OTTAWA – Amanda Lindhout’s mother says one of her daughter’s alleged Somalian abductors feared “he was being set up” for a double-cross as arrangements for a ransom payment were being finalized.Lorinda Stewart told an Ontario court Thursday that talks with Ali Omar Ader in early November 2009 did not go well because Ader suddenly became “angry and afraid.”Lindhout was a freelance journalist from Red Deer, Alta., when she and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were grabbed by masked men near Mogadishu in August 2008 while working on a story. Both were released in late November 2009.Ader, 40, has pleaded not guilty in Ontario Superior Court to a criminal charge of hostage-taking for his alleged role.He was arrested by the RCMP in Ottawa in June 2015. It emerged during pre-trial motions last spring that the Mounties had lured Ader to Canada through an elaborate scheme to sign a purported book-publishing deal.The Crown says Ader admitted to undercover investigators on two occasions that he was the negotiator in the kidnapping and that he was paid $10,000.Ader took notes on a yellow legal pad in the prisoner’s box as Stewart testified Thursday.Stewart told of how she flew to Nairobi, Kenya, to help arrange for release of her daughter and Brennan after many months of often distressing long-distance calls.In a recording of a phone call with Ader played in court, Stewart demands to speak with the pair before any money is transferred to Somalia.“We don’t even know if they’re alive,” says Stewart, who was joined on the call by Brennan’s sister.“The money will not be in your hands until we speak to Amanda and Nigel.“If you let us speak to them tonight, you will have it tomorrow morning.”At one point, the captors were demanding $2.5 million US, but the families assembled less than $700,000 US after months of desperately trying to raise funds.The plan was to electronically transfer the ransom funds from Sydney, Australia, to Mogadishu through a money-transfer service.The phone recording indicates Ader was nervous, asking how he could trust the families to pay.“How can we trust you?” Stewart shot back.An initial attempt to pay the ransom did not work out, but a second effort succeeded.During the 15-month ordeal, Stewart was thrust into the role of negotiator, sometimes taking calls from Ader in the middle of the night due to the time difference.Trevor Brown, an Ottawa-based lawyer for Ader, called the circumstances “surreal” during his cross-examination of Stewart.“You found yourself in a position you never thought you’d be in.”Brown painted Stewart’s series of conversations as something of a confusing web due to Ader’s heavy accent and limited English, the difficulty of hearing properly on overseas phone links and the fact that people working at the request of Brennan’s family were also in touch with Ader.Brown suggested it was impossible to know what role Ader was actually playing.Stewart acknowledged receiving a follow-up phone message from Ader in January 2010, as well as later contact through Facebook.Ader said he wanted to help Lindhout, apologized to Stewart for speaking badly to her and claimed he was “playing two sides” in the negotiations in order to save her daughter, Brown told the court.Stewart said she didn’t necessarily believe Ader. “I didn’t trust him.”Lindhout testified last week she was repeatedly sexually assaulted and beaten while captive. She was moved frequently, spending time in about a dozen different places, often in filthy conditions. In one, rats were “crawling all over my body,” she told the court.— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
WASHINGTON – The Canadian government produced a paper shortly after Donald Trump’s election outlining in broad strokes how the incoming U.S. president could have pursued a quick, substantive, and successful renegotiation of NAFTA.The paper was produced late last year and provides a glimpse at a now-hypothetical alternate reality where the new administration might have opted for a renegotiation by executive order, rather than the current legislative process.It lists different areas where changes might have been achieved by executive actions: auto parts rules of origin, professional work visas, intellectual property protections, digital commerce, procurement, state-owned enterprises, and interpretations of dispute-settlement cases.It was produced at the request of senior political officials, who in initial conversations with top-ranking members of the incoming Trump administration heard some suggest a preference for quick action that bypassed the complex legislative process.”It never got very far,” one Canadian official said.But the resulting research, obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act, offers a peek down a road not travelled. Gathered by departmental bureaucrats, it was signed by deputy trade minister Tim Sargent and date-stamped Dec. 30, 2016.Sargent’s 13-page response examines the procedural differences between legislated and non-legislated changes to NAFTA in all three countries, with half of the document specifically looking at non-legislated changes in the U.S.It begins: ”The explanation below provides a preliminary assessment of actions that could possibly be taken to supplement or amend the NAFTA in a reasonably quick manner that also would not require Congress to act.”It cites three ways to change a trade deal without congressional votes:—Amendments to annexes and tariff schedules—Country-to-country agreements that require no legislation—Clarifying statementsIt offers examples of how these three measures could achieve changes in some key areas now central to the negotiations.But even those supposedly simpler fixes carried potential trouble.There are still competing visions months later on how to handle auto rules, procurement, dispute-resolution, and professional visas, with no resolution yet in sight, and warnings that the talks could fall apart.A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says a quick fix was never within reach.”In trade negotiations there is no such thing as a quick win,” Alex Lawrence says.”Modern negotiations are complex, and require time and hard work.”He says this document was simply research that flowed from the work done since the summer of 2016, when, in the midst of the U.S. election, his minister asked for a wide-ranging review of possible procedural outcomes for NAFTA.The Canadian official agreed that an insta-negotiation was always a longshot. For example, even one of the people in Trumpworld who supported the idea of a speedy process, Peter Navarro, is a well-known trade hawk who also favours an aggressive U.S. posture.It’s all history now, anyway.One source said the idea of a quick executive-to-executive agreement virtually vanished from the conversation, and never came up seriously in subsequent weeks while the countries planned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first visit to the Trump White House.One of Washington’s foremost trade experts, at the time, publicly predicted that a quickie deal was impossible. Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute said American lawmakers would insist on playing a role, given that international trade belongs to Congress under the U.S. Constitution.”I can’t anticipate what the problems are going to be, but there’s going to be problems,” he said in an interview, speaking right after Trump attempted to reassure his northern neighbour that he just wanted a few tweaks to trade with Canada.”That’s a Pandora’s box — once you open it, everything’s open. How can you say, ‘We want to reopen NAFTA for you, you and you – and all you other guys, go play in traffic?’ You can’t.”Now some lawmakers are urging the president not to act on his oft-repeated threat — to cancel NAFTA as a negotiating ploy.
TORONTO – The government of Ontario will give municipalities $40 million dollars from its share of federal marijuana taxes to help cover law enforcement and safety costs associated with pot legalization, the province announced Friday.The money — which will be provided to municipalities upfront, beginning before legalization takes effect later this year — will come from the first two years of federal excise duties on producers of recreational pot.“This funding will ensure that Ontario’s municipalities have dedicated resources for cannabis enforcement,” said Marie-France Lalonde, minister of community safety and correctional services. “Ontario will continue working with law enforcement agencies to protect our communities from illegal cannabis activity, and to keep impaired drivers off the road.”The money will be provided to municipalities based on the number of households they have, but will be adjusted so every municipality gets a minimum of $10,000. If Ontario receives more than $100 million from federal marijuana tax over the course of two years, it will give half the surplus to municipalities.The province will also earn money through the sale of recreational marijuana at provincially-licensed stores and online. The government revealed Friday that its pot-selling agency will be known as the Ontario Cannabis Store.“The name is designed to convey a safe, simple and approachable environment for consumers, and agency employees, in a clear and easily understood manner,” the government said in a statement.Ontario is also creating a Cannabis Intelligence Co-ordination Centre to help shut down illegal storefront pot dispensaries, paying for training to help police across the province recognize and stop drug-impaired drivers, and assembling a legal team to support the prosecution of drug-impaired drivers.“We want to ensure Ontarians are protected from the dangers of drug-impaired driving and the sale of illegal, unregulated and potentially unsafe cannabis,” said Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi. “That is why it is so important that our municipal and enforcement partners have the tools they need to take down illegal cannabis stores, better detect impaired drivers and prosecute offenders.”The Association of Municipalities of Ontario said it was pleased to see Ontario help local governments with local needs arising from Canada’s new marijuana laws.“Cannabis legalization will impact municipal governments across Ontario,” said president Lynn Dollin. “Legalization is new for everyone and both the province and AMO recognize the need to monitor and measure the real costs as implementation unfolds.”The federal government agreed in December to give 75 per cent of its marijuana excise tax revenue to the provinces and territories for two years. One third of the provincial and territorial governments’ shares are expected to be given to municipalities.The federal government’s share of the duties is capped at $100 million, with any additional revenue going to provinces and territories. Every province and territory has signed on to the plan except Manitoba, which is holding out for a larger cut of excise revenue.
Do Canadians spend more on taxes or necessities?According to the Fraser Institute, the average Canadian family sent just over $37,000 to the tax man last year.That makes up about 43 per cent of their income, about seven points higher than was spent on housing, food and clothing combined.It’s also up significantly since 1961 when the average family spent about a third of its income on taxes.
OTTAWA – A new connection in the trading relationship between Canada and the United States will cost $5.7 billion, with one senior official vowing the Gordie Howe bridge will elbow its way through any legal or political challenges —including from President Donald Trump himself.Construction of the long-sought span named for the Saskatchewan-born Howe, who became a hockey legend while playing for the Detroit Red Wings, will begin this fall at Canada’s busiest border crossing and take six years to complete.Getting to Friday’s announcement of the final price tag for the span over the river between Windsor, Ont. and Detroit, has been laden with political potholes that proponents have had to navigate at the state and federal levels.The bridge has also survived multiple legal challenges from the private owner of the nearby Ambassador Bridge, who publicly appealed to Trump this year to revoke a presidential permit Barack Obama granted to greenlight construction.Dwight Duncan, the chairman of the federal agency in charge of the bridge, said proponents have set in place the political infrastructure to ensure the project survives a change in Michigan’s state government or trade disputes between the two countries.“Vice President (Mike) Pence, when he was governor of Indiana, was a huge supporter. A range of Trump’s top supporters in the state of Michigan have urged that he continue on with this project. So I’m confident that regardless of what other issues our two countries are dealing with, this project is going ahead,” Duncan said.“We’re going to get this thing built.”The six-lane, 2.5-kilometre cable-stayed bridge — whose towers will be designed to look like a hockey stick taking a slap shot — won’t open to traffic until the end of 2024. It will have a lifespan of 125 years.About one-quarter of all goods traded annually between Canada and the U.S. passes through the Detroit-Windsor corridor.How much the bridge would cost has steadily increased since the previous Conservative government found a way to bypass American lawmakers and a funding stalemate that threatened to thwart the long-discussed project.The contract unveiled Friday with a private construction consortium largely sets the final price: $3.8 billion to design and build the span, as well as $1.9 billion more to operate and maintain the bridge and its ports of entry on both sides of the border for 30 years.Labour disruptions and additional environmental work are among the risks that could drive up costs, but the construction consortium will have to swallow any increases in labour or materials costs. Federal officials could also withhold payments if construction timelines slip.The major risk for the bridge authority is that the project doesn’t earn enough from user tolls to cover the federal investment, although the authority believes observed increases in commercial truck traffic will continue.The Liberals were told about potential cost increases in the project shortly after coming to office, and former infrastructure minister Amarjeet Sohi ordered the bridge authority to find some cost savings — but officials wouldn’t discuss the details of the review on Friday.Duncan said an outside review suggested the final price would have been more than $6.2 billion if the Canadian government had decided not to partner with a private-sector consortium and foot the entire bill itself.“There is terrific value for money for Canadian taxpayers who are financing this and ultimately for users of the new border crossing who will be paying the tolls that will pay back the Canadian government,” he said.Work to build the bridge will have to account for tricky environmental conditions, such as ground that needs to settle to support the pillars holding up the span.The ports of entry on both sides of the crossing will be among the largest in North America, and will include green space and Indigenous art on the Canadian side.— Follow @jpress on Twitter.
WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government was still scrambling Wednesday to prepare for the federal legalization of recreational cannabis next week.Public service announcements were launched, a drug-testing policy for civil servants was revamped, and police forces were still working to get their hands on oral screening machines to test drivers for cannabis.“Due to delays by the federal government and the processing time for delivery of the devices, police in Manitoba will unfortunately not have the oral fluid screening devices in place by Oct. 17,” Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said.Some 21 devices should be in use by the end of the fiscal year in March, Cullen said. Police for now will continue to rely largely on other impairment tests, such as physical co-ordination.The province also reworked its impairment policy for government employees. The new rules say that workers “must not smell of alcohol or cannabis” while on duty and can be sent home if their superiors suspect they might be impaired.“Employees must also be presentable — i.e. must not smell of alcohol or cannabis — and must conduct themselves in a manner that upholds public trust and is consistent with established ethical standards,” the policy states.The province is not instituting a mandatory government-wide minimum period before work in which employees must abstain from using cannabis, but said some departments might adopt their own.“There is no broadly instituted dry period, but certain workplaces may require such restrictions based on the nature of certain positions,” Finance Minister Scott Fielding said in a written statement.Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the province was launching a blitz of public service announcements on social media, posters and in mailouts. The ads warn of the potential harmful health effects of cannabis, especially on young people. They also highlight penalties people will face for breaking restrictions on public consumption.One ad — a short video with a mournful piano sound and sombre voice — warns that cannabis can be addictive, lead to depression and affects brain development.Opposition Leader Wab Kinew said the ads are over-the-top and were already being met with laughter from the young audience being targeted on social media.“People are making fun of these ads, so I think the government needs to come up with a better campaign that’s not going to be the subject of ridicule,” Kinew said.
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Just over eight years after multi-millionaire Richard Oland was bludgeoned to death in his Saint John office, his only son, Dennis, is about to find out whether he will be judged guilty or not guilty of the grisly crime.Justice Terrence Morrison of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench will deliver his verdict Friday morning in the second degree murder trial of Dennis Oland, 51, who is charged with beating his father to death on July 6, 2011.It is the second time Oland has waited for a verdict in the sensational case. Oland, a former financial adviser, was charged with killing his father in 2013 and was convicted by a jury in 2015. That verdict was set aside on appeal in 2016 due to an error in the judge’s charge to the jury, and the new trial was ordered.Now, after 44 days of hearings spanning four months, with testimony from 61 witnesses and more than 300 exhibits filed, Oland is about to learn his fate. Saint John police suspected him of the crime from the very beginning, but he has always insisted he had nothing to do with his father’s death.The last time the verdict was read, Oland collapsed, howling in anguish after the jury declared him guilty. There is no jury this time. Due to problems with jury selection last year, the Oland retrial was held before judge alone.The Oland murder case is a family tragedy that has gripped the public from the start. Richard Oland was 69 when his battered and bloody body was discovered on July 7, 2011. He was a prominent businessman in Saint John, worth an estimated $36 million at the time of his death.The Oland family is well known in the Maritimes where its members have been involved in beer-making for generations. The victim was a former vice president of Moosehead Breweries, the oldest, family-owned brewery in Canada.Richard Oland left Moosehead in the early 1980s following a succession dispute but established himself in other enterprises ranging from real estate to trucking. He was killed in the offices of his investment firm, the Far End Corp., located in the heart of the old port city.The trial was told Oland was struck more than 40 times, mostly on the head, with a weapon, or weapons, that had both sharp and blunt edges. He was hit with such force, his skull shattered in several places. Blood from the attack sprayed around the room. No weapon was ever found.“This was a crime of passion. This was personal,” lead Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot told the court. “This was not a random killing by a crackhead.”Prosecution lawyers acknowledged the case is circumstantial but say Dennis Oland had motive and opportunity. He is the last known person to have seen Richard alive and paid that final visit to his millionaire father at a time when his personal finances were in disarray and he was struggling with debt.“It’s about a father and son, one wealthy and one not,” Veniot said of the case.Dennis Oland’s defence team, led by Toronto lawyer Alan Gold, focused on mistakes by the Saint John Police Department in its investigation of the killing. There were so many errors, especially in protecting and preserving the crime scene, the defence called into question the reliability of evidence.Gold said police officers fell victim to “confirmation bias” having decided early on that Dennis Oland was their suspect. He said police “failed to adequately process the scene” and “overlooked third parties.”“If the pieces don’t fit, you must acquit,” he told the court.Chris Morris, The Canadian Press
Four stories in the news for Monday, August 12———AIR CANADA UPS PURCHASE PRICE OF TRANSATAir Canada says it will spend more to buy Transat A.T., upping its total offer by $200 million and winning the support of the tour company’s largest shareholder. The new deal sees Air Canada spending $18 per share, rather than $13, bringing the total offer to roughly $720 million. Air Canada says it now has the backing of Letko Brosseau and Associates Inc., Transat’s largest shareholder, which holds just over 19 per cent of outstanding shares. The investor previously said it wouldn’t support the deal if the purchase price remained at $13 per share. The move comes as Transat has been facing off against rival bidder, the Montreal developer Group Mach, at a securities tribunal hearing over Mach’s move to block Transat’s sale to Air Canada.———HOMICIDE VICTIM’S SISTER SAYS FUGITIVE’S DAD DUCKING RESPONSIBILITYThe sister of an American tourist says the father of one of the B.C. teens suspected in the woman’s death isn’t accepting his share of responsibility for her family’s sorrow. Kennedy Deese, whose sister Chynna was found dead along with her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler in northern B.C., posted a statement to Facebook accusing Alan Schmegelsky of playing the victim and not acknowledging his own hand in his child’s upbringing and ultimate demise. Mr. Schmegelsky told Australia’s “60 Minutes” TV program he won’t believe his son is a killer until he gets facts, saying he knows how the families of the victims feel. Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, whose bodies police believe were found in northern Manitoba, are suspects in the deaths of Deese, Fowler and Leonard Dyck, a university lecturer from Vancouver.———P.E.I. PLANT WANTS TO SHARE TUNA SUCCESS STORYA tuna buyer in Prince Edward Island has opened Canada’s first federally licensed plant to process bluefin tuna for the world sushi market. Jason Tompkins of OneTuna, says after 18 years as a tuna buyer he saw an opportunity to change the way tuna is bought, sold and marketed, and he’s looking to spread the word that Canada has the most regulated and sustainable tuna fishery in the world. He says while fishermen in the United States can catch one tuna a day, fishermen on Canada’s east coast get to land one per year. Before getting certification from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Tompkins was limited to selling whole fish to Japan, the U.S. and Canada. Now he can sell select cuts to more markets and even freeze it for later transport.———MANITOBA ELECTION CAMPAIGN COULD START TODAYThe provincial election campaign in Manitoba will officially begin as early as today. Premier Brian Pallister announced in June that he was moving up the election from its scheduled date of October 2020 to Sept. 10 of this year. He has until Tuesday to visit the lieutenant governor and start the election campaign that must be a minimum of 28 days under provincial law. All the major parties have already been campaigning for weeks, and the Opposition New Democrats and Greens have released their platforms in broad strokes. Pallister’s Progressive Conservatives swept the NDP from power in 2016 with the largest majority in Manitoba in a century.———ALSO IN THE NEWS:— Emera to release results before markets open.— MP Marc Miller in Montreal to announce new investment in research to tackle stage four, or metastatic, breast cancer.— Barrick Gold Corp. releases Q2 results.— Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport in Edmonton to announce funding for universities across Canada.— Trial of Andrew Berry for the second-degree murder of his daughters continues in Vancouver.———The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health says he and colleagues from across Canada are on alert as health officials in the United States continue to investigate nearly 200 cases of severe respiratory illnesses potentially linked to vaping.Dr. Robert Strang says surveillance is being strengthened and he is sending informal email inquiries to respiratory specialists and intensive care units at Nova Scotia hospitals to see if there are reports of similar cases.Strang says Health Canada was already looking at strengthening its regulations around e-cigarettes prior to the American health scare, and officials are collaborating on draft regulations that would strengthen protections for youth, in particular.He says they are also looking at provincial regulations to see it they can be strengthened.Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada confirm they are actively monitoring the recent clusters of acute pulmonary illnesses and one death reportedly linked to the use of vaping products in the United States.Maryse Durette, a spokeswoman for the two agencies, says Canadian health officials have not yet seen evidence of similar pulmonary illness clusters occurring in Canada.Durette says Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada are in close contact with counterparts in the United States, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to “better understand their investigation into the illnesses being observed.”The Canadian Press
The Prince of Wales this week warned that the destruction of rainforests is “the greatest risk that we have ever faced”.And speaking at a meeting of renowned tropical forest scientists and politicians at St James’s Palace he warned that global leaders “must act now” because “the risk of not doing so is far too great”.Speaking after a two-day meeting on how to protect the world’s rainforests, the Prince likened Earth’s condition to that of a doctor treating a sick child when the cause of illness was not known for certain.He said: “The doctor cannot wait until results of tests come back from the lab – the doctor must act on what evidence is already there.“There is an urgency that depends upon the risk involved, and given that this is the greatest risk we have ever faced, surely, as the doctor, we can’t wait to act.“If we see our forests and the planet as our patient, the risk of delay is so enormous that we cannot wait until we are absolutely sure the patient is dying. That is a monumental risk no doctor would ever take.”His Royal Highness added that his work on this issue was often “disheartening”.The Prince went on: “I am afraid that we do not have much time.“I have to say that one of the many disheartening aspects of these sorts of gatherings is the number of times I, and I am sure you, have repeated all this and the number of years during which I have done so to the point that I sometimes wonder whether I am in fact dreaming this incessant nightmare of hearing the echo of my own voice.”He called on leaders to have “the courage to face down a storm of opposition from all sides, claiming the end of the world as we know it”.The Prince of Wales has been interested in the conservation of tropical rainforests and the environment for a number of years.In October 2007 he set up The Prince’s Rainforests Project, and has previously said it would be an “act of suicide on a grand scale” to ignore environmental issues.The Prince also quipped about climate change sceptics in his speech.He said: “When it comes to the incorporated society of syndicated sceptics and the International Association of Corporate lobbyists any scientist is likely to find him or herself up the proverbial double blind gum-tree!”The meeting was also addressed by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, and Ed Davey, the Climate Change Secretary.Mr Davey said the Government is pursuing an “ambitious and innovative strategy” and praised the scientists gathered at the meeting for their “noble and necessary work”.He added: “I can’t compromise here because the science is overwhelming – because climate change threatens every man, woman and child.”The group of scientists and The Prince also issued a St. James’s Palace memorandum on tropical forest science, calling for “strategic investment” and global action to halt the destruction of the world’s rainforests.Source:PrinceOfWales.gov.uk
Brian Blessed delighted a glamorous celebrity audience this evening as he played host at the star-studded world premiere of ADI Films’ action-documentary Lion Ark at the Raindance Film Festival.Brian Blessed roars his approval for ADI Films’ action-documentary Lion Ark at its world premiere at the Raindance Film Festival © Animal Defenders InternationalCredit/Copyright: Animal Defenders InternationalCelebrities turned out in style to support Lion Ark, which follows the epic battle to rescue 25 lions from illegal circuses in Bolivia. Nutritionist Gillian McKeith, DJ Sarah Young, singer-songwriter Lynsey De Paul, TV host Wendy Turner-Webster, Northern Line’s Dan Corsi, and Wire’s Robert Gotobed and Colin Newman attended the glitzy world premiere, where Brian Blessed made his address.Brian Blessed introduced the film, saying, “Buckle up for a nail-biting adventure following the truly outstanding ADI as they struggle to liberate long-suffering circus lions and restore their true majesty. Lion Ark will leave you roaring for joy!”Lion Ark is an uplifting story of bravery, compassion, camaraderie and determination – how a poor but proud country said “no” to cruelty and how attitudes to animals were changed across an entire continent. The film has already attracted droves of celebrity support and glowing reviews from those lucky enough to watch it ahead of its world premiere.Joanna Lumley said, “The resilience shown by the lions and the ADI rescuers in Lion Ark is astounding. You must see Lion Ark.”The film follows the world’s most ambitious and daring animal rescue which begins with a shocking undercover investigation and leads to a ban on animal circuses in Bolivia; when the circuses defy the law, the team behind the investigation returns, tracking down the illegal circuses and saving every animal.All aspects of the remarkable rescue operation were recorded and Lion Ark is meticulously compiled from film, interviews, conversations and the reactions of participants as actual events unfold. The confrontations, heartache and incredible risks the rescue team face are all captured before a joyous finale sees 25 lions airlifted to freedom in Colorado. Tim Phillips says that it was “a painstaking, but worthwhile, process.”The rescue was backed by Emmy award-winning TV host Bob Barker and ADI Ambassador and CSI actress Jorja Fox, both of whom appear in the film. Bob Barker’s support enabled the rescue team to empty Bolivia of its suffering circus animals and build homes for them in the US.Lion Ark Reviews:“Lion Ark takes an already incredible and unforgettable story and breathes life and passion and transformation into it…. one of your must-see films of 2013” – The Independent Critic“If you enjoy movies filled with suspense, thrills, surprises, adventure and action, put Lion Ark on your must-see list… For me, Lion Ark is the feel-good movie of the year!” – Betty Jo Tucker, Reel Talk“A consciousness-raising milestone of a documentary… which wears its heart on its sleeve, engaging the viewer viscerally” – Edgar Vaid, The Ecologist“Such a moving film… a thriller – I was in suspense watching” – Tim Boxer, Editor 15MinutesMagazine.comFor more information and to watch the trailer, please visit www.LionArkthemovie.com.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has appointed American actress Connie Britton as its newest Goodwill Ambassador, with a special focus on poverty eradication and women’s empowerment.Video: Connie Britton Appointed as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador“We are thrilled to have Connie Britton join UNDP’s efforts to fight poverty worldwide,” said UNDP Director for External Relations Michael O’Neill. “Connie is passionately committed to humanitarian causes and she will be a great partner for UNDP, helping us raise awareness of development issues amongst the American and global public.”Britton has been an outstanding supporter of poverty alleviation efforts and women’s rights for years, supporting several charitable causes. In her new role as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, she will use her popularity to raise awareness about UNDP’s worldwide efforts to empower people and fight exclusion.“In my own travels, I’ve seen many places where people are living in extreme poverty. It’s unacceptable that, in 2014, one billion people live in such conditions, and a full sixty percent of the chronically hungry in the world are women,” said Britton. “I look forward to working with UNDP to help change this and improve the lives of vulnerable people worldwide.”The four-time Emmy-nominated actress is currently starring in the ABC series “Nashville”, which also garnered her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Television Drama Series. Best-known for her role as Tami Taylor in “Friday Night Lights”, she also recently starred as Vivien Harmon on “American Horror Story.” She will appear later this year in the comedy feature “This Is Where I Leave You.”She is joining a roster of nine other UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors: five footballers, Ronaldo de Lima, Zinedine Zidane, Didier Drogba, Iker Casillas and the world’s number one female football player, Marta Vieira da Silva; tennis player Maria Sharapova; Spanish performer Antonio Banderas; Japanese actress Misako Konno; and HRH Haakon Crown Prince of Norway.
American Idol Winner and singer/songwriter Kris Allen and the Music Empowers Foundation have announced that a portion of the proceeds from each sale of his newest album, “Horizons” will be given to the Music Empowers Foundation.“Horizons” was released on Tuesday, August 12, 2014.Music Empowers Foundation awards grants and funding to organizations across the country that provide music education programs to children in communities without adequate access to affordable music education. Since is founding in 2010 Music Empowers Foundation has awarded over $700,000 in grants, helping to provide music education to hundreds of thousands of children.Kris Allen has long been an advocate for music education and a strong supporter of the Music Empowers Foundation.“Access to good music education had a tremendous positive impact on my life,” he said. “It gave me a purpose in school and helped me find something that I was actually good at. I’m glad that I have this opportunity to once again support Music Empowers, and that my fans can join me in supporting music education for kids just by purchasing “Horizons”.“Horizons” is Kris Allen’s third full-length album and was produced by Grammy nominated Charlie Peacock. Drawing inspiration from beloved artists like James Taylor and Paul Simon, “Horizons” is built on intensely intimate and inward looking songs that ultimately take on a universal dimension.
UNCOVERING YOUR CREATIVE GENIUS: Best-selling author, Shawn Achor (“The Happiness Advantage”) and Michelle Gielan, founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research, demonstrate how to tap into the problem solving potential of unconscious thought Singer, actress and positive-emotion advocate, Olivia Newton-John graces the cover of the September/October issue of Live Happy magazine, a first-of-its-kind publication that combines the science of happiness with engaging and informative content to help readers live fuller and more productive lives.Olivia Newton-John Graces First Anniversary Cover of Live HappyIn this anniversary issue, on newsstands today, the songstress shares recent life decisions that have helped her carve out more time to indulge in her passions for nature, love and the goal of a blissful life balance.Paired with Newton-John’s profile, in which she shares that “nature is my church and healer,” Live Happy unveils new research that dispels common myths about creativity, as well as the impact it can have in creating everyday happiness.“We’re excited to feature Olivia in this issue, an artist who works hard to seek out her own creativity every day,” says Live Happy Editor in Chief Karol DeWulf Nickell. “Creativity is in all of us, a fact that many people are often surprised to hear. The anniversary issue brings together leading experts and practitioners on the subject to assist our readers in finding their creativity, and inevitably live happier lives.”Exploring the link between creativity and happiness, this latest issue of Live Happy features new and exclusive research in an enlightening article titled, “Breaking the Happiness Myths.” These myths include expectations set upon us by society, that when reevaluated based on personal goals, can truly alter the way we look upon life.In addition to Live Happy’s experts and insight from Olivia Newton-John, this latest issue features profiles on other highly-creative and happy individuals like award-winning singer Tori Amos and singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson. It also celebrates several everyday, remarkable people like Jim Denevan, epicurean entrepreneur and founder of Outstanding in the Field (OITF), a company helping diners reconnect with the land – al fresco style – with feasts set up on farms, ranches, mountaintops and more.Paired with these powerful and illuminating articles, the September/October issue includes articles by Live Happy’s extensive panel of experts, to help readers explore different elements of their life and uncover a new level of happiness including: REDISCOVERING THE CREATIVE YOU: Simple steps to stimulate your thinking and inspire new creativity, by Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of “The Happiness Project” OVERCOMING LIFE AFTER LOSS: New ways to cope with the loss of a loved one to help deal with this devastating life event, without letting it overwhelm you – instead, making a plan to get back track and live happily with this new realityThis issue also coincides with the first Live Happy Experience & Expo, taking place in Dallas Nov. 7 – 8, 2014. Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with experts in the happiness movement, learn about the four pillars of happiness, find out how they can achieve greater wellbeing and discover true success. For more information, go to livehappy.com.Source:PR Newswire
Actor and animal advocate Allison Janney is hosting “Shelter Me: New Beginnings,” the fourth episode of the inspiring national PBS series that celebrates shelter pets with positive and uplifting stories.Premiering in October, this one-hour, emotionally-charged episode focuses on two stories, including an aircraft transport of 128 shelter dogs to loving homes as well as a nationally recognized animal trainer who is implementing a first-of-its-kind doggie play group program in overcrowded city shelters.“I am honored to host ‘Shelter Me’ and bring awareness to the thousands of loving pets in animal shelters across the country that need homes,” said Allison Janney. “I adopted three amazing dogs and they bring so much love and happiness to my life.”The “Shelter Me” series was created by filmmaker Steven Latham who wants to break down the negative perceptions and stigmas of public animal shelters and help people realize that shelter pets make the best pets. “Shelter Me” is presented by Ellen DeGeneres’ pet food company, Halo, Purely for Pets, and together they are committed to the well-being of shelter pets.In the first story of “Shelter Me: New Beginnings,” Aimee Sadler, a nationally recognized animal trainer, teaches shelter staff and volunteers how to get their dogs to interact in play groups. The public shelters in Philadelphia and Baltimore are featured. These play groups allow for shelter dogs to be properly exercised and socialized, resulting in more adoptions.The second story is about a transport of 128 dogs whose lives were saved from Southern California animal shelters. Volunteer pilots from Wings of Rescue flew them to Idaho, where they were all adopted into loving homes.“Shelter Me: New Beginnings” premieres on public television stations on October 5. Please go to ShelterMe.tv for local listings.In addition, singer/songwriter Mindy Smith has partnered with the show to produce “Songs For Shelter Me,” an 11-track compilation album to benefit shelter pets, which includes two of her songs from the new episode and is available October 7.
Best Buddies International, a groundbreaking nonprofit that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), is pleased to announce its 19th Annual Best Buddies Miami Gala at The Ice Palace Studios in Miami, FL, on Friday, November 20.This year’s Gala will celebrate and highlight the organization’s student volunteer movement and school programs where the organization first began. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies International has grown from one original chapter to nearly 1,900 middle school, high school, and university campuses across the United States and 55 countries.“I am so incredibly proud to celebrate Best Buddies’ student leaders and volunteers who are actively engaged in our school programs all across the globe,” says Anthony K. Shriver, Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies International. “As we continue to work to create friendships and employment opportunities for individuals with IDD, I look forward to watching a whole new generation of young leaders step up to the plate to guide us. I was only in my early 20s when all of this began, and I have never lost faith in the unlimited creativity, leadership, and power that young people have. We need many more of them to lead our movement as we progress into the future.”This year’s Gala will also feature a fabulous cocktail hour, gourmet dinner, exclusive live and silent auctions and a special performance by musical guest and Best Buddies Global Ambassador Steve Aoki.Each year, the Gala brings together Miami’s most notable residents and celebrities from around the globe. Among those expected to attend this year are: Gala Co-Chairs Jackie Soffer Robbins and Craig Robbins, Alina and Anthony K. Shriver; Actor John Lewis; Actress Vivica A. Fox; Former MLB Player Sammy Sosa; Pop Artist Romero Britto; Miss USA 2015 Olivia Jordan and Miss Teen USA 2015 Katherine Haik.There will also be a number of one-of-a-kind items up for auction, including a limited edition Hublot Best Buddies Cycling Timepiece, a custom-made Cannondale Best Buddies EVO Bicycle, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to see the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, a one-of-a-kind Romero Britto Portrait, a luxurious trip to the Montage in Deer Valley in both ski season and the summer time with a total of 10 nights during two seasons, the ultimate vacation getaway on a 144 ft. yacht and a Starbase One Jet Card that allows you to fly private to your destination of choice within the continental United States.The day’s festivities will kick-off bright and early with the Best Buddies Challenge: Miami, a 62-mile charity ride through the streets of the Magic City, led by Pro Cyclists George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, and Cameron Wurf. This world-class cycling event begins and ends at Marlins Park and is limited to just 50 riders. This ride features a Tour de France-style police escorted peloton with road and intersection closures, support vehicles, and three fully-stocked rest stops.Sterling Foundation Management is the title sponsor of the event, with The Ferraro Law Firm as Exclusive Sponsor, and Carnival Cruise Line as the Presenting Sponsor. Other donors are Abdo Eick, & Meyers, Braman, Capital Trust Group, Compañía de elaborados de café, The GEO Group Foundation, Grupo RHUO, Klingman & Associates, FIJI Water, Mack Cycle and Fitness, Seminole Hard Rock & Casino, Sun Capital Partners, Tracfone Wireless, Wells Fargo, Watermill Institutional Trading, Mark Fisher, Christina Griffith, Nancy & Mark Holowesko, Jackie Soffer Robins & Craig Robins, Ron & Amira Simkins, Michele King Soffer & Don Soffer, Sandy & Tony Tamer and Denise & Walter Robinson. In-kind and Media sponsors are Aventura Worldwide Transportation Service, Courthouse Express, MadisonSouth, Romero Britto, Getty Images – Official Photography Sponsor of Best Buddies International, Niche Media – Premiere Magazine Sponsor of Best Buddies International, and Southern Wine and Spirits.
The 24th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party hosted by Sir Elton John and David Furnish raised over $6.2 million for the fight against HIV/AIDS.Elton John, actor Charlie Sheen and host Dave Furnish attend the 24th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Oscar Viewing PartyCredit/Copyright: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for EJAFThe gala, which took place on Sunday, February 28, at West Hollywood Park in Los Angeles, was generously sponsored by BVLGARI, M∙A∙C Cosmetics, and Neuro Drinks and Diana Jenkins.David Furnish, Boy George, Elton John and Caitlyn JennerCredit/Copyright: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for EJAFAttendees included Elton John and David Furnish, Andie MacDowell, Andreja Pejic, Andrew Rannells, Anthony Anderson, Ashlee Simpson, Ashley Greene, Ashley Tisdale, Beck, Bellamy Young, Boy George, Brandy, Brittany Snow, Caitlyn Jenner, Caity Lotz, Camilla Luddington, Cara Santana, Carson Kressley, Charlie Sheen, Charlotte McKinney, Cheyenne Jackson, Chris Hardwick, Dave Grohl, Dave Navarro, Dita Von Teese, Duff McKagan, Emily Ratajkowski, Eric McCormack, Erika Christensen, Evan Ross, Gordon Ramsay, Hailey Baldwin, Harry Shum, Jr., Heidi Klum, Hilary Swank, Ian Somerhalder, Jacob Tremblay, Jamie Kennedy, Jeffrey Tambor, Jesse Metcalfe, Karrueche Tran, Katrina Bowden, Keegan-Michael Key, Kelly Osbourne, Kelly Rowland, La La Anthony, Lana Del Rey, Lea Michele, Lydia Hearst, Maggie Grace, Mariah Carey, Martha Hunt, Mary J. Blige, Matt Sorum, Matthew Morrison, Melanie Griffith, Mena Suvari, Nikki Reed, Robert Kraft, Russell Simmons, Sarah Hyland, Serayah, Sheryl Crow, Sofia Milos, Steve Nash, Steven Tyler, Tamera Mowry, Tim Allen, Tommy Hilfiger, Tracee Ellis Ross, Trey Parker, Verdine White, Vicky Jeudy, Vince Vaughn, Willa Holland, Zac Posen, and Zooey Deschanel, among others.Guests arrived at the Academy Awards Viewing Party for cocktails followed by a gala dinner and viewing of the 88th Academy Awards telecast. For a fourth consecutive year, Chef Gordon Ramsay, British celebrity chef, television personality, restaurateur, and holder of 14 Michelin stars, prepared an exquisite five-course meal for guests.The dinner was followed by a lively auction conducted by Alexander Gilkes of Paddle8 and featured a Mariah Robertson artwork, a stunning BVLGARI Serpenti 18 kt white gold full pavé diamond necklace, a five-day vacation at Steven Tyler’s Hawaiian retreat, four unique crystal sculptures from the Elton John Music Is Love for Lalique collection, tickets to the exclusive Vanity Fair Oscar Party later that evening, and a surprise auction lot donated by Lady Gaga – the “other halves” of the mismatched patriotic Gucci shoes she wore to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.Following the auction, Elton John and his band took the stage for a memorable performance of some of his greatest hits, including several numbers from Elton’s new album Wonderful Crazy Night, co-produced by Elton and the legendary T-Bone Burnett with lyrics by Bernie Taupin.Audi, BBVA Compass, TheBLUEFISH, and StyleHaul partnered with EJAF as the evening’s Co-Sponsors, and Ron Burkle, DDG Foundation, Fin Gray and Michael Melnick, The Hollywood Reporter and Motsepe Foundation were Associate Sponsors. The Foundation is especially grateful to the City of West Hollywood for continued collaboration with EJAF on shared goals. American Airlines is EJAF’s official airline.In his remarks, EJAF Founder Elton John thanked his guests for enthusiastically participating in an audience participation feature, which enabled guests to make gifts to the Foundation on the spot using their cell phones. Throughout the evening, a video message from EJAF supporter Samuel L. Jackson as well as live messages from EJAF friends Matthew Morrison, Jeffrey Tambor, Cheyenne Jackson, and Lea Michele encouraged guests to text in pledges to support the Foundation’s urgent mission.“By supporting our work, you are standing up against the issues that drive the AIDS epidemic. You are speaking out against racism, helping to end poverty and homelessness, and rejecting homophobia,” said Elton. “You are advocating an end to mass incarceration and supporting universal access to drug rehabilitation and healthcare for all. Fighting AIDS means fighting the things that divide us. Ending AIDS means ending these injustices. By being here tonight, you are saying NO to stigma, NO to the status quo, and YES to a more just and equal society and the end of AIDS.”The EJAF is deeply grateful for the wonderful volunteer leadership of their Event chairs Tim and Jane Allen, Beck, Boy George, Naomi Campbell, Jim Carrey, Ciara, Chris Colfer, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, John Demsey, Zooey Deschanel, Jennifer Kelly Dominiquini, Roland Emmerich, Stéphane Gerschel, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, Debbie Harry, Stephanie Horbaczewski, Samuel L. Jackson, Diana Jenkins, Caitlyn Jenner, Quincy Jones, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss, Heidi Klum, Ryan Kwanten, Fred Latsko, Shelley Lazar, Sandra Lee, Rob and Sheryl Lowe, Eric and Janet McCormack, Joe McMillan, Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Katy Perry, Tyler Perry, Adam Press, Andrew Rannells, Smokey and Frances Robinson, Zoe Saldana, Steve Sims, Britney Spears, Sharon Stone, Jeffrey Tambor, Steven Tyler, Denzel and Pauletta Washington, and Allison Williams.
The Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons celebrated another year of rehabilitating and successfully releasing animals back into the wild across Long Island with its annual GET WILD Summer Benefit.The event was hosted by Molly Channing at the Channing Family Sculpture Garden on Saturday, August 13, 2016 and honored Ingrid Arneberg and Will Marin. Cindy Clifford was the evening’s emcee.Notable Attendees included: Beth Ostrosky Stern, Howard Lorber, Leslie Alexander, Liz Brown, Ginnie Frati, Jackie Rogers, Curtis Sliwa, Shelley Berkoski, Sylvia Channing, Molly Channing, Ingrid Arneberg, Will Marin, Frances Cole Jones, Cindy Clifford, Missy Hargraves and Jill Rappaport.Guests enjoyed live music along with cocktails and light fare. Moreover, for the first time, there was a VIP cocktail party to welcome the 2016 sponsors, which also featured live animals. An hour into the event, Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center Founder Ginnie Frati addressed guests with a short thank you speech for attending the event and for supporting the wildlife hospital’s cause. She extended a special thank you to Molly Channing of the Channing Daughters Vineyard for hosting the event in their beautiful sculpture garden. Also addressing the guests was Shelley Berkoski, Director of Development at the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center, who thanked all the volunteers and sponsors for making the event possible. She then awarded honorees Ingrid Arneberg and Will Marin with an engraved plaque to commemorate their time dedicated to the wildlife hospital. Emcee Cindy Clifford shared the story of how she first got involved with the center as well as highlighting the important work that the center does for wildlife all over the East End of Long Island. She also reminded guests to bid in the evening’s silent auction, from which all proceeds went directly to the hospital. She ended the speech by thanking Beth Ostrosky Stern and Curtis Sliwa for attending the event and supporting their cause.A silent auction was held, on smartphones and iPads at the 501 Auctions website, before and during the event. Auction items included: Birds with Wisteria watercolor painting on silk by Ingrid Arneberg, Montauk photograph by Ann Weisman and the Wonder bronze figure with steel base by Gwen Marcus. Other notable auction items included paintings, photography and sculptures from: John A. Bell, Barbara Bilotta, Tim Cole, Vito DeVito, Dr. Robert Dressdale, April Gornik, Sylvia Hommert, Bill Kinney, Dianne Marxe, Barbara Maslen, Terry Nestle, Connie Oshrin, Christopher Paparo, Herb Simeone, Clarissa Payne Uvegi and Brian Wasarhaley. Additionally, once-in-a-lifetime experience packages, getaways such as a 1-night stay at classic Hamptons hotel the Southampton Inn, dinner reservations, sports memorabilia signed by sports icons Muhammad Ali, Pelé & Peyton Manning, beautiful designer jewelry from the likes of celebrity jewelry designer Margo Manhattan, and exclusive tickets to events such as MvVO’s Accessible Art Fair were available for bidding. Goodie bags were also gifted at the event, including items such as a gift voucher from couture hair salon Angelo David Salon and flavorful snacks from Pop Chips.This year’s GET WILD Summer Benefit sponsors included: Leslie Alexander, Honorees Ingrid Arneberg & Will Marin, Douglas Elliman, LLC., Cygnet Foundation, Frances Jones & Keith Douglas, Howard Marton, Dayton, Ritz & Osborne, Ted Moudis Associates, Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, Pat Garrity & Corcoran, Robert& Jewel Morris, Dr. Roberta & Alexander Olson, Vivian Picheny, Katharine Rayner, Pierce Roberts & Jonathan Canno, Melissa Wells, Rosalie Brinton, Missy Hargraves, Hutchison LandscapeWith special thanks to: Andirondack Brewery, Channing Daughters Wine, Hamptons Magazine, Leslie Wine, Long Beard Brewing Company, Montauk Beverage Works and The Press News Group.
Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama announced a $1 million donation to support One Summer Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s youth employment program to keep kids safe, engaged, and learning new skills during the summer months.Under the Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, Chicago has steadily increased its investment every year in mentoring and other youth programs to address some of the most urgent needs facing the city: keeping youth safe, improving school outcomes and reducing crime. In the past six years alone, One Summer Chicago has more than doubled to meet the overwhelming demand for these programs, serving more than 130,000 youth to date with valuable job training and work experiences.“The Obamas’ contributions to the city of Chicago are already immeasurable and their legacy here is just beginning,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Their generous gift to One Summer Chicago will change countless lives and help more young men and women connect to a successful future. Chicagoans could not be more proud of the example the Obamas’ have set, are inspired by this big-hearted gift, and look forward their continued and enduring impact on their hometown.”One Summer Chicago 2017, a McCormick Foundation Fund, is the charitable fundraising arm in partnership between the City of Chicago and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s One Summer Chicago brings together government institutions, community-based organizations and companies to offer over 31,000 employment, internship and other opportunities to young adults ages 14-24. The program aims to build stronger, safer communities, keeping some of the city’s most at-risk youth engaged and active, learning new skills during the summer months.“We are so honored that the Obamas stepped forward with a substantial gift to help One Summer Chicago bring summer opportunities to Chicago’s young people, keeping them on a pathway to high school graduation and career success,” said David Hiller, President and CEO of the McCormick Foundation. “We hope their gift inspires thousands of other to support this effort.”To donate, visit www.onesummerchicago.org/donate or send a check/money order to “One Summer Chicago 2017,” 23912 Network Place, Chicago, Illinois 60673-1245.Youth interested in summer opportunities with One Summer Chicago can visit www.onesummerchicago.org.
The Endometriosis Foundation of America will honour Halsey at its 9th annual Blossom Ball next week.The glamorous Cipriani 42nd Street will be in full bloom for the black-tie affair. Honorable guests from the medical, research, charity and entertainment worlds will mix and mingle as the Foundation recognizes their two honorees, singer Halsey and endometriosis activist and researcher Lone Hummelshøj. The Blossom Ball will be informative, educational and fun — a cocktail hour will be followed by a multi-course sit-down dinner with a lively afterparty to follow.The Honorary Committee includes Lena Dunham, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Padma Lakshmi.Halsey has been incredibly open about her own battle with endometriosis, paving the way for so many women to understand their own experience with this chronic pain. Her inspiring message following surgery was a bright light for us all: “If you suffer from chronic pain or a debilitating disease please know that I have found time to live a crazy, wild, rewarding life AND balance my treatment and I hope so much in my heart that you can too”.To find out more about this event, click here.