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Kimmel opens Oscars with standing O for Streep, Ali wins

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Feb 27th, 2017

The 89th Academy Awards kicked off with Justin Timberlake dancing down the Dolby Theatre aisles, Jimmy Kimmel mocking Matt Damon and a standing ovation for the “highly overrated” Meryl Streep.

Timberlake’s ebullient song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” from the animated film “Trolls”, was an early cue that the Oscars would steer toward festiveness instead of heavy-handed politics. Protests, boycotts and rallies have swirled ahead of Sunday night’s Oscars. But host Kimmel, in his opening monologue, quickly acknowledged that he “was not that guy” to heal a divided America.

Kimmel instead struck an irreverent but sarcastic tone, singling out Streep, whom President Donald Trump derided as “overrated” after her fiery Golden Globes speech last month. Listing some of her credits, Kimmel said Streep has “phoned it in for over 50 films.” He led a standing ovation for the “overrated” actress before adding a pointed punchline: “Nice dress, by the way,” he said. “Is that an Ivanka?”

The host then predicted Trump was sure to tweet about the night’s awards at 5 a.m. “during his bowl movements.”

As expected, the night’s first winner was Mahershala Ali for best supporting actor. The “Moonlight” co-star glowed on the stage as he informed that crowd that he and his wife, Amatus Sami-Karim, welcomed a daughter four days earlier. He thanked his wife for “being such a soldier through the process.”

Most expect another day of sun for Damien Chazelle’s celebrated musical “La La Land,” up for a record-tying 14 nominations. But its night started off with an upset, losing out on costume design to the Harry Potter spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

Ezra Edelman’s “O.J.: Made in America” took best documentary, making it at 467 minutes the longest Oscar winner ever, beating out the 1969 Best Foreign Language Film winner “War and Peace” (431 minutes).

Edelman’s documentary, while it received an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release, was seen by most on ESPN as a serial, prompting some to claim its place was at the Emmys, not the Oscars.

Edelman dedicated the award to the victims of the famous crime, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
“This is also for other victims, victims of police violence, police brutality,” Edelman said. “This is their story as it is Ron and Nicole’s.”

The “OscarsSoWhite” crisis of the last two years was largely quelled this season by a richly diverse slate of nominees, thanks to films like “Moonlight,” ”Fences“ and ”Hidden Figures.“ A record six black actors are nominated. For the first time ever, a person of colour is nominated in each acting category. And four of the five best documentary nominees were also directed by black filmmakers.

“Remember last year when it was the Oscars that were racist?” joked Kimmel in the opening.

The nominees follow the efforts by Academy of Motions Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs to diversify the membership of the largely white, older and male film academy. In June, the academy added 683 new members: 46 per cent of them were female; 41-per cent were nonwhite; and they pulled from 59 countries.

The academy is hoping to improve on last year’s telecast. The Chris Rock-hosted show drew 34.4 million viewers, an eight-year low.

Politics have taken the spotlight ahead of Hollywood’s big night. On Friday, the United Talent Agency, forgoing its usual Oscar party, instead held a rally protesting Trump over immigration. “We will not tolerate chaos and ineptitude and war-mongering,” Jodie Foster told attendees.

The six directors of the foreign film nominees released a joint statement condemning “the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries.” The signees included the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose “The Salesman” is favoured to win him his second foreign language Oscar. He isn’t attending the awards in protest of Trump’s proposed travel ban of seven predominantly Muslim nations, including Iran.

U.S. immigration authorities are also barring entry to a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer who worked on the documentary short nominee “The White Helmets,” about the nation’s civil war.

‘Moonlight’ really won in major Oscars mess up

Sandy Cohen and Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Feb 27th, 2017

US director Barry Jenkins (C) speaks after "Moonlight" won the Best Film award as Host Jimmy Kimmel (L) looks on at the 89th Oscars on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. / AFP / Mark RALSTON        (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

It was one of the most awkward moments in the history of the Oscars, of television, in entertainment, heck maybe in American history.

And somehow Warren Beatty, Hollywood’s ultimate smooth leading man, was at the centre of it, and the accounting firm that is responsible for the integrity of Oscar voting apologized and was vowing a full investigation.

The producers of ‘La La Land’ were nearly done with their acceptance speeches for Best Picture, the Oscar broadcast’s credits sequence about to roll, when a stir of whispers began on stage. Moments later “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz returned to the microphone and said “Moonlight won Best Picture” and insisting that “this is not a joke.”


Related stories:

Kimmel opens Oscars with standing O for Streep, Ali wins
Steve Harvey, Miss Universe host, mistakenly gives crown to wrong contestant
Golden Globes goes gaga for ‘La La Land’


The collective jaw of the crowd at the Dolby Theatre – and of America – remained dropped long after they became convinced it was no joke, but what academy historians later called an apparently unprecedented Oscar error. The accounting firm PwC, formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, said early Monday that Beatty and Dunaway had been given the wrong envelope.

“We sincerely apologize to ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land,’ Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture,” a statement from the firm said. “The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.”

The statement came several hours after the chaotic ending, which featured Beatty returning to the mic to explain that he had opened the envelope and he was confused when it read ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ He had shown it to co-presenter Faye Dunaway briefly, as though he wanted her to read it, which she did, apparently assuming the Emma Stone part was off but the ‘La La’ part correct.

“It’s one of the strangest things that’s ever happened to me,” Beatty said backstage. “Thank God there were two of us up there,” Dunaway responded.

The actress then asked Beatty, “Who else should I tell?”

“Everybody,” he said.

At that point, a security guard tried to take the real envelope and Beatty said, “Security is not getting this. I’m giving it to (Moonlight director) Barry Jenkins at a later time.” Beatty also refused to show it to anyone else.

ABC News, tweeting about the ceremony broadcast on its network, said the envelope held by Beatty read, “Actress in a leading role.” A close-up photo of Beatty onstage verified that.

'La La Land' producer Jordan Horowitz (C) speaks while holing an Oscar and the winner card before reading the actual Best Picture winner 'Moonlight' onstage during the 89th Oscars on Feb. 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. GETTY IMAGES/AFP/Mark Ralston

 

PwC has counted votes and provides winner envelopes for the Oscars and has done so for more than 80 years.

When the firm’s representatives realized the mistake, they raced onstage to right it, but too late, officials told The Associated Press.

The result was a bizarre scene with the entire cast of both movies standing together on stage exchanging sympathetic awkward stares and hugs.

The crowd had to rouse itself from its stunned stupor to try to give ‘Moonlight’ its just due for winning the big award. And as the credits rolled, usually bringing sweet relief after a long night, people appeared hesitant to leave in their disbelief.

“It made a very special feeling even more special, but not in the way I expected,” a bemused Jenkins, co-writer and director of ‘Moonlight,’ said backstage.

“The folks at ‘La La Land’ were so gracious,” he added. “I can’t imagine being in their position and having to do that.”

Filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, who won a best screenplay award for ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ cracked wise backstage: “It turns out that we actually won best picture, which we’re really happy about,” he said.

The ceremony’s chaotic scene immediately raced to the top of all-time Oscar moments, far more stunning than the nude man who raced across the stage in 1974 as part of the “streaking” fad.

And it immediately evoked Steve Harvey’s recent gaffe of naming the wrong Miss Universe winner.

The Miss Universe Twitter account quickly let the Oscars know they felt their pain.

“Have your people call our people, we know what to do,” the tweet read.

That was the beginning of a Tweet pile-on that may be the biggest of all time, with many declaring that ‘La La Land’ won the popular vote while ‘Moonlight’ won the electoral college.

But this stage, and this audience, were far, far bigger and are likely to last far, far longer in collective memory.

AP writers Lynn Elber, Beth Harris and Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report.

Electricity disconnection ban in effect until April 30

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Feb 24th, 2017

Ontario’s ban on disconnecting people’s electricity for non-payment during the winter will extend to April 30.

The legislature sped through a bill Wednesday to change the rules and the Ontario Energy Board announced Thursday that it had officially amended the electricity distributors’ licences.

The new licence conditions ban the distributors from disconnecting residential customers for not paying their bills until the end of April.

Distributors also may not install devices limiting the amount of electricity that goes to a home during that time if the customer is in arrears.

Anyone who has had their electricity disconnected because they didn’t pay their bill or who have their power restricted through a load limiter have to have their service restored “as soon as possible” and re-connection charges must be waived.

The OEB says there are about 930 residences currently disconnected and about 3,000 with load limiters.

Anti-Islamophobia motion passes in Ontario legislature

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Feb 24th, 2017

A Liberal backbencher who introduced an anti-Islamophobia motion that unanimously passed the Ontario legislature Thursday says, despite all-party support, she has received racist backlash.

The motion from Nathalie Des Rosiers called on the legislature to “stand against all forms of hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance,” rebuke a “growing tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric and sentiments” and condemn all forms of Islamophobia.

It passed as the federal government weighs a similar motion that has sparked controversy in the House of Commons and beyond.

Des Rosiers introduced the provincial motion Dec. 1 in response to incidents in her Ottawa-Vanier riding such as anti-Muslim graffiti, and young women wearing hijabs who were spat on, she said. It took on extra urgency after six men were shot to death at a mosque in Quebec, she said.

“You don’t want discrimination to become internalized, for people to stop seeing themselves as full citizens, as having the ability to contribute fully in a society, and that’s the reason you need to denounce hatred and discrimination,” Des Rosiers said.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, who is Muslim, said Muslims and Canadians across the country were shaken by the violence at the mosque.

“The day after the shooting in Quebec a father called my community office asking in the morning is it safe for him to send his son to school,” he said. “That’s not the society we live in. That’s not the society we’re building. Parents should not be fearful for a nanosecond whether they should send their children to school because of their faith. It’s real.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said, as a lesbian, some people had tried to discourage her from running in a riding with a large Muslim population. She disagreed and said when she spoke to community members they discussed their differences but also what binds them together, such as values about health, education and family.

“It’s those commonalities that make it possible for us to create this country, to create this province, and that’s why it enrages me — it enrages me that we still have to have this conversation globally,” she said.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said Ontario’s legislature “unequivocally opposes Islamophobia.”

“Islamophobia is real and we have to condemn it unreservedly,” he said.

“No matter the colour of your skin, which part of the world you come from, what language you speak, whether you attend a mosque on Friday, a synagogue on a Saturday or church on a Sunday, every distinct element of who we are as a people comes together to form this beautiful mosaic that is Canada.”

The Tories’ support means the Ontario motion has not generated the political debate seen over a similar item in the House of Commons.

However, Des Rosiers said that like Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, who moved the Ottawa motion, she has received “nasty” and “quite racist” comments.

Naqvi said he is “disturbed” by the tone and the level of debate the federal motion has generated.

“This is not one of those issues that one starts quibbling about different elements,” he said. “This is about making a very fundamental statement against hatred, be it anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, any other form of hatred.”

A number of federal Conservatives, including several leadership contenders, argue the Ottawa motion singles out one religious group over others and could potentially curtail freedom of speech because it doesn’t define the term Islamophobia.

Naqvi dismissed those arguments, saying, “There is no competition between what kind of hatred do you condemn.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said more must be done to tackle ignorance and prejudice, and that work has to be done together.

Firefighters rescue dog trapped underneath car

CityNews | posted Friday, Feb 24th, 2017

Firefighters had their work cut out for them after a dog got into a car’s engine compartment in downtown Toronto.

The dog ran underneath a parked car on DeGrassi Street, near Queen Street and Broadview Avenue, around 3 a.m. on Friday.

Emergency crews had to tug and pull to get him out. Afterward, the rescued dog was reunited with his owner, both of them shaken up but not injured.

A firefighter at the scene said it was the first time he had ever rescued a dog from the engine of a car.

 

Millennials aren’t coddled—they just reject abuse as a management tactic

Deborah Aarts | posted Thursday, Feb 23rd, 2017

Recently, the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine circulated a video meant to make its instructors aware of “student mistreatment.” With a minor-chord piano medley providing the soundtrack, viewers were asked to avoid putting students on the spot with questions, to minimize “cold and clinical” interactions, and to cultivate “safe” learning environments for the young residents.

It seems a little like something created by The Onion, but the video was sincere, and its message will be familiar to a lot of employers dealing with people in their 20s. For many who remember what business was like pre-Internet, millennials seem an appallingly sensitive lot, having been protected from the vagaries of the world by helicopter parents, trigger warnings and—to especially cynical critics—sheer narcissism. “Aren’t young people coddled?” is now as safe an icebreaker as, “Did you see last night’s Seinfeld?” would have been 20 years ago.

It’s a stereotypical view and, of course, an incomplete one. But there’s no doubt younger workers are changing the interpersonal dynamics of the modern workplace, much as they’ve already done in high schools and universities. And I have news for you, my fellow judgmental old people: That’s a good thing.

For decades—centuries—the archetype of the successful business person has been the sneering blowhard, unafraid to bark orders and excoriate the work of underlings. He (let’s be honest, it’s traditionally a he) leads with a charming mix of ego, hair-trigger temper and intimidation. The fictional Gordon Gekko is the poster boy, but real-world examples abound: Rupert Murdoch, Anna Wintour, Larry Ellison, Kevin O’Leary, Donald Trump. Steve Jobs, brilliant as he was, was an often vicious and tyrannical boss.

The influence of such titans has created the expectation that to be successful in business, one must be able to be, for lack of a better term, mean. Or, at least, one must be prepared to act that way. For decades, otherwise mild-mannered and amiable individuals have had to train themselves to behave differently at work: to be harder, colder, less polite. (You can actually take courses on this kind of thing.) In some workplaces, making a colleague cry is considered a sadistic rite of passage. In the culture of commerce, behaviour that would be inexcusable in pretty much any other context is not only tolerated, but rewarded.

To what end? What real benefits are conferred on a business when its leaders are nasty? Abusive behaviour sure doesn’t spur productivity: A 2006 Florida State University study of 700 employees in a variety of different roles found that those with abusive bosses were five times more likely to purposefully slow down or make errors than their peers, and nearly six times more likely to call in sick when they actually felt fine. Nor does it do much for employee morale: As Stanford organizational behaviour professor Robert Sutton wrote in his 2007 bestseller, The No Asshole Rule, brutish managers “infuriate, demean and damage their peers, superiors, underlings and, at times, clients and customers, too.”

The most progressive bosses today—the ones whose behaviour will be tomorrow’s status quo—are demanding without being discouraging, honest without being rude and confident without being cocky. There has been plenty of important research on each of these management qualities, such as Mark Murphy’s book Hundred Percenters on motivating employees to greatness; or ex-Googler Kim Scott’s “radical candour” approach to providing feedback; or the work of Brené Brown, whose landmark 2010 TED talk is called “The Power of Vulnerability.” Caring about people’s feelings doesn’t make managers airy-fairy pushovers; rather, such leaders recognize their job is to help people excel. And they produce exceptional results not in spite of their compassion and kindness, but because of it.

Yes, it can be irritating to hear our younger colleagues complain of hurt feelings. But millennials aren’t wrong to expect a kinder, gentler work environment. The rest of us are wrong for clinging to the useless and outdated notion that to thrive in business, you have to be an asshole.

Seven Earth-size worlds found orbiting star outside our solar system

Marcia Dunn | posted Thursday, Feb 23rd, 2017

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For the first time ever, astronomers have discovered seven Earth-size planets orbiting a nearby star – and these new worlds could hold life.

This cluster of planets is less than 40 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, according to NASA and the Belgian-led research team who announced the discovery Wednesday.

The planets circle tightly around a dim dwarf star called Trappist-1, barely the size of Jupiter. Three are in the so-called habitable zone, where liquid water and, possibly life, might exist. The others are right on the doorstep.

Scientists said they need to study the atmospheres before determining whether these rocky, terrestrial planets could support some sort of life. But it already shows just how many Earth-size planets could be out there – especially in a star’s sweet spot, ripe for extraterrestrial life.

The takeaway from all this is, “we’ve made a crucial step toward finding if there is life out there,” said the University of Cambridge’s Amaury Triaud, one of the researchers. The potential for more Earth-size planets in our Milky Way galaxy is mind-boggling.

“There are 200 billion stars in our galaxy,” said co-author Emmanuel Jehin of the University of Liege. So do an account. You multiply this by 10, and you have the number of Earth-size planets in the galaxy – which is a lot.”

Last spring, the University of Liege’s Michael Gillon and his team reported finding three planets around Trappist-1. Now the count is up to seven, and Gillon said there could be more. Their latest findings appear in the journal Nature.

This compact solar system is reminiscent of Jupiter and its Galilean moons, according to the researchers.

Picture this: If Trappist-1 were our sun, all seven planets would be inside Mercury’s orbit. Mercury is the innermost planet of our own solar system.

The ultracool star at the heart of this system would shine 200 times dimmer than our sun, a perpetual twilight as we know it. And the star would glow red – maybe salmon-colored, the researchers speculate.

“The spectacle would be beautiful because every now and then, you would see another planet, maybe about as big as twice the moon in the sky, depending on which planet you’re on and which planet you look at,” Triaud said Tuesday in a teleconference with reporters.

The Leiden Observatory’s Ignas Snellen, who was not involved in the study, is excited by the prospect of learning more about what he calls “the seven sisters of planet Earth.” In a companion article in Nature, he said Gillon’s team could have been lucky in nabbing so many terrestrial planets in one stellar swoop.

“But finding seven transiting Earth-sized planets in such a small sample suggests that the solar system with its four (sub-) Earth-sized planets might be nothing out of the ordinary,” Snellen wrote.

Gillon and his team used both ground and space telescopes to identify and track the planets, which they label simply by lowercase letters, “b” through “h.” As is typical in these cases, the letter “A” – in upper case – is reserved for the star. Planets cast shadows on their star as they pass in front of it; that’s how the scientists spotted them.

Tiny, cold stars like Trappist-1 were long shunned by exoplanet-hunters (exoplanets are those outside our solar system). But the Belgian astronomers decided to seek them out, building a telescope in Chile to observe 60 of the closest ultracool dwarf stars. Their Trappist telescope lent its name to this star.

While faint, the Trappist-1 star is close by cosmic standards, allowing astronomers to study the atmospheres of its seven temperate planets. All seven look to be solid like Earth – mostly rocky and possibly icy, too.

They all appear to be tidally locked, which means the same side continually faces the star, just like the same side of our moon always faces us. Life could still exist at these places, the researchers explained.

“Here, if life managed to thrive and releases gases similar to that that we have on Earth, then we will know,” Triaud said.

Chemical analyses should indicate life with perhaps 99 per cent confidence, Gillon noted. But he added: “We will never be completely sure” without going there.

Toronto polar bear Juno off to Winnipeg zoo for extended visit

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Feb 23rd, 2017

juno

Like her two brothers before her, Juno the polar bear is going to be leaving the Toronto Zoo for an extended visit at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Fifteen-month-old Juno was born in the Toronto facility in November 2015.

Next week she will be moved to the Journey to Churchill exhibit in Winnipeg, where she will be given opportunities to socialize and engage with other polar bears her age.

Juno is the little sister of Hudson and Humphrey, two Toronto-born polar bear brothers who spent a few years at the Winnipeg zoo before returning home last year.

Upon arrival, Juno will undergo a standard 30-day quarantine before being introduced to cubs Nanuq and Siku.

They are both living at the Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, and are close to Juno’s age.

“We are privileged to have an internationally award-winning Arctic exhibit that can be home to many polar bears at the same time, all of whom help us educate visitors about the impacts of climate change on their species,” said Gary Lunsford, the zoo’s senior director of animal management and conservation.

“Having Juno come to Assiniboine Park Zoo will give her the opportunity to learn from and develop alongside other polar bears her age. This will be very beneficial to her as she continues to mature.”

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