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Was El Chapo’s Overture to Hollywood Fatal?

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The story of the capture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán—Mexico’s top fugitive drug lord—took a turn for the surreal Jan. 9 with the revelation that Hollywood heavy Sean Penn had interviewed the kingpin when he was on the lam last year for Rolling Stone magazine. In the account, Penn describes the complicated process of establishing contact, with encrypted communications and such, before being flown from an unnamed location in central Mexico to a “jungle clearing” where the interview took place. We have to be a tad skeptical here. El Chapo was tracked down by Mexican federales to a luxury condo in a Sinaloa seaport—nowhere near any jungle. Even if the meeting was arranged at a remote location, it was still likely to be in Chapo’s northern stronghold state of Sinaloa—and the only real jungle in Mexico is in southern Chiapas state, hundreds of miles away. Taking some liberties for dramatic effect perhaps, Sean?

It’s as pretty soft interview—possibly because Penn was made to toe the line by armed henchmen. “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world,” Chapo boasts. “I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.” Penn ingenuously asks: “Are you prone to violence, or do you use it as a last resort?” Chapo replies: “Look, all I do is defend myself, nothing more. But do I start trouble? Never.” Penn does not challenge him further on it. Even safely back home and writing up his account, Penn took pains to emphasize El Chapo’s “warm smile” and touching departure from his usual (supposed) teetotalism to belt back a tequila with the movie star.

But despite the encrypted communication and supposed flight into the jungle, Chapo’s surrender to the lure of media magnification and Hollywood hullabaloo may have been his undoing. National Public Radio reports that a film based on his story—Chapo: El Escape del Siglo, or Chapo: The Escape of the Century—is set to open in Mexico next week. And Mexico’s Prosecutor General Arely Gómez now says that Chapo’s communications with figures involved in the movie ultimately led to his capture. “He established communication with actors and producers, which formed a new line of investigation,” Gómez said.

Indeed, as The Guardian points out, Penn says that in his quest to reach El Chapo he first made contact with Kate del Castillo, star of the narco-themed Mexican soap series La Reina del Sur. Del Castillo made public statements against the Mexican government in 2012, saying: “Today I believe more in Chapo Guzmán than in the governments that hide the truth, even if it’s painful.” She added: “Mr. Chapo, wouldn’t it be cool if you started trafficking in love?” A lawyer representing Chapo later contacted her, saying the fugitive kingpin wanted to send her flowers.

Meanwhile, Arely Gómez’s office, after balking on the matter since the US first requested El Chapo’s extradition upon his capture in February 2014, now says it will expedite the request forthwith. One senses the Mexicans want Chapo off their hands, lest he escape from a top-security lock-up yet a third time—or become a rallying point for those fed up with a corrupt and repressive government.

(photo via RollingStone.com)

Tags: el chapo sean penn Interview Drug Trade Sinaloa mexico

Pot Matters: Prohibition and Entrapment

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When it comes to arresting people for possession of illegal drugs, prohibition is legally immoral. 

That may seem like a strange term to some, but it’s what’s being referred to differences between the letter and the spirit of the law. The letter of the law concerns what is technically legal, or not. The spirit of the law refers to general principles that are at the foundation of our legal system. 

The issue here is entrapment—not in terms of individual arrests, but in terms of prohibition in general. It may be technically legal, with respect to constitutional law, but prohibition contradicts the spirit of the law with respect to generally accepted constitutional principles. 

What follows is not a legal argument, but a moral one.

First of all, the Supreme Court has ruled in the case of California v. Robinson (1962) that it is cruel and unusual punishment to make drug addiction a crime. This is why modern drug laws concern economic activity, the manufacture, sale or possession of contraband.  

Here is a good example of how the letter of the law enables law enforcement to get past the spirit of the law. It is unconstitutional to criminalize drug use, so the law gets around it by criminalizing drug-related economic activity. In the case of a drug user, the result is the same, but technically redefining the crime as possession of a banned substance is constitutional, while otherwise criminalizing drug abuse is not.

The same argument applies to the issue of entrapment. A little history and constitutional law will help explain why.

Entrapment is a defense.

An influential ruling occurred in Michigan in the case of Saunders v. State (1878). A police officer gave an attorney an opportunity to commit a crime, the attorney did and the issue was framed. The court ruled that a jury ought to be able to decide if the government caused the defendant to commit the crime. The original issue became a matter of balancing zealous law enforcement activity and individual liberties.

Over time, every state adopted rules enabling entrapment to be used as a defense in criminal proceedings. 

Some states use what is commonly referred to as a subjective approach, in which the issue is whether or not the defendant had a predisposition to commit the crime. Other states adopted an objective approach, in which the issue is whether or not the police activity was excessive, particularly when the police use inducements to cause the crime to occur.

The Supreme Court unanimously recognized the entrapment defense in the case of Sorrells v. United States (1932), a case from the era of alcohol prohibition involving the purchase and transfer of a half-gallon on whiskey.

Here are the facts of the case, as summarized in the Supreme Court decision:

The substance of the testimony at the trial as to entrapment was as follows: for the government, one Martin, a prohibition agent, testified that, having resided for a time in Haywood County, North Carolina, where he posed as a tourist, he visited defendant’s home near Canton on Sunday, July 13, 1930, accompanied by three residents of the county who knew the defendant well. He was introduced as a resident of Charlotte who was stopping for a time at Clyde. The witness ascertained that defendant was a veteran of the World War and a former member of the Thirtieth Division A.E.F. Witness informed defendant that he was also an ex-serviceman and a former member of the same Division, which was true. Witness asked defendant if he could get the witness some liquor, and defendant stated that he did not have any. Later, there was a second request, without result. One of those present, one Jones, was also an ex-serviceman and a former member of the Thirtieth Division, and the conversation turned to the war experiences of the three. After this, witness asked defendant for a third time to get him some liquor, whereupon defendant left his home and, after a few minutes, came back with a half-gallon of liquor for which the witness paid defendant $5. Martin also testified that he was “the first and only person among those present at the time who said anything about securing some liquor,” and that his purpose was to prosecute the defendant for procuring and selling it. The government rested its case on Martin’s testimony.

The Supreme Court ruled that Sorrells had a valid defense in arguing that he should be acquitted because he has no intention of breaking the law, and that the violation occurred only because of the inducement (and harassment) of the federal prohibition agent. That’s the letter of the law aspect that has been derived from this case, and it still holds today.

But through its ruling in this case, the Supreme Court stressed another point—derived from a decision in an earlier case—articulating that in terms of the spirit of the law, prohibition is legally immoral.

In his majority opinion of the Sorrells case, Chief Justice Hughes cites a comment from an earlier appellate case (Butts v. United States) by Circuit Judge Sanborn:

The first duties of the officers of the law are to prevent, not to punish, crime. It is not their duty to incite to and create crime for the sole purpose of prosecuting and punishing it.

The history of marijuana prohibition, the racial disparities in enforcement of possession laws, the modern use of drug laws to pump up arrest statistics and intimidate suspected criminals and the continued political support of law enforcement for marijuana prohibition all support the evidence that today prohibition exists solely to create crime for the sole purpose of prosecuting and punishing it.

Prohibition is legally immoral because it does not exist to protect the public, to reduce drug use, to prevent illegal sales or any number of pretexts used to justify its existence. 

Prohibition creates crime for the sole purpose of prosecution and punishment. 

The public is realizing the fiscal cost of this this folly. The moral cost is just as important—and perhaps even more costly.

(Photo Courtesy of CBS Detroit)

Tags: Pot Matters Prohibition Marijuana Entrapment history of marijuana prohibtion

Stoner Sex: Edible Sex, Anti-Condom, Oral Advice & Kegels for Men

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Dear Hyapatia,
My girlfriend doesn’t really like to smoke weed. She prefers edibles. I love to smoke and she’s cool with that, but I want us to be able to share sex while stoned for an elated experience. I don’t like edibles; they just make me pass out. I sleep really well on them, but I prefer to get high and stay awake. Is she having the same experience that I am? – Marc

Dear Marc,
She may be having a better one. Edibles provide an intensely physical high, so she could be having a stronger experience than you. If she uses edibles regularly, they may not make her sleep as they do for you. Has she told you that she enjoys the edible high during sex? If she’s happy with her buzz and you’re happy with yours, then I don’t see what the problem is.

Dear Hyapatia,
I know it’s a good idea to use condoms, but my boyfriend says it takes away from his sensitivity. We’ve been together for a while and I feel safe with him not using condoms, but I’m not on the pill. I don’t like the side effects from it. Is pulling out before ejaculating effective for birth control? – Donna

Dear Donna,
While pulling out before ejaculating may decrease your odds of pregnancy a bit, it is not a good method of birth control. Prior to a man’s orgasm, there is pre-ejaculate that seeps out of the man’s penis and it does contain sperm, which can fertilize an egg. You’re most fertile 3-12 days after you start your period. You could try the rhythm method (refraining from sex when you’re most fertile), in addition to withdrawal, but you sill still run a fair risk of getting pregnant. You and your boyfriend need to decide if the increased sensitivity of sex without a condom is worth running the risk of having a baby you’ll both be responsible for the next 18 years. Your other option is, obviously, to explore other methods of birth control for yourself.

Dear Hyapatia,
Can you give some advice on how to do fellatio? – Coleen

Dear Coleen,
It’s best done when both parties are in comfortable positions. Start by using your hand. Make sure he’s in a position where you can easily lick him all over, up and down, getting him nice and wet. Put him in your mouth and suck like you would on a straw. Try to relax your mouth as much as possible and try not to scrape him with your teeth! Move your mouth up and down on him and change your rhythms. If your mouth gets tired, take a break and go back to licking and teasing. You don’t have to deep-throat him in order for it to feel good to him. But if you want to try, it’s best done in a position where he rubs against the top of your throat. The gag reflex is more easily triggered when the bottom of your throat is stimulated. If his penis has a natural curve, which is common, the 69 position may be the best position for you to avoid engaging the gag reflex. Or with you on your knees – depending on which way he curves.

Dear Hyapatia,
I’ve heard about Kegel exercises that women can do to help make their orgasms stronger. Are there any exercises guys can do? I used to shoot across the room when I came – not anymore. I was wondering if there was any way to get that back? – Jorge

Dear Jorge,
Yes! Kegel exercises are great for men too! Practice stopping your flow of urine – that’s the muscle. You can do Kegels even when you’re not urinating. Exercising those pelvic floor muscles will give you more control of your erection, make you last longer and ejaculate stronger. Doing Kegels help men control urine leaks, frequency and urgency, as well as help to rehabilitate the prostate. Kegels are for everyone! Read more at WebMD.

Tags: Stoner Sex

Legendary Musician David Bowie Dies of Cancer at 69

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BY MESFIN FEKADU
AP MUSIC WRITER

NEW YORK (AP) — David Bowie, the other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship, nonconformity, striking visuals and a genre-spanning persona he christened Ziggy Stardust, died of cancer Sunday. He was 69 and had just released a new album.

Bowie, whose hits included “Space Oddity,” ”Fame,” ”Heroes” and “Let’s Dance,” died “peacefully” and was surrounded by family, representative Steve Martin said early Monday. The singer had fought cancer for 18 months.

Long before alter egos and wild outfits became commonplace in pop, Bowie turned the music world upside down with the release of the 1972 album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” which introduced one of music’s most famous personas. Ziggy Stardust was a concept album that imagined a rock star from outer space trying to make his way in the music world. The persona – the red-headed, eyeliner wearing Stardust – would become an enduring part of his legacy, and a touchstone for the way entertainers packaged themselves for years to come.

Bowie turned 69 on Friday, the same day as he released a new album called “Blackstar.”

“While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief,” said a statement issued via his social media accounts. No more details were provided.

The singer, who was born David Jones in London, came of age in the glam rock era of the early 1970s. He had a striking androgynous look in his early days and was known for changing his appearance and sounds. After Ziggy Stardust, the stuttering rock sound of “Changes” gave way to the disco soul of “Fame,” co-written with John Lennon, to a droning collaboration with Brian Eno in Berlin that produced “Heroes.”

He had some of his biggest successes in the early 1980s with the bombastic “Let’s Dance,” and a massive American tour. Another one of his definitive songs was “Under Pressure,” which he recorded with Queen; Vanilla Ice would years later infamously use the song’s hook for his smash hit “Ice Ice Baby.”

“My entire career, I’ve only really worked with the same subject matter,” Bowie told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. “The trousers may change, but the actual words and subjects I’ve always chosen to write with are things to do with isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety – all of the high points of one’s life.”

Bowie lived in West Berlin in the late 1970s and Mayor Michael Mueller said Monday that “Heroes” became “the hymn of our then-divided city and its longing for freedom.”

Germany’s Foreign Ministry added Bowie was “now among heroes” and thanked him for “helping to bring down the wall.”

Bowie’s performance of “Heroes” was also a highlight at a concert for rescue workers after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

“What I’m most proud of is that I can’t help but notice that I’ve affected the vocabulary of pop music. For me, frankly, as an artist, that’s the most satisfying thing for the ego,” Bowie said.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, but he didn’t attend the ceremony. Madonna, another artist who knew something about changing styles to stay ahead of the curve, accepted for him and recounted how a Bowie concert changed her life when she attended it as a teenager. David Byrne, of the art rockers Talking Heads, inducted Bowie and said he gave rock music a necessary shot in the arm.

“Like all rock ‘n’ roll, it was visionary, it was tasteless, it was glamorous, it was perverse, it was fun, it was crass, it was sexy and it was confusing,” Byrne said.

Bowie kept a low profile in recent years after reportedly suffering a heart attack in the 2000s. He made a moody album three years ago called “The Next Day” – his first recording in a decade which was made in secret in New York City. “Blackstar,” which earned positive reviews from critics, represented yet another stylistic shift, as he gathered jazz players to join him.

“David always did it his way and his way was the least obvious way,” said Tony Visconti, Bowie’s longtime producer. “He was a true genius who proved it over and over again through groundbreaking albums.”

Bowie released a music video on Friday for the new song “Lazarus,” which shows a frail Bowie lying in bed and singing the track’s lyrics. The song begins with the line: “Look up here, I’m in heaven.”

His music has also been electrifying audiences this winter in New York in the sold-out new off-Broadway musical “Lazarus,” led by Michael C. Hall of “Dexter” fame and inspired by the 1963 science-fiction novel “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”

Tributes poured in for the singer after the announcement of his death. British astronaut Tim Peake tweeted about his sadness from outer space aboard the International Space Station, saying “his music was an inspiration to many.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that Bowie’s death is “a huge loss.” He wrote he had grown up listening to and watching Bowie and called the singer a “master of reinvention” and a pop genius who kept on getting it right.

The Rolling Stones wrote they were “shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of our dear friend David Bowie. As well as being a wonderful and kind man, he was an extraordinary artist, and a true original.”

Bowie felt uneasy about some of his greatest material, once embarking on a “greatest hits” tour saying it would be the last time performing much of his old material. He later relented, however.

“I’m not a natural performer,” he said in the 2002 interview. “I don’t enjoy performing terribly much. Never have. I can do it and, if my mind’s on the situation, do it quite well. But five or six shows in, I’m dying to get off the road and go back into the studio.”

Bowie was married twice, to the actress and model Mary Angela “Angie” Barnett from 1970-80, and to international supermodel Iman since 1992. He had two children – Duncan Jones and Alexandria Zahra Jones – one with each wife.

(Cover Image Courtesy of StyleCaster)

Tags: David Bowie Ziggy Stardust obituary RIP death cancer musician

Massachusetts Senate Panel on Legal Pot to Visit Colorado

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BY BOB SALSBERG
ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOSTON (AP) — Members of a Massachusetts Senate panel plan to visit Colorado next week to learn more about that state’s experience with the legalized use of recreational marijuana.

The Senate Special Committee on Marijuana was created last year in response to a likely 2016 ballot question that – if approved by voters – would allow pot to be used recreationally in Massachusetts.

A draft itinerary for the four-day trip starting Monday includes meetings and discussions with Colorado state regulators, legislators and law enforcement officials.

“We have recognized all along that the best way to really learn about the impact of legalizing marijuana is to spend time on the ground in the state that has the most experience with it, and that is Colorado,” said Sen. Jason Lewis, a Winchester Democrat who chairs the committee of 10 senators, eight of whom plan to be on the trip.

The visit is being paid for by Milbank Memorial Fund, a nonprofit foundation that specializes in health policy, Lewis said Friday.

Three other states – Washington, Alaska and Oregon – have legalized recreational pot.

A group called The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol collected more than enough signatures last year to advance the proposed ballot question, which would allow Massachusetts residents 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. It would also create a 3.75 percent state excise tax on retail marijuana sales that would be assessed on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

Massachusetts voters approved two earlier ballot questions that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and authorized patients with certain medical conditions to use the drug.

“We don’t want to repeat the mistakes and the challenges we had in implementing the medical marijuana question,” said Lewis, referring to regulatory delays that kept the first dispensaries from opening until last year.

Regulating recreational marijuana would be even more complex, he said, with issues that include public safety, licensing, taxes and compliance with federal law.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and state Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, are among those lined up against the proposed ballot question, with Baker saying he is “unalterably opposed” to legalizing marijuana.

(Photo Courtesy of the Smoking Bud)

Tags: Massachusetts colorado legal marijuana market Senate Panel Federal and State Marijuana Legalization

Nylig lønnsomt, Ford of Europe kutter kostnader

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FRANKFURT – Ford of Europe er ute etter å kutte hundrevis av mange arbeidsplasser og fase ut mindre lønnsomme modeller som søker å forbedre marginer det.

Selskapet sa i en uttalelse onsdag at det var tilbyr en “frivillig separasjon program” som tar sikte på å kutte administrative kostnader og til å lagre en ekstra $200 millioner kroner årlig.

Jobben nedskjæringer vil treffe Ford er omtrent 10,000 ledere, for det meste i Tyskland og Storbritannia. Selskapet sier tallene er avhengig av hvor mange mennesker aksepterer separasjon tilbud, men at flere hundre er forventet.

Selskapet har også sagt at det ville introdusere nye biler i Europa dette året som Edge-SUV og Focus RS, en høyere ytelse versjon av den kjente kompakt.

Ford tilbake til overskudd i Europa i 2015, noe som gjør $259 millioner kroner før skatt.

Home Depot for å leie mer enn 80 000 arbeidere for opptatt våren

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NEW YORK, NEW york – Home Depot er på et ansette spree.

Landets største oppussing kjede, basert i Atlanta, sa onsdag at det er å ansette mer enn 80 000 arbeidere over hele landet for sin travle vårsesongen, samme nivå som i de siste årene. Forhandleren anslår at mer enn halvparten av de midlertidig ansatte opphold på for fast ansettelse.

Den deltids-og heltidsstillinger inkluderer salg, drift og kasserer stillinger på tvers av alle avdelinger i butikker, samt jobber på sin distribusjon sentre.

Ansette kommer som Home Depot har blitt dra nytte av kjøpernes øke shift for å renovere sine hjem i en boligmarkedet som har vært solid

Home Depot sa i desember at det forventer sin årlige inntekter til å overgå $100 milliarder i 2018 og støttet sin inntjening og omsetning outlook for det siste regnskapsåret som ble avsluttet forrige måned. Det er også sagt at salg til butikker åpnet i minst et år, en viktig måleenhet for en forhandler finansielle helse, ville stige 4,9 prosent for regnskapsåret som nettopp avsluttet.

Home Depot Inc. er forventet å rapportere sin finanspolitiske fjerde kvartal og årsresultat på Feb. 23.

Aksjer har steget nesten 17 prosent i løpet av de siste 12 månedene, og er handel rundt $126 per aksje.

Nord-Amerika, Kina makt GM for å spille inn $9.7 b årsresultat

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DETROIT – Sterk inntjening i Nord-Amerika og Kina, og en reversering av formuer i Europa drevet General Motors for å spille inn en netto profitt på $9,7 milliarder kroner i fjor.

Resultatet mer enn doblet GM ‘ s 2014 inntjening og ble hjulpet av en $3,9 milliarder kroner i fjerde kvartal regnskapsmessig gevinst fordi mulighetene for å snu en fortjeneste i Europa er bra. Selskapet forventer å bryte med det dette året.

Med unntak av spesielle elementer, GM tjent $5.02 per aksje for året, slo Wall Street estimater av $4.82. Overskuddet ble drevet av sterk SUV og lastebil salg i stor grad i Nord-Amerika.

Full-år inntekten falt litt over 2 prosent til $152.4 milliarder kroner, men fortsatt slå analytiker estimater av $144.9 milliarder kroner.

Inntektene var så sterk at de fleste av GM ‘ s 49,600 hourly arbeidstakere vil få $11,000 overskuddsdeling sjekker Feb. 26. Undersøkelsen var basert på Nord-American pretax inntjening, som traff en rekord på litt over $11 milliarder kroner for året.

“Vi fortsette å styrke vår kjernevirksomhet, som er å legge grunnlaget for selskapet til å lede i transformasjon til personlig mobilitet,” administrerende DIREKTØR Mary Barra sa i en uttalelse.

GM nylig investert $500 millioner i ri-praie service Lyft og har annonsert planer om å starte sin egen bil-tjenester for deling i storbyområder over hele verden som det forbereder for neste generasjon av transport.

For fjerde kvartal, GM lagt ut en $6,3 milliarder netto fortjeneste. Uten spesielle elementer, selskapet tjente $1.39 per aksje, slo estimater av $1.20.

Fjerde kvartal inntekter var flat på $39.6 milliarder kroner, i underkant av Wall Street estimater.

Aksjene hoppet 38 cent, eller 1,3 prosent, til $30.03 i premarket trading ca en time og en halv før markedet åpner.

GlaxoSmithKline innlegg tap av $616 millioner kroner for 4. kvartal

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LONDON – Britisk-baserte drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline lagt ut et tap på 428 millioner pund ($616 millioner kroner) for fjerde kvartal 2015 — sammenlignet med et overskudd på over 1 milliard pund for samme periode året før— som flyttet bedriften til å integrere nye bedrifter.

Administrerende DIREKTØR Andrew Vittig sa onsdag helse-miljø er fortsatt utfordrende, men GSK vært fokusert på sin integrering og restrukturering av programmet. Vittig sier “fremgang betyr at konsernet er godt posisjonert for å gå tilbake til kjernen inntjeningsvekst i 2016.”

Drugmakers som GSK har prøvd å fokusere på styrker midt konkurranse fra generiske drugmakers.

Resultatene kommer en dag etter at GSK utvidet sitt samarbeid med Adaptimmune Therapeutics for å styrke sin posisjon i onkologi markedet. De vil kombinere styrker for å drive Adaptimmune konstruert T-celle reseptor terapi for å behandle kreft.

Toronto-området boligmarkedet fortsetter sterkt salg, pris vekst i januar

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TORONTO – Bolig salg i Toronto-området fortsatte å legge sterk vekst i januar, med antall tilbud opp 8,2 prosent fra samme måned i fjor.

Toronto Real Estate Styret sier også var prisene opp med 11,2 prosent, målt med en benchmark price index.

Gjennomsnittlig salgspris i regionen var $631,092 forrige måned, med Byen Toronto gjennomsnitt på $636,728 og omkringliggende områder i snitt $627,871.

Toronto og deler av sørlige Ontario, var blant de mest populære i Canada i fjor, kun slått av Vancouver-området og Lavere Fastlands-regionen i British Columbia.

“Det er klart at avlevering fra 2015 til 2016 ble det en sterk,” TREB president Mark McLean sa i en uttalelse.