Canada -- Native Economy Flourishes

The number of aboriginals owning businesses is surging creating jobs, profits, and optimism. In the photo Sean McCormick, president of Manitobah Mukluks checks out some of the staff’s handwork at the firms’ Winnipeg plant. As a Metis kid growing up in Winnipeg he stumbled into business by accident. In 1997 he started a production facility  for leather Moccasin, mukluks and fringed bag. Kate Moss, Megan Fox and Jessica Biel became customers of his products. With a global marketing campaign and growing social media presence, McCormick now sells his goods in 21 countries from Russia to Japan and sales are five times more than what they were three years ago. Manitobah Mukluks is just one of many companies that have seen aboriginal entrepreneurs surge by 85% in just ten years. The businesses range from Okanagan wineries to high-end restaurants in Toronto to catering services to miners. Also, the largest airline in the Arctic is Inuit-owned and the world’s biggest curling supplies company is Metis-run.  Aboriginal business in Fort McMurray, Alberta alone is estimated at over $1billion. (John Woods/Globe and Mail)



Pakistan—Teenager Sacrifices Life to Save His SchoolAitzaz Hasan


Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has recommended a bravery award for Aitzaz Hasan, 15, who was killed when tackling a suicide bomber who targeted his school. Aitzaz is being hailed as a hero for confronting the attacker, who then detonated his vest. The incident on Monday prompted an outpouring of praise and gratitude across Pakistan. "[Martyr] Aitizaz's brave act saved the lives of hundreds of students and established a sterling example of gallantry and patriotism," a statement from the Prime Minister's office said.


The incident took place in Ibrahimzai, a Shia-dominated region of Hangu, in north-western Pakistan. There were almost 2,000 students in attendance at the time of the attack. Despite the pleas of his fellow students, Aitzaz decided to confront and capture the bomber who was approaching the school, earning him credit for saving hundreds of lives.



Global - New Book on Egyptomania!

The lure and the legends of Ancient Egypt seem to be with us always.  With each new discovery, the age captures our imagination again. The discovery of King Tut’s tomb took the world by storm in the 1920s; the Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition in the 1970s broke museum attendance records everywhere it went, and the story of the "boy king" continues to fascinate the world. For more than 40 years, Egyptologist Bob Brier has been seeking to understand the pull of Ancient Egypt on our world. He has written an new illustrated book, Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Obsession with the Land of the Pharaohs (published by Palgrave) draws on some of his own extensive collection of Egyptian memorabilia. It also traces the world's enduring curiosity about Ancient Egyptian art and architecture, history, religion, and science. The pharaohs, pyramids, mummies, and more are all facets of vanished civilization that continues to inspire fashion, films, books, and other areas of our culture.
The introduction is written by none other than world-renowned archaeologist Zahi Hawass, who relates a few anecdotes of his own from his travels around the world as an Egyptologist, and later as Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, an organization created for the protection of the Egyptian heritage.




Global - Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize

The Distinguished Canadian writer,born in 1931, Munro’s built a repertoire of literature comprised mostly of excuisite short stories. She is the first short story writer to have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

·         Dance of the Happy Shades – 1968 (winner of the 1968 Governor General's Award for Fiction)

·         Lives of Girls and Women – 1971

·         Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You – 1974

·         Who Do You Think You Are? – 1978 (winner of the 1978 Governor General's Award for Fiction; also published as The Beggar Maid)

·         The Moons of Jupiter – 1982 (nominated for a Governor General's Award)

·         The Progress of Love – 1986 (winner of the 1986 Governor General's Award for Fiction)

·         Friend of My Youth – 1990 (winner of the Trillium Book Award)

·         Open Secrets – 1994 (nominated for a Governor General's Award)

·         The Love of a Good Woman – 1998 (winner of the 1998 Giller Prize)



Sweden--The Best Place for the Elderly

Sweden is the best country in the world to grow old according to a new survey conducted among the elderly. It is followed by Norway and Germany. The elderly are described as the age group over 60. The satisfaction and happiness of this group depends largely on generous welfare and pensions, reliable transport systems, and community spirit. The survey conducted by Global Age Watch Index is designed to give governments worldwide benchmarks to evaluate their policies for the elderly. The index was designed by HelpAge International in collaboration with the United Nations.




London—We Love Mandela

A portrait of Nelson Mandela by British artist Richard Stone and a portrayal of him playing the role of Jesus at the Last Supper are some of the works on display in London's "We Love Mandela" exhibition. Some 22 artists, all South African with the exception of Stone, are displaying around 50 works reflecting the "emotions of people", their feelings and ideas about South Africa's first black president, exhibition curator Natalie Knight told AFP. Many of the artists showcased were forced to work underground during the era of apartheid. Peace icon Mandela featured "at the top" of the list of personalities whom Stone, portraitist of Queen Elizabeth II and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, wanted to paint. "It was the most daunting experience I had ever had" and also "the greatest privilege", the artist told AFP.

"Here we have quite possibly the most famous man on the planet," he said. Stone recalled how Mandela "allowed a little window to be open into his soul" during the six sittings which took place in his Johannesburg office in 2008. The painting, which features a dignified white-haired Mandela wearing one of his trademark colourful shirts, was sold at auction in 2008 for around 480,000 euros ($650,000) during a London concert celebrating his 90th birthday. The exhibition gives equal billing to numerous cartoons by South African animator Zapiro, one of which shows Mandela sat in a carriage next to the queen as they travel through the streets of London. Another piece of artwork in the exhibit explores the power of Mandela's clenched fist, the symbol of his fight against apartheid, while another imagines Mandela as the central figure at the Last Supper, surrounded by "his" disciples, including Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.




The diner that's like a hall of mirrors: Twin Stars restaurant is fully staffed by identical twinsMoscow—Twins Restaurant Success


A restaurant owner in Moscow has decided to only hire sets of twins in a bid to attract new customers. The Twin Stars diner employs identically-dressed siblings to serve its hungry clients with food and drink. Alexei Khodorovsky, the owner of Twin Stars, says he was inspired by the 1960s movie "Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors" where a girl finds herself in a parallel universe and discovers there’s another version of her – her twin. 




USA—Film to Showcase Journalism Fraud

The story of Jayson Blair and his breach of journalistic ethics gripped the media in the early 2000s and dealt a heavy blow to his newspaper—the New York Times. Often called the “paper of record” or the “first draft of history” the Times found itself in a tumultuous situation once it came to light that dozens of articles that came from Blair—who worked for the national desk—were lies, fabrications, and blatant plagiarizations. Filmmaker Samantha Grant became fascinated with this strange occurrence and decided to make it the subject of her latest documentary—A Fragile Trust. The film opened in Toronto in early January 2014.





London—Most expensive painting sold in auction


It took seven superrich bidders to propel a 1969 Francis Bacon triptych to $142.4 million at Christie’s on Tuesday night, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. William Acquavella, the New York dealer, is thought to have bought the painting on behalf of an unidentified client, from one of Christie’s skyboxes overlooking the auction. The price for the painting, which depicts Lucian Freud, Bacon’s friend and rival, perched on a wooden chair, was more than the $85 million Christie’s had estimated. It also toppled the previous record set in May 2012 when Edvard Munch’s fabled pastel of “The Scream” sold at Sotheby’s for $119.9 million and broke the previous record for the artist at auction set at the peak of the market in May 2008, when Sotheby’s sold a triptych from 1976 to the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich for $86.2 million.




Global—Best countries for women rights


For five years in a row, Iceland has been rated the country with the world's smallest gender gap by the World Economic Forum (WEF).  The rating means Iceland is the country where women enjoy the most equal access to education and healthcare. It is also where women are most likely to be able to participate fully in the country's political and economic life. Iceland is joined at the top of the The Global Gender Gap Report, 2013 by its Nordic neighbours Finland, Norway and Sweden. Overall, the gender gap narrowed slightly across the globe in 2013, as 86 of 133 countries showed improvements. However, "change is definitely slow", says one of the report's authors, Saadia Zahidi.




Global - Royal Weddings Galore!

Despite continuous political change around the world, with dictatorships falling, there is still public interest in monarchies, and particularly royal weddings. Over the past couple of years, several have taken place, with enthusiasts predicting a couple more to take place in 2014. Among the recent highlights are: the 2011 wedding between Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and swimming champion Charlene Wittstock took place on 1 and 2 July 2011 at the Prince's Palace of Monaco. It has been described as Monaco's "biggest party in 55 years", in other words, the biggest since the wedding of Albert's parents, Rainier III and Grace Kelly.  Also in 2011, Sheikh (Prince) Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain tied the knot with HRH Princess Sahab Al Saud, the daughter of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. According to the Bahraini news agency, the ceremony took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and was attended by members of Al Saud and Al Kalifa royal families. In September 2013, Prince Felix of Luxembourg and his bride Claire Lademacher had a wedding in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, and were joined by the Prince's parents, Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Theresa. 




Canada--Sex Life after Prostate Cancer Surgery

Toronto’s Don Truckey in his book, My Prostate Cancer (Sex) Diary, recommends that any man diagnosed with prostate cancer must immediately seek out a support group. He wrote his post surgical sexual recovery to help other patience with their illness. A book of experiences that Don says he would have liked to read himself. Approximately 24,000 are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually in Canada.






Canada - In A Deep Freeze


Sure, it's January, and it's Canada, but temperatures from Manitoba eastward on January 2, 2014 tested the will of anyone heading outdoors.  In Winnipeg, with the temperature at –32 C early Thursday morning  (feeling like –41), the afternoon high was expected to soar to a bone-chilling –26 C.  "In Ontario and Quebec, the big story is the cold, with either a wind chill warning or special weather statement (regarding the extreme cold) blanketing most of both provinces," CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland reported. Wind chill warnings extend as far south as London, Kitchener-Waterloo, and east through Toronto, the Durham Region and Kingston in Ontario, and into southern Quebec. Record low temperatures for Jan. 2 were set in a number of areas in northwestern Ontario, including –42.2 C at the Timmins airport and –38.8 C at the Thunder Bay airport. Wind chill values ranged from the –20s and –30s in southern Ontario to the –40s and even –50 Celsius to the north.  In some areas of northern Ontario, wind chills reached the –50 celsius during the night. Temperatures in other cities from west to east of the country: Winnipeg -33, Charlottetown -32, Montreal -40, Toronto -30, St. John's -40.  This nation wide deep freeze was the buzz of the new year for Canadians as they ushered in the new year.


France - Yasser Arafat's Death Unsolved?!
Former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s controversial death. French and Russian scientists said that Mr. Arafat’s death was due to natural causes while Swiss one said that he died due to high levels of radioactive substances. His body was exhumed to run the tests to confirm whether his death was natural or homicide. Sick and besieged in Ramallah, once Israel granted him to travel for treatment, he was move to a military hospital in Paris where he later died. His widow remains convinced that Arafat was killed through polonium poisoning and has pressed for further investigations. Adding to the mystery and drama surrounding Arafat's death, in March 2014, current Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbass suggested that a political rival and former Palestinian interior minister and national security adviser, Mohammed Dahlan, may have had a role in killing Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian figures, as internal political divisions surface under pressures to make compromises in peace talks with Israel.



UK - Two-time Nobel prizewinning biochemistry pioneer dies at 95
The son of British physician, Frederick Sanger (born 1918), was expected to follow his father into medicine but after studying biochemistry at University of Cambridge he decided to become a scientist. He said, “I felt I would be much more interested in and much better at something where I could really work on a problem.” He received his bachelor degree in 1939 and his doctorate in 1943. Sanger's work, first on the insulin molecule and then on DNA, opened the door to a new era of medicine and biology, especially in the application of genetic engineering. He transformed the field of genetics from a science of descriptive analysis into today's powerful technology of genetic manipulation and gene therapy.  He developed the methods to analyze and decode proteins in the body, including one that eventually led to sequencing human DNA.  He received his first Nobel Prize in 1958 in chemistry for showing how amino acids link together to form insulin.  His second Nobel Prize was in 1980 also in chemistry (shared with Walter Gilbert from Harvard) for inventing a method for reading the molecular letters that make up the genetic code. He died in November 2013 in Cambridge, UK at the age of 95.

Egypt - Al-Ahly win Super Cup for the sixth time

Egyptian football club Al Ahly won a record-extending sixth Confederation of African Football Super Cup title, beating Sfaxien of Tunisia 3-2 in Cairo.  Ahly shrugged off poor domestic form to defeat their Tunisian opponents in front of a 30,000 strong crowd at the Cairo International Stadium. Ahly also had one goal to spare when they met Sfaxien five years ago in the Super Cup - the annual one-off game between the Champions League and Confederation Cup winners.  Victory comes as a big relief for embattled Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef after a string of national league defeats to modest opponents, the latest being a loss at El-Gouna last weekend - their third defeat in nine outings.



Russia – President Putin embraces endangered Persian Leopard

During the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Russian President Putin was seen cuddling a Persian leopard. A smiling Putin was pictured cuddling the six-month old feline called From in its enclosure at breeding centre near Sochi. "We made friends," he said. "We've decided to restore the population of the Persian leopard because of the Olympic Games. Let's say that because of the Olympic Games, we have restored parts of destroyed nature." But the animal reportedly liked the Russian president much more than his entourage, scratching one accompanying reporter on the hand and biting another on the knee, Russian media reported. The rehabilitation and breeding centre is part of a programme to re-introduce Persian leopards into the wild in Russia's North Caucasus, where they went extinct in the 1970s. The first cubs born at the centre are due to be released in the spring of 2015.





Vatican - Superpope graffiti pops up

Pope Francis may already be a hero to the world's downtrodden but at least one pop artist thinks he's more than that. Move over Superman, it's time for Superpope.  A large painting has appeared on a building near the Vatican showing the Argentine pope in a white cape taking off into the air, his right fist clenched ahead of him in classic Superman style. The Vatican communications office approved of the graffiti, tweeting a photo of it on its official account.





Jordan – Malala Fighting for Education Rights of Syrian Children
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was nearly killed by the Taliban for speaking out about girls’ education, is asking the world not to forget Syria’s children. Malala visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordon on February 18, hoping to raise money to support the education of thousands of children who were displaced from their homes. The 16-year-old said that the conflict is creating a “lost generation” of Syrian children. According to The Malala Fund, three schools serve 50,000 students in the desert camp. There are also many instances of child labor in the camps. There is reportedly a high concentration of female-led households in Zaatari, since many women lost their husbands to the war. So young boys are bearing the burden that their fathers used to, says Shiza Shahid, CEO of The Malala Fund.  According to the UN Refugee Agency, fighting in Syria has displaced 2.4 million people. Nearly 600,000 of these people have sought refuge in Jordan. Interestingly, Malala, was recently invited by the US President and his wife to the White House. She has been an outspoken global supporter of gender equality, and was awarded the Sukarov Award from the European Union for her work.  She was also one of the most prominent nominees for the Nobel Prize for Peace for 2013 but it was given to the global organization that promotes the eradication of chemical weapons for their efforts in Syria.


Amsterdam, Netherlands – Lost Van Gogh Painting Found in Attic
The Van Gogh Museum says it has identified a long-lost Vincent Van Gogh painting that spent years in a Norwegian attic because it was thought not to be authentic. It is the first full-size canvas by the Dutch master discovered since 1928. Sunset at Montmajour can be dated to the exact day it was painted because Vincent described it in a letter to his brother, Theo, and said he painted it the previous day – July 4, 1888. The museum said the painting now belongs to an unidentified private collector and is now on display at the museum. It did not disclose full details of how the painting had been recovered, but said that it had been owned by a Norwegian man who had been told it was not by Van Gogh, so it languished for years in his family's attic.  The museum had itself rejected the painting's authenticity once in the 1990s, in part because it was not signed by the artist But a new two-year investigation had convinced them, with new techniques of chemical analysis of the pigments showing they were identical to others Van Gogh used on his palette at Arles – including typical discolorations.

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