Archive for April, 2019

Actor Dennis Hopper dead at 74

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

LOS ANGELES, May 29 (Reuters) – Hollywood actor Dennis Hopper, best known for directing and starring in the 1969 cult classic "Easy Rider," died on Saturday from complications of prostate cancer, a friend of the actor said. Hopper was 74.

The hard-living screen star died at his home in the coastal Los Angeles suburb of Venice at 8:15 a.m. PDT (1515 GMT), surrounded by family and friends, the friend, Alex Hitz, told Reuters.

In a wildly varied career spanning more than 50 years, Hopper appeared alongside his mentor James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant" in the 1950s and played maniacs in such films as "Apocalypse Now," "Blue Velvet" and "Speed."

He received two Oscar nominations – for writing "Easy Rider" (with co-star Peter Fonda and Terry Southern), and for a rare heartwarming turn as an alcoholic high-school basketball coach in the 1986 drama "Hoosiers."

But his prodigious drug abuse, temper tantrums, propensity for domestic violence and poor choice of movie roles often made him a Hollywood pariah.

Hopper felt over-indulgence was a requirement for great artists. He once claimed he snorted lines of cocaine "as long as your arm every five minutes, just so I could carry on drinking … gallons" of alcohol.

Still, his legacy rests securely on "Easy Rider." Regarded as one of the greatest films of American cinema, it helped usher in a new era in which the old Hollywood guard was forced to cede power to young filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.

The low-budget blockbuster, originally conceived by Fonda, introduced mainstream moviegoers to pot-smoking, cocaine-dealing, long-haired bikers.

"We’d gone through the whole ’60s and nobody had made a film about anybody smoking grass without going out and killing a bunch of nurses," Hopper told Entertainment Weekly in 2005. "I wanted ’Easy Rider’ to be a time capsule for people about that period."

Hopper and Fonda were joined on screen by a then-unknown Jack Nicholson as an alcoholic lawyer, but it was not a harmonious set. Hopper clashed violently with everyone and Fonda later described him as a "little fascist freak." Their friendship was destroyed.

Hopper’s 1971 directorial follow-up, "The Last Movie," shot amid what he later called "one long sex and drug orgy" in Peru, was a flop.

He was often gripped by paranoid delusions. In 1982, while filming "Jungle Warriors" in Mexico, he ran naked into the jungle, convinced World War Three had started. He was put on a plane home but jumped out onto the wing as it was about to take off, fearful that the plane was on fire. Upon his return, he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for three months.

He starred in bad movies just for the money, such as "Super Mario Bros." and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2," and turned down important projects that could have enhanced his legend, such as "Taxi Driver" and "Reservoir Dogs."

Hopper also found himself typecast as the psychotic villain thanks to such films as "Blue Velvet," in which he played a gas-huffing rapist, and the 1994 smash "Speed," in which his character rigged a city bus to explode.

Hopper mellowed somewhat in later years, becoming a Republican and a pitchman for the likes of Gap and Nike.

Outside of Hollywood, he was a noted photographer, painter, sculptor and art collector. He lived in a warehouse-style compound in the coastal suburb of Venice, in a neighborhood that was gang-infested until a decade ago.

Hopper fell ill last September. He continued working almost to the end, both on his cable TV series "Crash" and on a book showcasing his photography. But his final months were also consumed by a bitter divorce battle with his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy.

Indeed, his private life was never dull. His marriages included an eight-day union in 1970 with Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas, who later told Vanity Fair that she was subjected to "excruciating" treatment.

Hopper is survived by four children. Funeral arrangements were pending.


HST opposition hits threshold in all B.C. ridings

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Victoria, B.C. – The Fight HST group has hit its target.

The campaign led by former premier Bill Vander Zalm claims it has reached the threshold of signing up 10 per cent of the voters’ list to the petition to kill the proposed harmonized sales tax in all 85 provincial ridings.

The final riding to reach that level was Vancouver-Langara, which passed the marker this morning.

The campaign proposes to rip up the agreement between the federal government and B.C. to establish the 12 per cent HST that will come into force July 1.

Opposition to the tax, which combines the five per cent GST with the seven per cent PST, centres on the fact the HST will be applied to everything the GST covered, including many items previously exempt from the provincial tax.

All 14 of the Island’s provincial ridings had reached the threshold of signing up 10 per cent of the voters’ list to the petition to kill the proposed HST a week ago, and all but two of those ridings – Victoria-Swan Lake and Cowichan Valley – had failed to hit the 15 per cent threshold the campaign has set for itself.

The campaign has targeted this weekend as a major push to get as many of the 85 ridings to get past the 15 per cent threshold.

The campaign has been targeting the higher figure in order to ensure they get the right number of signatures required by Elections B.C., allowing for some people not on the voter’s list or signing on outside of their ridings.

Fight HST lead organizer Chris Delaney has said the campaign will not rest on its laurels and will try and get numbers as high as they can to send a message to individual MLAs that they are within striking distance of recall numbers.

A recall campaign would require 40 per cent of registered voters voting to recall a MLA.


Dog adopts nine kittens at Surrey animal hospital

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

METRO VANCOUVER — Traditional arch enemies dog and cat appear to have made peace at a Surrey animal hospital where nine orphaned kittens are being fed by the most unlikely of nursemaids.

A two-year-old chihuahua named Buttercup has adopted two separate litters of kittens, five abandoned and four premature, and is nursing them back to health.

Her owner, Lisa Scribner, 37, said Buttercup feeds and cleans them just as though they were her own puppies.

"One of the kittens is almost as big as the dog. We call him Muffin," said Scribner, who has worked as a veterinarian assistant for five years at the Angel Animal Hospital.

The bittersweet tale began two weeks ago when Buttercup gave birth to a puppy named Petey, who died four hours after birth because he wasn’t fully formed.

Scribner said it broke her heart to see her beloved Buttercup looking so forlorn.

"She was so depressed," she said. "When I tried to take the puppy she put her paw on my hand as if to say ‘No.’ She scooped him underneath her and lay on him. It was hard on her and me. She would follow me and whine. She kept looking for him. I don’t care what anybody says: she would cry. Her eyes would tear up. She wasn’t eating or drinking. It was depression."

But then Scribner received a call at the hospital about five kittens that had been abandoned during the night in a yard in Surrey.

"They were starving. They had been a full night and a full day without food. When we got them they were very weak and meowing," she said.

Buttercup went straight up to the kittens and started cleaning them. And it wasn’t long before the wee animals latched on.

"She still had milk and she took to these babies right away. She hasn’t left them since and is very protective."

Scribner was concerned about what would happen to Buttercup when the five kittens were weaned and sent to their new homes.

But then along came four premature kittens on Thursday, after the veterinarian had to perform a C-section on the dying mother cat.

Buttercup is now the adoptive mother of nine tiny creatures, and not one of them is a dog. Scribner said her chihuahua seems happier than ever before.

[email protected]杭州龙凤

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B.C. group push anti-vaccine agenda despite discreditation

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

A B.C.-based group opposed to childhood vaccinations says it will continue its crusade – even though the study on which it has based its stance, linking vaccinations to autism, has been discredited.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who linked a common children’s vaccine with autism, was disbarred by the British medical society on May 24. His 1998 study published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, caused widespread alarm and more than a decade of controversy.

Now, the Vaccination Risk Awareness Network (VRAN), based in Winlaw, says it will not change its policy regarding Wakefield and his research.

Edda West, spokeswoman for VRAN said that striking Wakefield’s name of the British medical registry was a “nasty political game that changes nothing for families of autistic children.

“The General Medical Council [in Britain] has shot themselves in the foot, because they’ve made a martyr of him,” West said.

“And we know what happens with martyrs: this strengthens the cause, draws attention to it and brings in more publicity.”

Wakefield’s study claimed to find a causal relationship between autism and the children’s MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. The result was a worldwide slump in vaccination rates.

But in B.C., there was neither a dramatic drop in vaccination rates nor a large resurgence in measles, mumps or rubella.

In February 2010, The Lancet retracted the publication of Wakefield’s findings and the British medical society disbarred him following an inquiry into allegations of misconduct.

Dr. Monika Naus at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said the decision was “about time.”

“His publications and communications have served the purpose of damaging the public trust in vaccines and specifically embedded in the public mind that there is a relationship between measles vaccines and autism, and that has done irreparable damage that will not be completely undone by these retractions,” she told The Province.

Dr. Naus also said that significant research money was spent on disproving Wakefield’s results – money, that could have been spent on finding the true causes of autism.

The Autism Society of Canada, and its provincial branch in B.C., said they were not in a position to comment on the recent events.

“The whole project has been fraught with controversy,” said society president Michael Lewis. “But in the absence of certainty, we can only recommend that people continue to look at studies and make informed decisions.”

Wakefield intends to appeal the decision of the British General Medical Council and his supporters, such as VRAN continue to back him.

“This is not going away,” West said. “What we are seeing is that the medical society wants to protects its vaccines and will go to any length including discrediting and destroying a very honourable person.”

[email protected]杭州龙凤


Montrealers line up for iPad launch day

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

A lineup of Montrealers snaked around the corner of Crescent and Ste. Catherine Sts. from the downtown Apple store Friday morning, as gadget fans awaited the new iPad’s release in Canada.

Graphic artist Steve Bédard had been waiting since 5 a.m. for the iPad, which he says he will use for sketching, instead of having to lug his backpack full of drawing pads around.

"It’s been a long time that I’ve been waiting for this," said Bédard, who bought the Wifi and 3G model.

The iPad is a touch-sensitive tablet that allows users to access the Internet, read an electronic book, buy music from the iTunes store and play video games. It’s been out in the United States since April and was also launched Friday to crowds of Apple fans in Europe, Asia and Australia.

In Canada, the iPad ranges in price from $549 for a 16-GB Wifi model to $879 for a 64-GB Wifi and 3G model.

Hichem Zidi, a Montrealer of Tunisian origin bought the iPad Friday, partly out of curiosity and partly for business purposes. The computer consultant is considering selling the 64-GB Wifi and 3G model he purchased for $880 for a profit while on vacation in France next week.

Unlike some of the Apple junkies who lined up as early as 4 a.m. outside the store, Zidi arrived around 11 a.m. and waited about 20 minutes to buy the iPad.

"I said if there’s a lineup, forget it."

Workers at the Apple store fueled the hype, handing out bottles of water and coupons to customers as they left the Ste. Catherine St. boutique

Indeed, Concordia University marketing professor Robert Soroka said he’s heard lots about the iPad but couldn’t say much about the actual product.

"The unfortunate thing is that I don’t know," he acknowledged. "I haven’t tried the product. I know the marketing is good."

Other Montrealers weren’t impressed enough with the hype to buy the iPad.

Paul Biron tested the iPad with his girlfriend Bonnie Jean but decided he’d rather save his money to buy a Mac laptop.