Friday, January 31, 2014

Who needs her, besides, she's too busy with the Ethics Commissioner these days!

Saint Boniface Member of Parliament Constable Shelly Glover in her former life after a bust!

Good Day Readers:

Was looking for information on the parliamentary website and stumbled upon:

It seems the 2012-2013 expenses of all Members are now posted online something of which CyberSmokeBlog was not aware. Here they are for Shelly Glover CSB's Member of Parliament. Haven't had a chance yet to closely study the data but will and offer comment.

How ironic. Twice CyberSmokeBlog requested this information (once by e-mail the second in person) but it was never forthcoming further proof of who needs her?

Clare L. Pieuk

Glover, Honourable Shelly
Member Status Constituency name Constituency size Number of electors

Glover, Hon. Shelly
ActiveSaint Boniface66 km²65,604

CategoryMember's Budgets ($)Resources Provided by the House ($)Travel PointsTotal ($)
1-Employees' salaries and service contracts 197,713.76 - 197,713.76
Designated traveller-7,037.198.501.00- 7,037.19
Dependants----- -
Employees425.363,871.535.00-- 4,296.89
Member's accommodation and per diem expenses10,843.24-10,843.24
Member's secondary residence expenses13,429.36-13,429.36
3-Hospitality and events 1,787.63 - 1,787.63
4-Advertising 20,853.70 - 20,853.70
Ten percenters-10,865.2610,865.26
Other printing-related expenses5,197.65-5,197.65
Constituency office leases, insurance and utilities29,356.90-29,356.90
Furniture, furnishing and equipment purchases-454.72454.72
Equipment rentals1,506.36-1,506.36
Informatics and telecommunication equipment purchases1,023.201,323.192,346.39
Telecommunication services5,096.476,254.1011,350.57
Repairs and maintenance1,433.71-1,433.71
Postage and courier services2,786.40195.002,981.40
Materials and supplies4,783.592,029.866,813.45

New deductions for 2013 income tax returns: Don't forget to list the names of Members of Parliament and Senators as your "dependents!"

Good Day Readers:

A special thank you to those in the Maritimes who sent CyberSmokeBlog the following e-mail. While CSB does not recognize any of the individuals, presumably backbenchers from all parties, they appear to be legitimate photographs. This seems to be one of those internet messages currently making the rounds.

But how can you forget Conservative Member of Parliament (Calgary West) Rob Anders the poster child for "Sleepy Hollows."

Clare L. Pieuk

Earn while you sleep ..... MP's at work: Not bad for $10,000/month!
Others make only $8,000/month!
A little bit of reading on the side at $11,000/month!
Writing your mail at the expense of the taxpayer!
Dammit, this job is so hard I must ask for a raise!
I'm not sleeping, I'm thinking about retirement and my cost of living indexed pension!
So am I ..... I only have to snooze here for six years to get the pension!
Is it time for lunch yet in our taxpayer subsidized restaurant?
We understand why this job is so aught after! It is ideal to catch up on missed sleep after exhausting taxpayer funded travel while waiting serenely for prosperous retirement or for a secure reward in case of a lost election.

The above individuals are actually among the most diligent MPs because they actually showed up in parliament.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why this is never a good idea!

Good Day Readers:

Problem is you never know who's in that car you fingered could be a borderline psycho with a baseball bat.

 Do you really want them to hit a home run so you can be the next name on their prized Louisville Slugger ..... well do you?

Clare L. Pieuk
This is why you shouldn't give your law professor the finger

By Staci Zaretsky
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I wonder if the driver who honked and made the rude gesture when the light changed at the intersection was as surprised as I was to discover that we were both headed to the law school for a class that he attends and I teach.

Professor RonNell Andersen Jones of BYU Law School, discussing a recent traffic incident with a law student on Facebook.

How much longer before crazy Rob Ford's in jail?

Rob Ford behind jailhouse beating, lawsuit claims

Toronto's mayor accused in lawsuit of conspiring to have former friend beaten

Kevin Donovan/Investigations
Rachel Mendleson/News Repoerer
Betsy Powell/City Hall Bureau

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A lawsuit alleges that this video showing Mayor Fob Ford in a drunken rant is about Scott MacIntyre, the former common-law spouse of the mayor's sister Kathy.

To keep secret his habit of doing drugs and hanging out with gang members, Mayor Rob Ford conspired to silence a former family friend with threats and a brutal jailhouse beating, according to unproven allegations contained in a $3.6-million lawsuit the former friend has filed in court.

In yet another twist in the Ford saga, Scott MacIntyre, once the common-law spouse of Ford’s sister Kathy, alleges that Ford planned the attack with his former assistant coach and used one of his former football players to carry it out.

It’s an attack MacIntyre claims was foretold in the “murder rant video,” a dramatic video the Star obtained last year that shows an impaired, enraged Ford vowing to kill someone.


MacIntyre is suing Ford, onetime Don Bosco football player Aedan Petros, and former assistant coach Payman Aboodowleh. He is also suing the provincial corrections ministry for failing to keep him safe while in jail awaiting sentencing.

Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, denied that the mayor conspired to have MacIntyre attacked in prison.

“It's very irresponsible and spurious to say he did,” Morris said. Ford has not commented on the allegations.
The allegations contained in this lawsuit have not been tested in court. Morris, a criminal lawyer, said Ford will be retaining a civil lawyer in connection with these allegations. The mayor’s spokesperson, Amin Massoudi, said Wednesday night that Toronto lawyer Gavin Tighe would be representing Ford.

“I’m definitely being consulted … and I expect that we will be defending the matter, delivering our statement of defence in the normal course … in the coming weeks,” Tighe said Wednesday night. “Our position will be pretty clear in our statement of defence, but my understanding is there’s no merit to this in fact or in law.”

Tighe successfully defended the mayor in a defamation lawsuit filed by restaurant owner George Foulidis.
Speaking to reporters outside his city hall office after his property tax proposal was defeated Wednesday, Ford said, “It’s probably the worst day since I’ve been mayor down here at city hall.”

He refused to answer questions about the allegations in the lawsuit.

MacIntyre is seeking $1.2 million in damages from each of the three defendants, totalling $3.6 million.
By his own admission, MacIntyre has struggled with his own drug problems and alleges he was well aware the mayor had a longstanding “association with criminals to facilitate his drug abuse” long before it was known through media reports and police documents last year.

The events that laid the groundwork for this lawsuit bubbled over early on a January morning in 2012.

MacIntyre showed up at Ford’s Etobicoke house. He was high and angry, screaming “You owe me money, your sister owes me money,” according to the sentencing documents in the criminal case. He and Ford almost came to blows. When police arrived, MacIntyre was heard threatening to kill Ford.

Arrested and charged, MacIntyre quickly pleaded guilty and was in the Metro West Detention Centre awaiting sentencing.

MacIntyre states in his lawsuit that on the morning of his visit to Ford’s home he told the mayor to be careful how he treated him, reminding him he “knew things about Ford and his family which had not been made public.” Jail guards, once MacIntyre was locked up, discovered a letter he wrote to Kathy that repeated that warning.

According to MacIntyre, he was repeatedly warned in jail to keep his “mouth shut” and “do the right thing,” or suffer the consequences. His lawsuit states he took this to mean he should not reveal any secret information about the mayor.

In scenes worthy of the television series The Wire (about drugs and gangs in Baltimore), MacIntyre describes continual threats by other prisoners on the range at Metro West, particularly two men, Petros (a former Don Bosco player) and another former player, Rexford Williams. Both were in jail pending trial on charges they carried out a violent home invasion, severely beating a victim and slashing him with a knife.
MacIntyre alleges the plan to beat him up in jail was hatched in March 2012 at the Rexdale home of Aboodowleh, Ford’s former assistant coach and a man with his own criminal record, including a conviction for assaulting a police officer.

The Star obtained and published a video last year showing Ford in an impaired rant, threatening to kill someone.

“I’ll rip his f---ing throat out. I’ll poke his eyes out. . . . I’ll make sure that motherf---er’s dead,” Ford says in the video, then hitches up his pants as if bracing for action, according to a Star transcript of the video.

The video was taken, MacIntyre says in the statement of claim, in Aboodowleh’s home. The Star has tried to speak to Aboodowleh and his mother several times about this, but they have declined comment as recently as Wednesday.

MacIntyre states that Ford and Aboodowleh “discussed plans to have (MacIntyre) beaten or killed.”

In jail, MacIntyre was in and out of segregation, complaining to guards that he was being threatened.

On March 22, 2012, just outside the showers on Range 1B, MacIntyre was attacked and beaten by three men. He alleges it was Petros and two others.

Despite cameras in the area, he said nobody came to his aid. In injuries later described in his sentencing, his left tibia and fibula were severely fractured, and he sustained facial lacerations and severe dental damage. Four of his teeth were sheared off at the gum line.

In the section of his lawsuit that deals with the provincial corrections officials, MacIntyre states that he was not transferred to hospital for 36 hours, and his injuries today are more debilitating as a result.

MacIntyre was released from jail in September 2012.

A source told the Star that MacIntyre, in discussion with jail staff, did not want to co-operate with a police investigation that could lead to charges and a prosecution — but it is not clear why. The source said that if a victim is unwilling to pursue a prosecution and assist police, “that’s pretty much it.”

When asked about McIntyre’s allegation that the mayor was caught on video threatening to kill him, Ford’s lawyer Morris said: “He denies that he was going to kill anybody.”

Morris, who was present in council chambers throughout the afternoon, said he has not yet had an opportunity to discuss with Ford the allegations in detail.

“He hasn’t said much because he’s been busy all day,” Morris said.

Mayor Rob Ford's lawyer answers questions regarding a recent legal suit against the mayor.

Ford has not yet filed a statement of defence, he said.

Councillor Doug Ford has so far declined to comment on the fresh allegations his brother faces. He blew past the crush of reporters gathered outside the mayor’s office on Wednesday before returning to budget deliberations.

The Glover-Aglukkaq Predictor Model!

Good Day Readers:

CyberSmokeBlog is not one to say, "Told you so!" but in this case it will - gloat ... gloat ... gloat. As predicted, it certainly didn't take a Liberal Member of Parliament long to file a complaint with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's Office.

When the illegal fundraising Leona Aglukkaq story broke yesterday, CSB postulated there's a political business model that allows voters to predict how Conservative cabinet ministers will react when caught red- handed with their pants/pantyhose down hand in the cookie jar. In the case of Ms Aglukkaq here's what you should be watching for next:

1. Claim others prepared the invitations without your knowledge, therefore, you had no idea whatsoever who'd be at the event or why

2. You just happened to drop by briefly when, as fate would have it, the media arrived

3. If you're Leona Aglukkaq have an entry and exit strategy, that is to say, use a back door to quickly arrive and depart

4. Tell the media it's a private gathering, therefore, get lost

5. Immediately write to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner asking for clarification of the rules (the plead ignorance defence), even though they're clearly spelled out, offer your full support in any subsequent investigation and apologize all over yourself promising it will never ever happen again

6. Return all donations post haste as though nothing happened

7. When all else fails blame it on the Riding Association and deny, deny, deny .....

Ever noticed the alacrity with which the Harper government plays fast and loose with the Elections Canada and the Ethics Commissioner's rules?

Clare L. Pieuk
Leona Aglukkaq denies conflict of interest allegations

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Leona Aglukkaq says a $100 a plate fundraiser in Ottawa on Tuesday 'was an event for a local riding. It was never advertised as anything more and was fully consistent with the guidelines that are in place.'

The federal minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency is hitting back at critics accusing her of conflict of interest.

The Nunavut Conservative Party Riding Association threw a $100 a plate fundraiser in Ottawa Tuesday night.

It took place at the Westin Hotel, the official hotel partner of the annual Northern Lights conference and trade show, which got underway the next day.

Leona Aglukkaq was the guest of honour.

A media report by CTV said some of the people who attended work for organizations that get funding from CanNor, including special guest Nellie Cournoyea, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, which got more than $200,000 in funding from CanNor last year.

The event has raised questions about whether the minister is in breach of the federal Conflict of Interest Act.
In Question Period yesterday, opposition liberals challenged Aglukkaq about the fundraiser, and she responded.

“I'd like to thank the honourable member for that question so I can correct that inaccurate news story, and correct that inaccurate question,” she said in the House of Commons. “There was an event for a local riding. It was never advertised as anything more, and was fully consistent with the guidelines that are in place.”

The Northern Lights trade show highlights businesses and trade opportunities in Canada's North and Eastern Arctic. It's organized by the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce and the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce in Nunavut.

And then ...
Liberal MP asks ethics watchdog to investigate Aglukkaq over fundraiser

CTV Staff
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Conservative MP Leona Aglukkaq attended a fundraiser in her honour at an upscale hotel in Ottawa, Ontario Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

A Liberal MP is asking the federal ethics watchdog to investigate a fundraiser held in cabinet minister Leona Aglukkaq’s honour, where guests included people who receive funding from her department.

Scott Andrews, the Liberal Critic for Open Government and Ethics, has written a letter to Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson asking her to investigate Aglukkaq’s actions in relation to Tuesday’s fundraiser.

Aglukkaq, who is the Environment Minister and the Minister of Economic Development for the North, attended the event at an upscale Ottawa hotel, where guests donated $100 to also attend and got a $50 tax break.

One of the special guests was Nellie Cournoyea, the former Premier of the Northwest Territories and now the Chair of Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, which received more than $200,000 in funding from Aglukkaq’s department last year.

In his letter to Dawson, Andrews also says: “Public records show that on August 28, 2013 the Inuvialuit Community Economic Development Organization, a sub-entity of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, received $441,500 directly from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.”

Under federal government conflict of interest rules, cabinet ministers should not “solicit or accept funds from a person or organization who has lobbied or is likely to lobby the public office holders or their office, department or committee.”

The rules also say ministers must avoid “situations where issues of preferential treatment or other conflicts of interest could arise.”

Late Tuesday, Aglukkaq’s office insisted the minister followed conflict of interest rules, saying anyone who benefitted from her department did not pay for a ticket and were simply invited guests.

"Care has been taken not to solicit or accept funds from lobbyists or departmental stakeholders,” Jennifer Kennedy, Aglukkaq’s director of communications, said in an email to CTV News.

"The Nunavut Electoral District Association operates a rigorous screening procedure, both before and after events, to ensure that only appropriate donations are accepted."

Dawson recently said she would begin investigating Heritage Minister Shelly Glover, over a fundraiser held in her name where members of Winnipeg’s art and culture community were asked to donate money.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Strike three you're out! ..... Get out of here you freeloading bums you're losers!"

Trudeau boots senators from Liberal caucus

By Joan Bryden
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Liberal senator George Baker reacts to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's proposal to boot senators from the caucus in Ottawa on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. The longest serving senator was surprised, but supports the idea. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

OTTAWA - Justin Trudeau is sweeping Liberal senators out of his party's caucus in a bid to show he's serious about cleaning up the Senate, a move sure to trigger turmoil among some members of the scandal-plagued upper house.

The surprise move, announced Wednesday after Trudeau personally informed the 32 Liberal senators, is aimed at reducing partisanship in the Senate and restoring its intended role as an independent chamber of sober second thought.

Extreme patronage and partisanship are at the root of the Senate expenses scandal, which has engulfed the upper chamber for more than a year, Trudeau told a news conference on Parliament Hill.

"The Senate is broken and needs to be fixed," he said.

Making Liberal senators independent of the party's parliamentary caucus is a first, concrete step towards reducing partisanship, Trudeau argued as he challenged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to similarly set free the 57 Conservative senators.

"If the Senate serves a purpose at all, it is to act as a check on the extraordinary power of the prime minister and his office, especially in a majority government," Trudeau said.

"The party structure in the Senate interferes with this responsibility. Taken together with patronage (appointments), partisanship within the Senate is a powerful, negative force. It reinforces the prime minister's power instead of checking it.

"At best, this renders the Senate redundant. At worst — and under Mr. Harper we have seen it at its worst — it amplifies the prime minister's power."

If elected prime minister, Trudeau said he'd go further. He'd appoint only independent senators after employing an open, transparent process, with public input, for nominating worthy candidates — much the way recipients of the Order of Canada are chosen.

The Harper government has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to advise whether it can unilaterally impose term limits and set up a process for "consultative elections" of Senate nominees. Most provinces maintain such reforms require a constitutional amendment approved by at least seven provinces with 50 per cent of the country's population.

It has also asked the top court to advise whether outright abolition of the Senate would require the approval of seven provinces or unanimity.

Trudeau said he believes his proposals are "the most meaningful action possible without changing the Constitution." But he added: "If the Supreme Court says more can be done, we will be open to doing more."
Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative Minister in charge of Democratic Reform, dismissed Trudeau's move as a stunt designed to mitigate the impact of a forthcoming Auditor General's report on Senate expenses.

"The removal of senators from a weekly caucus meeting does not change the fundamental problem with the Senate, which is that it is unelected and unaccountable," Poilievre said.

Fixing that, he continued, will require changes that ensure the Senate "reflects the democratic will of the people."

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said Trudeau voted against an NDP motion in October proposing that senators be ousted from the Conservative and Liberal caucuses.

"I find it rather ironic that today he's discovering the merits of it," Mulcair said. "Obviously it's a step in the right direction, but why stop there? Why stop at 32? We want to get rid of the Senate altogether."

The news surely came as a shock to some Liberal senators, who were given no advance warning. Many of them have long, illustrious careers of service to the Liberal party. Their ranks include senators who've run national election campaigns, overseen Liberal party headquarters, served previous prime ministers and been elected as MPs.

Senator George Baker, however, was among those who praised Trudeau's move as a courageous one; indeed, one insider who was on hand for the meeting said several senators broke into applause upon hearing the news.

Still, there's sure to be a sense of shock and "estrangement" among others, Baker acknowledged.

Under the party's constitution, senators are considered members of the national caucus and enjoy a number of special privileges, including being automatically entitled to attend Liberal conventions and having an equal say with elected MPs in choosing interim leaders.

Trudeau is expected to eventually seek amendments to the Liberal constitution to reflect his new, non-partisan approach to the Senate, stripping senators of their special privileges although they'd be able to remain regular members of the party if they chose to do so.

The party is holding a national convention next month in Montreal but it's too late to propose constitutional amendments for consideration at that gathering.

In the meantime, Trudeau will exclude senators from any role on national election or fundraising campaigns. And he won't allow them to sit as Liberals in the Senate.

He's leaving it up to the senators to decide how or if to reorganize themselves and up to the Senate to decide how to deal with the fact that his move effectively does away with the notion of an official Opposition in the upper house.

"The Senate will have challenges in terms of how it reorganizes," he said. Harper could help the reorganization by removing partisanship entirely, he added.

Then there's the question of the Liberal leader in the Senate, James Cowan, who is entitled to a budget of some $200,000 to employ staff to help the party's senators review legislation and plot strategy. What happens to that budget, if there is no longer a Liberal leader or Liberal caucus in the chamber, is unclear.
"Any staff and budgets allocated by the parliamentary institution is now up for discussion between the independent senators and the parliamentary institution."

The 32 Liberals will join seven senators who already sit as independents in the 105-seat chamber — including former Tories Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, who were suspended without pay last fall for allegedly making fraudulent living and travel expense claims.

The three suspended senators, along with former Liberal senator Mac Harb and Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, are under RCMP investigation but have not as yet been charged with any criminal conduct.

Trudeau said both Harper and Mulcair are indulging in "a lot of loose rhetoric" about reforming or eliminating the chamber.

"Canadians elected (Harper's) party to bring change to this place. Instead they got a more virulent version of the status quo: a hyper-political, hyper-partisan Senate that is, more than ever, the prime minister's private plaything," he said.

As for Mulcair, Trudeau said his promise to abolish the Senate is "either deliberately and cynically misleading or empty and foolish," given that it would require "the most significant amendment to the Constitution since the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms" in 1982.

Follow @jmbryden on Twitter

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Shelly Glover-Leona Aglukkaq Business Model for political fundraising!

Good Day Readers:

According to the Glover-Aglukkaq Model, if you're a Conservative cabinet minister caught with your pants/pantyhose down in the midst of an illegal fundraiser here's what you should do assuming CTV News Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife unexpectedly arrives with a camera person in tow:

1. Claim others prepared the invitations without your knowledge, therefore, you had no idea whatsoever of who'd be at the event or why

2. You just happened to drop by briefly when, as fate would have it, the media arrived

3. If you're Leona Aglukkaq have an entry and exit strategy, that is to say, use a back door to arrive and depart quickly

4. Tell the media it's a private gathering, therefore, get lost

5. Immediately write to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner asking for clarification of the rules (the plead ignorance defence), even though they're clearly spelled out, offer your full support in any subsequent investigation and apologize all over yourself promising it will never ever happen again

6. Return all donations post haste as though nothing happened

7. When all else fails blame it on the Riding Association and deny, deny, deny .....

Wonder how long it will take for one or both of the opposition parties to file another complaint with the CIEC? Further, were any public funds used to pay for these "happenings?"

Stephen Harper you need to immediately do the right thing and appoint Mr. Fife to the senate to replace Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.

Clare L. Pieuk
Guests at fundraiser honouring Aglukkaq get funding from her department Staff
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Conservative MP Leona Aglukkaq attended a fundraiser in her honour at an upscale hotel in Ottawa Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Conservative MP Leona Aglukkaq enters through a shopping mall after learning CTV News staked out the fundraiser she was attending at an upscale hotel in Ottawa, Ontario Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Amanda Gordon, Aglukkaq's Assistant, speaks with CTV News reporter Robert Fife in Ottawa, Ontario Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

Conservative MP Leona Aglukkaq, the Minister of economic development for the North, attended a fundraiser in her honour Tuesday evening where guests included the very people who receive funding from her department.

After Aglukkaq learned that CTV News had staked out the fundraiser at an upscale Ottawa hotel, she entered through a shopping mall entrance rather than the hotel’s front doors.

Guests donated $100 to attend the event with Aglukkaq, who is also the Environment Minister, and will get a $50 tax break.

One of the special guests was Nellie Cournoyea, the former Premier of the Northwest Territories and now the Chair of Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, which received more than $200,000 in funding from Aglukkaq’s department last year.

Under federal government conflict of interest rules, cabinet ministers should not “solicit or accept funds from a person or organization who has lobbied or is likely to lobby the public office holders or their office, department or committee.”

The rules also say ministers must avoid “situations where issues of preferential treatment or other conflicts of interest could arise.”

Tuesday’s fundraiser coincided with the Northern Lights Trade Conference in Ottawa.

Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna said he attended the event because it’s smart politics.

“We’re down here to up the profile of our territory of Nunavut,” he said.

Late Tuesday, Aglukkaq’s office insisted the minister followed conflict of interest rules, saying anyone who benefitted from her department did not pay for a ticket and were simply invited guests.

"Care has been taken not to solicit or accept funds from lobbyists or departmental stakeholders,” Jennifer Kennedy, Aglukkaq’s Director of Communications, said in an email to CTV News.

"The Nunavut Electoral District Association operates a rigorous screening procedure, both before and after events, to ensure that only appropriate donations are accepted."

Another cabinet minister, Shelly Glover, recently landed in hot water over a fundraiser held in her name, where members of Winnipeg’s art and culture community were asked to donate money.

As the federal heritage minister, Glover’s portfolio oversees issues related to culture.

Federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said she would investigate the Glover fundraiser, which was held at a private home, to see if it violated the Conflict of Interest Act.

With a report from CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife

WTF's a Bitcoin ..... Dude?

What is Bitcoin? Eleven things you need to know about the digital currency

Sunny Freeman

The rise of Bitcoin marks the first time you’ve probably heard the words “trendy” and “currency” uttered in the same sentence. And given the momentum it’s seen lately, both in international headlines and on exchanges, the buzz around digital currency is only going to grow in the next year. Here are answers to 11 pressing questions that will help even the biggest Bitcoin neophyte sound in the know at cocktail parties and water coolers in 2014.

1. What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is the most popular type of digital currency, an online-only alternative form of money. Bitcoin represents two things: Capital “B” Bitcoin refers to the payment network, the whole system behind making payments, while lowercase “bitcoin” refers to the unit of currency itself. The payment network and the currency are both decentralized, meaning that — unlike traditional currency — they are not created, controlled or regulated by a central body.

2. Why digital currency?

Libertarians tout the “people power” that Bitcoin enables. Because there is no central authority, two people anywhere in the world can transact freely, with no fees and no bank account, instantaneously. They can’t be censored or have their money confiscated or controlled, which happens in some unstable countries. Freedom from government means the rules of bitcoin are set by the market, without political interference. Supporters say that freedom from political interference, along with bitcoin’s limited supply, makes bitcoin a more stable store of value than currencies that can be inflated or deflated through control of the money supply.

3. Why am I hearing so much about it now?

 Bitcoins have been around for more than five years, but gained attention at the end of last year for both positive and negative reasons. On the positive side, demand for the currency spiked a whopping 5,000 per cent in 2013, driving the price of a bitcoin from about $13 U.S. in January to more than $1,000 U.S. in November, largely because of demand in China.

Shortly after prices peaked at $1,073, China cracked down on Bitcoin use, forbidding banks from dealing in the currency, and prices plunged. The U.S. bust and seizure last fall of $25 million in bitcoins from the Silk Road — an online exchange for criminals — also shone a spotlight on the digital currency. Still, most of the attention these days surrounds its sharp price appreciation and the host of merchants and venture capitalists moving into the space.

4. How is it traded?

At the most basic level, bitcoins are traded from one person’s digital wallet to another. Think about it as a peer-to-peer network like file-sharing, in which a network of computers interact with one another, but there is no centre of control, and what they share isn’t files but money. Bitcoin exchanges have also been set up where units can be bought or sold on the open market at the going average rate, plus a fee that goes to the owner of the exchange. Increasingly, bitcoin ATMs are being set up where users can trade cash for bitcoins for a fee.

5. How do you make a transaction?

Bitcoin owners hold digital wallets — there are a number to choose from. A buyer sends money to the seller’s bitcoin address, generally over a mobile phone, and both are issued an e-receipt for the deal. Because it’s not a physical currency, bitcoins can be divided infinitely, so a holder can buy a coffee for a fraction of the current value of a bitcoin.
Every time a transaction is made, it is recorded on a public ledger called the Block Chain, which is shared among all Bitcoin users.

6. How are bitcoins created?

Bitcoins are “mined” similarly to gold, meaning there is a finite supply in the world. However, instead of pick-axes in the ground, bitcoin miners use increasingly sophisticated computers to solve increasingly difficult computer algorithms. Each time a miner solves one of these cryptographic puzzles (think of a sort of a global math riddle race), she is paid in the currency, adding it to the money supply. The current maximum of mineable bitcoins in the world is 25 every ten minutes.

7. How are bitcoins valued?

Like gold, there is a finite number of bitcoins in the world, with a threshold of 21 million bitcoins and the last expected to be “mined” in 2140. There are about 12 million currently in circulation. Just like a traditional currency, the going rate for a bitcoin is based on supply and demand on global exchanges, and is measured against local currencies. The standard unit of representation is called a BTC, similar to a CAD or USD. Bitcoins hold a fictional value just as much as the piece of paper we hold with $100 written on it.

8. Who started it?

The origins of Bitcoin are shrouded in mystery. In 2008 a Japanese programmer or group of programmers operating under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper describing digital currency. In 2009, Nakamoto launched software that created the first Bitcoin network and bitcoin unit of currency. Contact between Nakamoto and the community faded in 2010, when he/they gave away control over Bitcoin properties.

9. What makes it different from other currencies?

The finite number of bitcoins and decentralized nature of Bitcoin are two key characteristics that set it apart from established currencies. The lack of a connection to a central authority means it cannot be artificially manipulated to set monetary policy, under which central banks can release or restrict the supply of money to ease economic cycles.

10. What are some of the other types?

Bitcoin is just one of many digital currencies flooding the market. Other popular internet currencies include PeerCoin, LiteCoin and Ripple, each of which has unique properties. There are also several novelty coins making headlines such as the Coinye (a play on Kanye West) and the Dogecoin (modelled after the internet meme). While bitcoins are designed for buying and selling in a marketplace, other currencies can perform functions tailored to real estate or derivatives trading, for example. The Royal Canadian Mint is even devising its own, called the Mint Chip and backed by the Canadian dollar.

11. What are some of the concerns?

There are several barriers that could prevent the Bitcoin experiment from succeeding, including concerns about online security, a lack of regulation and the anonymous nature of transactions. Some observers wonder whether the bitcoin’s sharp appreciation signals the value of the coin stems from a speculative bubble that could burst at any point, leaving it worthless. In addition, bitcoin has no fixed value, one of the key characteristics of a good currency; it is near impossible to quote the value of a carton of milk or a pair of pants in bitcoin.

Highway robbery on the new electronic Silk Road!

Bitcom Exchange CEO charged with Laundering $1million through Silk Road

Kim Zetter
Monday, January 27, 2014

Charlie Shrem was arrested and charged with money laundering. (Image courtesy Charlie Shrem)

The CEO of Bitcoin exchanger BitInstant has been arrested and charged with money laundering over allegations that he and another man sold more than $1 million in Bitcoins to buyers and sellers of drugs on the underground drug site Silk Road.

Charlie Shrem, 24, who ran BitInstant out of New York, is charged, along with Robert Faiella, with conspiracy to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business,
according to the complaint
(.pdf), filed in the Southern District of New York. The charges come three months after the underground drug emporium was shuttered by law enforcement and its alleged founder, Ross Ulbricht, arrested.

Shrem, who was also compliance officer for BitInstant, was arrested on Sunday at New York’s JFK airport, while Faiella was arrested today in Florida. In addition to the other counts, Shrem was charged with failing to file suspicious activity reports in accordance with a federal anti-money laundering law for the transactions that he allegedly helped Faiella facilitate through BitInstant.

Shrem, a well-known figure in the Bitcoin community, is also the co-owner of a bar in New York called EVR, that takes Bitcoin payments and is co-chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, which promotes Bitcoin as a currency.

Shrem is also known for having engraved the private key for one of his Bitcoin stashes on a ring that his jeweler father made.

According to court documents, from December 2011 until October 2013 when Silk Road was seized by federal agents, Faiella, 52, operated a Bitcoin exchange on the Silk Road site that allowed drug buyers and sellers to anonymously exchange cash for Bitcoins — the only currency used on the Silk Road site to buy drugs and other paraphernalia marketed through the site.

Faiella, operating under the user name BTCking, allegedly obtained Bitcoins through BitInstant, then sold them at a profit to Silk Road users.

Authorities assert that Shrem knew about Faiella’s activities and even personally processed his orders, giving Faiella a discount on high-volume trades of Bitcoins that he purchased for Silk Road buyers. Shrem also availed himself of Silk Road’s drug services, according to court documents, though he is not charged with buying drugs.

In late 2012 when BitInstant stopped accepting cash payments for Bitcoins, Faiella halted his own exchange business on the Silk Road site, but resumed it in April 2013, continuing to exchange tens of thousands of Bitcoins a week for Silk Road users until the site was closed.

In the meantime, BitInstant closed in July 2013, citing plans to revamp the business, but never re-opened.

Even as Bitcoin is making its way into mainstream use — with prominent venture capitalists and even U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke endorsing it in theory — Bitcoin remains controversial and a focus of law enforcement interest because of its popularity among criminals who prize its anonymity and ease-of-use for illegal transactions.

Authorities gathered evidence for the case against Shrem and Faiella in part by obtaining access, via a search warrant, to email accounts that Shrem used for BitInstant. In March 2013, authorities also gained access to the email account used by a company that processed the cash payments for BitInstant.

The cash processor isn’t identified in the complaint against Shrem and Faiella, but it’s believed to be Tcash Ads, Incorporated which was charged last March with operating an unlicensed money services business.

To purchase Bitcoins for use on Silk Road, Faiella submitted orders to BitInstant specifying the number of Bitcoins he wanted to purchase and provided an email address. A third company, which handled the cash transactions, replied with an email instructing where to deposit the cash. The latter included a handling fee attached to it that was designed to help the company identify each transaction to the proper purchaser.

For example, one handling fee might be .32 cents, another would be .45 cents. Customers would be told to pay $200.32 or $200.45, with no customer being given the same handling fee on the same day so that the company could deposit the Bitcoins into the proper anonymous account.

Customers would then deposit the cash in person at the specified local bank, directing the money to a bank account owned by the cash-processing firm. Once the cash deposit was verified, the Bitcoins were transferred to the customer’s Bitcoin account of choice.

In email accounts for the cash processing firm, authorities found about 3,000 transactions that they believe belonged to Faiella. All of them involved correspondence with safe-mail accounts they believe were used by him, including

Faiella promised in an advertisement for his service that Bitcoins would be deposited so fast that they would likely be in the buyer’s Bitcoin account before they returned from the bank.

According to BitInstant’s web site, its customers were limited to depositing $1,000 in cash a day.

The company informed customers on its web site that “[W]e are simply not allowed by law to handle extremely large amounts of money for a single user without conducting a lot of background checks and having paperwork on file. VERY large transactions would even require us to file notices for the use of law enforcement in tracking money laundering or other criminal activity . . . ”

Despite these caveats, authorities say that Faeilla violated the terms of service by exceeding the daily limit, and Shrem failed to file any reports of suspicious activity.

Shrem and Faiella began doing business directly in December 2011, when Shrem contacted Faiella about an order he had submitted, court documents show. One of the deposits for Bitcoin had been made with a check instead of cash. When Shrem contacted Faiella and realized he was responsible for a number of orders BitInstant was receiving and further realized Faeilla was reselling Bitcoins on Silk Road, he sent Faeilla an email banning him from using BitInstant, and copied the cash processor on the email.

Faiella, concerned that BitInstant planned to keep $4,000 he had already deposited to purchase Bitcoins, threatened to contact the feds to report BitInstant. Shrem wrote back threatening to report Faiella for operating an unlicensed money exchange on Silk Road.

But authorities say Shrem then contacted Faiella privately and instructed him in how he could continue to use BitInstant surreptitiously. Although Faiella’s email address was banned from being used to conduct transactions at BitInstant, Shrem told him to simply use a different email address to secretly bypass the ban.

Kim Zetter is a senior reporter at Wired covering cybercrime, privacy, security and civil liberties.
Read more by Kim Zetter
Follow @KimZetter and @ThreatLevel on Twitter.

Ladies, ladies, ladies! Please don't wax that great iconic Canadian symbol of dedicated hard work and energy ..... "Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!"

Is genital waxing on the way out?

Sarah Barmak
Current Events Writer
Sunday, January 26, 2014
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
There has been much buzz about the display of mannequins with unshaved pubic hair in the window of an American Apparel in New York’s East Houston district, which the retailer says is intended to start a conversation about what society considers beautiful.

“We created it to invite passersby to explore the idea of what is ‘sexy’ and consider their comfort with the natural female form,” a store representative told Elle — not to mention get the spotlight-loving retailer a fresh round of publicity, naturally.

More than a decade since the bare-all Brazilian wax became a fixture of many women’s grooming routines, some feel a return to hairy crotches can’t come soon enough. Over the years, the fad for hairlessness has been criticized as damaging to female body image. Feminists have argued it fetishizes a prepubescent appearance. It has been responsible for physical pain, too: a 2012 report showed emergency-room pubic injuries from shaving had shot up.

“I think for women who want to be sexy, who want to conform to what the world tells them is sexy, it’s become a cultural norm.” Carlyle Jansen sex coach

But after so many boys have now come of age expecting girls to look like they do in porn, are we really ready to go full bush again?

“I think for women who want to be sexy, who want to conform to what the world tells them is sexy, it’s become a cultural norm,” says Carlyle Jansen, sex coach and founder of Toronto’s woman- and LGBTQ-focused sex shop Good For Her.

Too bad, considering the beachy Brazilian has never really made sense in Canada, where we’re stuffed into chafing pants most of the year anyway and arguably need a layer of protective hair to keep our lady bits from chapping. How appropriate that the return to 1970s-style ungrooming was prefigured long ago by Canadian indie electro-punk singer Peaches, whose cheeky video for her 2001 song “Set it Off” featured a time-lapse of growing, Rapunzel-ish pubic and armpit locks.

American Apparel has also used images of the female body to push boundaries before, though rarely in a way anyone would mistake as progressive. The t-shirt and basics brand has always been notorious less for its apparel than for sexualized ads featuring vulnerable-looking, semi-nude girls, many of whom appeared underage (though one ad banned by the British Advertising Standards Authority was later revealed to feature a 23-year-old).

(Its models do differ from the mainstream in more interesting ways, however. With softer thighs and bellies, they typically look more like average women than the skeletal models on mainstream runways. And in 2012, the brand did make waves with an older model with long, grey hair in a clothing line aimed at middle-aged women.)

But is slapping a merkin on a mannequin really going to help make the natural look appealing to the average woman?

Or does the fact that a lady’s untrimmed mons pubis has such power to shock us an indication of the opposite — that shaving is here to stay?

Call it the law of diminishing body hair. It seems to be a general truism that once a body part is shorn of its hair and its hairless version becomes the accepted default in mainstream culture, it is unlikely that the fuzzy version will return to the norm.

In other words, once we go bare, we rarely go back, for better or worse.

Men’s chins, women’s shins and women’s armpits are all exemplars of the rule. Sure, beards have made a bit of a style comeback, but shaved cheeks remain the norm. Unshorn pits were a statement during the 1970s, but on a minority of ladies.

The problem is that pubic hair isn’t just unfashionable. A fuzzy pudendum, even neatly trimmed, has become viewed as dirty, says Jansen.

Consider this: hairy labia are so outside the mainstream in pornography that porn that featured pubic hair would be considered niche and classified in the fetish section of most sex shops.

We’re at the point where shaving has been around for so long that kids are probably seeing it around the house, too, if they happen to see their mothers or sisters in the bathroom, says Jansen.

To make au natural the default once again, it would take either a spike in the price of razors or a major sex symbol — Madonna or Beyoncé or Kate Middleton (hey, stranger things have happened) — to champion it.

“Or some male icon says, ‘I find women with pubic hair much more sexy — she smells great and you can sense her pheromones and she looks more natural,’ ” says Jansen.

What makes the hairless “norm” so specious is that untold women out there have never embraced it. Writer Zoe Cormier tried shaving when it first became popular and swore off it for life.

“I shaved it all off once, when I was 18,” she remembers. “I have sensitive skin, and all the hair follicles bled as the new hairs grew in. For several days, every step hurt. I had no desire to do that to myself again.

“I told my boyfriend I would never shave or wax again, and he didn’t mind at all. No boyfriend or lover ever has.”

The experience illustrates why the decision to go bare should be left to the individual woman, rather than being a standard of general female hygiene.

“For me the bottom issue is choice,” says Jansen. “I think if a woman wants to shave her pubic hair, you know, ‘I could leave it but I like the way it looks shaved,’ fabulous. That’s clear choice. But not to feel like we have a choice, that this is the only way to be sexy, this is the only way to be desirable, this is the only way to be a legitimate sexual being, I think it’s damaging.”

That may be, but it will take more than mannequins to make hair hot again.

And then there was this .....
Trimming the bushes? How 2001.

By Anne Kingston
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Anne Kingston covers the cultural waterfront - from Pharma to food

Photo illustation by Sarah MacKinnon

Last week American Apparel set Twitter afire with news that mannequins at its Lower East Side store in New York now boast a healthy thatch of pubic hair. The merkins, evident through sheer lingerie, are intended to convey the “rawness and realness of sexuality,” a company rep said. But in making pubes public, the eager-to-shock retailer is decidedly lagging pubic-hair fashion, a topic given a thorough airing earlier this month when Cameron Diaz endorsed going au naturel in The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body. One section of the book, titled “In praise of pubes,” extols the hair surrounding “that glorious, delicate flower of yours,” calling it “a pretty draping that makes it a little mysterious to the one who might be courting your sexiness.”

Removing it all is a recent fad, Diaz posits incorrectly (in fact, Egyptian women applied a toxic poultice of arsenic, starch and quicklime for statuary smoothness). Permanent laser removal, the 41-year-old writes, is “a crazy idea . . . your labia majora is not immune to gravity,” before asking: “Do you really want a hairless vagina for the rest of your life?”

One assumes Diaz (or her ghostwriter) meant “vulva,” not “vagina,” because otherwise the answer is a resounding “Yes!” But it’s a common error in a culture that uses the term “va-jay-jays.” Likewise, Diaz’s pubic-hair advocacy reflects a larger pendulum swing from the waxed Barbie-doll aesthetic. Last year, self-appointed taste-arbiter Gwyneth Paltrow admitted “I rock a ’70s vibe” on The Ellen Degeneres Show, a 180-degree swing from her cheerleading in the ’90s for the all-bare Brazilian introduced to New York City by the J Sisters salon. The mainstreaming of porn, where shorn shrubbery helps display the machinery, is routinely credited (or blamed) for hairlessness. But it was celebrities, including Paltrow and model Naomi Campbell, raving about their $75 monthly J Sisters visit that made it a fashion statement. Women who didn’t comply were mocked, seen in the 2001 movie Lovely and Amazing, in which Emily Mortimer played an actress who asked for a full-body critique from her lover: “The bush needs a trim,” he tells her. Mortimer reported men would shout to her in the street: “Do something about that bush, girl.” Such directives underlined the hair-removal industry: “Mow the lawn!” a 2009 Schick ad barked.

By 2010, strip malls boasted waxing salons and fashion was getting bored with the denuded look. Vogue fawned over Betty, “colour for the hair down there,” a dye in 10 hues that suggested there was hair down there. The cutting-edge British fashion magazine Love featured nude models on its cover, including Campbell, all with pubic hair. Suddenly, pubic hair’s presence, not absence, was risqué. The shocked response echoed that to Goya’s Maja Desnuda, viewed as pornographic in 1800 for showing female pubic hair.

So it wasn’t surprising that a 2013 poll of nearly 2,000 women by a U.K. online pharmacy found 51 per cent don’t “style or groom their pubic hair”; 45 per cent can “no longer be bothered to keep up the grooming”; 62 per cent said their partner “prefers the natural look.” In part, the Brazilian blowback is practical. It’s expensive; it can lead to infections; it summons pain that Christopher Hitchens likened to “being tortured for information that you do not possess” when he underwent a “Boyzillian” for Vanity Fair.

Women’s refusal to return to their prepubescent state also reflects a defiance seen in Caitlin Moran’s seven-page appreciation of pubic hair in How to be a Woman: “Lying on a hammock, gently finger-combing your Wookie whilst staring up at the sky is one of the great pleasures of adulthood.” Pubic hair’s return also eliminates creepier by-products of hairlessness: “vajazzling” and comparing nether regions, which gave rise to labia envy, “labia loathing,” and the market for cosmetic labiaplasty. Now we get to watch ad agencies court women by celebrating pubic diversity; last fall, the U.K.’s Mother London staged a “Project Bush” photo exhibit of 93 “London lady gardens in all their variety.” After that, American Apparel’s bid to play the trump card is strictly bush league.