Rupee slips 20 paise to 6870 vs USD in early trade ahead

first_imgMumbai: The rupee opened on a weak note and declined by 20 paise to 68.70 against the US dollar in opening trade Friday, ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget. Forex traders said rupee slipped marginally against the US dollar as market participants awaited cues from the Union Budget to be presented in the Parliament Friday. The rupee opened weak at 68.55 at the interbank forex market and then fell further to 68.70, down 20 paise over its last close. The rupee had settled at 68.50 against the US dollar on Thursday. Meanwhile, weakening of the American currency in the overseas market, easing crude oil prices and positive opening in domestic equities supported the local unit. Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, fell 0.03 per cent to USD 63.28 per barrel.last_img read more

 

Andres Iniesta becomes La Liga Icon

first_imgTokyo: Andrés Iniesta has been named the latest ‘La Liga Icon, a La Liga initiative to continue growing worldwide driven by the popularity of players like the FC Barcelona legend. The 35-year-old currently playing his football in Japan becomes the newest star to be named a ‘La Liga Icon’ after his Spanish teammate Iker Casillas. “We are delighted to have Andrés Iniesta on board as a La Liga Icon” said La Liga President, Javier Tebas. “He is a player who inspires millions and is a fantastic representative for what La Liga stands for across the globe.” Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh The La Liga Icons initiative aims to expand the La Liga brand through a strategy focused on digital dissemination, maximising La Liga content and taking advantage of synergies between social networks, allowing La Liga to connect with fans globally. Also in attendance at the presentation gala held in the Japanese capital Tokyo were Fernando Sanz, Director of Institutional Relations and La Liga Ambassadors programme and Samuel Eto’o, a former teammate of Iniesta at FC Barcelona and the current La Liga Ambassador.last_img read more

 

James Wan planning to return to indie roots with next film

first_imgLos Angeles: Filmmaker James Wan has shared few details of his next directorial venture, saying that he is planning to return to his “indie roots”. In an Instagram post, the 42-year-old director said the new project is a “hard-R thriller” and based on an “original horror idea”. “There’s been a bit of speculation as to what my next project is… All I’ll say is, I’m super excited to go back to my indie roots with this hard-R thriller. An original horror idea (not a reboot/remake or anything based on existing IP) with old school, practical effects and no giant, blue screen sets,” Wan wrote. The filmmaker, who made a name for himself with The Conjuring and Saw franchises, took a turn towards mainstream blockbusters with films like Fast and Furious 7 and Aquaman in the last couple of years.last_img read more

 

Chinas exports fall in Aug as US trade war rumbles

first_imgBeijing: China’s exports fell by 1.0 per cent on-year in August, official data showed Sunday, amid a bruising trade war with the US that has roiled markets in the world’s top two economies. The drop comes after a surprise 3.3 per cent rebound in July despite the yearlong battle with Washington and weakening global demand. But economists cited by Bloomberg had forecast a 2.2 per cent rise ahead of the release of Sunday’s figures by the customs administration. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalChina’s trade surplus also dropped sharply in August to $34.83 billion, from $44.58 billion the previous month, while imports continued a four-month decline at 5.6 percent on-year, matching the July figure. Washington imposed new tariffs on September 1 as it stepped up its high-pressure campaign to coerce Beijing into a new trade deal. The additional levies come on top of the 25 per cent tariffs on $250 billion in imports already in place. China said Thursday that new talks with the US would be held in Washington in early October. In a sign of continued pressure on the Chinese economy, Beijing’s central bank announced Friday it would cut deposit reserve requirements for banks.last_img read more

 

Placebos as palliatives

first_imgIf there is one leader at the Centre who is respected and trusted for integrity and sincerity, it is the Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. While Modi and Shah go about invoking nationalism and creating several illusions on falsities, to aggressively push the agenda of the RSS and others to safronise the country, she is seriously engrossed in her business of finances. However, the moot question is, whether her efforts to pull the country out of the deep woods it has landed in would work as curative medicine, or only as palliatives, or simply as placebos. Also Read – A special kind of bondPM Modi envisions a $5 trillion economy and 10 million jobs annually while the economy is in doldrums. In his first term too, he had promised happiness, 10 million jobs per year, Rs 15 lakh cash in every citizen’s account, etc., but handed the country only pain and a shattered economy. Yet, Kashmir and NRC have taken precedence since elections in some states are in the offing. He does not regret the misery caused, nor does he have the majesty to admit his mistakes. Buddha said, ‘Ego never accepts the truth.’ Also Read – Insider threat managementOfficial data shows GDP growth steadily slid from 8 to 5 in the last five quarters. While NITI Aayog Vice Chairman, Rajiv Kumar, said that the liquidity situation is unprecedented in 70 years, BJP’s Subramanium Swamy says, ‘Goodbye to $ 5-billion dollar economy.’ ‘Our economy has not yet recovered from the man-made blunders of demonetisation and a hastily implemented GST,’ is the opinion of Dr Manmohan Singh. Importantly, ex-CEA Arvind Subramanian’s research concludes that as against the annual growth of 7 per cent projected, GDP was actually around 4.5 per cent. If the methodology used by the government is applied to the period prior to 2014, the GDP at that time would be much higher. Moreover, public debt went up to Rs 83 lakh crores in six years as against Rs 53 lakh crores in the preceding 70 years, and fiscal deficit touched Rs 5.47 lakh crores or 77.8 per cent of the budget target, during the recent quarter. People are confused about whether to trust the rhetoric of ‘achche din,’ when they are facing a financial nightmare in their homes. As such, household savings have been going down over the years; the Economic Survey shows a decline from 23.6 to 16.3 per cent in 6 years. White-collar wages in the private sector have stagnated in the last few years. At this juncture, with the SC deciding that special allowance is part of the salary, Companies deducting higher PF from April this year has reduced the take-home pay of employees. As a result, the growth in private consumption expenditure, the backbone of India’s economic growth, has nosedived from 7.2 to 2.1 per cent in the recent quarter, and consumer demand slumped, bringing down the Gross Value Added (GVA), i.e., GDP minus taxes, from 7.7 per cent to 4.9. Although Modi is reluctant to admit, the reality is that demonetisation and the attendant money supply restrictions almost wiped out the disorganised sector, the MSMEs and self-employment ventures. The ad hoc implementation of GST has compounded problems, like in the case of Parle G which is retrenching over 10,000 workers. Only 15 per cent of taxpayers have filed annual GST returns citing the complexity of forms, eluding the hopes of raising the revue. Now, there is only widespread unemployment, empty pockets, agrarian crisis and slump in the industry. The rate of unemployment, at 7.91 per cent, is the highest in 45 years. Markets cannot absorb the job-seeking labour. If we go by the World Bank figures, for every one per cent rise in GDP 7.5 lakh jobs are created; so at 7 per cent growth, it should have been 5.25 million. It has not happened, questioning the veracity of the GDP figures. Now, the slump has led in the dumping of millions of jobs. With the purchasing power of people on the wane, the growth in the three crucial sectors – manufacturing, agriculture and construction sectors have fallen miserably. In one year, it tumbled to 0.6 per cent from 12.5 in the manufacturing sector. The sales in the auto industry, which accounts for 22-25 per cent of GDP and gives employment to over 32 million people, and adds Rs 1.8 lakh crore taxes to the government coffers, have seen the worst fall to 31.57 per cent in August this year. The demand is also greatly hit by agricultural distress, and millennials preferring Ola or Uber and others seeking second-hand cars. Obviously, there is stoppage of production on some days, or shutting down in some cases. About 3.5 lakh people have already lost jobs since April, with a further loss of 10 lakh jobs hovering over the horizon. It will have a cascading impact on ancillary and other industries. More job losses are sure to follow in other sectors. Another important indicator, Agricultural growth, has also been a dismal 2.7 per cent, down from 5 per cent in the previous year, whereas the construction sector slowed down to 5.7 from 9.6 per cent earlier. SBI Chairman said, ‘Almost all the sectors are showing slowdown’, and Housing Development Finance Corporation Chairman admitted that lakhs of homes are finding no takers. It is too obvious that demonetisation was a quixotic decision. Like every other Constitutional institution, the government tried to bulldoze RBI into submission. When its governor Raghuram Rajan resisted, Urjit Patel was brought in to comply with the political wish. But, although it ended as a fiasco – black money has only multiplied, the government went on expanding expenditure and squandered the windfall from low oil prices and higher oil taxes. The bungled GST yield is far below expectations. With other sources also drying up, the government began eyeing for RBI surplus to revive the economy. But, this time Urjit Patel resisted and quit; so did the deputy governor, Viral Acharya. The latter had even warned, ‘Governments that do not respect central bank independence will sooner or later incur the wrath of financial markets, ignite economic fire’. Packing the RBI with compliant people, the government ultimately got its way. In fact, an inkling of it was seen when the Budget showed the estimated dividend of Rs 90,000 crore from the RBI. Now, they got Rs 1.76 lakh crore, which includes Rs 1.23 lakh crore (including the Rs 28,000 crore already paid) as dividend and Rs 52,640 crore surplus capital. However, danger looms large that, time and again, the government would dip its hands into RBI reserves. Be that as it may, with the immediate infusion of Rs 70,000 crores into state-run banks, there was new buoyancy in the market. Global brokerage houses turned bullish. The Sensex and Nifty, particularly stocks of banks, NBFCs and infrastructure surged. Further, with RBI lowering the repo rate, and issuing instructions to banks to pass on the benefits to boost affordable housing, auto, MSME, and consumer sectors, things appeared good. However, soon, with the merger of 10 public sector banks into 4 for focussed lending, plans have gone awry, at least for the immediate future. Since the amalgamation process would take at least six months and may delay the loan transactions, many brokers began advising buying of the shares of rival lenders. There are also apprehensions that the infused money would be utilised by the banks only to get rid of bad loans, thereby depriving capital for growth. Investors are also not convinced about the ability of anchor banks to absorb their weaker partners. They began dumping PSB’ shares. In general, the share market slumped; every fall of 800 points on the BSE leading to a wiping out of over Rs 2.5 lakh crores of investor wealth. As foreign portfolio investors continued their spell of heavy selling to the extent of equities worth Rs 2016.20 crore, they set a panic selling in the broader market; and rupee crashed to Rs 72.39 per dollar. Although the government has made a course correction by restoring the surcharge on long and short-term gains on foreign portfolio investors to the pre-budget position, some damage had already been done; Rs 23,000 crore was withdrawn from domestic markets post-budget. The economic scenario is in flux. Economists describe it as a quasi-recession when GDP slips for two consecutive quarters; we have slipped in five quarters. Investment and consumption have both failed. Therefore, very bold structural changes are needed – by breaching the fiscal deficit target of 3.3 per cent of GDP and by having a radical relook at the GST rates. At the same time, unethical ‘crony capitalism’ that has nurtured a politico-business nexus has to end. Below-value collaterals, doctored appraisals of project cost, loan disposals against goodwill, etc., should stop, since we already have NPAs of around Rs 8.8 lakh crores, primarily of large corporates. Added to this is the over Rs 70,000 crore bank frauds, which is ever-increasing. Unless there are appropriate mechanisms in place to fix both the lenders and the borrowers in a time-bound manner, the situation would go beyond redemption. Further, unless banks are freed from the stranglehold of the government, matters would not change. For example, the Rs 1 lakh crore for PM’s Jan Dhan Yojana foisted on the banks was never compensated. In addition, the FM should pay more focus on MSMEs and self-employment, which are the real job-creators. Agricultural distress can be ameliorated by promoting export of agri-products, as we have 60 per cent surplus. Unless hard and radical decisions are taken, all the efforts of Sitharaman would only amount to giving placebos as palliatives. The country is watching her with bated breath. (Dr. N Dilip Kumar, IPS (retd) is a former Member of Public Grievances Commission, Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

 

Syrian govt artillery pounds south Idlib

first_imgBEIRUT: Syrian troops shelled the south of Idlib on Sunday, according to rescuers and residents in the rebel stronghold where a ceasefire had halted a fierce army offensive two weeks ago. Artillery fire battered Maarat al-Numan town and nearby villages in the south Idlib countryside over the past two days, after warplanes struck there on Thursday. A rebel official said fighters were on high alert and had reinforced the frontlines. “We are responding directly by targeting the positions from where the shells are fired,” said Naji Mustafa of the National Liberation Front insurgent force. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USSyria’s northwest corner, including the Idlib region, is the last major chunk of territory still in rebel hands after more than eight years of war. The ceasefire Damascus declared on Aug. 31 brought a lull in air strikes, after a five-month offensive which the United Nations says killed hundreds of people. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and his key ally Moscow have said they were responding to attacks by militants formerly linked to al-Qaeda. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsTurkish President Tayyib Erdogan will host the presidents of Russia and Iran on Monday. Talks will focus on securing an Idlib truce, asserting control over jihadists there, and preventing a fresh refugee wave into Turkey. In early August, another ceasefire had collapsed within three days, after which the army pressed its offensive and advanced along a main highway. A senior Assad adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban, described the ceasefire this month as a temporary means to serve the strategy of “liberating every inch” of the country. Syrian state TV said on Sunday that troops had opened a corridor for residents who want to cross out of insurgent territory in Idlib towards army lines. It accused miiltants of preventing people from leaving. The Civil Defence, rescue workers operating in opposition territory, said artillery shelling on Idlib villages killed seven people since Friday. Ankara, which backs some rebel factions in northwest Syria, brokered a “de-escalation” deal with Russia in 2017 that sought to curb fighting in Idlib. It does not cover jihadist militants.last_img read more

 

Canadian Hurricane Centre eyes storm off southeastern United States

first_imgHALIFAX – The Canadian Hurricane Centre says a large storm system off the coast of Florida will likely push through waters off Atlantic Canada sometime Wednesday or Thursday.Forecasters say potential tropical cyclone ten is expected to become tropical storm Irma on Tuesday, and is then expected to accelerate toward the northeast and evolve into a large and fairly intense post-tropical storm.Based on the latest track, rain and strong winds from Irma are expected to remain offshore and not make landfall.But the centre says some rain and gusty northeast winds could brush Nova Scotia and southeastern Newfoundland on Thursday.Forecasters say at this point southern Canadian waters will likely see gale- to storm-force winds.Forecaster Bob Robichaud says the hurricane centre will have a better idea of what’s expected on Tuesday.last_img read more

 

Great plate fight Saskatchewan Alberta tussle over job site licence plates

first_imgEDMONTON – Alberta promised a court fight and mocked Saskatchewan’s lagging economy following a move by its neighbour to the east to ban Alberta licence plates on future job sites.“(Saskatchewan Premier) Brad Wall needs to smarten up, and he has one week to kill this ridiculous restriction, or we’re going to be taking him to court,” Alberta Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous said Wednesday.Bilous said Saskatchewan’s move violates interprovincial free trade rules.“Brad Wall is absolutely desperate,” Bilous said.“We know our economy is growing by four per cent. Their economy is in the dumps, so he’s grasping at straws.”Earlier Wednesday, Saskatchewan Infrastructure Minister David Marit announced that vehicles with Alberta licence plates will no longer be allowed on future government highway and building project sites. Existing projects will not be affected.The ban includes contractors, sub-contractors, consultants and workers. Ministry staff will enforce the provision through job-site monitoring.Marit said the ban is in response to reports from Saskatchewan workers who say they face similar restrictions in Alberta.“Saskatchewan operators feel forced to register their vehicles in Alberta if they want to do business there,” said Marit. “Today’s announcement just levels the playing field.”Bilous said there are no such restrictions in Alberta on out-of province workers or licence plates.Alberta officials said there were no prior discussions or advance warning of the change from Saskatchewan.The Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association lauded the move.“Saskatchewan heavy construction contractors have been one of the largest employers in the province in good years and in bad,” association president Shantel Lipp said in a release.“As local construction companies obtain a larger share of the Saskatchewan construction marketplace, they develop the people, equipment and capacity to maximize their economies of scale.”The Alberta Roadbuilders & Heavy Construction Association said it hoped the issue can be worked out before the next construction season begins.“It’s our understanding that there are already rules in place to require vehicles that are being used on a site to be re-registered after 30 days,” the group said in a news release.“We are not aware of any complaints. The new Saskatchewan policy could be problematic for industry because it would force vehicles to be re-registered and require insurance changes for even short site visits or work.”The plate feud is the latest cross-boundary sniping between Wall’s right-of-centre government and Premier Rachel Notley’s left-leaning NDP.Wall’s government has previously complained about new rules to assist Alberta’s craft brewers that Saskatchewan calls unfair to out-of-province beer producers.last_img read more

 

Canadian threat report highlights rise in simple but deadly terror attacks

first_imgOTTAWA – Public Safety Canada warns that extremists are increasingly carrying out simple but deadly attacks using knives and vehicles.In its annual public report on the terrorist threat to Canada, the department notes such unsophisticated but “high-impact” assaults took place recently in Edmonton, where five people were injured, and in New York, killing eight people and injuring several more.The report says terrorists also intend to develop cyberattack capabilities, but to date have shown little ability to launch damaging operations.It says just over 190 extremists with a nexus to Canada are abroad and suspected of engaging in terrorist activity.In addition, the government is aware of about 60 who have returned to Canada.The report says these numbers have remained relatively stable over the last two years, as it has become more difficult for extremists to successfully leave or return to Canada.— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitterlast_img read more

 

Vancouver park board lacked authority to ban whales dolphins at aquarium court

first_imgVANCOUVER – Vancouver’s park board did not have the authority to ban whales, dolphins and porpoises at the city’s aquarium, a British Columbia judge has ruled.The B.C. Supreme Court decision released Friday follows the Vancouver Aquarium’s announcement last month that it will end the practice of displaying cetaceans in captivity.The Ocean Wise Conservation Association, a non-profit society that runs the aquarium, filed an application for judicial review last year challenging a bylaw amendment passed by the park board prohibiting the keeping of cetaceans in parks.The aquarium has a licensing agreement with the park board that allows it to operate in Stanley Park, and it was renewed in 1999 to include “non-interference” provisions.Justice Andrew Mayer said in his ruling the agreement states the board will not interfere with the day-to-day administration of the aquarium, and as a result the bylaw amendment is unenforceable.“In my view, when an administrative body begins to trench into areas of ethics, morality and perhaps even animal rights, it may overstep its bounds if it adopts a political position which conflicts with its core mandates,” he said in his written ruling.The board approved the aquarium’s $100-million expansion plan in 1996 and made several other agreements in subsequent years that didn’t remove the non-interference provisions, Mayer said.The aquarium planned to create larger outdoor pools for beluga whales, sea lions and dolphins, and upgrade its building.The judge said the bylaw “effectively undoes the park board’s approval of the expansion project” because the aquarium would be prohibited from using the expanded facilities for its intended purposes.The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation issued a statement saying it was “obviously disappointed with the conclusion the court reached in the matter.”It said the board would be reviewing the reasons and would consider its options.The debate over holding cetaceans at the aquarium has been brewing for decades, but the heat was turned up when two of the aquarium’s belugas died in 2016.Since then, a false killer whale named Chester, and Daisy, a harbour porpoise, also died at the facility.The Vancouver Aquarium said in a statement that it is pleased with the decision.“We will need to take the time necessary to review the judgment with our legal counsel and consider the implications it may have on our organization before determining our future course of action or making any further public statements about these matters,” the statement says.The aquarium announced in January it would end the display of cetaceans because the controversy and distraction surrounding the issue had begun to limit its ability to pursue its ocean conservation mission.The aquarium had previously said it would phase out its cetacean program by 2029, after it brought in five new belugas.The judge stopped short of quashing the bylaw, saying the board was authorized to enact such amendments as long as it didn’t apply to the Marine Science Centre in Stanley Park.Animal Justice, an intervener in the case, said in a news release that the curtain is closing on whale and dolphins being kept in capacity, noting that a bill banning captivity and breeding of cetaceans in Canada is moving through Parliament.“It is clear that whale and dolphin captivity is an archaic, dying practice that will soon be outlawed,” the statement says.last_img read more

 

Crews hope to free prolific female right whale named Kleenex from rope

first_imgHALIFAX – Marine biologists are on the lookout for one of the most productive North Atlantic right whales left in the world, after an apparently unsuccessful attempt to free it from thick rope.Heather Pettis of the New England Aquarium said the team spotted the older whale — named Kleenex — near Stellwagen Bank off Boston last week and decided to try to cut a length of yellow rope that was snarled around the upper portion of its mouth and near its blow hole.Pettis said the whale, which has given birth to eight calves over several decades, appeared thin and in poor health, raising concerns that the species could be losing an animal that is responsible for 22 right whale descendants.It’s estimated that Kleenex is the mother, grandmother or great-grandmother of nearly five per cent of the remaining 430 North Atlantic right whales.“She’s got a reproductive span of 32 years, so she’s a really important animal in the population,” she said in an interview. “She is in the top six reproductive females in the history of what we know about this population.”About 18 right whales were killed in U.S. and Canadian waters in the last year. It’s suspected that many of them died after getting ensnared in fishing gear or hit by large vessels.Bob Lynch of the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass., was on the boat with the disentanglement crew that used a crossbow to shoot a cutting arrow at the rope, managing to slice a bit of it as Kleenex dipped below the water’s surface.Lynch said the exercise was particularly challenging since they couldn’t get too close to the “elusive” 15-metre whale, which often disappeared under the water.“It’s not an easy task and it takes a whole village,” he said with a laugh. “There was an aerial survey team that spotted the whale and it takes the driver putting the shooter in the right position and the people on the boat to help see the whale when it’s coming up.”He said it wasn’t clear whether the line was cut enough to lead to its release.“What we do know is that we improved the chances for that individual by nicking it,” he said, adding that they may try another disentanglement if they see her again.Still, he said it’s unlikely that she would breed while entangled.“It’s likely she’s not going to be reproducing, so that basically removes a female from the reproductive population,” he said.Pettis said Kleenex was thin, had a concave slump in her back and marks around her blow hole, indicating that she was in poor health.She said the whale was first seen in 1977 with a calf and is a critical member of the species since it’s believed there are only 100 breeding females left in a population of about 430 North Atlantic right whales. Only a couple of other right whales have produced more calves.The whale, who was named Kleenex because one of her calves had white scars that reminded scientists of a child with a runny nose, was seen entangled in gear in 2014. Pettis said she can still eat with some difficulty, but is expending extra energy because of the drag caused by the rope.“Having gear attached to her is requiring an expenditure in energy,” she said.The development is the latest setback for a species that suffered record losses last year. There were also no new calves spotted this season.last_img read more

 

US tariffs on steel will hit Canadian defence industry minister

first_imgOTTAWA – Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough predicts “significant consequences” to Canada’s defence industry as the U.S. moves to impose tariffs on Canadian steel.The minister says she doesn’t believe the tariffs will alter the government’s plan to purchase new military gear from the U.S. because extra money is typically set aside for unexpected circumstances.But she says they could hit Canadian businesses, some of which say they are watching closely to see how the dispute unfolds.The Trump administration says it is imposing a 25 per cent tariff on Canadian steel and 10 per cent tariff on Canadian aluminum starting at midnight tonight, ostensibly because of national-security concerns.Qualtrough, however, says it is “difficult to fathom” how Canadian steel could pose a security threat, given the close security relationship between the two countries and extent of integration between their respective defence sectors.She spoke on the sidelines of Cansec, an annual arms-trade show where defence companies from around the world showcase their wares to government and military officials.last_img read more

 

Tories threaten allnighter over true cost to Canadians of Liberal carbon price

first_imgOTTAWA – MPs were facing another long night of marathon voting Thursday as the Conservatives pushed the government to disclose how much its carbon price is going to cost Canadian families.Finance critic Pierre Poilievre said his goal is to make the government feel “as uncomfortable as possible until they tell the truth” about how much more Canadians will pay for everything from groceries to gasoline because of the carbon price.“If this government is going to make Canadians pay the price we’re going to make the government pay the price by keeping them here for 25 hours straight voting on their carbon tax cover up,” Poilievre said.The Conservatives had lined up more than 200 votes on the government’s main spending plan and threatened to proceed with them late Thursday if the government opposed a Tory motion calling on it to table by June 22 how much the proposed $50-per-tonne carbon price will cost Canadian families.It’s the second time in less than three months the Conservatives have used an all-nighter to make a political point. In March, they forced a 21-hour filibuster in a bid to force the government to agree to allow national security adviser Daniel Jean to testify at committee about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to India.Ultimately, the Conservatives won that battle because about two weeks after that voting marathon, the government agreed Jean could testify at the committee about non-classified information. He did so on April 16.However, they’re not likely to win the carbon price battle. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the government has already released its cost analysis, pointing to a report released in April that said its plan could cut emissions by up to 90 million tonnes a year by the time the carbon price hits $50 a tonne in 2022, at a cost to the economy of about $2 billion. That is equivalent to less than 0.1 per cent of the gross domestic product.“The Conservative Party is going to make people vote all night in relation to this when we have released this information,” McKenna said.She tabled the April report in the Commons following question period Thursday.As for the specific impacts on families, McKenna said it will depend on how each province chooses to use revenues from the carbon price. While the Liberals require every province to put a minimum $20-per-tonne price on carbon emissions by January 1 — rising to $50 per tonne in 2022 — it will only impose the price on provinces that don’t create their own system.What Poilievre wants, however, is a document done by the department of finance in 2015 which looks at the potential impact of a carbon price based on household consumption data across different income levels. He says he knows it exists because it was mentioned in documents he obtained through access-to-information legislation, although the actual analysis was blacked out.“We’re not asking for their April public relations pamphlet,” Poilievre said.The carbon price is becoming one of the biggest points of contention between the Liberals and Conservatives and promises to be a major debate during the next federal election.The Conservatives feel emboldened by the Ontario election win for Doug Ford, who campaigned on a promise to get rid of that province’s cap-and-trade system which kicked into place in March 2017. The Liberals counter that a majority of Ontario residents actually voted for one of the two parties that support carbon pricing.If the Conservatives proceed with the voting marathon it will also further delay passage of the government’s bill to make pot legal in Canada. The government’s response to Senate amendments to Bill C-45 was to be debated Thursday night but, due to the Tories’ 200 motions, that vote likely won’t take place until next week.last_img read more

 

Disciplinary hearing for Toronto cops who allegedly ate potinfused chocolate

first_imgTORONTO – Two Toronto police officers were “in distress” and had to be taken to hospital after allegedly eating a marijuana-laced chocolate bar they took during a raid on a cannabis dispensary, according to police documents released Tuesday.Const. Jamie Young and Const. Vittorio Dominelli face police misconduct charges in addition to criminal charges in connection with the Jan. 27 incident.Young was the officer in charge of the cannabis and the pot edibles — including chocolate hazelnut bars infused with cannabis oil — seized during the raid on the dispensary in midtown Toronto, where seven people were arrested and charged, say the documents filed with a police tribunal.Young “failed to account for some of this chocolate seized,” say the documents, which contain unproven allegations.The two officers wrapped their duties at the marijuana dispensary around 11 p.m. and were assigned to watch a restaurant for several hours. Sometime within the next two hours, the officers ate one of the chocolate bars, the documents allege.Around 1 a.m., both officers, in plain clothes and armed, called for help.Dominelli called on his radio for a “10-33” — code for “officer needs assistance” — “as he felt he was going to pass out as he ran up Oakwood Avenue,” the documents say.Young called 911.Police and paramedics responded to the scene where they found Dominelli “who appeared to be in distress” and taken to hospital, according to the documents.One officer responding to Dominelli’s call slipped on ice and suffered a head injury, the documents say. She was taken to hospital.Young’s whereabouts were unknown initially, until first responders found her in the area, and she was taken to a nearby police station.“It soon became apparent that (Young) was also in distress and in need of medical attention,” the documents say, so she was taken to hospital.Near the officers’ personal belongings, police found three packages — two full and one empty — of chocolate bars infused with cannabis oil that allegedly matched the ones seized from the earlier raid, the documents allege.Both officers told the assisting colleagues that they had consumed some of the chocolate containing cannabis oil, the documents say.The criminal charges laid against seven people at the pot shop had to be thrown out because of the officers’ alleged misconduct, the documents say.Young faces four misconduct charges and Dominelli faces six misconduct charges, while both face criminal charges, including attempt to obstruct justice and breach of trust.They are suspended with pay and the internal hearing process will be put on hold until the criminal matter is concluded, police said.last_img read more

 

Inside the terrifying world of faulty medical implants

first_imgThere are broken devices doing important jobs in the bodies of Canadians right now. We don’t know how many. We don’t know how dangerous they are. But we do know that similarly broken medical implants may have played a role in at least 1,400 deaths and 14,000 injuries since 2008. And that number is likely under-reported. And a broken system prevents us from establishing guidelines around which devices are causing problems quickly enough to prevent more. A massive global investigation has revealed some frightening facts and raised some immediate questions.How often do medical implants fail? Which versions of which devices are prone to malfunction and cause more harm than the symptoms they are intended to treat? How thoroughly are they tested before they’re put on the market, and what happens when problems begin to be reported with a device that’s already wired into hundreds of thousands of beating hearts around the world? Jesse McLean of the Toronto Star worked with a team of reporters from 58 organizations to expose the hidden stories of faulty medical implants.GUEST: Jesse McLean, Toronto StarAudio Playerhttp://media.blubrry.com/thebigstory/s/radio.pmd.rogersdigitalmedia.com/podcasts/thebigstory/tbs_11302018.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on iTunes or Google Play.You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.last_img read more

 

Five things about the federal budget

first_imgOTTAWA — The Liberals’ last budget of this mandate sets the stage for the October federal election and includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum. But there are also gaps in spending for some groups.Here’s what the budget does and doesn’t do, for five key voting groups:VeteransThe Liberals will enter the election campaign facing an uphill battle with veterans after Tuesday’s federal budget promised some new money to those who have served in uniform but otherwise failed to address the community’s largest grievances.The budget includes funding for chronic-pain research, for survivors of veterans who married after they were 60 years old, for measures to ease the transition from military to civilian life and for Second World War commemorations.But it doesn’t make any changes to the Trudeau government’s controversial disability pension plan, which will come into effect on April 1. The plan has been blasted by many veterans as falling far short of what the Liberals promised in the last election and was recently found by the parliamentary budget officer to provide less support for the most severely injured veterans than the current system of benefits.SeniorsTo help aging Canadians with soaring drug costs in Canada, the budget promises a new agency to buy drugs in bulk and cut Canadian medication costs as a first step toward a national pharmacare plan. Ottawa is also promising to spend $500 million a year, starting in 2022, on subsidizing drugs that treat rare diseases. The government says it intends to work with provinces, territories and other partners to develop the mandate for the national drug agency, with Health Canada to receive $35 million over four years starting in 2019-2020 to create an office to support the plan.Over 420,000 seniors in Canada have been diagnosed with dementia — and the rate of seniors living with this debilitating disease is on the rise. That’s why government will spend $50 million over five years in a new national dementia strategy.To help with retirement costs, the budget also proposes to enhance the guaranteed income supplement’s earnings exemption, beginning next year, so seniors can work part-time and still see financial benefits.EnvironmentalistsMore Canadians are choosing to drive zero-emission vehicles and the federal government wants to help make them more affordable. An investment of $300 million over three years will see Transport Canada introduce a subsidy of up to $5,000 for electric-battery or hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles that cost less than $45,000.Natural Resources Canada will also get $130 over five years to deploy new recharging and refuelling stations in workplaces, public parking lots, commercial and multi-unit residential buildings and in remote locations.Immediate expensing will be provided to a full-range of zero-emission vehicles so that businesses that want to switch over their fleets can recoup their costs faster.FarmersDairy, egg and poultry farmers who lose money because of Canada’s recent free-trade agreements will receive billions of dollars in compensation.The budget sets aside $2.15 billion over the coming years for supply-managed farmers who lose income because of the country’s trade deals with Europe and the Pacific Rim.Another $1.5 billion is being earmarked to compensate farmers who lose money when they sell their stakes in the three protected domestic markets, which Canada agreed in each of the agreements to open up to more foreign competition.Meanwhile, pork producers who have been watching a spread of African swine fever among pigs in parts of Asia and Europe may breathe easier thanks to a plan to increase monitoring for this disease at international airports. The Canada Border Services Agency will receive $31 million over the next five years, with up to $5.8 annually after, to increase the number of detector dogs at airports across the country.MillenialsReal-estate prices in some of Canada’s largest cities have increased beyond many young would-be buyers’ reach — something the Liberals have long promised to address.Tuesday’s budget announces measures for qualifying buyers to be able to have the government pick up part of the cost of their mortgages to lower their monthly payments, with the amount of help depending on their income and whether they’re buying a newly built or existing home.Changes are also being planned to allow Canadians to raise the amount they can pull from their retirement savings plans to fund the purchase of their first homes, from $25,000 to $35,000, and to allow people whose marriages or common-law partnerships break down to dip into those savings a second time.To help Canadians still struggling to save for their education and repay their student loans, The budget proposes changes to the interest rate on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans.In addition, legislative changes will be made so that student loans no longer accumulate interest during the six-month non-repayment “grace” period after a student borrower leaves school.Teresa Wright, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

 

As number of Canadian seniors grows so do worries over health care

first_imgVANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A significant number of seniors in Canada believe they’ll have to delay their retirement in order to be able to afford the health care services they need, a new study has found.According to the Canadian Medical Association, the current system is failing those 65 years and older, while many are also worried about their ability to get the help they’ll need when they’re sick.The CMA is taking that issue to federal and provincial leaders in Prince Edward Island, as ministers meet to discuss the state of seniors care country-wide on Wednesday.Canada is at a point where the youngest members of the Baby Boomer generation are now hitting the age of 55. It’s been described by some as the grey tsunami, as seniors are expected to exceed the number of children 14 and under for the first time ever in the country by 2021.According to findings from the national Ipsos poll, nine-in-10 Canadians are worried about the growing cost to look after them, and six-in-10 believe they’ll have to push their retirement back to afford health care.The CMA is advocating for federal money to help provinces and territories cope.“Meeting the health care needs of our aging population is a nationwide issue, with seniors across the country having to pay more out of their own pockets for the care they need,” CMA President Dr. Gigi Osler said. “What we’re seeing today reflects the limitations of seniors’ care, and we can – and must – do better.”The same poll found Canadians over 55 are more likely to vote for the party they think has the best plan for the future of health care in the federal election in the fall.Overall, the research found negative emotions far outweigh positive ones — 62 per cent to 38 per cent, with 22 per cent of people saying they are nervous when it comes to the future of health care in Canada.Twenty-one percent of respondents said they were afraid, while 18 per cent said they were distressed when it came to the topic.last_img read more

 

No questions asked Winnipeg parish prays statues head is returned

first_imgWINNIPEG — Members of a Winnipeg church are praying that the head of a bronze statue created by a well-known sculptor and blessed by a pope will be returned.The work depicting St. Volodymyr was decapitated outside the Cathedral of Sts. Vladimir and Olga early Tuesday. A cross-like symbol on a Ukrainian coat of arms was also stolen.“At this point we pray that those who did the severe damage to the statue return the head and cross, no questions asked,” a statement from the church said Friday.The vandalism has created a financial burden for the parish, the church said, adding it’s not known how much it will cost to repair.Parish executives met Friday to figure out next steps. For now, they said they are hoping for the return of the head and the restoration of the statue.The statue was created by Winnipeg sculptor Leo Mol, who died in 2009. Mol was born in Ukraine in 1915 and came to Canada in 1948.Art dealer David Loch worked with Mol for decades and considered him a close friend.“Leo would be terribly distraught if he was still around thinking that this could have actually happened,” Loch said in an interview from Toronto.“And of course, if Leo was here, he could make another head and he could put the head back on the shoulders. But he’s not here.”The website for the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Winnipeg said Mol used a special method to create his sculptures, modeling clay on a structure of rebar and wood. He then covered it in liquid rubber to form a mould.Loch said the moulds were all destroyed after Mol’s death.“There’s no moulds. No ways to replicate it. So I’m just praying that if they tossed it in the river, they know where they tossed it,” he said.Police said that it’s a unique crime, and they aren’t aware of any motive.“It is not uncommon for thieves to target statues or plaques for scrap metal,” Const. Jay Murray said in an email. “Buyers of scrap metal need to be aware that it can be a criminal offence to possess stolen property.”Loch said if money was the motivation, the head thief will be sorely disappointed. The statue is hollow, so it’s head is likely not worth more than $10 as scrap.However, the statue itself is priceless, Loch added. He’s offered to pay to have the head restored to the statue. He said someone with the right expertise could weld it back on.“When you see it was vandalized you think what was the point? Why would someone do that?” Loch said. “Of course we may not get the answer but the only answer that matters to me is we get the head back.”Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

 

Holocaust to Cambodia to Rwanda A list of acts considered genocide

first_imgPrime Minister Justin Trudeau says he accepts a finding that Canada’s treatment of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls amounts to genocide.The term is used numerous times in the final report of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, who are  believed to number in the thousands in Canada.The report says that despite the commission’s best efforts to quantify the extent of the problem, “no one knows an exact number.”The United Nations defines genocide as acts committed with intent to destroy ethnic, racial or religious groups. Here are some atrocities accepted as genocide:Armenian genocide: Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of the First World War.Holodomor: Millions of Ukrainians perished during a famine engineered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1932-33 in an attempt to force peasants to join collective farms.The Holocaust: Six million Jews and many others considered by the Nazis as “undesirable” were murdered during the Second World War.Cambodia: The ultra-communist group Khmer Rouge is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people while it held power from 1975 to 1979 through execution, starvation and inadequate medical care.Rwanda: Almost one million Tutsis were murdered within the span of 100 days in 1994 by Hutu extremists.Bosnia and Herzegovina: Nearly 8,000 Muslims were killed when Serbs overran the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica in 1995. The Canadian Presslast_img read more

 

As death toll rises scientists struggle to track massive elusive right whales

first_imgHALIFAX — They are among the world’s largest creatures, but the planet’s 400 remaining North Atlantic right whales are remarkably elusive.Though adult members of this critically endangered species can be as long as a city bus, their movements remain difficult to track, despite the best efforts of scientists struggling to deal with a rapidly rising death toll off Canada’s east coast.“It is kind of mind-boggling that we can lose track of these large animals,” says Boris Worm, a biology professor and well-known whale expert at Dalhousie University in Halifax.“But the ocean is a very large place, and they only spend part of their time at the surface — and they move around quickly, if they want to.”Though these whales typically travel north to feed in Canadian waters in June, some have been known to stick around most of the year — a recently discovered trait — and one male was spotted off the coast of France a few weeks ago. The same whale swam to Iceland last year.More importantly, a significant number of right whales have changed their migration patterns since 2014-15.Instead of heading to their traditional summer foraging grounds in the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin off southwestern Nova Scotia, the population has shifted to a more northerly destination — right into the busy shipping lanes of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.Since early June, eight right whales have died in Canadian waters, the worst death toll since 2017 when there were 12 confirmed deaths in Canadian waters and five in the United States.Tests have revealed that at least three of the whales that died this year were probably killed by collisions with ships.“It’s so critical to know where they are to keep them safe,” Worm said in an interview Tuesday. “We’re trying all the approaches in the scientific toolbox. Any traces they leave, we’re trying to pick them up.”Some of Worm’s colleagues are developing a predictive model that could help fisheries officials determine where the whales are most likely to go as they search for their favourite food: copepods.Hansen Johnson, a PhD candidate at the university’s Oceanography Department, said his lab’s research is focused on finding the locations where these flea-sized creatures congregate.“If we can predict where and when there’s going to be good feeding sources — and these copepods show up in large numbers — we can more accurately predict when and where right whales will show up and address the risks,” Johnson said in an interview.For almost three weeks, a team of six scientists has been conducting research aboard a chartered crab fishing boat in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, using nets and electronic gear to find copepods, which look like tiny, translucent shrimp.“It’s unclear at this stage how precise our model could be, but we know that this approach of following the food works,” Johnson said.When Dalhousie researchers looked at the currents and the structure of the ocean floor in the places where right whales were known to forage for zooplankton, including the Roseway Basin, they determined a pattern that also appears in portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.When surveillance aircraft were dispatched to search those areas in 2016, they hit the jackpot.“On the first flight, they found 40 right whales and this habitat was discovered,” Johnson said, though he stressed that some right whales may have been frequenting these basins for a long time.“They’re like cereal bowls where these food resources collect,” he said, noting that the latest research in the gulf is based on work by renowned Canadian oceanographer Kimberley Davies.“The currents are right. The ocean bottom structure is there.”On another scientific front, Worm is working with a student to develop an automated satellite tracking system that will eventually spot the whales from space and report their positions.Though the satellite imagery is incredibly detailed, the existing computer algorithms are unable to distinguish between species, and spotting the whales becomes difficult when the ocean is rough.When the water is turbulent, it’s often difficult to distinguish between a surfacing whale and a partially submerged rock — or even a small boat.“We haven’t cracked that nut yet,” Worm said.— Follow @NovaMac on TwitterMichael MacDonald, The Canadian Presslast_img read more