Canada essentially bans ‘Unplanned’ due to ‘content’ NOT demand

Distribution companies are effectively banning the film Unplanned from screening in Canada, according to the producers of the Abby Johnson biopic. Lisa Wheeler said, “We have been effectively blocked from distributing the film in Canada.” Chuck Konzelman, the film’s writer, director, and producer, told Life Site News via email that at least one of the […]
The post Canada essentially bans ‘Unplanned’ due to ‘content’ NOT demand appeared first on %BLOGLINK%%

Asia Bibi reunites with family in Canada, free from years in Pakistani prison

Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi was acquitted on charges of blasphemy that kept her on death row for eight years, but she was effectively trapped in Pakistan—until now. Fox News and other outlets are reporting that Bibi has successfully fled to Canada, reuniting with her daughters. “Despite being a ‘free woman’ after the death sentence was […]
The post Asia Bibi reunites with family in Canada, free from years in Pakistani prison appeared first on %BLOGLINK%%

Trump lifts tariffs on Mexico, Canada, delays auto tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bogged down in a sprawling trade dispute with U.S. rival China, President Donald Trump took steps Friday to ease tensions with America's allies — lifting import taxes on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum and delaying auto tariffs that would have hurt Japan and Europe.

By removing the metals tariffs on Canada and Mexico, Trump cleared a key roadblock to a North American trade pact his team negotiated last year.Read more on

The Power and Sensitivity of Pianist Dmitri Levkovich

NEW YORK—Between cups of coffee and a stroll in the park, Dmitri Levkovich practiced Chopin on his piano. Just playing a few phrases, he induced a quiver of delight that instantly filled his cozy apartment, nestled in Upper Manhattan. You could imagine how this emerging pianist could easily transport audiences in fully packed concert halls.
When he performed recently for Europe’s premier cultural TV channel, ARTE, he was introduced as “a thundering virtuoso” by the beloved tenor Rolando Villazón, no less. “Your whole soul sings when you play the piano. We are very grateful,” Villazón, the host of the program “Stars of Tomorrow,” told Levkovich.

To engender that kind of impact with such ease, however, requires unrelenting dedication. “There is no art without sacrifice,” Levkovich said, standing by his electronic baby grand piano.
“As a pianist, you have to put so many hours into preparing for a program. … I feel responsible for my audience, so when I perform I am in touch with my feelings as much as possible. I strive to be possessed by the music—in the sense that the music takes over my body and I am one with the whole experience. That’s how I invite my audience to share the experience,” Levkovich said.
Taking some respite after performing for ARTE TV in Germany, performing at the Ravinia Festival in Illinois, and winning the first prize in the NTD International Piano Competition in New York (his 19th competition win), Levkovich spoke candidly about his life, music, and the challenges he faces as a performing artist.

Given the abundance of talented pianists today compared to the number of classical music concertgoers, the competition is extraordinarily high. Levkovich can play equally well on the brighter New York Steinway or the warmer, more sensitive Hamburg Steinway. That has given him a slight advantage in winning piano competitions. Although he finds any competition to be very stressful, he almost feels obligated to participate because it gives him opportunities to perform and to become more known.
He has performed in Carnegie Hall, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and the Mariinsky Concert Hall, among other great halls. Yet no matter where he has performed so far, how sharp he looks in a tuxedo at the piano, or how much his biography impresses—for the time being, he can only afford an electronic piano for practicing between concerts.
Dmitri Levkovich performs with the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall, in Cleveland, Ohio, in August 2009. (Roger Mastroianni)
“Most young pianists can’t afford their own pianos,” he said. “It’s a difficult profession and it’s quite incredible—it’s quite an achievement to even be able to survive solely on performing, which I still manage to do.”
Born for Music
Listening to Levkovich play in person, even for just a few phrases of Chopin, or listening to his “Rachmaninoff 24 Preludes” CD, you get a sense that he was born to play the piano. In fact, he was exposed to Brahms in the womb; his mother is a pianist, as is his father, who is also a renowned composer. His grandmother was a coloratura soprano.
Immersed in a musical family, he started playing the piano when he was 3 years old, and went through a pivotal shift by the time he was 8.
“I threw enough tantrums until my mother just gave up and told me I don’t have to practice anymore. Suddenly, for three or four hours I existed in a different dimension where I was a free human being. Those hours of my life were just wonderful! Then I realized I missed the piano, and from my own desire I started playing the instrument. After that, I never felt I needed to be told to practice. It was my own choice,” he said.
His family migrated from Ukraine to Israel around the time the Soviet Union collapsed, then later settled in Canada. Levkovich later moved to the United States to study composition at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music with the critically acclaimed pianist Sergei Babayan for 11 years. Babayan instilled a strong sense of forbearance and reinforced Levkovich’s deep love for music.
Levkovich’s piano playing matches his demeanor—an amiable mix of humility and ambition. He plays every musical phrase, clearly with just the right degree of embellishment, rendered with a wonderfully calibrated mix of intense passion and lightness.
He pushes himself like an Olympic athlete, wanting to play pieces flawlessly even if he were woken up in the middle of the night and asked to perform a piece of music while half-asleep. “What you have to expect from yourself should be almost unrealistic, to get fine results,” he said.
When he prepares for a concert, he will practice the difficult parts of the repertoire twice as fast. That way, while performing, he does not feel like he’s playing at the limit of his dexterity and has more freedom to vary the tempo as he gives his interpretation.
Dmitri Levkovich at his home in Hudson Heights, New York, on Oct. 10, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
“There are so many ways to shape a phrase. You can practice it 10 different ways and come up with a multitude of options. Then on stage, it’s a matter of picking the right option in the context of what is happening before and what is happening after each moment—also depending on the sophistication of your taste,” Levkovich said.
The conditions for each piece and each concert are always unique. “You are creating this piece from the first note to the last, and you don’t know where it’s going to take you. … Chopin used to call it ‘searching fingers,'” Levkovich said.
Dmitri Levkovich. (Lisa-Marie Mazzucco)
He has received consistent compliments for sounding unique and honing his interpretations quite differently for each composer in his repertoire: Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Mozart, Liszt, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Tchaikovsky, among others.
What you have to expect from yourself should be almost unrealistic, to get fine results.— Dmitri Levkovich

Levkovich periodically asks himself how he wants to develop his repertoire and how much time he wants to dedicate to each composer. “I always listen to my intuition,” he said. “When I love a certain piece of music, I have to at least learn the notes and try it at first. Then I know it will take years of me playing many more pieces of that same composer for me to get to where I want to be.”
While some pianists may hide their lack of talent, ironically, by playing obscure or complicated pieces, Levkovich finds Mozart most challenging. On the surface, it may be easier to show off, so to speak, with a complicated dissonant piece for example, than it would be to play a clear classical piece.
“One of the most difficult things to accomplish on the piano is to play a simple melody organically—so that it is fulfilling enough,” he said. “That’s why Mozart is so difficult to play, because he’ll often have two lines and that is all. You’ll have enough time to [make] every note [meaningful].
“It took me a while to start feeling comfortable playing Mozart’s sonatas. His concertos were easier. You feel like you’re on a cloud of orchestral sound and very often you have just one line happening with the right hand.”
The Russian pianist, composer, and conductor Anton Rubinstein once said, “The soul of the piano is in the pedal,” but with Mozart, there isn’t much opportunity to use the pedal—to open up all the richness of harmonics and overtones in the piano. “You have to find a way to play soulfully without the pedal,” Levkovich said. “It’s like mastering a different language, in which you have to find a different way to really speak from your heart.”
Pianist Dmitri Levkovich at Fort Tryon Park in New York on Oct. 10, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
As a performer, Levkovich’s ultimate goal is to be fully present, without any worries or notions while playing something like a Mozart sonata, so that it doesn’t become predictable even if it has been played a million times before.
“I think there have been times when I knew I really got it. I cannot fool myself; I know when it’s happening and when it’s not,” he said.
“What inspires me is my love for music, which has been with me since I was a child. … There are obstacles, but what’s important in this profession is having the will and the perseverance—to dedicate as much time as needed—so that eventually the love for the music that you discovered as a kid eventually is heard in every note you play. No matter how long it takes,” Levkovich said.
“This Is New York” is a feature series that delves into the lives of inspiring individuals in New York City. See all our TINYs at, or follow@milenefernandezon Twitter.
Related CoverageFinalists at NTD Piano Competition Bring World-Class Skill to Online AudiencesDavid Fray, a Most Inspired PianistPianist Hélène Grimaud on Her Tribute to WaterArsentiy Kharitonov, a Maverick Pianist

Alberta on track to have worst air quality in Canada, provincial environment minister says

Alberta is on track to have the worst air quality in Canada if immediate action isn’t taken to address pollution from coal-fired power plants, oil and gas facilities and vehicles, says the province’s environment minister.

Shannon Phillips said Wednesday she has directed her ministry to come up with a plan by month’s end to address the causes of air pollution after a new national air quality testing program found serious issues in central Alberta and slightly less serious concerns with four of five other regions.

Phillips said she wants to see better results in the annual testing next year.

“What I expect is that we will continue to see improvement on this until Alberta is no longer on track to have the worst air quality in Canada,” she told reporters at the legislature.

The testing, under the direction of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, found the Red Deer region exceeded Canadian ambient air quality standards for fine particulate matter and ozone.

All other regions of the province — the lower Athabasca, upper Athabasca, North Saskatchewan and South Saskatchewan areas — except the Peace Country were found to be approaching the limits for particulate matter, which includes nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide.

The air quality management system testing also found the North Saskatchewan region, which includes Edmonton, is approaching the limits for ozone.

“We are concerned by these Canadian ambient air quality results,” Phillips said following a technical briefing for the media. “The time to act is long overdue.”

She said failing to act will cost every Albertan more, regardless of where they live.

“These costs show up in our emergency rooms and in our workplaces in the form of lost productivity,” she said. “The previous government resisted meaningful action on air pollution and climate change and today’s results speak to that inaction.”

Phillips said the testing for levels of fine particulate matter was conducted because it has a large impact on human health, but stressed there are no immediate health risks to people in central Alberta.

She said her government will begin implementing action plans immediately that will include reviewing technology that could be used to reduce harmful emissions from industrial emitters, as well as using the licence renewal process to ensure industrial emitters are meeting new, stricter national standards.

The 10-year operating licences of many coal-fired power plants are currently up for renewal, ministry officials said.

“Looking ahead we’re exploring a number of further measures to reduce air pollution, including emissions standards for vehicles,” the minister said. “That work will be incorporated into the ongoing efforts of our climate change advisory panel, which will provide advice to our government this fall.”

The Pembina Institute said Wednesday that the best action the province could take to address the problem would be to expedite the retirement of coal-fired power plants in Alberta.

“Measures that tackle carbon pollution would also contribute to cleaner air, so long as they address the biggest contributors to deteriorating air quality in Alberta,” said Chris Severson-Baker, Pembina’s Alberta director.

Measures that tackle carbon pollution would also contribute to cleaner air, so long as they address the biggest contributors to deteriorating air quality in Alberta

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment said it was dismayed, but not surprised, by the findings.

“This calls into question the pervasive belief that the clear blue skies of Alberta foster clean air, safe from the pollutants better known from smoggier climes,” said Dr. Joe Vipond.

“We know that (fine particulate matter) has negative effects on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems of people and that exposure increases premature deaths, hospital admissions, and chronic diseases.”

Wildrose critic Leela Aheer was skeptical of both the findings and the timing of the report.

“They’re saying Red Deer has Alberta’s dirtiest air,” Aheer noted. “Based on what? There’s no corroborative evidence provided.”

The MLA for Chestermere-Rocky View said Phillips’ claim that Alberta will have the worst air quality in the country within five years sounded “far-fetched.”

“There’s a very little amount of information to make such an unbelievably strong opinion,” Aheer said. “I think personally they are ramping up for the upcoming (climate change) summit in Paris.”

‘When Calls the Heart’: Wholesome Family Entertainment

“When Calls the Heart” is a rare gem in today’s television fare. The family-friendly weekly series is a wholesome drama that all ages can watch together and enjoy on different levels. It airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBC.
Shot in Langley, B.C., the American-Canadian series is based on the first book in the “Canadian West” series of novels by Alberta author Janette Oke.
Set in the fictional town of Coal Valley in 1910, the show recounts the saga of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow) who moves from under the protective wing of her family in the big city to her first teaching job in the small mining town.
Here, there is drama and an interesting mix of likeable characters and nasty folks. The bank owns everything and tries to run the town, while the “mining widows” work to keep their families together and food on the table after a number of husbands and sons are killed in an explosion at the mine. Overall though, the townsfolk understand the value of working together and helping each other when problems pop up.
Executive producer Michael Landon Jr. said that one of his goals was to make an uplifting family show as an alternative to the usual violence and risqué-laden fare seen in prime time. With “When Calls the Heart” he has succeeded.
Throughout the series there are some bad apples who do land in town, but they eventually gain some kind of insight and turn themselves around to become better people. In one episode, the local pastor openly confesses to the town his failing caused by jealousy. Such overt character improvement is not often seen in TV shows these days.
Constable Jack Thornton, a scarlet-jacketed Mountie played by Aussie Daniel Lissing—a famous singer/songwriter down under—provides the love interest. It’s his job to maintain order in the town and look after the young teacher. He does the latter reluctantly, believing that he was sent to the backwater town because Thatcher’s tycoon father wanted her to be safe. Thornton actually wanted to serve in a larger city that would be more challenging.
The townsfolk understand the value of working together and helping each other when problems pop up.Initially the pair seems to irritate each other but over time, friendship and trust develop and by the end of the second season a young romance is germinating.
Thornton is a second-generation Mountie whose father also served on the force. He runs the jail, but the one cell is usually occupied by Rip (as in Rip Van Winkle), a stray dog that Thornton has adopted and who provides some company for the solo constable.
The show and its characters of all ages provide an interesting take on life in the muddy streets of frontier Canada.
The series was first aired on the U.S. Hallmark Channel in January 2014 and picked up on Super Channel in Canada that April. CBC began rebroadcasting the first season nationwide this summer. The earlier shows are available online for those who want to catch up.

Baby Seals: The Cutest Animals in the Midst of Controversy (+ Photos)

Forget about kittens and puppies—baby seals are the epitome of cuteness. Just look at how furry and helpless they look, and those big black eyes …
Moreover, baby seals have also become a symbol of a fight against animal cruelty as they are hunted for their coats.
Canada, the largest seal hunter in the world, allows more than 300,000 seals to be hunted each year (out of a population of estimated 7.4 million).
But the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, that oversees seal hunting, calls it a myth that the “Canadian government allows sealers to harvest seal pups.”
“The harvesting of harp seal pups (whitecoats) and hooded seal pups (bluebacks) is illegal in Canada and has been since 1987,” its website states. “The seals that are harvested are self-reliant, independent animals.”
Yet that is a wording on the very edge of the facts. It is true that hunting white-furred baby seals is forbidden. But the website fails to mention that baby harp seals only remain white until about the age of two weeks. Any baby seal older that that can be legally hunted.
Calling such baby seal “self-reliant” and “independent” is also a controversial statement, though technically correct since the mother abandons a baby seal after just 12 days of feeding.
Yet baby seals older than 12 days are undeniably still puppies and so, yes, Canadian government allows sealers to kill seal pups.
To be sure, after decades of debates and counter measures, it seems baby seals are not hunted in a way any more cruel then other animals, meaning most are killed swiftly.
Still, killing a baby animal however “humanely” is for many simply inconceivable. Some wouldn’t eat lamb meat for the same reason. Though fewer seem concerned about eating chicken—technically still babies when slaughtered at the age of 5 to 14 weeks.

Going Abroad: A Guideline to Entrepreneur Visas [ INFOGRAPHIC ]

Sometimes, the United States simply isn’t the best option for some startups. And, that’s perfectly fine – after all, there are several great startup economies outside the United States that are definitely well on their way to competing with the likes of even America’s Silicon Valley. On Tech.Co, we’ve looked at everything from how Brazil’s booming economy is contributing to the rapid growth of its tech sector to how the small Indonesian island of Bali is incubating its own community of entrepreneurs; all across the globe, there are startup ecosystems that have their own set of traits that can serve as major benefits for certain startups. But once you do determine that starting up in another country is the right option, how will you go about having to deal with the necessary entrepreneur visas to, you know, actually make that move a reality?
An infographic created by immigration blog Migreat shows which countries around the world offer entrepreneur visas, as well as lists the requirements a person or a company has to meet in order to attain such visas. The infographic looks at the general requirements for entrepreneur visas in countries like Canada, Chile, and the United Kingdom – a total of eleven countries.
Looking at the infographic, it seems that startups that have already received a decent amount of funding fare better at being granted entrepreneur visas; many countries, for instance, require that companies already received funding between $40,000 and $100,000. On the other hand, countries like France and Chile don’t require that startups have raised previous funding and, rather, provides startups with monetary grants alongside their entrepreneur visas. Not surprising for a country like Chile, which just earlier this month announced that its national startup accelerator, Start-Up Chile, would be making follow-up investments to its alumni startups; indeed, looking at the guideline, it seems that startups can only qualify for the Chilean entrepreneur visa if they get accepted to Start-Up Chile.
There are a few other notable things to point out in the infographic. Remarkably, unlike all the other entrepreneur visas granted to startups, Canada’s offers permanent residency – something that isn’t at all provided by any other country’s. And, more importantly, the country’s flexible immigration system makes it much easier for startups to hire immigrants – something that is desperately lacking in the United States. Speaking of America: it’s not listed on the infographic. That’s because our country doesn’t yet offer any kind of entrepreneur visa; however, it should be noted that President Obama announced last November a plan for a startup visa (but, really, all we can do is hope it’ll actually happen, right?).
Check out the full infographic from Migreat below: