Saturday, April 30, 2011


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post, "SLAPPs!"

This case was dismissed April 28, 2011. Source:

Dear Anonymous:

Thank you very much for the heads up. We were made aware of this case earlier by one of our readers but had lost track of it. It's always nice to see a judge exercising some common sense in a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.

The problem with the link provided is it has about a 3-second life cycle after which a message appears asking the viewer to login. There's a charge of $2.95 per article. Being a low budget operaton (read no budget) we Googled to find a cut down version of the original story covered elsewhere:

Clare L. Pieuk

Canada's new poster child?

Note: We first saw this poster being held by demonstrators marching to the Manitoba Legislature protecting the lack of clean drinking water on the province's northern reservations covered in a video report by APTN April 28, 2008. It accompanied today's article in the Winnipeg Free Press entitled, "Band members protest INAC's handling of flood problems."

It's in reference to the federal government (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) recently sending slop buckets to reservations that complained of water conditions.

Friday, April 29, 2011

"Judge Zagel, we think Blago is guilty as hell and we don't have tickets to Oprah's final show can we be on the jury?"

Think Blagojevich is guilty? Join his jury!

Natasha Koreski
April 29, 2011
An "effen golden" ticket to the Oprah Show has gotten one juror excused from jury duty in Rod Blagojevich's retrial, but defense lawyers are complaining that three people remain in the jury pool even though they initially said they believed the former governor was guilty.

Attorneys took issue in a Friday court filing with three potential jurors who said on initial jury forms that they believed the former governor was guilty.

Judge James Zagel had allowed these people to remain in the jury pool over protests from the defense. Zagel said he had questioned the individuals and remained convinced that they could put preconceptions "to one side" and be fair at trial.

The defense still has a chance to kick the people off the panel, but they will have to use up one of their peremptory strikes to get them off. Other jurors, who Zagel deemed to be unfair (or, in one case because she had a ticket to go to the Oprah Show) were stricken "for cause" by the judge. Blagojevich was asked this week if that woman's Oprah ticket was "golden" as he famously described the U.S. Senate seat appointment on tape. No, he said, it was "effen golden."

From the defense motion:

#116 who wrote: "MY PERSONAL BIAS IS THAT HE'S GUILTY"" Every chance he gets he keeps saying he will testify. I think I would hold it against him if he does not testify."

#121 who wrote: "Sounds like defendant is guilty"

#160 who wrote: "I believe he is guilty and has a different private persona and a fake public persona. I followed the trial closely in news and my ringtones are downloaded bleepin' quotes of Rod Blagojevich I got from the Springfield newspaper website."Natasha Korecki is the Federal Court Reporter for the Chicago-Sun-Times, covering federal news, corruption investigations and trials.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

All is not well in Twitterdom - stuck in neutral!

Trouble @ Twitter

Boardroom power plays, disgruntled founders, and CEO switcheroos are clipping the wings of this tech high flier

By Jessi Hempel, senior writer
April 14, 2011
FORTUNE -- In March, shortly after Jack Dorsey went back to work for Twitter, the company he co-founded four years ago, he did a Q&A session with an entre­preneurship class at Columbia Business School. As students tapped away on their laptops (were they sending tweets?), Dorsey, 34, answered questions about his commitment to his new gig as Twitter's product chief. Dorsey, after all, is also CEO of . We're just humans running these companies." And he compared managing a startup to, of all things, supervising a theater company. Square, a hot payments business, and he returns to the job for almost two years; then operating chief Dick Costolo assumed the top job.) "Seems like a revolving door," mused the interviewer. Twitter after a rocky run as its CEO -- the board demoted him in 2008. (Co-founder Evan Williams took over and held Dorsey laughed lightly and replied, "You know, we're just individuals.

There's no shortage of drama at Twitter these days: Besides the CEO shuffles, there are secret board meetings, executive power struggles, a plethora of coaches and consultants, and disgruntled founders. (Like Williams. The day after Dorsey announced his return to the company -- via tweet, naturally -- Williams quit his day-to-day duties at the company, although he remains a Board Member and Twitter's largest shareholder, with an estimated 30% to 35% stake.)innovation has stalled and management is in turmoil at one of Silicon Valley's most promising startups, which some 20 million active users rely on each month for updates on everything from subway delays to election results -- and w These theatrics, which go well beyond the usual angst at a new venture, have contributed to a growing perception that hich a growing number of companies, big and small, seek to use to market themselves and track customers.

One of Twitters' earliest and most avid users Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) confers with company co-founder Dorsey.

Just two years ago Twitter was the hottest thing on the web. But in the past year U.S. traffic at, the site users visit to read and broadcast 140-character messages, has leveled off. Nearly half the people who have Twitter accounts are no longer active on the network, according to an ExactTarget report from January 2011. It has been months -- an eternity in Silicon Valley -- since the company rolled out a new product that excited consumers. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg used to watch developments at Twitter obsessively; now he pays much less attention to the rival service. Meanwhile companies are hungry to advertise, but Twitter hasn't been able to provide marketers with enough opportunities. Last year the company pulled in a mere $45 million in ad revenue, according to research firm eMarketer. Facebook brought in $1.86 billion.

Twitter doesn't lack talented engineers, potential paying customers, or loyal users -- and it certainly has plenty of money in the bank: It has raised more than $360 million from such heavyweights as Jeff Bezos and Kleiner Perkins. The problem is a Board and top executive team that don't always appear to have control of its wide-ranging cast of characters, including founders who have attained near-celebrity status (another co-founder, Biz Stone, is a regular on NPR, and earlier this year Dorsey was profiled in Vanity Fair), headstrong and divisive managers, and investors used to getting their way. For some time Twitter's runaway growth -- in the first half of 2009, Twitter added more users more quickly than almost any web service in history -- masked its execution problems. But now, with growth of traffic to its site slowing and its rivals beefing up (new social-media darling Groupon has raised more than $1 billion, and Facebook has been on a hiring spree), Twitter needs to get its act together or risk losing buzz, potential ad revenue, and its bright future too.

To be fair, Twitter's founders didn't set out to build the next Facebook: Consumers turned it into a social phenomenon and kept signing on to see what it was about. Dorsey, Stone, and Williams started the service as an experimental side project; it was never designed to accommodate the 200 million–plus registered accounts worldwide it now hosts. Twitter crashed so frequently in its early days that its "fail whale" logo that signaled the service was down became a cultural icon emblazoned on ironic hipster T-shirts.

Twitter executives say they spent much of 2010 investing in infrastructure to make the service more reliable. They also have taken steps to address management shortcomings. Twitter has worked with famed startup coach Bill Campbell, an Apple Board member and former Intuit (INTU) CEO. Costolo, Twitter's current CEO, spent his first six weeks on the job creating and refining the company's first mission statement—"Instantly connect people everywhere to what's most meaningful to them"—and reminding Twitter employees how valued they are. And the company tells Fortune that in coming months Twitter will roll out new features and ad products, including a set of services aimed at helping small businesses market themselves on Twitter. Says Costolo: "We've only achieved 1% of what Twitter can be."

Even yet management tackles its executive and product problems, a major challenge looms: Twitter needs to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up. It's one of the reasons Dorsey is back at Twitter, but coming up with Twitter's raison d'être is a tall order for a visionary who has another big job. Twitter CEO Costolo insists that the company isn't a "social network." But what is it? A media company? A communications tool? Or even something more? Twitter executives need to answer those questions, and fast. "Twitter could be 10 or even 100 times bigger. I'm hopeful for that," says Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and a partner at Greylock Partners. (Hoffman doesn't own a direct stake in Twitter, but he reached out to Fortune to offer his comments when he learned a story was in the works.) "But it's not a given. It's never a given."

Twitter's rocky road to social-media stardom

Twitter hates being lumped in with Facebook as a social network, but comparing the two companies helps illustrate why Twitter finds itself stuck in neutral. Not long after founding Facebook in his Harvard dorm room, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stopped talking about the company as a social site and started telling people he was building a digital phone book for the new millennium, and he never wavered from that grandiose vision. He brought in seasoned executives to manage the company early on, and although he still dabbles in writing code, he spends his time refining the product and strategy. He's been criticized for being ruthless, ambitious, and single-minded in his quest to build Facebook -- a common knock on the few founders who stay atop their companies. (Exhibit A: Bill Gates.)

The Twitter trio took a quirkier, more meandering path to social-media stardom. In 2006, Evan Williams was striking out with Odeo, the startup he'd founded to help people discover and create podcasts. Apple's (AAPL) iTunes had rendered his idea irrelevant. Trouble was, he still had venture capital funding. Williams encouraged employees to experiment with new ideas, hoping something might stick. Jack Dorsey, a young engineer with a deep understanding of the tech behind taxi-dispatch services, suggested a service called Twttr (the vowels came later) that would let people answer the question "What are you doing?" by text message. The idea resonated, and so, with help from Biz Stone, Odeo's creative director, Dorsey built a prototype in two weeks. When the company was incorporated a year later, Dorsey, the brains behind the product, became CEO, and Stone was chief creative officer. Williams, who grabbed the title of Twitter chairman, didn't join Twitter full-time until the spring of 2008.

Unsure of what they'd created, the founders basically turned Twitter over to its users -- initially a bunch of techie early adopters -- and watched what they did with it. The result s a bit of anarchy: The crowd developed an unintuitive language all its own (the hashtags and retweets and other abbreviations all came from users); an ecosystem of independent "dashboard" companies such as TweetDeck and HootSuite emerged to help consumers manage their Twittering -- a development that would prove to be a mixed blessing for Twitter (more on that in a moment).
Evan Williams appears on the Oprah show in 2009 and was at her side when she used Twitter for the first time.

Despite the funky jargon, consumers hopped on in droves (Oprah joined!), and Twitter's servers and software couldn't keep up with demand. By the end of 2008 the Board decided that Dorsey, a taciturn engineer with no previous management experience, was no longer the right CEO. Williams, who succeeded him, has been accused of pushing Dorsey out, but in an exclusive interview for this story, he put the responsibility for making that decision on the broader Board: "We thought about recruiting somebody from the outside," he says, "but the company at that stage was so fragile that bringing in someone from outside was risky. So the VCs asked me if I would do it."

By that time, communication among the Twitter founders, especially Dorsey and Williams, had started to fray. According to Greg Kidd, an early investor, Dorsey today is circumspect but firm on the subject of his relationship with Williams. "The most he's ever said about Ev is, 'We don't talk.'"

The Evan Williams years

When he took over as CEO in 2008, Williams faced huge challenges. The company had just 20 employees, almost entirely engineers, and during the first six months of his tenure, Twitter jumped from 5 million registered accounts to 71.3 million. The service was becoming more than just a venue for idle chatter, a fact driven home when, in 2009, the government put in a call to Williams to ask him to delay maintenance on the service so that Iranian voters could protest the election.

Williams, a reserved Nebraskan, recognized his strengths and weaknesses. That year he told Fortune, "Focus was always a big problem for me. I think about my last company, and in the last year before I shut it down I started 32 projects, one of which I completed." Nevertheless, Williams did manage to finish a number of projects at Twitter: He migrated Twitter to a new data center and revamped its technology; moved headquarters as the company grew, landing in offices in downtown San Francisco; made six small acquisitions; and hired another 280 employees, including most of the current management team.

Meet the players at Twitter

Twitters Board of Directors, March 2009 . From Left to right: Peter Fenton, Fred Wilson, Evan Williams, Bijan Sabat, Ted Wang, Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone.

In the fall of 2009 he brought on Dick Costolo, who had sold Feedburner to Google (GOOG), as the company's Chief Operating Officer. A friend to Williams, Costolo had already been advising the company on an informal basis and was an angel investor in Twitter. Having dabbled in improvisational theater early in his adulthood, Costolo inspires confidence with his refined public speaking ability, quick wit, and fast decision-making skills. Costolo's mandate was to figure out a way Twitter could make money and help Williams grow the company. Half a year after he arrived, he got up before a New York City audience to announce Twitter's killer ad product, Promoted Tweets (basically, ad-supported tweets), and implied that more tools for marketers were on the way.

Meanwhile Twitter turned to startup whisperer Bill Campbell and others to help Williams and Costolo strengthen management (For more on Campbell, see "The Secret Coach."). Campbell is the guy who helped Eric Schmidt take on the role of CEO and worked closely with the Google founders; he is referred to with deference in the Valley as "the coach." The results were mixed: Campbell attended board meetings, met with executives to offer advice, and was often seen around the office on Monday afternoons. He took an especially active role in trying to help the company's vice president of product, Jason Goldman, forge a working relationship with newly recruited engineering vice president Mike Abbott. Both credit him with helping them work together. But many sources say the relationship never got sorted out. In December, Goldman left abruptly and was replaced on the board. Campbell, who declined to comment, spends less time at Twitter now, sources close to the company say.

By October 2010, Williams had run out of steam. There are different accounts of why he left Twitter. Williams says he demoted himself, naming his friend Costolo to replace him. Multiple sources close to the Board say its members asked him to step aside, but no Board member will confirm that. Whatever the reason, Williams left in December for vacation, extended it to January, then through March. On March 29, the day after Dorsey returned as Product Chief, Williams announced he wouldn't return to the company in a management role.

How big is it really? And is it a moneymaker?

Much like learning to surf or ride a bike, you have to develop a feel for using Twitter. Many users never do, signing up to try it and then giving up. But for those who commit, it's addictive, entertaining, and cool. It's emerging as a real-time news reader, offering users a sampling of what's going on in the world. Dip into your Twitter stream for two minutes, and you may discover that four New York Times journalists were kidnapped in Libya and your train line is experiencing delays. But to the uninitiated, the service is a bit of a mystery.

Just how popular is Twitter? Tracking its growth is complicated in part because many people tweet via dashboards such as TweetDeck (making it hard for Twitter to aggregate the mass viewership that many advertisers covet). The company says it has more than 200 million registered accounts (Facebook has 600 million subscribers), but users are allowed multiple accounts. The company also trumpets that the service had 155 million tweets daily by the end of the first quarter, a jump of 41% over the prior quarter, but many tweets -- news headlines, for example -- are often churned out by computers, not humans visiting One key measurement of Twitter's popularity,'s traffic, indicates a disturbing trend: ComScore shows that growth of U.S. visitors to the site has leveled off more than a year after its massive spike upward in 2009. (Twitter disputes this, pointing to Quantcast data that show a 50% increase in worldwide traffic in the past five months.)

Indeed, Twitter continues to enjoy accelerating growth overseas, and data that Twitter provides from Google Analytics show that international traffic to the site jumped 83% in the past year. But slowing growth in the U.S. market is an important indicator of the company's health -- the U.S. is the biggest ad market and vital to Twitter's moneymaking plans. It also is worth noting that the 20-month plateau has come so early in the company's trajectory; it is one thing for a company with dominant market share to peak. Twitter was a niche when its domestic traffic started to flatten.

To be sure, garnering new users and boosting traffic to Twitter's website are only one piece of the moneymaking equation. Many believe that Twitter's search results, which increasingly show up on other sites, are its real jewels. For anyone striving to see events as they unfold, there are few better places to turn. And thanks to two critical search deals signed in 2009, those results frequently turn up tweets in Google and Microsoft's (MSFT) Bing searches. Type "Obama budget" into Google, and on the first page of results, alongside links to traditional news outlets and the federal government website, you may see a link to a Politico blog that someone you follow has tweeted. This is one area in which the service has the upper hand over Facebook. Facebook communications are private unless a user chooses to make them public; all tweets are public, which gives marketers a potentially richer pool of content for targeted ads.

Right now, however, advertisers have limited options on Twitter. There are ad-sponsored tweets that appear at the top of search results -- on or some Twitter services -- and relate to the nature of the inquiry. Search for "Jet Blue" on Twitter, for example, and your first result is a promoted tweet posted by @DeltaVacations. Then there are promoted accounts, basically paid ads that sit in the right-hand corner of Promoted Trends, the most expensive option of the bunch, can appear just once in a day and occur when a company pays to place its topic (#ChipotleGold) among the most organically popular topics (Rihanna and Britney). Verizon Wireless (VZ) ran six Promoted Trends for an NCAA March Madness campaign, paying $120,000 a day for the global ads.

But Twitter executives aren't always on the same page when it comes to moneymaking endeavors -- perhaps because the company lacks a coherent philosophy about what it wants to deliver to customers in the first place. At the beginning of March, the company released an updated Twitter iPhone application with a new feature called a Quick Bar. This bar ran across the top of a Twitter stream and broadcast trending topics. It included the things people were actually tweeting about most, but also the occasional promoted trend, for which companies paid $120,000. A small group of vocal tech pundits cried foul, with one dubbing it the "Dickbar," after Costolo. The company immediately modified the product. "They roll things out in an almost sheepish way," says eMarketer analyst Paul Verna. "When it doesn't work out, they say it was a test. It's like a batter getting up to the plate and bunting all the time."

Can they get their act together?

Three days after Dorsey's March 28 return to daily duty at Twitter, the company killed the Dickbar. Dorsey came back to Twitter after the company had tried and failed to lure two senior product managers from Google. In both cases the company was fairly close to closing the deal when Google made counteroffers, showering them with restricted stock grants that are reported to be worth more than $50 million in each case. (Clearly, product people are in high demand in Silicon Valley.) And so product development will fall to Dorsey and new hire Satya Patel, who earlier spent four years working on AdSense at Google -- but Patel also plans to keep Board seats on the startups he advises. Dorsey, too, will continue to run Square, which is currently in high-growth mode. On the day the announcement was made, Dorsey, who declined requests to be interviewed for this article, tweeted, "Today I'm thrilled to get back to work at @Twitter leading product as Executive Chairman. And yes: leading @Square forevermore as CEO." Though Dorsey, through a spokesman, denies saying it, three people close to Square say Dorsey told them that he views his involvement with Twitter as short term.

Three days after Dorsey's March 28 return to daily duty at Twitter, the company killed the Dickbar. Dorsey came back to Twitter after the company had tried and failed to lure two senior product managers from Google. In both cases the company was fairly close to closing the deal when Google made counteroffers, showering them with restricted stock grants that are reported to be worth more than $50 million in each case. (Clearly, product people are in high demand in Silicon Valley.) And so product development will fall to Dorsey and new hire Satya Patel, who earlier spent four years working on AdSense at Google -- but Patel also plans to keep board seats on the startups he advises. Dorsey, too, will continue to run Square, which is currently in high-growth mode. On the day the announcement was made, Dorsey, who declined requests to be interviewed for this article, tweeted, "Today I'm thrilled to get back to work at @Twitter leading product as Executive Chairman. And yes: leading @Square forevermore as CEO." Though Dorsey, through a spokesman, denies saying it, three people close to Square say Dorsey told them that he views his involvement with Twitter as short term.

Costolo doesn't think this part-time arrangement is problematic. He's hopeful Dorsey will draw on his design background to inspire Twitter's ranks and shape the evolution of the product. (Dorsey's Square has won plaudits for its elegant design.) "I asked Jack to come back in this role to be the conceptual authority on the products at Twitter and to work with the design and user-support team to allow us to bring clarity to the process of how we develop at Twitter," he said.

Since Twitter was invented, Internet behemoths have been clamoring to buy it in the belief that it is the one social service with the potential to compete with Facebook. Last fall Microsoft, Google, and Facebook itself all considered buying the company. Microsoft never made an offer, according to sources, but Facebook is believed to have offered $2 billion for Twitter, and Google, by far the most serious, offered as much as $10 billion. Many question why Twitter didn't sell itself. Microsoft once offered to pay $44.6 billion for Yahoo (YHOO), after all. Today Yahoo is valued at half that.

Twitter's Board members are a high-powered crew. Besides William, Dorsey, and Costolo, the Board includes venture capitalists Peter Fenton, Fred Wilson, and Bijan Sabet, former Netscape CFO Peter Currie, former Doubleclick CEO David Rosenblatt, and Flipboard founder Mike McCue. These alpha males disagree about a lot of things, according to many sources, but they all agreed not to sell Twitter. Indeed, in a hotly contested financing round, the company raised another $200 million led by Kleiner Perkins at a $3.7 billion valuation. When the company accepted the financing, management and the existing Board felt that Kleiner partner John Doerr did not belong on the Board. He is a Board member at Google, which is a potential acquirer of Twitter, and a source of future employees. Instead, Twitter and Kleiner Perkins decided they'd choose two mutually agreed-upon representatives to join Twitter's Board.

That's why it was odd that when the January Board meeting rolled around, Doerr showed up. No one will say whether he was invited -- and no one there told him to go home. Instead, the Board called a private executive session after the official Board meeting to hash out the more sensitive business. Asked about this directly, Costolo said he would not discuss it, and Doerr didn't return requests for an interview.

Board member Peter Fenton, a partner at Benchmark Capital, acknowledges that the making of Twitter hasn't been pretty. "The act of getting from there to here was violent," he says. "We've had a revolving door of senior leaders who leave." But he says he's pleased with the current crew. "The attribute I've now been able to see is that the team is building the respect and affection that is required to get to the next level."

It's almost quaint to hear one of Silicon Valley's most sophisticated investors speak of "respect" and "affection." When tech investors and entrepreneurs talk about expanding their companies, they tend to focus on new products or untapped markets. On the other hand, if Dorsey is right and managing a startup is indeed like managing a theatrical company, it probably is a good idea to give the performers and stagehands a little love. That way maybe they can #gettheiracttogether.

Jessi HempelJessi Hempel is a New York-based technology writer for Fortune. She has written extensively about digital media, online advertising and social networking. Before joining Fortune in July 2007, Hempel worked at BusinessWeek and most recently served as their innovation department editor. Hempel is a graduate of Brown University and received a Masters in Journalism from The University of California at Berkeley.

With additional reporting by Daniel Roberts.

Jack and the magical beanstalk!

Layton would make best PM, voters say
Sarah Boesveld
April 27, 2011
Poll after poll Wednesday confirmed Jack Layton's NDP is in solid second place even as a new leadership survey suggests Canadians now feel he'd make the best prime minister of the pack.

The unprecedented boost in NDP support shows itself in a new leadership poll by Ipsos Reid, which found Mr. Layton is the best candidate for prime minister.

The poll conducted for Postmedia News and Global National saw 45% of respondents rank Mr. Layton as the best prime minister material, just cruising past Conservative leader Stephen Harper who sits at 42% in that category after falling five points from two weeks ago. But despite Mr. Layton’s success in that category, the Conservative leader is still seen as the man who will “get things done,” and shepherd the country through tough economic times, the poll found.

“On all the issues of competence, particularly as they relate to economic competence, Harper continues to lead the pack,” said Ipsos Reid president Darrell Bricker.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff fared the worst in the leadership poll, with only 13% of the 1,023 adults surveyed saying he’s the best bet for prime minister. That’s down six points from when the same question was posed two weeks ago. The sample size for this poll, conducted online between April 19 and 21st, would usually have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

At least four other polls released Wednesday mirrored this dueling dynamic between the NDP and Conservative parties, all showing a continued rise in orange support with the Tories still leading the pack. They also show the Liberals’ continued downward slide, a decline the party has been grappling with since the NDP started making gains in the polls last Thursday.

The latest poll from Nanos Research, a three-day rolling survey for the Globe and Mail/CTV, showed the NDP in a solid second place at 27.8%. That’s a full 10 points behind the Conservatives’ 37.8% but farther ahead of the Liberals’ 22.9%, a number that has been declining with each passing day. Wednesday’s poll from EKOS Research also showed a drop in Liberal support, dipping to 22.9% while the NDP and Conservatives held firm to their numbers, at 28.1% and 34% respectively.

EKOS president Frank Graves said the NDP surge has kept its momentum, making for a “huge transformation” in the race. The last EKOS poll on Tuesday showed the Liberals at 24%, a position they considered to be “sub-Dion levels,” referring to the last race under the banner of former leader Stephane Dion, which drew disappointing results.

Almost one-third of Canadians are throwing their support behind the NDP, Wednesday’s poll conducted for the Toronto Star and La Presse said. That’s only five points back from the Conservatives at 35%. Like the EKOS poll, the Liberals are sitting at 22% among respondents.

“Now the NDP surge has become more solid, with marked increases in Quebec and Ontario, and a higher level of committed voters who say they will not change their mind before election day,” the poll said. “These gains have come at the expense of the Liberals and the Bloc (Quebecois).”

The Bloc, which sat at 7% nationally, dropped two points in this poll. They’re at second place in Quebec with 29%, while the NDP enjoys 38% of support there.

Forum Research has the biggest squeaker of a poll, showing a tightening gap between the surging NDP and the leading Conservatives, placing the left-leaning party just three points behind the Tories. Thirty one per cent of respondents said they support the NDP, while the Conservatives slipped from 36% to 34% in the most recent poll. Again, the Liberals are at 22%, sitting squarely in third place. Some of the Tories’ slips occurred in the Atlantic provinces, according to the poll, showing a drop in support to 26% from 33% on April 21. The NDP’s boost in Quebec is also evident in this poll, which also shows NDP support rising in Ontario.

With reports from Postmedia News

Attention micro-bloggers!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our "Blackie" is no "Whitey!"

"Enemy to those who make him an enemy ..... friend to those who have no friend - that's Blackie!"

Winter Blues: While in prison together in 1997, Steve 'The Rifleman' Flemmi told members of the Winter Hill Gang that he and James 'Whitey' Bulger were FBI informants.

John Martorano guns for 'The Rifleman'
By Howie Carr
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One day in 1997, they all filed back into Judge Wolf’s courtroom for another day of hearings. The defendants — Johnny and Jimmy Martorano, Stevie Flemmi, Frankie Salemme and Robert DeLuca — all sat together in the jury box. This day, Wolf announced he would like to see Flemmi and his lawyer, Kenny Fishman, alone in his chambers. In private, the judge told Stevie that the next day he was going to release his name — as well as those of Whitey and Sonny Mercurio — as informants. Wolf told him that this would be his final opportunity to agree to testify.

That night, everyone climbed wearily onto the bus back to Plymouth — everybody except Stevie. They all thought he was gone for good. But after dinner, Flemmi bounded back into Cellblock H and announced that he needed to get everyone together because he had an announcement to make. They filed into a small room next to the visitors’ area.

“I was an informant for over thirty years,” Stevie said. “And so was Whitey. Wolf’s going to tell you that in court tomorrow. But I wanted you to hear it from me first, because it’s not what you think it is. Me and Whitey gave them (expletive) and got back gold in return.”

Martorano: “I was crushed. I mean, I loved that guy. Now I wanted to kill him and at the same time I was heartbroken. Stevie said he gave them (expletive)? It wasn’t (expletive) to get himself and Whitey cut out of the race-fixing indictment when all the rest of us went down.

“Yeah, he and Whitey gave ’em (expletive) all right — and I was the (expletive). Me and my brother and Howie (Winter) and all the rest. And these two guys were the godfathers of my sons!

“It was killing me, thinking about what they’d done. Then on top of everything else, I started feeling guilty. This was all my fault. It was me who brought them both into the gang. Whitey came to me; I’m the one who introduced him to Howie. If I don’t help him out ’cause I owed Billy O a favor, maybe the Mullens would have killed him and none of this happens. And then Stevie — sure, Howie helped him come back from Montreal, too, but I was the one who was pushing Howie to do it, whispering in his ear every day. It’s all my fault, that’s what I’m thinking.

“I says, Well, (expletive) it, this is just too embarrassing. I don’t want people to think I’m involved in this. I’m in tears. I loved this guy at one point but (expletive) it, I’ll just kill him . . .

“I think I could have killed him and gotten away with it. I planned it out for a while. Even if they got me for it, so what? I’m facing one murder charge instead of twenty. Plus, if I don’t kill him, for the rest of my life — my life in prison — people who Stevie put in jail will be asking me, ‘Why didn’t you stop him when you had the chance?’

“My plan was simple. I was three doors down from him. The doors are locked at 9 p.m., and at 6 a.m. they press a master button, and all the cells are unlocked. There were cameras everywhere, but that time of day, before dawn, it was real dark, too dark for the camera to catch anything but a shadow. What I would do is, I would go into his cell and either strangle or stab him, then pull the blanket over his head, and close the cell door behind me, locking it. Then I’d go down to the mess hall and get in line.

“See, Plymouth was a boring place. They didn’t have jobs there. They might find his body right afterward, but chances are they don’t discover he’s dead for twelve hours — until the first lockdown of the night, at 6:30. We talked about it, and one of the other guys offered to help me out if I needed any assistance.”

From Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano: Whitey Bulger’s Enforcer and the Most Feared Gangster in the Underworld by Howie Carr. Copyright © 2011 by the author and reprinted by permission of Forge Books, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited.

The continuing adventures of (Boston) "Blackie!"

Enemy to those who make him an enemy ..... friend to those who have no friend - that's Blackie!"

Good Day Readers:

Senior Law Society of Manitoba staff have responded to our request for information on the continuing saga of Blackie. There will be a set down hearing open to the public on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 (12:30) at the LSM's offices on Kennedy Street. This will be the fourth preliminary meeting. A disciplinary committee hearing date has yet to be established.

Clare L. Pieuk

Prime Minister Layton?

NDP trail Tories by just three points new poll finds
Kathryn Blaze Carlson
April 27, 2011 Jack Layton raises his cane at a campaign rally in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Fred Greenslade/Reuters)

Conservative leader Stephen Harper no longer enjoys a comfortable lead ahead of the surging NDP, as a new poll shows the left-leaning party swelling to within just a few points of the reigning Tories.

According to the latest Forum Research poll, Jack Layton’s party enjoys the support of 31% of those surveyed — only three points behind the governing Conservatives, who fell to 34% from the 36% support the party gleaned as of April 21. The Liberals, having been reduced to third place in a slew of recent polls, dwindled to 22% in this latest survey, while the Bloc Quebecois remained unchanged at 6%.

If these numbers are reflected on polling day, the NDP could grow from 37 to 108 seats in the House of Commons, forming the official opposition in a Parliament that would host 137 Tory MPs, 60 Liberals, and just 3 Bloc representatives. The poll, based on a telephone survey of 3,150 randomly selected eligible voters across the country, was conducted on Tuesday.

“With the NDP continuing to gain steam from coast to coast, and both the Liberal and Conservative party support lagging, the key question now is whether the NDP have the ground troops to deliver their vote on election day,” Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, said in a press release.

The poll shows the Tories losing considerable ground in the Atlantic provinces, where support has apparently slipped from 33% to 26% since April 21. There, NDP support rose 13 points to 35%. In La Belle Province, 40% of voters said they support the NDP, having usurped a small percentage of votes from both the Bloc and Liberal parties there.

The New Democrats orange tide is also sweeping Ontario, according to the poll, which showed the party rising six points to capture 26% support. The lion’s share of that gain came at the expense of the Tories, who slipped from 42% to 38% in the battleground province.

As the federal election campaign enters its final days, the NDP will be looking to ensure their momentum sticks — the party tends to shed support to the Grits in the final stretch, as voters flop to the party once known as the only camp that could conceivably defeat the Tories.

Results based on the total sample are considered accurate +/- 1.8%, 19 times out of 20. The regional results are less accurate.

Do you qualify for a pardon?

Good Day readers:

Undoubtedly, there are those needlessly being harmed in their professional and personal lives because of a criminal record who qualify for a pardon. Recently we were contacted by a representative from The National Pardon Centre a non-profit, family run organization with offices in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. NPC is RCMP accredited as a fingerprinting agency capable of handling a file from start to finish.

The National Pardon Centre contributed the following article which is being posted as a public service. For more informatin visit

Clare L. Pieuk

Canada’s pardon program is remarkably fair. Eligibility for a pardon is not based on the judgment of a third party it is only a matter of meeting the requirements set forth by the Parole Board of Canada. The first condition for being eligible for a pardon is that the sentence must be completed and a waiting period, in which the applicant is considered to have been of “good conduct”, must be met. Since criminal offences have different levels of severity, different waiting periods are established for different offences.

In Canada we have two categories of offence, summary and indictable but many people will be more familiar with the equivalent American terms, Misdemeanor and Felony. However, in the Canadian case the terms do not reflect jurisdiction. They only reflect that the Crown has determined if an offence is considered to be less or more serious.
Once the sentence is complete (all fines are paid, jail time completed, probationary period is over, etc.) a 3 year waiting period must be met for summary offences and a 5 year waiting period must be met for indictable offences. In some more extreme cases involving sexual offences or offences causing bodily harm a 10 year waiting period is imposed. Remember that the waiting period is in addition to the sentence. Therefore, if a serious offender received a 5 year prison term then 15 years must pass before he/she becomes eligible for a pardon.

Recent legislative changes give the Parole Board discretion to refuse any application for any reason whatsoever but this power is unlikely to be exercised in all but the most extreme cases.

Despite some recent controversy surrounding Bill C 23 B and the proposed restrictions on pardons being pursued by the Conservative Party there is no doubt that Canada’s pardon program is a positive one. It has allowed a huge number of people to put mistakes in the past and move on with their lives allowing people to become gainfully employed.

It should be noted, however, that a pardon does not erase the fact that a person was convicted of a criminal offence. Rather, someone who has received a pardon has the criminal record removed from public file. It is sealed and kept separate and apart and only permission from the Public Safety Minister will allow the file to be accessed. This happens in cases where a person re-offends and the pardon is then revoked. Statistics maintained by the Parole Board of Canada indicate that the revocation rate is less than 3%, which demonstrates that the vast majority of people who receive a pardon never re-offend.

If you have a criminal record it is wise to apply for a pardon even before you are eligible. The paperwork process is long and tedious, involving communications with the RCMP, the courts, local police services and the Parole Board of Canada. Once a pardon is granted you should never have to reveal to anyone that you were convicted of a crime. But remember a pardon is all or nothing. You cannot pardon an old charge and wait to pardon a more recent one at a later date. A pardon is indication that you have been of good conduct. So, stay out of trouble with the law and the government will eventually deem you eligible to have your criminal record removed and you can get on with your life.

About the Author

The National Pardon Centre is a family-run, non-profit organization that offers Canadian pardon services and US entry waiver services with offices in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"I will walk over anyone who wants to keep our Wheat Board ....." Add that to your list Mr. Harper!

Stephen Harper's most controversial quotes compiled - by Tories
By Joan Bryden
April 25, 2011

OTTAWA — A 500-page dossier of potentially damaging remarks by Stephen Harper has hit the election campaign, but don't blame the opposition parties — it was prepared by the Conservatives.

The thick binder of material, obtained by the Liberals, is a treasure trove of controversial Harper quotes, listed alphabetically by subject matter. It covers everything from abortion to western alienation and reaches as far back as the 1980s.

The fact that the Tories felt compelled to research their own leader suggests they believed Harper's past penchant for blunt, uncompromising talk could pose a problem on the campaign trail.

And indeed many of his controversial stands in the past are in stark contrast to the positions he espouses today.

On the campaign trail now, Harper stresses that he has no hidden agenda to reopen the abortion file. But the Tory files include this 2002 boast from Harper, then a leadership contestant: "I'm not ashamed to say that, in caucus, I have more pro-life MPs supporting me than supporting Stockwell Day."

Harper is insisting now that he can erase the deficit by 2014 simply by cutting $4 billion a year in wasteful and inefficient spending. But in 1995, he said it would be impossible to eliminate the deficit without slashing social programs, which he noted account for two-thirds of federal spending.

"We would have to look at everything, you can't spare anything," he said then.

Then there's his 1995 assertion that "providing for the poor is a provincial, not a federal responsibility."

Since becoming prime minister, Harper has tried hard to woo Quebec, including masterminding a parliamentary motion recognizing the Quebecois people as a nation. But the quote dossier has numerous reminders of Harper's past refusal to countenance any type of special status for the province.

In 1992, he railed against a proposal to ensure Quebec a 25 per cent share of seats in the House of Commons, regardless of the province's share of the population.

"In fact, what's even more repulsive than the 25 per cent guarantee is the giving 18 new Commons seats to Quebec, which isn't even on the basis of population."

And in 1999, he argued that Quebec's language law was designed "to suppress the basic freedoms of English-speaking Quebecers and to ghettoize the French-speaking majority into an ethnic state."

Conservatives shrugged off release of the dossier, essentially maintaining that Harper's record in government is all that should matter to voters — not his long-ago comments while in opposition or heading up a right-wing advocacy group.

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a proud record of delivering (for)Canadians with strong leadership for the last 5 years," party spokesman Ryan Sparrow said in an email.

All parties go to enormous effort to dig up damaging comments by rival leaders and candidates and take great glee in exposing them at the most inopportune moments. But it's unusual to see a party collect its own leader's questionable quotes.

The research was begun in 2003 by Harper's former chief of staff, Tom Flanagan, who appears to have believed the old adage that forewarned is forearmed.

"When I became chief of staff in 2003, one of the first things I did was organize a 'Harper research' program to collect everything he had ever written or said in public," Flanagan wrote in his 2007 book "Harper's Team."

Flanagan declined to comment Monday on the binder of material obtained by the Liberals.

However, a Tory source who was familiar with the research project said the binder appears to be genuine. It includes an initial 359 pages of quotes, which were supplemented by about 100 more pages in two instalments in July 2003 and January 2004.

A cover note on the 2004 instalment says the quotes "that have the potential to be the most problematic are the quotations dealing with health care."

Some of those comments have already been mined by opposition parties to cast doubt on Harper's commitment to maintaining universal, publicly funded health care. Other quotes, in which Harper extols the virtues of allowing private, for-profit health delivery and a parallel private health-care system, seem to have gone largely unnoticed.

There's his 1997 claim that "the best system means having a system where you have as many tiers as possible and you bring in as many health-care dollars into this country as possible."

There's his 2002 assertion that "the private provision of publicly insured services should be permitted. The monopoly of provision of services is not a value that, in and of itself, is worth preserving."

Or his lament, also in 2002, that the Canada Health Act "rules out private, public-delivery options, It rules out co-payment, pre-payment and all kinds of options that are frankly going to have to be looked at if we're going to deal with the challenges that the system faces."

In 1995, Harper said "the federal government should contemplate" a proposal advanced by Quebec's finance minister wherein the federal government would transfer tax points, instead of money, to the provinces for social programs. With no cash transfers, Ottawa would lose its only hammer to enforce the Canada Health Act.

Among the other controversial comments:

— "I, too, am one of these angry westerners ... We may love Canada but Canada does not love us ... Let's make (Alberta) strong enough that the rest of the country is afraid to threaten us." Report Newsmagazine, December 2000.

— "As a religion, bilingualism is the god that failed. It has led to no fairness, produces no unity and cost Canadian taxpayers untold millions." Calgary Sun, May 2001.

— "You've got to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society." Report Newsmagazine, January 2001.

— "If a person doesn't want to vote, for whatever reason, that's their decision. It's not the business of the government." On a proposal to make voting in federal elections mandatory. Freedom Watch, January 2001.

— "(He) is not a serious scholar ... Saul is such an intellectual lightweight that a 10-km wind would blow him right off the ground." On John Ralston Saul, husband of then-governor general Adrienne Clarkson. Report Newsmagazine, April 2000.

— "Let's face it, the average backbench MP is little more than a bench warmer for his/her political party." Letter to The National Post, February 1998.

— "MPs are bit players in a top-down parliamentary system and role players on their own top-down partisan team." The Bulldog, August, 1998.

Is the orange crush coming to Saint Boniface, Manitoba?

Third time lucky!

Hi again Clare,

I've sent you a couple emails over the past two weeks and wanted to try one last time.

Thought you and the readers of would be interested in Flink12, a new and completely different social network that encourages private sharing in small groups. As I'm sure you are aware, a number of the larger social networks have had serious issues around privacy, security, and a dilution of the meaning of "friends." Flink12 is the first of its kind to focus solely on the connections that are the most important in your life in a simple and fun way.

I've put together a microsite with info, images, videos, banners and more:

I would love for you to check it out and post a review of your thoughts. If you are able to post or tweet about your experience using Flink12 please send me the link so I can share it with my team. I’d be happy to answer any questions personally as well.

Thank you so much,

Brenda McEwan

Dear Brenda,

Thank you for writing

You'll have to excuse us if we seem a tad jaded but on average this site receives half a dozen unsolicited email daily - everything from Nigerian scam letters, to people selling how-to solutions to, yes, even invitations to pornography and that doesn't include the 3-4 telephone telemarketers.

Our latest "scamsters" are rather amusing. It started with an unsolicited e-mail, "Hey, thank you for contacting us about starting your own online business click here if you wish to unsubscribe." Problem is when you do it simply sends you to a series of circular links.

Soon the e-mail begin addressing us as "suscriber" or "affiliate" but the message is always the same, "Wow, I just made $5,231.25 in only 2-hours using this super secret software sitting on my ass in front of a computer." It started with one individual now they're up to 4 or 5. They're trying to retail an item for which they'll get a percentage on each unit sold. We've never replied to any of their messages, nor will we, immediately deleting them but they keep coming. One would think these people would eventually get the hint.

In your case you seem to have a legitimate venture so we don't mind posting your e-mail and even added a logo for good measure. Hopefully, some of our readers will see it and get in touch. Good luck with your enterprise and let us know from time to time how it's doing.

Clare L. Pieuk

"I will walk over anyone who wants to keep our Wheat Board" ..... Stephen Harper

Good Day Readers:

But will Jack walk over Steve?

We have an interesting connection to this story. Anders Bruun a Winnipeg lawyer for years has represented a group of about 200 Canadian Wheat Board supporters (Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board).
Earlier this year (late February) in a session we attended he represented the FCWB before a panel of three federal court appeal judges who later wrote:

"Skillfully and with great clarity counsel for the applicants exposed the effects of the minister's (i.e. of Agriculture) decision on some of the producers rights on the issue of standing, it is common understanding that their resulting determination on standing is not a determination on the mertis of this case.'

As we noted at the time ("Is The Harper Government" ethically challenged? - March 21, 2011):

"While a partial victory for the FCWB, nevertheless, it is very important in that it represented a huge plus because The Friends were able to document in open court attempts by “The Harper Government” to secretly manipulate the last two CWB elections. In fact, 3 of the original appellants have gone on to be elected as Canadian Wheat Board Directors. In other words, the political payoff for The Friends has been huge."

But some of our Metis citizens may know Anders Bruun for another reason. In 2007 he, ably assisted by criminal defence lawyer Jeff Niederhoffer, successuflly defended former Manitoba Lieutenant Governor Yvon Dumont in a civil lawsuit brought by The Metis National Council. The decision was appealed and Mr. Bruun again won. Murray Trachtenberg prosecuted the case for the MNC.;

Fast forward to late January of 2011 where Anders Bruun successfully defended us in a civil suit (alleged defamation) brought against CyberSmokeSignals, this site's precursor, by the Canadian taxpayer financed Manitoba Metis Federation, its President David Chartrand and his Board of Directors. Once again Murray Trachtenberg prosecuted the case (He must be developing a complex by now!) at an estimated cost of about $250,000.

If Mr. Bruun was one of those Mr. Harper vowed to walk over last time we saw him he showed no visable signs such as footprints. Matter of fact he was in good spirits and smiling.

The video asks us to contact our candidate in the federal election so we'll be sending a copy of this posting to the incumbent for our Saint Boniface riding Conservative Shelly Glover. How say you Ms Glover regarding the Canadian Wheat Board? We 'll post any reply received.

Clare L. Pieuk

This one takes the cake!

Convicted murderer demands new trial after his wife confesses to sleeping with defence lawyer before, during and after the case- Wife says affair began after she offered to help lawyer with research and investigation

- 'New trial needed' - Assistant Ohio Public Defender

By Daily Mail Reporter
April 23, 2011

A murderer who bludgeoned and stabbed his parents to death has discovered his wife had an affair with his defence lawyer during his trial.

Robert Caulley, who is serving a life sentence for the horrific 1994 crime, learned that Celeste Caulley Bowman had a year-long affair with James Owen while he was in custody during court proceedings.

Mrs Caulley Bowman, who has now remarried another man, admitted the liaisons in court documents revealed to support Caulley's bid for a retrial.

In this October 17, 1997 photograph, Robert Caulley shakes hands with defence attorney James D. Owen with whom his wife (unbeknownst to him) was having an affair.

Interesting reaction: Celeste Caulley left, reacts to Caulley's guilty verdict. She was haveing an affair before, during and after with Owen.

The documents filed on April 20 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, in Columbus, Ohio, say the affair, which took place between 1997 and 1998, ended when Owen refused to leave his wife.

In the files she claimed she and Owen first had sex at his lakeside cottage, and then at a hotel the night he was convicted.

She wrote: 'Jim then drove us to a hotel where we stayed until the early hours of the morning and again ended up having sexual relations.

'Afterwards Jim wrapped his arms around me and told me he loved me, whispering, 'I love you, I love you, I love you.' "

According to AOL News, in the affidavit Caulley, 46, wrote: 'I was completely shocked to hear that this affair started while I was sitting in jail awaiting trial on murder charges.

'I never would have guessed that Jim and Celeste were in a sexual relationship at the time.'Retrial: Mr. Caulley is calling for a fresh trial after discovering his wife had and affair.

Caulley said he had no knowledge of the affair until Bowman's mother told him a few years ago.

Bowman has recently revealed details of the affair in the affidavit, claiming the relationship began after she offered to help Mr. Owen do some research and investigation.

Caulley, from Ohio, was found guilty in 1997 and sentenced to life in prison after his parents were found bludgeoned and stabbed to death during a botched robbery in 1994.

The aeronautical engineer was convicted of beating them with a shotgun with a broken stock after the case had been unsolved for three years.

Assistant Ohio Public Defender Kim Rigby told AOL News that Caulley's DNA profile was never found on the weapon and a new trial is needed.

'This conflict of interest hits at the heart of the attorney-client relationship,' she said.

'A duty of loyalty is owed to every client. Here, Jim Owen's loyalty was clearly divided between his duty to represent Caulley and his personal interest in continuing his relationship with Caulley's wife.

'A court cannot have confidence in the outcome of Caulley's trial based on this unethical behaviour.'

Caulley is arguing that, when he confessed to the murders, he was coerced by a prosecutor who allegedly told him to be co-operative with police.

Rob Warden, director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions based at Northwestern University, told AOL News that it could be a struggle to reverse the conviction, saying once you are convicted it's guilty until proven innocent.

Owen did not respond to AOL News immediately and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien could not be reached for comment.

'This conflict of interest hits at the heart of the attorney-client relationship.

'A duty of loyalty is owed to every client. Here, Jim Owen's loyalty was clearly divided between his duty to represent Caulley and his personal interest in continuing his relationship with Caulley's wife.

'A court cannot have confidence in the outcome of Caulley's trial based on this unethical behaviour'

- Assistant Ohio Public Defender Kim Rigby

i4i versus The Mighty Microsoft!

Microsoft vs i4i heads to Supreme Court
Lee-Anne Goodman
The Canadian Press
April 18, 2011

WASHINGTON—A Toronto-based company’s David-and-Goliath battle against tech giant Microsoft made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday as the august panel explored complex issues of patent infringement.

I4i sued Microsoft in 2007, and the lower courts have ruled that the world’s biggest software maker willfully infringed on the Canadian company’s patent for an editing tool it co-opted for Microsoft Word. The technology in question gave Word 2003 and Word 2007 users an improved way to edit XML, which is computer code that tells the program how to interpret and display a document’s contents.

Microsoft has been ordered to pay i4i a record $290 million (U.S.) in damages, and an injunction prevents it from selling versions of Word containing i4i’s technology.

The hour-long hearing before eight Supreme Court justices delved into the intricacies and the history of the U.S. patent system. Chief Justice John Roberts recused himself from the hearing since he owned more than $100,000 (U.S.) in Microsoft stock in 2009.

Microsoft wants the high court to make it easier for companies to challenge the validity of other firms’ patents. The current standard requires a defendant to prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that a plaintiff’s patent is invalid.

In essence, the Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether juries should be able to question whether a patent should have been issued in the first place when they’re considering patent infringement cases.

“It’s a bad thing not to give protection to an invention that deserves it,” Justice Stephen Breyer said in an exchange with Thomas Hungar, Microsoft’s lawyer.

“And it’s also a bad thing to give protection to an invention that doesn’t deserve it,” he said, adding such a situation is “bad for the economy.”

But Microsoft, Breyer added, was suggesting that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office “is out of control” and handing out patents with abandon, and asked for evidence that was true.

Justice Ruth Ginsburg asked Hungar whether the U.S. Congress had ever introduced legislation that would change the current standard requiring a company to prove the invalidity of a patent. Hungar said that hasn’t happened.

Seth Waxman, a lawyer for i4i, argued that’s because Congress hasn’t had a problem with the standard for almost three decades.

Hungar, a high-powered legal mind who worked previously as a U.S. deputy solicitor general, urged the court to overturn the lower court ruling, arguing that i4i’s patent was invalid because the Toronto firm was selling the product for four years prior to getting the patent.

Lawyers for i4i and the Obama administration argued, however, that there’s little point in granting patents to inventors if corporations can simply infringe upon them with impunity.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint, but I think it went very well,” Loudon Owen, i4i’s chairman, said on the steps of the iconic Supreme Court building following the hearing.

“The bottom line is whether there’s a robust patent system, and whether or not if you get a patent, it means something. If the law goes the way Microsoft wants it to, it will mean it will be very easy to invalidate patents, which will make it hard to justify why one seeks a patent in the first place.”

Several high-powered companies are supporting Microsoft in its battle against i4i, including Apple, Google and Cisco Systems. Smaller tech companies and venture capital firms, meantime, are rooting for i41.

The Supreme Court will hand down its decision in the case in June.

With only eight, rather than the usual nine, Supreme Court justices hearing the case, there could be a split decision. But in the event of a tie, the lower court ruling against Microsoft would be upheld.

Time to jump on the bandwagon or surf the orange wave?

Atlanta Roofing has left a new comment on your post, "Peeing on your political opponents' parade!"

But I thought on debate night how amazing Layton was and I sensed a certain je ne sais quoi about him. He seemed vibrant and strong and sharp. I thought then maybe there was going to be "something" big about him. He's my pick for winner of the election. Even if he only gets Opposition, he's still the winner. Grab a few more seats in Quebec, he's a winner. I've been amazed by him this campaign.
Dear AR:

Thank you for writing. Read on.

Clare L. Pieuk

NDP makes 'astonishing' move ahead of Liberals: poll

April 25, 2011
By Kathleen Harris,

The NDP has steamrollered over the Liberal party to land in second place nationally behind the front-running Conservatives, results of a new poll suggest.

The survey of more than 3,000 Canadians finds 28% of decided voters now support the NDP, compared with 23.7% who plan to vote Liberal. The Conservatives hold less than a six-point lead, sitting with 33.7% support, with just one week to go before election day.

Pollster Frank Graves calls it an unprecedented turn and “astonishing shift” for the NDP, which has traditionally trailed the two other main federal parties. Leader Jack Layton’s popularity is climbing most dramatically in Quebec, but building momentum in all regions of the country, according to the poll’s results.

“We have seen almost from Day 1, a slow, steady and now a dramatic rise where the NDP has gone from 14 points in a pre-writ poll to 28 points,” Graves said. “That is a doubling — I’ve never seen anything close to that.”

While numbers could still change significantly in the final week of the campaign, Graves said current figures suggest the NDP could take a “breathtaking” 100 seats. With that count, the once-unthinkable scenario of a Layton-led coalition with the Liberals begins to emerge, he said.

“It’s hard to imagine a 130-seat diminished Harper government would be able to hold on to power against a clear majority of seats and a major advantage in popular support for the NDP and the Liberals,” Graves said. “The idea that you could have a Jack Layton-led coalition sounds preposterous, but that’s what the numbers suggest.”

Current numbers likely would produce 131 seats for the Conservatives and about 69 for the Liberals, according to Graves. Together, the NDP and Liberals would have a clear majority with 38 more seats than the Conservatives, as well as a collective 20 more points in popular vote.

The NDP rise is not a blip, but rather a steady progression throughout the campaign that exploded last week and is now rocking most parts of the country. And because the NDP leads as the second-choice pick for voters, Graves said the growth potential may not be fully exhausted yet.

Women and younger voters are the biggest demographic groups moving over to the NDP camp. Graves believes Layton’s leadership style, his message of change and scandal-free record are appealing to voters.

“They like his positive style, funny disposition, courageous demeanour with his cane and getting out there talking about the average guy. I think that’s really working,” he said. “It’s a nice contrast to what they see as this sullen, controlling style of the prime minister or this intellectual style of Michael Ignatieff.”

Most of the NDP growth has come at the expense of the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec and the Green vote nationally, but the party also has chewed in to Liberal support.

Conservatives have been relatively stable through the campaign and are showing growing support with younger voters, but would not be in a position to form a majority government if current numbers hold. The Liberals have gained back some ground in Ontario, but are slipping nationally.

The EKOS poll surveyed 3,004 adult Canadians, including 2,783 decided voters, between April 22 and April 24. Results are considered accurate within plus or minus 1.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Those polled were asked:“If a federal election were held tomorrow, which party would you vote for?”

Monday, April 25, 2011

Having a pee will never be the same!

Is your monthly cable bill about to increase - again!

Shaw planning to implement UBB as early as this summer 'Through the course of our consultations with our customers, I think what we’ve seen from that is a recognition that the principal of "if you use more, you should pay more" holds true,' Shaw chief executive Bradley Shaw said. (Reuters/Todd Korol)

Matt Hartley
April 25, 2011

One of Canada’s largest Internet providers appears to be planning a move towards a metered pricing model for Web access, a move which has drawn swift condemnation from critics of so-called usage-based billing practices.

During a conference call with shareholders on April 13, executives with Calgary’s Shaw Communications Inc. alluded to plans to implement a usage-based billing (UBB) regime on its Internet customers as early as this summer.

Until recently, Shaw had managed to largely avoid the UBB firestorm that erupted earlier this year following CRTC’s January 25 ruling that effectively allowed larger Canadian Internet service providers (ISPs) such as BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada to impose the same bandwidth caps and overage fees on the the third-party ISPs which lease networks space from them, as they do on their own retail customers. In February, Shaw announced plans to hold a series of public consultation meetings with its customers before going ahead with any kind of usage-based billing.

However, it now appears that after meeting with its users, Shaw appears set to go ahead and implement some form of UBB on its retail customers.

“We are of the mind that we still have a tremendous upside in terms of pricing power on our Internet services and through the course of our consultations with our customers, I think what we’ve seen from that is a recognition that the principal of ‘if you use more, you should pay more’ holds true,” Shaw chief executive Bradley Shaw is quoted as saying in a transcript of the call from April 13.

“But we believe that as we work our way through some of the feedback that we received from them that there really is a win-win for our shareholders (as all of) their customers in the way that we offer our tiers of Internet services.”

Mr. Shaw said the company would have more to say about its new pricing and packaging plans in the “late spring, probably May, early June.”

“People have said to us, let’s not divide the internet product today,” Mr. Shaw said.

“Let’s figure out how to create a world class internet experience and then we can figure out how to do pricing and packaging from there. So, we think it would be reasonable to get further clarity before we’re going to go back and talk to some more customers about it, you’ll probably read about it on the social media like you seem to be reading about all the stuff, which is great and probably have more formal announcements end of May or early June.”

However, critics of UBB are slamming Shaw’s decision to go ahead with plans to implement new pricing schemes. — the populist organization that launched the Stop The Meter protest campaign, which garnered nearly half a million online supporters — accused Shaw’s executives of using “skewed language” and misrepresenting the views of its customers by claiming that users would be happy with UBB.

“Shaw expects Canadians to forget the outcry surrounding usage-based billing,” OpenMedia founder Steve Anderson said in a statement.

“This display of hubris is insulting not only to those who attended the consultations, but also to the half-a-million citizens who added their names to the Stop The Meter petition.”

The CRTC’s January ruling on so-called UBB enabled the country’s largest Internet providers to impose the same bandwidth caps and overage fees on their wholesale customers as they currently employ with their own retail customers.

In late March, Bell backed down and pulled its initial application to the CRTC, instead, putting forth a proposal for a new pricing model known as “aggregated volume pricing.”

Under a new proposal submitted to the CRTC, Bell would charge third-party ISPs for the total amount of data they use, and do away with overage charges for individual users on those networks. The move puts more power back into the hands of the wholesale ISPs which can then tailor their pricing structures accordingly, according to Bell.

Some of Canada’s largest ISPs have argued the caps and overage fees are necessary to fund future network upgrades and innovation, while critics of the initial ruling claim it is anti-competitive and essentially forces smaller ISPs to offer the same services as their larger competitors.