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Celebrity answers to the feminist question still make news

“Do you consider yourself a feminist?”

This question is being posed to female celebrities more frequently than ever before. In between ‘Tell us about your new album!’ and ‘What are the downsides of being a superstar?’ it comes out, some say, like a double-edged sword.

“It’s like a litmus test of some kind,” says Jaclyn Friedman, founder and executive director of Women, Action and the Media. If the celeb says she is a feminist, she risks isolating fans who don’t identify as such. If she says she is not a feminist, it’s almost guaranteed to become the story’s headline.

“Kelly Clarkson: ‘Not a Feminist’ ”

“Meghan Trainor: ‘I Don’t Consider Myself a Feminist’”

“Lady Gaga ‘Very Obsessed With Monsters And Playgirls,’ Not Feminism”

Amy Poehler is one; Kelis is not. Miley Cyrus, yes. Sara Evans and Carrie Underwood, no. Ellen Page is in, but Lily Allen “hates the word.”

The question — why it’s being asked and how stars are answering it — is deeply complicated by a seemingly large divide between the label of “feminism” and the ideals that feminists say they represent.

The word is “a moving target,” says celebrity publicist Howard Bragman, founder of PR agency Fifteen Minutes and vice chairman of Reputation.com.

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“Avoid labels of any kind,” Bragman tells clients who might get asked the question. “It’s better to focus on what you believe in, rather than defining yourself as a feminist or not a feminist.”

The stars who do identify as feminists don’t seem to see it that way. Emma Watson, in her recent speech to the United Nations that became a viral phenomenon, used the same simple definition that Beyonc

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Green light for taller wood construction a game changer

The start of 2015 will usher in a happy new year for both new-home buyers and the building industry with the province’s approval of six-storey, wood-frame construction in Ontario.

On Tuesday, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Ted McMeekin stamped a date on what our industry had anticipated — an amendment to the Ontario Building Code, allowing taller wooden building frames, that will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2015

This past April I told you that the province was on the verge of approving a landmark amendment to the building code, raising the height standard for wood-frame construction up from four storeys.

There are three reasons that this will be a game changer for the province’s building and land development industry.

First, this building code amendment gives new-home buyers more options in choosing a home. Adding to the housing mix will also add vibrancy and character to our new neighbourhoods, which is great news for consumers.

Some buyers will like this option because wood is aesthetically pleasing, while others will appreciate that their carbon footprint is being reduced. Still others may prefer it because the construction of their new home will be fast, efficient and can occur year-round.

Second, this change has the potential to give our economy a much-needed boost in a few ways: more residential construction means more jobs are created and additional tax revenue is collected to support Ontario’s cities and towns. Using wood is a homegrown solution for building new homes and businesses, and employs the use of local resources — which is great news for the forest industry.

Third, amending the building code to allow wood-frame construction up to six storeys will enable our members to continue implementing the objectives of the provincial growth plan, Places to Grow, across the GTA. This change provides our industry with more options for building midrise homes and office buildings.

“Communities across Ontario, from London to North Bay, will all benefit from the housing, rental and office opportunities that this provincial proposal provides,” said Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, which led the provincial discussion and advocacy payday loans in 1 hour.

It’s been five long years of saying “wood is good” for the OHBA, BILD and many other organizations. Our outpouring of support started in 2009 after British Columbia adopted legislation allowing six-storey wood: there are now more than 100 building projects in the western province, with more than 5,000 new housing and rental options.

Along the way, BILD commissioned the May 2013 release of a report called “Unlocking the Potential for Mid-Rise Buildings: Six-Storey Wood Structures.”

Former City of Toronto chief planner Paul Bedford, who authored the report, wrote that six-storey, midrise buildings could fill gaps in areas that are well served by infrastructure and transit. This could help meet the demands of the increasing population of the GTA, with up to 100,000 people moving here ever year.

Among the many other voices that have been making a push for six-storey, wood-frame construction are: the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), the Canadian Wood Council (CWC), the Ontario Forestry Industries Association (OFIA) and Wood WORKS! They all deserve credit for working tirelessly so that this amendment would be approved.

Our provincial partners should be praised, too, for their great display of leadership on this issue, including Premier Kathleen Wynne, Housing Minister McMeekin and Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

BILD now looks forward to working with our municipal partners to ensure the implementation of this exciting initiative. It’s going to be a great New Year!

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NutraSweet to stop making aspartame, blames foreign competition

NutraSweet says it will no longer make the artificial sweetener aspartame as a result of foreign competition.

The privately held company said Wednesday it expects to shut down a major portion of a plant that employs about 210 workers, including contractors, by year-end as a result. That will leave it with only about 10 to 20 employees to focus on its two other smaller sweeteners, the company said.

“Low-cost imports now dominate the aspartame market, making it impossible for us to sustain a profitable business while maintaining our unmatched standard of quality,” NutraSweet CEO William DeFer said in a statement.

Aspartame is more commonly known as the ingredient used in Equal, the blue packets of sweetener often found on tables at restaurants.

The NutraSweet Company was sold to the private equity firm J.W. Childs by Monsanto in 2000. At the same time, Monsanto sold the retail face of aspartame, Equal, to Merisant.

NutraSweet spokesman Hud Englehart said the company started facing competition as a supplier of aspartame once its patents on the artificial sweetener expired. He noted the company had been facing pressure for some time.

NutraSweet said the plant in Augusta, Ga., had supplied customers around the world for more than 30 years. It said it will now focus on making neotame and Twinsweet.

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Los Angeles port fire prompts school evacuation

LOS ANGELES (AP) — All container terminals at the Port of Los Angeles were shut down, a nearby school was evacuated, and area residents were advised to stay indoors as a precaution over concerns about air quality from a stubborn fire Tuesday at a Port of Los Angeles wharf.

The eight terminals likely will remain closed until the night shift begins at about 5 p.m., port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said. He estimated a few thousand employees, mostly longshore workers, were sent home. At the twin Port of Long Beach, three of six cargo terminals were shut down, City Manager Pat West told City News Service.

The blaze that started Monday night burned a warehouse and forced about 850 people to flee before firefighters brought the bulk of it under control.

However, the fire continued to smolder and send up smoke Tuesday, and Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said it could take until afternoon or evening for crews to fully extinguish it. “This is a very, very difficult fire to fight,” he said.

About 700 students and 30 faculty members at Wilmington’s De La Torre Elementary School were taken by bus to Olguin High School, on the campus of San Pedro High School, said Monica Carazo of the LA Unified School District.

She said the move came after fire officials grew concerned when shifting winds sent smoke toward the school. Other schools remained open with all outdoor activities suspended.

Sanfield said the amount of smoke had diminished greatly since the early morning, as crews continued to dump water and fire-fighting foam onto hotspots.

The fire smoldered among the wooden pier timbers, which were coated with water-resistant, highly flammable creosote, a byproduct of the coal industry that is used to prevent erosion instant credit reports.

Thick smoke prompted the Los Angeles fire and police officials to advise residents in Wilmington, San Pedro and Long Beach to remain indoors and keep windows closed as a precaution.

Terrazas said hazardous air quality levels were reported “only in the immediate proximity of the fire.”

The Port of Los Angeles, along with its twin port in Long Beach, handles 40 percent of America’s import trade.

More than 150 firefighters had control of the fire about 2 ½ hours after it broke out Monday night, but stubborn flames underneath the docks proved hard to reach. The fire burned under a warehouse with large metal coils inside. It was contained to about 150 feet of the dock.

Crews attacked the blaze with helicopters and trucks, but fireboats were more effective, and divers in the water helped direct them, fire spokeswoman Katherine Main said late Monday.

Smoke reached two terminals, forcing the evacuation of about 850 workers. No injuries were reported.

Terrazas said investigators determined the blaze was started during a welding operation.

The wharf, which dates to before World War II, is in San Pedro Bay in the Wilmington neighborhood, approximately 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

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Currencies Back on Agenda as G-20 Monetary Policies Split - Bloomberg

Currencies are back on the G-20 agenda as diverging monetary policies from the U.S. to Japan threaten to increase exchange-rate volatility.

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Euro-Area Inflation Stays at Five-Year Low Amid Stimulus - Bloomberg

The euro-area inflation rate was higher than initially estimated in August, while remaining at the weakest level in almost five years.

Annual consumer-price growth was 0.4 percent, above a 0.3 percent estimate published by Eurostat in Luxembourg on Aug. 29. The rate was unchanged from July and remains a fraction of the European Central Bank

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British boy gets proton therapy in Prague in controversial brain tumour case

PRAGUE—British boy Ashya King underwent his first proton beam therapy session for a life-threatening brain tumour in Prague on Monday, a week after the 5-year-old boy was flown here from Spain.

Ashya’s case caused an international uproar after his parents removed him from an English hospital last month without doctors’ consent and police launched a manhunt to find him.

Ashya’s parents, Brett and Naghmeh King, had fought a protracted battle to get him proton beam treatment, which targets tumours more directly than radiotherapy, but isn’t yet available for brain tumour patients in Britain.

Now, an 11-year-old Czech boy who had the same disease as Ashya and was treated with proton beam therapy wants to give Ashya some advice.

“He can’t say to himself: ‘I’m ill, so I’m not going to do anything,’” Miki Roth told The Associated Press. “He should read or exercise, try to walk, exercise his legs with therapists that visit him.”

Miki was diagnosed with medulloblastoma about two years ago. Following surgery, he received radiation therapy at Prague’s Proton Therapy Center.

The treatment worked well for Miki, who was in a wheelchair when he arrived at the centre for the first time. He walked on his own after 30 sessions, followed by a year of chemotherapy at Prague’s Motol hospital.

Monday’s treatment for Ashya was the first of 30 planned radiation sessions, the proton centre said, combined with chemotherapy to be applied at Motol where he was admitted last week.

Spanish police arrested Ashya’s parents on Aug. 30. The parents travelled to Spain to sell an apartment they owned there to raise funds for the Czech treatment privately. They spent a night in jail, but were released after British authorities cancelled an arrest warrant.

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