The last sign of life was a shaggy, white dog.
Clayton and Linda Babcock arrived home last June to find their daughter’s two-year-old Maltese, Lacey, had been dropped off without warning.
Laura Babcock, 23, was last seen in Toronto on June 26, 2012. She hasn’t been heard from in almost a year.
Her last phone call, according to phone records, was to Dellen Millard, the 27-year-old Etobicoke man charged with the murder of Ancaster resident Tim Bosma.
Toronto police are now investigating Babcock’s disappearance in connection to Millard, something his lawyer dismissed as “speculation”.
“I would almost think the dog has kept us sane,” Clayton Babcock told the Star at the family’s Toronto home. “Laura wanted to be a free spirit.”
After graduating from high school with honours and earning a degree in English and drama from the University of Toronto, Laura — a “social butterfly” — became restless under her parents’ roof.
She was crashing at friends’ houses, hanging out with girls she met through her sorority, the Babcocks said. She would float in and out of the family home. But then she missed Christmas, and her birthday in February.
Linda Babcock remembers Millard would come to the house to pick up her daughter — who started using the name Elle Ryan — for parties or to hang out.
But police never interviewed Millard in connection with their daughter’s disappearance, the Babcocks said. After the detective assigned to her file was reassigned, they weren’t sure what had happened to the case.
“All this information was in their hands,” Linda Babcock said, tearing up as she spoke about Laura. “We don’t know anything more than we’ve known since the beginning.”
Shawn Lerner, Laura’s ex-boyfriend, last saw her on June 26, 2012, when she called looking for a place to stay. Lerner put her up at a hotel in the Queen St. W. and Roncesvalles Ave. area and took her out for dinner. He wouldn’t hear from her again.
“It’s so uncharacteristic of her,” he said. “For her to just escape and hide somewhere and not tell anyone, it just doesn’t make sense.”
Lerner said Laura was bubbly, a kid at heart who worked in a toy store and loved board games.
Linda Babcock is hopeful the renewed attention to the case will help bring her daughter home. “They have to find her now business card.”
As police probe Laura’s disappearance they appear to be wrapping up the extensive ground search that followed the discovery of Bosma’s charred body.
Police confirmed for the first time on Tuesday that his remains were found at the sprawling Waterloo farm purchased by Millard in May 2011.
At the rolling, grassy property partly covered in dense woods, a search was concluded on Tuesday, said Hamilton police Const. Debbie McGreal.
Large tents had been taken down and only two cruisers guarded the scene. Outside the front gate, a small memorial held now-withered flowers.
Police have denied earlier reports that additional remains were found at the farm over the weekend.
A spokesperson for the coroner’s office said Bosma’s body had not been released as of Tuesday afternoon. The remains will likely be absent at a funeral the family has scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Police confirmed they are looking for two outstanding suspects in Bosma’s death, after he took two men for a test drive in his 2007 Dodge Ram on May 6. It is believed he was followed by a second vehicle.
Earlier, police said they were looking for at least two suspects, but have not explained how they came to the definitive number.
Hamilton police’s lead homicide investigator, Det.-Sgt. Matt Kavanagh, told the Hamilton Spectator he does not believe the public is in any danger.
“You’ll just have to trust me on this,” he said when asked to explain.
While investigators continue their search, a legal spat has erupted between Millard’s lawyer and another high-profile law firm.
Deepak Paradkar, who is defending Millard, said a Derstine Penman associate visited his client at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre without his consent, contravening the Law Society of Upper Canada’s rules of professional conduct.
“He did not solicit their services nor did he solicit a second opinion,” Paradkar said. “The family has full confidence in my ability to represent him.”
Dirk Derstine, a partner at the firm, said they did visit Millard in jail and tried to contact Paradkar afterward.
“Our contact with Mr. Millard was above board,” Derstine said. “It was not unsolicited.”
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The young comedians behind a satirical website with an unprintable name — ahem, “Stuff” Harper Did — are bridging the gap between comedy and political activism with a new campaign.
The Vancouver-based group is raising money to air a TV ad that mocks the federal Conservatives’ slick Economic Action Plan spots. In three weeks, they’ve raised more than $50,000, enough to air eight prime-time ads.
But this time, the band of Harper-hating pranksters has more on their minds than making people laugh. Instead, they hope to amass their thousands of social media followers to create real change.
“We’ve always taken issues that are hard to think about and tried to make them more accessible — to have a laugh before the sadness sinks in,” said Sean Devlin, the 29-year-old standup comic who founded the website (which is actually called S— Harper Did).
“Now, we’re trying to engage the community we’ve created around this comedy content in a more meaningful way.”
Devlin said he never expected the website — which is a collection of short, pithy criticisms of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s policies — to attract 4.1 million page views in the first 72 hours it was posted.
It was the lead-up to the 2011 federal election and he and some friends wanted to draw attention to Harper’s missteps they thought had either been largely ignored or forgotten, Devlin said.
“We didn’t quite know what to do with all the attention and most of us had to go back to work, essentially,” he said. “It took us two years to get our stuff together to be able to relaunch the site bad credit unsecured personal loans.”
Joined by Brigette DePape, the “rogue page” who made headlines in 2011 for holding a “Stop Harper” sign in the Senate during the Throne Speech, the group has filmed a new ad to counter Harper’s rosy picture of the economy.
In the ad, cheering Canadians in red-and-white face paint gather in front of a TV. The screen reads, “The number of Canadians who need food banks is at an all-time high,” and “The average household debt is also at an all-time high.”
DePape, 23, said she hopes to negate the “myth” that the Harper government is good at managing the economy, a widespread belief she sees as integral to its ability to hold power.
“The Conservatives are spending millions of taxpayer dollars on the ads to try to convince us the Economic Action Plan is working for us. Why are they spending so much money to tell us this?” she said. “Clearly, it is not working.”
The campaign on the crowd-funding website Indiegogo attracted endorsements from high-profile figures including Margaret Atwood. If the group raises $95,000, they will be able to buy a spot during an NHL playoff game.
DePape has also toured universities with the group to teach workshops about activism. It’s not that young people don’t care — it’s more often that politics are depressing and they feel like they can’t make a difference, she said.
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Vernon Hugh Bowman, a 75-year-old farmer from southwestern Indiana, thought he had figured out a cheap and legal way to use Monsanto’s genetically engineered soybeans.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled — unanimously — he had not.
The court said Bowman violated the biotechnology giant’s patent on soybeans by planting the offspring of those soybeans without permission.
“The question in this case is whether a farmer who buys patented seeds may reproduce them through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission,” wrote Justice Elena Kagan in a straightforward decision for the court. “We hold that he may not.”
The case was closely watched by the biotechnology industry because of the implications it could have on other self-replicating technologies.
“It confirmed, unanimously, that any product that’s capable of being replicated, either by planting by seed, or a bacterial cell line, or a preparation of DNA — that patent law applies, even if a product is replicable, in the same way it applies to widgets or cellphones,” said Hans Sauer, deputy general counsel for BIO, the biotechnology industry’s trade group. “If you want two, you have to buy two.”
Monsanto’s near-ubiquitous soybean technology allows plants to survive application of the herbicide glyphosate, which is sold under the Monsanto brand Roundup. Bowman, like the majority of American soybean growers, bought the soybeans every year from a dealer, thereby entering into a contract with Monsanto saying he agreed not to plant the offspring of those soybeans.
But Bowman, wanting to plant a second, late-season crop — a riskier crop — decided to try a cheaper route: He bought soybeans from a local grain elevator and planted those.
The soybeans sold at the grain elevator are only allowed to be sold for animal feed or food — not for re-planting — and don’t require the purchaser to enter into an agreement. But Bowman planted them, then sprayed glyphosate. The plants that survived, he knew, were glyphosate resistant, or Roundup Ready. In other words, they contained Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered traits. Bowman took those seeds and planted them the next year — and for the subsequent seven years.
Monsanto learned of this and sued in 2007, calling Bowman’s strategy an end run around its highly circumscribed patent. A district court ruled in the company’s favor, as did the U.S. Court of Appeals, upholding a judgment against Bowman for more than $84,000. Bowman then took the case upward.
The justices heard oral arguments in Bowman’s case in February, grilling his attorney in a manner that seemed to bode well for Monsanto. Dozens of briefs had been filed in Monsanto’s support, from universities to software companies, all concerned that a decision against Monsanto could have a chilling effect on innovation and research.
That the court’s decision was unanimous and clear cut suggested to some watching the case that, perhaps, the justices had a change of heart after reading the barrage of briefs in Monsanto’s favor.
“I think the court realized that they had no reason to grant review. They simply validated what the district court said,” explained Peter Carstensen, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin who filed a brief in Monsanto’s favor. “The only reason to take a case for review is if you think the federal circuit made a mistake. It takes four justices to get a case reviewed, and those four justices disappeared.”
So Monday’s decision did not come as much of a surprise for many. Still, it was a disappointment for Bowman’s supporters, including food advocacy, farming and antitrust watchdog groups that believe Monsanto’s rigorous patent enforcement has led to consolidation in the seed industry and to rising prices.
In a report issued earlier this year, the Center for Food Safety, a Bowman supporter in the Supreme Court case, said that three companies — Monsanto, Dow and DuPont — now control more than half of the global seed market. The report also said that soybean seed prices have risen more than 300 percent since genetically engineered soybeans first hit the market in 1996.
“The court protected Monsanto rather than farmers,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the center. “It’s just not logical that they’d treat a plant as a machine.”
Existing patent law says that once someone buys a patented item, they can do whatever they want with that item — that the patent is “exhausted” once the item is sold. What was not clear, however, was how patent law extended to self-replicating technologies, particularly those that replicate naturally, like plants.
The court, in its Monday decision, said that in this particularly case, it was clear.
“The exhaustion doctrine does not enable Bowman to make additional patented soybeans without Monsanto’s permission (either express or implied),” Kagan wrote. “And that is precisely what Bowman did.”
The decision left some wiggle room — and some hope — for other related patent infringement matters that concern some farmers, particularly those worried about being sued by Monsanto for inadvertent planting of patented crops.
“The fact that the justices said this doesn’t have to do with accidental growth is a warning to Monsanto,” said Yvette Liebesman, a law professor at St. Louis University. “They won on this round.”
The biotechnology industry, meanwhile celebrated Monday’s decision.
“It’s a good thing for stability in the industry, which is what biotech needs,” Sauer said, adding, “An exception was being asked for and the court said: no exceptions.”
Sagging hospital equipment sales in the United States and overseas resulted in Allied Healthcare Products Inc. posting losses in the fiscal third quarter, ending March 31.
The St. Louis-based maker of respiratory therapy and emergency medical products reported a net loss of $279,081, or 3 cents a share, compared to a loss of $145,787, or 2 cents, a year ago.
Net sales declined 14 percent to $9.2 million.
A fourth woman could be connected to the shocking Cleveland kidnapping case, the FBI confirms.
Ashley Summers was a 14-year-old girl who disappeared from the same area where Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were abducted.
Those three women were rescued on Monday about 10 years after they disappeared in a case that send shock waves around the world.
Knight was abducted in 2002, Berry in 2003 and DeJesus in 2004.
Summers was last seen on July 9, 2007.
FBI spokesperson Vicki Anderson told the Toronto Star that the disappearance of Summers has “similarities” that the FBI is investigating.
However, she said the FBI has no proof that the cases are related.
“We continue to look for Ashley,” she said. “She was a young girl too who went missing and it was from the same area.”
However, she says the FBI is holding out hope that this sensational rescue on Monday will spark more tips to the FBI.
“As we go through this process, Ashley has been in all the investigators’ minds and they are keeping their minds open. Maybe this will generate some tips for us.”
The tips are being logged and the FBI is now looking at new leads.
“We’re asking for anything regarding Ashley,” she said no fax payday loans. “Our phones have been ringing quite a bit around here.”
Summers lived with her great-uncle, but she left after an argument, taking all her clothes with her.
However, she called her mother a month later and said she was OK and not to worry.
In November of that year, Ashley’s step-grandmother believes she saw Ashley in a car. Her hair had been cut and was dyed blond.
The car disappeared before the step-grandmother could turn the car she was driving around.
In October, 2009 the Oprah Winfrey Show featured the stories of the missing Cleveland girls, including Summers.
The FBI also hopes the three women rescued from the west Cleveland house may have some answers.
“They will be asked if they have any information on Ashley,” the FBI spokesperson said.
However, the FBI is going slow with the interview process.
Since the women were abducted as teens and held captive for about 10 years, it’s not known yet what condition their mental health is in.
While it’s only the first day of the month, investors have already taken a step back … and the latest statement from the Federal Reserve didn’t help matters.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped almost 140 points, or 0.9%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also fell 0.9%.
“There are certain things we have gotten used to counting on each spring: the season changes and the weather warms, baseball games bring fans to the stadiums, the economy weakens, and investors ’sell in May and go away,’” said Jeffery Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial in a recent note to clients.
Fears of a pullback have been growing for two major reasons.
First off, recent economic reports have been signaling that a spring swoon could be just around the corner, for the fourth year in a row.
The latest jobs data have been particularly disappointing, with the March jobs report as well as Wednesday’s report from payroll processor ADP signaling a sharp slowdown in hiring. That’s particularly concerning ahead of the government’s April jobs report due Friday. Economists expect a gain of 155,000 jobs.
Manufacturing activity and retail sales have also been slowing. Housing has been a bright spot as of late, but construction spending unexpectedly dropped almost 2% in March. And while a majority of U.S. companies have been exceeding earnings growth forecasts, they’ve largely been falling short of revenue growth expectations.
Then there’s the additional pressure from overseas. The eurozone remains in recession and China’s economy grew at a slower pace at the start the year than economists had expected.
Secondly, stocks have been on a tear for the past several months. The S&P 500 closed April at a record high, while Nasdaq finished at its highest level in more than 12 years. And the Dow ended just a hair below its all-time high.
Milestones can be alluring, but there’s also a chance that enthusiasm can be overdone considering the still-fragile economy my credit score. And it’s important to note that stocks also peaked in April in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The one key difference between then and now is the Fed’s open-ended stimulus program.
Fed in focus: The Fed’s policies have widely been given credit for boosting stocks. In previous years, the rally and the economy lost steam as the Fed neared the end of its bond buying programs: QE1 in 2010, QE2 in 2011 and Operation Twist in 2012.
But the current bond buying program — $85 billion a month — is not expected to taper off until later this year at the earliest, said Kleintop.
In fact, the Fed said Wednesday afternoon that while it is sticking to the current pace for now, it is “prepared to increase or reduce” the amount it buys in bonds each month based on the outlook for the job market and changes in inflation.
In addition to indicating that it may do more to stimulate the economy, the Fed also took a jab at Congress, highlighting that “fiscal policy is restraining economic growth.”
Stocks to watch: ) stock declined in after-hours trading after the company’s first-quarter earnings came in below expectations. Revenues were slightly higher than forecasts.
Shares of ) rose as they made their debut on the New York Stock Exchange following the merger with MetroPCS.
, Fortune 500) stock price edged down, a day after rising more than 3% ahead of it record $17 billion bond sale.
, Fortune 500) shares jumped after the health care company delivered a strong first-quarter profit thanks to lower benefit expenses and increased membership. , Fortune 500) shares surged after the company said that its quarterly profit more than doubled. Humana and Genworth were among the biggest winners in the S&P 500 Wednesday.
Stock futures are rebounding after last week’s lackluster economic growth numbers sent investors scrambling for the door.
Dow Jones industrial futures are up 41 points to 14,690. The broader S&P futures have added 4.5 points to 1,581. Nasdaq futures are up 10 points to 2,840.50.
The earnings season continues, though Monday is light on reports, with Chrysler posting before the stock market opens and Express Scripts reporting after the closing bell.
Markets are awaiting the personal income and spending report, which is due from the Commerce Department at 8:30 a no credit check payday loans.m. Eastern.
Economists surveyed by FactSet expect that spending was unchanged in March from February, after rising 0.7 percent in February. Incomes are expected to have increased 0.4 percent.
HALIFAX—Nova Scotia’s justice minister says he wants the federal government to introduce a law that would make it illegal to distribute an intimate image for a malicious or sexual purpose without consent.
Ross Landry issued a statement today that says he plans to raise the issue with federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson next week in Ottawa.
The statement does not say what would constitute an intimate image.
Landry’s demand comes as the province is reviewing the case of Rehtaeh Parsons.
The 17-year-old attempted suicide and was later taken off life-support this month after an alleged sexual assault that her family says was photographed and distributed around her school.
The Group of 20 economies will affirm a commitment to avoid weakening their currencies to gain an advantage for their exports, according to a draft statement prepared for a meeting this week in Washington, Bloomberg BNA reported.
The draft statement, seen by a Bloomberg BNA reporter, maintains a pledge made in February in Moscow to
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