NATUASHISH, N.L. – The deputy grand chief of the Innu Nation is pleading for help after two boys were burned in a known hangout for gas sniffing in Labrador.Simeon Tshakapesh says the two suffered burns when the house burned to the ground in Natuashish.RCMP say the two boys — aged 11 and 17 — were seriously injured and are being treated in hospital.It’s the third such fire in the community in less than a month.Tshakapesh says solvent abuse among children and young people in the community has become “an epidemic,” and there is nothing in place to address it.Natuashish was established in 2002 as a new community for the Innu of Davis Inlet, which had been beset by a lack of running water and social problems.
TORONTO – The roots of the Sino-Forest saga stretch back more than 20 years. Formed in 1994, it grew to become the most valuable forestry company on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It was also the first and biggest foreign-owned forestry firm in China and conducted most of its business there, even though it was based in Ontario. That was before its collapse in 2012.Here is a timeline of the Ontario Securities Commission’s case against Sino-Forest:June 2, 2011: Muddy Waters Research releases a report that accuses Sino-Forest of exaggerating its timber assets and fabricating sales transactions.June 3, 2011: Sino-Forest shares lose nearly two-thirds of their value, or about $2.3 billion. Company executives say the allegations in the Muddy Waters Research report are unfounded and they’re confident an independent investigation will conclude as much.June 8, 2011: The Ontario Securities Commission says it is investigating Sino-Forest.Aug. 26, 2011: The OSC accuses Sino-Forest Corp. of fraud and stops trading of the company’s shares on the TSX.Aug. 28, 2011: CEO Allen Chan resigns.Nov. 10, 2011: The OSC refers Sino-Forest fraud allegations to the RCMP.Nov. 15, 2011: Sino-Forest says an interim report from an independent investigation refutes allegations that it is fraudulent. But the report also raises concerns about the challenges of verifying timberland holdings in China.Jan. 31, 2012: Final report from independent investigation is released. It leaves several key questions unanswered, including the value of Sino-Forest’s forestry assets.March 30, 2012: Sino-Forest files for bankruptcy protection and puts itself up for sale.May 9, 2012: Sino-Forest shares are delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange.May 22, 2012: The OSC formally accuses Sino-Forest and five executives including Chan of lying to investors and attempting to mislead investigators.July 21, 2014: David Horsley, former chief financial officer of Sino-Forest, agrees to pay $6.3 million to the OSC and to settle class-action lawsuits. In exchange, he agrees to testify against other former company executives.Sept. 2, 2014: The OSC Sino-Forest case begins. OSC lawyer Hugh Craig says even though its main operations were based in China, the company should be judged by Canadian standards. Chan’s lawyer says while some of Sino-Forest’s business practices may seem peculiar to North Americans, they were “workarounds” that the firm had to employ because they were operating in a country where they were prevented from registering businesses, opening bank accounts and exchanging money freely.April 18, 2016: Closing arguments begin. Craig says Chan was the “controlling mind” behind alleged frauds that robbed shareholders of value.July 14, 2017: The OSC releases its decision that Sino-Forest, Chan and several other executives defrauded investors, misled investigators and “engaged in deceitful and dishonest conduct.”
Six stories in the news for Friday, Oct. 20———POT ON THE TABLE AS HEALTH MINISTERS MEETIt’s cannabis day today at a meeting of federal, provincial and territorial health ministers in Edmonton. Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor is to deliver an update on progress to have marijuana legalized as of next July 1. The premiers and some police agencies have said the timeline is too ambitious and Canada won’t be ready by next summer. During Thursday’s session, the ministers floated the idea of an electronic prescription database to help fight the opioid crisis.———ONE OF 3 VICTIMS OF ARENA AMMONIA LEAK IDENTIFIEDOne of the three men who died following an ammonia leak at an ice rink in southeastern British Columbia has been identified as Lloyd Smith, an off-duty part time paramedic. BC Emergency Health Services said Smith, who began his career as a paramedic with the agency in 1996, was working “at his other job with the City of Fernie when he died.” Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s wife, Laureen, tweeted Thursday night that Smith was a childhood friend.———MEN HURT IN SASK. WILDLIFE FIRE STILL IN HOSPITALA father and son who were badly burned while fighting a grass fire on their land in southwestern Saskatchewan are still in a Calgary hospital’s intensive care unit. The family of Ron Wedrick and his son Evan says they are being treated by a team of burn treatment specialists. Grass fires whipped up by high winds gusting to more than 100 km/h threatened several towns and villages in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan earlier this week.———SENTENCING HEARING EXPECTED TO WRAP AT LA LOCHE TRIALFinal submissions are expected today at the sentencing hearing for a teenager who shot and killed four people and injured seven others at a home and a high school in northern Saskatchewan. The teen has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder in the January 2016 shooting in La Loche. The hearing is to determine whether the teen is sentenced as an adult or a youth.———MICHAEL PITFIELD DIES AT 80Michael Pitfield, a former Senator, clerk of the Privy Council, and close confidante to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, has died at the age of 80. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the death last night, calling Pitfield’s contributions to public life “far-reaching and enduring.” Following his time with the Privy Council and as secretary to the cabinet, Pitfield joined the Senate in 1982 and sat as an independent until his retirement in 2010.———BEDBUGS ON PLANES? NOT SURPRISING SAYS EXPERTA Vancouver entomologist says it’s no surprise bedbugs are hitching rides on commercial flights, given the spread of the insects and a rise in global travel. UBC professor Murray Isman says bedbugs do get into luggage, but it’s rare to hear of the insects bothering passengers. One a recent British Airways flight from Vancouver to London, Heather Szilagyi says she and her family landed to discover they were covered in bites.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will tour Resolute Forest products in Alma. Que.— Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare and Airbus CEO Tom Enders speak to the Montreal Board of Trade.— Statistics Canada will release the retail trade figures for August and the consumer price index for September.— Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will visit Burlington, Kitchener and Cambridge in southwestern Ontario.— Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca will make a transit announcement in Oshawa.
VANCOUVER – Adventurers are being warned to use caution in the mountains north of Vancouver as a winter storm sweeps through the region, increasing the avalanche risk.Joe Lammers, a forecaster with Avalanche Canada, says as much as 50 centimetres of snow is expected to fall on mountains in the South Coast by Friday.Environment Canada has issued snowfall and winter storm warnings for Metro Vancouver, saying a frontal system will bring flurries and freezing rain to the area.Lammers says the snow and strong winds could create unstable slabs in the mountains, and the avalanche danger rating is likely to climb to the considerable level or even to a high rating in the alpine.He says anyone venturing into the backcountry should be trained in avalanche safety, know how to recognize dangerous terrain and carry appropriate equipment, including shovels, beacons and probes.Lammers says even experienced back country users should stick to conservative terrain and lower-angle slopes, and be aware of overhead hazards.Anyone without proper gear or training should stay within bounds at ski resorts, he added.“It’s all about choosing terrain that’s appropriate for the conditions,” Lammers says.Avalanche Canada’s danger ratings for the Sea to Sky region north of Vancouver and the South Coast Inland region to the east are also set to go up to considerable by Friday as wintry weather moves across the province.Unstable snow in British Columbia’s mountains is known to be deadly.In April, five hikers crossing an unstable snow ledge in the mountains north of Vancouver fell 500 metres to their deaths. Rescuers said it appears the group stepped out on the ledge and the snow collapsed beneath them.
MONTREAL – Workers at the ABI aluminum smelter in Becancour, Que. said Friday they expected to be locked out of work for a long time.The United Steelworkers Local 9700 said the facility’s 1,030 employees were suddenly locked out at 3 a.m. Thursday, less than 24 hours after they voted against the company’s latest contract offer by more than 80 per cent.Union leaders said they think the company’s owners are looking to increase the price of aluminum.Workers picketed outside the Becancour smelter Friday afternoon.Alain Croteau, head of the Quebec section of the United Steelworkers, said the facility’s owners have a “hidden agenda.”“We think that financial interests are behind (the lockout),” he said. “When a big smelter such as Alcoa here in Becancour doesn’t produce, it takes aluminum off the market and drives up prices.”The ABI smelter, a major private employer in the region, is 75 per cent owned by Alcoa and 25 per cent by Rio Tinto Alcan.“We think the lockout will last two or three months, minimum,” Croteau said. “It could go to six, seven, eight months, maybe more, we don’t know. It’s sad for the population. It’s sad for the families and the workers here.”Local union president Clement Masse agrees his members will be out of work for a while.“Just stopping the tanks and re-started them, we’re talking about many millions of dollars,” he said. “If the employer took the decision to close two series of tanks, it’s because they don’t think they are going to settle this next week.”The union says the key issue is a company plan to introduce a new member-funded pension plan instead of a defined benefit plan.ABI said it will use management to continue one production line out of three for the duration of the lockout.
TORONTO – A packed Toronto courtroom erupted into cheers and a standing ovation Monday after the judge announced two men convicted of murdering a young woman would not be eligible for parole for 50 years.Dellen Millard is “profoundly amoral and dangerous” while his partner in crime, Mark Smich, “enthusiastically” participated in the murder of Laura Babcock, 23, whose body was never found, Justice Michael Code said.Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., were convicted in December of murdering the Toronto woman in the summer of 2012 and burning her body in an animal incinerator.“Justice has been served to the murderers of our cherished daughter, Laura,” Clayton Babcock, the victim’s father, told reporters outside court. “Somehow life in prison seems lenient when Laura didn’t even get to see her 24th birthday.”Millard and Smich had previously been convicted in the murder of Tim Bosma, a 32-year-old Hamilton father who went missing in May 2013 after going on a test drive with two men interested in buying his pickup truck. That murder trial in 2016 heard the pair burned Bosma’s body in an animal incinerator — called the Eliminator — that belonged to Millard.“This repetition of two planned and deliberate murders also arguably requires separate punishment to deter potential serial murderers who are thinking of going on to commit a second murder after successfully committing a first murder,” Code told the sentencing hearing Monday as he ordered the life sentences in the two murder cases be served consecutively.“Millard unsuccessfully attempted to prove that there is a good side to his personality,” Code said. “In my view, Millard is skillful and clever in delivering pro-social behaviour when it is to his advantage. The overwhelming weight of evidence from text messages to his criminal behaviour is that he is profoundly amoral and dangerous.”Smich, the judge said, was just as culpable.“I am satisfied he was pleased and enthusiastic to be a part of the murder,” Code said.First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.The Babcock trial heard the young woman struggled with mental health and drug use, and was working as an escort in the months leading up to her disappearance in July 2012.Babcock had become infatuated with Millard and had also become transient, bouncing from place to place after deciding to move out of her parent’s home in Toronto’s west end.By early July, she and Millard had texted or called each other more than 100 times over three days until Millard picked Babcock up from a subway station and took her back to his house on July 3.The trial heard Millard and Smich burned Babcock’s body in The Eliminator — located at Millard’s hangar at the Region of Waterloo International Airport — days after she went missing.That was the first time the two friends used the incinerator to burn a body.Ten months later, the pair shot and killed Bosma and got rid of this body by also burning it in the incinerator.The Crown in the Babcock case concluded the true motive for her death was to satisfy the pair’s urge to kill.“They killed Ms. Babcock and Mr. Bosma for the thrill they needed,” Crown attorney Jill Cameron said at the sentencing hearing.The eyes of both Millard and Smich welled up as they were handcuffed and led out of court.But Babcock’s father said he had no sympathy for his daughter’s killers.“We must admit that it was satisfying to see the two cuffed and shuffling off to the prison shuttle, to a life that for most of us would be unbearable,” Clayton Babcock said.
MONTREAL – Quebec provincial police say they handed out more than 300 tickets during a weekend Hells Angels biker gathering that was largely incident-free.Police say about 500 people passed through checkpoints, including some 300 biker gang members who set up near St-Charles-sur-Richelieu, southeast of Montreal.The full-patch Hells members and their associates were in the rural Quebec town for the biker gang’s annual Canada Run, which takes place in a different province each year.Police say most of the tickets were for minor road safety infractions such as riding without a helmet or riding on the shoulder.A 52-year-old biker from Ontario was arrested for uttering threats against a police officer during a checkpoint.Police spokesman Guy Lapointe said the weekend event went off relatively well from the perspective of authorities in that order was maintained and the law respected.“The vast majority of individuals who participated in the event collaborated,” Lapointe said late Sunday.
TORONTO – A rare overnight session at the Ontario legislature that saw protesters and politicians gather for debate on a bill slashing the size of Toronto’s council moved the government closer Monday to passing the legislation, which has thrown the municipal election in Canada’s largest city into chaos.The Progressive Conservatives, who’ve been rushing to push through the reintroduced bill after a judge ruled an earlier version unconstitutional last week, said they expected to bring the matter to a final vote on Thursday — about a month before Toronto goes to the polls.Premier Doug Ford said the overnight session was an indicator of the government’s commitment to passing the controversial legislation, which shrinks Toronto’s electoral map to 25 wards from 47 before the Oct. 22 election.“We were here last night, like tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people around this province — the police officers who have to work at night, the nurses who have to work at night and factory workers who have to work at night,” he said. “We were fighting for the taxpayers of this great city.”The midnight session had drawn crowds of protesters to the legislature.Some heckled Progressive Conservative politicians with cries of “shame, shame,” inside the house until the Speaker cleared the public galleries. Others protested outside, chanting “Let us in!” and “Our city, not Ford’s!” as police officers stood in front of the doors.By midday Monday, the majority had left, but protest signs remained scattered on the grounds outside the legislature.Ford, who has drawn much criticism for invoking a rarely used constitutional provision to forge ahead with his council-cutting plan, maintained that the majority of Ontarians supported him.“We are the only ones listening to the people — not the disruptors, not the professional activists that we’ve seen over the last few days. And when you stand up for the people, the people will stand with you,” he told the legislature. “The people are behind us, and I can tell you my friends, we will never, ever back down.”Later in the day, the government downplayed suggestions there hadn’t been enough debate on the bill, which is dubbed the Efficient Local Government Act.“We feel like we’ve heard from all sides,” said government house leader Todd Smith. “We want to provide that certainty to the City of Toronto and the clerk there as quickly as we possibly can.”The New Democrats, meanwhile, said the protests at the legislature indicated many oppose the government’s move.“I would prefer to be here even longer debating this bill,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “But the government is going to ram it through because, just like they didn’t want to hear the voices of those hundreds of people through the wee hours of the morning, they’re not interested in hearing our voice either.”Horwath briefly left the overnight debate to speak to protesters gathered outside the legislature and told them she was proud to see so many rally to defend charter rights at such an unusual time.“Interfering in ongoing elections has … a chilling effect on our democracy,” she said later inside the house. “The reality is this government behaved inappropriately, rammed this change forward without any kind of consultation while the elections were already underway.”Last Monday, an Ontario Superior Court Judge ruled that an earlier version of the bill violated the freedom of expression rights of voters and candidates because it reduced Toronto’s wards in the middle of an election campaign.Ford said his government would appeal the decision and reintroduce the legislation with the notwithstanding clause, which allows his government to override the court ruling.The premier’s use of the notwithstanding clause has been denounced by the opposition parties, prominent Canadian politicians and hundreds of legal professionals.The province has also applied for Ontario’s Court of Appeal to stay last week’s ruling. That case will be heard on Tuesday and if a stay is granted, it would mean last week’s decision will be put on hold until an appeal is heard, and a 25-ward vote would proceed.“All of this is driving more chaos, more uncertainty and more costs,” Liberal legislator Mitzie Hunter said of the added confusion caused by the stay application.Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the premier’s actions have put the municipal election in jeopardy.“This premier has manufactured a crisis by meddling with elections and trampling on local democracy,” he said. “The Conservatives are acting with impunity, trying to suspend people’s Charter rights under the cover of darkness while Ontarians are asleep. “Evangeline Cowie and Ana Buzdugan, two Grade 12 students from Toronto, had watched the overnight debate for a short time before the public galleries were cleared. The pair said they felt it was important to show their opposition to the bill — even on a school night.“It’s going to send a message that everyone is ready, is prepared to do whatever it takes to go against that decision,” said Cowie, who attended with her parents.“History is kind of going to be made today so I feel like it’s important to be here, especially for something that concerns Toronto and its citizens so much,” Buzdugan added.Frank Griggs expressed similar motivations.“I hope this sends a message to some of the Conservative MPPs that might at least consider voting against this bill based on the feelings of their own constituents and also just their own sense of decency and their own idea of what democracy should be,” Griggs said.The Tory government has maintained that its actions are necessary and within its rights.Last week, City of Toronto clerk Ulli Watkiss said that with each passing day it’s becoming “virtually impossible” to ensure a fair election.
OTTAWA – The federal New Democrats are calling on the Liberal government to lower and cap the fees credit card companies collect from small businesses.Last summer, Ottawa announced voluntary, five-year deals with Visa and MasterCard to trim the fees to an average annual effective rate of 1.4 per cent — down from 1.5 per cent — and narrow the gap between the highest and lowest rates they charge retailers.In making the announcement, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he expected the changes will provide a boost to small- and medium-sized firms by saving them a total of $250 million in credit card fees per year.But the NDP says the Liberals’ agreements are not good enough because they offer no certainty for retailers and favour big business by keeping rates too high at 1.4 per cent.The NDP says smaller businesses are particularly vulnerable to credit card fees, which force them to make up for the lost revenue by passing on the extra costs to consumers.The opposition party is calling for Ottawa to implement a maximum cap of one per cent on credit card fees for small- and medium-sized firms as a way to free up cash that they could use to invest into their operations, raise wages and increase hiring.
VANCOUVER – An earthquake early-warning system tested off British Columbia’s coast could give residents anywhere from 20 seconds to two minutes to prepare before a quake.The first-of-its kind warning sensors developed by Ocean Networks Canada is installed along the Cascadia subduction zone and when fully operating next March will be able to estimate location and magnitude of a megathrust earthquake.Greig Bethel of Ocean Networks Canada, an initiative of the University of Victoria, says the system is active even as more sensors are being installed in the area to increase accuracy.A simulated exercise was conducted Thursday in Vancouver on the 19-kilometre Canada Line stretch of the SkyTrain system, giving transit operators a chance to slow down trains and hold them at stations.British Columbia is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an active seismic zone where thousands of mostly small earthquakes are recorded annually by sensors in the province.Most of the quakes happen near the Cascadia subduction zone, an area where the Juan de Fuca and North American tectonic plates converge, stretching from Vancouver Island to northern California.“Ocean Networks Canada’s earthquake early-warning technology promises a new era of earthquake preparedness that will enhance the safety of both riders and workers on the Canada Line,” says Canada Line general manager Ron Powell.A news release from the network says to maximize warning time, it will focus on setting sensors as close to the Cascadia subduction zone as possible and on minimizing delays in data processing, communication, and delivery of warnings.Global Positioning System receivers will also be located with the seismic sensors to further refine the magnitude.Earthquakes release energy that travels through the Earth as seismic waves in two forms — secondary and primary waves.The primary waves travel faster but the secondary waves are the cause of severe damage and ground shaking.However, the sensors would detect primary waves to deliver alerts before the arrival of the secondary waves.“The detection of an earthquake by many sensors can provide rapid estimates of the location and magnitude of an earthquake as it occurs,” the release says. “This information can be used to determine the estimated arrival time and intensity of ground shaking at specific locations across a region, allowing protective actions to take place before the shaking hits.”The early-warning system can help reduce deaths, injuries and property losses, trigger trains to slow down, stop bridge and tunnel traffic, open bay doors at fire and ambulance halls, halt landings for incoming air traffic, and even allow surgeons to stop delicate procedures, the release says.
CALGARY — A lawsuit filed by a former firefighter and paramedic against Syncrude Canada claims the oilsands giant wrongfully denied him benefits and fired him after he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder related to his job.Mike Swan is seeking damages for lost compensation and benefits, improper paycheque deductions and in lieu of reasonable notice, says a statement of claim filed Dec. 19 in Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.The suit is also asking for “moral or aggravated damages for bad faith throughout the employment relationship” as well as punitive damages.Swan has also complained to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.The allegations against Syncrude have not been proven in court and the company has not yet filed a statement of defence.Swan, 44, began working for Syncrude in 2002 as a heavy equipment operator at its vast mining operation north of Fort McMurray, Alta. In 2007, he joined the company’s fire department, which sometimes responds to calls in the surrounding community.“I was really good at it and loved it,” Swan said in an interview, a black lab named Jack who he’s training to be a service dog, at his feet.Swan said his PTSD built up over time and there was no single event that triggered it. On the job he had to deal with anything from injuries and illnesses to an explosion on site, he said.He said his adrenaline would ramp up every time and it was like flipping on a light.“But if you flip that switch that many times, it gets stuck on and you’re always at that level of agitation or awareness.”Swan was on his day off in Kelowna, B.C., in May 2016 when he got a call from work telling him to get back to Fort McMurray, where a fierce wildfire was rapidly spreading.Unbeknownst to him at the time, his PTSD was in full force.Swan was assigned to watch over a pharmacist who stayed behind during the city-wide evacuation to fill prescriptions. Swan said he would have been better off keeping busy fighting the blaze.“I remember feeling like I was vibrating, like there was nothing worse to me than not actually fighting the fire, and sitting in that parking lot just breathing smoke in.”Swan said the tipping point was when his then-fiancee left him, telling him she never knew what would set him off. His captain found him crying by an ambulance at work and suggested he get help through a company program.“It was useless. They wanted me to eat a salad and get some sleep.”His own psychologist, saying he’d likely had it for years, diagnosed Swan with severe PTSD in March 2017.At first, Swan thought he’d be back on the job after a few weeks.But the following May, his psychologist recommended he get full-time treatment, so he went off work.The statement of claim says Swan received the proper benefits and compensation until October 2017, when a mix-up at the Workers’ Compensation Board led to him losing a week of benefits and top-up pay.Then, in February of 2018, Syncrude told Swan he had to return to work within a week, even though his care team and the WCB did not think he was ready, the lawsuit claims. The statement of claim alleges his benefits and top-up payments were again suspended and improper deductions were made from his paycheque.The suit is seeking a declaration that Syncrude’s actions amounted to constructive dismissal.Syncrude fired Swan on Sept. 20 in what the lawsuit claims was wrongful dismissal.Company spokesman Will Gibson declined to comment on Swan’s specific case, but said “Syncrude values and supports its employees.”Swan said his disputes with Syncrude have worsened his mental health at a time when he should have been focused on getting better.He said he’ll never work as a firefighter or paramedic again because of his condition and he’s exploring retraining options through the WCB.The ordeal has ruined him financially, he added. His sister, with whom he’s been living in Calgary, has set up a GoFundMe page to help with legal and medical bills.“Think about every mental-health campaign that’s going on right now. What are they telling us? Put your hand up. Ask for help,” he said.“I asked for help. I’m still asking for help.”
SOREL, Que. — The Bloc Quebecois is hoping to renew itself following a difficult period marked by deep divisions under its fifth leader since 2011.The party has been meeting in Sorel-Tracy, Que., this weekend for what it is calling a “refoundation,” where members have been debating new ideas and reflecting on their future.In an opening speech yesterday, leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said the party will still be relevant until Quebec has achieved independence.He cited Canada’s dependence on oil as one reason why Quebec cannot become greener or more environmentally friendly under Ottawa’s leadership.The 53-year-old former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister was named the Bloc’s leader in January after no other candidate stepped forward to oppose him.He replaced Martine Ouellet, whose leadership was marked by deep divisions in the party and the resignation of seven of the party’s 10 MPs, who have since returned.The Canadian Press
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) have joined forces with a new print public service announcement starring Academy Award nominee Laura Linney.Laura Linney to appear in PSA campaign for the Melanoma Research Alliance & SU2C.Headlined “Wear Your Beauty Brilliantly,” the PSA is designed to raise awareness about the life-saving benefits of protecting oneself from harmful exposure to UV rays that increase the risk of being diagnosed with melanoma and is the first element in a “Protect Your Skin” campaign.The deadliest of all skin cancers, melanoma is the fastest growing cancer globally and its incidence has tripled in the U.S. over the past three decades. While prevention is the first step, early detection of melanoma is key to survival. Through the PSA, SU2C and MRA also encourage people to look for changes in their skin and to speak to their dermatologists or health care providers about signs and risks. When caught early, the five year survival rate for melanoma is 92%.Linney, an SU2C celebrity ambassador, has helped shine a spotlight specifically on melanoma through her role on The Big C. In the series, her character “Cathy” is a Midwestern wife, mother, and public school teacher who is contending with Stage 4 melanoma. With an awareness of cancer from childhood—her mother was a nurse at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York—Linney is well-versed in the preventive measures one can take to reduce chances of a melanoma diagnosis.“All it takes is a single reminder for a person to do a self-exam that could save his or her life. Melanoma and Breast Cancer can often be seen and felt, respectively, and the impact of open conversations about cancer and its prevention cannot be underestimated. So talk about Cancer. Encourage the women you care about to do a self breast-exam regularly, and everyone to look over their bodies for any strange markings. Communication can curtail cancer, so talk it up!” Linney said.MRA is the largest private funder of melanoma research. To date, MRA has awarded $38 million to 97 research programs to make transformative advances in the prevention, diagnosis, staging, and treatment of melanoma, including research in biological causes of carcinogenesis, skin screening, biomarkers, imaging, immunotherapy, molecularly targeted therapy, and combination therapy. MRA’s ultimate goal is to find a cure by funding the most promising melanoma research worldwide that will accelerate progress and improve outcomes for patients and all who are at risk for the disease.“We are honored to have Laura Linney and our friends at Stand Up To Cancer join MRA by raising awareness about melanoma and melanoma research with the ‘Wear Your Beauty Brilliantly’ PSA,” said Debra Black, co-founder, MRA. “Through her support of the cause and her moving performance on The Big C, Laura has kept melanoma at the forefront of public consciousness, and that work is heartening to all of us at MRA. Stand Up To Cancer has helped shake up the culture of cancer research and we’re excited about working with their esteemed scientists and doctors to find better treatments and, eventually, a cure for melanoma.”In December, 2011, SU2C announced its first jointly funded Dream Team in collaboration with the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA). The SU2C-MRA Melanoma Dream Team Translational Cancer Research Grant provides $6 million during a three-year period.The Dream Team, led by Jeffrey M. Trent, Ph.D., president and research director at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix and Patricia M. LoRusso, director of the Eisenberg Center for Experimental Therapeutics at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, is exploring “Personalized Medicine for Patients with BRAF Wild-Type (BRAFwt) Cancer.” The team’s members are working to identify new therapeutic targets to treat patients with BRAFwt metastatic melanoma, an area where historically there has been little progress.“Stand Up To Cancer’s mission is rooted in collaboration, and this campaign with the Melanoma Research Alliance and Laura Linney underscores that brilliantly,” said SU2C co-founder Sherry Lansing. “We all have a responsibility to get the message out far and wide about the importance of protecting yourself from harmful UV rays.”To learn more, visit www.curemelanoma.org/protectyourskin or www.standup2cancer.org/protectyourskin.
UNICEF Ambassador and National Basketball Association (NBA) star Pau Gasol pledged $1,000 for every point he scored at the Los Angeles Lakers game on Friday, November 22, to support critical U.S. Fund for UNICEF fundraising relief efforts in the aftermath of Super Tyhoon Haiyan.Gasol raised $24,000 for victims of the typhoon.More than five million children have been affected by the emergency. With every day that goes by, children are becoming weaker and more vulnerable not only to disease, but to trafficking, child labor and violence.“Children are in desperate need of clean water, medicine and nutrition supplies,” said Gasol, a two-time NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers. “Having seen UNICEF’s incredible work for children firsthand, I want to support them in making a difference for children and families in the Philippines who have lost everything.”UNICEF’s first priorities are focused on life-saving interventions — getting essential medicines, nutrition supplies, safe water and hygiene supplies to children and families. UNICEF is also preparing to reunite and protect the most vulnerable children who are unaccompanied by adults, and is actively setting up child-friendly spaces where they can learn, play sports, and receive psychosocial support to help restore a sense of normalcy.“We are always so grateful to Pau Gasol for his unwavering commitment to UNICEF,” said Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “The children in the Philippines need our help now, and in the foreseeable future, so it is critical for us to continue to shine a spotlight on their needs.”As a UNICEF Ambassador, Pau Gasol has seen UNICEF programs for children in action in several countries around the world including HIV/AIDS-related projects and education initiatives. He has also witnessed UNICEF’s emergency relief work in the Sahel region of Africa, and programs supporting Syrian refugees in Iraq. Gasol has supported UNICEF’s work on behalf of child survival and development for a decade both in the United States and Spain.The National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Basketball Player’s Association (NBPA) have also teamed up to donate $250,000 to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in support of UNICEF’s emergency relief efforts in areas of the Philippines ravaged by the devastating typhoon.To make a donation, click here.
The third annual summer “Hamptons Paddle & Party for Pink” fundraiser, to be held on Saturday, August 16, 2014, benefiting The Breast Cancer Research Foundation will be an event in two parts — a multi-skill level paddle boarding race and a benefit party co-hosted by prominent New Yorkers Lisa and Richard Perry and full-time Hamptons residents Maria and Larry Baum.The event will bring together hundreds of competitive paddle boarders, spectators and guests in support of raising critical funds for breast cancer research. The race will take place at Havens Beach in Sag Harbor; the party will take place at the spectacular residence of Lisa and Richard Perry.Co-chair Maria Baum, mother of four, investor, entrepreneur, and a partner of Tutto Il Giorno restaurants, took on paddle boarding as an exuberant activity to help her cope through her breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and subsequent recovery. She will once again race alongside longtime paddler Richard Perry and the anticipated 100-plus paddlers. The race will follow World Paddle Association (WPA) racing rules and all racers will be timed with the WPA Blast Race Management System. Following the race, guests will revel at a sunset party.To celebrate the event, you can bid on paddle boards designed and signed by Martha Stewart, Kim Kardashian, Bethenny Frankel, Gwyneth Paltrow, Donna Karan, Tony Burch, Aerin Lauder and more, as well as on the chance to enjoy a private workout with Tracy Anderson and Gwyneth Paltrow. The auctions can be accessed here.Last year’s event, which drew such guests as Edie Falco, Matt Lauer, Martha Stewart, Aerin Lauder, William Lauder, and Donna Karan, raised over $1,200,000 in funds that went directly toward the Foundation. Highlights included heartfelt remarks from the Baums and an inspiring overview of the Foundation’s mission to find a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime from BCRF Scientific Advisory Board Chairman Clifford Hudis, MD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, MSKCC).Find out more about the event here.The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) advances the world’s most promising research to eradicate breast cancer in our lifetime. Founded by Evelyn H. Lauder in 1993, BCRF has raised more than $500 million to fuel discoveries in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, survivorship and metastasis. This year, they invested $45 million in the work of more than 200 researchers at leading medical institutions across six continents. By spending 91 cents of every dollar on research and public awareness, BCRF remains one of the nation’s most fiscally responsible charities. They are the only breast cancer organization with an “A+” from CharityWatch, and have been awarded a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator 12 times since 2002.
Earlier this week, hip-hop icon and yoga devotee Russell Simmons sent a letter on PETA’s behalf to lululemon asking the yoga apparel retailer to end all sales of down feathers.As Simmons notes in the letter, geese in the down industry are violently killed for their feathers and some even have their throats slit while fully conscious and able to feel pain — cruelty that goes directly against the yoga principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence, that Simmons and many other lululemon shoppers follow.“Since I’m an avid yoga practitioner, lululemon athletica is one of my favorite places to shop,” wrote Simmons. “I was disappointed, though, to learn that some of your brand’s outerwear contains down feathers. On behalf of my friends at PETA and your many compassionate customers, I encourage lululemon to switch to cruelty-free synthetics instead.“No matter how the feathers are obtained, gentle geese are violently killed (some even have their throats slit while still fully conscious), thereby going completely against the philosophy of ahimsa that I and many other lululemon customers embrace. When there are so many cruelty-free options, such as Thinsulate, Climashield, and PrimaLoft, which are all warm, cozy, and environmentally friendly, there is simply no excuse for selling down.“Switching to synthetics also makes good business sense: A study by Nielsen found that most global online consumers are willing to pay more for products that come from socially and environmentally responsible companies, and a study by the Brookings Institution found that 89 percent of millennials want to buy from companies that support solutions to specific social issues.”PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear” — has already prompted outdoor outfitter Coleman and other ethical retailers to use exclusively high-tech synthetics such as Thinsulate, Climashield, PrimaLoft, or the Plumtech that animal-friendly company Save the Duck uses for its puffer coats.
An interview with television producer Norman Lear appeared on TED earlier this year.In it Lear speaks about how he discovered what he calls “the foolishness of the human condition” and how it led him through his outstanding television programming career.One of the reasons his shows of decades past were so popular is because they gave a voice to underrepresented segments of society of the time. Those people were his audience ‒ think: All in the Family, Sanford and Son, Maude, The Jeffersons ‒ and the shows had a profound influence on many. Lear cites one young man who learned from watching George Jefferson on The Jeffersons that it was actually possible for a black man to write a cheque.Although the sitcoms’ stereotypical Jewish mother was based on his own mother, his childhood history was not a happy one. His mother is described as someone for whom Lear was never good enough. It was also during his childhood that he learned that there were people in the world that hated him because he was born to Jewish parents. These things, along with an absentee father, Lear believes were influential in his later years during his search for a voice that would be listened to.But the most important seed was planted on the day that nine-year-old Lear was crying while his father was being carted off to jail and another man put’s his hand on Lear’s shoulder and said, “You’re the man of the house now, and men of the house don’t cry.”“I think that was the moment,” says Lear, “that I began to understand the foolishness of the human condition,” which became the springboard to his soaring career, giving voices to those who had none.Copyright ©2016Look to the Stars
Environmentalist David Suzuki recently lamented on the typical political perspective on fossil fuels.“Rather than focusing on short-term economic and corporate priorities,” Suzuki says, “politicians should first consider the long-term health and well-being of the people they’re elected to represent. When it comes to climate change and fossil fuels, many aren’t living up to that.”Canada’s national carbon pricing initiatives alone will not meet the country’s Paris Agreement commitment, and the Paris Agreement alone will not solve global warming.“It’s difficult to take a government seriously,” says Suzuki, “when it approves or supports expanding fossil fuel infrastructure and development while the world continues to break warming records with increasingly dire consequences.”Even with no new development, current oil and gas fields will take the planet beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius. And yet here’s what’s in the lineup:• A liquid natural gas project within British Columbia’s critical salmon-rearing territory (and without First Nations’ approval) • Three more bitumen pipelines to support oil sands expansion, at least one of which is likely to be approved by the Canadian government • Continued subsidies (currently $3.3 billion/year in tax breaks and handouts) to the fossil fuel industry“Saskatchewan has Canada’s best wind and solar resources, but the government focuses on expensive and unreliable schemes like carbon capture and storage,” says Suzuki. “It’s all a form of denial. Conserving energy, shifting to cleaner sources, reducing automobile use by improving transit and bike and pedestrian infrastructure, protecting and restoring carbon sinks such as forests and wetlands, and getting a handle on agricultural emissions are all possible, and would create numerous jobs and economic opportunities.“As Oil Change International says, ‘If you’re in a hole, stop digging.’”Copyright ©2016Look to the Stars
The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City, Inc. (NAMI-NYC Metro) recently celebrated their 11th annual NAMIWalks NYC.Darryl McDaniels at NAMIWalks NYCThe event took place at the South Street Seaport Promenade in Lower Manhattan. Hip Hop Legend and mental health advocate Darryl “DMC” McDaniels served as grand marshal and kicked off the walk with special remarks about dealing with mental illness in his own life.“Through generous corporate support and our devoted teams and walkers, I’m happy to report that we met our goal of $550,000 from NAMIWalks NYC this year,” said Nathan Romano, president of the board of directors, NAMI-NYC Metro. “With the encouraging words of Darryl McDaniels’ own personal story with mental illness, it was a great day in the fight against stigma towards mental illness.”New York’s largest mental health event hosted more than 2,000 people who turned out despite the wind and rain and traveled over the Brooklyn Bridge and back to the Seaport Promenade and ended the day with a wellness fair which included activities such as free massages, basic health screenings, give-a-ways, and more.NAMIWalks NYC celebrates recovery from mental illness and helps raise funds to combat stigma and promote awareness. Funds raised from NAMIWalks NYC will allow NAMI-NYC Metro to provide no-cost support and education to thousands of New Yorkers next year including four signature, multi-week education courses, bi-monthly public education events with leading experts, and more than 20 support groups for people living with mental health and for families and friends caring for an impacted loved one.
Matthew McConaughey, Academy Award Winning Actor (Dallas Buyers Club), director, producer, writer and philanthropist, will be the Inspiration Honoree and special guest speaker at this year’s Third Annual City Gala on March 4th, 2018, held at Universal Studios Hollywood.The actor will be honored for his work with his own just keep livin Foundation.The Gala is the culmination of three days of events – following the two-day City Summit on March 2nd and 3rd featuring keynote speaker, Ashton Kutcher. The Gala supports these nonprofit, charitable beneficiaries: Already Always Amazing, Bright Futures Foundation, Feed A Billion, Fulfilled Families, Firelife Foundation, Project NOW, Conscious Capitalism, Child Liberation Foundation, and My Life My Power.Matthew McConaughey is known as much for his work onscreen (The Lincoln Lawyer, The Wolf of Wall Street, Interstellar) as off, through his just keep livin Foundation which he started with his wife, Camila. Early in his career, while filming Dazed and Confused, McConaughey struggled with the passing of his father. It was during this time that he was overtaken by a saying that would become the mantra of his life: “just keep livin.” In 2015, the foundation was created to help empower high school students by providing them with the tools to lead active lives and make healthy choices for a better future. The work that Matthew McConaughey has done through his own foundation, his tireless commitment to giving back to the community, and his successful film and TV career, make him an obvious choice to be this year’s Inspiration Honoree.“City Summit and City Gala bring together leaders in their fields who have the common goal of supporting humanitarian efforts. Our event raises critical funds to allow startup, nonprofit organizations to get the funding they need to achieve their goals. We could not be more thrilled to have McConaughey as this year’s honoree,” said Ryan Long, Founder of City Summit & Gala. This year’s Gala will include dinner, a celebrity poker tournament, and live and online auction put on by CharityStars, the world’s most comprehensive fundraising platform and creator of AidCoin.Find out more about the event here.