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September 30, 2010

Fisticuffs in Kensington Toronto

By Charles Moffat - September 2010.

CANADA/HEALTH - Last night I had a date with a girl in which we went cycling down to Queen Street West (in Toronto) and went to try a Thai restaurant (Bangkok Paradise at 506 Queen St W, I give the food 4 stars but the service was only 2 stars). Afterwards we stopped to talk at the park in Kensington Market, leaning our bicycles up against the side of the bench.

About half an hour later I was in the midst of telling a story to my date when a young guy approached and asked if we have any cigarettes.

I said "Sorry, I don't smoke." My date said "Yeah, I don't smoke either."

He started walking away and I went back to telling my story... Then he spun around and shouted at me: "Are you talking about me behind my back? Its not nice to talk behind someone's back!" (This guy was obviously on drugs.)

"What?! No, I am just finishing my story." (For those who know me, I love a good story.)

And then he said: "What, you think I won't hit you 'cause you're wearing glasses?"

"We're not talking about you."

"I am not afraid of your gloves." (I was wearing my cycling/weight lifting gloves at the time.)

I started to say something and then he punched me in the side of the forehead, knocking my glasses and my toque off (it was a tad chilly last night). Only one of the glasses stems remained, dangling off my right ear near to the spot he had hit me. I picked them off my ear and looked at them for a second, feeling a bit of anger rise as I realized this guy was wacko and was looking for a fight. (Anger and adrenaline is often a good thing when your defensive instincts kick in.)

I stood up. "You just broke my glasses. I am going to beat the sh*t out of you now you little b***h," I said as I took several steps forward and raised my fists in the classic boxing pose (I admit that pose may sound corny, but I do know the fundamentals of boxing. On the plus side I do have a fair bit of experience from getting into fights in high school and I've never lost a fight.).

He backed away a bit and I stepped closer, maintaining the pose and trying to get in close so I could land a solid punch. (From my knowledge of boxing I know there's no point throwing idle punches at someone as they're easily deflected or won't actually hurt the person, thus timing and footwork is essential.)

He tried to kick at me and punch at me but I deflected all his punches and kicks easily. I continued to get closer so I could attack back with solid punches but he kept running away.

At this point I should point out I was also trash talking him. "Come on b***h, is that the best you can do?"

He realized none of his punches were doing anything and I was still advancing on him confidently. He got scared and said "You're not worth it!" and started backing up really fast before running away in a hurry.

At this point I had to make a split decision: Do I chase after him and possibly tackle him, or do I just not worry about it and let him go? I decided to let him go, but I did shout after him: "Come back here you little b***h!" and "Coward!" (I want to point out I don't believe in calling women b***hes, but I see no reason why I can't call a man a b***h because frankly it is far more insulting for a man.)

So I turned to my date (and I admit at this point I was feeling a combination of pride and exhileration after calmly staring down my opponent and him running away like a scared little b***h due to nothing more than some well-done deflections) and we looked for the pieces of my glasses in the grass behind the bench. I found the stem that I had dropped and she found one of the lenses and the other stem, but there was a chunk of the lens missing and it was beyond repair so we didn't bother searching for the rest of it.

My response is oh well, I was thinking of getting new glasses sometime anyway. I am more upset about the fact that they were the lenses I bought in South Korea in 2005, and so there was some emotional attachment to the loss. Plus, it should be noted I seem to have good karma when it comes to these things. In one pocket and out the other.

On the plus side my date continued and ended with lots of kissing, so I can't complain about that.

FYI: I recommend Sherbourne Optical (near the corner of Bloor and Sherbourne). 600 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, ON M4X 1W4, Phone 416-925-7186. The guy who runs the place gave me a discount for being a returning customer and was very nice and helpful when I bought new frames last year.


I admit I am a boxing fan (I can't get enough of Rocky Balboa, Ali, The Boxer, Fight Club, The Hurricane, Play It to the Bone, Undefeated and Snatch). My favourite is Snatch:

As a sport classical boxing goes back to Ancient Sumeria, Greece and Egypt, but its presumed that as an activity it dates back much farther all the way cro-magnon man smacking each other around with their fists without any finesse. The more modern finesse-based boxing and the use of leather straps (and later boxing gloves) to protect the hands came much later as boxing evolved into a martial art and a sport. (In the same context classical wrestling developed in parallel to boxing.)

Bare knuckle boxing, also known as fisticuffs and prizefighting, first started to be documented as a sport in the 1700s. In 1743 heavyweight champion Jack Broughton introduced rules to protect fighters in the ring (now known as Broughton's Rules), although these rules are frequently ignored in what is known as streetfighting. More rules to the sport were added in 1838 (London Prize Ring rules) and 1867 (Marquess of Queensberry rules).

There is also a variety of different fighting styles (sometimes they mix together):
Boxer-Puncher (ie. Joe Louis) - Well rounded, variety of technique combining strength and maneuvrebility. They tend to wear down their opponents.

Out-Fighter or Stylist (ie. Muhammad Ali) - Prefers to distance himself and relies heavily on footwork, long range punches and jabs. Usually win by wearing down the opponent, but often have a very good knockout count because they're able to reserve their strength for the big punches.

Brawler / Slugger (ie. Mike Tyson & George Foreman) - Brawlers general lack finesse and footwork, but make up for it with sheer strength and punching power. They use beatdowns, hooks and uppercuts, but are predictable and slow. Their best asset is often their ability to keep taking hits (this ability is known as "chin"). Knockouts are more common.

In-Fighter / Swarmer (ie. Rocky Marciano or Julio César Chávez) - Also called pressure fighters their goal is to get in close and throw intense flurries of punches, combinations and uppercuts. Like brawlers they need chin because they're going to be taking lots of hits in close range. The advantage however is that they have a tendency to slip past their opponents arm reach, making their punches ineffective. Swarmers are very aggressive and use bob and weave tactics.

Counter Puncher (ie. Salvador Sánchez) - This style is a very slippery, defensive style, focusing more on letting the opponent make mistakes and let the Counter Puncher take advantage of the moment. Counter Punchers often win by knockout by scoring solid hits when their opponents leasts expects it (like Micky does in the film Snatch). Counter Punchers are incredibly fast, have good reflexes and accuracy with their punches.

Boxing Technique

There are 11 common punching techniques (best used in combos):

Bolo Punch - A short circular arc that hits on a weird angle, rarely used because its more difficult to hit a solid hit.

Jab - A quick straight punch, usually with the left hand.

Cross - A powerful fast looping punch, usually with the right hand.

Hook - A downward cut with either hand (I used this once in highschool and gave the guy a scar under his eye where the skin ripped).

Uppercut - A hard punch to the chin.

Overcut or Overhand, goes over the shoulder high in the air and is sometimes used against taller opponents.

Short Straight-Punch – A short close range punch, often aiming at the chest or gut.

Cross-Counter (or Counter Punch) - A punch that goes over your opponent's punch, simultaneous dodging their attack and countering.

Half Uppercut - A shorter version of the Uppercut, similar to a straight punch.

Half Hook - A shorter version of the Hook, similar to a straight punch.

Check Hook - This punch combines footwork and is similar to a Cross Counter and a Hook. Its use to prevent aggressive fighters from moving in closer by dodging them like a matador while giving them a downward hook while they pass by.

There are 10 basic defensive techniques:

Bobbing or ducking directly under the punch.

Blocking or Parrying, deflecting the punch with one or both arms.

Cover-Up, using both gloves in a defensive posture.

Clinching, getting in close and grappling the opponent so they can't swing properly.

Drop or Break, ducking down slightly so the punch glances off harmlessly or misses.

Footwork, dancing backwards so the punch misses completely.

Pulling away is leaning backwards slightly so the punch misses.

Slipping under the punch, more to the side.

Sway or Fade, anticipating the punch and moving backwards to 'roll with the punch'.

Weaving is moving horizontally(similar to bobbing which is a vertical dodge).

If you're interested in learning more about boxing check out boxing rings in your local area: Toronto Boxing.

There is also a variety of other boxing styles (ie. Thai Boxing, Kickboxing) and other martials arts people can learn. Practicing boxing (just for fun, not necessarily in the ring) is a good way to get exercise, learn self control and useful should the need ever arise.

Boxing Quotes

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." - Muhammad Ali.

"If you screw things up in tennis, it's 15-love. If you screw up in boxing, it's your ass." - Randall "Tex" Cobb.

"A champion is someone who gets up when he can't." - Jack Dempsey.

"I'm scared every time I go into the ring, but it's how you handle it. What you have to do is plant your feet, bite down on your mouthpiece and say, 'Let's go.'" - Mike Tyson.

"Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill." - Muhammad Ali.

"Boxing is the ultimate challenge. There's nothing that can compare to testing yourself the way you do every time you step in the ring." - Sugar Ray Leonard.

"A champion shows who he is by what he does when he's tested. When a person gets up and says 'I can still do it', he's a champion." - Evander Holyfield.

"If they cut my bald head open, they will find one big boxing glove. That's all I am. I live it." - Marvin Hagler.

"To me, boxing is like a ballet - except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other." - Jack Handy.

"I'll beat him so bad he'll need a shoehorn to put his hat on." - Muhammad Ali.

September 29, 2010

Gold Rush in Mongolia

POLITICS - Ivanhoe Mines (a Canadian company) has discovered a vein of gold and copper in Mongolia that is over 1 km long, sparking a sharp increase in Ivanhoe's stock value, up 5.4% yesterday alone. The Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine in Mongolia has a lot more gold than originally predicted.

“There could be an awful lot more resource there than originally thought, and that’s providing a lot of excitement out there,” says John Hughes, a mining analyst at Desjardins Securities in Toronto.

Meanwhile gold itself is skyrocketing to new heights. Yesterday gold prices reached $1,308.30USD per ounce in New York, a new record high for gold.

Oyu Tolgoi already is one of the world’s largest deposits of gold and copper, the new km long vein shows that there is a lot more gold and copper than originally predicted. That combined with the new record prices for gold suggests the market for gold mining is going to be very strong in Mongolia for decades to come.

And this is good news for Canadian-owned Ivanhoe Mines (which owns 57%) and the Mongolia government (which owns 43%).

To extract the new vein of gold and copper a new drill hole will be done, but that is nothing new for the mine. So far the Oyu Tolgoi mining area already has 1,650 drill holes and have mined out 900 km of tunnels underground.

The new gold and copper vein is not just big, its also very high grade. They are getting 1.36 grams of gold per tonne and 0.34% copper. Some of the lower sections returned 10 grams per tonne. Its one of the highest gold grades ever drilled at Oyu Tolgoi.

“This is definitely rare,” says John Hughes. “There’s not much in the world that could compare to that kind of tonnage. It’s re-confirmation that there is a lot of material there to be mined...”

The area of gold vein has been named Heruga North. Heruga means “supreme happiness.”

Mining of the new vein will begin in 2012. The new mine is expected to cost $4.6 billion USD to build.

In the next decade Oyu Tolgoi is forecast to extract:
12 billion pounds of copper
6.5 million ounces of gold

Canadian Ivanhoe Mines also owns stakes in Mongolian coal mines, an 81% interest in Ivanhoe Australia, and a 50% stake in Altynalmas Gold Ltd. in Kazakhstan.

September 28, 2010

True Grit Trailer

ENTERTAINMENT - Who doesn't love a western about revenge?

In this film version of the 1968 Charles Portis novel True Grit about western-style revenge Jeff Bridges has an eye patch, Matt Damon has a mustache and 13-year-old actress Hailee Steinfeld is probably the grittiest of them all.

The film by the Coen Brothers is due out December 25th 2010 and is based off the book and not the 1969 film that won John Wayne his only Oscar. Jeff Bridges has John Wayne's role of Marshal Reuben J. (Rooster) Cogburn.

Young actress Steinfeld’s role as the vengeance-seeking young Mattie Ross, out to find the coward who shot her father, looks to have the star potential.

Man challenging Canada's nudity laws

CANADA/SEX - An Ontario man charged with breaking Canada's nudity laws is challenging the legality of it based on the concept that its unconstutional. Brian Coldin is facing five charges for appearing naked in public near a clothing-optional resort in Bracebridge, Ontario.

Coldin’s lawyer Clayton Ruby says the laws infringe upon the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that the law suggests that somebody in a state of undress in a changing house at a public beach could be criminally charged because its a public place.

Clayton Ruby says the outdated and improperly worded laws should be struck down so the Canadian Parliament can properly word them, if it so chooses, because right now they’re overly broad.

None of the witnesses who complained to police about seeing Coldin nude at various public places have sought counselling and no real harm has come from the incidents.

“If someone’s annoyed, well that’s just too bad,” says lawyer Clayton Ruby outside court. “That’s not what the criminal law is concerned about.”

To be an actual crime Canada's nudity laws have to prove actual psychological or physical harm was committed as the result of a person appearing nude in public.

“We shouldn’t prosecute or harass a Muslim lady for wearing all her clothes in a pool... and why should we prosecute a naturist for being in a state God created us in?” says Brian Coldin, who suggests people are more worried about the shame they feel about being uncomfortable nude. “That’s disgusting,” says Coldin. “Talk about mental abuse.”

ie. If you've ever had the dream where you went to work naked, you're probably ashamed of appearing nude in front of people.

In Canada it is illegal to be nude in a public place, including private property where a person is exposed to public view. Under the Criminal Code, a “person is nude who is so clad as to offend against public decency.”

Which suggests that you're only nude if your intent is to offend public decency.

ie. Seeing nude people in the gym locker room isn't offensive. Neither is seeing nude people at a nude resort or a nude beach which is open to the public.

But deliberately running around a city in a trench coat and then flashing people your genitals, well that is just plain indecent.

Which begs the question, where do we draw the line between the two? When does nudity in public no longer indecent?

See Also:
The Top Topless Beaches
Toplessness: A Right All Women Deserve

Sarah Thomson drops out of mayoral race

CANADA - Sarah Thomson, the only female in the big five contenders to become Toronto's next mayor, has dropped out of the mayoral race. She was unable to break to break 7% in poll popularity and instead has decided to throw her support behind rival George Smitherman for fear that Rob Ford might actually become mayor of Toronto.

She announced her decision 5 hours ago (10 AM) today at her Church Street campaign headquarters. “While acknowledging this great opportunity for change and growth, I also realize that our city faces a great peril,” says Thomson, obviously referring to local "village idiot" Rob Ford who stands a good chance of winning. “We risk handing over the office of greatest local influence on the basis of anger and reaction – not that of responsible thought and mature policy..."

Thomson is the publisher of Women's Post, a general purpose magazine catering to Toronto women (sounds similar to the Lilith eZine, doesn't it?) Thomson entered the mayoral race and kickstarted the debate with her idea of subway expansion, economic development and controversial road tolls during rush hour on the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway.

Since then the other mayoral candidates basically all stole her ideas and tried to improve upon them, setting the tone for this mayoral election campaign.

“I have watched George Smitherman in action, listened to his experience, and I am inspired by his ideas and his passion for change,” says Thomson. She described Smitherman, the former Ontario deputy premier as “a deeply experienced administrator and a consummate Toronto booster... [who will be a] mayor who builds on our strengths and not one who leverages our differences.” and will be “a viable and responsible alternative to the message of anger.”

In other words she is so afraid of Rob Ford winning that she is throwing her support behind Smitherman because he is the only one who stands a chance of beating Rob Ford.

According to a campaign staffer there was serious discussion of her dropping out of the mayoral race when Ford took a huge lead in the polls while Thomson still couldn't break past 7% in the polls.

There was a leak last week that Thomson might drop out and support rival Rocco Rossi, but he is also expected to drop out and is likely expected to endorse Smitherman or Pantalone as well in an effort to provide Torontonians an alternative to Rob Ford.

Thomson noted that Smitherman, like herself, has promised not to sell Toronto Hydro, something which Rob Ford might be tempted to do.

In fact all four of the other major candidates are unanimous in their plea: DON'T VOTE FOR ROB FORD.

New Ispos Reid poll results released yesterday show the following:

Rob Ford 28%
George Smitherman 23%
Joe Pantalone 10%
Rocco Rossi 7%
Sarah Thomson 7%
Undecided/Other 25%

Which was a big shift from last week's poll which showed only decided voters and ignored undecided voters & other candidates:

Rob Ford — 45.8%;
George Smitherman — 21.3%;
Joe Pantalone —16.8%;
Rocco Rossi — 9.7%;
Sarah Thomson — 6.4%.

So there is a chance George Smitherman could now beat Rob Ford if enough candidates drop out... HOWEVER it should be noted its too late for them to be removed from the ballot, which means anyone voting for a dropped candidate will essentially be wasting a vote.

If you want to register to vote in the Toronto mayoral election there is still time. Visit Toronto City Hall between 9 AM and 4 PM, Monday to Friday and go to the Elections Canada office on the first floor.

Toronto is the 'lowest risk city’ for business

CANADA - According to Aon Consulting's People Risk Index, which compares 90 major global cities for demographics, education, employment practices and government regulations, Toronto is the lowest risk city in the world for business. Toronto is also the most desirable city in the world to start a business, recruit, hire, train and transfer employees.

According to the study's results, Toronto beat out rivals NYC, Singapore, London and Montreal to become the best city for business. Toronto and Montreal both did well because of Canada's lower levels of corruption, equal opportunity, less monopolies and a slew of health and retirement benefits which companies don't have to worry about.

The highest risk cities in comparison were Dhaka in Bangladesh; Phnom Penh in Cambodia; Lagos in Nigeria; Karachi in Pakistan; and Tehran in Iran. These cities have problems with the local government which tends to be confrontational, non-transparent and ignore workers rights and the rights of businesses.

The study however points out that Toronto could be better, because Toronto employers are not hiring enough people for "specialized financial jobs and design/visual arts jobs" to gain a creative edge on the competition.

Plus all the cities in North America are now facing an aging babyboomer workforce and a shortage of experienced and skilled workers. Part of the problem is that many of these skilled-labour jobs are currently filled by people near retirement and many North American companies have failed to create mentoring programs wherein they can replace those skilled positions eventually.

Meanwhile Toronto also ranked 12th in the latest Global Financial Centres Index. Its believed Toronto may reach the top 10 by 2015.

Internet Shopping on the Rise in Canada

CANADA/TECHNOLOGY - According to Statistics Canada more Canadians are buying more goods and services online and they're doing so more often.

In 2009 Canadians bought $15.1 billion CDN worth of items and services online, up 17% from the $12.8 billion they bought in 2007.

39% of Canadians now shop online, up from 32% in 2007. The rate is highest (over 50%) among young people, between the ages of 16 and 34.

The total number of orders grew 38% too, up to 95 million orders in 2009 compared to 70 million orders in 2007. But the amount we spend has dropped (deflation anyone?) from $183 CDN in 2007 to $158 in 2009.

The fact the average amount we spend is dropping just means we're being more fiscally conservative and trying to save more.

Popular things to buy online is music, cellphone ringtones, movies, books, electronics, plane tickets/travel packages, magazines, clothing, jewelry and accessories.

Some people shop online a lot more than others. The top 25% of online shoppers account for over half of all orders and accounted for 80% of the overall value. This "top 25" spent an average of $4,210 CDN online in 2009.

Statistics Canada also reports that more Canadians are researching products online before they buy them in person (online window shopping). 52% of Canadians say they researched products online in 2009, compared to only 43% in 2007. 70% of online window shoppers later bought the product they were researching.

ie. Lets say you were researching windows blinds and looked up fabric blinds on, but you didn't purchase them online for whatever reason. Instead you went to one of the 9 different locations in Toronto (ie. Canadian Tire, Sears or Zellers) where you can buy Levolor's fabric blinds so you can see how they work in person. (See also Window Blinds and Your Health.)

Online shopping however still represents a tiny percentage of total retail sales in Canada. Many Canadian retailers (Bay, Zellers, Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire) don't even offer people the option to shop online and have items delivered.

Its believed SmartPhones will accelerate online shopping growth / window shopping, especially with new SmartPhone coupons that people will have the option of turning on and off when they feel like getting a discount.

"Most people will probably just leave the coupon function on their phone on all the time for fear of missing a major sale," says one research analyst.


1. Foreign companies can acquire .CA, .US or .UK web addresses, so check if there is a postal address on the website or use WHOIS to determine who actually owns the company.

2. Be cautious about using businesses that only provide a PO Box address, or have no address at all.

3. Make sure the address of the payment page starts with https://. HTTPS means it is a secure site and a small padlock icon should appear at the bottom of the browser.

4. Do not deal with businesses that ask you to transfer money directly into their bank accounts.

5. For purchases of $100 or more using your credit card will give you extra protection as you may be able to claim from the credit card company if you get defrauded.

6. If you use an internet payment service, such as PayPal, ALWAYS check to see how easy it will be to get your money back if something goes wrong.

7. Check what the website says about cancelling an order. By law (this may vary depending on where you live), the cancellation period begins the day after the order is made and ends seven working days from the day after the goods are delivered.

8. Always print out or save a copy of your order and a copy of the acknowledgement email (if any).

9. Always check your bank statement, to ensure you have been charged correctly.

10. Consult your local Consumer Protection websites in Canada, the USA, the UK or wherever you happen to live. ie. In Britain you can call Consumer Direct at 0845 4040506; or in Ontario you can visit the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services.

BlackBerry Playbook unveiled

TECHNOLOGY - The BlackBerry Playbook (or as we like to call it, "The Little Black Book") is half an inch thick, weighs less than a lb and is sure to give Apple's iPad a run for its money because its better in almost every way.

#1. Its smaller and even more lightweight. The iPad weighs 1.6 lbs (60% more).

#2. It has BlueTooth access so you can use it with your BlackBerry to access the internet. The iPad doesn't offer BlueTooth.

#3. It can use Flash, Adobe and a variety of video/interactive formats. The iPad doesn't have the software or applications to do those things.

#4. It comes with two cameras (one on the front and another on the back) so you can use it for photography. The iPad doesn't have a camera of its own, you have to buy a camera connection kit separately.

#5. Electronic Arts is developing games that can be used on the BlackBerry PlayBook and other compatible tablets. The iPad doesn't allow third-party game developers.

#6. There will be plenty to go around since the tablet market is starting to become flooded. When the iPad was first released in April 2010 demand outstripped supply and stores ran out.

RIM unveiled the BlackBerry Playbook (aka the BlackPad, the BlackBook, the BerryBook) yesterday in San Francisco at a tech conference. It will hit stores in the USA around February 2011 and international markets by approx. June 2011, although the release dates is not specific.

There is only one silver lining for Apple's iPad... they still get Christmas 2010 to sell more of their crappy iPads. By Christmas 2011 the market will be flooded with alternatives which are not only better, but cheaper.

See Also: BlackBerry CrackBerry

Hoder sentenced to 19.5 years

POLITICS - 35-year-old Iranian-Canadian Hossein Derakhshan, the founder of one of the first Farsi-language blogs and credited with the boom in Iranian bloggers, has been sentenced to 19 years in an Iranian prison for being critical of Iran's Ayatollah... and also for trying to promote peace between Iran and Israel.

Hossein Derakhshan, aka Hoder, wrote his blog from Canada but was arrested during a visit to Iran in 2008. In a controversial move Derakhshan also was a supporter of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, praising Iran's nuclear weapons program as a deterrent against war.

The Iranian prosecutors asked to give Derakhshan the death penalty. See Toronto Blogger facing Death Penalty.

But that plea was apparently ignored and Derakhshan has instead been given the sentence of 19.5 years for writing propaganda against the state of Iran, for "cooperating with Israel" and insulting Islamic religious figures.

Derakhshan ignited blogging in Iran by posting simple instructions online on how to create sites in Farsi in 2001. Since then Farsi has overtaken the blogosphere to become the 2nd most used language behind English.

Its widely speculated in political circles that Israel and Iran will go to war sometime in the next 10 years.

September 23, 2010

Conservatives waste $49.5 million on advertising

CANADA - The minority Conservative government of Canada wasted $49.5 million spent on advertisements promoting their government's Economic Action Plan.

That $49.5 million could have been spent on education, health care and improving the economy... but instead it was spent on TV commercials promoting the Conservative government's Economic Action Plan...

In other words its blatant self-promotion of their own government, and flagrant disregard for the needs of Canadians.

The Economic Action Plan ads were unnecessary, given that government polling data indicates more than 93% of Canadians say the ads had no impact on them. The other 7% of Canadians claim they never even saw or noticed the ads.

The ads did NOTHING to help Canadians. These ads were never intended to provide Canadians with information they could use, they were "just Conservative propaganda, paid for with record levels of wasted taxpayer funds."

Sesame Street pulls Katy Perry song

ENTERTAINMENT - Sesame Street has pulled a clip of Katy Perry and Elmo singing together because of parental complaints about her showing too much skin.

The clip was leaked on YouTube, the complaints flooded in and Sesame Street decided to pull the clip from its 2011 New Years special.

Obviously these complainers haven't seen the following clip of Capoeira from Sesame Street and how much skin they're showing.

Or this one either:

G20 Costs finally Revealed

CANADA - A partial breakdown of contracts from the G20 in Toronto and G8 summits have finally been revealed. They include:

$315,000 for high-end furniture

$4.4 million for the infamous security fence

$1.5 million for exhibition materials

$20 million for RCMP hotel rooms, food, equipment and transportation.

$7,726,235 for “protection services.”

$1.7 million for VIP motorcades

$2.4 million for brand new unmarked cars

$85,000 for RCMP snacks

$22,585 for RCMP mass casualty kits

$20,000 for RCMP tactical medical kits

$163,180 for RCMP camera equipment

$282,412 for RCMP “geomatics” or GPS equipment

$420,000 for “standard furniture”

$246,000 for "a living wall"

$26,661 for electronic mosquito traps

$74,898 for defibrillators

$14,049 for RCMP glow-sticks

And this is just PART of the $1.1 billion which was completed wasted on the G20 summit.

So yeah... Stephen Harper's Conservative government and the RCMP are officially corrupt. This kind of ridiculous spending when we're trying to recover from a recession is just irresponsible and should be criminal.

See Also:
G20 leaders fail to accomplish anything
Is Protesting Obsolete? Perspective on the G20
G20 Afterthought: Officer Bubbles + Stephen Harper
G20 Police Overdo It On Security
Toronto G20 to use Sonic Stun Guns
Toronto police harrassed gay activists

Canadians becoming Fatter

CANADA/HEALTH - The obesity rate in Canada is expected to rise 5% by 2020 according a report released today which shows Canadians are becoming fatter and fatter.

The report by OECD shows Canadians are fatter than most of the other 32 industrialized countries which track the global rise in obesity in rich nations. The report points out that comprehensive obesity prevention programs could save 40,000 Canadians from obesity-related deaths per year. The report blames lack of health education, government subsidies for cheap food, transportation policies, and taxation.

The statistics speak for themselves:

Obese people die 8 to 10 years sooner than non-obese people.

Obese people earn less money, take more days off work, have lower productivity and a greater need for disability benefits.

The health costs of obese people is 25% more than normal people due to increased rates of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

In 1979 the adult obesity rate in Canada was 9%. By 2009 the adult obesity rate has reached 28%. 62% of Canadians are overweight.

Canada's obesity rate is the 6th worst in the world. Iceland and Chile are close behind us. See Obesity in Canada.

The only countries with a greater percentage of obese people are the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, England and Australia. See American Obesity Rates.

Two out of three Canadian men are overweight and over one in four are obese.

Canadian women with poor education are 2 times more likely to be overweight. (For men education isn’t a factor.)

Canada's obesity rate is highest in poor regions.

The OECD report suggests that obesity prevention and education programs could save 40,000 Canadian lives per year and would save Canada billions of dollars in health costs. The programs suggested include food labelling, counseling for eating addictions, food advertising regulations. The OECD notes that the cost of prevention programs would be "a tiny fraction" of the cost of taking care of obese patients.

In related news...

KFC is offering young college women on Facebook $500 to wear pants which say “Double Down” scrawled on the butt.

U of T ornithopter makes history

TECHNOLOGY - Graduate students at the University of Toronto have built and successfully flown a man-powered ornithopter (an engineless plane) which flaps its wings like an eagle. Todd Reichert, a PhD student, led the team that constructed the aircraft and went through a long series of test flights.

The plane, the Snowbird, has a wingspan of 32 meters and looks a bit like an eagle in terms of the way its wings move. Reichert sits in a tiny cockpit beneath the wings and pushes a bar with his feet to operate a system of wires that pull the wings up and down. He steers the plane using metal bars attached to rudders.

The Snowbird ornithopter is made mostly of carbon fibre (the same material used to make superlight bicycles and supercars) and wrapped in a thin polyester skin. Despite being 32 meters long the entire plane weighs less than 100 pounds (45 kg). Reichert himself had to shed nearly 20 pounds and double his leg strength before attempting the flight.

The plane does require a tow car for the first little bit to get its forward motion going, but once that is done its up to the pilot to the device into the air. So far Reichert has managed to fly it for 19 seconds, covering 145 metres at 25.6 kilometres an hour and making a controlled landing on the testing grounds of a flying club near Tottenham, Ont.

It doesn't seem like much, but its still an aeronautical first as the world’s first successful human-powered ornithopter flight.

The project to build it took 4 years and started with computer simulations using Leonardo da Vinci’s famous 1485 sketches of such a machine as a starting point. They modified the designs and later 20 fellow students assembled the plane in a barn in Tottenham. They began doing test flights in Autumn 2009, crashing numerous times and making design improvements.

The professor overseeing the project, Prof. DeLaurier attributed the project’s success to modern materials, sophisticated computer programs and advancements in the understanding of aerodynamics. “When you try to tell someone what you’re working on, they kind of back away slowly,” he says. “But when you see it fly, it takes your breath away.”

The finished ornithopter will eventually be donated to a museum, but not until the group who designed it use it to learn more about aviation.

The History of Ornithopters

Early 1000s – A young monk named Eilmer tried to fly in the western English village of Malmesbury by attaching a pair of cloth wings to his arms and jumping off the top of the local abbey. He reputedly sailed about 200 metres before crashing on a local street, breaking both his legs. He survived the mishap and lived to a ripe old age, being one of the first to spot Halley’s comet in 1066.

1480s and ’90s – Leonardo da Vinci sketched designs for various flying machines in his notebooks. In one sketch the pilot lay on his stomach and uses stirrups and hand cranks, attached to pulleys, to move the wings up and down. In another design, a harness attached to the pilot’s head steers a rudder.

1870 – Frenchman Gustave Trouve, who later designed an electric car, built an unmanned ornithopter powered by a crude internal combustion engine fuelled with gunpowder. His invention flew for approx. 70 metres on one occasion and is believed to be the first flapping-wing aircraft to fly.

1890s – Otto Lillienthal, a German, built a series of gliders with fabric stretched tight over a willow frame and flew them by jumping off hilltops and buildings. Two of these had small engines that propelled the wings up and down. His achievement was considered more gliding than anything else. He died in a crash in 1896.

1929 – Another German, Alexander Lippisch, designed a human-powered ornithopter flown by his students and towed into the air. A foot pump activated cables that flapped the wings. According to claims it successfully flew more than 200 metres, but it was never verified or repeated. Lippisch maintained it flew, others say it was merely gliding due to the towing.

1940s – Adalbard Schmid built and flew a motorized aircraft with both fixed wings and an extra pair of flapping wings behind it. It was able to stay in the air for 15 minutes at a time before running out of fuel.

2006 – James DeLaurier and his students designed and flew an engine-powered ornithopter with a 24-horsepower turbo engine. It flew for 14 seconds at 88 kmph but crashed.

September 22, 2010

Lilith News has a new dot com

TECHNOLOGY - FYI, update your bookmarks... Lilith News is now

As we approach our 1,000th post (we estimate this will happen sometime in October, hopefully before or on October 24th [which is Lilith's Day if you didn't know that already]) we thought it would be nice to splurg $10 USD to buy our own domain finally instead of using the ol' sub-domain. (Don't worry, links to that site will still work, but will start forwarding to

So yeah, things are looking up. Tell your friends and family about us. Its news you can use, information you can trust, leftwing-liberal-feminist-environment slants you can agree with, and occasionally a dose of gothic anti-social nonconformity just for the heck of it.

The Lilith eZine Staff

Fatty Foods Vs Tracking Calories

HEALTH - According to recent studies conducted in the USA and Australia men and wmen who keep track of how much they eat are twice as likely to double their weight loss during their diet routine.

The statistics speak for themselves. Its well worth it to buy a notebook and a pen and record every calorie you consume. Tape measure? Pfff! Bathroom scales? Don't make me laugh.

  • Australian women and men who had started a new exercise program were 3 times more likely to work out 5 days a week if they logged each session.

  • Out of nearly 1,700 overweight people on a six-month weight-loss program, the ones who kept a daily notebook of what they ate lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t.

    Already companies have jumped on this trend and have been selling electronic food journals, apps for SmartPhones, high-tech armbands and wrist watches... one company even has a "smart shirt" which automatically measures and records your heart rate... its a tad ridiculous, but the concept is simple. If you watch and track what you eat you will realize quickly why your calorie intake is a lot more than you're burning.

    It doesn't have to be super detailed or fancy either. You could track it on twitter page, sticky notes, text messages, emails to yourself, whatever you want to do.

    Do's and Don'ts of Tracking your Calories!

    #1. Be honest. Record every cookie you binged on.

    #2. Keep it simple stupid: You don't need a huge Excel document and super detailed flow charts showing the ups and downs of what you eat every day. Just record the caloric amount (and maybe the fats and trans fats).

    #3. Paper? Computer? iPad? Choose your fave format and stick with it. According to researchers those who pick their own system were 50% more likely to record their food intake and twice as likely to record their exercise routine too.

    #4. Snap a picture: Using your cellphone to photograph a meal before you dig in may work even better than writing down what you ate, a Wisconsin study suggests.

    #5. Track your Blood Sugar and Asthma too if that is a concern: If you're suffering from asthma and diabetes journals are also extremely beneficial.

    You should only be eating approx.

    1,800 to 2,200 calories per day.
    A MAXIMUM of 2,400 mg of sodium (salt)
    A MAXIMUM of 65 grams of fat
    A MAXIMUM of 20 grams of saturated fat

    Next... lets list some foods you should avoid.

    #1. KFC's "Double Down" sandwich: Two pieces of bacon, two slices of cheese and “Colonel’s Sauce,” with two thick filets of fried chicken functioning as the bun. At 540 calories its not recommended you eat this regularly.

    #2. Quiznos large tuna melt sub sandwich: 1,520 calories, 101 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 2,020 milligrams sodium. Most of the calories and fat comes from the mayonnaise and cheese.

    #3. Chipotle’s chicken burrito, filled with toppings, accompanied by a side of chips. 1,750 calories, 79.5 grams of fat, 23 grams of saturated fat, 2,750 milligrams of sodium.

    #4. Applebee’s New England fish and chips: 1,910 calories, 137 grams fat, 24 grams saturated fat, 3,150 milligrams of sodium.

    #5. Chili’s Big Mouth Bites, four mini burgers topped with jalapeño ranch dressing: 1,930 calories, 31 grams of saturated fat, 4,400 milligrams sodium.

    #6. Outback Steakhouse’s full rack of baby back ribs served with Aussie fries: 1,936 calories, 133 grams of fat, 56 grams of saturated fat, 2,741 milligrams of sodium.

    #7. Domino’s bread bowl pasta: Contains 1,340 to 1,470 calories, 48 to 56 grams of fat, 21 to 27 grams of saturated fat, 65 to 115 grams of fiber, 1,830 to 2,860 milligrams of sodium.

    #8. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro’s double pan-fried noodles with a combination of meats: 1,820 calories, 84 grams of fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 7,692 milligrams of sodium.

    #9. The Greene Turtle’s boneless wings, which includes 16 wings in “We Mean Hot” sauce, served with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks: 1,963 calories, 153 grams of fat, 30 grams of saturated fat, 10,877 milligrams of sodium.

    #10. Uno Chicago Grill’s Chicago Classic deep-dish individual pizza, which is topped with sausage, tomato sauce and cheese: 2,310 calories, 165 grams of fat, 54 grams saturated fat, 4,920 milligrams of sodium.

    #11. The Cheesecake Factory’s pasta carbonara: 2,500 calories, 85 grams of saturated fat.

    What this makes you realize is that if you're eating out, you're probably eating a lot more fat, sugar and sodium than you realize. That makes it super important to actually track what you eat because people tend to forget.

    For some reason I am suddenly hungry...
  • Toronto blogger facing Death Penalty

    CANADA/POLITICS - Hossein Derakhshan, aka "Hoder the Blogfather", became a Canadian citizen during the early 2000s and lived in Toronto for a period of 8 years before visiting Israel and then Iran in 2008.

    He'd been operating his blog out of Toronto for many years, showing his fellow Persians online how to create Persian-based websites and blogs. But during his 2008 trip to Iran he was nabbed by Iranian authorities and has been held for the last 2 years under propaganda charges.

    Yesterday prosecutors for Derakhshan's case requested the death penalty.

    A spokesperson from the Free Hoder campaign called the news “horrific.”

    Derakhshan’s cyber crusader story isn't completely clear cut. When radical hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got into power in 2006 Derakhshan started off as being very critical of Ahmadinejad's regime, but then later did an U-turn and began defending the regime. The controversial move annoyed a lot of his dedicated blog readers.

    Before he came to Canada Derakhshan was a newspaper reporter in Tehran before marrying and moving to Canada in 2000. He later got divorced, started his website (which is no longer available), and learned how to modify blog software to use the Persian alphabet.

    He single handedly started an avalanch of Persian bloggers, which in turn has sparked a revolution of free speech in Iran because now its really easy for Iranians to start their own blog or website and speak out against the atrocities and corruption going on in the country.

    FACT: Persian is now the 2nd most used language in the blogosphere. It is the busiest and noisiest in the world.

    According to former readers Derakhshan not only pioneered the Persian blogging community, he was instrumental about starting a debate about the rights of bloggers and the threats they face. Derakhshan loves courting controversy too. His trip to Israel and his shifting allegiances in 2006 when he started defending Iran's pursuit of nuclear arms brought in 10,000 visitors per day.

    Ironically he even questioned whether jailed citizen-journalist dissidents were really innocent, according to former readers.

    While his motivations for his shifting allegiances remain a mystery, when he was jailed in November 2008 after arriving in Tehran for a visit, public outcry at the time was muted. But now that he may be executed for exercising his freedom of speech bloggers around the world have picked up the call for action.

    Check out the Free Hussein Derakhshan facebook page.

    The video below was made in 2006, prior to Derakhshan's capture in Iran.

    Derakhshan is not the only person who has faced or is currently facing execution in Iran:

    Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani - 43-year-old mother sentenced to death by stoning for adultery in 2006. Iran’s judiciary says it has suspended the stoning sentence but claims that she is also guilty of participating in the murder of her husband. A final decision is still pending.

    Hamid Ghassemi-Shall - Iranian-born Canadian has been in detention since a family visit to Iran two years ago. His wife, Antonella Mega, says his appeals have run out and he faces a death sentence. It is unknown what charges he faces.

    Helmut Hoffer - German businessman accused of having an illicit sexual relationship with an Iranian woman and sentenced to death in 1998. The sentence was quashed and Hoffer later released in 2000.

    Jalil Mahdi Salih Nu’aymi - Swedish citizen executed in 1990 for co-operation with a foreign intelligence service.

    Helmut Szimkus - German sentenced to death in 1992 for espionage, later pardoned after intense German lobbying.

    Roger Cooper - Businessman and former journalist is sentenced to death for espionage activities in 1985. He eventually served five years and four months in prison.

    Canadian Furniture Makers

    By Charles Moffat - September 2010.

    CANADA - For the past two decades local Canadian furniture makers have been fighting a losing war against cheap imports. Canadian furniture used to be a proud part of Canada's manufacturing industry... we have lots of wood, lots of skilled labour, and we know how to build furniture really well.

    But then along came IKEA and other cheap imports from Europe and Asia. (I personally boycott IKEA. I've only once stepped inside their doors and only because a friend dragged me with them to carry something.)

    The rising value of the Canadian dollar and the American Recession hasn't helped the Canadian furniture industry either, since our primary export partner is the USA.

    Lets take BG Furniture (formerly called Bogdon & Gross) as an example. The company has changed their market niche in recent years and tailored their products to a higher quality so that customers see they are getting a waaaaaaay better product. Since making the change in 2006 BG's sales have gone up 40%. The 83-year-old company in Walkerton (my home town) will presumably be around for quite some time.

    But another furniture factory in Hanover Ontario wasn't so lucky. They were shut down a decade ago.

    The problem with Canadian furniture manufacturers however is that they're often smaller companies, family-owned, and they don't have a brand like Lazy Boy or Ashley.

    Which is where the new “Quality Canadian Furniture” label comes in. Launched in Quebec, Quality Canadian Furniture is part of a $1.2 million Canada-wide marketing campaign aimed at getting Canadians to see the benefit of buying Canadian furniture... not just because its made by Canadians, but because the quality is better than cheap imports.

    Although it started in Quebec, the initiative has gained partners in Ontario including BG, Barrymore and Durham Furniture. Together Ontario and Quebec represent 70% of Canada's furniture manufacturing.

    Personally, I always prefer to buy antiques that have passed the test of time. That to me says that they're quality. But I'd be just as happy to buy something new, built in Canada, and of sturdy construction.

    So don't be surprised if you spot billboards in the near future for Quality Canadian Furniture and their slogan: “Don’t Let Just Anyone into Your Home.”

    Locally made products are also better for retail companies because when they order from overseas they are often stuck with unwanted inventory (crap that won't sell). In comparison locally made products can be ordered on shorter notice, are guaranteed to be quality (which raises the prestige of the store) and they're not stuck with unwanted inventory.

    There's also been a lot of quality problems with imported furniture. They break easier, and the price differences are not as bad as they used to be because labour rates in Asia are going up, plus the cost of fuel to transport the furniture to North America is also raising the price.

    Market research shows most furniture buyers are women and they prefer to buy quality from a known brand. There's also concerns about lead paint in imported furniture, the environmental cost of shipping furniture long distances and the worry that they could be buying furniture that was made using sweatshop/forced labour.

    Currently over half of all furniture sales in Canada are imports. We need to change that.

    “It’s not the industry that it was 25 years ago, or even after free trade, or even five years ago. It has changed. It has evolved. But it’s still quite vibrant,” said Michael Knell, publisher and editor of Home Goods Online.

    Plus there's more custom options when you buy Canadian made furniture. Depending on what company you go to you can order a sofa in 14 grades of leather, 20 different colours per grade and you have a choice of 150 different fabrics. Plus it will be delivered to your home within 21 days. (Its a bit like buying a car and you get to choose what options and colour you want.)

    The price difference between buying an imported sofa may be a bit more, but its well worth the extra options, the quality and the guarantee it won't have lead paint in it or made with shoddy materials.

    I am not done making my point yet. This concept of Quality Canadian products isn't limited to buying furniture... so I will list several more Canadian companies which I think people should consider buying from:

    #1. Classic Products Roofing is a local Canadian company which makes metal roofs for homes and garages. They come in a variety of colours and shapes so they still look like shingles, but they won't blow off by accident or leak like shingles do.

    While some people still prefer shingles or asphalt roofs, I should point out that shingles rot over time, collect moss and insects, blow off in the wind, are easily damaged during Canadian winters and simply aren't practical for Canadian homes. (My parents switched to a metal roof 10 years ago and have been very happy ever since because my father is getting too old to be climbing on the roof and replacing shingles, especially with his fear of heights.)

    #2. ICRAFT.CA is a website which is home to hand made gifts, crafts, decorations for the home and work, pillows, clothing, jewelry, accessories and even furniture that is locally made in the Greater Toronto Area. The website is a mecca for local artisans and craftsmen and people who want to buy local products.

    #3. Toronto Street Fashion is a website which promotes locally made fashion in the GTA. While not everything on their website is Canadian-made, the vast majority of it is.

    When you shop around what you quickly discover is that almost everything can be locally made, often for an equal price for better quality.

    September 21, 2010

    Dalai Lama visiting Toronto October 2010

    CANADA/RELIGION - His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet is visiting Toronto in October and tickets to attend speeches, gatherings, etc are available. Some of the events are already sold out, but some organizations are selling/giving away tickets they snapped up in the rush. ie. Buddha Body Yoga has 10 tickets for sale.

    Human Approaches to World Peace
    Public Talk at the SkyDome with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama.

    During the event His Holiness will share his personal outlook on how we may bring about peace not only on a personal level but at the community and world wide level.

    Date - Friday, October 22nd.
    Time - 2.00- 5.30pm
    Location - The SkyDome (aka The Roger's Centre)
    Cost - $42 (per ticket based on group rate)

    Grand Inauguration Ceremony
    Date - Saturday October 23, 2010
    Time - 10:00am - 12:00pm
    Location - Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre
    Tickets - Invitation Only

    Tibetan Community Audience
    Date - Saturday October 23, 2010
    Time - 2:00pm - 4:00pm
    Location - Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre
    Tickets - $50.00

    Can't afford a ticket? The TCCC is also accepting volunteers.

    See also or you can follow on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

    Expect some tension between China and Canada

    Mayor Rob Ford = Yikes!

    CANADA - Imagine for a moment Rob Ford actually becomes Mayor of Toronto.

    I mean, the guy is a moron. He's a big, "angry, pink-faced man with an oversized head" as one local reporter described him.

    "Voting for Ford is like sleeping with someone to get revenge on your spouse. It seems like a good idea at closing time, which is what an election is," says reporter Heather Mallick.

    And she is absolutely correct. Ford's recent popularity of 45% in a poll shows many Torontonians are upset... but I'd argue its not outgoing Mayor David Miller's fault.

    If anything the thing people are complaining about in Toronto has nothing to do with Toronto's leadership. It had to do with the economy... and that is more the result of the recession in the USA and George W. Bush dropping the economic ball during the 2001-2008 period.

    On behalf of the Lilith News we think David Miller did a pretty good job as Toronto's mayor. He was just unlucky to be mayor during an economic downturn in Canada and the USA.

    And electing Rob Ford isn't going to solve Toronto's problems. All we have to do is look at Rob Ford's agenda:

    #1. Rob Ford wants to melt down stop signs and let drivers pretty much fend for themselves. (Thankfully as mayor he has no control over how traffic laws are enforced. The best he can do is give people more parking tickets.)

    #2. Rob Ford wants to fire thousands of "lazy" city employees.

    #3. Rob Ford wants to build subway stops all the way to Etobicoke. (Sure, and Santa Claus will beat up the Easter Bunny in a bare-knuckle boxing match.)

    #4. Rob Ford hates cyclists and wants them to ride on sidewalks instead. (Oh, how I wish I was kidding.)

    #5. Rob Ford wants to trash the unions and send them back to the dark ages. (You think the garbage strike was bad, what happens when snow plow operators go on strike and Rob Ford refuses to negotiate with them?)

    Rob Ford is all flash and no substance. Sure, he can spot corruption and inefficiencies that need to be improved, but his personality is such that he has no method for fixing the problem with a sustainable result. His only solution is to simply cut funding for things he doesn't like.

    And that will blow over really well when Torontonians are shovelling their streets in the dead of winter, trying to get the garbage picked up, and wondering why the TTC buses are all running late.

    We predict Rob Ford will usher in an era of overspending and debt that will make all previous mayors look like fiscal saints in comparison. Because when he realizes that we can't cut these services his only remaining solution will be to throw money at the problem.

    And remember if elected we would be stuck with Rob Ford for FOUR YEARS. We estimate he would become a lame duck within the first 6 months.

    Vatican Bank accused of money laundering

    POLITICS/RELIGION - The head of the Vatican Bank is being investigated for money laundering and police have frozen 23 million euros ($30.2 million USD) of the bank's funds.

    Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who has been head of the Vatican Bank (aka the Institute for Religious Works or IOR) for a year, and another executive from IOR are under investigation because of suspicious bank transactions.

    One of the transactions was a transfer of 20 million euros to a German branch of a U.S. bank and another of 3 million euros to an Italian bank.

    Gotti Tedeschi, a devout Catholic, is also a close adviser to Italian Treasury Minister Giulio Tremonti, heads the Italian unit of the Spanish Banco Santander, and serves on the board of several major Italian banks. If he is found guilty of money laundering it could hurt his business partners.

    This is hardly the first scandal within the Vatican Bank.

    In 1982 the Vatican Bank was involved in the fraudulent bankruptcy of Banco Ambrosiano, then Italy’s largest private bank. The Vatican Bank owned a stake in the bank. Banco Ambrosiano's president Roberto Calvi was found hanged under London’s Blackfriars Bridge in 1982 and allegations of conspiracy and murder have swirled ever since.

    Investigators could not determine whether Calvi was murdered or committed suicide. The head of the Vatican Bank at the time was American Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, who later died in 2006.

    The Vatican denied any responsibility for the falsified collapse of Banco Ambrosiano and denied all knowledge of where the missing funds went.

    Harvesting Chicken Carcasses in China

    HEALTH - The following series of 10 photographs may make you think twice about buying chicken at a restaurant when visiting China.

    You see full grown chickens are actually pretty violent creatures. They will routinely attack and kill each other if they feel crowded, threatened or intimidated. (If you thought chickens were peaceful creatures you are dead wrong.) In a stuffy, crowded chicken pen this chicken-vs-chicken violence happens nightly and by morning there's often several dead chicken carcasses which need to be removed.

    In North America chicken farmers usually throw out the carcasses because keeping them to be used for food would violate the health code (because the chicken could have been diseased or have something else wrong with it). But in China this throwing out of chicken carcasses isn't done... instead the chickens (regardless of how or why they died) are sold to men who collect the chickens, pluck them, soak them in a red dye and then sell them to restaurants or grocery stores.

    That red dye really makes the chickens look tasty, doesn't it? Its all very deceptive.

    In November 2009 two Chinese men were sentenced to death for selling tainted milk. The milk was contaminated with melamine, which causes kidney failure and kidney stones. When added to watered-down milk it gives a false protein level which fools safety inspectors testing for protein levels.

    China has a long history of food poisoning scandals and has been trying unsuccessfully to crack down on tainted food. The death penalty doesn't seem to be much of a discouragement and the Chinese government's corruption levels is such that local safety officials often turn a blind eye to unsafe food production.

    Lady Gaga denounces Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell

    POLITICS/SEX - Pop star Lady Gaga (famous for such hits as “Bad Romance”, “Paparazzi” and “Poker Face”) was in Maine Monday to urge United States senators to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays. More than 2,000 people attended the rally where the Grammy-winning celebrity stood in front of members of the American military who had been discharged for revealing they are gay.

    Some U.S. military recruiters deliberately ask questions about sexual orientations and attempt to screen out gay people. Under the "don't ask" policy recruiters are not supposed to be asking questions about sexual orientation, but some still do anyway. Fortunately many gay recruits "don't tell" and thus still manage to slip through the screening process.

    Lady Gaga called it an injustice that good-hearted gay soldiers are booted from military service while straight soldiers are allowed to fight for their country. She suggested a new policy should target straight soldiers who are “uncomfortable” with gay soldiers in their midst.

    “Our new law is called ‘If you don’t like it, go home!’ ” says Lady Gaga.

    The rally was partially organized by Washington-based Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. The organization wants Republican Senators to vote to allow a repeal of the controversial “don’t ask don't tell” policy, put in place in 1993.

    The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a defence authorization bill that includes a repeal of the “don’t ask don't tell” policy. In the Senate, the bill only need 60 votes on Tuesday (today) to cut off debate and proceed straight to voting on the bill. Two senators are seen as the tie breakers in the vote as they are currently undecided.

    For the rally Lady Gaga skipped her trademark bizarre outfits in favour of a black suit, American flag tie and a pair of glasses.

    Last week at the Video Music Awards ceremony Lady Gaga won eight awards and was escorted by gay ex-servicemen who had been discharged from the military.


    September 20, 2010

    The End of Home Phones

    TECHNOLOGY - Its coming... a day when traditional home phones (aka landlines) become extinct. Probably within the next 10 or 20 years.

    According to a poll by research firm IDC Canada 12% of Canadians no longer have landlines and have switched solely to cellphones, up 4% from 2009.

    And in the USA the statistic is even higher, 25% of Americans [in 2009)only use a cellphone.

    Meanwhile the Convergence Consulting Group is predicting 26% of Canadians will have ditched landlines by 2014.

    The reason Canada is lagging behind the USA is because wireless is still a bit expensive and Canadians (especially in rural society) have been cautious about switching. In the USA however there has been low priced and unlimited wireless cellphone plans since 2005... whereas Canada's cellphone market has been slow to respond to the technology available.

    But that is changing as we speak. New wireless companies like Mobilicity, Public Mobile, WIND Mobile and Quebec's Videotron are playing a David Vs Goliath game against Canada's big cellphone companies (Bell Canada, Fido, Telus and Rogers). The older/bigger companies have been deliberately slow to react and have been gouging consumers for the past decade.

    FACT: Canada currently has the most expensive wireless companies on the planet. Proof that we're being overcharged.

    Unlimited talk and text packages (that are cheap) are here to stay and its about time the older companies started dropping their rates. Rogers has even introduced a smaller company Chatr just so they could try and defeat the new upstart competition (which is technically illegal because it breaks fair competition laws.

    But this attempt to stifle the competition isn't likely to succeed. Canadians are fed up with being overcharged by the Big Four wireless companies, ridiculous 3-year contracts and overpriced cellphone plans. The era of getting ripped off is close to extinction.

    “In 2007, we had three wireless providers, we had system access fees, and we were paying maybe $2,500 for a gigabyte of data on a wireless phone,” he says. “Now, we have lot of choice,” says SeaBoard Group research analyst Amit Kaminer.

    “Their plans are cheaper, there's more value in them and they're actually much easier to understand,” says Kaminer. “You really don't have to worry about your minutes. You're always comfortable that you won't have surprises with your bill at the end of the month.”

    Kaminer says Canadians are heading into “a new dawn of wireless. What's not to love?”

    And lest we forget that Google is entering the cellphone market... so that should prove interesting to see the kinds of pricing plans they unleash.

    Meanwhile its not just cellphones that are a threat to home phones. There is also Google Phone, Skype, VOIP, Vonage and other internet-based phone lines which allow for unlimited phone access for either free or so cheap its ridiculous.

    According to Telus their long distance revenue has dropped from 72% of their overall income in 2000 to just 28% in 2009 we can see the effect internet based phone lines is having.

    “You could see these trends coming,” says Telus spokesperson Jim Johansson.

    However don't expect landlines to become extinct overnight. Businesses and the older/more rural generations are slower to try cellphones and try the new technology. It may be 20 or 30 years before landlines disappear entirely.

    “Most people are creatures of habit,” says SeaBoard's Kaminer. “They've known the phone company for years. It's not the easiest thing for them to leave or consider other options out there. The land line has been with us for over 100 years. It won't happen overnight. But it will happen.”


    See Also:
    Is a cellphone a basic human right?
    Cellphone Little Black Dress
    Stun gun cellphone prohibited
    Why you should NEVER buy things over the phone
    Boycotting Yak Canada
    Apple`s Steve Jobs admits iPhone 4 is flawed
    Shoddy iPhone 4 Design
    Google launching music downloads

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