Archive for June, 2019

Canada 3rd highest contributing country as Kickstarter passes $1B – National

TORONTO – Crowdfunding site Kickstarter said Monday that it passed $1 billion in pledges with backing from 5.7 million people.

Canada’s $44,913,678 worth of support was the third highest amount after the U.S. ($663,316,496) and the U.K. ($54,427,475).

With more than half of the money pledged within the last year, Kickstarter is an increasingly popular option for entrepreneurs and inventors to garner funding for creative projects.

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The list of ventures is long and diverse: Board games, musicals, food trucks, bassoon quartets, a Veronica Mars movie, video games and more.

The online fundraising campaign has attracted donors from 224 countries and territories across all seven continents, with project owners offering rewards or special experiences in exchange for the money to bring their work to life.

The New York-based site debuted in Canada last September after its initial launch April 28, 2009. Kickstarter joined other sites like Indiegogo that already had a strong presence north of the border.

Crowdfunding has become a tool for tech startups and also more traditional businesses that may have trouble getting bank or government grant financing.

Kickstarter officially opened to Canadians Sept. 9, 2013.

Screenshot/Kickstarter杭州夜网

According to the data on the site, it might be addictive. About 30 per cent (1,689,979) of backers fund more than one project. Then there are the super-users: Almost 16,000 people have backed more than 50 projects each.

Kickstarter also shared some fun facts: March 13, 2013 was the single day with the most pledges (who said 13 was unlucky?)

They also tried to put the $1 billion in perspective, noting it’s the same amount as NBA player Lebron James’ current contract for 50 years (imagine he got into crowdfunding?)

Aside from a hacking incident last month when two Canadian users’ accounts were affected, Kickstarter has enjoyed largely positive reviews and has been hailed as the “future of business” by Forbes magazine.

©2014Shaw Media

Selfie aside, Ellen DeGeneres fails to click with Oscar critics

TORONTO — Her 桑拿会所-crashing all-star selfie notwithstanding, Ellen DeGeneres failed to generate much positive buzz as host of the Oscars.

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“It was a turgid affair, badly directed, poorly produced and featuring an endless string of either tired or wince-inducing moments by DeGeneres, who, by the last 30 or so minutes, seemed to have given up entirely,” opined Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter.

“Even the best comedians have off nights. Even paragons of happiness and good cheer come out and tank — as DeGeneres did with her opening jokes that seemed oddly mean spirited for her (poor Liza Minnelli) and set a flat tone that the telecast could never overcome.”

Goodman did not care for the selfie stunt, either, writing that it “felt like a Samsung ad that was tricked up to feel spontaneous.”

At TIME, James Poniewozik complained the show was not “very risk-taking or memorable” and said it was a challenge to come up with a line from DeGeneres “you’re likely to remember and quote in years to come, or maybe even tomorrow.”

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

He compared the 86th Academy Awards show to the pizza DeGeneres served. “You weren’t going to go to your grave craving it. It was a little bland,” wrote Poniewozik. “But nobody actively hates it, and at least there was a lot of it.”

Kyle Smith of the New York Post said DeGeneres “seemed to have written her bland and tired act in the limo on the way over.”

“Ellen made the deadly error of thinking she could come up with found comedy bits simply by wandering through the auditorium chatting up stars,” Smith wrote. “She gave Bradley Cooper a couple of lottery tickets as a consolation prize for not winning Best Supporting Actor. The bit went nowhere: Cooper clearly wasn’t expecting to have to do improv comedy. Nor was Matthew McConaughey able to do her job for her when she tried to get him to riff about his weight-loss secrets for Dallas Buyers Club.”

Alan Sepinwall opined at HitFix that the Oscars show was “a long, disjointed ceremony, and what was fun and likely to endure came entirely from the winners and their speeches.”

Sepinwall noticed “a host of bad, ill-timed production choices” and complained that DeGeneres “had absolutely nothing biting or memorable to say.”

He wrote that after the monologue, “the only plan seemed to be ‘Ellen wanders through the audience; hilarity ensues.’ It did not. She committed fiercely to a bit about ordering pizza for the crowd, returning to it on multiple occasions (first to actually hand out slices, then to collect money to pay for it) and dragging each segment out long past the point at which it might have been amusing.”

Robert Bianco of USA Today gave DeGeneres slightly more credit.

“An Oscar host has to entertain viewers at home, many of whom want to see stars mocked — along with the actors in the hall — most of whom don’t want to be mocked. Go too far pleasing one side, and you lose the other,” he wrote.

“That’s a tough balancing act, but DeGeneres has mastered it. The key is that she both exudes and creates goodwill. The crowd stays with her because they know that while jabs will be thrown, no blood will be drawn.”

Across the pond, BBC reviewer Ben Sutherland wrote that “the material she was working with was less convincing than John Travolta’s hair” and “whether she had much to say that was funny was questionable.”

At Slate, Willa Paskin wrote: “After the opening monologue, Ellen spent too much time in the audience, often doing a whole lot of nothing: saying hi to famous people, copping their chairs, asking for money. These bits were dull and baggy, as was the show in general.”

READ MORE: Full coverage of the Oscars

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©2014Shaw Media

Why isn’t Canada boycotting Putin’s Paralympics? – National

ABOVE: Canadian Olympians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir share their feelings on whether Canada should boycott the Paralympic Games 

Canada has condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine, recalled its ambassador and threatened to expel Russia’s – but it’s still sending Canadian athletes to participate in Putin’s Paralympic Games in Sochi.

Why?

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“Our business is sport,” the Canadian Paralympic Committee said in response to a question from Global News. “We are here to win medals.”

IN DEPTH: Ukraine crisis

Foreign Minister John Baird and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have accused Russia of violating international law, condemned Russia’s military incursions into Crimea and pulled out of June’s G8 summit in Sochi.

They’ve also withdrawn all government officials from the Paralympics. But the athletes are still going.

“The Paralympics is an opportunity to celebrate the inspiring courage and athleticism of Canadian Paralympians,” the office of the Minister of Sport, Bal Gosal, said in a statement. “We don’t want our Paralympic athletes to pay the price for this.”

While they have said that the safety of the athletes is an obvious concern, the Canadian Paralympic Committee said their main objective is to have success at the Games, not to get involved in the situation in Ukraine.

“Our athletes continue to arrive and we have not changed in our intention to compete in Sochi for a position in the top three nations in the gold medal count,” they said in a statement to Global News, adding that they will continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine and work closely with the Canadian government to ensure the safety of their athletes.

While the situation in Crimea is extremely serious and potentially violent, Peter Donnelly, Director of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Sport Policy Studies, believes pulling athletes out of Sochi would be an unnecessary move by Canadian officials.

“I suspect that if there were serious safety concerns, countries would have pulled their athletes out,” Donnelly said. “I don’t think there is anything to worry about in Sochi. Ukraine is in much more danger, clearly.”

But does sending Canadian athletes to Russia after the Canadian government has condemned Putin’s actions send a mixed message? Donnelly doesn’t believe so, agreeing that the conflict in Ukraine and the athletic festivities in Sochi are two completely separate world events.

“We’ve pretty much sent our athletes in any dictatorial society,” he said, bringing up prior Olympics that shared similar situations.

“We didn’t go in Moscow in 1980 but we went to Beijing in 2008 despite having trade issues with China,” Donnelly explained. “We also went to the Nazi Games in 1936,” he continued, referring to the 1936 Summer Olympics held under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, three years before World War II.

Donnelly also mentioned that even this year, with the disagreements over LGBT regulations in Russia, there was really no question of whether or not Canada would send their Olympians. Donnelly believes it should be the same for Paralympians and attributes most of the debate about boycotting the Games to media hysteria.

Because the conflict’s centre is almost 500 km away from Sochi, Donnelly said, the safety risk to the athletes is low. Paralympians have devoted the last four years training for these events, he reasoned, and robbing them of the chance to showcase their skills would be unfair and unnecessary.

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©2014Shaw Media

Sanctions threat grows as Ukraine tensions rise – National

ABOVE: What is the world prepared to do to resolve Ukraine crisis?

LONDON – Fears of a tit-for-tat campaign of economic sanctions between Russia and Western powers over Ukraine ratcheted up Monday, with concerns largely centring on Russia’s supplies of natural gas to Europe.

But with the situation in Ukraine still fluid, it’s not clear how far either side is willing to go. While the European Union is by far the biggest consumer of Russian gas, any disruption would come at huge financial cost to Moscow.

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READ MORE: Ukraine: Russia demands that 2 warships surrender

“The world now faces a new round of geopolitical tension with potentially very high stakes,” said Jane Foley, an analyst at Rabobank International.

Over the past couple of days, the crisis has ratcheted up sharply. With Ukraine accusing Russia of declaring war by taking control of the Crimea region, investors around the world took fright on Monday, sending stock indexes lower and energy and staple foods higher.

Even if military conflict does not break out, Western powers are looking at how they can punish Russia for what they consider to be a breach of international law.

VIDEO: Ottawa says Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine is unacceptable (March 3)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that he may “find himself with asset freezes on Russian business.” European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels were considering economic sanctions, but have yet to commit to anything concrete. Some have suggested boycotting the Group of Eight summit of leaders in the Olympic host city of Sochi this summer.

The biggest economic risk revolves around Russia’s supply of natural gas. Many eastern European countries rely almost entirely on those imports and even Germany, Europe’s largest economy, gets 35 per cent of its supplies from Russia. Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, has threatened to end a cheap deal on gas it sells to Ukraine, and claimed it is owed around $1.55 billion.

MORE: UN Security Council to hold open meeting on Ukraine crisis

“No wonder Europe’s response to the on-going problems has been little more than a wag of the finger at this stage,” said Kathleen Brooks, market analyst at Forex杭州夜网. “We will have to wait and see if the EU merely looks the other way when it comes to Russian-Ukrainian problems and leaves the diplomatic response to the U.S. and U.K. as they try and protect their energy supplies.”

But cutting gas supplies or raising their prices would be a dangerous game for Russia as well, whose economy relies heavily on energy exports — shares in Gazpom, the Russian energy giant, plunged 14 per cent on Monday.

Gazprom’s retreat was a large reason why Moscow’s RTS stock index slid 12 per cent while the dollar spiked to an all-time high of 37 rubles. That prompted the country’s central bank to make an emergency interest rate increase, by 1.5 percentage points to 7 per cent. Though it didn’t mention Ukraine as a motivation for the increase, the move is clearly an attempt by the Russian authorities to stem the financial outflows and support the currency.

European officials suggested Russia had more to lose in the case of an exchange of economic sanctions.

“Those consequences will be bad for everyone, but for Russia they will be far worse than for the EU,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, adding it would not be wise to threaten sanctions now.

WATCH: In a rare show of non-partisan unity, both government and opposition MPs rose in the House of Commons Monday to condemn Russia’s actions

The EU is Russia’s biggest trading partner, and Russia is the EU’s third-largest partner with imports predominantly raw materials such as oil and gas, according to the EU Commission. Russian exports to the EU totalled 213 billion euros ($293 billion at current prices) in 2012, with imports from the EU at about 123 billion euros.

Russia is the largest oil, gas, uranium and coal exporter to the EU. Gazprom exported 133 billion cubic meters of gas to the European Union in 2013. Almost half of this amount — 65 billion cubic meters— was transported through pipelines on Ukrainian soil. Germany is Russia’s single-biggest client, gobbling up some 40 billion cubic meters alone, according to Gazprom statistics.

Given Russia’s dependence on European markets, there are hopes that cool heads will prevail.

“Moscow will likely keep such disruptions to a minimum under almost all circumstances,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank.

Fears also grew that trade of basic agricultural products will be impacted by the crisis. Wheat futures, for example, were up over 5 per cent, while corn futures spiked more than 2 per cent.

Some experts suggest that instead of wide-ranging sanctions on industries, western powers might prefer more focused ones on individuals. Russians are huge investors outside their country. They store deposits in banks in Cyprus, control companies in the Netherlands and own property in many western capitals, notably in London. Penalties on those activities could be most effective.

“That would upset a lot of London estate agents,” said Louise Cooper, an analyst at CooperCity.

One part of Europe that is likely to suffer anyway is Ukraine, which is hanging in limbo. The country’s currency has in recent days hit a record low and the economy is estimated to be sliding into recession. The government estimates it needs $35 billion in international rescue loans over the next two years.

Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, has thrown his support behind the new government that wants Russia to end its control of Crimea.

“I call upon all my fellow citizens to unity for the sake of a whole and undivided Ukraine … Our strength is in the solidarity of business, government and society,” said Akhmetov. His company alone employs 300,000 people.

___

Juergen Baetz in Brussels contributed to this report.

Channeling Leto, Redmayne and McConaughey: Red carpet style tips

TORONTO – Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto and best actor nominee Eddie Redmayne have been mainstays on the red carpet during awards season, each with their own distinct approaches to formal fashion.

Gotstyle founder Melissa Austria offers tips on how men can translate the trio’s high-end looks into their own wardrobes.

JARED LETO

Jared Leto poses in the press room at the 20th annual Critics\’ Choice Movie Awards at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 2015.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Invision – Jordan Strauss

The actor and musician has made statement-making jackets a staple, from the white Hedi Slimane design he wore to the 2014 Oscars, to the bright blue blazer he sported to the recent Critics’ Choice Awards. Bold accents are also part of his repertoire with colourful bowties, boutonnieres and even sparkly shoes to round out red carpet looks.

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“I think with Jared Leto he’s willing to push the fashion envelope,” said Austria. “He never looks silly because he’s always incorporating great tailoring, but he always adds in another fashion directional element that makes his outfit stand out from anybody else.”

For men seeking to channel Leto’s edgy but sophisticated style, Austria suggested teaming a shorter-hemmed, coloured double-breasted jacket with what she described as the hottest trend for the season: the jogger, pointing to a style which incorporates leather.

“Although everything always has to be slim and modern, it doesn’t have to be as tight. So the joggers are really representing comfort and fashion together.”

EDDIE REDMAYNE

Eddie Redmayne poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role for “The Theory of Everything” at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Los Angeles.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

The Londoner recently celebrated best actor victories at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and British Academy Film and Television Awards for his role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Redmayne has also been winning raves for his striking black-tie ensembles which incorporate lush fabrics and rich hues.

“I think the signature to Eddie Redmayne’s style is the cut of his suit,” said Austria. “I think he really understands British tailoring.

“When you’re wearing a suit that fits you properly, on a guy, nothing looks better. For him, it’s all about cut and proportion.”

For her take on Redmayne’s classic tailoring with a twist, Austria suggested a glen plaid suit featuring a mix of dark and light blue hues.

“It just gives a bit more depth and dimension to the suit, so from a distance it looks like a solid, but from up close you can notice the pattern — and that’s something that’s quintessentially British.”

Austria said a misconception about slim or modern dressing is that only men with slender builds can pull them off.

“When you wear a boxier suit, you actually look bigger. Something slightly more modern in cut, it actually makes you look trimmer. It’s a fear factor guys have to get over.”

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY

Matthew McConaughey accepts the award for best actor in a leading role for \”Dallas Buyers Club\” during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles.

John Shearer/Invision/AP

Since taking home the Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club in a white Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo jacket, the reigning best actor hasn’t shied away from cranking up the colour.

McConaughey wore a dark purple tuxedo to the Golden Globes and a brassy blue blazer to the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

“Every time he’s on the red carpet he’s always wearing a tuxedo, but he’s never just wearing a typical black tuxedo,” said Austria.

The menswear expert said a key part of McConaughey’s formal wear is his love of the peaked lapel. The style is distinct from the rounded shawl collar and more common notched lapels.

“A peaked lapel is great because it really draws your attention up and makes your shoulders and your chest look bigger,” said Austria.

“I find that he’s always doing a really wide peaked lapel to make a statement. And again, it’s all about great tailoring, so suits that are immaculately cut for him, but with that touch of pizzazz by adding colour to it.”

Austria said the tux jacket’s versatility extends beyond formal occasions, suggesting men can team the blazer with a V-neck T-shirt and a pair of jeans for a night on the town.

©2015The Canadian Press

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