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Venezuela: National guardsman fatally shot as violence continues – National

ABOVE: Tear gas rained down on anti-government protesters in Caracas on Sunday, in a continuation of near daily confrontations with the National Guard (Mar 16) 

VALENCIA, Venezuela – The governor of a Venezuelan state says a National Guardsman has been shot and killed in the city of Maracay.

Aragua state Gov. Tareck El Aissami announced via his 桑拿会所 account Monday that National Guard Capt. Jose Guillen Araque was shot in the head Sunday night during violence in the city some 125 kilometres southwest of Caracas. El Aissami gave no details, but said the captain was “killed by fascist groups,” phrasing officials often apply to protesters.

Prior to Araque’s death, the government had identified 25 deaths related to more than a month of protests in Venezuela.

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©2014The Canadian Press

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Families of fallen Canadians in Afghanistan reflect on loss – National

OTTAWA, Ont. – Was it all worth it?

It is a brutally awkward question, especially when posed in the context of Afghanistan.

There is no shortage of people opining about the now-concluded military mission that morphed into a costly, bloody humanitarian exercise.

But few of those voices truly count as much as the ones who’ve stayed largely silent through the tempest of this war – the families of the fallen, some of whom are speaking up for the first time in a series of interviews with The Canadian Press.

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Flags that dotted the highway of heroes are folded and put away, and now as the nation moves on, these people will continue to quietly bear the burden – our burden.

They will be left to ponder that uncomfortable question, more deeply and personally than the rest of us, and long after we have stopped trying to answer it for them.

As the last 100 soldiers rush into the warmth of home this week, these people will still have empty places at the dining room table and cling to the mementoes of lives inexorably cut short.

And although the scale of casualties from Afghanistan pales in comparison to the unmitigated slaughter of the First and Second World Wars, they say the grief and sense of loss is no less sharp.

There were 158 Canadian soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors who died over the dozen years Canada’s military spent in both Kandahar and Kabul. Here are their families’ words:

MICHAEL HORNBURG

Despite the investment of blood and treasure, the Afghanistan being left behind is far from peaceful and secure.

It teeters dangerously on a knife’s edge and that’s led Michael Hornburg of Calgary – who lost his son 24-year-old Cpl. Nathan Hornburg – to question why the West stayed after it was clear al-Qaeda had been routed in 2001-02.

“I think the Taliban got the message right away about not to shelter the al-Qaeda training bases there,” said Hornburg, recalling the bright September 2007 fall day when three officers came knocking on his door to announce that his “best friend” was lost to him.

“While I support human rights all over the world, in many ways I don’t understand why our Canadian Armed Forces would be there to stabilize Afghanistan.”

Michael Hornburg, who used to read classic literature out loud to his son even into his teenage years, said he tried to convince the boy to become a firefighter, or a cop, rather than a soldier. Their last 25 minute overseas phone conversation, the day before Nathan died, remains seared into his memory.

“From what (Nathan) told us privately and said publicly, he wanted to go and provide a better way of life for women and girls,” he said.

“He was always a very, very strong supporter in his life here in Calgary for the rights of women and girls, but I just don’t know that was worth his life. You know? For a worthless ass piece of (the) Rigestan Desert.”

ANNE SNYDER

Other families, including Anne Snyder – whose son Capt. Jon Snyder, 26, died in 2008 – wonder if the Afghans wanted the West there at all.

“Were we fighting a losing battle?” said Snyder, of Head of Jeddore, N.S.

When she sees the persistent, grinding poverty of the Afghan people and unabated violence, including last week’s bloody attack on the Kandahar intelligence headquarters, Snyder says you can’t help but ask questions.

“I don’t want to think my son died for nothing,” she said.

Her way of honouring Jon, who was posthumously awarded the country’s second-highest military medal for bravery, is to counsel other families of the fallen, including most recently relatives of suicide victims. She’s also dedicated a portion of her garden to him where poppies and lilies return each year.

BEVERLEY SKAALRUD

Beverley Skaalrud, whose son Pte. Braun Woodfield, 24, lost his life in 2005, wrestles with questions of political accountability and wonders if the country was mentally and physically ready for war in Kandahar.

“I feel we sent an ill prepared, inadequately equipped, enthusiastic and honourable military team into an area that was beyond our scope and means,” said Skaalrud, who lives in Airdrie, Alta.

“Did we draw the short straw? Was there political gain to be had by someone?”

Her son was proud to serve, but she isn’t convinced the government – both Liberal and Conservative – did enough to support the troops when they were in the field.

LINCOLN AND LAURIE DINNING

Cpl. Matthew Dinning would have celebrated his 31st birthday last weekend and is never far from the thoughts of his parents – Lincoln and Laurie Dinning – since his death in roadside bombing on April 22, 2006.

He believed the Canadian presence was making a difference and that’s all the validation his mother and father needed to hear.

“The soldiers who went over there really believed they could make a change,” said Laurie Dinning, of Wingham, Ont.

“Of course, from a parent’s point of view, the loss of a child is something we’ll never get over. We certainly have been able to move forward in our lives with lots of support from family and friends.”

Every Christmas the family puts two little Christmas trees alongside his grave with purple decorations marking each year since he’s been gone.

VALERIE BERRY

Being prepared to give up their lives is second nature to soldiers, and that possibility is something that haunts every military family. But the unlimited liability is not something you expect in the diplomatic service.

Their job is to prevent and war, not become one of its victims. But that’s what happened to Glynn Berry, 59, the political director of the Kandahar provincial reconstruction base, on January 15, 2006 when a suicide bomber smashed a vehicle into a military convoy.

His widow, Valerie Berry, has never spoken publicly. Like every other family interviewed by The Canadian Press, she said she was relieved to see final 100 troops are now safely out of harm’s way.

“From a purely personal perspective I am thankful our troops are returning home after having performed bravely and steadfastly in a very difficult situation, one that it would appear couldn’t possibly have been won in such a relatively short time,” she said.

Berry’s memory is kept alive in number of professional and personal ways, including a memorial scholarship at Halifax’s Dalhousie University, an annual lecture series on foreign and defence policy, and the awarding of a memorial cup at the annual Canada-Wales rugby match in Cardiff – something Valerie Berry says “would have made Glyn beam with pride because as well as world affairs and family he was passionate about the game of rugby and proud of his Welsh roots.”

She continues to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, and does special things they normally enjoyed together, such as a walk in the woods amongst the deer or lunch out at a local pub.

“Sometimes, when I’m not sure how to go forward, I ask myself, ‘What would Glyn have said?’ and the answer comes to me.”

RAYNALD BOUTHILLIER

Raynald Bouthillier has immortalized his son and the images of other Canadian soldiers on the side of one of his tractor trailers, which rumbles over the highways and byways of northern Ontario.

Trooper Jack Bouthillier, 20, was killed in a roadside bombing in March 2009 and his father harbours “no doubt whatsoever” and doesn’t debate the merits of the mission with himself.

Bouthillier equates the war with the plight of first responders.

“They are ready to take risk to help others, and I think that’s why we went there in Afghanistan,” he said.

“After the World Trade Centre attack, there was no way the world could stay there and do nothing. I think it’s a bummer I lost my son, but you know, I’m not the only one. Many people there did sacrifice.”

For him, it’s not about the cause, it’s about the kind of man his son was, and what he represents to others.

“We’re so proud of the choice of career (that) Jack chose, and what he did with his life. He said, ‘I’m going to do my job as a Canadian and I’m going to give all the support I can to the (Afghan) people.”‘

WAS IT WORTH IT?

If there is something that binds all of the families together beyond their shared grief and sense of loss, it’s the belief that despite the opaque, uncertain ending to this war, their loved ones stood for something more than themselves.

“To say that our involvement was not worth it would be to dishonour my husband and everything for which he stood and everything towards which he worked during his long career,” said Valerie Berry.

“It hasn’t been a perfect conclusion and there is still instability and conflict in the region and a lot more to accomplish by the Afghans themselves but I believe that the quality of life has changed for the better for many people in Afghanistan, partly due to our involvement. Was it worth sacrificing lives? I suppose my thought is that we all die one day and if it is in serving one’s country in the most honourable way possible, then one can ask for nothing more.”

The sense of conviction among each of the fallen is something Anne Snyder clings to as she talks her way through her pain.

“I don’t want to think he died for no reason, and that’s were I’m sort of thinking perhaps it was worth it to him,” she said. “He did say he was doing the job he was supposed to do and he was being successful. He used to say to me, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am where I should be.”‘

While she may not believe it was worth it for Canada, Skaalrud, also fiercely proud of her son, described his desire to help the people of Afghanistan as honourable.

“Was it worth it? No. I don’t believe it was worth Canada’s human cost,” she said. “I can only hope, that the women and children of Afghanistan have gained a taste of freedom that will compel them to fight for it themselves.”

If there is nobility in sacrifice, there is also a tempered generosity of spirit and an expectation that the people whom Canadians fought for will show themselves worthy of what these families have given up.

“Our family hopes the Afghan people will embrace what our soldiers have done for them and just make their country what it should be,” said Laurie Dinning.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Canadian designers hope to boost business with online offerings

TORONTO – Sid Neigum’s creations are carried in shopping hotspots at home and abroad, and he’s now hoping that online sales will translate into a boost for both brand awareness and the bottom line.

The Alberta-born, Toronto-based designer is one of several homegrown talents being showcased this month on Gilt, a U.S.-based online shopping website that ships to more than 180 countries.

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“It just opens you up to the entire world versus just one town or one city,” said Neigum, a native of Drayton Valley, Alta., whose designs are sold in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, Seoul and Hong Kong.

“It opens you up to an entire new market of consumers that I hadn’t had before, and it’s just a great promotional platform, too.”

Like Neigum, Chloe and Parris Gordon aren’t relying solely on their runway presentation at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week to reach potential customers.

The sibling design duo behind womenswear and accessory brand Beaufille have an online shop on their label’s site, but see the partnership with Gilt as an opportunity for more widespread exposure.

“We’re sitting next to designers that we’d love to sit next to in a boutique setting,” said Parris of the site, which features such notable names as Diane von Furstenburg, Narciso Rodriguez and Kate Spade. “So for us as designers being new and Canadian, it’s a huge platform, and I think we’re really excited to be a part of it.”

A Statistics Canada report released last October found the value of online orders placed by Canadians reached $18.9 billion in 2012 – a 24 per cent increase from 2010. Among online shoppers, 42 per cent purchased clothing, jewelery or accessories. U.S.-based Forrester Research expects online retail sales in Canada to reach $34 billion in 2018 – representing 10 per cent of all total retail transactions in the country.

As bricks-and-mortar stores carve out a digital presence with e-commerce sites, a growing slate of Canadian online retailers are also vying for consumer dollars with curated collections of designer goods and added incentives aimed at appealing to homegrown shoppers.

Designer footwear site The September touts its duty-free offerings as well as free shipping and returns to Canadian customers, while eLUXE offers complimentary styling services and features homegrown labels like Smythe in addition to international brands. Luxury retailer SSENSE used an inventive approach to bring awareness and sales to the site a few years ago by styling the looks in a music video that consumers could click on and buy as they watched the clip.

“E-commerce in general continues to grow, but what we bring – and what some sites similar to us bring – is excitement every day, it’s inspiration,” said Marshall Porter, senior vice-president and general manager of international and business development for Gilt.

“It’s not just about finding a pair of black pants; it’s going to Gilt and seeing what inspired our curators and merchandising teams and hoping that it inspires our members as well.”

For designers looking to further bolster their brands through online sales, establishing an e-commerce platform is just the beginning with several other key elements needed to drive the momentum.

“You need to find the right programmer, you need to work on the design… and also you need to do the constant work of promoting and inviting the people to go to your page – so it’s a big challenge,” said French-born designer Cecile Raizonville of Matiere Noire, whose Montreal-based label launched its online boutique last September.

While e-commerce is a “different way of selling,” it’s one that has its advantages, like distinguishing which items are featured online versus those carried in real boutiques, she noted.

“It’s the opportunity to show all of our pieces so you can get feedback from the people, but mainly, you can divide the types of products that you sell and control the price point.”

Having an online sales presence will be of little benefit to designers without driving traffic to their respective sites, noted Steve Tissenbaum, adjunct professor with the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. While some may be able to create email distribution lists and spread the message through word of mouth and social media, “the challenge is getting the critical mass of people who will attend.”

“If you’re a small designer in Canada and you are noticed, then what’s the story you’re telling? And are other people going to listen so that the site becomes popular for those designers?” said Tissenbaum.

“I don’t doubt that it will happen. I just think it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to happen in a big way,” he added. “It’s a difficult market. There are so many people who are starting companies. So many designers, so many singers.. small retailers – and then you have the large retailers to contend with.”

Another factor is attempting to shift consumer behaviour to entice them to try something new or unknown. Tissenbaum described the 80-20 rule, noting that on average, 20 per cent of the brands a consumer buys generates 80 per cent of their wardrobe.

“If you buy into that, then how likely are you to start to adopt a brand of which you’re not familiar with because it was carried by a particular distribution channel?”

Still, Tissenbaum believes the appetite for change and impulse purchases like those typically seen in traditional retail settings can translate to online.

“If I’m in Winners, and I find one of these brands… yeah, maybe I would buy it… because it’s something I really like and it’s an unknown brand, but it looks really good,” he said.

“First of all, I have to be going to Winners. The same with these websites. You have to be somebody who goes there. And second of all, you have to be someone who’s willing to buy something that you normally wouldn’t buy.

“I’m not saying that it’s not going to work – but it’s a long process.”

©2014The Canadian Press

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Family of man killed in highway crash gets surprise gift

CALGARY- A grieving Red Deer family devastated by a highway crash earlier this month has received a generous and timely gift.

46-year-old Eric Cote was killed in a pileup on the QEII north of Calgary on March 7th, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters.

All three suffer from a genetic disease that causes tumours in the nervous system.

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The family has been struggling financially since Eric Cote’s death and the crash left them without a vehicle.

On the weekend, a group of Alberta businessmen, who wish to remain anonymous, bought Cote’s wife, Ghislaine, a 2013 Ford Escape with the help of Legacy Ford in Ponoka.

It comes complete with winter tires, a service package and an extended warranty.

The car will help Ghislaine Cote and her children get to medical appointments.

READ MORE: Help floods in for family of man killed in highway crash

A trust fund has been set up for the Cote family at ATB.

Anyone wishing to donate can go to any location, but will have to provide the account number 712-00265716300.

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‘Two and a Half Men’ star Angus T. Jones denounces series

TORONTO — Angus T. Jones, who grew up on the sitcom Two and a Half Men, said he was a “paid hypocrite.”

The actor, who played Jake Harper on the series from 2003 until the end of last season, told Houston TV station KHOU he is happy about his decision to walk away.

“It was making light of topics in our world that are really problems for a lot of people,” said Jones, “and I was a paid hypocrite because I wasn’t okay with it but I was still doing it.”

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Jones made millions working on Two and a Half Men — he was the highest paid child actor on television — and continues to reap royalties.

Jones, now 20, has stopped shaving and is enrolled at the University of Colorado. He was in Houston to speak at the Seventh-Day Adventist congregation World Harvest Outreach.

“I really want to be able to come into the light because I know that’s where genuine healing is and I’ve just seen God do amazing things,” he explained.

In a video posted online in late 2012, Jones urged people to stop watching Two and a Half Men. He later issued a statement apologizing to series creator Chuck Lorre.

But in the new interview, Jones said: “I insulted his baby and to that degree I am apologetic but otherwise I don’t regret saying what I said.”

Jones said he is interested in returning to acting, but in “Bible-based stories and stuff like that.”

Two and a Half Men, starring Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher, has been renewed for another season.

©2014Shaw Media

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Industrial Light & Magic opens their Vancouver office

The studio responsible for visual effects for some of the world’s most famous movie franchises officially opens its Vancouver office today – and it will soon get to work on the new Star Wars movie.

Industrial Light and Magic, founded in 1975 by George Lucas to produce visual effects for his movies, is holding a ribbon-cutting event today with Kathleen Kennedy, President of LucasFilm.

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They hope to have 200 new employees at the studio by the summer in order to work on a host of upcoming movies, including Transformers: Age of Extinction, Jurassic World, and Star Wars: Episode VII, which is expected to be released in December 2015.

The studio, which has been nominated for dozens of academy awards in the last 30 years, has been responsible for the visual effects in the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park franchises, among others.

They’ve moved into a Gastown studio that was formerly filled by Pixar, the Disney-owned animation company which operated in Vancouver for three years before closing shop in 2013.

Despite the loss of Pixar, Vancouver has increasingly become a hub for the visual and digital effects industries. Last month it was announced the ‘Angry Birds’ movie would be created at Sony Pictures Imageworks’s Vancouver studio.

©2014Shaw Media

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NYC mayor skips St. Patrick’s Day parade amid tension over gay rights – National

WATCH ABOVE: St. Patrick’s Day controversies in Boston, NYC

NEW YORK – New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade stepped off Monday without Mayor Bill de Blasio marching along with the crowds of kilted Irish-Americans and bagpipers amid a dispute over whether participants can carry pro-gay signs.

The world’s largest parade celebrating Irish heritage set off down Fifth Avenue on a cold and grey morning, the culmination of a weekend of St. Patrick’s Day revelry.

De Blasio held the traditional St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at Gracie Mansion with the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, but was boycotting the parade, which doesn’t allow expressions of gay identity.

WATCH BELOW: New York Mayor withdraws from St. Patrick’s Day parade

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Boston’s new mayor, Martin Walsh, also opted out of that city’s parade Sunday after talks broke down that would have allowed a gay veterans group to march.

Guinness beer abruptly dropped its sponsorship of New York’s parade on Sunday over the controversy. The Dublin-based company has pulled sponsorship assets, including on-air presence, parade participation and any promotional materials that weren’t already printed, although the beer maker had already made a payment to parade organizers, spokeswoman Alix Dunn said.

Other beer companies earlier joined the boycotts, with Sam Adams withdrawing its sponsorship of Boston’s parade and Heineken following suit in New York. That leaves Ford as the last remaining major sponsor of the Manhattan parade.

Parade organizers in New York have said gay groups are not prohibited from marching, but they are not allowed to carry gay-friendly signs or identify themselves as LGBT.

For the second year running, Dublin’s major parade was including groups from Ireland’s gay rights groups, Dublin Pride and BeLonG To. Gay groups are a big part of the Dublin community dance groups, which wear flamboyant outfits and feature in each year’s Dublin parade.

While New York’s Irish, their descendants and the Irish for a day planned to revel in the celebration of culture on Monday, de Blasio’s decision to skip the parade underscores lingering political tensions over gay rights issues in the United States. Kenny, however, refused to be sidelined, saying he’d join the procession Monday in Manhattan because the holiday is about Irishness, not sexuality.

De Blasio, in one of the first major events that Gracie Mansion has hosted under the new mayor, addressed several hundred people at the breakfast, many of Irish descent.

Sporting a green tie, de Blasio, who is not Irish, recalled his roots growing up in Massachusetts, living in congressional district once represented by Irish-Americans John F. Kennedy and Tip O’Neill. “I also grew up in an atmosphere so rich in Irish culture,” the mayor said.

He said in a toast that New York is a “city of immigrants” and residents “never forget” where they came from.

Kenny presented de Blasio a book containing a history of Ireland. The mayor of the Big Apple dropped a crystal apple he was presenting to Kenny. It did not appear to break.

Kenny, Ireland’s head of government, on Sunday became the first Irish prime minister to attend Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast. He has resisted pressure, in both Ireland and America, to support the gay rights lobby’s demand to have equal rights to participate in parades on St. Patrick’s Day.

“The St. Patrick’s Day parade (in New York) is a parade about our Irishness and not about sexuality, and I would be happy to participate in it,” Kenny said in Dublin before leaving for a six-day trip to the U.S.

Some LGBT groups were to protest the parade along the parade route on Fifth Avenue on Monday. Others had planned to dump Guinness beer from the shelves of the Stonewall Inn, the birthplace of the gay rights movement, in protest of the brewer’s plan to sponsor the parade, but that demonstration was cancelled late Sunday after Guinness said in a statement that it had dropped its sponsorship.

New York’s parade, a tradition that predates the city itself, draws more than 1 million spectators and about 200,000 participants every March 17. It has long been a mandatory stop on the city’s political trail, and includes marching bands, traditional Irish dancers and thousands of uniformed city workers.

Associated Press writers Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin and Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia, contributed to this report.

©2014The Associated Press

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Nakamoto hires lawyer in Newsweek bitcoin fight – National

LOS ANGELES – The man Newsweek claimed is the creator of bitcoin has hired a lawyer in an attempt to clear his name, repeating a denial he made to The Associated Press more than a week ago that he has never had anything to do with the digital currency.

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In a statement issued by his lawyer, Ethan Kirschner, Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto said Monday that he “did not create, invent or otherwise work on” bitcoin. In the magazine’s return to print this month after more than a year, Newsweek’s cover story declared Nakamoto to be the “face behind bitcoin.” Despite the repeated denials, the magazine has stood behind the story.

Nakamoto, 64, did not say whether he plans to sue the magazine.

Nakamoto repeated that he had not heard of bitcoin until his son told him a reporter asked about it in mid-February. He said he has not been able to find steady work for 10 years and had cancelled his Internet service last year “due to severe financial distress.”

Nakamoto added that he is trying to recover from prostate surgery in 2012 and a stroke he suffered last October.

“My prospects for gainful employment has been harmed because of Newsweek’s article,” he said in the statement. “Newsweek’s false report has been the source of a great deal of confusion and stress for myself, my 93-year-old mother, my siblings, and their families.”

Newsweek said in a statement that it “has not received any statement or letter from either Mr. Nakamoto or his legal counsel. If and when we do, we will respond as necessary.”

On March 6, the day Newsweek posted its story online, about a dozen journalists descended on the home where Nakamoto lives with his mother in Temple City, Calif. Nakamoto denied ever being involved with bitcoin multiple times, including during an exclusive two-hour interview with the AP in which he discussed his life, career, family and addressed the assertions in Newsweek’s piece.

The magazine developed its thesis on the creator’s identity by matching Nakamoto’s name, educational history, career, political views and writing style to the alleged creator of bitcoin, who has been known only as “Satoshi Nakamoto.” Many believe the name to be a pseudonym.

It’s not clear whether Nakamoto sought out legal counsel or was approached after the story and his denial reverberated around the globe. Kirschner’s website says he handles business and entertainment matters, and a listing on movie database IMDbPro indicates that the rapper KRS-One is a former client.

Kirschner graduated from law school at the University of Minnesota and became qualified to practice in California in 2005, according to the State Bar of California. His office is on a residential street in the hip Echo Park neighbourhood of Los Angeles.

Nakamoto said his statement will be his last public statement on the matter. Neither he nor his lawyer responded to requests for further comment.

In the days since the Newsweek story and Nakamoto’s denial made headlines, a barrage of criticism has been levelled at the magazine. Meanwhile, Nakamoto has been the target of charitable donations. Nearly 1,900 people have contributed bitcoins worth about $29,000 to an account created by bitcoin entrepreneur Andreas Antonopoulos.

Antonopoulos said on the website Reddit杭州夜网 that it seems “increasingly unlikely” that Nakamoto was indeed the digital currency’s creator and that the fund was created to “soften the damage caused by irresponsible journalism.”

Antonopoulos said he plans to convert the bitcoins into U.S. dollars at the end of March and deliver them to Dorian Nakamoto or donate them to a charity of his choice.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Former MP Steve Mahoney registers to replace Mississauga mayor McCallion – Toronto

Watch the video above: Former MP Steve Mahoney registers to replace Hazel McCallion. Laura Zilke reports. 

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – A former Mississauga city councillor who also spent time in federal and provincial politics is joining the race to replace the city’s longtime Mayor Hazel McCallion.

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Steve Mahoney filed his registration Monday to be a candidate for the job being left open by the 93-year-old McCallion, who has announced she won’t be running in October’s municipal election.

Mahoney, 66, was a Liberal member of the Ontario legislature from 1987 to 1995 and a Liberal MP from 1997 to 2003, when he served as a cabinet minister under then-prime minister Jean Chretien.

He spent time on Mississauga’s city council from 1978 to 1987 and also spent several years as chairman of Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board until 2012.

He’s the third person to officially register in the mayor’s race so far, but is the most prominent candidate.

McCallion has been Mississauga’s mayor for more than 3 1/2 decades since being elected in 1978.

Mahoney says the Oct. 27 election will be pivotal for the city west of Toronto and that he can offer “experienced leadership.”

“With Hazel McCallion not seeking re-election, the decisions we make this fall, and for the next four years, will determine the sort of city we pass on to our children,” said Mahoney.

He says he’ll officially launch his campaign next month.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Ontario proposes 3 demerit point penalty for distracted drivers – Toronto

WATCH: Talking or texting behind the wheel will cost demerit points under proposed Ontario legislation. Alan Carter reports.

TORONTO – It’s time to make distracted driving as unacceptable as drunk driving, Transportation Minister Glen Murray said Monday as he introduced wide ranging legislation that would greatly increase penalties for motorists illegally using cellphones.

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The government heard the same message from police, coroner’s reports, the Canadian Automobile Association and several other road safety organizations, Murray said.

“All our consultations going back over a number of years on that… everyone has been coming out and saying you’ve got to put (distracted driving) in the same range as drinking and driving,” he said.

Murray’s road safety bill would impose three demerit points in addition to increasing the maximum fine for distracted driving to $1,000. Drivers who get demerit points can face higher insurance premiums.

The CAA said education and awareness have turned out not to be enough to stop distracted driving so new tools are needed to fight the problem.

“Half of the surveyed members feel that driving is less safe than it was five years ago, and the need to focus on the road is paramount,” said CAA’s Teresa Di Felice.

Join the discussion: Should the penalty be increased?  Visit Global News on Facebook and let us know. 

Last month, Chief Justice Annemarie Bonkalo of the Ontario Court of Justice signed an order increasing the set fine for distracted driving to $280, including surcharges, from $155 starting March 18.

Current legislation allows for fines ranging from $60 to $500. That would jump to $300 to $1,000 under the proposed new legislation.

“Most of our more serious offences are in the $300 to $1,000 range, and the justices were obviously sending us a message,” Murray told reporters.

The new bill would also increase fines for motorists who open their car door and hit a bicyclist to up to $1000 and boost demerit points to three from the current two.

The legislation would also allow bicycle lanes to go in the opposite direction to traffic on one-way streets and let cyclists use paved shoulders of divided highways. It would also require motorists to leave a distance of at least one metre between their vehicles and cyclists when passing, a clear rule Murray said he found is needed as he bicycles to and from the legislature in downtown Toronto each day.

“I’ve had cars that have come within an inch of me and ones that are a foot away and ones that are ridiculous and go three metres out, and that is what’s dangerous,” he said. “We don’t need people swerving three or four metres away from cyclists and we don’t need cyclists pulling up one inch beside a car.”

Eleanor McMahon of the Share the Road bicycle advocacy group said the government’s proposed changes “strike quite close to home” and might have saved her husband’s life if they had been in place in 2006 when he was struck and killed by a motorist while bicycling on a narrow road.

“My husband, OPP Sgt. Greg Stobbart, was killed by a motorist who pulled out to pass him unsafely and had this bill been in place years ago, Greg might be with us here today,” she said. “As the wife of a police officer, I’m proud that this law will give our officers the tools they need to keep our roads safe for our most vulnerable.”

The legislation also mandates intensive alcohol education, treatment and monitoring programs for motorists convicted of repeated drinking and driving offences.

It also looks at broadening the number of health professionals who could recommend someone should have their drivers’ licence taken away for medical reasons, but Murray said it will also look at methods to return the licence in future if possible.

“We need clearer rules, and the Canadian Medical Association and the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons are in the middle of establishing those,” he said. “We are looking to work with those health care professionals to establish those rules and then create a system where people understand what the choices are.”

Murray said one option Ontario may consider is reverse graduated licences for seniors, similar to the restricted licences new drivers are given, which would be for those who only want to drive occasionally and not at night.

The legislation would also require drivers to yield the whole roadway to pedestrians at school crossings and pedestrian crossovers.

“Pedestrians still represent about one in six of all motor vehicle-related fatalities in Ontario, and 41 per cent of these occurred at intersections,” said Murray.

Another aspect of the bill would increase the maximum length of double tractor-trailers in Ontario to 27.5 metres from 25, but the Ontario Truckers Association said it’s not about carrying bigger loads.

“Before anybody starts to panic, that does not mean we’re going to see longer trailers,” said Truckers spokesman David Bradley. “This is purely and simply to allow for a longer tractor to be able to accommodate all of the new environmental and safety devices that are now required across the country and across North America.”

The opposition parties also welcomed Murray’s proposed legislation, which incorporated aspects of several private member’s bills on road safety issues.

“This is an all-party bill and I hope it will quickly gain the confidence of this House,” said Murray.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Photos show unpredictable nature of Winnipeg weather – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – It’s time for Greg MacKay’s annual St. Patrick’s Day weather photo, for which he may or may not don suitable footwear.

When the temperature soared to an unseasonable 19.2 C on March 17, 2012, MacKay commemorated the event with a photo of his bare feet in his green backyard.

The weather was so lovely on March 17, 2012, Greg MacKay took this photo of himself relaxing in his Winnipeg backyard.

Submitted by Greg MacKay / Global News

The next year, the temperature plummeted to an unseasonably cold -27.8 C – and MacKay decided to reproduce the barefoot photo, this time in his snow-covered backyard.

Greg MacKay’s feet got a little chilly when he reproduced a March 17, 2012, photo a year later — with snow on the ground.

Submitted by Greg MacKay / Global News

His girlfriend combined the two photos and submitted them to Global News for the Your Manitoba weather feature.

“I just put the two together and we always watch the news,” said Pam Petznik, so she sent them in.

When the photos were posted on the Global Winnipeg Facebook page, they went viral, racking up thousands of shares and many more views.

MacKay plans to take another photo this year and to forward it to Global so it can be shared with viewers again.

“This year, of course, it’s even worse,” Petznik said, referring to the couple’s backyard in the West End. “There’s lots of snow back there.”

Despite the snow, the temperature is a little closer to normal, with a forecast high of -2 C. The normal high is 0 C and the normal low is -10 C.

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©2014Shaw Media

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Canada’s endometriosis sufferers rally for recognition – National

It was a Monday in April 2005 and Laurier Haughton had hosted her best friend’s wedding shower the weekend before. Still excited from the party, Haughton was in the middle of telling her colleagues at work all about the event until she was interrupted.

“It just felt like somebody had stuck a dagger through me. That was the start.”

The pain in Haughton’s abdomen was so severe, she was immediately sent home from work.

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A year later, the tests from a laparoscopy returned and the 27-year-old was diagnosed with endometriosis, an incurable disease most often linked to infertility and severely painful menstruation. “In the beginning it was very much mourning to a loss,” explained Haughton upon hearing her diagnosis. “A body who used to treat me well has completely betrayed me. There was a lot of resentment, a lot of anger and depression.”

Other symptoms associated with the disease include pain in the abdomen and back, menstrual irregularity, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fainting, painful bowel movements and/or urination and painful intercourse. It is not yet known what causes the disease, but some theories suggest estrogen levels may be a factor.

Catherine Maurer, registered nurse at the BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre, says that although  the disease affects women, it can have an impact on families and partners. “Dealing with someone who has pain a lot of times, people sometimes don’t get the understanding from their partners because you can’t see the disease,” she said. “It’s totally debilitating and it adds stress to people’s lives because of patients having to see doctors and take so much time off of work.”

According to The Endometriosis Network Canada, about 11 hours per person per week are lost due to debilitating symptoms. Although there is no cure, there are treatments available for women to manage painful symptoms and can vary from person to person. Relief drugs are most often used to manage the pain, like paracetemol, or hormonal treatments  can be used to control ovulation and menstruation. There are also surgical procedures available to remove tissue buildup.

One out of every 10 women, or an estimated 800,000 women in Canada, is affected by what’s known as the “invisible” disease.  And thanks to The Endometriosis Network Canada and Health Canada, the country is now joining Endometriosis Awareness Month, a worldwide event, for the first time this March.

Although Haughton was fortunate enough to be diagnosed within a year, the majority are not. The disease, which affects women between the ages of 15 and 50, is difficult to detect: It often takes seven to 12 years to diagnose.

Erika Myers-Khan waited eight years for her diagnosis.

“I was visiting doctor after doctor and I basically got the same tagline of ‘You are just weak and you have a low pain tolerance,’ and so on. And initially I thought this was something I would have to deal with.”

But the symptoms became more frequent and severe. Myers-Khan searched for yet another physician after her boyfriend’s aunt suggested what she was experiencing may be endometriosis. This time she found a surgeon who could help.

Myers-Khan was 24 years old when she was diagnosed in 2006, bringing her frustrating search to an end. “I was so relieved,” she said. “I just smiled at him. It was definitely a feeling of relief and validation that what I was going through wasn’t all in my head.”

Six years later Myers-Khan, along with several other women living with the disease, created The Endometriosis Network Canada. Myers-Khan, the network’s director, says this was out of necessity. “We created a voice for women across Canada who had Endometriosis,” she said. “Canada’s been a black hole in the endometriosis community. There are so many other countries that have been involved already.”

Lena Arabian, the network’s program director, experienced the same lack of awareness in Canada.

“When I started looking for information, all of the information was coming from countries other than my own,” she said. “There was nowhere to go that had specifically Canadian advice and information on how we could navigate our healthcare system with the disease that we have.”

After about two years of gathering petition signatures, Health Canada approved their request and created Canada’s first-ever Endometriosis Awareness Month. There was the Endometriosis Worldwide March (EndoMarch), and Toronto lit up the CN Tower in yellow and had people dressed in yellow as they skated in Nathan Phillips Square skating rink, all in an effort to raise awareness and garner support. 

“We didn’t want the next generation of women or the current generation of women with this disease to feel so alone and isolated,” Arabians aid .

“It’s been a long wait,” said Myers-Khan. “But we’re so happy that it’s finally been recognized and the [Endometriosis] community is so happy now that their country is recognizing them.”

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Seal hunt appeal set to begin Monday – National

GENEVA, Switzerland – Canada’s northern development minister says it was wrong for the World Trade Organization to uphold a European Union ban on seal products based on moral grounds.

Leona Aglukkaq says she made that argument today in a presentation to the WTO in Geneva.

READ MORE: Ottawa plans to appeal ruling from World Trade Organization on EU seal ban

Canada and Norway are in the process of appealing a landmark WTO dispute-settlement ruling, which concluded that while the ban undermines fair trade, the restrictions can be justified on “public moral concerns” for animal welfare.

An adult harp seal keeps an eye on her pup on the ice floes on March 3, 2008, off the coast of the Magdalen Islands, Quebec a few weeks before the annual seal hunt.

David Boily, AFP/Getty Images

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Aglukkaq says the ruling sets a dangerous precedent because it offers the EU the opportunity to ban products from any type of business that involves the killing of animals, including the beef and poultry industries.

MORE: WTO panel to report on EU seal products ban

The minister says Canada’s annual seal hunt is humane, sustainable and well-regulated.

Rebecca Aldworth, head of the Canadian wing of Humane Society International, says the WTO based its initial ruling on five decades of veterinary science that suggest seals are often killed inhumanely, which Europeans find morally objectionable.

The three-day WTO appeal hearing wraps up Wednesday and a final ruling is expected next month.

©2014The Canadian Press