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Tue, 25 Feb 2020
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US: Jury Says TD Bank Owes $67M to Victims of Ex-Lawyer's Enormous Ponzi Scheme

© TD Bank
A March 2009 handout photo of a TD Bank store in Lauderhilll, Florida.
A U.S. federal jury decided Wednesday that Toronto-based TD Bank owes an investment group $67 million for its role in a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme that was operated by a now disbarred lawyer, Scott Rothstein.

The verdict came in a lawsuit filed by Coquina Investments, based in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was the first to go to trial of several pending lawsuits filed by wronged investors against the bank and others. Coquina attorney David S. Mandel said the jury "sent exactly the right message to TD Bank."

A spokeswoman for TD said late Wednesday that the bank will continue to defend itself against claims of wrongdoing.

"We are disappointed with the jury's decision and are considering all of our options. We still maintain that we were Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler's bank, and that it was Scott Rothstein who defrauded investors," the bank said in an emailed statement.

Once a prominent South Florida lawyer, Rothstein is serving a 50-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to running a massive scam involving investments in phoney legal settlements that imploded in 2009.


Fake iPad 2s Made of Clay Sold at Canadian Stores

© unknown
One of the clay tablets sold to an unwitting customer as an iPad 2
As many as 10 fake iPad 2s, all made of slabs of modeling clay, were recently sold at electronic stores in Vancouver, British Columbia. Best Buy and Future Shop have launched investigations into how the scam was pulled off.

The tablet computers, like most Apple products, are known for their sleek and simple designs. But there's no mistaking the iPad for one of the world's oldest "tablet devices." Still, most electronic products cannot be returned to stores. For the the stores and customers to be fooled by the clay replacements, the thieves must have successfully weighed out the clay portions and resealed the original Apple packaging.

Future Shop spokesman Elliott Chun told CTV that individuals bought the iPads with cash, replaced them with the model clay, then returned the packages to the stores. The returned fakes were restocked on the shelve and sold to new, unwitting customers.


Canada, Alberta: 300 Forced from Home Overnight After Carbon Monoxide Leak

© CBC News
Residents of a Calgary apartment, evacuated because of a carbon monoxide leak, are taking shelter in Calgary buses sent to the scene to keep them out of the cold.
Hundreds of people were not allowed to go home Wednesday night due to a carbon monoxide leak at their southwest Calgary apartment building.

More than 300 residents from forced to evacuate Wednesday morning in - 30 C weather.

The Calgary Fire Department received a call around 4:30 a.m. MT Wednesday and dozens of fire crews responded, along with emergency service crews and police.

Fire department duty battalion chief Don Huska said there are two issues in the building - the level of carbon monoxide and water in the basement.

It's suspected that motorized pumps being used in the basement to remove water that seeped into the parkade from the Bow River is the source of the carbon monoxide.

Residents were told Wednesday night that they could be escorted into the building to grab some belongings, but they would not be allowed to stay.

Heart - Black

Australia: Mother raped own daughter for 'sex education'

A young child and her mother
© Mark Kolbe/AFP/Getty Images
A young child and her mother pictured on October 31, 2010 in Sydney, Australia.

A mother of four who raped her 11-year-old daughter and filmed it as a form of "sex education" has been jailed for four years in Australia.

The 37-year-old woman from Queensland's Sunshine Coast made three films using her mobile phone showing her raping her youngest child and exposed her to other sexual activity "in response to repeated questions," The Sunshine Daily reported.

Judge John Robertson said sexual offenses against children by their own mothers were "rare," describing the relationship between mother and child as "seminal in our society."

He told the woman she had "no psychological or intellectual reason to explain this shocking behavior," as she had "a normal loving upbringing with parents and family who still support you."


Controlled Explosions Rock Costa Concordia in Search for 29 Still Missing

© Nadia Shira Cohen/The New York Times
The cruise ship Costa Concordia, which struck a rock and capsized Friday, lays in shallow water in Giglio, Italy, on Jan. 15, 2012.
Rescue squads used controlled explosions on Tuesday to enter a stricken Italian cruise liner in the increasingly despairing hunt for survivors as authorities almost doubled their estimate of the number missing on the huge vessel to 29 people.

The Costa Concordia's owners accused their captain of causing Friday's disaster by veering the ship too close to shore, where it hit a rock, in a bravura "salute" to residents of a Tuscan island off Italy's Mediterranean coast.

Rescue workers carried out a series of controlled explosions on Tuesday to open up new entry points into the stricken liner Costa Concordia. The Italian mega-ship ran aground just off Giglio Island in Italy late on Friday.

Captain Francesco Schettino was arrested on Saturday accused of manslaughter and abandoning the ship before all people were evacuated, and he was due to appear before magistrates for questioning on Tuesday morning.

Prosecutors say Mr. Schettino also refused to go back on board when requested by the coastguard.

Alarm Clock

US: An Alarming Trend at University of Montana

After the Penn State scandal broke, I was asked if this was finally the tipping point. Would colleges now take sexual assault seriously? Specifically, those by athletes who, as campus and sometimes, national celebrities, seem to operate with relative impunity.

Doubtful. And a new case of a university run amok has emerged to serve as evidence.

This past December, a report that alleged that multiple football players at the University of Montana drugged and sexually assaulted two female students, rumored to be female athletes on campus. On January 7, running back Beau Donaldson was arrested for felony sexual intercourse without consent. He admitted it. The female allegedly blacked out and woke up to him raping her. Most recently, a female student came forward with her story of a Rohypnol rape on February 16 of last year. Her last recollection was a man mouthing "roofie" to her before she blacked out. A friend found her with her pants pulled down to her ankles, lying motionless on the cold, snowy ground outside the University of Montana's Jesse Hall. She reported her assault to the University Health Services and Rape Crisis Center. Nothing happened.


US: Does a Broke America Mean an Armed America?

© Minyanville

As the economy continues its downward plunge, here's an unsettling piece of information: More Americans are buying guns. Either that, or gun owners are making more purchases.

Do these people know something I don't? Like, can we shoot our way out of a recession?

Kidding aside, there appears to be a measurable correlation between economic doom and gloom and gun ownership. A bad economy begets, not only fears about our own financial stability but also, threats to our personal safety.

And this isn't a recent trend. According to Ed Tarpy, owner of the Philadelphia area Ed's Gun Shop, it's an enduring phenomenon.

"We've been in business here since 1965," said Tarpy, "and when the economy drops, the sales of firearms go up."

Last year must have been one of the worst on financial record because, throughout the country, gun purchases reached an all-time high. In 2011, 16.4 million background checks were performed on prospective gun owners by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) with 1.5 million requests in December alone -- making it the largest per month total in history. The 2011 figures are an increase of two million over the previous year.

Bad Guys

Ethiopia Forcing Thousands off Land: US Rights Group

Ethiopian people
© n/a
Addis Ababa: Ethiopia is forcing tens of thousands of people off their land so it can lease it to foreign investors, leaving former landowners destitute and in some cases starving, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.

The Horn of Africa state has already leased 3 million hectares - an area just smaller than Belgium - to foreign farm businesses and the US-based rights group said that Addis Ababa had plans to lease another 2.1 million hectares.

The United Nations has increasingly voiced concern that countries such as China and Gulf Arab states are buying swathes of land in Africa and Asia to secure their own food supplies, often at the expense of local people.

HRW said that 1.5 million Ethiopians would eventually be forced from their land and highlighted what it said was the latest case of forced relocation in its report "Ethiopia: Forced Relocations Bring Hunger, Hardship."


US: Santorum Staffer Says Women Shouldn't Be President Because It's Against God's Will

Rick Santorum / Michele Bachmann
© n/a
Rick Santorum / Michele Bachmann
In an article about the reasons Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign fizzled, the Des Moines Register points to "sexism among conservatives," singling out an offensive email written by a staffer to Rick Santorum:
Rival presidential candidate Rick Santorum's Iowa coalitions director, Jamie Johnson, sent out an email saying that children's lives would be harmed if the nation had a female president. [...]

"The question then comes, 'Is it God's highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will, ... to have a woman rule the institutions of the family, the church, and the state?' " Johnson's email said.

2 + 2 = 4

It's a Girl: The Three Deadliest Words in the World

Screenshot from <em>It's a Girl</em>
© n/a
Screenshot from It's a Girl
It's a Girl, a film being released this year, documents the practice of killing unwanted baby girls in South Asia. The trailer's most chilling scene is one with an Indian woman who, unable to contain her laughter, confesses to having killed eight infant daughters.

The statistics are sickening. The UN reports approximately 200 million girls in the world today are 'missing'. India and China are said to eliminate more female infants than the number of girls born in the US each year. Lianyungang in China has the worst infant gender ratio on record with 163 boys born for every 100 girls. Taiwan, South Korea and Pakistan are also countries in which unwanted female babies are aborted, killed or abandoned.

Gendercide in South Asia takes many forms: baby girls are killed or abandoned if not aborted as foetuses. Girls that are not killed often suffer malnutrition and medical neglect as sons are favoured when shelter, medicine and food are scarce. Trafficking, dowry deaths, honour killings and deaths resulting from domestic violence are all further evils perpetrated against women. This femicide has led the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces to report in 'Women in an Insecure World' that a secret genocide is being carried out against women at a time when deaths resulting from armed conflicts have decreased.