30 dogs rescued from Paws ‘R’ Us kennel expecting puppies

MONTREAL – Thirty of the 527 dogs rescued 10 days ago in western Quebec are pregnant and will likely add 100 or more dogs to the mix within days.

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International Canada, which along with Quebec government officials removed the dogs Sept. 16-17 from the Paws “R” Us kennel, about 80 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, said the unborn puppies’ ownership is uncertain since a judge has yet to rule on whether the seized dogs will go back to their owner.

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It took animal rights workers about 24 hours to remove the dogs from the site, in what has been described as the largest puppy-mill bust in Canadian history.

The operator of the kennel, on a former pig farm in Quebec’s Clarendon Township, has denied abusing the dogs and wants them back. A judge is to render a decision in three to six weeks.

“Anybody who cares about how dogs are treated should realize these puppies should not go back there,” Aldworth said on Monday.

The dogs are in the late stages of pregnancy and “are about to give birth any day now. I saw two being born yesterday.”

The seized dogs are of all sizes and shapes, about 30 breeds in total. About one-third are under daily treatment by veterinarians. They are being cared for in new cages in what was a vacant government building in Lachute.

Aldworth said a network of animal shelters and pet-rescue groups in Quebec and Ontario is expected to help if and when the dogs’ ownership is permanently taken away from the kennel operator.

To volunteer or offer to adopt a dog, contact Humane Society International Canada at [email protected] or 514-395-2914.

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Showing up everywhere this fall, poufs are ottomans’ squishier sisters

Shelter magazines, catalogues, stores – everywhere we look this season, there’s some sort of pouf.

While ottomans tend to be more structured, with a solid form and usually some legs, poufs or hassocks are actually just big upholstered cushions, and aren’t usually used as tables the way ottomans often are.

But poufs are the perfect squishy footrest, and thus suit family rooms or relaxed living rooms. Easily moved about, they make great extra seating.

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With a versatile, portable accessory like this, you can afford to play a little. Look for unusual designs, colourful hues and interesting shapes; poufs add a nice punch to a space for not a lot of money, unless you choose something by a designer.

If you want the genuine Moroccan-made article, check out Tazi Designs and Living Morocco. Tazi has an array of colourful leather poufs with a Moorish motif. A black leather one features white silk stitching; a bronze leather one is equally dramatic. Living Morocco has several striking models in black and red, or green and white. From Morocco With Love has several affordable versions in supple rainbow hues; check out their website for an interesting film showing Fez artisans at work.

Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola has created a beautiful, albeit pricey collection of sprawl-worthy giant poufs covered in her popular Mangas pattern; the word means “sweater,” and with their nubby knitted wool texture, the pieces do look cosy.

Janet Shea, an interior designer in Hanover, Mass., likes the versatility and user-friendliness of poufs. She likes them in a living room, but loves putting them in kids’ spaces.

“I’ve used them in a couple of preteen girls’ rooms I’ve worked on. They’re great for lounging, watching TV and playing video games,” Shea said. “So much better than sitting on the bed or floor.”

Design firm FiveTimesOne has a cool group of felted Merino wool poufs that look like polished travertine, marble, and stone pebbles and boulders; in a contemporary space, they’d be standout pieces.

Poufs are great if you have toddlers – they’re cruising-friendly, and fun to flop over. John Derian offers Moroccan poufs in bright hues such as turquoise, sunshine and violet. Homegoods offers a big comfy marshmallow pouf that’s covered in soft candy pink loops – perfect for a girl’s room. They’ve got some snazzy embellished Indian sari-style poufs, too, that any college girl would love.

Restoration Hardware has a Union Jack upholstered cube pouf that packs a mod graphic punch but would also be at home in a traditional setting.

Some poufs come filled, but you can use just about anything to fill the cover – old clothing, sheets, newspaper or purchased foam trimmed to size.

If you’re at all crafty, consider sewing your own. Better Homes & Gardens’ website offers step-by-step instructions with material costs of about $50. They used burlap to make the example, which gives the pouf a great textured look. It’s not a complex project, so you could have some fun with a few metres of interesting material. Just be sure to use something fairly hard-wearing if your poufs are going to be played with.

Sourcebook:

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活tazidesigns杭州龙凤 – bronze leather pouf, $240; black and white Kasbah, $375;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活homegoods杭州龙凤 – pink looped pouf, $59.99;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活living-morocco-online杭州龙凤 – red/black leather pouf, $175;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活frommoroccowithlove杭州龙凤 – film on the making of poufs;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活restorationhardware杭州龙凤 – Union Jack ottoman, $169;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活bhg杭州龙凤 – Better Homes & Gardens, patterns and instructions to make a pouf;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活jsheainteriors杭州龙凤

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活unicahome杭州龙凤 – Mangas poufs, $1,615-$2,475;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活johnderian杭州龙凤 – poufs in a candy box of colours, $295;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活fivetimesoneusa杭州龙凤 – stone shaped poufs, price on inquiry.


Merkel pledges ‘all necessary assistance’ to Greece as Athens votes new tax to avoid default

Comments Off on Merkel pledges ‘all necessary assistance’ to Greece as Athens votes new tax to avoid default

BERLIN – Stock markets soared around the world Tuesday amid hopes that Europe is finally finding a way out of its debt crisis. Greece passed an unpopular property tax and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to offer the struggling country “all necessary assistance.”

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It’s unclear whether that will be enough to satisfy investors for long. Stocks improved following last week’s turmoil as speculation grew that Greece’s bailout creditors will look to impose bigger losses on Greece’s private bondholders as well as recapitalize Europe’s banks and expand the eurozone’s rescue fund. So far, there’s been no confirmation from Europe’s capitals that such a comprehensive solution is being planned.

Financial markets closely watched a meeting between Merkel and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, but neither announced any new measures ahead of their private dinner at Berlin’s chancellery on Tuesday evening.

“Through the euro, we are closely bound together, and the weakness of one affects us all,” Merkel said at a news conference.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is seen as a key player in resolving the 17-nation eurozone’s debt crisis, but Merkel’s government has repeatedly been accused over the past 18 months of being a reluctant leader of the rescue efforts. Speaking earlier Tuesday alongside her economy minister, Philip Roesler, Merkel reiterated her conviction that there is no quick solution, saying the crisis must be dealt with “step by step.”

Greece must receive an €8 billion ($11 billion) rescue loan before mid-October to stave off bankruptcy, a collapse that would send shock waves through markets around the world. But creditors have demanded more efforts to raise revenue.

In response, Greek lawmakers approved a controversial new property tax Tuesday evening, passing it 154-143 in the 300-member parliament. The levy, in addition to public-sector reforms announced earlier, is expected to make up for lagging revenues this year by providing more than €2 billion ($2.76 billion), or about 1 per cent of Greece’s annual gross domestic product.

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said his country will get the money. “The disbursement will be decided in time, in line with the course of our funding needs,” he said.

Greeks have been outraged by tax and other austerity measures, and unions have responded with strikes and protests. Even as Venizelos spoke, protesting ministry employees and tax office workers chanted outside his department in Athens.

Venizelos said Greece had made great efforts to achieve its fiscal targets, but that a “hyper-effort” is necessary to fully meet its commitments.

Venizelos said representatives from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank will return to Athens this week. The so-called troika suspended its review in early September amid talk of missed targets and budget shortfalls.

The current plan is to have Greece implement painful debt-reduction measures in exchange for rescue loans. Greece relies on funds from last year’s €110 billion ($149 billion) package, and European leaders also have agreed on a second €109 billion bailout, although some details of that remain to be worked out.

“We want a strong Greece within the eurozone, and Germany is prepared to offer all necessary assistance,” Merkel said in Berlin.

Papandreou, in return, pledged to implement the reforms demanded by Greece’s international creditors. Speaking through a translator, he said this is a time “of great sacrifices for the Greek people. Therefore it is of great importance to receive signals of support from our European partners.”

Ahead of the meeting between the two leaders, Merkel’s government downplayed speculation of bold new moves to tackle Europe’s sprawling sovereign debt crisis.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble ruled out increasing the eurozone’s new €440 billion ($595 billion) rescue fund, calling it “a silly idea” that could ultimately endanger the AAA ratings of the main creditor countries such as Germany and the Netherlands.

Greece’s new property tax will range from €4.00 to €20.00 ($5.50-$27.50) for every square meter (10.7 square feet). It will be charged through electricity bills to make it easier for the state to collect, instead of going through Greece’s unwieldy and inefficient tax system. Those who refuse to pay will risk having their power cut off.

The extra charge has deeply angered Greeks, who have already been through more than a year of sharp austerity measures, including salary and pension cuts and higher taxes.

State electricity company unionists have threatened not to collect the tax. Public transport workers walked off the job Tuesday for two days, and were to be joined by taxi drivers on Wednesday. Tax office and customs workers also were on strike.

Police briefly scuffled with protesters outside parliament shortly after Tuesday’s vote there and used pepper spray to disperse one group of youths.

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Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopulos in Athens contributed.


Youth unemployment risk to global economy recovery, G20 ministers say

OTTAWA – Canada’s human resources minister says there’s a global sense of urgency around the need to create jobs to stave off future economic crisis.

Diane Finley wrapped up two days of meetings with her G20 counterparts in Paris on Tuesday and said the feeling around the table is that job creation must be front-and-centre in economic recovery plans.

The Harper government has promised to make jobs the priority during this fall session of Parliament by forging ahead with programs announced in the June budget.

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Officials say the economy has recovered all the jobs lost during the recession, but Finley says Canada’s youth unemployment rate remains too high.

The current rate for youth sits at 14 per cent, virtually unchanged over the last year.

And students are finding it even harder to get jobs. The most recent Statistics Canada data pegged the student unemployment rate at 17.2 per cent this summer, up from last year.

“There is an urgent need to link recovery with jobs and particularly with jobs for young people,” Finley said in an interview.

“And that’s going to take a lot of partnerships between government, employers and post-secondary institutions to make that happen.”

A report released on the eve of the Paris meeting suggests that 200 million people are unemployed around the world.

And the OECD and the International Labour Organization say that number is growing.

The report on job-creation policies across the G20 complimented the targeted job programs put in place by the Canadian government.

“At the same time, the inherent difficulties in fully evaluating the cost effectiveness of such initiatives suggest that a prudent approach should be adopted to their scaling up,” the report said.

It also suggested there is a sharp increase in long-term unemployment in Canada, which the report says can be associated with greater risks of poverty, health problems and school failure for children.

But creating jobs while keeping government budgets in check is a challenge faced by all G20 countries, the two groups acknowledged.

The G20 ministers emerged from their meetings pledging to ensure workers continue to have basic rights. The ministers also agreed to form a task force that would focus on youth unemployment.

The Paris talks were in advance of the G20 leaders’ meetings scheduled for November in France.


Dead air for CRTC chairman as Harper government won’t renew appointment

OTTAWA – The head of Canada’s telecommunications regulator is joining the list of agency bosses who’ve lost their jobs after butting heads with the Harper government.

CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein’s five-year term expires in January, and he confirmed to his staff Tuesday he won’t be returning.

Though appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2007, the two have clashed several times over the last five years and there was growing concern in Tory circles that von Finckenstein was standing in their way.

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The majority Tories are expected to relax restrictions on foreign ownership of telecom companies, something Von Finckenstein has already resisted.

The former judge presided over the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission during a time of rapidly evolving consumer technology that has put cellphones in the hands of most consumers, made the Internet mainstream and wireless networks common.

Last spring, a feud erupted over a CRTC decision on how Internet companies bill their subscribers. Known as “usage-based billing,” it would have allowed wholesalers such as Bell and Rogers to charge smaller resellers based on how much data they use.

The decision sparked a social media campaign that even had then-industry minister Tony Clement weighing in online. Von Finckenstein backed down and ordered a review.

A spokesman for Heritage Minister James Moore said von Finckenstein will serve the remainder of his term and a process for selecting his replacement will be announced shortly.

“We thank Mr. von Finckenstein for his service as chair of the CRTC,” James Maunder wrote in an email.

Over the last five years, the Harper government has declined to renew the mandate of ombudsmen and chairmen of arm’s-length agencies who clashed with policy approaches.

Pat Stogran, the former veterans’ ombudsman, was dumped after sounding an alarm about the treatment of soldiers.

The ombudsman for victims of crimes and the head of the nuclear safety commission were also unceremoniously let go.

Von Finckenstein was a staunch defender of the independence of the CRTC.

He fired back at a report last year suggesting he was under pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to approve a broadcasting licence for a new television channel whose vice-president was a former PMO staffer.

“I would like to categorically state that no one at any level of government has approached me about the Sun TV application, the appointment of the CRTC’s vice-chair of broadcasting, or my own mandate,” he wrote in a letter published in the Globe and Mail.

The appointment of the regulator’s vice-chair for broadcasting had raised eyebrows when the Tories announced their candidate was Tom Pentefountas, a former president of Quebec’s conservative ADQ party and friend of Dimitri Soudas, the former director of communications for Harper.

Pentefountas was accused of lacking qualifications, other than political connections, for the job.

The Tories dismissed the criticism, saying he’d bring an outside perspective to the 13-member board.

But the Opposition is worried that whoever replaces von Finckenstein will be cut from similar cloth.

Heritage critic Charlie Angus said he may have often disagreed with the outgoing chairman but at least he was independent.

“I’m sending a message to Stephen Harper: in your attempt to control almost every aspect of public life in Canada, do not monkey with the chair of the CRTC.”

In a letter to his staff circulated on Tuesday, von Finckenstein outlined his own priorities for the remaining months of his term.

They include making final a decision on usage-based billing and holding a public hearing to develop a framework for the French-language television market.

“Although this is an ambitious list, we work in a rapidly changing environment that requires our constant attention,” he wrote.

“It is important for Canadian consumers and businesses that we continue to step up to the plate and fulfil our mandate as best we can.”

The CRTC issued a landmark decision this month when it gave Bell, Rogers, Shaw and Quebecor, which also own broadcast assets, until April 1 to come up with a plan to give consumers more flexibility when it comes to picking their television channels.

“I’m pleased that we were able to establish a policy that will serve both consumers and the broadcasting system in the years to come,” von Finckenstein wrote.