run at or below its 2 percent objective.
To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee decided to continue purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month and longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $45 billion per month. The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. Taken together, these actions should maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative.
The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months. The Committee will continue its purchases of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate, until the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially in a context of price stability. The Committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes. In determining the size, pace, and composition of its asset purchases, the Committee will continue to take appropriate account of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases as well as the extent of progress toward its economic objectives.
To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery strengthens. In particular, the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than a half percentage point above the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well anchored. In determining how long to maintain a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy, the Committee will also consider other information, including additional measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments. When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.
Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Duke; Charles L. Evans; Jerome H. Powell; Sarah Bloom Raskin; Eric S. Rosengren; Jeremy C. Stein; Daniel K. Tarullo; and Janet L. Yellen. Voting against the action was James Bullard, who believed that the Committee should signal more strongly its willingness to defend its inflation goal in light of recent low inflation readings, and Esther L. George, who was concerned that the continued high level of monetary accommodation increased the risks of future economic and financial imbalances and, over time, could cause an increase in long-term inflation expectations.
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 1:32 PM - 0 Comments
“Poloz’s first speech as BoC Governor in Oakville, Ontario had little in the way of hints as to his monetary policy view or policy leanings,” CIBC economist Emanuella Enenajor wrote in a note to clients as soon as the text of governor’s prepared remarks appeared online on Wednesday.
That is hardly surprising. Only a few weeks into his new job, Poloz is widely expected to stir away from giving the markets any indication of where interest rates might go until the Bank of Canada’s next policy decision on July 17. More puzzling was the governor’s scarce mention of emerging economies in a speech on the theme of rebuilding business confidence and boosting Canadian exports.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 12:59 PM - 0 Comments
BURLINGTON, Ont. – Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says Canadian consumers did their part for the economy by borrowing the country through the worst recession since the Great Depression and now it is the turn of businesses to start spending.
In his first major speech since taking over from former governor Mark Carney earlier this month, Poloz preached the virtues of “stability and patience,” noting the central bank’s long-standing target of low, stable inflation remains “sacrosanct.”
In the meantime, he said, Canada’s relative good economic fortune through the downturn rests largely with households that took on personal debt.
“Given the circumstances, it was a good thing that households had the capacity to expand their spending — this provided the necessary cushion from the worst effects of the global contraction,” Poloz said in a speech to the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.
Rather than the sometimes hectoring tone of previous warnings about unsustainable debt levels, Poloz says the bank has “urged homeowners and other borrowers to do the arithmetic” on managing their debts when interest rates return to “more normal” levels at some unspecified future date.
“I am confident that this is exactly what people are doing,” said the bank governor.
But the former head of the Export Development Corp. said it is time for businesses to get on board and start to invest.
This spring, Canada’s central bank lowered its 2013 growth forecast by half a point to 1.5 per cent and announced in May that its key lending rate would remain unchanged at one per cent. The bank’s next scheduled rate announcement is July 17.
The bank has estimated 2014 economic growth will be 2.8 per cent followed by 2.7 per cent growth in 2015.
Poloz noted that “since the onset of the recession, there has been limited net creation of businesses” and exporters have been particularly hard hit, with exports more than $100 billion lower than should be expected at this point in the economic recovery.
“The group most profoundly affected has been manufacturing exporters, whose ranks have continued to shrink,” said Poloz.
The sustained recession knocked many exporting businesses out of operation, but other areas of the economy are rebuilding.
“The good news is that the balance sheets of corporate Canada are healthy and the capacity to invest exists,” he said.
It’s not a new refrain. Prime Minister Stephen Harper groused last fall about money sitting “on the sidelines” during a G20 economic summit in France, former bank governor Carney spoke of all the “dead” money that remains uninvested and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has also weighed in on fat corporate balance sheets.
Poloz sees rising demand in the United States as the trigger for increased exports and a rise in business confidence, a process he suggests may already be underway.
The Bank of Canada governor did his speech shortly before the U.S. Federal Reserve and his counterpart, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, released their long-awaited policy statement.
As expected, the Fed kept a key lending rate unchanged but offered a slightly more optimistic outlook for the U.S. economy and job market — both good news for Canada, particularly exporters who sell to the United States.
In a statement following a two-day meeting of its top policy makers, the Fed said that the U.S. economy is growing moderately. And, for the first time, the Fed said the “downside risks to the outlook” had diminished since fall.
Poloz assured corporate Canada that the central bank under his watch remains committed to low, predictable inflation — calling the inflation target “sacrosanct” — and said it is time for longer-term business planning.
“By explaining the cross-currents at work in our economy, our projections for what’s ahead and our monetary policy response, we can help to heal business confidence,” Poloz concluded.
Some economists have begun revising Canada’s growth outlook upward.
Royal Bank of Canada raised its estimate for 2012 economic growth to 1.9 per cent Wednesday morning, and said growth for 2014 will be about 2.9 per cent.
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 12:49 PM - 0 Comments
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 11:51 AM - 0 Comments
The Trump clan—Donald, his hair, and his heirs: son Donald Jr. and daughter Ivanka—are in Vancouver today to stick the family brand on what will be one of the tallest and most-expesnive skyscraper condo projects in the city.
But will buyers be convinced to spend millions on luxury condominiums where few could be sold before?
Developers had marketed the prime downtown plot as the Ritz Carleton, with prices from $1.4 million to an expected $28 million. Then the financial crisis of 2008 caused sales to slow and the project to flounder.
The new Donald-endorsed tower will be 63 storeys, rivaling the current downtown landmark, the Shangri-La.
Trump brings his name to the enterprise, not investment and experts are divided on whether his cachet will help.
Steven Kate, a branding expert at Simon Fraser University, is skeptical. Trump’s Tea Party-ish antics during the last U.S. election don’t play well here. “Questioning whether President Obama was in fact born in the U.S.—that borders on Crazy Town,” he told the Vancouver Sun. “Canadians don’t go for that, they think it’s absurd.”
Charles Gautheir of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, disagrees. “Branding it a Trump building is only going to add to the cachet of the area,” he told Global News.
Although some Vancouverites might not be impressed by The Donald, many of the buyers will be international.
Trump is a global brand, with his name licensed to real-estate developers from Turkey to Brazil. His typical deals include selling developers the right to use his name for an upfront fee of between $5 million and $10 million, a source familiar with such deals told The Wall Street Journal.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Homelessness in Canada affects about 200,000 people every year and comes with a $7 billion price tag, the first-ever national report on the issue has found.
The results paint a picture of a disaster in communities across the country, said Tim Richter, one of the report’s authors and the president of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
“In a natural disaster, the loss of housing or life happens because of a fire or flood or something like that,” he said.
“In the unnatural disaster of homelessness, the same things are happening, but it’s happening because of poverty, disability, addiction, mental illness and trauma.”
But whereas natural disasters are met with emergency response plans to get people back to their normal lives, the response to homelessness is stuck in crisis mode, Richter said.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 10:14 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A campaign that raised $200,000 dollars to purchase an alleged video appearing to show Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack was a “beautiful example” of the fundraising power of the Internet, says the website that hosted the controversial crusade.
“That campaign really just speaks to what crowdfunding is about, which is giving the power to people to decide what matters to them and to fund what matters to them,” said Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of crowdfunding website Indiegogo.
The video fundraising campaign was launched by Gawker, a U.S. website whose editor John Cook claimed he’d watched the video, which was being shopped around for $200,000 by drug dealers.
Ford has said the alleged video does not exist and that he does not use crack cocaine.
Ringelmann said crowdfunding gives people the power of choice.
“It was actually a beautiful example of exactly that, just as people can vote on the ballot to elect what politician they’d like to see, crowdfunding enables people to vote with their dollar to fund what they’d like to see come to life, whether it’s a video of a politician or a baby or a film or what have you.”
Ringelmann dismissed concerns about the money being raised for a transaction with alleged drug dealers.
“The campaign was for a reporter at Gawker, the funds were going to a reporter at Gawker, and I think in general there was interest among the community that people wanted this video to come to life,” Ringelmann said.
“What’s interesting about this campaign is that no one complained about it; not even the mayor’s office, nobody else. In general the community really wanted it to happen.”
Ringelmann also announced that Indiegogo is planning how-to crowdsourcing workshops in Toronto and Montreal in the coming weeks and will now accept payments in Canadian dollars, which will reduce fees for users in Canada.
Canada is Indiegogo’s second largest market after the U.S. Among the most successful Indiegogo campaigns launched by Canadians was last year’s bid to raise money for Karen Klein, a 68-year-old bus monitor from Greece, N.Y., who was recorded on video being bullied mercilessly by young students. It started as a modest campaign to raise $5,000 to pay for a vacation, but after the video went viral more than $700,000 was collected for her.
More recently, a campaign to launch the Matterform 3D Photon Scanner, which scans objects to be reproduced by 3D printers, raised more than $470,000 for two Toronto-based entrepreneurs.
And Canadian metal band Protest the Hero raised more than $340,000 from fans to help produce their next album independently.
The Indiegogo workshops in Canada are scheduled for June 26 in Toronto and July 11 in Montreal.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 10:13 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Manitoba Conservative MP Shelly Glover has changed her mind and decided to file a new expense claim with Elections Canada for the 2011 federal election.
House Speaker Andrew Scheer announced the decision by the MP for St. Boniface on Tuesday as he handed a committee the tricky question of whether Glover and James Bezan, the Tory MP for Selkirk-Interlake, should be suspended over doubtful campaign spending.
Scheer says it’s up to the committee on procedure and House affairs to decide if they should lose their MP privileges until their fight with Elections Canada is settled.
Scheer had earlier declined to suspend them because they had both gone to court to settle their disagreement with the elections watchdog.
But he reconsidered the matter after Liberal complaints and decided to let the committee decide the fate of the two Manitoba MPs.
The chief electoral officer wrote to Scheer last month requesting that voting and other MP privileges of Bezan and Glover be suspended for their failure to correct campaign expense records from the 2011 election.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 9:08 AM - 0 Comments
A film company called Good Morning to You Productions Corp. filed a class action lawsuit in a U.S. federal court last week against against Warner/Chapell, a subsidiary of music giant Warner, demanding the right to use Happy Birthday To You, the most recognizable song in the English language, without paying for it.
Warner-Chappell charges thousands each time the melody is sung in a film or TV show, which explains why we often hear For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow in movies, despite the fact that no one sings that in real life.
Much of the suit is based on a 2010 paper from George Washington University law professor Robert Brauneis, which says any copyright would have expired in 1963 at the latest. He says the tune was written by kindergarten teacher sisters Patty and Mildred Hill in 1893 and titled “Good Morning To All.” It had completely different lyrics from “Happy Birthday To You.” The copyright was registered by Clayton F. Summy and Jessica Hill (the musical sisters’ sister) in 1935, but only for a certain piano arrangement.
Warner/Chapell claims the copyright because it bought the Clayton F. Summy Company in 1998.
Who knows where this will go? As the suit points out, “No court has ever adjudicated the validity or scope of the defendant’s claimed interest in Happy Birthday to You, nor in the song’s melody or lyrics, which are themselves independent works.”
Warner maintains that it plans to charge royalties until 2030.
By The Associated Press - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 7:57 AM - 0 Comments
LONDON – A year ago, Julian Assange skipped out on a date with Swedish justice. Rather than comply with a British order that he go to the Scandinavian country for questioning about sex crimes allegations, the WikiLeaks founder took refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
He’s still there — and now says he won’t emerge even if Sweden drops the case that triggered the strange diplomatic standoff.
In comments that appear to put a resolution farther off than ever, Assange said his fear of U.S.-ordered arrest for his secret-spilling activities means that “if the Swedish government immediately drops their request tomorrow, I still cannot leave this embassy.”
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 10:56 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper has returned from his European trip but he won’t have to endure another grilling in the House of Commons for a while.
All parties agreed late Tuesday night to end the most bitter spring sitting of Parliament since Harper’s Conservatives came to power more than seven years ago.
They packed it in a few days early after almost a month of late-night sittings, as the House of Commons calendar had MPs remaining at work in Ottawa through the end of this week. Proceedings had devolved into acrimonious mud-slinging.
The government remains under a potentially criminal cloud over a $90,000 cheque that was provided by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff to pay off the improper housing expense claims of Senator Mike Duffy.
The Conservatives responded with a loud counter-attack that involved questioning Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s past moonlighting as a paid public speaker and the driving habits of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.
Harper spent the past week in Europe for a G8 summit, avoiding the scrutiny of the daily question period in the Commons, but he returned to Ottawa early Wednesday morning and will begin preparing for a Conservative party policy convention in Calgary later this month and an anticipated summer cabinet shuffle to shake up his front bench.
The Conservative majority mandate has hit the midway point to the fall 2015 federal election but the government is in a deep malaise.
Harper returns from Europe without a long-sought free trade deal with the European Union, and other promised trade agreements have yet to come to fruition.
The Conservatives’ heavy emphasis on oil and gas exports as a Canadian economic driver has also been undermined by the politics of pipeline construction, both in Canada and the United States.
But it has been the taint of scandal that has most hurt the government’s image this spring. Three Harper-appointed senators resigned from the Conservative caucus over various expense and personal failings and the fallout from Senate audits is not over yet.
The RCMP has confirmed a criminal investigation into the actions of Nigel Wright, Harper’s former chief of staff.
The government also continues to fend off accusations of election improprieties from the 2011 campaign, including an ongoing Elections Canada investigation into fraudulent robocalls in dozens of ridings across the country.
The governing party was also hurt by the departure of Brent Rathgeber, an Edmonton backbench MP whose scathing, insightful critique of the heavy-handed tactics of the Prime Minister’s Office summed up years of Conservative command and control tactics.
Rathgeber left the Conservatives to sit as an Independent after the government gutted his civil service salary disclosure bill, and his critique touched a nerve with an increasingly restless Conservative base.
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 9:30 PM - 0 Comments
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Award-winning journalist and war correspondent Michael Hastings has died in a car accident in Los Angeles.
BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith says he learned from a family member that the 33-year-old died early Tuesday.
Hastings wrote about politics for the popular news site and has written books dealing with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He won a Polk Award for magazine reporting for his Rolling Stone cover story “The Runaway General.”
The story was credited with ending Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s career after it revealed the military’s candid criticisms of the Obama administration.
There was a car crash early Tuesday in the Hancock Park neighbourhood of Los Angeles that killed a man, but coroner’s officials could not confirm whether Hastings was the victim.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 8:18 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – A Postmedia News and Ottawa Citizen investigation exposing the use of “robocalls” to mislead and harass voters during the 2011 federal election campaign has won the 2012 Michener Award.
The foundation handing out the award noted that the “detailed and sustained reporting” led to Elections Canada investigating complaints, a Federal court ruling that electoral fraud occurred in six ridings and a PC campaign worker facing charges.
“The persistent coverage shed light on how technology can subvert our most fundamental democratic value: the right to vote in a fairly run election,” the Michener foundation said in a statement Tuesday.
“The impact of this coverage has been resounding.”
The Michener award is presented annually for journalism that contributes to the public good.
Michener Citations of Merit went to CBC News, La Presse, the Toronto Star, the Coast and the Vancouver Sun, which were among the six finalists for the award.
Each news outlet was singled out for the degree of public benefit generated by their submitted stories.
The winner was announced Tuesday night at a ceremony hosted by Gov. Gen. David Johnston at Rideau Hall.
Johnston also presented the 2013 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Journalism Education to CBC News reporter Julie Ireton, who will develop a workshop on entrepreneurial journalism to help students of the craft market their skills.
Meanwhile, the 2013 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Journalism went to photojournalist Roger LeMoyne, who will document the environmental and civic behaviour of Canadian mining companies in foreign countries.
Bryan Cantley, who served as vice president of the Canadian Newspaper Association for many years before retiring, was given the Michener-Baxter Special Award for his commitment to Canadian journalism and the newspaper industry.
The Michener Award was founded in 1970 by then governor general Roland Michener.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 7:28 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A team of Canadian and U.S. researchers has developed a new “sharp-shooter” drug they hope may be a breakthrough in treating several types of aggressive cancer.
The drug, known for now as CFI-400945, is a new class of cancer agent that targets an enzyme involved in some malignancies, among them certain types of breast cancer, and ovarian, colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers.
In tests on specially bred lab mice with human breast and ovarian cancers, CFI-400945 “responded spectacularly,” significantly shrinking the tumours, said co-principal investigator Dr. Tak Mak of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
But the world-renowned researcher cautioned these results occurred in mice — and human cancers can be far more complex.
“To find a cure is our shared dream; our nightmare is that it is not yet within our reach,” Mak told a packed news conference at the Toronto hospital Tuesday. “Cure is not a word we like to use lightly and we refuse to use it recklessly or promise you something we cannot deliver.”
Still, he and principal collaborator Dr. Dennis Slamon of the University of California at Los Angeles, who developed the blockbuster breast cancer medication Herceptin, are excited about the promise of the new drug that’s taken a decade to develop.
The scientists have applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada to begin testing the drug in a small group of patients to see if it is safe and appears to have some effect in killing cancer cells.
CFI-400945 is a new-generation drug that takes a different approach to eradicating tumours than long-standing cancer treatments.
Traditional chemotherapy works by attacking fast-dividing cancer cells. But these drugs also end up destroying other quickly dividing — and perfectly healthy — cells in the body, leading to often severe side-effects. And often, the effects of chemo wear off over time, allowing some cancers to recur.
With certain types of cancer, “one-size-fits-all therapy isn’t going to work,” said Slamon, explaining that researchers have been working to create different classes of drugs that home in on cancer cells only, leaving healthy cells alone.
“We began to look for specific therapies designed to fix what is broken instead of throwing in a bomb hoping to kill more bad than good cells,” he said. “So we would target what’s broken in the malignant cells. And since the normal cells don’t have what’s broken, they would be spared.
“And that is the whole idea of designer therapy or sharp-shooter drugs.”
CFI-400945 is a new class among these designer drugs, designed to take aim at an enzyme called PLK4, which plays a critical role in cell division, especially in cancer cells.
Cells in some “genomically unstable” cancers can have scores more chromosomes than the 46 present in normal cells, and these malignant cells rely on PLK4 to be able to continue to proliferate out of control.
“So we target (the enzyme) to make sure that those cancer cells that have many chromosomes and aren’t genomically stable cannot survive,” said Mak.
If given FDA go-ahead for a patient trial, researchers will begin by administering the drug in about 30 volunteers with breast or ovarian cancer to see how strong a dose they can tolerate without it becoming dangerously toxic.
“We need to know that at the level below toxicity that it has signals that cancer cells will respond, and we will take it one day at a time,” Mak said.
The researchers hope to have FDA approval by the fall, and would start their patient trial by the end of the year. If effective, Mak estimates it could be less than 10 years before the drug is approved for widespread use.
“I cannot promise you that it will work,” he said of the experimental drug, “because in advanced human cancer there are many other questions that we have not got answers to.
“But we promise you this is the beginning,” said Mak, his voice breaking with emotion. “There will be another drug that we will be filing for (approval) next year — and next year and next year — until we get this done.”
It’s taken about 100 researchers in Toronto, L.A. and China to develop CFI-400945 at a cost so far of about $40 million, said Mak, standing beside a copy of the 4,300-page application submitted to the FDA, the height of about five Toronto phone books.
That money all came from non-government sources, raised through 10 years of fundraising walks to end women’s cancers, and private and corporate donations.
“Without the donors, this wouldn’t be a reality,” said Mak, who along with Slamon lauded fundraisers attending the announcement, among them some who have had family members or friends with cancer or been diagnosed with the disease themselves.
One of those is Randy Mellon of Toronto, who has raised about $250,000 for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation in the last 10 years through the annual weekend walks and other endeavours.
Mellon, who lost her father to leukemia and whose mother is a breast cancer survivor, was diagnosed in February with an aggressive form of breast cancer known as her2-positive, the kind Herceptin is designed to treat.
“This year the walk takes on a new and very personal meaning,” said Mellon, who starts Herceptin in a few weeks in conjunction with chemotherapy and following radiation treatment.
“The irony is not lost that the hospital I raised so much money for is now the hospital that is going to save my life.”
Mak said making the announcement about the new drug was emotional “because it’s taken a long time and I have known many patients and I’ve known many people who have been affected and many people who have had this.”
The award-winning scientist first came to prominence as the co-discoverer in 1984 of the T-cell receptor, a milestone in the study of the immune system.
“That was an academic discovery and, of course, it was greatly gratifying to be able to contribute to the understanding of how the immune system works.
“But this is not in the same league,” Mak said of CFI-400945. “This is way above.”
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 3:57 PM - 0 Comments
Domestic scandals followed Stephen Harper all the way to Europe, with reporters asking Duffy and Trudeau questions at every opportunity, but the prime minister comes back with little to distract Canadians with. Tuesday marked the end of a two-day meeting of G8 leaders in Northern Ireland, which in turn concluded the PM’s eight-day Europe tour. It was a disappointing summit, but particularly so for Canada.
Here is, in brief, what went down:
No trade agreement
As predicted by Paul Wells here at Maclean’s, Harper did not bag the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union that Ottawa says could boost two-way trade by 20 per cent. Reports about what went wrong are many and varied. Likely hang-ups include disagreements on beef exports, government regulation of the financial services sector and the protection of France’s “cultural industries”—which is a pretty bizarre term that almost certainly encompasses beef producers. Canada has blamed the EU for delaying a deal—and the EU has promptly pointed the finger back at Canada.
Meanwhile, the EU has kicked off trade negotiations with the U.S. on Monday, something that might further delay CETA, as our counterparts are likely to get distracted by that much larger prize. Also, as Wells noted, “Any concession they grant us is one they must consider granting, approximately, to a market nearly 10 times as large.”
On CETA British Prime Minister David Cameron said: ”It’s now down to the last few yards and I’m sure it will be done.” But that was the same prime minister who was raving about the economic benefits of the U.S. deal this morning with no mention of Canada’s.
Global rules on corporate tax
G8 countries pledged to step up collaboration on stemming corporate tax evasion. That would include automatic cross-national information sharing on which multinationals have paid taxes where and the establishment of central registries of companies indicating “beneficial ownership” information in order to fight the use of shell companies to avoid taxation. Canada, the British press reported on Monday, was lukewarm about the latter idea.
The summit postponed to late August or early September a Syrian peace conference originally scheduled to take place in June or July. Russia quashed hopes that the summit would produce a strong, unified stance against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, by saying over the weekend it would not endorse the removal of the Syrian dictator. This, in turn, prompted a rather blunt resmark from Harper, who called the meeting, a “G-7 plus one”—with the odd one out being Moscow.
Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to a final communiqué calling for an agreement on a new “transitional governing body with full executive powers,” which was more than most people expected seen how negotiations has kicked off.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 3:48 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Montreal has its second mayoral resignation in less than a year.
Interim mayor Michael Applebaum stepped down Tuesday, a day after he was slapped with a series of criminal charges.
He made the announcement in a two-minute statement at city hall. He did not take questions. Applebaum said he’s innocent of the charges against him and will work to prove his innocence.
“I will do everything I can to prove the accusations against me are unfounded,” Applebaum said.
“I hope you understand that I will put my energy into my defence and my family. This is why I am resigning as mayor of Montreal. It is the responsible thing to do.”