Archive for September, 2018

California regulators to hear testimony on plans to fine water-wasters – National

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In one of the most drastic responses yet to California’s drought, state regulators on Tuesday will consider fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water on landscaping, fountains, washing vehicles and other outdoor uses.

The rules would prohibit the watering of landscaping to the point that runoff spills onto sidewalks or streets. Hosing down sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces would be banned along with washing vehicles without a shut-off nozzle.

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Violations would be infractions punishable by the fines, although most cities are likely to have a sliding scale that starts with a warning and increases for repeat violations.

The State Water Resources Control Board said it received about 100 written comments after it proposed the emergency regulations last week.

“So far, people have been pretty supportive,” board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said. “I think people recognize that we’re taking a moderate approach and we’re sending a message as much as anything.”

In this photo taken Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, proprietor Marc Mondavi demonstrates dowsing with “diving rods” to locate water at the Charles Krug winery in St. Helena, Calif.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

The board estimates that the proposed restrictions could save enough water statewide to supply more than 3.5 million people for a year. That’s enough to meet the needs of nearly nine of every 10 Los Angeles residents.

But that doesn’t mean the proposal is free of concerns.

San Francisco officials worry about the prohibition on washing streets and sidewalks. Public Works Department spokeswoman Rachel Gordon said that could interfere with the frequent cleaning of alleys to wash away human waste where there are high concentrations of homeless people.

“We feel very strongly that this is a health and safety issue for people in San Francisco,” she said.

READ MORE: NASA scientists turn their technology and research to help manage California’s drought

Nor does it do much for tourism if visitors see or smell the waste. During the past 12 months, she said the city responded to about 8,000 calls to steam clean streets of human waste.

WATCH: U.S. droughts and beef shortages increase Canadians’ grocery bills

The proposed state regulations already provide exceptions when health or safety is at risk, but Gordon said San Francisco wants to make sure it doesn’t run afoul of the rules even as it takes other steps to conserve water.

Some water agencies have said the proposed fines are a good way to get residents’ attention, while others say the steps aren’t needed to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of a 20 per cent reduction in water use.

READ MORE: Wine grape growers in California say extended drought hurting crops

Roseville, a suburb of Sacramento, has seen its water use decline about 16 per cent this spring without widespread fines, said Lisa Brown, the city’s water conservation administrator. City employees are sent to warn wasters and administrative fines are imposed on those who don’t comply.

The city says the infractions proposed by the state board are criminal penalties that would have to be issued by sworn police officers.

A $500 fine “is excessive and could cause more problems,” Lisa Brown said in an email. “The time it would take to collect payment for a penalty would be better served educating our customer base.”

The state water board says tickets could be written by any public employee empowered to enforce laws, not just police. Marcus said there is no intent to undermine current practices by any local agency.

She said the state board could easily make technical or moderate changes to the proposed regulations during its meeting Tuesday after hearing testimony. However, significant changes would prompt a delay while the board seeks additional public comments.

“There’s no time to waste, and wasting water now will mean far greater hardship later if it doesn’t rain,” Marcus said.

–Associated Press writer Fenit Nirappil contributed to this story.

©2014The Canadian Press

Climate change puts ancestral farming indicators under stress in Bolivia – National

CUTUSUMA, Bolivia – For centuries, farmers in the fragile ecosystems of the high Andes have looked to the behaviour of plants and animals to figure out what crops to grow and when.

If reeds dried up in the late summer, rainless weather lay ahead, they believed. If the Andean fox made a howling appearance, abundant rains were thought sure to come.

But increasingly erratic weather that scientists attribute to global warming is rendering their age-old methods less reliable, endangering harvests in a region where life is hard in the best of times.

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READ MORE: Obama talks climate change with Harper

Experts may scoff at such folk science, but the men and women who till the high mountain soil continue to swear by the traditional indicators, and Bolivia’s government has even incorporated them into climate reports provided to farmers when it lacked modern data from meteorological stations.

“They work for me,” assures Francisco Condori, 45, after checking the previous night’s precipitation on a homemade rain gauge on Lake Titicaca’s southern shore, the hills around him shining purple with flowering potato plants.

Condori is a well-heeded font of ancestral knowledge for fellow farmers in these treeless climes frequently punished by frosts, hailstorms and drought.

Aymara Indians walk to the top of a hill to demonstrate how they blow their horns to warn residents of storms in Cutusuma, Bolivia. For centuries, farmers in the fragile ecosystems of the high Andes have looked to the behavior of plants and animals to figure out what crops to grow and when.

AP Photo/Juan Karita

In the reeds on Titicaca’s shore, he points out the height of the nests built by birds known as quilli quilli, a diminutive species similar to hummingbirds. Farmers have long used the locations of those nests as measures of how much the lake will rise and the amount of rainfall to come.

“This year they initially built their nests about 40 centimetres above the water level. Then they dismantled them,” Condori says. Twice, in fact, did the birds dismantle nests before finally reweaving them at nearly twice their original height.

“We knew it was going to rain a lot,” he says.

And so it did, so much so that rivers in the Amazon basin have flooded their banks, submerging thousands of homes. That rain augured well, by contrast, for this Aymara community’s potato crop.

WATCH: Bolivians battle widespread flooding

Landlocked and poor, Bolivia relies on a weak meteorological reporting system – with just 50 weather stations nationwide. Farming is also decidedly low tech in the mountainous part of the country. Ox-driven plows overwhelmingly outnumber tractors, a far cry from the eastern lowlands, where highly mechanized rice and soy farming yields the bulk of Bolivian agricultural exports.

Condori says the “bio-indicators” he follows most closely have helped reduce agricultural losses 40 per cent in Cutusuma and surrounding communities. Scientists, however, stress there are no empirical data to support the beliefs.

The indicators are catalogued in what are known as Pachagrama, registries whose name derives from “Pachamama,” the native Andean word for “Mother Earth.” Communities compile and share the registry information, which is especially crucial from September to November when the dry season ends and farmers need to know how soon to plant, when the rains will begin and how long they will last.

READ MORE: Obama talks climate change with Harper

It’s in that season they look for guidance to the southern lapwing, a long-legged plover that likes grasslands. If the female drops her eggs on the crest of a furrow, a lot of rain is expected and farmers will plant potatoes rather than quinoa, which requires less water. But if she deposits them inside the furrow, it supposedly will be a dry year.

The size of the spots on the eggs is another indicator of whether to plant potatoes or quinoa.

“If the spots are big, it’s potatoes. If they are small, it’s quinoa,” Condori says. Lately, however, the birds have been erratic in where they lay their eggs.

Other indicators Condori follows such as wind direction and cloud movement traditionally have told farmers whether frosts are imminent. A strong easterly breeze on March 13 indicates as much, he says.

Reading those signs has become more difficult as climate change alters everything from animal behaviour to the weather. There are no scientific studies as yet on how climate change may modify animal behaviour used as indicators.

VIDEO: Flooding continues in Bolivia (Feb. 9, 2013)

“Yet it is also certain that these meteorological phenomena are occurring in an atmosphere that has warmed by 0.8 degrees (Celsius),” or 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit, since pre-industrial times, said Dirk Hoffmann, a German who heads the non-profit Bolivian Mountain Institute.

Indeed, the observations of local indigenous coincide with scientific data that show the rainy season is both less predictable and begins later, Hoffman said. “Previously, the rainy period lasted four months. Now it’s shorter but the amount of rain has not decreased,” he said.

In Bolivia’s drier southern high plains, farmers who follow one popular traditional indicator say they were misled this year when the Andean fox did not appear and howl full-throated from the hilltops in August or September. That’s a typical indicator of abundant rain, said Jose Luis Quiruchi, a Quechua community leader in the Potosi region, Bolivia’s poorest.

Reeds also dried up at that time of year, another traditional indicator of drier weather ahead.

“We expected little rain, but instead the opposite happened,” Quiruchi said. Anticipating drier conditions, farmers planted potatoes in low-lying areas. Now, they fear the tubers will become water-logged and rot.

Agronomist Nelson Tapia of the Universidad Mayor de San Simon in Cochabamba says climate change offers some benefits for high-altitude farmers.

They can grow certain fruits and vegetables at higher altitudes, with apricots and corn as well as citrus fruits now growing as high up as 3,000 metres in the Cochabamba valley.

However, the negative effects are greater, he said, with highland farmers losing crop variety and planting in shorter cycles.

The director of the government’s risk management agency, Lucio Tito, insists the traditional indicators still have their value despite the changing climate.

“They should not be dismissed,” he said. “They should be combined with scientific knowledge to form a strategy against climate change. That’s what we’re doing.”

— Associated Press writer Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru, contributed to this report.

©2014The Canadian Press

North Korea says it will deport Australian missionary detained for spreading Bible tracts – National

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea said Monday it will deport an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity in the country, saying he apologized for his anti-state religious acts and requested forgiveness.

Authorities in North Korea have been investigating John Short since his arrest for secretly spreading Bible tracts near a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang on Feb. 16, the birthday of late leader Kim Jong Il, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

The report said that Short, 75, admitted he committed a crime that hurt the Korean people’s trust in their leaders and apologized for his behaviour.

“I now realize the seriousness of my insult to the Korean people on February 16th because I made the Korean people angry and for this I truly apologize,” Short was quoted as saying in a written apology, according to separate KCNA report. “I am willing to bow down on my knees to request this tolerance of (North Korea) and the Korean people.”

KCNA says North Korea decided to expel him thanks to the tolerance of the country’s laws and in consideration of his age.

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North Korea’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but in practice only sanctioned services are tolerated by the government. Defectors from the country have said that the distribution of Bibles and secret prayer services can mean banishment to a labour camp or execution.

North Korea typically frees foreign detainees after they’ve admitted their crimes but many say after their releases that their confessions were given involuntarily and under duress. Last week, North Korea presented to the media a detained South Korean Baptist missionary who apologized for allegedly trying to reach Pyongyang with Bibles, Christian instructional materials and movies in October.

North Korea has been holding a Korean-American missionary, Kenneth Bae, since November 2012. Bae, sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for hostile acts, held a similar news conference to apologize his behaviour.

KCNA on its website posted video showing a calm-looking Short, dressed in a black jacket, reading what appears to be his written apology before taking a quick bow at a room.

Kim Jong Il’s birthday and that of his father and North Korea founder Kim Il Sung are the nation’s biggest holidays. Kim Jong Il died in late 2011 and his son Kim Jong Un took over power.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it is trying to confirm North Korea’s announcement on Short. Australia does not have an embassy in Pyongyang and is represented there by the Swedish embassy

Short, from Barmera, South Australia state, has been arrested multiple times while evangelizing in mainland China, according to a biography on a Christian website, Gospel Attract.

He was banned from entering China for nearly two years after his second arrest in 1996. Authorities later let him back in and he was arrested several more times for “speaking out about the brutality against Chinese Christians,” said the site.

Short has lived in Hong Kong for 50 years.

According to his written apology published by the KCNA, Short said he also visited North Korea in August 2012 to spread Bible tracts.

KCNA didn’t say when Short would be released. In 2010, a detained Korean-American missionary arrived in Beijing a day after North Korea said it would deport him.

Associated Press writers Jung-yoon Choi in Seoul, South Korea, and Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.

©2014The Canadian Press

Dozens gather to protest Russian occupation

VANCOUVER – Dozens of protesters wearing the colours of the Ukrainian flag marched in Vancouver Sunday to voice their disapproval of Russia’s military action in the eastern European country, where many said they have family and friends.

Demonstrators dressed in yellow and blue brandished signs comparing Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hitler as they made their way through downtown streets toward the Russian consulate.

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Russia recently captured the Crimean Peninsula and Ukrainian authorities have put their military on high alert fearing a wider invasion while appealing for international help.

Many at the Vancouver rally said they had personal ties to the crisis.

Juri Jatskevich has friends and family in the Ukraine and said many of them are considering signing up for military duty if tensions continue to escalate.

“They are lining up to volunteer to defend their country,” said Jatskevich. “They will defend their land against open military aggression from Russia.”

Jatskevich said his family also took part in the months-long protests at Kyiv’s Independence Square, which erupted last year after then-President Viktor Yanukovych pulled out of a trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer ties to Russia.

“My sister and her niece were on the second floor of the Trade Unions Building and they just were able to escape the building 30 minutes before the police set it on fire,” he said.

Anastasia Fursa also knew many people involved in the Kyiv demonstrations.

Several were arrested by police in Independence Square, she said. “A lot of them were beaten, a lot of them were tortured,” she said.

The Vancouver protest came after thousands of Russians reportedly marched in pro-invasion demonstrations in Moscow on Sunday.

It’s a fact not lost on Alina Kalimina, whose parents helped protesters in Kiev.

“I know they don’t respect Ukrainians,” Kalimina said of pro-occupation demonstrators in Russia. “They don’t respect us as much as we respect them.”

Crystal Mountain closed as officials investigate chairlift accident

Crystal Mountain near Kelowna remains closed after three chairlifts came crashing to the ground, injuring four people Saturday.

Investigators with the B.C. Safety Authority and the province are trying to determine what caused the ski lift to derail.

Crystal Mountain general manager Mike Morin said investigators are assessing the damage and looking into the root cause of the problem.

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The four victims are now recovering from broken bones.

“One of them is going into surgery today, it’s a dislocated shoulder, the others, two others are broken ribs and the other is a broken bone,” Morin said.

The BCSA is an independent organization, mandated to oversee the safety of technical equipment in the province. They also issue permits.

According to the BCSA, chair lift derailments are very rare, and when they do happen, it’s usually during maintenance, not when a chair is in operation.

“Preliminary information is that there may have been an empty chair or carrier that was swinging and may have caused the [chair to come off the cable] at the tower, that may have been part of the cause,” said BCSA spokesperson Quinn Newcomb, adding that they are also looking at why the chair may have been swinging.

The double chair at Crystal Mountain has been in operation since 1967, and this is the first incident of its kind.

Morin said the lifts go through vigorous inspections at the beginning of every season and are maintained throughout.

There is no saying how long the investigation might take.

When it’s done, a report will be compiled outlining what happened in this case, and what changes, if any, need to be made to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Venezuelan protesters march again – National

CARACAS, Venezuela – Thousands of anti-government activists marched peacefully Sunday to an upper-class Caracas district shaken by more than two weeks of unrest, trying to maintain the movement’s momentum during a long holiday break.

Afterward, several hundred protesters erected barricades, burned tires and threw rocks and fireworks at National Guard troops, who responded with tear gas in what has become a nearly nightly ritual of clashes since mid-February. No injuries were immediately reported.

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President Nicolas Maduro had sought to dampen protesters’ spirits by declaring a seven-day holiday weekend coinciding with Carnival and historical commemorations and by promoting the Sunday sale of subsidized food at government-run markets.

“Happiness will conquer the embittered,” Maduro said in a TV appearance at a recreation centre. “The Venezuelan people have won because happiness and peace have conquered.”

Whether they headed for balmy beaches or joined the barricades in anti-government protests, many people are fed up with crippling inflation, shortages of food stuffs and medicine, unchecked violent crime and government mismanagement of the economy in a nation with the world’s largest proven oil reserves.

Hundreds queued up at one central Caracas market, an increasingly common sight across the country, where coffee, flour, cooking oil, toilet paper and other staples have been in short supply for a year. Longer lines have been seen at such markets in the provinces.

The unrest is Venezuela’s worst since President Hugo Chavez died of cancer a year ago and the opposition came within a hair of winning the presidency in April’s election, but it remains to be seen if it will spread to include the lower classes who benefited from Chavez’s generous social welfare programs.

Most of the marchers on Sunday, whether students or their grey-haired elders clad in white shirts and wearing hats with the Venezuelan flag’s colours, hailed from the upper classes. But there were some from poorer sectors.

One marcher from the poor district of Catia said many people there had been intimidated into silence by pro-government militias but are now beginning to join the protests. “People there are starting to wake up. The insecurity has become unbearable,” said Liomar Moreno, a 21-year-old graphic design student.

Saturday night had been the first evening in 16 days when the wealthy, opposition Chacao district where Sunday’s march ended was not shrouded in tear gas from pitched battles between young protesters and security forces.

But the confrontations resumed Sunday, and had about them a choreographed dynamic. Protesters, many of them teens, showed up with beer boxes full of Molotov cocktails and shields made of aluminum siding, handles fashioned from garden hoses. National Guardsmen protected themselves not just with plastic shields but also with semi-permanent chain-link barricades. Protesters wore heat-resistant gloves on their throwing hands to hurl tear gas canisters back at guardsmen.

Elsewhere in Venezuela, protesters have similarly maintained burning barricades in cities from Valencia in the industrial heartland to Merida and San Cristobal in the west.

By government count, 18 people have been killed and more than 260 injured in the unrest since Feb. 12.

Early Sunday, the government released 41 people arrested Friday in Caracas’ wealthy east as radicals hurled Molotov cocktails, rocks and bottles at National Guard troops. It said they had all been ordered to appear in court within 30 days.

Others were still in custody, including a top opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez.

The opposition has spurned Maduro’s attempt to engage in a “peace dialogue” until the government frees detainees. Other demands include creation of a “truth commission” to determine how those who died in protests were killed. Pro-government thugs are accused of gunning some down.

Maduro says the unrest constitutes a coup attempt by “the fascist right wing” and is backed by the United States. Washington denies the accusation and says Maduro is trying to silence the opposition by repressing free speech.

“Nobody is tiring here, and we’re all going to fight until (the government) falls,” said one marcher on Sunday, Carlos Eduardo Vega, who works for the food company Polar.

But 14-year-old Heliot Bello, who lives on the street where Sunday’s street battle occurred, wasn’t optimistic.

“The only thing we’ve gotten out of this in two weeks is blocking the highway a few times and lots of dead students. But what else can you do?” he said.

Chacao’s mayor, Ramon Muchacho, complained of fatigue from the violent tactics of student protesters who have made his district the epicenter of Caracas’ unrest. They lack clearly defined goals, he said.

“The student leaders need to set clear objectives for those in the streets. How are we going to change the government?” Muchacho said. “I think they should be preparing them for a long battle.”

Associated Press writers Frank Bajak and Andrew Rosati and photographer Fernando Llano contributed to this report.

©2014The Canadian Press

Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Lawrence among Oscar fashion stars

NEW YORK – That’s a wrap, Lupita Nyong’o, but may all the best dresses keep coming your way.

With a supporting actress Oscar now in her possession, a tearful Nyong’o concluded a red-carpet season Sunday night as a fashion darling for sexy silhouettes and colours that wow.

She didn’t disappoint at the 86th Academy Awards, wearing a pale blue Prada goddess gown and a sparkly gold-and-diamond headband from Fred Leighton.

Actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o attend the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Nor did Jennifer Lawrence in a $2 million, 100-carat diamond necklace from Neil Lane to accent her girl-on-fire orange-red strapless dress from Dior.

Jennifer Lawrence attends the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

On Cate Blanchett’s ears were 33 carats of opal in a huge drop design that did justice to her beaded Armani gown in a light tan colour.

Cate Blanchett arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Blanchett’s heavily embellished gown sparkled under the lights at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles when she collected her Oscar for best actress in Blue Jasmine.

While she’s not under contract by Giorgio Armani, Blanchett does favour the house. “Armani has made donations to the theatre that she and her husband run in Sydney, so she’s very loyal to him,” said Hal Rubenstein, editor at large of InStyle magazine.

Muted colours, like those worn by Blanchett and Nyong’o’s ice blue, were one of the night’s big trends, said Estee Stanley, a stylist who worked with Portia de Rossi, in a regal Naeem Khan halter with beads and lace, and Jessica Biel, dressed in a metallic sparkler from Chanel dripped with diamond jewelry from Tiffany.

Actress Portia de Rossi (L) and TV personality Ellen DeGeneres attend the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, California.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Jessica Biel attends the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Fitted, body-conscious gowns prevailed on the red carpet, said fashion bloggers Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez.

“The colours of the night were pinks and blues. Statement necklaces were back,” Fitzgerald said.

But Marquez mused: “A general sameness hung over the whole thing. There was not enough experimentation.”

While some of the necklines plunged, said Rubenstein, “there was nothing overtly sexy. They were all fairly reserved.”

Here’s our five to talk about:

LUPITA NYONG’O

Actress Lupita Nyong’o attends the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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“I felt Lupita’s dress was glorious,” Rubenstein said. “She’s just not making a mistake.”

He praised her colour choice and the full-pleated gown with a plunging bodice. The colour, he said, was perfect for her dark skin tone. He called her jeweled headband a nice touch of youth and wit.

“There are now so many other awards shows where you can take chances. You can be silly, you can be funny. The Oscars is like coronation night. On Oscar night you look for classic glamour, you look for the glamour that really is defined for us by Hollywood, by the movies that we’ve seen. All those great Edith Head costumes. … The way Grace Kelly was dressed by Hitchcock. That’s what we have drilled into our head as what glamour is and so many people reference that type of glamour,” Rubenstein said.

On this night, Nyong’o was among them.

“She carries herself so beautifully. She has such poise. Such grace,” he said.

Marquez added: “I loved this, full stop. Every single bit of it. The colour is perfect, the way the skirt flows and moves is sublime. She won the entire night as far as I’m concerned.”

Fitzgerald said he “loved it, but not as much. I think the neckline is too plunging and too wide. Everything else about is pretty close to perfect, though. It’s a fresh take on the princess gown, with an even fresher take on the tiara.”

JENNIFER LAWRENCE

Jennifer Lawrence, left, and Channing Tatum shake hands at the Oscars on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Ok, so yeah, she tripped again, this time on the red carpet as opposed to running up the Oscar steps to collect a statuette, but she giggled it off and stunned in strapless Dior akin to the bright colour of a Calvin Klein she wore in 2011.

Of a Lupita versus Jennifer smackdown, Rubenstein chided: “C’mon now, they both looked beautiful. Jennifer’s was also a beautiful colour.”

Lawrence, with a swept-back bob, pulled off a bit of ruffle at the hip. It was a form-fitting dress in contrast to her full gown at last year’s Oscars, when she stumbled as she made her way up the stairs to collect her award for Silver Linings Playbook.

“The Dolby is a very big theatre and when you wear a dress with a lot of volume like she did last year, you kind of get lost in that volume,” Rubenstein said. “The more body-conscious dress really focuses on you.”

Fitzgerald and Marquez were not quite as impressed.

“I’ll say it: I’m bored,” Marquez said. “It has none of the drama of last year’s Dior gown. It’s just another slinky gown on a night with more than enough of them.”

Fitzgerald added: “I have to agree. And the red seems kind of done. It just doesn’t feel very fresh.”

SANDRA BULLOCK

Nominee for Best Actress in ‘Gravity’ Sandra Bullock arrives on the red carpet for the 86th Academy Awards on March 2nd, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Was it Navy blue? Royal blue? Simply, dark blue? Whatever. It was a deep-tone Alexander McQueen and an example of an edgy fashion house offering up an Old Hollywood-style stunner, Rubenstein said.

Both Rubenstein and Stanley called the look Navy, noting a pleated draping that fell to one side. It was in line with a lot of blue, some green, and not quite so much red as in years and carpets past.

Marquez called it, “Another stunner for the night – and a personal best for her. She tends toward colorless, slinky dresses and pin-straight hair. It’s refreshing to see something with some shape.”

Fitzgerald also lauded her loose, sideswept hair – a deep and dramatic side part another trend of the night.

He called the dress “crazy-dramatic. It’s the kind of look, top to bottom, that makes you step back and say ‘Now, that’s a movie star.”‘

CHARLIZE THERON

Charlize Theron attends the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Black made a reappearance, said Rubenstein, and it remains a dynamic colour.

Theron was elegant in black Dior, paired with a $15 million Harry Winston necklace that had a cluster of diamonds at the centre.

“Her simple dress and massive necklace was a classic yet fresh look,” Stanley said.

The look had invisible straps and a curvy plunge, clinging to her body with a partially sheer train in back.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is the look that won the night,” Fitzgerald said. “She’s serving up serious Madame X here,” as in sexy, dark and mysterious.

Theron’s short hair fell over her forehead from the evening’s popular side part.

AMY ADAMS

Actress Amy Adams attends the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

She wore a blue column strapless by Gucci with a lapel-like, fold-over at the strapless part. It was another Navy and stuck close to the body, flowing into a short train at the hem.

“There were columns, columns, columns,” Rubenstein said of that time-tested silhouette, and Adams was a prime example.

The simple silhouette left plenty of room for her Tiffany jewels. They included rhodochrosite, lapis and turquoise earrings with diamonds in 18-karat yellow gold, worth $35,000, and a $1.4 million yellow diamond bracelet, also in 18-karat yellow gold.

The earrings? “Stunning,” Stanley said.

©2014The Associated Press

Gallery: Canucks fall to Senators in Heritage Classic

The Vancouver Canucks fell 4-2 to the Ottawa Senators at BC Place during the NHL’s Heritage Classic Sunday.

In addition to the action on the ice, the event featured Sarah McLachlan singing the national anthem, a performance by Tegan and Sara and fireworks at the end of the game.

More than 50,000 fans attended the event, which was the first Heritage Classic ever to be played indoors.

PHOTOS: Heritage Classic at BC Place 

The Heritage Classic took place at BC Place on March 2, 2014. Credit: Neil Khare

The Heritage Classic took place at BC Place on March 2, 2014. Credit: Neil Khare

Members of the 1994 Vancouver Canucks team reunited on Sunday at the Heritage Classic game at BC Place. Credit: Neil Khare

The Heritage Classic took place at BC Place on March 2, 2014. Credit: Neil Khare

The Heritage Classic took place at BC Place on March 2, 2014. Credit: Neil Khare

The Heritage Classic took place at BC Place on March 2, 2014. Credit: Neil Khare

The Heritage Classic took place at BC Place on March 2, 2014. Credit: Neil Khare

The Heritage Classic took place at BC Place on March 2, 2014. Credit: Neil Khare

The Heritage Classic took place at BC Place on March 2, 2014. Credit: Neil Khare

The Heritage Classic took place at BC Place on March 2, 2014. Credit: Chris Gailus


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‘Gravity’ dominates but ’12 Years a Slave’ wins Best Picture at Oscars – National

WATCH: ET Canada‘s Erin Cebula has the highlights from Hollywood’s biggest night.

TORONTO — The sci-fi blockbuster Gravity soared at the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday night with seven awards — but the drama 12 Years a Slave was named Best Picture.

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Gravity earned Alfonso Cuarón an Oscar as Best Director. The movie, which has earned $705 million at the worldwide box office, also claimed awards for Achievement in Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Cinematography and Film Editing. It also earned an Original Score award for Steven Price.

In addition to winning the night’s top prize, 12 Years a Slave earned an Adapted Screenplay award for John Ridley and a Supporting Actress award for Lupita Nyong’o.

“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s,” said an emotional Nyong’o.

WATCH: Best Supporting Actress winner Lupita Nyong’o talks about what she learned making 12 Years a Slave.

Also earning golden statues for their work on screen were Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto of Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Montreal Jean-Marc Vallée.

“This is for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS,” Leto said, “and to those of you who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you.”

Dallas Buyers Club also earned Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews an Oscar for Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling.

WATCH: Matthew McConaughey on earning the ultimate career recognition

READ MORE: 5 moments from Oscar night

Cate Blanchett’s winning streak continued with the Oscar for Best Actress for her work in Blue Jasmine.

Blanchett paid tribute to the other nominees and thanked director Woody Allen for casting her in the movie.

Spike Jonze accepted the prize for Original Screenplay for Her.

WATCH: Brad Pitt jokes about that his “date” is 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen

READ MORE: Full Oscars coverage at ET Canada

It wasn’t a great night for Canadians. Toronto’s Owen Pallett and Montreal-based William Butler of Arcade Fire (Her) lost in the Original Score category and Vallée lost in the Film Editing category.

While not a Canadian film, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life was honoured as Best Documentary Short Subject. It was produced by a team from Montreal, including producer Frederic Bohbot, director of photography Kieran Crilly, editor Carl Freed and composer Luc St-Pierre. Director Malcolm Clarke has lived in Montreal for two decades.

U2’s “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom lost the Original Song award to “Let It Go” from Frozen, which was named Best Animated Feature.

Lupita Nyong’o reacts to winning an Oscar on March 2, 2014.

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Catherine Martin, the wife of director of Baz Luhrmann, was on the Oscar stage twice for The Great Gatsby — once to accept the Costume Design award and once for winning Achievement in Production Design with Beverley Dunn.

The Academy voters chose Mr. Hubot as Best Animated Short Film and Helium as the Best Live Action Short Film.

The Best Foreign Language Film was Italy’s The Great Beauty. 20 Feet From Stardom, a look at back-up singers, won for Best Documentary Film.

Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres opened Hollywood’s biggest night with a monologue that poked fun at several nominees, including June Squibb, Barkhad Abdi and Jennifer Lawrence as well as special guest Liza Minnelli.

WATCH: The best (and worst) moments from the 86th annual Academy Awards

Later in the show, DeGeneres posed for a selfie with stars including Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt and Bradley Cooper — a photo retweeted so many times it caused 桑拿会所 to crash — and also handed out slices of pizza to Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford and Martin Scorsese.

There were performances from Pink and Bette Midler and presenters ranging from Sidney Poitier to Jim Carrey.

John Travolta took heat on social media for butchering the name of performer Idina Menzel.

The Academy Awards show was also a long one, clocking in at nearly three-and-a-half hours.

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Dog injures young girl at Chilliwack BC SPCA

A two-year-old girl has undergone eye surgery after being bitten by a dog at the Chilliwack BC SPCA Saturday.

Aaron Brown said his daughter, Kaitlyn, was visiting the SPCA branch with her mother and grandmother when she was attacked by an Australian cattle dog.

BC SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk said the family came in to the branch to surrender some cats when the incident happened.

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“[The dog] was up at the front and was playing with the little girl and kissing her face and they were having a great time,” Chortyk said, adding that the dog had no history of aggression.

“Then we brought him back into the office and he was sleeping under the desk and the little girl came through the gate unbeknownst to us… We’re not sure what happened because we didn’t see the interaction but we think she may have leaned down towards him,” Chortyk said.

The dog, named Domingo, caused injuries to girl’s face and eye area.

Brown said his daughter’s eye started to bleed and they took her to the hospital where she needed tear-duct surgery.

Chortyk said the dog was euthanized after the attack.

“We did have to take the step of euthanizing Domingo because we just can’t take the chance. If a dog has bitten we don’t want to have that chance that it may happen again. So just a really, really sad situation all around,” Chortyk said.

Eleven-year-old Domingo had been at the shelter for several months and had never shown any sign of aggression towards people.

Chortyk said the dog had lived a hard life being passed around to a few different families after a divorce.

“Then his owner passed away and Domingo was in the house with this deceased owner for five weeks,” she said.

The BC SPCA has been trying to contact the Brown family since the incident.

“We hate to see a little girl getting bitten and that’s really sad… and sad for dogs who have been passed around a lot of places and had shown no signs of aggression before.”

Brown said Kaitlyn is now recovering at home.

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