• They suffered for a decade, and he’ll pay for it for the rest of his life.

    Former school bus driver Ariel Castro pleaded guilty on Friday to kidnapping and raping three Cleveland women, in a missing persons case that galvanized a community and shocked North America.

    Castro agreed to a deal that will keep him in prison for the rest of his life but would avoid the death penalty. In exchange, he will be sentenced to 1,000 years in prison with no chance of parole.

    "I knew I was pretty much going to get the book thrown at me," Castro told an Ohio judge, according to Reuters.

    Castro had been held in custody since early May, when three women who had disappeared from their Cleveland homes about 10 years ago were rescued from his home alongside a six-year-old girl.

    [ More Brew: Message from Cleveland kidnapping victims sign of recovery ]

    Ariel Castro standing before a judge during his arraignment in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

    The three women – Gina DeJesus, 23, Michelle Knight, 32, and Amanda Berry, 27 – had disappeared in separate instances between 2002 and 2004 and were held captive in

    Read More »from Accused Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro pleads guilty, avoids the death penalty
  • Vancouver's Fountainhead Pub is boycotting Russian vodka to protest the country's anti-gay laws. Photo via Facebook.A Vancouver pub is on the cutting edge of a growing protest against Russia's anti-gay laws - banning the country's vodka from its premises.

    The Fountainhead Pub, found at the border of Vancouver's Davie Village — an area popular with the city's LGBT community — announced it would not sell Stolichnaya (known as Stoli) or Russian Standard vodka, or any other product from the former Soviet state.

    "We are doing this to make a small but worthwhile stand. Our thoughts are with the GLBT community members in Russia. We hope that the Russia government sees its error and swiftly corrects its decision," states a post on the company's Facebook page.

    The Fountainhead is not alone, hinting that other bars on the popular Davie Street had joined their boycott. Chicago's Sidetrack Bar has already removed Stolichnaya from its menu in protest, as has Seattle's Diesel nightclub, calling the Russian law a "witch hunt on the gay community.

    The boycott was also joined by influential gay advocate Dan Savage, who

    Read More »from Vancouver bar at the heart of Russian vodka boycott to protest anti-gay laws
  • Stop sign (Image from ishmael n. daro on Flickr)If you Google "fight traffic ticket Canada," you'll get close to 10 million hits, most of which appear to be lawyers and paralegals who want to help you get out of the citation that's going to dent your wallet and burden your licence with demerit points.

    As the penalties for pushing the vehicular envelope increase — rising fines, penalty points that affect insurance premiums — more drivers are reluctant to swallow even justified tickets as a "road tax."

    The odds of fighting a ticket and winning are probably long but sometimes if you do your homework, you can walk away victorious.

    It takes perseverance, though, and money. Just ask Myron Kinach of Delta, B.C., who thought the ticket he got for failing to stop at a stop sign was unjust.

    According to CBC News, Kinach was acquitted in B.C. Supreme Court today after convincing the judge he did indeed stop at the sign before being ticketed for rolling through the white-painted stop line a few feet further on.

    [ Related: Tory minister Bernier

    Read More »from Stop sign ticket victory more proof that traffic tickets are beatable, with homework
  • The City of Abbotsford was forced to remove the manure from the homeless gathering place following public outrage.
    I confess I'd be uncomfortable if homeless people set up camp in a park near my house but I'd draw the line on my city declaring open season on them.

    That appears to be what happened in Abbotsford, a bustling city of 141,000 about 40 minutes east of Vancouver. Residents of the tent camp across the street from a Salvation Army centre say they've been pepper-sprayed, had tents destroyed and, in a final indignity, found chicken poop spread over the site to make it uninhabitable.

    Now the homeless are fighting back the way any red-blooded Canadian would; they're going to court.

    The Canadian Press reports the Pivot Legal Society, which regularly clashes with authorities on behalf of residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, is filing claims for compensation for property lost or damaged in the anti-homeless offensive.

    "We've tried to sit around and talk and we've tried to ask and nothing's happening and we're sick and tired of waiting and obviously, they need a kick in the [butt] to get moving

    Read More »from Abbotsford, B.C. homeless group suing city over chicken manure dump
  • Kelowna RCMP received this machine gun during a June gun amnesty. The B.C. city ranked as Canada's most dangerous city, while Saskatchewan scored the distinction on a provincial level. Photo via CBC.Sure, crime may be on the decline across Canada. But things are always bad somewhere.

    Take Saskatchewan. Despite posting a decrease to its crime rate, the province remained the most dangerous place in Canada.

    Information recently released by Statistics Canada outlines a three-per-cent drop in police-reported crimes across the country. In fact, according to the report, the crime rate reached its lowest level in 40 years.

    "The decline in the crime rate in 2012 was driven by decreases in some of the most common offences, including mischief, break and enter, disturbing the peace, motor vehicle theft and possession of stolen property," the report reads.

    [ Related: Canada's police-reported crime rate falls again ]

    Also worth celebrating is a three-per-cent decrease to the country's score on the Crime Severity Index, which StatsCan uses to measure the severity of crime.

    Bully for us, Canada. We did it! We beat crime. Well, not quite. Reports of extortion were still on the rise, as were arson,

    Read More »from Saskatchewan still the most dangerous province: Stats Canada
  • Try to put yourself in the shoes of Crystal and Bruce Dunahee this week as they await results of a DNA test on a young man said to resemble a grownup version of their son, Michael, who disappeared more than two decades ago.

    The Victoria couple have been clinging to hope Michael is alive, 22 years after he vanished from a school playground where the family was taking in a touch football game.

    Crystal Dunahee speaks to media to mark the 20th anniversary of Michael's disappearance at a press conference in Victoria on March 23, 2011Now, according to the Globe and Mail, police are testing the DNA of a Vancouver-area man after receiving tips he bears a "remarkable" resemblance to Michael Dunahee, who disappeared without a trace March 24, 1991.

    Victoria police confirmed the move in a news release Wednesday.

    [ Related: Twenty-two years after Michael Dunahee’s disappearance, parents hold hope he’s still alive ]

    The man, who lives in suburban Surrey, reportedly posted a message on non-hockey form on canucks.com, the NHL club's fan web site.

    “I was contacted by Victoria police at my old work … and obviously I didn’t believe them at

    Read More »from DNA test should prove if B.C. man is Michael Dunahee, who vanished in 1991
  • Margaret Atwood's face would look great on the two-dollar coin. Photo courtesy CBC.It may have been missed under all the attention paid to the birth of Prince George, but another major change was recently announced in England. Beginning in 2017, the image of Jane Austen will appear on 10-pound notes.

    The Bank of England officially announced the change on Wednesday, confirming that the image of Charles Darwin, who currently appears on the bill, will be replaced by the author of Pride and Prejudice.

    It got me to thinking. Why doesn’t Canada follow suit? Sure, we’ve recently introduced a new line of banknotes, which feature Queen Elizabeth II and Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Canadarm and a scientist who certainly doesn’t appear to be Asian.

    But in 10 or 15 years from now, when a new circulation is announced, why not feature some artists on the bills? Why wouldn't we consider this? Is it that we don’t have authors as celebrated as Austen? Who does?

    [ Related: Jane Austen to be honoured on British banknotes ]

    "Austen is undoubtedly one of the most popular and widely read

    Read More »from England puts Jane Austen on banknote; let’s similarly celebrate a Canadian author
  • When William and Kate announced their newly born child would be named Prince George on Wednesday, those interested in fawning over the baby heir for another day rejoiced.

    The tyke's full name is George Alexander Louis, but his friends will call him George, Prince George or His Royal Highness of Cambridge.

    But George is such a common royal name, one wise woman mused to me, that the little child wouldn't have anything named after him. His predecessors have already had everything named in their honour.

    Prince George, B.C., is not shying away from comparisons to the newborn Prince George, celebrating the royal connection. Photo from Tourism Prince George via Twitter.It's a good point. The Commonwealth is wrought with George-isms, Canada notwithstanding. Prince George streets, statues, plaques are everywhere. Even cities, such as the British Columbia community of 80,000 that now shares its name with the tiny, diapered heir.

    The name is expected to do wonders for the city of Prince George, B.C. Boost tourism? Perhaps. After the baby's name was unveiled, WestJet announced a seat sale to Prince George, B.C. (and the rest of the continent, but that came

    Read More »from Prince George, B.C., celebrates connection with newborn prince
  • A Canadian being held in Mauritian jail on charges related to plotting terrorism has been released and could be heading back to Canada, but what comes next for London, Ont., native Aaron Yoon is still unclear.

    He was imprisoned for having ties to a terrorist group, but the claims have been largely discredited. He was best friends with two London, Ont., men who died in a recent terror attack, but Yoon was in jail long before the plot was executed. He is a riddle, an enigma wrapped in shadowy context and a clean slate all at once.

    Yoon, 24, who has been held in a West African jail since December 2011, was released earlier this week and immediately taken into custody by Mauritanian security forces. CBC News reports he has been issued a temporary Canadian passport and will likely be returned to the country in the next couple of days.

    Yoon's incarceration was kept a secret from even his family until earlier this year, when two friends, former high school classmates and travel companions were

    Read More »from Uncertain reception awaits for Aaron Yoon's return to Canada
  • The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is investigating possible poaching after CBC News obtained images of slaughtered porbeagle sharks and other marine species at a weir in Grand Manan, N.B.

    According to CBC News, a series of photos and video show fishermen posing on top and alongside of what look like piles of dead porbeagle sharks. The photos also show harbour porpoise and basking shark carcasses.

    In one of the videos, a fisherman is seen straddling a dead porbeagle shark and, holding it by the nose, jerking the head and pretending it's laughing while he announces "Bradford's Cove weir" to the camera.

    In one shot, a fisherman appears to be slicing a dead shark's fins.

    "Shark finning is illegal in Atlantic Canada," DFO conservation officer Ralph MacInnon told CBC News, adding the photo appears to show an illegal activity. "If that is a shark and the fins are being taken off of it in that fashion and it hasn't been landed, it's illegal."

    [ Related: Ontario judge rules Toronto's

    Read More »from Photos of slaughtered sharks spur DFO investigation in New Brunswick

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