New Theatre Releases for December 25, 2007

Movies came out a few days earlier this week, just in time for all those off for the holidays. If you are one of those lucky ones, here’s how you can spend your time:

Aliens VS Predator: Requiem
Aliens Vs Predator

Warring alien and predator races descend on a small town, where unsuspecting residents must band together for any chance of survival. This film will probably be very similar to the dozens of previous films in both categories. Haven’t seen it, won’t plan on it.

The Bucket List
The Bucket List

Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. Two legendary actors in one film, could be something worth spending your money on.

The Great Debaters
The Great Debaters

A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school’s first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship. Another true story film for Denzel. If it’s half as good as his last true story film, then this one should be a winner, even though I’ve never heard of it.

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
Water Horse

A lonely boy discovers a mysterious egg that hatches a sea creature of Scottish legend. Should be a good film for family and children.

And that’s Whatz Slammin at the Box Office.

Customer leaves waitress $50,000

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — For nearly seven years Melina Salazar did her best to put on a smile and tend to the every need of her most loyal and cantankerous customer.

She made sure his food was as hot as he wanted, even if it meant he burned his mouth. And she smiled through his demands and curses. The 89-year-old Walter “Buck” Swords obviously appreciated it, leaving the waitress $50,000 and a 2000 Buick when he died.

“I still can’t believe it,” the Luby’s cafeteria employee told Harlingen television station KGBT-TV in an interview during which she described Swords as “kind of mean.”

Swords, a World War II veteran, died in July. But Salazar learned just a few days before Christmas that he had left her the money and car.

Non-Santa burglar gets stuck in chimney

Non-Santa burglar gets stuck in chimney

It wasn’t Santa Claus that rescue workers found stuck up a chimney in central Australia on Friday – it was a would-be burglar.

Staff at the Gapview Hotel in Alice Springs heard a man groaning when they arrived for work in the hotel bar, and called the fire department.

The man had been stuck inside the chimney for about 10 hours with his knees jammed tightly into his chest, said local fire station officer Mark James.

‘He was like a grub in a cocoon when we found him,’ James said. ‘He was really wedged in there.’

Firefighters and ambulance officers spent 90 minutes trying to free the man before finally removing part of the chimney with jackhammers.



What the burglar did not look like

‘Imagine being in the tightest ball you can (make) and being in that position for 10 hours,’ James said.

‘He was pretty embarrassed and ashamed, so he didn’t say much when we got him out. He was obviously feeling sore and sorry for himself.’

The man’s identity was not immediately released, and it was not clear if he would be charged with any offense.

Lottery money returned to real winners

Published: Thursday, December 20, 2007TORONTO – Four school board employees, allegedly cheated out of their winning lottery ticket by a retailer who claimed the prize money as his own, received a cheque for $5.7 million – plus interest – Wednesday from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

The cheque came as Ontario Provincial Police announced they had charged Hafiz Malik, a 60-year-old former convenience store owner with theft and fraud following an investigation into “insider wins” at the OLG.

Police allege Malik, who was released on $60,000 bail Wednesday afternoon, validated the group’s Lotto 6/49 ticket at his now-closed convenience store in midtown Toronto but didn’t tell the customers they had won.

Hafiz Malik (right) leaves Old City Hall Court House in downtown Toronto with his son after being released on bail on Wednesday.

Hafiz Malik (right) leaves Old City Hall Court House in downtown Toronto with his son after being released on bail on Wednesday 

He has been charged with two counts of fraud of more than $5,000 and one count of theft of more than $5,000.

A lawyer for winners Lorraine Teicht, Paul Carlisi, Silvana Pincivero and Aurora Pincivero said his clients played the same numbers regularly and realized they might have been duped after checking the OLG website for the winning numbers nine months ago.

The OLG said when it received a complaint from the group in July it launched an internal investigation and determined the co-workers were the rightful owners.

The winning ticket was purchased in Orillia, Ont. in June 2004 and validated by Malik who allegedly claimed the prize as his own in January of 2005.

The OLG said it did investigate Malik at the time he claimed the prize but CEO Kelly McDougald said she could not comment because the case is before the courts.

Speaking in general terms, McDougald said any “insider” who claimed a prize was subject to a series of questions, which she wouldn’t reveal, when they came to claim their money.

OPP said Malik’s arrest was part of a larger investigation into “insider wins” prompted by a scathing report by Ontario’s ombudsman earlier this year.

In his report Andre Marin blasted the OLG for being more fixated on profits than the integrity of games after a disproportionate number of lottery retailers or their families claimed winning tickets.

Ontario store owners and their families claimed about $100 million in lottery wins between 1999 and 2006, including tens of millions of fraudulent claims ignored by the public lottery corporation, Marin said in his report.

Responding to news of the arrest, Ontario’s ombudsman said he was pleased to see the OLG and OPP take the “insider wins” problem seriously.

“No doubt the OLG has undergone important changes in the last few months, but culture change is not achieved overnight,” Marin said in a statement. “The developments today are a cautionary reminder to the OLG to remain vigilant and not let its guard down in protecting the public interest.”

OPP said they have seized and frozen more than $5 million of Malik’s assets, including three cars and a home in Mississauga.

In a news release, the rightful winners said they were thrilled to receive the cash and planned to continue playing the same numbers in the future.

“Life will be a lot easier and more comfortable for my family and I,” wrote Aurora Pincivero.

Carlisi said he was “ecstatic” at the new-found cash, which the group was informed they would be receiving in October.

The OLG held off on making that public until OPP revealed results of its investigation.

“This provides a wonderful opportunity for my wife and I to explore many new avenues of interest – a waterfront property, travel and a pearl necklace for the cat!”


Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said he hoped the arrest would serve as a warning to other retailers.

“I’m delighted with the signal this is sending to retailers of lottery tickets in the province of Ontario which is – if you try to cheat people out of their winnings, if you try to rip off the system, we’re going to be all over you.”

OPP said they are still investigating four other “insider wins

What a find!

How to make it on the ‘best of’ episode of ‘Antiques Road Show’…gotta find me one of these!  

710-year-old copy of Magna Carta sold in New York for $21.3 millionat 22:03 on December 18, 2007, EST.THE ASSOCIATED PRESS  This undated file photo released by Sotheby’s shows a copy of the Magna Carta. A 710-year-old copy of the declaration of human rights known as the Magna Carta, the version that became part of English law, was auctioned Tuesday Dec. 18, 2007 for $21.3 million (14.78 million euros), a Sotheby’s spokeswoman said. The document was bought by David Rubenstein, of The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Sotheby’s  


NEW YORK – A 710-year-old copy of Magna Carta – the version that became part of English law – was auctioned Tuesday for $21.3 million, a Sotheby’s spokeswoman said.  


The document, which had been expected to draw bids of $30 million or higher, was bought by David Rubenstein, of The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, the spokeswoman said.  Sotheby’s vice-chairman David Redden called the ancient parchment “the most important document in the world, the birth certificate of freedom.”  The document had been owned by the Perot Foundation since the early 1980s. It had been on exhibit at the auction house for the last 11 days.  Bearing the seal of King Edward I and dated 1297, it is one of 17 known copies of the historic tract that limited the powers of the monarch. It is one of two that exist outside Britain; the other is inAustralia.  


In the 1980s, it was sold by a British family for $1.5 million to the Perot Foundation, created by Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot, and from 1988 until earlier this year it was on loan to the National Archives inWashington, sharing space with the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.  


“Over those years,” Redden said, “it may have been seen by 40 to 50 million people, certainly the most viewed version of the Magna Carta anywhere.”  The Magna Carta came into existence when a group of English barons demanded King John affix his seal to a list of protections atRunnymede in 1215. Those edicts were not fulfilled but subsequent versions of the document followed for the next 80 years, until 1297, when it was codified into law.  


Tuesday’s sale price included the auction house’s commission.

Quebec adopts measures to supervise use of Tasers

Marianne White , CanWest News Service

Published: Thursday, December 20, 2007

QUEBEC – Quebec is implementing new measures to better supervise the use of Tasers in the province – including giving immediate medical attention to a person hit by a Taser – following the recommendations of a task force.

The Public Security ministry released a report Wednesday from a government committee calling for limits on the use of Tasers, which fire 50,000 volts of electricity. At the same time the department said it had sent new guidelines to police chiefs the day before to explain when and how the weapon should be used.

Before using a Taser, police officers will have to make sure the person refuses to comply and must assess the violence potential of the suspect, the risk of injuries and if the person is armed.

The ministry said that the use of a Taser is reasonable when trying to bring under control a person who is a significant threat to himself, to the police officer or to someone else. It’s also reasonable when the police officer has to protect himself against an imminent threat of physical injury.

The new guidelines specify that an agitated person should be considered a medical emergency and therefore police officers should call for medical help before doing any physical intervention.

A person who has been hit by a Taser will also have to get a medical evaluation “as soon as possible” before being taken into custody.

Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis didn’t comment directly on the report but said only the most qualified police officers were allowed to use the Tasers.

“It’s not the weapon itself that is dangerous, but rather the way it’s used,” Dupuis told the Quebec legislature Wednesday before the report was made public.

The report also suggests police officers receive more in-depth training on the use of the weapon, a recommendation the government says it will follow.

Across the country in the past year, there have been about a dozen investigations into the use of Tasers. In Canada, Tasers have been involved in as many as 20 deaths since 2001.

In Quebec, the cases of Claudio Castagnetta, who died in Sept. two days after being hit with a Taser, and Quilem Registre, who died in Montreal after being stopped by police on suspicion of drunk driving, are being reviewed.

© CanWest News Service 2007

You better watch out, you better not cry…

Mounties warn of scam aimed at defrauding people of millions of dollars
at 17:55 on December 18, 2007, EST.
Peter Rakobowchuk, THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL – A week before Christmas, the Mounties are telling Canadians they had better watch out and better not cry if they get a letter informing them they have won a big prize.

They warn the letter could be part of a scam aimed at defrauding Americans and Canadians of millions of dollars.

The RCMP held a news conference Tuesday to announce the seizure of more than 5,000 letters with phony cheques worth nearly $195 million.

It’s an unusual step for the Mounties to take considering no one has been arrested and no charges have been laid in connection with the Montreal-based operation.

“Actually, it’s very rare that we will publicize an ongoing investigation, however with Christmas and the new year coming, we feel that people should be made aware of the letters,” RCMP spokesman Luc Bessette said.

The fraudsters would send out letters with bogus cheques ranging between $2,000 and $5,000, leading recipients to believe they had won a big prize.

“The letters said that you won either a lottery or a trip worth $50,000 and, in order to get your prize, you had to take the bogus cheque, cash it and send the money back in order to pay some (administration) fees to get the big prize,” Bessette told reporters.

“In Canada, it is illegal to ask for any money if you win a prize.”

He also said the operators of the scam were pressing people to cash the cheque and send the money back quickly so they would get the cash before the banks had a chance to check.

He said the fraudsters even wrote in some letters that, in order to avoid being a fraud victim, the recipient should not talk to anyone about getting the letter.

Bessette said the police investigation began a few months ago when Canada Post discovered counterfeit postmarks on certain letters.

He said when the letters were opened, fraudulent cheques were found inside.

The case was then handed over to COLT, the specialized team that deals with telemarketing fraud.

It carried out a surveillance operation between Nov. 14 and Dec. 14 which led to the interception of 50,065 fraudulent letters.

They were addressed to American citizens – some as far away as California – as well as a number of Canadians including Montreal residents.

The RCMP says bogus cheque scams are a form of mass marketing fraud.

It adds that mass marketing per se is not illegal, but when the message being conveyed is false or if the information provided misleads a client, it becomes a fraud.

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