There’s a whole lot more to summer travel in France than the Eiffel Tower, the Riviera, and Mont-Saint-Michel.
By:Nicola Williams/The Local
By:Nicola Williams/The Local
Photo: Toronto Sun
By Brad Hunter/Toronto Sun
The wife of the infamous Dr. Rod said puerile penis puns that accompanied stories about her hubby were “humiliating” and the hardest part of her family’s ordeal.
Former Barrie dermatologist Dr. Rodion “Dr. Rod” Kunynetz is currently in the midst of a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario penalty hearing for sexual impropriety. A number of women have claimed that dermatologist rubbed his penis against them.
Criminal proceedings are also taking place with the doctor facing a number of sexual abuse and gross indecency charges.
Kunynetz’s lawyer has used a unique defence for his client: His stomach is too big and his penis too small for the contact his accusers have suggested.
He was found guilty by the discipline committee of one count of sexual assault and unprofessional conduct.
He denied the allegations and most charges of sexual abuse regarding the penis rubbing were dismissed. Kunynetz has been suspended from practising since October 2015.
Valentina Kunynetz, 63, told the tribunal her husband was dedicated to dermatology and that she, too, played a part in the business, acting as office administrator.
“In December 2015, I was on the way to the dentist and on NewsTalk 1010 they were talking about Rod, mocking him, making fun of him … that his penis was undersized and his belly was enormous,” Valentina said.
That day’s merriment was triggered by a front page Toronto Sun story headlined: Dr. Rod’s wee defence.
“It was the salacious details … friends, family and colleagues were all reading this. It was disrespectful,” she said.
“The children (the couple has three sons) were getting calls from their friends and in the paper, were all the details about the size of his penis. It was terrible.”
Calling the family’s ordeal “demeaning” and “humiliating,” Valentina — dressed in a long dress and sandals — wondered aloud: “How many times do we have to read about the size of Rod’s penis?”
The ordeal cast a pall over the weddings of two of their sons and left Kunynetz’s practice that he had built over 30 years in ruins.
And the allegations left her husband devastated. The couple — married 37 years — stopped socializing and travelling.
“There was no joy in Rod’s life,” she added.
Under cross-examination, she conceded that the stories were accurate but she took exception to their “mocking” nature.
One urologist called as a witness at the hearings examined the doctor and determined that, yes, because of his large stomach and small penis he could not have committed the crime.
His lawyer, Matthew Sammon, spent most of the afternoon going over errors in the college’s investigation.
Among his greatest concerns was the length of time the matter has taken and a general abuse of process, pointing to the doctor’s lengthy interim suspension.
The hearing continues Tuesday.
416 same-sex couples have exchanged vows in churches around the country since the law change, according to figures from Statistics Denmark.
During 2012, the first year in which same-sex weddings were allowed, 51 couples were married, compared with 105 in 2016.
The total number of same-sex church weddings has increased every year since the law change came into effect.
Lesbian couples form the largest proportion of the weddings, according to the report.
Gay and lesbian couples have been able to marry in civil ceremonies in Denmark since 1989.
Bishop of Copenhagen Peter Skov-Jakobsen, who was at the forefront of the committee that developed the same-sex marriage ritual for the Danish church, told Ritzau that he was glad to see so many taking advantage of the new law.
Bishop Skov-Jakobsen also criticised the tone of the debate on the issue at the time of the law change.
“The tone was strong sometimes – it also got inappropriately strong – but when we look at the figures we can see that the LGBT community has taken to this opportunity,” he said.
The bishop added that only a minority of Danish priests continued to oppose same-sex church marriages.
“Priests that do not wish to conduct this type of marriage can be exempted. But the law is fortunately such that if a priest exempts him or herself, the couple will be referred to another priest that will conduct the ceremony,” he said.
“It is always possible to marry in a parish church. Neither the priest nor the parish council can prevent that,” Skov-Jakobsen added.
The differences between Danish marriage rituals for homosexuals and heterosexuals are subtle – the words for ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ are exchanged for ‘partner’, for example.
Priests are also advised to use a biblical text of their choice as the basis for their wedding sermon, as opposed to the traditional use of the story of creation from the book of Genesis.
Nobody in history bought anything for any reason other than how it made them feel.’ Illustration: Michele Marconi for the Guardian
By:Oliver Burkeman/UK Guardian
You’ll be happier if you spend money on experiences rather than things!” This is the kind of insight you’d expect to see on Richard Branson’s Twitter feed, alongside a photo of the bearded irritant waterskiing in the Caribbean (in a zany manner). But it’s also one of the best-studied findings in happiness research: material goods quickly cease delivering pleasure, whereas we savor the memory of experiences for years.
Or so we thought. A big new Hungarian study has found no significant difference between the two kinds of spending. And in any case, the more you think about it, the stranger the distinction between experiences and things begins to seem. Certain purchases are hard to classify as one or the other: a paperback novel is clearly an object, but you buy it in order to go on a journey of the imagination – so which is it? Yet on closer inspection, this problem turns out to apply to everything.
Consider the standard examples of the materialist who buys a sports car, believing it’ll make him happy, versus the wise appreciator of experience, who spends (much less of) her money on a holiday with friends. Isn’t the car-buyer also really purchasing an experience – namely the thrill he imagines he’ll get whenever he sees, drives or talks about his new ride? Conversely, the vacationer is hardly spurning physical goods. Some she’s renting, like a hotel room or a plane seat, while others, like food and drink, she’s buying – but either way, her experience is dependent on objects. The overarching truth here, as Sam Harris explains in his book Waking Up, is that everything we do is ultimately a way to manipulate our conscious experience. Nobody in history bought anything for any reason other than how it made them feel – whether the experience they were seeking was that of not feeling painfully hungry, or of owning a Fabergé egg.
The reason this matters, in practical terms, is that it helps us see the car-buyer’s true problem: not that he’s prioritizing objects over experience, but that he’s pursuing the wrong kind of experience. He wants to receive a predictable, consistent daily dose of pleasure from owning a car. But that’s not how pleasure works: if the holidaymaker ends up happier, it’ll be because she got to enjoy anticipating the trip, experiencing it, then consigning it to memory, where it can be burnished until it’s perfect (or, if it went terribly, turned into an anecdote that’s even more fun). If our shallow materialist were to use his vehicle to pursue unpredictable, sociable and one-off experiences – like, say, a road trip with friends – he’d stand just as much chance of happiness.
As if to confirm all this, another recent study concludes that it’s psychologically far easier to declutter your home if you first take a photo of anything to which you’re emotionally attached. People are readier to part with such items when they know they can trigger the same old feelings by consulting the picture later. Which raises the question: what if they’d saved their cash and just collected a bunch of photos to begin with?
By the 17th century, a trip to Venice had become a rite of passage for upper class northern Europeans, who flocked to the lagoon city as part of the Italian Grand Tour. Writers and artists drank in inspiration from the city where imposing architecture was reflected in glittering waters and Venice became a symbol for Italian romance.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and the city is groaning under the weight of tourism.
Cheap flights, huge cruise ships, and the city’s Instagram appeal attract so many travellers that on a given day, there are more visitors than residents in the Veneto capital. It’s the type of tourism as much as the sheer amount that causes problems: the majority of visitors don’t stay overnight in the city, meaning most of them spend their time and their money in the same small areas.
Small businesses and artisans’ craft shops have been replaced by identikit souvenir stalls and fast food restaurants to cater to day-tripping bargain hunters. In recent years, Venetians have staged frequent protests against the mass tourism which has pushed up rents and forced many families out of their hometown.
But could the visitors hold the key to Venice’s survival?
“Venice is a one-industry city; it relies on tourism, like our bodies rely on food to survive,” says local resident Sebastian Fagarazzi.
“But in order to thrive, you need to have the right kind of food; the right kind of tourism. The wrong kind can mean death.”
Sebastian Fagarazzi’s family had to close down its textiles shop due to the pressure created by mass tourism; he says all his friends have left the city. Photo: Venezia Autentica
Fagarazzi and his partner, France-born Valeria Duflot, have launched Venezia Autentica, a social enterprise with the aim of promoting responsible tourism and supporting local business in the city.
Frustration with visitors has grown to the point that last summer, angry locals plastered the city with flyers reading ‘Tourists go away! You are destroying this city’, but the couple believe not only that tourists could help save Venice, but that a large number of them want to do so, and would if they were given the tools.
“Tourism is the problem, but it’s also the only solution,” Fagarazzi tells The Local. “Everyone protests [against excessive tourism], but no one has done much to try to have an immediate positive effect.”
Crowds mass at the Rialto Bridge. Photo: Venezia Autentica
Duflot met her partner on a visit to Venice before later making the city her home and remembers the difficulty she had in finding out about the real side to Venice, beyond the tourist hotspots and gondoliers.
“When I spoke to locals and met Sebastian, I learnt a lot about the city and enjoyed my time there much more. But at the start,it’s very hard to get that information and to know how to have a positive impact,” she says.
The 30-year-old came up with the idea for Venezia Autentica when walking down the city’s main street one day. To one side, she saw a crowd of cruise ship tourists; to the other, a group of young Venetians, carrying flags and singing local songs.
“In a flash, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could get these two groups to understand each other? I know other people care about the impact they have on Venice, and if just a small proportion of the visitors thinks like that, then we can have a huge impact, particularly as the Venetians now are so few,” Duflot explains.
Valeria Duflot first came to Venice in 2014 and now calls the city her home. Photo: Venezia Autentica
“They’ve basically closed the stable door after the horse has bolted,” says Fagarazzi. “It should be the city authorities who regulate tourism – you can’t expect visitors to do in depth research; after a 40-hour working week, you come on holiday to relax! But it’s meaningless political manouevring. The bans only apply to new establishments when there are hundreds already, and there will be exceptions when it suits the authorities.”
One thing missing from the new measures is any concrete proposal of support for Venetian-run businesses or local residents, such as tax exemptions for entrepreneurs or housing support for young people.
The two Venetians hope their business will offer some support to local entrepreneurs and artisans by highlighting their shops to visitors and educating tourists on the expertise and long hours that go into making a typical mask, for example.
A Venetian artisan works on a mask while a young girl watches. Photo: Venezia Autentica
Fagarazzi is acutely aware of the pressures local businesses face: in 2015, his family was forced to close its popular clothing shop in the city centre, after facing increasing pressure linked to the effects of mass tourism.
At the age of 32, he says the majority of his friends have been forced to leave because they can no longer make a life in Venice – “and it’s my generation that makes babies!”
“People worry that Venice could disappear because of flooding, but it actually could disappear much sooner,” Fagarazzi comments. “Without the Venetians, it’s not Venice. Time is running out.”
The local population has dropped below 55,000, less than half the figure of 40 years ago, as Venetians find themselves priced out of their hometown. What’s more, it has one of Italy’s oldest populations; despite the fact Veneto is the country’s second wealthiest region, youth unemployment is extremely high.
The couple hope that by supporting local artisans, they can help them stay in business and create opportunities for young Venetians to continue living in the city and carve out rewarding careers.
A lace-maker sits at work outside her shop. Photo: Venezia Autentica
On their website, they offer information about the city, guidelines for responsible tourism, and a selection of local restaurants and artisan shops that have the ‘Authentic Venice’ seal of approval. All have been personally tried and tested by the couple, their family and friends; as Fagarazzi says, “we need to be sure that it’s a consistently good experience -a business which makes Venice proud”.
Aside from following the online guide, there are a few clues tourists can look out for when hunting down a true Venetian experience. Duflot explains that there is no particular neighbourhood to go to for artisan shops, but there are some red flags to look out for.
“If you see someone standing outside a restaurant beckoning you in, or menus with pictures and flags of different countries, walk in the other direction!” she warns. “And in ‘artisan shops’, if you see any kind of massive sale or very cheap products, it won’t be good quality – which can be dangerous too.”
On the other hand, a true artisan shop will likely have a clear specialization in one kind of product; a craftsman at work – or signs that they’ve been working; and prices that reflect the fact that the simplest mask, for example, takes around seven hours to create.
“But the best litmus test is always to ask the salesperson about the craft. A seller of mass-produced souvenirs might badger you to buy things or repeat the same catchwords like ‘Murano glass’; an artisan will be able to tell you everything about what they do. Their eyes will light up,” says Duflot.
A mask-maker shows off her creations. Photo: Venezia Autentica
The pair say they hope that would-be visitors aren’t scared off Venice by the stories of anti-tourist sentiment, but also that they will take more time to learn about the city.
“It’s not a theme park to tick off your bucket list; it’s a real, living city with people and struggles which visitors should appreciate,” says Fagarazzi.
To get a glimpse of Venetian life and better understand the city, he advises visitors to venture off the well-trodden tourist trail and explore side streets and quieter piazzas. Not only does this ease the pressure on the city’s main thoroughfares, it’s also more likely to lead to a unique shop or experience.
“As a Venetian I’m envious, because I don’t get to experience the magic of getting lost and finding that incredible shop you’ll never find again. It’s like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter – sometimes you stumble across the very thing you’re looking for, totally at random,” he says.
“Venice has always been very welcoming to all kinds of people,” adds Duflot. “Here, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from – just treat Venetians and their city well.”
Photo: nullplus /Depositphotos
Volvo chief executive Håkan Samuelsson. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
All new Volvo cars will be equipped with an electric motor from 2019, making it the first of the world’s traditional car makers to pull the plug on cars powered only by a combustion engine.
“This is about the customer,” said Volvo Cars president and chief executive Håkan Samuelsson in a statement. “People increasingly demand electrified cars, and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish.”
Volvo said it would launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021, as well as petrol and diesel plug-in hybrids and so-called “mild-hybrid cars”, cars with a small petrol engine and large battery.
“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” said Samuelsson. “Volvo Cars has stated that it plans to have sold a total of one million electrified cars by 2025. When we said it we meant it. This is how we are going to do it.”
Volvo Car Group is owned by Chinese Geely Holding. It is headquartered in Torslanda, Gothenburg, and has a factory there as well as in Ghent, Belgium, and Chengdu, China.
European car makers have been racing to develop electric vehicles.
German car giant Volkswagen is championing electric models in a bid to clean its tarnished reputation, after it admitted in September to installing emissions cheating software in 11 million diesel-powered cars worldwide.
Higher-end manufacturers like BMW and Daimler, which owns Mercedes, are also jostling for a share of the electric vehicle market, but face a challenge from newcomers like Tesla, which has had a head start in autonomous driving as well as electric power.\