Saturday, March 16, 2013

5 year old Vancouver pianist to play at Carnegie Hall

Five-year-old Ryan Wang claims that "Music is in my head". Wang is from Vancouver BC, Canada. Before his mother decided that he should take music lessons last year, Ryan had spent many hours playing on an electric keyboard.
Ryan won a second-place finish at the recent American Protege Piano and Strings International Competition. Ryan is scheduled to play later this month at Carnegie Hall, as part of the 2013 American Protege International Piano and Strings Competition showcasing the winners. Carnegie Hall is in midtown Manhattan in New York City. It was built by Andrew Carnegie in 1891 and designed by architect William Tuthill. The Hall is one of the most prestigious places in the world for both classical and popular performers and performances.
Ryan's mother was hesitant about having him take formal music lessons at first when he was just four. She said to the Vancouver Sun: "I was thinking four years is so young, right? You cannot even read the notes."
However, it was not long before Wang was able to master an 18 page concerto composed for young pianists many times his age. When contemplating his future Wang was able to look quite far ahead for a five year old:"I am going to play piano, I think, for ten years."Ryan does not suffer at all from stage fright. His mother says that she is always more nervous than he is.
Ryan has more appearances. He is scheduled to appear with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and the Fazioli Pianoforti concert hall in Italy.
Although Ryan travels to New York this weekend, he will make some time to perform for local audiences later. He will perform at the Meek Theatre in West Vancouver on June 9, and all the proceeds collected will go to the Sarah MacLachlan School of Music.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Last Canadian contingent makes preparations for trip to Afghanistan

Preparations are underway for a final deployment of Canadian troops to Afghanistan both at Canadian Forces Base Shilo Manitoba and also at a base in Edmonton Alberta.
Canada's role in Afghanistan began in late 2001 when Joint Task Force 2 soldiers were sent secretly in October 2001. Regular troops arrived in the first two months of 2002. In 2006 Canadian troops were deployed to Kandahar province. In that year, there were 2,500 Canadian forces in Afghanistan. Canada ended its combat role in 2011 but roughly 950 troops remain as part of ISAF mostly in a training role.
In Shilo soldiers ran an exercise for Operation ATTENTION in Kabul, an operation that focuses on training and mentoring the Afghan National Army. This operation will be the last in Afghanistan after more than ten years in the country.
Lt. Col. Michael Wright said that one soldier had already gone to Afghanistan but 300 more were being prepared to go. The soldiers are being trained to train Afghan soldiers. They will also take weapons training and cultural awareness training as part of their preparations.
Wright said:“It's quite fitting soldiers from Shilo and western Canada are going because they were part of the very first mission to Kandahar in 2002."The troops are to return to Canada in March of 2014.
Soldiers from a base in Edmonton will also be deployed to Afghanistan in the spring. Brigadier General Christian Juneau, at a meeting of the Edmonton Sun editorial board, said that the Canadian Forces had learned a great deal for their role in Afghanistan:“We’re a much better army, in my mind, than we were 10 years ago, just by the fact that we were focused on such a specific environment."While there are only a few Canadian troops in Afghanistan at the moment, as many as 900 troops are expected to deploy by early June.
Juneau said:“As we get closer to the end of our mission, the logistics become more robust as we start bringing stuff back home."
Juneau said that the Canadian troops will provide their Afghan counterparts with the tools needed to provide for their own nation's security.
Juneau thought that the Canadian mission in Kandahar was a success noting that when the Canadians arrived:“You could sense the tension in the city. But when we left, the markets were open, you had people gathering at cafes outside and drinking their tea. Just the fact that the situation didn’t deteriorate (is a success) because in my mind, if Canadians would not have been there at that point in time, the Taliban forces probably would have taken Kandahar.”In 2014 Canadian forces will all withdraw from Afghanistan.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Prominent Canadia doctor Arthur Porter charged with fraud, accepting bribes, and conspiracy

Arthur Porter, former head of the McGill University Health Centre (MUSC) in Montreal and also former chair of the Canadian Security Intelligence Review Committee is charged with fraud against the government, accepting bribes, and conspiracy.
Quebec's anti-corruption squad issued warrants for the arrest of Porter along with four other men on February 27. There have been allegations of fraud concerning the McGill Univesity Health Centre for some time.
Arthur Porter seemed to have connections with Prime Minister Stephen Harper who appointed him to the Security Intelligence Review Committee which reviews complaints against intelligence services. He was appointed in 2008 and served as chair in 2010 but resigned in 2011 after controversy about his business dealings.
In November 2011 the National Post newspaper revealed that Porter had questionable business dealings including with an ex-Israeli international lobbyist and arms dealer, who had been charged in the US for illegally attempting to sell military transports to Iran. Here is an example of a deal he made while he was chair of the Intelligence Review Committee and a member of the Privy Council which gave him access to classified information."One of the deals was signed in June 2010, while Porter was still a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC). In this case, through his Sierra Leone based company Africa Infrastructure Group (AIG), Arthur Porter signed a $120-million consultancy agreement prepared by Ari Ben-Menashe and his Montreal-based company Dickens & Madson (Canada) in which he agreed to wire a $200,000 payment to Dickens & Madson for its services as intermediary in a questionable aid-for-infrastructure deals in Africa."
Not only the Prime Minister was impressed by Porter, he received multiple honors and was made CEO of the huge MUSC health care development in Montreal:" Dr. Porter is a Past President of the American Brachytherapy Society; the American College of Oncology Administrators; the American Cancer Society (Great Lakes); and the American College of Radiation Oncology. He has also served as Chairman of the Board of Chancellors of the American College of Radiation Oncology and on the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute (USA). Between 2006 and 2008, Dr. Porter served on the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), which oversees government funding for health-related research in Canada. "
In November 2012, McGill university filed a lawsuit that sought repayment of $317,154 which Porter owed the university. He replied with a 3 line email and they have not heard from him since. Apparently Porter is in the Bahamas receiving treatment at a Cancer Center he and a business partner established there.
In an emailed response to the issuance of the arrest warrants Porter said:"Whilst I am certain there is no basis in fact, I have yet to see any documentation. Since I left Montreal in 2011, I have been subjected to scurrilous and scandalous allegations in the media."Porter insists that he has never seen any documentation and that he would take appropriate action when he did.
Arrest warrants were also issued for former CEO of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin Pierre Duhaime and former construction chief Riadh Ben Alissa who are also charged with fraud, conspiracy, and bribery. Dr. Porter was of head of MUHC and chief negotiator of a $1.3 billion contract that was granted to SNC-Lavalin to build a huge new hospital for MUHC. Dr. Porter had managed MUHC for seven years.