Looking for a unique Christmas gift that really makes a difference? WaterAid has the answer…Make someone’s Christmas this year by giving them a gift from their favourite musician or actor. Official Q Awards charity, WaterAid, is holding a Christmas Ebay auction full of goodies signed by Q award-winning artists.Get your hands on a ‘Les Paul Classics Plus’ Gibson guitar signed by The Killers’ star, Brandon Flowers, worth over £1,600.Also up for grabs is a selection of men and women’s clothing from fashion label Merc, with gift tags signed by the likes of The Smith’s guitarist Johnny Marr, Emeli Sandé, The Cribs, Motown legend Dionne Warwick, Radio One DJ Nick Grimshaw, Keane, and Hobbit star Martin Freeman. Items for auction include Harrington Jackets, Rude Boy Hats, shirts and a selection of women’s wear.Award-winning artist, Emeli Sandé said: “I’m delighted to support the Q Awards and WaterAid auction. Water is essential for life, and millions of people around the world don’t have access to this basic service. Every penny raised from this auction will go towards bringing clean water to some of the world’s poorest people, so please bid today and help to transform someone’s life forever.”To enter the auction, go to www.ebay.co.uk/wateraid. The auction is open until the 16th December – just in time for those last minute Christmas gifts! All proceeds raised by the auction will help some of the world’s poorest people gain access to safe water and sanitation through WaterAid projects across the world.So log on to beat the queues and bag a gift with a difference this Christmas season!
Una Healy has teamed up with Disney to help parents and young people make the internet a safer environment.Together with Disney’s Club Penguin, Una has launched the new ‘It Starts With You’ project. The initiative encourages kids to take the lead in spreading positive behaviour online, while giving their parents the tools to better support them.The Saturdays singer is appearing in an on-air campaign on Disney Channel as Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, falling into the unknown realm of the ‘digital’ world.Una Healy Falling Through CyberspaceHealy understands a mother’s responsibility to protect her children, saying: “I wouldn’t think twice about teaching my child how to cross the road safely, and it shouldn’t be any different when it comes to teaching her to navigate safely in the online world too.“The internet is a place for discovery, learning and making friends, so it’s important that parents empower young people to treat each other with respect online.“Even though my daughter Aoife is only young, one day I know she will want to be logging on and speaking to her friends online, and when that happens I want to make sure she is safe and that I understand the language being used to ensure this.“The internet can be a brilliant thing, which is why we want young people to learn the rules of the road with Club Penguin. It Starts With You!”Parents and young people can visit ClubPenguin.com for more information.
Musicians on Call recently rang in the holidays in Nashville with The Script and honored some of their own Holiday Heroes, volunteer guide Melinda Dale, and volunteer musicians, The Shuggah Pies.The Script with MOC staff James Howell, Dana Sones, Katy Epley and Pete GriffinCredit/Copyright: Musicians on Call via FacebookThe event raised nearly $60,000!Musicians on Call thanks partner 107.5 The River and sponsors: Musicians On Call Jason Pollack Bedside Performance Program, CAA, City National Bank, Grand Ole Opry, and Onsite Workshops.
Blackbaud, the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good, today announced that Robin Wright will join the lineup for bbcon 2017, the leading tech conference exclusively for the social good community, being held in Baltimore, October 17-19 at the Baltimore Convention Center.Robin Wright to Headline Premier Tech Gathering for Social Good“Each year, bbcon hosts a cross-sector community of change agents to explore the latest tech innovation, big ideas and partnership opportunities that can strengthen the collective pursuit of global good,” said Blackbaud senior vice president Catherine LaCour. “We are thrilled to have Robin Wright join us for bbcon 2017 because her words and actions authentically reflect a commitment to building a better world. Attendees will undoubtedly benefit from her unique perspective as a public advocate, head of a high-impact foundation, philanthropist and leader of a premier social enterprise brand.”Wright is a four-time Emmy-nominated Actress, and 2014 Golden Globe award winner for her role as first lady Claire Underwood in the highly-acclaimed Netflix original series “House of Cards.” She is also known for her leading roles in various major motion pictures, including her iconic turn as Jenny Curran in “Forrest Gump” and her acclaimed role as Antiope in the blockbuster “Wonder Woman,” which is currently in theaters.Wright’s activism and passion for helping women around the globe will resonate with the bbcon audience. She is known for her far-reaching philanthropic work, including the Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo campaign that encourages various international companies to ensure the precious minerals used in their products do not come from conflict mines where women are abused. In 2014, Wright launched Pour les Femmes, a socially-conscious sleepwear company designed to give back. Founded by Wright and designer Karen Fowler, the company has one goal: to make simple, beautiful and quality pieces while creating economic opportunity for women in conflict regions around the globe. After Wright visited Congo and learned firsthand of the unimaginable struggles of many women in the area, she was compelled to create a product that would not only provide comfort for customers, but also security for women living in conflict regions. Pour les Femmes supports two nonprofits — Action Kivu and Synergies des Femmes — for their economic empowerment of women, particularly those who have experienced sexual violence.“I’m excited and honored to participate in Blackbaud’s bbcon 2017 conference — it’s such an important event that brings together thousands of passionate people who have devoted their careers to driving positive change in the world,” said Wright.Each year bbcon convenes thousands of change makers, fundraisers, marketers, administrators, technologists, executives and industry thought leaders from across the social good community to share the latest insights, trends and innovation. Attendees have access to dedicated tracks for various roles and markets — from arts and cultural organizations and cause-based nonprofits to educational institutions, healthcare organizations, foundations, corporate giving and more.For more information or to register, visit www.bbconference.com. Follow the conference news on Twitter with #bbcon or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/blackbaud.
Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, met with ShelterBox USA President, Kerri Murray, at the ShelterBox Headquarters in Cornwall, England on Wednesday, July 19, to officially open the nonprofit’s new public Visitor Center in the UK.The center will educate thousands of visitors each year on ShelterBox’s humanitarian aid, its complex operations, and its rapid response to disasters worldwide.Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, who is ShelterBox’s President, first learned of ShelterBox while on an official visit to Pakistan in 2006. The Duchess was interested in ShelterBox’s work helping families who had lost their homes in the Kashmir earthquake. Her Royal Highness then became ShelterBox’s President in 2007.During the official visit to ShelterBox, the Duchess met with Kerri Murray and operations staff to discuss the ongoing work in Syria, and participated in a live Skype call with Response Team members from the frontlines in Cameroon where they are delivering aid to families fleeing conflict.The Duchess then packed the first ShelterBox at the Visitor Center, and cut a birthday cake bestowed upon her by ShelterBox staff in honor of her 70th birthday this week. The cake, a sponge cake replica of an actual ShelterBox, was cut by the Duchess with an actual hand saw that is used in a ShelterBox tool kit.The Duchess commented, “That’s the first time I’ve cut a cake with a saw! But it doesn’t surprise me. ShelterBox [is] always coming up with something new. I just wanted to say how wonderful all of you are who work for ShelterBox.”ShelterBox USA President, Kerri Murray, also commented on the visit, “It was a privilege to meet Her Royal Highness at such an exciting chapter in ShelterBox’s history, and to brief her on the ambitious plans we have to grow ShelterBox to serve 10 times the numbers of families annually by the year 2025. Right now, there are more than 85 million people displaced in our world by conflict and disaster, and the need for the work of ShelterBox is massive. ShelterBox is preparing every day for the worst day ever.“We deploy immediately when disaster strikes, providing survivors with lifesaving shelter and equipment to help families who have lost everything access emergency shelter and have needed supplies to begin to rebuild their lives. As a disaster relief organization, it is typically on the worst day ever that media attention is given to our work. But as the headlines fade from large emergencies, so can public support.”“The Royal Family has been instrumental in raising awareness of the work of ShelterBox, and in keeping much needed attention on its humanitarian efforts. During my visit with the Duchess, I shared with her the exciting growth of ShelterBox USA and extended an invitation for her to visit our operations in the US. The Duchess was thrilled to learn about the growth of ShelterBox USA and excitedly accepted the invitation to visit with her husband, Prince Charles.”After meeting with Murray, the Duchess was then introduced to the charity’s most outstanding volunteers, response team members, and fundraisers, including international cyclist Tim Bridgman, who with his wife Sharon set off to cycle 37,000 miles across four continents to raise awareness and funds for ShelterBox in 2012.On April 26, 2014, in a remote area in Bolivia, Sharon died after being struck by a vehicle, but last year Tim bravely completed the remaining 15,000 miles on his own, finally crossing the finish line in Alaska last July. Read the complete story.The Duchess also met several ShelterBox Response Teams members who had recently returned from field deployments in Iraq, Somaliland, Peru, and Haiti.The Duchess then met with several other volunteers including, Colin Bell, who completed the equivalent of 48 marathons for ShelterBox in one year, and Sarah Thomson, a presenter on UK television’s Bear Grylls Survival School, and an endurance athlete and sports coach who held a fundraiser for ShelterBox by running 870 miles in 24 days.
omaze.com is giving you the chance to go to the premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and meet the cast.Go to the Premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again & Meet the CastYou’re going to dance, jive and have the time of your life at the premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Pack your favorite pair of overalls, because you and a friend are off to London to hang with the cast and see the highly anticipated sequel before anyone else. First, your very own hair and makeup squad will get you red carpet ready. Then, you’ll share a celebratory toast with Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Dominic Cooper and more of the cast. (We can’t promise Meryl will be there, but our fingers AND toes are crossed for you.) After that, you’ll catch the premiere with writer Richard Curtis, hopefully dance in the aisles, and meet up with Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth. One more thing: You also score tickets to Mamma Mia! the musical. The winner — you — takes it all! Flights and hotel included.All you have to do is visit omaze.com and donate to Red Nose Day USA and Best Friends Animal Society. The more you donate, the more chances you have to win.
The second annual LoveLoud Festival will take place in Salt Lake City on July 28.Created by Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds, the festival will feature Imagine Dragons, Zedd, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, and Grace Vanderwaal, as well as many others.“All the proceeds raised are distributed to grassroots charities – the Trevor Project, the Tegan and Sara Foundation, Encircle and others – that provide lifesaving services to our LGBTQ youth,” Dan Reynolds wrote in Rolling Stone. “LoveLoud isn’t just for the youth, but also their families and friends. They can attend and become educated on how to truly love and accept our LGBTQ youth. What does that entail? It means that you fully accept their sexuality and even celebrate their love in the same way that you celebrate your heterosexuality. We are excited to hear their stories of love and heartbreak at the dinner table. We should make it such a normal part of our lives and communities – so that one day our youth won’t even need to feel the need to “come out.” It shouldn’t be stigmatized as something that is even a “thing” that requires special discussion. Our LGBTQ youth are tired of explaining themselves and they are at risk. We cannot stand by for one more day and let them feel like they are ‘sinful’ or ‘flawed’.”For tickets and more information, click here.
Login/Register With: Four women filed civil lawsuits Wednesday against Albert Schultz, accusing the Canadian actor and artistic director of the Soulpepper Theatre Company of sexual battery and harassment of a sexual nature over a 13-year period.Toronto-based Soulpepper has also been named in the statements of claim of each lawsuit, which detail allegations of unwanted groping, harassment and sexual remarks in the workplace from 2000 to 2013.“Albert is a serial sexual predator who…had well-developed methods for targeting actresses and luring them into situations that he considered optimal for sexually harassing and assaulting them,” the lawsuits allege, adding that the methods were “facilitated by Soulpepper.” Advertisement Sexual battery is a term used in civil lawsuits to describe unwanted touching of a sexual nature.In all, the women in the four statements of claim allege 30 separate incidents, many of them with specific locations and dates.None of the allegations have been proven in court. Schultz and the Soulpepper board were served notice of the claim, but they have not yet issued a response or made a statement to the media.For some of the allegations, there were no witnesses and the women didn’t tell anyone. In other instances, CBC News spoke with friends and family members who said they’d been told about the incidents at the time. Albert Schultz is the artistic director of the Toronto-based Soulpepper Theatre Company. (Sian Richards) LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook Advertisement Advertisement Twitter
LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Canadian actress Sandra Oh has won best performance by an actress in a television series, drama, for her work in Killing Eve.Congratulations to Sandra Oh (@IamSandraOh) – Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama – Killing Eve (@KillingEve). – #GoldenGlobes pic.twitter.com/I08OzzUM0R— Golden Globe Awards (@goldenglobes) January 7, 2019The Golden Globes Awards co-host, Oh’s opening monologue shifted from jokes to real emotions when she talked about the show’s diverse set of nominees from films including Crazy Rich Asians. Oh teared up next to co-host Andy Samberg during the Globes opening bit on Sunday as she talked about saying yes to hosting despite her fear.She said she “wanted to be here to look out on this audience and witness this moment of change.”Oh said she’s not fooling herself, and next year could be back to the status quo.But right now, she said, looking to various members of the audience, “the moment is real. Because I see you. And I see you. All these faces of change. And now so will everyone else.” Facebook Login/Register With: Advertisement Twitter Sandra Oh arrives at the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Jordan Strauss/InvisionAssociated Press) Advertisement
APTN National NewsIn a 10 day period this month, there were three incidents in Nunavut where residents pulled weapons on the RCMP.APTN National News reporter Kent Driscoll finds that this trend is picking up momentum and the RCMP is worried.
By Dennis WardWINNIPEG – The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will have a budget much higher than originally announced.The Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett announced $53.8-million in funding for the two-year inquiry that will get underway next month.She also addressed one of the main criticisms and concerns following the leak of a terms of reference.Bennett said the commission is directed to examine and report on the impacts of institutions such as policing, child welfare, coroners and other government policies and practices.Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu said racism and sexism are “embedded in the very institutions that are supposed to protect” women and girls.Justice Minister Jody Wilson Reybould was emotional during her speech at the event.She announced there would be $11.6-million set aside over four years for the creation of Family Information Liaison Units in each province and territory and to increase Victims Services funding to provide culturally-appropriate victims services for families of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.The Commission’s mandate emerged from 18 pre-inquiry meetings with 2,000 participants and 4,100 online submissions.
Beverly Andrews APTN NewsSix Nations police raided a marijuana dispensary earlier this month arresting the owner and a few others.It’s what the band council appears to want and so does the chief of police.“They should wait until they are dealing with a legal commodity,” said Glen Vickers, chief of Six Nations police, a First Nation south of Toronto.“We all know in a few months it’s going to be legal, but right now it’s not.”The federal government is set to legalize marijuana as of July 1.The owner of Green Health for 6 believes council and police are being too strict on something that is happening on many nations across the country.“In other territories their band councils are embracing it and more or less saying it’s a grey area that they are not going to touch,” said Jeff Henhawk. “I think that our band council should at least work with us or put out a mandate.”The reserve has drug problem and the manager of the shop said the weed offers an alternative to hard drugs.“We are trying to offer a medicinal plant-based medicine here to counter and fight the opiate addiction,” said Aaron Sault. “The number of narcotics that are in our community here on Six Nations is ridiculous.”Council declined to be interviewed but sent a statement to APTN News.“Until federal legislative amendments have been enacted to legalize and regulate the use and sale of cannabis, Six Nations Elected Council remains of the position that cannabis is a controlled substance,” the statement said.“As such, and in the absence of applicable Six Nations laws and regulations, the Elected Council considers cannabis subject to the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.”email@example.com
TORONTO – Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week:Economic updateBank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz will speak at a conference co-hosted by CFA Montreal and the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday. Last week, Poloz told a Commons committee that Canada is at a “crucial” spot in the economic cycle facing a number of significant uncertainties.Fresh real estate dataStatistics Canada releases building permits for September and the provincial and territorial economic accounts for 2016 on Wednesday. It will release the new housing price index for September on Thursday.NDP looks to safeguard pensionsIn the wake of the insolvency of Sears Canada, NDP MPs Scott Duvall and Karine Trudel will introduce a Private Members’ Bill on Monday that would protect workers’ pensions when a company is allowed to restructure its financial affairs under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.Business talks climateOttawa will host the Clean Prosperity Summit, where advocates, former MPs and executives from energy, automotive and tech companies will discuss U.S. and Canadian climate policy, energy exports, conservative public opinion on climate policy and the evolving auto industry.Earnings, continuedSome of the biggest names on the TSX report third-quarter earnings this week, including the exchange’s parent, TMX, along with Valeant, Morneau Shepell, Canaccord Genuity, Agrium, Aimia, Sun Life Financial, Encana, Quebecor Inc., Magna, TransCanada and Hydro One.
TORONTO – Newstrike Resources Ltd. has confirmed that it has entered an exclusivity agreement with CanniMed about potentially combining the two businesses.The Tragically Hip-backed company (TSX-V:HIP) says it will continue to negotiate the proposed deal, which would see Newstrike shareholders receive 3.3 CanniMed shares for every 100 they hold in Newstrike.News of the proposed deal surfaced after Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB) made an unsolicited takeover offer for CanniMed late Tuesday, giving the company a Friday deadline to decide.CanniMed (TSX:CMED) responded coldly to the all-share offer, saying it inflated Aurora’s value and urged shareholders not to tender their shares until the board has time to consider the offer.Aurora said the all-share deal could be worth up to $24 a share for CanniMed shareholders and that it already has support from shareholders representing 38 per cent of CanniMed’s outstanding shares.Newstrike’s share price was down about $0.10 or 16.4 per cent to $0.49 in midday trading on the TSX Venture. CanniMed’s share price was down $1.08 or 5.5 per cent to $18.72 on the TSX on a down day for cannabis stocks generally.
A new report says Alberta could balance its books a lot faster by cutting just a little bit of provincial spending.According to The Fraser Institute, if the province cuts about 1.85 per cent of its spending per year, or just over $1-billion of it’s $57-billion budget, it could balance the books by fiscal year 2020-21, three years ahead of its current plan.Report Author Steve Lafleur said getting back to balance more quickly is important to reduce the amount of accumulated debt.“If we use reasonable assumptions to estimate the amount of debt to be accumulated by the time the government pays off the (deficit) in 2023-2024 — we’d be up to about $62-billion in debt,” he said.The report also questioned the province’s math on reaching a balance by 2023-24 as it has said it would, saying if current revenue and spending trends continue, there will still be a $5-billion deficit that year.
HONOLULU, Hawaii – Zhou Qingjiang was toiling in a factory in China’s rust belt when he decided to pack his bags for America. A recruiter guaranteed a job that paid $3,000 a month — more than triple the average wage in China — as long as Zhou forked over thousands of dollars for his help. The offer was too good to pass up.Ten days later, Zhou found himself on the tiny Pacific island of Saipan, a U.S. Commonwealth, working 14-hour days with few breaks on a casino construction site. He bunked with eight men in dilapidated housing and took home less than half the promised wages. This was not the American dream he pictured.“All those agents tricked us,” said Zhou, 46. “When I arrived and saw hundreds of other Chinese workers, I realized we were all here illegally.”U.S. officials have been investigating and announced settlements last week with four Chinese construction firms to pay $14 million in back wages and damages to 2,400 affected workers. The companies, contracted by Hong Kong’s Imperial Pacific International, brought workers on tourist visas, paid them less than required by law and failed to secure proper work authorization by exploiting a visa waiver program that allows Chinese citizens to travel to the Northern Mariana Islands.The Associated Press interviewed six workers, all of whom recounted experiences similar to Zhou’s. One recalled working 19-hour shifts, another said his passport was confiscated, and all said recruiters assured them they would enter the U.S. legally.Job placement fees were as high as $17,000, and one worker remembers ponying up an additional $1,000 to enter the construction site.What’s playing out on Saipan, nearly 4,000 miles (6,440 kilometres) west of Hawaii, highlights challenges for both the United States and China.For the U.S., the case comes as President Donald Trump cracks down on visa fraud and illegal immigration. Global projects, like the Saipan casino hotel, form the cornerstone of President Xi Jinping’s plan to boost China’s clout by splashing $1 trillion in construction and infrastructure around the world. But the initiative, dubbed “One Belt, One Road,” is suffering setbacks — projects are delayed, governments are pulling out, and now, U.S. officials have linked illegal migrant labour.After a Chinese worker in Saipan died on the job last year, the FBI raided the site and discovered illegal workers, along with hundreds of their passports locked in cabinets, and spreadsheets that listed employees as “heigong,” the Chinese word for illegal labourer, according to court documents.Construction halted, leaving workers stranded. Employees protested and demanded reparations — many suffered injuries while working. Eventually, many returned to China or took jobs in other countries, even if they hadn’t recouped all funds due. A few have stayed in Saipan. Hundreds of workers remain confused about what they’re owed, how they’ll be paid and when they’ll get the money.“I’ve been waiting a year to be paid,” said Xu Longcai, 51, a farmer from northeast China. “I borrowed so much money to come here. But I don’t have a single cent — how can I go home? I can’t pay what I owe.”The U.S. Labor Department and Saipan authorities didn’t respond to requests for comment about how it would ensure money would be paid to workers. Imperial Pacific said in a statement last week it is pleased a settlement was reached. Shares of the Hong Kong-listed company are down 7.4 per cent so far this year.Construction is the second most common industry for forced labour, according to the International Labour Organization in Geneva. The group estimates nearly 25 million people were victims of forced labour in 2016, with roughly 60 per cent working in private sectors.“This is a pretty classic trafficking and forced labour scenario,” said Agnieszka Fryszman, partner and chair of the human rights practice at law firm Cohen Milstein in Washington, D.C. “You have people with these debts. . They’re in the middle of the ocean. The isolation of the location is ripe for exploitation.”But even with help from the authorities, “can you ever enforce the judgment, and how would you do that?” Fryszman said. “You’d have to get their assets here.”The U.S., for instance, could require Imperial Pacific and its contractors to buy wage bonds, which ensures money is available if violations are found, said Aaron Halegua, a lawyer and research fellow at New York University, who is following the Saipan case.“In New York state, any nail salon employing even just two individuals is required to purchase a wage bond,” he said. “The need is even more compelling in the case of foreign companies, which often hold all their assets in the home country and simply establish a corporate shell entity in the United States.”Without that, it can be nearly impossible to collect money, which often forces the U.S. to settle workers’ claims for much less than owed. Imperial Pacific could also be mandated to hire a reputable third party to train workers about their labour rights and workplace safety, he said, especially as some of these workers, like farmer Xu, have no prior construction experience.None of the four contractors — state-owned MCC International, Beilida New Materials System Engineering, Gold Mantis Construction and Sino Great Wall International Engineering — responded to requests for comment.A person who answered a phone number for the agent Zhou dealt with said he was no longer dealing with Saipan, and promptly hung up.Zhou said he received some money but claims he’s still due over a month’s pay, and possibly damages. He’s not sure how to calculate what’s due.Despite his Saipan ordeal — his first time out of his hometown province — he decided to go back abroad and just started working as a dishwasher in Singapore to support his family.“I’m a little old to do this kind of work overseas,” he said. “But I don’t have a choice. I need to make a living.”
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Sure. Take that quiz about which hair-metal band is your spirit animal. Share a few snaps of your toddler at the beach and watch the likes pile up. Comment on that pointed political opinion from the classmate you haven’t seen since the Reagan administration.Just remember that your familiar, comforting online neighbourhood — the people you care about most and those you only kinda like — exists entirely on a corporate planet that’s endlessly ravenous to know more about you and yours.On a day when our virtual friends wrung their virtual hands about whether to leave Facebook, a thoroughly 21st-century conundrum was hammered home: When your community is a big business, and when a company’s biggest business is your community, things can get very messy.You saw that all day Tuesday as users watched the saga of Cambridge Analytica unfold and contemplated whether the chance that they had been manipulated again — that their data might have been used to influence an election — was, finally, reason enough to bid Facebook goodbye.Not an easy choice. After all, how would Mom see photos of the kids?“Part of me wants Facebook to go down over the Cambridge Analytica scandal but the other part of me has no other way to know when any of my friends or family have a birthday,” Chicago Tribune humorist Rex Huppke tweeted Tuesday — and cross-posted on Facebook.Facebook, which began as a social network for college students and the academic community, has experienced exodus before, albeit usually more gradually.Young people have edged away from it in favour of other platforms such as Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram (the latter two are owned by Facebook now), and many maintain a presence but use it rarely. Internationally, while Facebook remains widespread, insurgent social networks built around messaging, such as Line in Japan and Thailand, WeChat in China and KakaoTalk in South Korea, have supplanted it.But as the granddaddy of the major social networks, Facebook boasts more than 2.2 billion users — nearly 30 per cent of the world’s population, a community vastly larger than any nation. That’s an irresistible target for advertisers and, it turns out, for people who want to do some sketchy things with data and even influence elections.And for users, anyplace brimming with lots and lots of interesting people is often — just by virtue of that fact — the place to be.But when you really think about it, what, precisely, IS that place?Most of us, as end users, interact with Facebook as the global equivalent of a neighbourhood or a town square — Mayberry meets Bedford Falls from “It’s A Wonderful Life,” but with the miles that separate so many of us compressed to mere inches.Friends stop by to chat and catch up. They show us some photos, catch up with our lives and move on. Sometimes you’ll overhear neighbours talking about something and you’ll wander over to chime in. You know some people better than others, some barely at all. Some are looking for approval. Some want to pick a fight. Some just want to play a game on the green and move on.Trouble is, what in the real world is legit social interaction with few strings attached becomes, in the virtual one, an intricate and heavily mediated transaction.Or, put another way, the community itself is authentic, but the town square is rigged with booby traps and there’s no mayor or police patrolling on our behalf.“When we go to, say, a party, the analog parameters that define the social space in which we’re celebrating the community are visible. You know who’s there and what the outcomes of your interactions are,” says John Drew, who teaches digital media at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.Facebook, he says, “created a system that’s inherently social — your friends are there posting — but while you’re doing that posting and looking at other people’s posts, they have been building an advertising empire,” he says. “The people who are throwing the party — that’s Facebook. And they’re controlling the rules.”On Tuesday, angst was popping up all over as people discussed the virtues and drawbacks of leaving Facebooktown forever.One common response to people who said they might go: Don’t — how will I see your kids growing up? Other would-be exiters wondered how they’d keep track of THEIR kids if they quit. Still others expressed the perennial wish of Facebook users when confronted with contentious debate: Can’t we all just post nice things and stay away from politics?And finally, the payoff question: Will Facebook even LET me quit? (Yes, but they don’t make it particularly easy.)The doubt is entirely understandable.This is — in America, at least — an era where the pillars of community have crumbled. Polls show Americans trust institutions less and less. Membership in unions and civic organizations — longtime community glue — is also sharply down, and job transfers and increased mobility can cleave in-person friendships like never before.Is it any wonder, then, that so many people covet the bonds of community — even virtual community — and the reinforcement that accompanies them? Is it a surprise that people struggle about whether to give up this fixture of their lives that, yes, features some unpleasantly aggressive tentacles but also serves up the miniature dopamine rushes of approval from those we care about? Isn’t that, in essence, one of community’s key functions?“One of the reasons Facebook is so popular is that it feels to people like it’s free. They have no sense that they’re giving anything up, or what they’re giving up,” says George Loewenstein, a behavioural economist and the Herbert A. Simon professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.“Generally, people detest the feeling of being a sucker. They detest the idea that someone else has taken advantage of them. But so far, it’s too intangible to people,” he says. “If we had a beer and someone took it away from us, we’d be very upset. But if it’s information, people get a whole lot less upset.”We’re only a quarter century into the internet, really. We may not yet be wired for the conditional communities that something like Facebook offers — a community like no other in history.The notion of being handed a multimedia pass to all your friends, wherever they might be, for free, holds immense appeal — even if “free” turns out to mean “we’re watching you and making money and maybe pulling some of your psychological chains to our own ends.”The question that faces all of us who contemplate our Facebook departures comes down to this in the end: Is rejecting this particular corporation important enough to you to reject the community that it serves up? How much are your “friends” worth?Also: Def Leppard is your spirit animal. Carry on.___Ted Anthony writes about American culture for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @anthonyted.
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — ThriveNorth is going to be launching its service in Northeast B.C. on Thursday evening with an event and networking session at Whole Wheat and Honey on Thursday evening.ThriveNorth is an organization that is managed by Futurpreneur Canada, and helps budding young entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses with mentorship, funding, and resources. Brennan Ecklund and Joanne Norris with ThriveNorth spoke to the Fort St. John and District Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday to present their organization and the opportunities it can offer to young entrepreneurs in the Fort St. John area.The organization offers start-up companies with loans of up to $15,000, and access to up to an additional $30,000 from the Business Development Bank of Canada. Norris explained that the organizations largely helps “Main St.-type” businesses, but that it also provides help to members of the trades that may want to become self-employed. ThriveNorth is hosting a launch event at Whole Wheat and Honey tonight from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Whole Wheat and Honey Cafe. The event is free, though attendees will be asked to register on EventBrite: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/thrivenorth-launch-event-fort-st-john-02222018-tickets-42682496496