MONTREAL – A Montreal-area police officer is among more than 60 people arrested in a wide-ranging crackdown on the Hells Angels and their associates for alleged drug-related activities.Provincial police say they’ve dismantled three narcotics sales networks from the leadership right down to the distributors.They estimate the networks had made $10 million over eight months trafficking cocaine and synthetic drugs.Some of the accused are also charged with fentanyl and cannabis trafficking.Police say all of those arrested were either members or associates of the biker gang with the exception of a municipal police officer from Repentigny who allegedly acted as a courier for the Hells members.As many as 16 other people are being sought after raids conducted in more than 20 municipalities in Quebec and New Brunswick.Authorities say those targeted in the raids included the four bosses who allegedly oversaw three different Hells chapters.Tuesday’s arrests followed raids that took place in January and February.
Ottawa is facing increased pressure from Indigenous advocates to look at historic figures celebrated in Canada after an Ontario teachers’ group passed a motion to remove Sir John A. Macdonald’s name from elementary schools in the province.NDP MP and Indigenous affairs critic Romeo Saganash says a much bigger conversation needs to unfold about the role of historic figures in the “dark realities of colonialism.”Saganash, a residential school survivor, was supportive of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to remove the name of Hector-Louis Langevin, a father of Confederation, from the Ottawa building that houses the Prime Minister’s Office.Trudeau made the announcement in June after Indigenous MPs and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde called for the change because Langevin was an architect of the residential school system.Bellegarde says he commends the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario for its motion, noting he is encouraged Canadians are acknowledging prominent leaders like Macdonald did not always have a respectful relationship with Indigenous Peoples.A spokesperson for Heritage Minister Melanie Joly says the government must “seize this opportunity” to acknowledge Canada’s past, adding it will listen and engage with Indigenous groups on how to best correct historical wrongs.
OTTAWA – The federal government ran a deficit of $2.7 billion in the first five months of its fiscal year compared with a deficit of $5.4 billion in the same period last year.In its monthly fiscal monitor, the federal Finance Department says the smaller deficit for the year so far came as revenue grew more than spending.Revenues were up $6.3 billion, or 5.3 per cent, as income tax revenues and excise taxes and duties rose, partially offset by lower EI premium revenues and other revenues.Program spending was up $4.2 billion, or 3.7 per cent, due to increases in major transfers to persons and other levels of government and direct program expenses.Public debt charges were down $700 million, or 6.1 per cent.In its fall fiscal update this week, the government said it’s expecting a shortfall of $18.4 billion in 2017-18, compared with a projection of $25.5 billion outlined in the spring budget.
CHARLOTTETOWN – The owner of a petting farm in P.E.I. says she never expected backlash for discussing how some of her goats will be served up next week in a Charlottetown restaurant.Flory Sanderson opened her popular Island Hill Farm to visitors four years ago but says she never disguised its main focus — raising goats for dairy and meat.“Some happen to go to table, and I think that’s A-OK,” she said from the 120-hectare property in Hampshire, northwest of Charlottetown.“It’s good. I think we need to teach our kids where your food comes from because it’s the next generation that is going to change how we see food, and how we eat.”Vegans and some parents have criticized Sanderson since she mentioned on Facebook that Charlottetown’s Terre Rouge eatery would feature her goat meat in donairs.Sanderson said all her animals are raised humanely with care. About 10 of her 100 goats are sold each year for consumption, depending on demand. They are killed off-site by local butchers.Sanderson said goats sold for meat are often too aggressive to interact with visitors and tend to be males aged nine months to two years. Females are kept for dairy and other products, including homemade soaps.Sanderson stressed that the farm’s best known goats are there to stay. They include the affectionate Bella — with her own social media hashtag #bellahugs — and Valerie, an orphaned goat that joined country music crooner Brett Kissel on stage last February during his swing through the province.Corona, a nine-month-old male that Sanderson saved from a meat farm last spring, will also remain at the farm.“You can’t keep them all,” she said. “Lots go for pets,” but others will continue to be sold for meat, she added.“Absolutely.”The roast meat pita sandwiches with garlic sauce will be served for lunch at Terre Rouge starting next week.Goat meat from Sanderson’s farm is also served at Taste of India, another restaurant in Charlottetown.“It’s illogical to bring children to … petting farms that are essentially disguising real farms, get them to fall in love with these animals, teach them to be kind to them, then turn around and kill the animal needlessly,” said one comment on Sanderson’s Facebook feed.“What kind of message is that sending?”Lucy Morrow, the chef at Terre Rouge, said she can understand why some people are upset. Still, it’s a chance to teach children where meat comes from, she said. She also noted that Sanderson has received overwhelming support from many local people and farmers across Canada.“Terre Rouge is totally farm to table. That means we have to get our meat from farms.”“I know her,” Morrow said of Sanderson. “I’ve been to the farm, I’ve petted the goats, I grew up on a farm. She’s an incredible person.“Instead of saying, ‘Oh, these children are petting the goats and unbeknownst to them they’re killed and eaten,’ I think that’s a great opportunity to introduce kids to the idea of a life cycle. If they’re not OK with knowing a goat died to eat meat, then maybe this is their opportunity to say, hey, I want to be a vegetarian. And that’s totally fine.”—By Sue Bailey in St. John’s, N.L.Follow @suebailey on Twitter.
CALGARY – A two-year Calgary police pilot program to help prevent youth radicalization has received full funding from the federal government.The Redirect program was launched in 2015 to help young people deemed vulnerable to radicalization.It has received $1.3 million in funding over five years from the federal Community Resilience Fund.The program looks for at-risk youth and links them with a police officer and a social worker who attempt to steer them from dangerous ideologies.Calgary police Insp. Leah Barber says it is aimed at individuals who may be recruited by terrorist organizations like the Islamic State or criminal gangs looking for new members.She says tips come from parents, communities and schools that may have noticed warning signs of radicalization.
CALGARY – A former Alberta Liberal staffer who says she was groped and sexually harassed by a former MLA says party leader David Khan’s promise to investigate was an empty one made for political gain.Kirstin Morrell also says five months after Khan promised an internal investigation, she has not heard from him or from any other party official.Morrell came forward last August to say she had been groped and sexually harassed by former Liberal legislature member Darshan Kang when she worked for him in 2012 at his Calgary constituency office.Morrell says she went public because she wanted to support another woman who has accused Kang of sexual harassment in his current role as a member of Parliament.Kang has stepped aside from the federal Liberal caucus to sit as an Independent and has denied the accusations.Khan has not responded to numerous requests for comment.
TORONTO – Canadian singer Alessia Cara was the only woman to win one of the major categories at this year’s Grammy Awards, and less than a quarter of the 84 trophies handed out Sunday went to either a woman or group that included a woman.But it was backstage comments from the Recording Academy’s president that inflamed critics, who saw this year’s awards show is further proof that a pervasive gender imbalance exists in the industry.“I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on an executive level,” Neil Portnow told reporters in the press room after the show on Sunday.“(They need) to step up because I think they would be welcome.”Suggesting that women aren’t “stepping up” in the music industry frustrates Aerin Fogel, organizer of Toronto-based feminist arts celebration Venus Fest. She said she is not surprised by the reaction from the executives.“In a way what he’s (saying) represents the larger issues in the music industry — and in most industries,” Fogel said. “There are real inherent challenges for women to be moving through these structures in the same way as men.”Backlash against the Grammys over its gender disparity started long before Sunday’s ceremony. When the nominations were announced in late November, many fans were quick to note that major categories were stacked with men.Tension mounted in the days before the event when Lorde’s mother, Sonja Yelich, tweeted an excerpt from a New York Times article that said only nine per cent of nominees were women over the past six Grammy Awards.During the broadcast several female artists — including Kesha and Lady Gaga — delivered impassioned performances in solidarity with the MeToo movement. Neither artist took home a Grammy at the ceremony.Some have stood behind the Grammys, saying women haven’t been entirely left out. Adele won twice for album of the year over that same six-year period, while Taylor Swift grabbed the award once. Meghan Trainor was chosen as best new artist in 2016 before Cara this year.But the wins are still mostly men in those categories.Anne Douris, a Toronto-based musician who performs as Bossie, said Grammy figures suggest the organization’s president is “tone deaf” on timely issues.“The attitude of ‘pull up your bootstraps’ is such an easy thing to say,” she said. “People in that position of power need to be working a little bit harder to look at this as a complicated issue.”Before she launched her solo career, Douris regularly toured with other bands, including several Canadian rock musicians.“I would work on tours where I was the only woman and the entire time nobody would shake my hand,” she said. “People would assume I was someone’s girlfriend.”Douris said those memories came rushing back when she heard executives at the Grammys suggest women work harder to pursue industry roles.“There’s lots of women working very hard, you’re just not talking to them,” the musician said she wished she could tell the leaders.Grammy winner Barbara Hannigan said she didn’t face a lack of opportunities as a woman when she first started in the music industry. As a soprano, the Nova Scotia singer only competed for jobs with other women.“Then when I became a conductor, all the sudden I was in a male-dominated field and I started getting all these questions about my gender,” said Hannigan, who picked up a Grammy for classical solo vocal album at this year’s awards.“I don’t want to be considered a female conductor, I want to just be a musician,” she said. “As soon as someone puts ‘female’ in front of my job, they immediately change the focus from my work to my gender, which I find kind of frustrating.”Hannigan said that while her priorities are focused on creating music of the highest calibre, she still acknowledges that she was raised in a world where female conductors were put in a box.“For some reason it seemed absolutely appropriate for a woman to conduct a choir but not an orchestra,” she said. “I don’t know why that is. All I know is that I never saw that.”While she doesn’t dwell on her gender, Hannigan recognizes she is among a rare set of female conductors. She was reminded of the fact during a recent performance for a couple of thousand teenagers, many of whom had little exposure to classical music.“That’s amazing because they’re going to sit in the hall and they’re not going to find it strange to see a woman on the podium,” she said.“In that way, by me just showing up — and doing what I do the highest of my ability — this is what’s important.”Follow @dfriend on Twitter.
One of Canada’s top economists says Canada is caught in the crossfire of a U.S.-China trade dispute.The United States announced Tuesday, they were considering 10 per cent tariffs on a long list of Chinese goods totalling $200-billion, including fish and apples.And now China is ready to slap tariffs on American goods like French doors.Benjamin Tal, Deputy Chief Economist for CIBC, said he can’t see any scenario where Canada is winning.“Yes, there are some pockets that will be benefitting from increased demand from China, but overall it is a negative for Canada, period,” he said.“We will be losing market share. If the Americans cannot export to China, they will look for markets in Canada — Europeans will look at the other markets, and all of a sudden Canada will be damaged.”Americans won’t officially announce whether these tariffs will go ahead until after August 31, but some industries are already feeling the pinch.Canadian soybean farmers are feeling the pain from already imposed Chinese tariffs on American goods.The price has plummeted because Canadian prices are set based on American ones.“The trade dispute between China and the U.S. is a big deal, and to the extent that it goes to a full scale war that potentially is recessionary basically for the global economy so we have to be careful here,” Tal said.He said Donald Trump has a challenge ahead.“If you are Trump, you basically want to go after China only after you make sure that NAFTA is a go. So, now he’s fighting two wars and that’s a bit complicated,” Tal said.
GREENVILLE, Maine – Police in Maine say three people have died after a small plane that departed from Pembroke, Ont., and was headed for Prince Edward Island crashed near a small airport.State police say the crash happened at about 11 a.m. on Monday near Greenville Municipal Airport.Police did not immediately release the names of the people killed in the crash.A spokesman for the FAA says the small, twin-engine plane crashed on approach to the airport.Greenville is about 240 kilometres north of Portland.
The practice of isolating prisoners without meaningful human contact violates inmates’ rights, two separate provincial courts have ruled, and Canada must change it. The government was given one year to draft and pass legislation altering the rules around what it calls “administrative segregation”. That year is up on Dec. 18. While a new bill is in the works, the earliest it could pass is mid-2019, and there are questions about whether it will stand up to a court challenge if it does.Meanwhile, thousands of prisoners remain in limbo. Alone. Some are in solitary right now, and very few of them meet the stereotype Hollywood has given us of the criminals who deserve solitary. Activists say they’re often the most vulnerable people in the correctional system. So, what happens to them when the current standards expire with no replacement? Is Canada violating their human rights? If so, what kind of recourse do they have? How can they tell their stories? This is a problem the government would probably like to bury underground and ignore. Just like…well, you get the idea.THE BIG STORY PODCAST GUEST: Justin Ling, freelance writer (Maclean’s, The Walrus, National Magazine)Today’s Podcast: Canada had a year to end solitary confinement. Time’s up, and it hasn’t.Audio Playerhttp://media.blubrry.com/thebigstory/s/radio.pmd.rogersdigitalmedia.com/podcasts/thebigstory/tbs_12062018.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on iTunes or Google Play.You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.
The Canadian Press The federal government is asking Canadians how they like their vodka.The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has opened consultations on whether to redefine the clear, neutral spirit and open interprovincial trade for innovative craft distillers who want to try something new.Under current rules that haven’t changed in decades, vodka must be made from either grain or potatoes and be filtered through charcoal.A new generation of small-batch distillers are challenging those norms.Some are using everything from milk to grapes, while others are minimizing filtration that removes subtle flavours.Flouting the legal definition makes it tough for them to sell their vodka across provincial boundaries, even though they can export internationally.They say that, historically, vodka was made from whatever a local community had left over from the harvest.The United States and Europe changed their definition of vodka long ago.
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — The woman Richard Oland was having an extramarital affair with has described the anger and then the panic she felt as she tried in vain to reach her multimillionaire lover in the hours after he was bludgeoned to death in his office.The videotaped testimony of Diana Sedlacek, a former real estate agent in Saint John who was romantically involved with Oland for eight years, was played at the retrial of Dennis Oland on Tuesday. Oland, 50, has been charged with the second-degree murder of his father on July 6, 2011.In the space of time between 6:44 p.m. on July 6 until late in the morning of July 7, Sedlacek told the court about the text messages she sent Richard Oland, ranging from swearing and threatening to call his home, to praying for him.“Stop this f…… around and answer your damn phone,” she texted on the night of July 6, at which time police believe Richard Oland was lying dead on the floor of his Saint John office, killed by repeated blows to the head.Later the next day, after she watched Richard Oland’s car being towed from his office parking lot by police, she wrote, “I love you. God be with you my love. Praying, praying.”She said she feared he may have had a heart attack.The prosecution is presenting Sedlacek’s testimony from Dennis Oland’s first trial in 2015. In agreement with Oland’s defence team, video replays of several witnesses are being shown at the new trial to save time.Oland was convicted in 2015, but the verdict was set aside on appeal in 2016 and a second trial ordered. It is being held before judge alone in the Saint John Court of Queen’s Bench.The defence did not cross-examine Sedlacek.Prosecutors have told the court they believe Dennis Oland’s anger over his father’s extramarital affair may have contributed to motive in what they describe as a “rage killing.”Sedlacek’s numerous text messages and the responses, or lack of response, from Richard Oland are also being used by prosecutors to help establish a timeline of the multimillionaire’s final hours.There were no voice conversations between Sedlacek and Oland on July 6, 2011 – all communication between the two was through texts on their iPhones.The messages start out happy and cosy in the earlier part of July 6.“Morning Lixxxx on Goldn Gun,” reads her note to Richard at 9:08 a.m. Sedlacek tells the court this was a “term of endearment.”“Did Zu find note? – re Our Trip.”Oland and Sedlacek were planning a road trip to Portland, Me., later that month. Most of the exchanges concern arrangements for the getaway.Both Sedlacek and Oland were married to others.Her last message to Richard Oland, before his phone was turned off, was at 6:44 p.m. – a key time in the murder investigation. Dennis Oland, the last known person to have seen his father alive, would have just left the office a few minutes prior to that 6:44 text, on his way back to his home in Rothesay.The trial already has heard that last message to Richard Oland’s cell phone pinged off a tower in Rothesay near the Renforth wharf, where Dennis Oland had stopped on his way home to see if his children where there.Sedlacek did not receive any responses to her messages to Richard Oland past the early afternoon of July 6, 2011.Oland was 69 at the time of his death. Sedlacek described Oland, a member of the prominent Maritime beer-brewing family, as an avid skier and talked about his love of sailing.The trial is expected to last until mid-March.Chris Morris, The Canadian Press
Police say a man charged with first-degree murder in the death of his daughter is in hospital with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was charged in 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar’s death after the girl’s body was found in his Brampton, Ont., home shortly after an Amber Alert was issued late Thursday night.Peel regional police say they were called by Riya’s mother after the child’s father failed to return her home from her birthday celebrations.Police say Roopesh was arrested by provincial police shortly after Riya’s body was found and was taken to hospital for injuries that were kept secret for several days.They say the province’s police watchdog was notified of his injury, but decided to not investigate the circumstances surrounding it.Police say Rajkumar is in custody, and will have a court appearance once his doctors say he is well enough.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Gerald Butts resigned Monday as the principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau amid allegations former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office not to proceed with a criminal prosecution of Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.Here are five things to know about who he is and what his role has been.Founded in friendshipButts and Trudeau are not just colleagues, they are very close friends. They met at McGill University in the early 1990s and their friendship was so close that Butts helped craft Trudeau’s memorable eulogy for his father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, in 2000. That was the public speech that produced a push for Trudeau, then a teacher in British Columbia, to follow his father into politics. In his book, Common Ground, Trudeau wrote that when he began to think about running for the Liberal leadership in 2012, Butts was the first person he approached for advice. Butts was a critical part of both Trudeau’s leadership campaign and the Liberals’ 2015 election campaign. Trudeau has described Butts and Katie Telford, his chief of staff, as “the core of my inner circle.”From different worlds, unitedButts and Trudeau were both born in 1971 but grew up in very different circles. Trudeau was the son of a prime minister whose childhood included a security detail and handshakes with world leaders. Butts was the youngest son of a Glace Bay, N.S., coal miner and a nurse, who nonetheless grew up to have at least one link to Liberal politics. His aunt, Peggy Butts, a nun and social activist who is said to have been one of the biggest influences on how he views the world, was appointed to the Senate by Jean Chretien in 1997.Deja-vu all over againThe 2015 campaign was not the first in which Butts helped steer a Liberal leader into government. Butts’s first foray into politics came with the Ontario Liberals, where he was a policy adviser to then-leader Dalton McGuinty. He was one of the architects of the 2003 Liberal platform that propelled McGuinty into the premier’s office and Butts would be his principal secretary for five years.McGuinty’s agenda has many similarities to Trudeau’s, such as phasing out coal power, expanding renewable energy, and increasing social spending.Prime Minister ButtsButts has been unusually visible for a senior political staffer. He did not shy away from talking to journalists — in fact he seemed to relish doing so — but always “on background.” His presence on social media, however, was public and constant, as he used Twitter to spin government policy, challenge government critics and even get into sparring matches with the leaders of provincial parties and governments.This visibility began in his McGuinty days, with the Ontario Tories in 2003 putting out an entire press release attacking him as an “anonymous, unelected, backroom spin doctor” who was the “real leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario.”This visibility, and his influence and power within Trudeau’s office, were not always met happily by Liberal MPs, some of whom secretly referred to him as “PM Butts.”It’s the environment, stupidButts’s influence is felt in every area of government policy and Trudeau would not make any big policy decisions without the input of both Butts and Telford. But the area Butts holds dearest is the environment. Environment policies were a central theme in McGuinty’s government during the Butts era, and again with the Trudeau Liberals. In between the two governments, Butts was the CEO of the World Wildlife Fund in Canada, a position he held until the Trudeau Liberal leadership campaign came calling.In his resignation statement Butts even made a pitch for action to halt climate change: “Our kids and grandkids will judge us on one issue above all others,” he said. “That issue is climate change. I hope the response to it becomes the collective, non-partisan, urgent effort that science clearly says is required. I hope that happens soon.”The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A site has been officially approved for the federal government’s promised national monument for the war in Afghanistan, five years after the memorial was first promised.The decision by the National Capital Commission today ends years of bickering over where the memorial should be located and paves the way for it to be built east of the Canadian War Museum in downtown Ottawa.The national monument is separate from the memorial to soldiers who died in Afghanistan, whose unveiling at the Canadian Forces’ new headquarters building last month prompted an outcry.The national monument was first promised by the previous Conservative government in May 2014 following the end of Canada’s 13-year mission in Afghanistan.Construction was to be done in 2017, but the schedule was derailed by complaints the location selected by the government was difficult for some disabled veterans to reach.A new location was proposed immediately west of the war museum, but the institution and its architect, Raymond Moriyama, opposed that site.The approved location is across the street from the war museum and behind the National Holocaust Monument.The Canadian Press
VATICAN CITY — A Canadian priest who has worked closely with Pope Francis is among the 13 new cardinals added to the Catholic hierarchy on Saturday.The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says Cardinal Michael Czerny was born in the former Czechoslovakia in 1946 and came to Canada with his family at the age of two.Czerny has worked since 2010 in the Vatican’s justice office, where he helped draft Francis’s major environmental encyclical.In 2016, Francis made Czerny his personal point man on migrant issues, and the pectoral cross he sported Saturday showed he took the mission to heart as it was made of wood from a migrant ship.Czerny is a Jesuit like the Pope, and went to El Salvador in 1989 after six Jesuit confreres were gunned down at Central American University.For a South American Jesuit like Francis, the killings were an unfathomable assault that laid bare the order’s social justice ethos — the same ethos that years later would inform his papacy.Because Czerny is not yet 80, he’ll be eligible to vote in a conclave, increasing the likelihood that a future pope might look a lot like the current one.With Saturday’s consistory, Francis will have named 52 per cent of the voting-age cardinals.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2019.The Canadian Press
Jason Mraz has long avoided single-use plastic water bottles. Now, the Grammy-winning artist is using his North American tour to encourage others to do the same.Mraz is partnering with Brita and its FilterForGood Music Project to encourage music fans to reduce their bottled water waste during his “Tour is a Four Letter Word” tour. The 37-stop tour started Aug. 9, and runs through Oct 7.As part of his long-standing commitment to environmental preservation, Mraz invited the Brita FilterForGood Music Project to join the tour and help artists, fans and backstage crews reduce their bottled water waste. As a cornerstone to the tour’s greening efforts led by non-profit group REVERB, Brita will provide free filtered water stations so all concert-goers can ditch bottled water at the show and instead use reusable bottles or a Brita Bottle with a built-in water filter. The free filtered water will be a centerpiece of an entire Eco-Village that fans can visit at each show to get involved with local environmental organizations and volunteer for community service projects.“Each and every one of us is responsible for leaving the planet in a better condition than how we found it. One simple but powerful action we can all take is eliminating our disposable water bottle usage. We’re challenging our fans to ask themselves ‘do I need to purchase a bottle of water or can I use a reusable bottle instead?’” said Jason Mraz. “By working with Brita, we are able to provide our fans with an accessible alternative to bottled water that will keep an estimated 35,000 disposable bottles out of landfills and oceans by the end of the tour.”Concert-goers can visit the Brita FilterForGood tent to win prizes, take the Brita FilterForGood pledge and learn more about the Brita FilterForGood movement. Fans can also bring their own reusable bottle to fill up at Brita Hydration Stations by Haws Corporation at the venue to stay cool and hydrated. Special Jason Mraz edition Brita FilterForGood Nalgene bottles will also be available for purchase at merchandise booths on site.
The Hollywood Wilshire YMCA (Hollywood Y) will celebrate its 10th annual Comedy For A Cause fundraiser at the Sunset Strip’s world-famous Laugh Factory in Hollywood from 8 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22.Emceed by comedic actor, Rainn Wilson, and hosted by sitcom star, Mike O’Malley, the star-studded benefit will provide an entertaining evening of stand-up comedy by Hollywood’s top entertainers to benefit the Hollywood Y. The evening will begin with a VIP reception at 6:30 p.m. during which guests will mingle with the performers and take delight in hors d’oeuvres and specialty drinks provided by local sponsors. The evening will begin with an introduction by O’Malley at 8 p.m. and end at 10 p.m.“What better way to celebrate kids and families within the Hollywood community than with a night of great comedy at the Laugh Factory,” says Rainn Wilson, star of NBC’s The Office. “I used to be a member of the Hollywood Y when I first came to Los Angeles, so to be able to spend the evening supporting its programs is of great personal pride for me – it’s going to be a lot of fun.”“The support we’re getting from the Hollywood community, including from those in front of the camera and those behind the scenes, is amazing,” says Laurie Goganzer, Executive Director and Group Vice President of the Ketchum-Downtown and Hollywood Wilshire branches of the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles. “We’re so grateful to be able to bring L.A. community members and TV’s funniest people in the same room for the purpose of supporting kids and our youth programs.”Comedy For A Cause brings together acclaimed comedians who volunteer their time and talent to showcase a line-up of stand-up comedy in support of the Hollywood Y’s youth programs, which are dedicated to instilling leadership qualities in its community’s children.Only 250 tickets will be sold for this exclusive fundraising event and can be purchased for $250 per person. For more information, click here. A limited number of sponsorship opportunities are still available for this event. To sponsor Comedy For A Cause, contact Natasha Radojcic, Associate Director of Development for the Hollywood Wilshire YMCA at (323) 762-8749.Comedy For A Cause (formerly “Comedy For Kids”) is an annual entertainment showcase held by the Hollywood Wilshire YMCA. Past talent includes comedy greats such as Jay Leno, Tim Allen, George Lopez, Andy Richter, Patricia Heaton, and Ray Romano. Comedy For A Cause is one of Hollywood’s main showcase events committed to supporting the Hollywood Wilshire YMCA’s youth programs, which provide tailored activities to develop character, leadership, health, and wellness among children and teens. More than 110,000 youth participate in Hollywood Wilshire Y programs ranging from preschool to wellness opportunities. For many low-income youth, the Y may be the only access to such activities – opportunities that provide a path to maturity, to college and to a brighter future.
On April 7, The Who will release a collectible blue vinyl 7″ of their latest classic ‘Be Lucky’ from ‘The Who Hits 50!’ album backed with the band’s very first single from 1965 ‘I Can’t Explain.’‘Be Lucky’ is The Who’s first new material in eight years and in keeping with their ongoing support for Teenage Cancer charities, the band have donated their royalties from the song to Teen Cancer America, a charity founded in 2011 by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.The Who will also bring “THE WHO HITS 50!” tour to North America this year. “THE WHO HITS 50!” tour will kick off its spring run on April 15 in Tampa, FL and will include 21 stops throughout the east before wrapping on May 30 in Forest Hills, NY. The fall leg will launch September 14 in San Diego, CA and begin with West Coast dates throughout the U.S. and across Canada before concluding November 4 in Philadelphia, PA. Tickets are on sale now; more information can be found at thewho.com/tour. In addition, $1 from each ticket sold on “THE WHO HITS 50!” North American tour will benefit Teen Cancer America.
Celebrity Fight Night in Italy returned for its third annual event, this year taking philanthropic donors and specials guests on a 5-day excursion through Florence, Lajatico and Venice where they were treated to the very best arts, entertainment and culture in the region.Brian McKnight and Colbie CaillatCelebrity Fight Night, a star-studded annual charity event, has raised $127 million for many charities throughout its 22-year history, most significantly for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, AZ. This year’s event raised an incredible $4 million dollars benefitting the Andrea Bocelli Foundation and the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.Andrea Bocelli honours Queen Rania of JordanMore than 100 philanthropists traveled to Italy to participate in the “benefit trip” where Italian designer Stefano Ricci kicked off the festivities in Florence on September 8. Stefano Ricci took guests through the Basilica di Santa Croce, also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories, where Italian greats such as Michelangelo and Galileo were laid to rest. After exploring the Cappella dei Pazzi, the evening concluded in the Cloister of the Basilica with dinner and music, led by Andrea Bocelli.The following afternoon, guests departed Florence on a scenic drive through Tuscany to Lajatico, the birthplace of Andrea Bocelli, where Andrea and Veronica Bocelli welcomed everyone for an unforgettable night with guest of honor Nicolas Cage, who received the “Andrea Bocelli Humanitarian Award.” The evening included aperitifs at the magnificent Teatro del Silenzio, and a gourmet dinner at the country home of the Bocellis, with memorable entertainment by musical artists David Foster, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Peter Cetera, Colbie Caillat, Jordan Smith, and Bocelli himself. Additional guests included Evander Holyfield, Melissa Peterman, and more. The next day, everyone boarded a privately chartered train to Venice for an exciting day of exploration in one of the world’s most romantic cities that included lunch at the stunning Palazzo Pisani Moretta and a gondola ride to St. Mark’s Square, before returning to Florence.The pinnacle of this five-day experience was the featured gala on September 11, where guests walked the red carpet in the historical Salone dei Cinquecento at the Palazzo Vecchio. This massive Romanesque fortress-palace is one of the most impressive town halls in all of Tuscany; and it again opened exceptionally to host the gala. Andrea Bocelli, along with the extraordinary Maggio Musicale Fiorentino under the direction of the great Maestro Zubin Mehta, headlined the evening. Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan received the “Andrea Bocelli Humanitarian Award” onstage, and Lonnie Ali was honored for her incredible philanthropic achievements, having been a part of Celebrity Fight Night along with her late husband, Muhammad Ali, for nearly two decades.The event concluded with a special evening in the heart of Florence that started at the Palazzo Spini Feroni, home to the Global Flagship Headquarters of Salvatore Ferragamo and the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo. The Ferragamo family themselves welcomed guests with a cocktail and a visit to the museum and the shop, before guests were led to the nearby Palazzo Corsini for a night of dining and dancing.As a result of the funds raised by this third edition of Celebrity Fight Night in Italy, The Andrea Bocelli Foundation will assure continual access to education to the 2,550 students of 5 schools in Haiti to assure a salary for the teaching staff and to the grant all of the children the necessary healthcare treatments.The five-day experience was sponsored by Stefano Ricci, GVM La Civiltà del Marmo, Peak6 Best Marble, Ermanno Scervino, Falconeri, Fratelli Piccini Firenze, Mikimoto, Jeep, Fregoli Luxury Bags, Salotti del Gusto, Excellence Magazine, and Euro-Toques.