Tuesday, September 21, 2004

End of Everybody loves Raymond

End begins for lovable ‘Raymond’
By Joshua Klein
For RedEye

All good things must come to an end. After years of success, the beloved sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" on Monday began its ninth and final season.

Ironically, now also is the best time to start playing catch-up, as the first season of the show has just made it to DVD. RedEye spoke to the show's star, Ray Romano, about the beginning, the end and some things in between.

It must be odd to have the first season of "Everybody Loves Raymond" come out on DVD just as the show starts its final season.
It's a little nostalgic. We had to watch and do commentary on it, so I got to relive the whole first season again. You get to see different hair. And different weight.

Especially Brad Garrett, who plays Ray's big brother Robert.
Oh, yeah! Brad went through something like a 50-pound weight swing. During the hiatus of the first year, he lost 50 pounds, so the second year you see a big difference. And Patty [Patricia Heaton, who plays Ray's wife] was pregnant toward the end of the first year. It's fun to see how we've changed. There's a bittersweetness to it, I guess. We seem so young and innocent. (Laughs.)

A huge number of shows never make it on TV, and most of those that do are terrible.
In the beginning, it was just a big ball of confusion. I didn't know anything. I didn't even know if I could do it, if I could make the transition. Was the show going to be the type of show I was looking for? I wasn't even concentrating on what we had until about ... not far in, about the fourth or fifth episode. I just got a glimpse of this chemistry and the potential of all this. You really have to get lucky to have all of this work: the writing, the acting, the casting. It was about the fifth episode where I remember telling my friend--my writer friend who I took from New York to be on the staff; we shared an apartment--"I really think there's something there, something a little bit magical." Even then, even if you have that, it doesn't mean you're going to be on. The audience may not come, the network may not give it time. But I saw that little spark.

So you knew it would last?
Towards the end of the first year ... the first year is weird, because the audience members that come in don't know who you are or who your character is. They're not laughing when Marie [Doris Roberts, who plays Ray's mom] walks in the door and sees someone else baby-sitting for the kid, because there's no history. The laughs are hard to come by. You have to trust that it's funny and trust who these characters are. But towards the end of the first year, you saw that the audience was invested in these characters. Then when we made the move from Friday to Monday, and we held onto that Cosby audience, that's where we kind of allowed ourselves to think, well, maybe we've got something here that might last.

A lot of people have pointed out that what makes "Everybody Loves Raymond" work is that, even though your name is in the title, each character can support an entire episode.
Yeah. The star whose name is in the title is lucky he had those people surrounding him! (Laughs.) You're right, every character is rich and defined, funny on their own, and you can sympathize. You like them. Even if you hate them, you like them. You love to hate them. That's a testament to the writing and acting. You've got to catch it in a bottle. You've got to get lucky.
Amazing Race contestants visit Canada for finale


The Amazing Race's final stretch will bring four couples to Canada as they compete in a worldwide competition for a $1-million (U.S.) prize.

In the two-hour finale of the reality television show, teams will race through Banff's Sunshine Village ski resort and visit the Olympic ski jump at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.

In other episodes, competitors have danced the tango in Buenos Aires, made bricks in Kolkata, India and wrestled with an ox-driven plow on the outskirts of Manila.

The show features 11 two-person teams who follow clues and assignments that send them speeding from one city to another across the globe. The last team to check in at the end of each episode is eliminated.

In the last two legs of the race, the final four teams will ``push themselves through exhaustion and pain on a gruelling 45-metre rope climb that becomes one of the most intense road blocks in the history of The Amazing Race," broadcaster CTV said in a release.

The Amazing Race, which airs in Canada on CTV on Tuesday at 9 p.m. (check local listings), won its second Emmy in a row on Sunday for best reality competition series.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Oprah surprises audience with 276 new cars

CHICAGO (AP) — Oprah Winfrey celebrated the premiere of her 19th season by surprising each of her 276 audience members with a new car.

"We're calling this our wildest dream season, because this year on the Oprah show, no dream is too wild, no surprise too impossible to pull off," Winfrey said on the show that aired Monday.

Winfrey said the audience members were chosen because their friends or family had written about their need for a new car. One woman's young son said she drove a car that "looks like she got into a gunfight"; another couple had almost 400,000 miles (about 644,000 kilometres) on their two vehicles.

Making sure the audience was kept in suspense, Winfrey opened the show by calling 11 people onto the stage. She gave each of them a car — a Pontiac G6.

She then had gift boxes distributed to the rest of the audience and said one of the boxes contained keys to a 12th car. But when everyone opened the boxes, each had a set of keys.

"Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car!" Winfrey yelled as she jumped up and down on the stage.

The audience screamed, cried and hugged each other — then followed Winfrey out to the parking lot of her Harpo Studios to see their Pontiacs, all decorated with giant red bows.

The cars, which retail for $28,000 (U.S.), were donated by Pontiac.

"A little idea grew into a big idea," Mary Henige of Pontiac told The Associated Press.

She added that Pontiac will pay for the taxes and the customizing of the cars.

In other segments on the show, taped Thursday, Winfrey surprised a 20-year-old girl who had spent years in foster care and homeless shelters with a four-year college scholarship, a makeover and $10,000 in clothes. And a family with eight foster children who were going to be kicked out of their house were given $130,000 to buy and repair the home.

The Oprah Winfrey Show, which debuted in 1986, is syndicated to 212 domestic markets and 109 countries.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Lightning bolt decides thriller
Canada can thank injured Yzerman for unselfish attitude
Lecavalier joins Henderson, Lemieux in Canuck puck lore


Canadians can offer a collective nod of thanks today to an absent warrior for its berth in the 2004 World Cup final.

If Steve Yzerman had insisted, after all, he could have kept his position on Team Canada, and Vincent Lecavalier would never have been in the building last night to become his country's latest international scoring hero.

Lecavalier joined a glorious list last night, putting his name alongside Paul Henderson in 1972, Darryl Sittler in 1976, Mike Bossy in 1984 against the Russians in overtime, Mario Lemieux from Wayne Gretzky in 1987 and Anson Carter in overtime at the world championships last year.

But without Yzerman's selflessness — and some clutch goaltending from a wobbly Roberto Luongo to prevent the gallant Czechs from wrecking the moment — Lecavalier would never have become part of that illustrious group of Canadians who scored with defeat at hand.

Yzerman, you may remember, spent the summer dealing with an eye injury, a sore knee and a new problem with a herniated disc in his neck as he contemplated his place on Team Canada '04.

He'd played through such injuries before, many times. At the 2002 Olympics, he was basically a player skating on one leg with mashed knee ligaments in the other, but he performed well enough to be part of Canada's top line en route to gold.

This time, he was the lone player notified in advance that he would be named to the Canadian roster, such is the respect Wayne Gretzky has for the Detroit Red Wing captain.

As the summer wore on, Gretzky kept checking in, wondering if Yzerman would be able to play, wondering when he would be able to commit.

As training camp drew near in August, Yzerman agonized over the decision, but finally decided that even though he was healthy enough to play, he couldn't help the team.

Not an easy thing for such a proud athlete to admit.

But Yzerman went further. He told Gretzky that the 24-year-old Lecavalier was just the player to replace him, and in his mind he almost certainly looked back to the 1996 World Cup and a roster filled with too many worn veterans that couldn't get it done in the end against the Americans.

He undoubtedly felt this was the perfect time to hand the baton to another member of Canada's ongoing relay from generation to generation of hockey bluebloods.

He was proven right. Lecavalier made it so.

When Lecavalier showed that sublime skill for which he has long been recognized last night at 3:45 of the first overtime to beat the Czechs, you have to believe Yzerman was watching and smiling.

Remember that list of Canadian scoring heroes? Yzerman's on it, too.

He scored eight years ago in OT against Sweden to push Canada into the World Cup final, and here, eight years later, was his injury replacement doing the very same thing.

So add Yzerman in '96 against the Swedes to that list.

Maybe he would have made a difference last night as well, but it's also reasonable to suggest that only a handful of players in the world could have made the shot Lecavalier did to win the game.

When he scored, after fanning on his first attempt, he was skating backwards away from the net at a terrible angle with all the expectations of his country on his shoulders, and he drained it.

Drained it with the same cool as another Canadian lefty, Mike Weir, exhibited on the 18th green to win the 2003 Masters.

Until then, Lecavalier wasn't exactly having the most memorable night of his young career.

For much of the game, it seemed he wasn't seeing the ice much, a byproduct of the Canadian coaching staff's commitment to playing Kris Draper, Shane Doan and Joe Thornton against the top Czech line featuring Jaromir Jagr.

Lecavalier was the Canadian player pulled down by Jiri Fischer. This created a power play for Canada in the second period, and he also was the player kneeling in front just before Fischer was to return to the ice and accidentally used his behind to block a Brad Richards shot headed for the open net.

Fortuitously for Lecavalier and Canada, the puck bounced directly to Mario Lemieux, who whipped it home to make it 2-0.

Lecavalier drew a dubious assist for that one, and the next time his name was announced it again wasn't for a wondrous deed.

The call was dreadful by referee Paul Devorski, but nonetheless Lecavalier was sent off for holding Roman Hamrlik in the offensive zone in the seventh minute of the third, and 41 seconds later Martin Havlat scored to tie the game 2-2.

But the play that will be remembered was how the Man Formerly Known as The Michael Jordan of Hockey somehow turned a one-on-three rush in OT into his first gigantic contribution to Canadian shinny history.

Canada's youth, so jittery and uncertain much of the night, was finally served, making the selflessness of an absent warrior a contribution too important to overlook.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


The world stops to remember and not forget all of those who lost their lives on September 11 2001.

NYC Port Authority to join lawsuit against Saudis

NYC Port Authority to join lawsuit against Saudis


NEW YORK — The government agency that owns the World Trade Center site said Friday it intends to hold Saudi Arabia and nearly 100 other defendants liable for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the complex.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced it planned to join Friday as a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed a week ago by Cantor Fitzgerald Securities, a bond trading firm that lost two-thirds of its workers in the trade centre attack.

"We also have a responsibility to the millions of people who live and work in the region as well as to our bondholders to pursue every legal avenue to recover the losses we sustained on Sept. 11," the Port Authority said in a statement.

The agency lost 84 of its employees in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Cantor Fitzgerald lawsuit named as defendants Saudi Arabia, al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and other accused terrorists, along with financial institutions and charitable organizations that allegedly raised money for terrorism efforts.

Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost 658 employees in the attacks, seeks $7 billion US in damages. It accused Saudi Arabia of supporting al-Qaida with money, safe houses, weapons and money laundering.

Saudi Arabia — the birthplace of bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers — has defended itself as a loyal ally in the fight against terrorism. It cited the Sept. 11 Commission's conclusion that the Saudi government did not fund al-Qaida.

Still, the commission criticized Saudi Arabia as "a problematic ally in combating Islamic extremism."

Americans are from Mars , Canadians from........

Americans are from Mars, Canadians are from Venus
Thanks to a growing cultural divide, selling to Americans is getting trickier. Demographer Michael Adams suggests how to bridge the gap

By Rebecca Gardiner
PROFIT-X / July 15, 2004

Despite the common assumption of an increased Americanization of Canada, there is actually a growing cultural divide, says Michael Adams, president of Toronto-based Environics Research Group and author of Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the myth of converging values. PROFITguide.com recently ask Adams what Canadians need to keep in mind when doing business with Americans.

How are Canadians so different from Americans?

ADAMS: Most people presume Canadians are just unarmed Americans with parkas and that there really is no difference. It seems commonsensical — research shows that 90% of both Canadians and Americans think the family is the most important thing in their lives. Mind you, 90% of people in Iran think that too.

But looking at the structure of authority in the family, things are different. One of the aspects we use to monitor this is the statement that the "father of the family must be the authority in his house." What we find in Canada is that about 18% of us in the year 2000 believed this to be true, while in the U.S. it was 49%. Since 2000, these numbers have been increasing in the U.S and decreasing in Canada.

What does this growing cultural divide mean for business?

ADAMS: Two things. First, the American way is to have a strong father, a commander-in-chief, to whom you give all the power and say "lead us to the promised land" — whether that's in business or foreign policy. Down there, they are looking for leaders to be leaders. They want someone with a plan who can identify the "enemy" and can be followed to great success or until he and the company implodes. Canadians, on the other hand, might sit down and figure out a plan together. It's much more collaborative here and less hierarchical.

Second, when it comes to family and business, we just think of things differently. A Canadian thinks "my family comes first" so when the meeting that started at 5:00 pm and was supposed to be over by 5:45 pm drags on until 6 p.m., the Canadian says, "My family comes first I've got to go home and be with my kid." Whereas the American says "I can't possibly leave this meeting at six o'clock and jeopardize my standing in this company. I can't have people questioning my loyalty or I might be overlooked for the next promotion."

So each country expresses the primacy of family in a different way. In Canada it's more of an attitude that employees really do matter and their values are important. People are not as intimidated by the potential of a loss of a promotion or the loss of a job, because they can go elsewhere. In the U.S., on the other hand, there is much more concern about the loss of a job or the loss of a promotion.

PROFITguide.com: Why are Americans more focused on their employment status?

ADAMS: Americans are living much closer to the line. They have much higher personal debt, and are much less likely than Canadians to pay off their monthly credit card bills. They are living more on the edge to afford the materialism that is the promise of the American dream.

Canadian culture tilts more towards saying, "You know life is more than standard of living — it's also about the quality of life." In America, quality of life is standard of living. It's a culture that expresses itself in a more material way; ours is more experiential. Americans spend a lot of money on stuff that are symbols of where they are in the status hierarchy. Here, boomers are starting to think they don't need stuff — it drags them down so they are looking for experiences.

PROFITguide.com: So if I'm Canadian and looking to export to the U.S. or expanding my business there, what do I need to keep in mind?

ADAMS: It's more competitive in the States and there's much more of a sense that you get your just desserts. If you make a million bucks, great, but if you're a bad guy and get thrown in the clink, you deserve that, too. Expect it to be rougher, tougher and less secure. There's a constant sense of apocalyptic anxiety — that something bad might happen. You know: the next sniper, the next terrorist bombing.

On the other hand, doing business in the U.S. you'll find more people who are really motivated. It's an aspirational culture and one where people are willing to make great sacrifices. So you know you can probably pay them less on the option that they will share the wealth when you succeed. It's more of a Vegas attitude — if you've got a great opportunity, people are more willing to roll the dice to realize the American dream of rags to riches and log cabin to the White House.

© 2004 Rogers Media Inc.

NYT balks at Moore's 9/11 Movie

NYT balks at Moore's 9/11 book


NEW YORK — The New York Times will not permit Michael Moore to include an article criticizing its own reporting for an upcoming companion book to the DVD release of the filmmaker's Fahrenheit 9-11.

"We strongly value the Times's neutrality in its election coverage and we are determined not to associate ourselves with any work in film or print that attacks either candidate," New York Times spokesperson Catherine Mathis said in a statement released yesterday.

Moore's The Official Fahrenheit 9-11 Reader is scheduled to come out next month in conjunction with the DVD release of Fahrenheit 9-11, Moore's take on President George W. Bush, the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The movie, which relentlessly criticizes and ridicules the president, has earned more than $100 million at the box office, a record for a documentary.

The Times article, published in May, was a self-analysis of the newspaper's pre-Iraq war reporting, including Bush administration claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

"In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged," according to the article.

Moore's publisher, Simon & Schuster, said several other publications granted Moore permission to use material, including the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Only the Times refused.

"Michael Moore attracts controversy and this is no exception," David Rosenthal, Simon & Schuster's executive vice-president and publisher, said in a statement Friday.

Fahrenheit 9/11, which won the top honour at the Cannes Film Festival in May, was controversial even before it reached theatres in July. The movie lost its original distributor when the Walt Disney Co. refused to let subsidiary Miramax Films release it because of its political content.

Miramax chiefs Harvey and Bob Weinstein bought back the film and arranged for independent distribution through Lions Gate Films and IFC Films.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

NHL disappointed

NHL 'extremely disappointed' by proposal


The NHL Players' Association delivered its first proposal since last October to the NHL on Thursday but it did little to avoid the looming lockout.

The league was not impressed by the union's offer, which did not include a salary cap.

"We are extremely disappointed with what the union presented to us today," Bill Daly, the NHL's executive vice-president, said in a statement. "Not only did the union's proposal fail to move the process forward toward a resolution but, in fact, represented a step backwards in the process."

Daly added that "no further meetings are scheduled at this point."

Still, the new offer may score the Players' Association some points in the public relations war by making the union look willing to negotiate as the NHL prepares to play the heavy in the labour dispute, possibly triggering a lockout next week.

The collective bargaining agreement expires Wednesday at midnight EDT.

The NHLPA's executive committee joined executive director Bob Goodenow, associate counsel Ian Pulver, outside counsel John McCambridge and Saskin for Thursday's meeting, which began at 1 p.m. EDT and ended at 5:10 p.m. in downtown Toronto.

The committee, made up of active NHL players, consists of president Trevor Linden, vice-presidents Bob Boughner, Vincent Damphousse, Daniel Alfredsson, Bill Guerin, Trent Klatt and Arturs Irbe.

Alfredsson and Guerin were not there because of the World Cup.

Commissioner Gary Bettman and Daly were joined on the league side by owners from their executive committee, including Calgary Flames part-owner Harley Hotchkiss (chairman of the board), Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs (chairman of the finance committee), as well as Nashville Predators owner Craig Leopold, Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, Minnesota Wild chairman Bob Naegele and New Jersey Devils CEO and GM Lou Lamoriello.

It was the first time players and owners were at a negotiating session since Oct. 1, when the NHLPA made its last proposal (although the league claims it was June 2003). The NHLPA proposed a system at that time that included a luxury tax, revenue sharing, a one-time five per cent rollback in salaries and some changes to the entry-level system. It was quickly rejected by the league.

"As we predicted, two weeks ago in Ottawa, the union has simply repackaged its original unacceptable and ineffective proposal from 15 months ago — and even watered it down. Even under the union's modelling and projections, which we do not agree with or accept, more than half of our clubs would still lose money and nearly a third of the clubs would still lose in excess of $10 million (all funds US) each season.

"Nothing more clearly demonstrates the union's unwillingness to acknowledge or meaningfully address this league's problems than this recycled proposal."

The league offered six new "concepts" July 25 but they were rejected by the union Aug. 17.

The current collective agreement, twice renewed over 10 years, has seen salaries grow from an average of $733,000 in 1994-95 to $1.83 million in 2003-04. League-wide revenues have also risen during that span, but the NHL says not at the same pace. In fact, the league says it lost $273 million in 2002-03.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Team Canada rolls over Team Slovakia

Iggy comes through in clutch


Jarome Iginla ended his scoring slump with two goals as Canada rolled over Slovakia 5-0 on Wednesday night to advance to the semifinals of the World Cup of Hockey.

Iginla scored during an outburst of four goals in a 9:20 span of the second period and added another in the third frame as Canada improved to 4-0 in the tournament.

Canada next plays the Czech Republic in the semifinals Saturday (CBC, 6:30 p.m. EDT). The United States plays Finland on Friday night in the other semifinal (CBC, 7 p.m. EDT).

"It's going to be a tough game," Iginla told CBC. "We've been watching them, we realize it's not how you start a tournament and they're starting to rev up now.

"They've scored a lot of goals lately, they've got a lot of fire power. So it's going to be a good one." The final of the eight-team tournament is Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre.

Vincent Lecavalier, Iginla, Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth tallied in the second-period spree that chased starting goaltender Jan Lasak in favour of Rastislav Stana at 11:48.

Shots were 26-23 in favour of Canada as Martin Brodeur earned his first shutout.

An announced crowd of 18,786 - 33 fewer than a sellout at the Air Canada Centre - watched Canada's top line of Mario Lemieux, Iginla and Sakic put on a show.

"It's such a treat playing with Mario and Joe Sakic," said Iginla. "You know you're going to get chances playing with them."

Iginla, who had a first-period goal disallowed because he pushed Lasak into the net with the puck, finally got on the board after being thwarted on numerous chances in the first three games.

The injury-riddled Slovaks made a game of it for 20 minutes.

The team that took the ice was much changed from the loose, risk-taking squad that went 0-3 during round robin play. This group played as five-man units, was watchful on defence and was not outplayed in the first period.

But Lecavalier scored that critical first goal 2:28 into the second frame and Canada took control.

After Miroslav Satan was sent off for tripping Shane Doan, Brad Richards blew past Radoslav Suchy on the rush and fed his Tampa Bay teammate Lecavalier for a blast into an open net.

No team has won yet in the tournament after giving up the opening goal and it caused the Slovaks to sag and begin losing most of the battles for the puck.

Less than three minutes later, Iginla came off the boards and slid a shot to the far post that looked to go in off a Slovak defender battling in the crease with Lemieux.

Dany Heatley then won a race for the puck and fed a backhand pass to the onrushing Lecavalier, whose backhand shot was tipped in at the net by Smyth at 11:29.

Only 19 seconds later, Sakic finished a tic-tac-toe rush with Iginla and Lemieux.

Iginla was sent in on the right side to score on a shot to the far post 7:49 into the third period.

Brodeur was rarely tested, but he made a fine stop on Lubos Bartecko on a shot from the edge of the crease midway through the second period.

Brodeur also took a penalty for a slash on Richard Zednik in the middle frame and the penalty was served by the 38-year-old Lemieux.

Canada has yet to trail in a game. Slovakia went 0-4.

Notes: Finland and the Czech Republic both practised in Toronto on Wednesday. ... A surprise scratch for Slovakia was defenceman Richard Lintner, who had played on the first defence pair with Zdeno Chara. Also scratched was Ladislav Cierny while defencemen Jaroslav Obsut and Radoslav Suchy returned to the line-up. ... Canada's scratches were the same as the last two games: goalie Jose Theodore and forwards Patrick Marleau, Kirk Maltby and Brenden Morrow. Defencemen Wade Redden (shoulder) and Ed Jovanovski (knee) are injured.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Border may remain closed to Canadian cattle

Border may stay closed: Harper
Protectionist forces winning in U.S., Conservative leader says


OTTAWA - The U. S. border won't likely re-open to Canada's beef exports until after 2005 - if then, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper warned today.

In a pessimistic statement, Harper said Canada will have to find internal solutions to the mad cow crisis that has devastated the beef industry, because it could be a very long wait for crucial export markets to reopen.

"We still do not know when the border will re-open," Harper told a brief news conference, one of his first in Ottawa since the June federal election.

"And frankly, given the strength of protectionist forces in the United States and given the ongoing Liberal mismanagement of Canada-U.S. relations, I do not believe we can know if the border will, in fact, reopen.

"This is strictly a political problem. It has nothing - nothing whatsoever, to do with the quality and safety of Canadian beef."

While Harper hinted that better relations between Canada's Liberal government and Washington might improve matters, he also suggested U.S. authorities are in no rush to solve the problem.

"Bad relations . . . have in my judgment without a doubt played a role in how poorly this has run its course," Harper said.

"That said, the ongoing American closure is without justification . . . this is simply a question of protectionism."

The crisis, which has cost Canadian producers billions, was triggered when a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered on a northern Alberta farm in May 2003.

The border was immediately shut to exports and while the U.S. now allows some cuts of beef to cross, certain live cattle exports from Canada remain banned.

Worsening matters, a BSE case was discovered in Washington state in December, making it impossible for U.S. producers to export, especially to the important Japanese market.

The issue has driven down beef prices paid to Canadian producers and left them with herds they can't afford to feed this winter.

Producers have suggested a range of solutions to make the Canadian industry more self-sufficient, from increasing slaughter and processing capacity to short-term financial aid until prices improve.

Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell, who recently met his U.S. counterpart Ann Veneman to push for a speedy border opening, denied his Liberal government has mismanaged the issue.

And he accused Harper of playing politics with a complex issue.

"Rather than trying out political rhetoric, I think we ought to be focusing on the specific issues that face us," he said during a Liberal retreat in Kelowna, B.C.

"I'm not going to speculate on a border opening, but I'm determined to work with the industry, with the provinces on developing made-in-Canada solutions," added Mitchell.

"We need to ensure that our producers have an opportunity to sustain and build an industry."

But there's not much more the Canadian government or the industry could do on the diplomatic front, said feedlot operator Jack de Boer.

"The U.S. government is in a protectionist mode and until they get their markets back from Japan and other countries, I don't think they're interested in our beef," said De Boer, who holds about 15,000 head of cattle in southern Alberta.

Harper said short-term, low-interest loans might be possible to help producers. But he didn't give details or put a price tag on potential solutions.

Harper did call for more study and meetings on the mad cow crisis, especially on how to cope with a longtime border closure.

"We have to look at the indefinite shutting of the border. . . what are our plans going to be if the border remains fully or partly shut?" said Harper.

"It is completely unfair, American actions in this case are blatantly protectionist and without regard to their trading responsibilities."

De Boer said Canada may have to take the fight to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, a long, costly process.

"That's a longshot, but I think our government at some point has got to take up that challenge and I think the time is here."

Happy 6th Birthday Google

Happy Birthday Google

Monday, September 06, 2004

Hurricane IVAN churns ahead

Hurricane Ivan churns in Frances' wake


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados - Islanders scrambled to put up storm shutters and stock up on supplies as the fourth major hurricane of the season churned closer to the Caribbean, packing sustained winds of 105 mph.

Hurricane warnings were issued for Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. Martinique was place under a hurricane watch, while Trinidad and Tobago were under a tropical storm warning.

Barbados' Prime Minister Owen Arthur convened an emergency session of the Cabinet Monday to plan a strategy against Hurricane Ivan.

"Ivan poses a direct and serious threat to Barbados," Arthur said. Government offices closed early. The first day of the new academic year was scheduled for Monday, but children were ordered to remain home as teachers helped convert school buildings into hurricane shelters.

Ivan's winds weakened from 125 mph to 105 mph Monday, but it was still a powerful Category 2 storm. Forecasters said that the hurricane could regain force by the time it reaches land by Tuesday morning.

"It's still a strong hurricane," said Eric Blake, a meteorologist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. ``Barbados and other islands could see trees blown down, roof damage and it doesn't take much wind to damage crops.''

Ivan's outer bands could start affecting Barbados by late Monday, Blake said.

At 5 p.m., the hurricane's centre was about 305 miles east-southeast of Barbados. It was expected to hit the island of 280,000 residents by Tuesday morning and was moving toward the west-northwest near 22 mph.

Hammers pounded throughout the capital of Bridgetown on Monday as metal hurricane shutters and wooden planks were used to cover windows and doors. Islanders also rushed to buy supplies like lanterns, kerosene, bottled water, canned food, flashlights and batteries. Long lines formed at gas stations.

The manager of Dacosta Mannings hardware store in Bridgetown reported a heavy influx of shoppers. "People were here before the store opened and when it did they rushed for the hurricane preparedness centre," Donna Susan Hinds said.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from Ivan's centre while tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.

Ivan became the fourth major hurricane of the season on Sunday afternoon, following Hurricane Frances, which left at least two dead in the Bahamas and carved out a path of destruction that stretched from the Turks and Caicos Islands to the U.S. state of Florida.

Ivan could threaten Florida but it was too early to tell, meteorologists said. It is also forecast to move over St. Lucia, a former British colony of 165,000 residents.

"We have a major deadly storm approaching St. Lucia and we need to be prepared," said Dawn French, director of the island's National Emergency Management Office.

St. Lucia's Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony called an emergency planning meeting and ordered all government offices and businesses closed on Tuesday.

St. Lucians crammed into supermarkets to buy supplies including candles, batteries and bottled water. "I'm taking no chances. This one looks serious," said 27-year-old shopper Cuthbert Lyons, who is St. Lucian but is on vacation from Britain.

Weakened Frances slams into Florida

Weakened Frances slams into Florida


FORT PIERCE, Fla. - Hurricane Frances' wind and water whacked swaths of Florida with fire-hose force today, submerging entire roadways and tearing off rooftops before weakening to a tropical storm and crawling inland with heavy rain. More than five million people lost power, and three people were killed.

Over 33 centimetres of rain fell along Florida's central east coast, flooding some areas more than a metre deep, as a weakened Frances edged across the state toward Tampa and the Gulf of Mexico. In its wake, trees and power lines were levelled, broken traffic lights dangled and beachfront roads were littered with coconuts, avocados and tree limbs.

"I was just waiting for the house to blow down," said Diane Wright, who rode out the storm in a mobile home in Fort Pierce.

Hers didn't. But even shelters weren't spared: The roof at a school housing evacuees was partially blown off.

The scope of the enormous storm was evident Sunday as bands of rain and gusty wind extended the length of the state's 690-kilometre east coast from the Keys to Jacksonville and beyond along the Georgia coast. It was expected to move into the panhandle Monday, then into Georgia and Alabama.

The storm was blamed for at least three deaths in Florida, including two people who were killed Saturday when their roof collapsed in Palm Beach County. Another man was killed when his car hit a tree near Gainesville.

Frances razed several mobile homes and made a mess of marinas, throwing dozens of pleasure boats against the shore or on top of each other.

Gov. Jeb Bush and 20 state and federal emergency officials surveyed damage Sunday as they flew from Tallahassee to West Palm Beach, but the governor said it was too early to assess the extent of the devastation.

Officials warned the aftermath could pose even greater risks. ``There are still dangers on our streets where the hurricane passed," Jeb Bush said. "Please be patient."

President George W. Bush talked to his brother Sunday afternoon to assure Floridians that federal resources were in place to help respond, a White House spokesman said.

Some 8,000 members of the National Guard were assigned to recovery efforts. Suspected looters were arrested in Palm Beach, Orange and Indian River counties.

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 233 kilometres per hour, Frances slowed and weakened to a Category 2 storm as it neared Florida. Winds receded to a peak of 169 km/h before it made landfall at Sewall's Point, north of Palm Beach, around 1 a.m. EDT.

"We don't know what all of our damage is yet, but we know it could have been a lot worse," Martin County administrator Russ Blackburn said.

Initial reports of destruction did not rival the estimated $7.4 billion US in insured damage caused by hurricane Charley in southwest Florida three weeks ago. Frances' path overlapped with some of the area hit by Charley, which killed 27 people. One risk-assessment company estimated insured losses could range from $2 billion to $5 billion.

By Sunday evening, Frances had been downgraded to a tropical storm, with maximum winds near 105 km/h and its centre about 25 kilometres east of Tampa.

The storm shut down much of Florida on the traditionally busy Labour Day weekend.

At one time, about 2.8 million residents in 40 counties were told to evacuate from coastal areas, barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying areas. The largest evacuation in state history sent 108,000 people to shelters.

Airports in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Martin County reopened, but those in Orlando and about 10 other cities remained closed. Officials in Miami and Fort Lauderdale told evacuees they could return home. Miami's airport was crowded with tourists whose vacations were ruined or interrupted by Frances.

New evacuations began in four counties in Florida's Panhandle, where Frances is expected to hit Monday after crossing the northeast Gulf of Mexico. The most likely location for landfall was St. George Island, forecasters said.

Northbound Interstate 95 was closed in Palm Beach County because of a washout. Farther north, about two dozen large oak trees obstructed parts of I-95 over an 80-kilometre stretch. Authorities closed the majestic Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay. In Martin County, 630 evacuees at a school were forced to another shelter when part of the roof blew off, flooding 16 rooms.

Heavy rain transformed some neighbourhoods into waterfront property. Roads in Palm Beach County were covered by more than a metre of water. Neighbours waded to each others' homes after being shuttered inside for nearly 24 hours.

"All our trees are down and I have a few windows broken, but I don't know what else is flooded because I can't get anywhere," said Carline Cadet, waving at the water covering the streets around her home.

Police blocked access to the county's barrier islands, including Palm Beach and Singer Island, and enforced a 24-hour curfew. Officials said roads were too dangerous for travel.

Police in the Orlando area said 10 thieves used a stolen car to smash into a store and steal about $10,000 worth of clothing, and two men were arrested as they tried to steal an ATM machine with a chain saw.

Also Sunday, at the peak of the hurricane season, Ivan became the fifth hurricane of the year in the central Atlantic. It was about 1,320 kilometres east-southeast of Barbados with winds near 200 km/h. Under current projections, Puerto Rico and Barbados are in the storm's path. Officials said it was too soon to say whether Ivan would hit the United States.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

More funding for Canadian Olympics

Score one for athletes
Feds poised to announce huge funding boost
By MARIA McCLINTOCK, Parliamentary Bureau

THE FEDERAL government is poised to announce a major boost to the monthly stipend for Canada's elite athletes so they can focus on training and not worry about making ends meet, Sports Minister Stephen Owen told the Sun. In a wide-ranging interview a week after Canadian athletes came home from the Athens Olympics with 12 medals, Owen said he's ready to give a hefty increase to the current $1,100-a-month, tax-free stipend issued to elite athletes.

The announcement on the hot-button issue of funding for high-performance athletes could come as early as next week, when Prime Minister Paul Martin holds a cabinet meeting in B.C.


Asked if the increase will be big enough so some athletes won't have to hold down a job, Owen said: "I've said there's going to be a significant increase so I guess that's an answer to your question. Yes. I think that more can be done to assist them.

"We're planning on a significant increase and that's to reflect the importance of being able to support these people to concentrate their efforts on their pursuit of excellence," he said.

As first reported in the Sun, the federal government and the Canadian Olympic Committee are working on a new strategy that will include the development of a National Sports Review Panel to examine funding and ensure it's funnelled to athletes with the best chances of winning medals.

This past spring, the federal government increased Sport Canada's $90-million budget with a one-time, $30-million injection.

Many in the sporting community have said that in order to give elite athletes significant financial relief, the feds would have to add between $8-10 million to the existing $16-million Athletic Assistance Program.


The COC welcomed Owen's comments on a funding boost for athletes.

"If he can raise that money up a significant amount ... it will have a pretty significant impact on their lives. We think (the additional money) will get the athletes to a point where at least ... they will have enough of an income (that) they're not going to be worrying about cost-of-living issues while they're focusing on training," COC chairman Chris Rudge told the Sun.

"What I would like to see is that which is apportioned to the Athletics Assistance Fund become part of permanent funding and roll over into the future."

Rudge and Owen are expected to meet next week to discuss the funding. Rudge has also been in touch with the PM's Office to set up a meeting.

Meanwhile, Owen said he's prepared to go to cabinet and be a "strong advocate" in making the case for putting the $30-million injection into the Sport Canada budget on a permanent basis.

"We have to make the case for it to continue and I will be working hard to make that case," he said.

"Clearly one of our objectives is to increase the number (of) medals as a demonstration of the excellence that's being achieved in our country."

Florida storm Frances hits!!!

Frances tormenting Florida
Slow storm begins assault, with worst to come

Residents urged to remain in shelters, safe rooms


VERO BEACH, Fla. — A stubborn, slow-moving Hurricane Frances began a long-dreaded and extended assault on Florida yesterday.

Packing winds in excess of 160 km/h, the storm pummelled a large swath of the state's eastern coastline. Its leading edge knocked out electricity for about two million people. Wind uprooted trees, peeled off roofs and left coastal waters resembling a churning hot tub. But the storm had not yet resulted in the feared scenario of widespread death and destruction.

Last night, about 500 kilometres of coastline remained under a hurricane warning. Frances is so big that virtually the entire state feared damage from wind and water. And its slow path — Frances crawled toward Florida at just 8 km/h before stalling over warm water — means it could dump a huge quantity of rain, perhaps as much as 50 centimetres in some areas, forecasters said. The heavy rain forecast threatened to cause widespread flooding.

The storm's arrival on the coast came more than a day later than predicted, and its eye wasn't expected to hit east-central Florida until early today.

En route, Frances shattered windows, toppled power lines and flooded neighbourhoods in the Bahamas, driving thousands from their homes. The Freeport airport was partially submerged in water.

Frances' arrival came three weeks after Hurricane Charley killed 27 people and caused billions of dollars in damage in southwestern Florida. Still reeling from that storm, officials warned people to hang tough in shelters and safe rooms.

"This is going to be a very long event," said Nathan McCollum, emergency services co-ordinator for Indian River County. "We do not expect the hurricane-force winds to end until late (this) morning or (this) afternoon."

"This is still a very large hurricane," warned Ed Rappaport of the National Hurricane Center in Miami in an interview with local media.

"It's not nearly as intense, but it's much larger than Charley was."

Frances, downgraded to a Category 2 storm from its previous Category 4 designation, was still packing plenty of punch.

The size of the storm necessitated the largest evacuation in state history, with 2.8 million residents ordered inland and 70,000 residents and tourists sent to shelters. The storm shut down much of Florida, including airports and amusement parks.

Many evacuees feared what they'd find upon their return home.

Jeanne Weyforth, 79, holed up at the Budget Inn on Vero Beach, doubted whether her home would be standing. "I don't give it much hope," she said with resignation.

Many of the evacuees live in mobile homes or manufactured housing.

At least 12,500 similar homes were seriously damaged or destroyed when Charley struck.

With memories of that devastation still fresh, many Florida residents began fleeing on Wednesday, when Frances appeared to be approaching at a more rapid pace.

Tens of thousands of people, many of them retirees, are currently staying in shelters — which were filled to capacity yesterday and had begun to turn people away.

Frances was expected to push across the state as a tropical storm just north of Tampa, weaken to a tropical depression and drench the Panhandle tomorrow before moving into Alabama.

A state of emergency is in effect across Florida.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Newest 527 Group

New tv commericals are appearing on American tv tonight. MOB Mothers opposed to Bush, spokeslady Edie Falco from the Sopranos. Hollywood appears to have nothing better to do than attack President Bush, should be interesting when he's re-elected.

Chest pains Clinton

Chest pains hospitalize Bill Clinton
Bypass surgery likely


NEW YORK - Bill Clinton was hospitalized with chest pains and shortness of breath today and will undergo heart bypass surgery in an operation that could sideline the former president at the height of the campaign for the White House.

An angiogram showed that Clinton, who turned 58 two weeks ago, had significant blockage in his heart arteries but did not suffer a heart attack, a doctor who performed the test told The Associated Press.

Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, said this evening that the former president would have surgery early next week and that no further information about his condition would be released until the operation is finished.

"I wanted to report to you that my husband is doing very well," she said outside New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia, in upper Manhattan, where the former president is being treated. "He's in great humor. He's beating all of us at cards and the rest of the games we're playing.''

In bypass surgery, a new piece of blood vessel, usually taken from the patient's leg, is sewn into place to create a detour around a blockage. Patients typically spend three to five days in the hospital and are encouraged to be fairly active right away.

Clinton had agreed to campaign for Democrat John Kerry in the two months to go before the election, and had appeared at some Democratic Party events.

He awaited the operation at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia, in upper Manhattan, not far from his Harlem office.

During his two terms as president, Clinton was an avid jogger also known for his love of fast food. But in January of this year, Clinton said he had cut out junk food after going on "The South Beach Diet" and starting a workout regimen. He has long struggled with a weight problem, but had recently appeared much leaner.

The 6-foot-2 president has remained an active political presence since he left the White House in 2001, whether quietly stopping by his Harlem office or drawing a standing ovation for a rousing speech to Democrats at their July convention in Boston. Most recently, he was on the road plugging his memoirs, "My Life.''

Before he was stricken, Clinton had been scheduled to accompany his wife on a two-day tour of upstate New York. Instead, the senator and the couple's daughter, Chelsea, joined Clinton in New York City.

Sen. Clinton said her husband would "be back in fighting form before really very long after the surgery and the period of necessary recovery passes.''

She praised the hospital's medical staff and saying: "We're delighted we have good health insurance. That makes a big difference. And I hope someday everybody will be able to say the same thing.''

Clinton had a cancerous growth removed from his back shortly after leaving office. In 1996, he had a precancerous lesion removed from his nose and a year before that had a benign cyst taken off his chest.

But otherwise, Clinton suffered only the usual problems that often accompany normal aging and a taste for junk food - periods of slightly elevated cholesterol and hearing loss. In 1997, he was fitted with hearing aids, and he also battled allergies.

Clinton first went to a hospital Thursday after suffering the chest pains and shortness of breath, his office said a statement. He spent the night at his Chappaqua home.

"We talked through the day and he said he felt fine and not to worry," said Sen. Clinton.

Today, at the Westchester Medical Center, near his home, he was given an angiogram, in which dye is used to detect blockages or narrowing of coronary arteries. The test revealed "multivessel coronary artery disease, normal heart function and no heart attack," said Dr. Anthony Pucillo, who performed the procedure.

Pucillo said the blockage was significant enough to warrant an operation.

After the angiogram, "He stopped and looked and me, put out his hand and said, 'Thank you, God bless you,'" said Donna Florio-Bronen, a nurse at the hospital. "He looked great.''

In Little Rock, Ark., Clinton's mother-in-law, Dorothy Rodham, said today that Clinton had called her with news of his chest pains. "He sounded wonderful as usual and very upbeat as he always is," she said. "I just told him how much I love him.''

Clinton also called his stepfather, Dick Kelley, at his Hot Springs, Ark., home, Kelley said. "He's very gung-ho and optimistic about what's going to happen," Kelley said.

Best wishes came in from Kerry and President Bush.

"He's going to be fine," Kerry said at a rally in Newark, Ohio. "But every single one of us wants to extend to him our best wishes, our prayers and our thoughts and I want you all to let a cheer out and clap that he can hear all the way to New York.''

Bush, at a campaign stop in West Allis, Wis., sent along "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery.''

Good wishes also came from Harlem.

"I'm going to go home, and I'm going to get my Bible, and there's something I'm going to read for him," said Fred Johnson, a retiree who lives near Clinton's office.

Next election will be my last: Klein

Alberta Premier 'retired already,' opposition charges


CALGARY — Alberta Premier Ralph Klein confirmed today that the next election will be his political swan song.

Asked by reporters if the vote, expected as early as November, will be his last, he replied, "If I am alive, yes. Yes, absolutely. Yes, I'm ready to retire."

Klein, 61, also said if he wins, he plans to serve out his full term unless his health fails.

There had been speculation that Klein, currently Canada's longest serving premier, would step aside a year or two after the vote.

Should he win, he will leave politics never having felt the sting of defeat.

Since pulling off a stunning upset in the Calgary mayoralty race in 1980, Klein has won a total of seven consecutive elections and a leadership race.

He is now going to the polls to win a fourth mandate for the provincial Tories. His party has captured an increasing number of seats in each of his last three elections.

Klein said the vote will be in the fall or the spring.

"I'm leaning toward November. It could be March. It depends on how soon and how smoothly we get the nominations out of the way to make sure all the constituencies are ready to go," he said.

Alberta's Liberal Opposition, however, say Klein has effectively retired already.

"He's not attending the health conference. He's governing through surveys. He's just not engaged in his job," said Liberal Leader Kevin Taft.

Klein has said he will attend only one day of the three-day meeting later this month with Prime Minister Paul Martin and the premiers on health care.

Also recently, the government sent out a survey asking Albertans what should be done with budget surpluses now that money has been set aside to pay off the remaining few million dollars of Alberta's $23-billion debt.

Klein has promised to follow Albertans' wishes.

Voters will be going to the polls as Alberta rides a wave of prosperity.

Last week, the Tories announced they expect a $3-billion surplus this fiscal year. That figure could easily reach $4 billion if oil and gas prices maintain current levels.

Recent announcements have allocated millions of dollars for teachers and seniors.

While Klein has been a political fixture in Canada for years, he has not always been fighting on the hustings.

The son of a professional wrestler, he toyed in his teens with flying military jets, enlisted briefly in the Armed Forces and then jumped into public relations jobs, starting with the Red Cross.

He eventually became a reporter for Calgary's CFCN-TV, developing a reputation for breaking stories, before running for mayor in 1980. He was re-elected twice.

Looking for a new challenge, he switched to provincial politics in 1989 and was appointed environment minister under then-premier Don Getty.

He was treated as an outsider by some of the Tory old guard, but the former Liberal supporter reinvented himself as a neo-conservative.

He worked hard at making friends within the government — especially with rural backbenchers ignored by the party elite. Those friends helped gather party faithful in a second-round ballot to replace Getty in 1992.

Klein defeated front-runner Nancy Betkowski and went on to win three elections for the Tories.

NHL /Union short on optimism

YORIO: NHL, union short on optimism

Kara Yorio / TSN
Posted: 2 hours ago

One question cut to the chase and told the story in the end.

TSN: "Is there a chance (a deal will get done)?"

Ted Saskin, NHLPA senior director of business affairs: "If they get off the cap, there's definitely a chance. If they're committed to getting a cap, they know the only way they're going to try to get a cap is to lock out the players and do it for a long time so they can break the will of the players. I don't think #&151; knowing the hockey players I do represent and how strongly committed they are to getting a fair deal #&151; they are going to get a salary cap. So unfortunately I'm not that optimistic."

Not that optimistic.

So will the NHL compromise and get off the cap? (Have they already in some proposals as they claim?) It was 20 hours of meeting this week and no resolution. Saskin says the two sides will meet next week #&151; with the Sept. 15 deadline fast approaching #&151; and that "absolutely" the players association will come with a proposal. It will not have a salary cap. It will likely have a luxury tax and revenue sharing system.

NHL executive vice president and chief legal officer Bill Daly says any proposal the league will consider must ensure that salaries can be controlled, that there will be a percentage relationship between revenues and players' earnings. He says a luxury tax system alone cannot do that. He says that is just a system that everyone can "hope" works to fix the league's financial problems.

But can any system ensure viability, profitability? The last CBA had a salary cap on entry-level contracts but one clever agent (who happens to now go by the title of Coyotes general manager, Mike Barnett) saw the loopholes and came up with a special plan for his client, Joe Thornton. The Thornton Model, filled with bonus clauses that skyrocketed young players' salaries, is one of the things the league laments now as bringing it down and creating the financial crisis.

But what if there's another clever agent out there just waiting to find the loopholes in a new agreement? And won't GMs be looking to exploit a system as best they can? Can anything #&151; like revenue and profit #&151; be ensured by a CBA system?

"Probably the answer to that is no," says Daly. "But we've got to get as certain to that as we can."

But the league must give their owners and general managers some responsibility. No matter what side you take, you can't argue when Saskin says, "Teams have to take some responsibility for the management of their business."

Everyone must be responsible for themselves and their actions and the NHL and the NHLPA must be responsible to the game. If they keep that responsibility in mind and they see the real and detrimental ramifications a long lockout will bring about, they can find common ground next week.

Will the league negotiators want to give up its hope of some sort of salary cap before the deadline even hits? No, but they should. Will the PA negotiators want to give in to a system that links payroll to league revenue? No, but they should be realistic. All business salaries are linked to the amount of money the business makes.

The next time the two sides get in a room #&151; whatever day that may be next week and in whatever city #&151; they need to talk like people who have a common interest and a common goal. That goal should be to play hockey this season, starting in September when training camps are scheduled to open.

But the fact is, Saskin isn't optimistic. Daly certainly didn't sound optimistic. They will meet next week. There will be a new proposal. But will there be a new vision by both sides? Will they have a new attitude of compromise? Can they do what it will take to get this season off the ground in time?

I'm not that optimistic.

Paris Hilton's latest venture: jewellery line


Paris Hilton, the hotel heiress famous for being famous, has created a jewellery line of pink sparkles, stars and hearts.

The Paris Hilton collection, which ranges in price from $15 to $95 (U.S.), is available exclusively at Amazon.com. It includes necklaces, earrings, a charm bracelet, a belly chain and a belly bar, all in sterling silver and pink crystal.

"I just looked into my style and looked through my jewellery and things I liked, and used that when I was designing and sketching," Hilton said Wednesday.

Hilton, 23, worked with a designer and modelled the jewellery shown on the website.

"I thought my fans would want to have part of me, something I designed," she said. "A young girl is able to afford it; it looks expensive but it's not."

Eager fans can also buy a copy of her memoir, Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose, to be published Tuesday by Fireside, and the DVD of the first season of her reality TV show, The Simple Life, with her friend Nicole Richie.

Hilton — whose beloved pet chihuahua, Tinkerbell, was missing for a week last month — bristled at the suggestion that she's able to design jewellery and record an upcoming CD because of her socialite fame.

"I have a great line of jewellery and I have a great voice," she said. "The product is there, so people can't say anything."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Florist gives 15,000 roses away

A rose given away smells sweetest
Florist's giveaway pledges to draw out 15,000 extra smiles

Dozen free blooms come with one rule: Share the joy


Yellow is for friendship, pink for passion. White is for purity, and red for love.

A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

But the smiles they make come in all shapes, sizes and ages.

"My husband never bought me roses," laughed 88-year-old June Kennedy, blushing happily as she looked down at the pink flower thrust into her hands by a stranger moments before in the Eglinton Square mall.

"Now I'm important. I'm special today."

Beaming, she manoeuvred herself into the growing line at Canadiana Florists, anxious to grab a dozen free roses herself and keep the cycle going.

"The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose," author Heda Bejar once wrote.

If so, then the scene in Eglinton Square yesterday gave new meaning to the term rosy palms. By mid-afternoon, leaves and petals littered the ground and smiles lit the faces of shoppers and storekeepers alike.

"That's how it works," said Canadiana Florists owner Stephen Mangos of his store's second annual Good Neighbour Day. "There will be 15,000 extra smiles in Toronto today."

Mangos decided last year to start participating in the FTD Florists Good Neighbour Day by giving out 15,000 free roses, packaged in dozens, and asking each recipient to give away 11 to deserving friends, neighbours and loved ones. Canadiana provided the flowers, worth about $40,000, free. All they asked in return was a donation to Toronto East General or the Hospital for Sick Children.

By the time the last rose was given away at about 1:30 p.m., Canadiana had raised more than $2,400 for the hospitals.

About 1,100 florists across North America participated in the 10-year-old FTD tradition this year, but Mangos and his brother Chris own the only Toronto store that joined in. In a mall that's the epicentre of a large elderly community around Victoria Park and Eglinton Aves., those blooms couldn't have found better homes.

"I'm giving one to each of my neighbours who couldn't get out today," said Greta Capranos, 67, who often brings back little gifts from the mall for the bedridden at her senior care home.

"They get lonely. Some of them don't have many visitors. You can buy them any tiny, little thing and you'd make their day, but a rose is more than that."

As she delivered her flowers yesterday, "people were asking me what they were for. I just told them that it's a rose for you because you should have a rose."

Many got caught up in the spirit and anyone in the mall with empty hands became a target.

"You deserve a rose, take one," an energetic Jeannette Thornton told shopper Hiep Nguyen, looking stunned but grateful after being blitzed by Thornton's flower giveaway.

"I love giving stuff away. I figure, if you give something meaningful away, then it was meaningful to give it," Thornton laughed. "I love roses. This is a small thing, sure, but it makes the world a better place."

RIM to launch new e-mail device

"Charm" to spur growth: Analysts

Low-cost gadget targets consumers


Research In Motion Ltd. may soon be adding a little "Charm" to its line of popular BlackBerry devices.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company, the country's highest-valued tech firm behind Nortel Networks Corp., is scheduled to make a major product announcement for the U.S. market next week, leading to speculation that a new consumer device, code-named Charm, will finally be unveiled after months of internal testing.

Rumours of the product first surfaced in May and a picture claiming to be the new device began floating around the Internet several weeks ago.

"A new driver will soon be introduced with the launch of the new mass-market consumer product," GMP Securities analyst Ray Sharma wrote in a recent research note foreshadowing an announcement.

The BlackBerry is widely used by business professionals, politicians and celebrities who enjoy having a mobile phone and instant wireless e-mail in a single product. RIM expects to have about 2 million subscribers by the end of this year — driven by strong growth in Asia — after reaching the 1 million milestone in February.

A mass-market device would dramatically accelerate growth, analysts said.

The new Charm device appears to be two-thirds the width of a typical BlackBerry and its design makes it more practical as a mobile phone, similar in many respects to the Treo 600 Smartphone by PalmOne Inc.

The Treo 600 is more stylish and less awkward to hold than the BlackBerry when used as a phone. It's also quad-band, meaning it works over a number of different frequency bands giving it "world" roaming capabilities.

The Treo 600 was called a "BlackBerry-basher" when launched last fall, and Bell Mobility on Tuesday became the second Canadian wireless carrier to begin selling the device. Insiders at RIM are touting Charm as a more affordable "Treo-killer," sources said.

The picture circulating on the Web shows a device with a condensed keypad that's presumably aided by "predictive-texting'' software that guesses words as they are typed. If true, Charm would be the first device from RIM that puts greater emphasis on the phone function and strays from the standard "QWERTY" keyboard format, a hallmark of the BlackBerry.

"I'm guessing it's a low-cost device geared to teenagers," said Barry Richards, a wireless analyst with Paradigm Capital Inc. in Toronto. "It's a whole new form factor."

Another analyst, who asked not to be named, said the device could be priced in the $200 range — making it accessible to a broader consumer market — and that T-Mobile is expected to be the first U.S. wireless carrier to carry the product.

RIM likely accelerated introduction of the product to pre-empt a new Nokia "Treo-like" handset coming to market in a couple of weeks, he said.

It is possible that Charm, which was widely expected to be unveiled this fall, might not make its debut next week. The announcement scheduled for Sept. 8 could instead relate to a number of other products RIM is working on behind the scenes.

Richards said RIM's announcement, scheduled for Wednesday, could introduce a "quad-band" BlackBerry device with cross-frequency roaming and featuring Bluetooth short-range wireless capabilities.

Sharma is expecting this year a low-cost Wi-Fi BlackBerry that would let users make voice-over-Internet phone calls through local wireless networks, or even public hotspots.

The new Wi-Fi device would be ideal for companies or government departments that don't want to pay expensive cellular-phone charges but want to give employees the flexibility to use the phone or e-mail on a campus or in a defined office setting, wrote Sharma.

A second generation of the Wi-Fi Blackberry would be enhanced to allow roaming between Wi-Fi and cellular frequencies.

RIM shares rose 33 cents yesterday to $79.46 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, more than a four-fold increase compared with a year ago, but down from a high of $95.15 reached July 2.

Analysts said the current share price takes into account any legal risks associated with RIM's patent battle with NTP Inc. of Virginia.

Whatever next week's announcement brings, RIM is on a roll. The company has dramatically ramped up production of its BlackBerry devices, including the contracting out of some manufacturing operations, to meet a burst of demand in Asia, Europe and the United States.

Countries such as China and India are expected to contribute materially to RIM's earnings in 2005 and the company is aggressively expanding its partnerships with mobile-phone carriers around the world. At the same time, RIM has licensed its wireless-data technology to big-name handset manufacturers, including Motorola Inc., Nokia Corp., Sony-Ericsson Mobile Communications Japan Inc., Siemens AG and PalmSource Inc., in a move that could pay off down the road.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Passion DVD sells 2.4 million copies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The DVD of Mel Gibson's biblical epic The Passion of the Christ went on sale Tuesday and sold 2.4 million copies by midday.

"We think a lot of the consumers will be going in after work to pick it up," said Steve Feldstein, spokesman for Fox Home Entertainment, which is distributing the DVD.

Total one-day sales figures for the movie were expected Wednesday.

The Passion, starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus, earned more than $370 million (U.S.) at the North American box office, making it the second-most popular movie of the year behind Shrek 2.

The film was also one of the most controversial movies in years. Besides its violent depiction of the crucifixion, some Jewish organizations complained it might spark a rise in anti-Semitism by blaming ancient Jewish people for killing Christ.

Finding Nemo holds the record for one-day DVD sales with about eight million but it's unclear how that movie was selling by midday on the day of its release, said Scott Hettrick, editor in chief of DVD Exclusive magazine.

"This is really good but it's really hard to do an apple-to-apple comparison," he said.

"It's been less than a handful of movies that have done first-day sales reporting."

He said The Passion is on track to sell as well as other Hollywood blockbusters such as Spider-Man and The Lord of the Rings movies, which topped out between 15 million and 18 million total DVD sales.

Churches and religious groups were active in trying to promote the movie to their congregations, sometimes buying huge blocks of theatre tickets for sale to parishioners. Many DVDs were paid for well in advance and picked up Tuesday.

Fox Home Entertainment reported each customer bought an average of 1.8 copies of the DVD