Man allegedly behind 1 million heist at Whitecap casino in El Salvador

first_imgAPTN National NewsMore details have emerged around a $1 million heist at the Dakota Whitecap First Nation near Saskatoon.Hugo Gallegos, 40, is alleged to have embezzled the money over a period of two or three years.Gallegos worked as a senior accountant at the casino and has not been since he went on holiday at the end of July.The RCMP says he has fled to his home country of El Salvador and the police agency is working with Interpol.Residents feel betrayed and are hopeful he can be caught and prosecuted.last_img read more

Manitoba NDP pick rookie MLA author Wab Kinew as party and Opposition

first_imgThe Canadian PressWINNIPEG – Rookie politician and Indigenous author Wab Kinew is the new leader of the Manitoba NDP who members hope will lead them back to power.Party members elected Kinew over veteran cabinet minister Steve Ashton as the province’s official Opposition leader in a vote of 728 to 253.Kinew, who is 35, went into Saturday’s vote with majority support among delegates elected in the province’s 57 constituencies who cast ballots at Saturday’s leadership convention.“It’s a new day for the NDP and it’s a new day for Manitoba,” Kinew declared to cheers following the vote. “This is a tremendous honour.”“I will take this role tremendously seriously and conduct myself with the greatest honour, integrity and honesty.”Kinew also went into the vote facing controversy over domestic violence charges that were stayed by the Crown in 2004 and only recently revealed.The complainant in that case, Tara Hart, went public this week and told The Canadian Press Kinew “flung” her across a room in the apartment they shared, which caused her to suffer severe rug burns.Kinew said he never hit or threw Hart.Kinew has also been convicted of assaulting a taxi driver and impaired driving _ decade-old offences for which he recently received pardons.“I am not the man I was,” Kinew told delegates before the vote with his wife, Lisa Monkman by his side.“To my two sons … be better than me. Be good men.”His only opponent, Ashton, had been using the revelations to try to swing delegates to his side up until the vote. He said Kinew’s history would make it harder for him to lead the Opposition New Democrats into the next election, slated for October 2020.“If Wab Kinew is elected leader, we run the risk of the next election being about Wab Kinew,” Ashton’s campaign team wrote in an email to party members this week.But Ashton did not criticize Kinew during his 30-minute speech before votes were cast Saturday. He focused his attention on Premier Brian Pallister’s Tories, who were elected last year.“Brian, if you’re actually watching … take a look around because we’re going to make you the next one-term Conservative premier,” Ashton said as he criticized Tory cuts to health care, changes to labour laws and a wage freeze being imposed on public-sector workers.But Ashton carried political baggage of his own.This was Ashton’s third run at the party leadership – the 61-year-old ran unsuccessfully for leader in 2009 and 2015 and lost his legislature seat in last year’s election.He was criticized by the provincial ombudsman for trying to circumvent normal contracting rules to buy flood-proofing equipment from a supplier who was a family friend and campaign donor.The ombudsman said civil servants were pressured in 2014 to not allow other companies to bid for the contract, an idea that was quashed by the Treasury Board.Political observers say Kinew’s victory gives the governing Progressive Conservatives a lot of fodder for attack ads. Kinew weathered some controversy in the last election over his criminal history, as well as social media posts, and homophobic and misogynistic rap lyrics.The New Democrats are choosing a replacement for former premier Greg Selinger, who stepped down after the party lost last year’s election to the Progressive Conservatives and saw 17 years in power come to an end.The NDP currently holds 13 of the 57 legislature seats.“I will carry forward the very important role of uniting the Manitoba NDP,” Kinew told the crowd.last_img read more

Message massage feds wrestled with infrastructure bank narrative too

first_imgOTTAWA – Before its controversial tax proposals triggered a bitter war of words this summer, Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s department was waging a similar communications battle over another contentious file: the Trudeau government’s infrastructure bank.A briefing note to Morneau last spring offered a glimpse of the strategy his department hoped to use to overcome “communications challenges” surrounding a $35-billion infrastructure financing agency central to the government’s economic plans.The “secret” memo offered reassurances to Morneau that his department would continue to work with Infrastructure Canada to find openings where they could proactively counter criticisms and misunderstandings related to the bank.“The purpose and the benefits of the (Canada Infrastructure Bank) are not well understood,” said the May memo, signed by deputy finance minister Paul Rochon.“Messaging on the purpose of the CIB and the merit of its design could be reinforced. The (Finance) Department will be actively seeking opportunities to communicate the merits of the CIB to a broader audience.”It also offered some detail on how they could defend the bank, including a presentation designed to communicate its benefits “more plainly.”The partially redacted document, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, was released last week as Morneau continues to fight fresh communications fires.This time, Morneau is struggling to sell his controversial proposals to change the tax system for small businesses, a measure that’s been met with howls of both opposition and grassroots outrage.Morneau bills the changes as necessary to end tax advantages unfairly exploited by some wealthy business owners. Critics, including some Liberal backbenchers, fear the changes could hurt middle-class entrepreneurs, damage the economy, hinder investment and potentially drive doctors out of the country.Amid the backlash, Morneau conceded last week that changes will be required to the proposals he announced in mid-July. The government is reviewing feedback it received on its tax plan during a 75-day consultation period that ended last week.In defending his tax proposals, Morneau has said misinformation is circulating about the tax reforms.“It’s not always the case that everything we’re hearing is unvarnished truth,” Morneau told the Senate last week in reference to some of the complaints the government has heard about the tax reforms.The government’s efforts to sell the infrastructure bank earlier this year also became a victim of misperceptions, according to the memo to Morneau.“A number of issues have been raised in the media coverage of the CIB proposal, which suggests there are communications challenges to overcome,” said the briefing, which also provided examples:— Media commentary suggested a lack of understanding about the bank’s functions and the country’s infrastructure issues, such as the infrastructure gap, the types of projects the bank would be involved in and why a new institution is needed.— Concerns that the bank would only help private-sector profits and do little for the public.— An impression the bank would privatize airports, even though Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi had publicly stated it would not be part of its mandate.The document also listed key areas of criticism from parliamentary hearings into the bank, including concerns about the financial risk of the bank’s activities for taxpayers, that it would not provide benefits to small municipalities and insufficient time for parliamentarians to study it.In the weeks after the memo was created, the bank attracted a significant amount of media attention — thanks, in part, to Independent Sen. Andre Pratte’s unsuccessful attempt to divide the budget bill to separate out provisions for the creation of the bank.Objections were also raised about the bank’s governance structure, which gives cabinet the final approval over projects to be financed.Political rivals have warned the Crown corporation will likely force Canadians to pay twice for their infrastructure — first via the public treasury and then through user fees that will generate corporate profits.The soon-to-be-operational bank is designed to use billions of public dollars as leverage to attract billions more in private investment for large, new projects — such as highways, bridges and transit systems.Infrastructure is central to the Trudeau government’s long-term growth strategy. It’s committed more than $180 billion for new projects over the next 11 years and, as part of the effort, its hoping to further boost investments with a lift from private cash.But in order to attract private capital the projects will have to be designed to generate steady, reliable returns for investors through revenue streams such as user fees.Sohi has argued the bank will be a tool to fund infrastructure projects that may not otherwise be built, or projects that public or private bodies can’t afford on their own.Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitterlast_img read more

Toronto now needs Team Canadas support in its bid for Amazons HQ2

first_imgTORONTO – Toronto’s status as the lone Canadian contender in the race to land Amazon’s second North American headquarters could give the city a competitive advantage, one of the key players behind the bid said on Thursday.Former TD Bank CEO Ed Clark, who helped spearhead Toronto’s proposal to host the multibillion-dollar headquarters, dubbed HQ2, said the city is the only one of the 20 remaining competitors who can draw upon the resources of an entire country in order to land the coveted prize.“Frankly, it’s helpful that we’ve now got it down to one city,” Clark told The Canadian Press. “We ought to have a Team Canada approach here, and so I think you have to make sure that the city, the province and the federal government are working hand-in-hand together to say, ‘let’s have a win for Canada.’”Amazon released its short list of candidate cities on Thursday, revealing that Toronto was the only Canadian city left in the running after it whittled the competition down from 238 to 20 bidders.Clark, who has agreed to help guide the city and surrounding municipalities through the next phase of the selection process, said inclusion on the short list is a validation of the pitch that emphasized talent, diversity and quality of life in stead, not financial incentives.Word that Amazon planned to open a second North American headquarters sparked a torrent of proposals from cities eager to land the $5-billion investment and lure the projected 50,000 jobs to go with it.Bids poured in from Canadian cities from coast to coast as both major urban centres like Montreal and Halifax vied with smaller dark-horse competitors such as Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.In the end, however, only Toronto made the short list, where it stands alongside American metropolises such as Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Atlanta.Some Canadian mayors expressed disappointment that their cities did not make the cut, but at least one was prepared to rally behind Toronto in solidarity. Halifax Mayor Mike Savage announced he intended to display a banner in his city reading “Go Toronto.”Toronto Mayor John Tory celebrated the city’s triumph at a news conference, in which he likened the inclusion on the short list to “making the playoffs” in a sports tournament.“We’re excited to have this opportunity and to be able to tell Toronto’s unique story,” he said. “There is no other place in North America that can boast the same talent, the same quality of life, the same vibrancy, the same economic strength.”Toronto Global, the group that compiled the city’s bid, said it will speak to Amazon in the coming days to find out what the next phase of the bidding process will look like.Chairman Mark Cohon said they will take the time to lay out more arguments as to why it should call Canada home.The initial bid focused on the features of the Toronto region and surrounding municipalities such as Guelph, Waterloo, Durham, Mississauga and York, he said. Subsequent conversations will map out ways in which higher orders of government could benefit the company.“What we’ll obviously talk to them about is things that the government has created in terms of initiatives, so…talking to them about how we could work closely with the federal government on the immigration pipeline and helping them get in temporary workers,” Cohon said. “Those are all the type of things that really, I think, make our bid really compelling.”Tory noted that Toronto attracted Amazon’s attention without resorting to tax breaks and other financial incentives offered by some of the U.S. competitors that also made the short list. The city of Boston’s bid includes $75 million for affordable housing for Amazon employees, while the city of Newark, N.J. proposed to give the company $2 billion in tax breaks.Tory said the strength of Toronto’s bid lay in other factors.“I’d be very surprised if we’re suddenly going to switch course now and say that we found some pot of money that we frankly didn’t think was worthy of putting in in the context of what really was going to make this the best place for Amazon to locate,” he said.The sentiment was echoed by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who said the depth of Ontario’s talent pool combined with government supports unique to Canada would make the province an ideal home for the new headquarters.“No competing U.S. city comes even close to offering this level of talent, nor can they measure up in the ways we are supporting both workers and businesses, be it through universal public health care, a strong system of publicly funded education, expanding access to quality and affordable child care, or the magnitude of our commitment to public infrastructure,” Wynne said in a statement.Amazon did not immediately share details of the next steps in the process, but said it would make its final decision later this year.In the bid it submitted to Amazon last October, Toronto was quick to point out that it met all the criteria the company specified in its search for a second corporate home.The company’s wish list included proximity to a metropolitan area with more than a million people; ability to attract top technical talent, a location 45 minutes from an international airport, direct access to mass transit, and the capacity to expand the headquarters to more than 740,000 square metres over the next decade.Toronto also touted diversity as one of its strengths alongside its lower business costs relative to similarly sized American competitors, expanding infrastructure and low crime rates.The city’s pitch also took what could be construed as a dig at U.S. President Donald Trump and his administrations anti-immigration policies.“We build doors, not walls,” reads the cover letter from the group co-ordinating the bid from Toronto and several surrounding municipalities.The effort to bring the new headquarters to Canada was spearheaded by none other than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who penned a letter to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the bids were flooding in.The letter, which did not single out any particular city, positioned Canada as “progressive,” “confident,” and a natural home for “forward-thinking global leaders.”Trudeau did not immediately offer comment on Toronto’s inclusion on the HQ2 short list.At least one industry watcher said Toronto has cause to celebrate even if it ultimately does not land the coveted headquarters.“I actually think Toronto has already won in some sense,” said Sean Mullin, executive director of the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Six months ago we were not being included in the conversation about what are the top five or top seven tech industry destinations in North America…Now Toronto is on that list, and I think it’s going to continue to be thought of from that perspective.”— With files from the Associated Presslast_img read more

Get Started Shutdown puts brakes on small business activity

first_imgThe federal government shutdown appears to have lasted one business day, long enough to give many small companies a taste of how much a longer disruption could affect them.The Small Business Administration largely shut down except for its disaster relief operations. That means small business loans weren’t processed, nor were requests by companies to be certified to participate in federal contracting programs like the 8(a) and HUBZone programs.While visitors to www.sba.gov were able to use the website, a notice warned, “the information on this website may not be up to date, the transactions submitted via the website may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries” until funding is restored. Phone calls to the SBA’s New York offices during regular business hours Monday went unanswered.Business owners could still apply for loans — the process begins with a bank application. Banks were taking applications, which during an extended shutdown would go into a queue, creating a backlog for when SBA employees return to work. In past shutdowns, the backlog meant delays in loan approvals.When the government shuts down, small businesses hoping to be paid for work they’ve done for the government must wait until agency employees get back to the office. Not only does lack of funding mean federal workers aren’t being paid, it also means contract payments cannot be disbursed.Many companies with contracts with the government had to stop working Monday because they received “stop work” orders from agencies. The government won’t pay for non-essential work done during a shutdown and/or work whose funding depends on the bill that stalled in Congress. The law firm Fisher Phillips, in a posting on its website Friday, said companies that did not receive such an order should keep on working.Federal websites that advertise contracting opportunities were available Monday, but owners hoping to contact employees about specific opportunities, or to check on the progress of a contract or bid, were likely to have their emails or phone calls go unanswered.Also unreachable: the government’s online system for employers to verify the eligibility of individuals to work in the U.S. A notice on the system’s website, www.uscis.gov/e-verify , said employers couldn’t able to access their accounts during the shutdown.And any government office or agency that performs non-essential or non-emergency services was likely to be unavailable. Agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or National Labor Relations Board were unlikely to work on any cases. And Department of Labor divisions like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were unlikely to be carrying out investigations except in situations where employees are at risk, according to Fisher Phillips._____Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: https://apnews.com/search/joyce%20rosenberglast_img read more

For builders demand and economy up so are interest rates

first_imgNEW YORK, N.Y. – The outlook from U.S. builders is being buoyed by a strong job market and a sizzling hot economy.The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Thursday read 72 for the second consecutive month. That’s still just 2 points shy of December’s reading, which was an 18-year high for optimism among the nation’s builders.Readings above 50 indicate more builders see sales conditions as good rather than poor. The index has been above 60 since September 2016.The February reading was in line with the expectations of industry analysts, according to a survey by the data firm FactSet.Builders’ view of current sales conditions fell slightly, though the outlook for sales over the next six months rose two points, to 80. A measure of buyer traffic held steady at 54.“Builders are excited about the pro-business political climate that will strengthen the housing market and support overall economic growth,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, in a statement.But, he added, that builders need to manage supply issues such as labour shortages and building material costs.The housing market remains strong overall. The National Association of Realtors reported that in December its pending home sales index increased for the third straight month. Pending sales contracts are a barometer of future purchases. Sales typically follow a month or two after a signed contract.Sales have been fueled by historically low mortgage rates, though if there are brakes to be applied to the housing market that may be where it comes from.The recent acceleration upward of both wages and prices is already a factor in huge swings across U.S. financial markets. Economists increasingly believe it’s become more likely that the Federal Reserve will grow more aggressive with interest rate hikes this year to keep inflation under control.Long-term U.S. mortgage rates jumped this week to their highest level in nearly four years, a sign that the prospect of higher inflation is steadily increasing the cost of borrowing to buy a home.Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to 4.38 per cent this week, up from 4.32 per cent last week and the highest since April 2014.The shares of almost every major U.S. homebuilder are hitting 52-week lows this week.last_img read more

Tim Hortons announces sudden closure of 4 Cincinnatiarea locations

first_imgTim Hortons parent company Restaurant Brands International closed four more American locations as the coffee-and-doughnut chain struggles to overcome franchisee discontent and souring public opinion.RBI says it reached a mutual agreement with the franchisee in Cincinnati, Ohio, to close four restaurants.Spokeswoman Devinder Lamsar did not directly answer why the company made the decision and instead sent a statement.“Every market we enter poses unique opportunities and challenges, the U.S. market is no different,” the statement reads. “We have learned a great deal about what works well and areas where we can improve by working closely with our area development partners.”The company has seen robust growth in some markets, like New York and Michigan, she said in the email.However, it has closed multiple restaurants in the U.S. over the past several years.It reportedly recently also closed an Indianapolis, Ind. location after less than four months of operations.Lamsar declined to confirm the closure, but sent a statement saying the company believes the city “remains an attractive market” for it.Show Me Hospitality LLC, the area developer for Tim Hortons restaurants in the Greater St. Louis, Mo.-area, closed six of its restaurants there in late 2017, according to a statement it released in January.The developer said it was forced to do so after RBI terminated franchise agreements for the six spots.Show Me Hospitality filed a lawsuit against the parent company in July 2017. It claims RBI wanted the group to enter into a new area development agreement that required it to open 200 restaurants — five times more than its original agreement with former management. When Show Me Hospitality declined to do so, it claims RBI said it would terminate the old agreement.Neither the developer’s president, its lawyer nor RBI immediately responded to a request for comment on the suit.The closures come as Tim Hortons is embroiled in an ongoing public battle with some of its franchisees, who have formed an unsanctioned group called The Great White North Franchisee Association to fight against alleged mismanagement.The company and group have filed multiple lawsuits against each other in both Canada and the U.S. Meanwhile, Tim Hortons ranking plummeted in two recent reputational surveys and the company grappled with nationwide protests against how it and some franchisees handled a minimum wage increase in Ontario earlier this year. Some restaurant owners scaled back on employee benefits to offset the higher labour costs.Show Me Hospitality is a member of GWNFA’s U.S. chapter. GWNFA says it represents about half of all Tim Hortons franchisees in Canada and the U.S.GWNFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the string of American closures.In June, after reports RBI was scaling back on its U.S. expansion plans, Tim Hortons president Alex Macedo said in a statement that the company has seen softer comparable sales growth in the U.S. in more recent quarters amid a very competitive environment.The company had 685 American locations at the end of 2017, up from 649 stores at the end of 2014, he said.Lamsar said the company remains committed to working closely with its franchisees to drive the brand’s growth in the U.S.“We will need to determine the sequence of our expansion efforts outside of Canada to prioritize markets to establish density and brand awareness.”RBI’s shares fell 94 cents or 1.14 per cent to $81.62 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.Follow @AleksSagan on TwitterCompanies mentioned in this story: (TSX:QSR)last_img read more

McConnells yearend wish Getting Congress to legalize hemp

first_imgLOUISVILLE, Ky. — Pressed for time and with a crowded agenda, the Senate’s top leader has his own priority in Congress’ lame-duck session: passing a farm bill that includes a full pardon for hemp, the non-intoxicating cousin of marijuana.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has guaranteed his proposal to make hemp a legal agricultural commodity will be part of the final farm bill. He places it on a par with federal spending bills as action Congress must take before the end of the year.Keeping that promise would cap a decadeslong journey to overcome the stigma associated with the crop, which McConnell himself did not initially embrace wholeheartedly. But in recent years, the quintessential establishment Republican has been all in for the hemp revolution.Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Presslast_img read more

Woman arrested in Vancouver helped turn Huawei into household name in China

first_imgVANCOUVER — The tech executive whose arrest in Vancouver has sparked outrage from China is the well-educated daughter of a wealthy former military man who founded what eventually became one of the world’s largest telecom companies.Wanzhou Meng, the chief financial officer and deputy chairwoman of Huawei Technologies, was arrested at Vancouver’s airport while in transit over the weekend and faces extradition to the United States on unspecified charges.Meng’s bio on Huawei’s website says she joined the company in 1993 and held various positions across the company, including director of international accounting and CFO of Huawei Hong Kong.She holds a master’s degree from Huazhong University of Science and Technology.Huawei was founded in 1987 by Meng’s father, Ren Zhengfei. It’s grown into a major multinational with more than 170,000 employees doing businesses in more than 170 countries.Meng’s father, now 74, comes from rural roots, according to the Huawei website. His parents were school teachers and he grew up in the remote mountainous town in Guizhou province.Huawei says Zhengfei was a standout in the Chinese military’s engineering corps, retiring in 1983 when the unit disbanded. He was invited to attend the National Science Conference in 1978 and the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 1982.After a stint in logistics with Shenzhen South Sea Oil Corp., his biography says he founded Huawei in 1987. He has held the title chief executive since 1988.Meng, who also goes by the first name Sabrina, is one of four deputy chairs listed on the Huawei website and one of three women to sit on the Huawei board. She is credited in her bio with establishing Huawei’s globally unified finance organization — helping grow the company to the world’s largest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies. The company says it has surpassed Apple as the second biggest maker of cellphones after South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.Meng led the founding of five Huawei shared service centres around the world, her company bio says. “These centres have boosted Huawei’s accounting efficiency and monitoring quality, providing accounting services to sustain the company’s rapid overseas expansion.”Since 2007, the company says Meng has been in charge of something called the Integrated Financial Services Transformation Program, a partnership between Huawei and IBM.“In recent years, Ms. Meng has focused on advancing fine-grained and comprehensive financial management at Huawei, working to align these efforts with the company’s long-term development plan,” her Huawei bio reads.“Ms. Meng has continually worked to improve treasury risk and tax compliance management systems, and has helped to make financial operations within the company more efficient, agile, and intelligent.” The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Birchcliff and AltaGas announce new arrangement at Gordondale processing facility

first_imgCALGARY, A.B. — Birchcliff Energy Ltd. and AltaGas Ltd. made a joint announcement Tuesday, saying they have entered into a long-term natural gas processing arrangement at AltaGas’ deep-cut sour gas processing facility in Gordondale.The new arrangement, which will last for at least 15 years, will go into effect retroactive to January 1st, 2018 and will replace existing processing arrangements at the facility. Under the Processing Arrangement, Birchcliff is being provided with up to 120 million cubic feet per day of processing on a firm-service basis, with a take-or-pay obligation of 100 million cubic feet per day.“This new arrangement with AltaGas provides long-term natural gas processing and will reduce our fees at the Gordondale Facility,” said Birchcliff President and CEO Jeff Tonken. “An added benefit of this arrangement for Birchcliff is that we will not have to incur significant capital to build our own deep-cut facility at Birchcliff’s natural gas processing plant in Pouce Coupe, Alberta. We had previously commenced the planning and initial work to further expand the processing capacity of our Pouce Coupe gas plant by 150 MMcf/d to 490 MMcf/d (Phase VII) and by 100 MMcf/d to 590 MMcf/d (Phase VIII). In light of this new processing arrangement, we currently have no plans to proceed with Phases VII or VIII.” “The new arrangement with Birchcliff is a significant win for both parties,” said David Harris, President and Chief Executive Officer of AltaGas. “The Processing Arrangement allows us to maximize the long-term value and returns from the Gordondale Facility, which is one of our key assets. The agreement fills the existing capacity at the Gordondale Facility and significantly enhances the potential to flow third-party volumes through the facility and to grow those volumes, allowing us to eventually optimize the facility and bring the operating capacity up to 150 MMcf/d, while providing lower fees for Birchcliff. The long-term commitment from Birchcliff, potential for third-party volumes and the strategic proximity of this asset to the liquid-rich Montney fairway further strengthens our plans around the future expansion of the Gordondale Facility. In addition, AltaGas will also benefit from growing propane volumes which will be dedicated to our Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal as part of the commercial arrangements.”last_img read more

Duncan Cran Elementary to receive funding for playground equipment

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Duncan Cran Elementary School will be receiving $105,000 for a new accessible playground.This funding is part of a program from the Provincial Government that aims to deliver healthier, more accessible learning environments for kids while reducing pressure on parents to fundraise.Duncan Cran Principal, Griff Peet, says he is excited about what this announcement means for students at the school. “I think this is a great opportunity for full inclusion of our students at Duncan Cran School.”The Playground Equipment Program invested $5 million in 50 new playgrounds in 34 School Districts around B.C., including 30 universally accessible playgrounds.According to the Government, the playgrounds will be built over the next six months and are expected to be ready for kids to play on in fall 2019.last_img read more

Maoist clears SET from correctional home

first_imgKolkata: Arnab Dam has cleared the State Eligibility Test examination from a correctional home in the state. Dam alias Bikram is at present lodged at Hooghly Correctional Home. Dam has set an example as till date no person from the state had cleared SET from a correctional home.Dam, who is now eligible for lectureship, had pursued his Bachelors and Masters degrees in History from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) from the correctional home and had secured first division both the times. He had appeared for SET on December 2 last year. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersDam had also applied for National Eligibility Test examination but failed to appear for the examination because he turned up late at the examination centre due to some administrative issues. Dam, who is the son of retired judge SK Dam and a resident of Garia, has been a meritorious student throughout his academic career. He passed his higher secondary examination from Narendarpur Ramkrishna Mission and joined mechanical engineering at IIT Kharagpur. However, in 1998 during his third semester, he mysteriously disappeared from the campus. He was arrested in 2005 for involvement in Maoist activities and after some months in prison he was out on bail. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaDam was a state committee member of CPI Maoists in Bengal and was active in areas of neighbouring states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha. He was arrested in connection with Maoist attack at the Silda camp of the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) in 2012 from Balarapur in Purulia and has been lodged in prison since then. He had appeared for her SET examination from Presidency Correctional Home. Dam’s father was informed about his son’s results through a speed post on Friday. Now, if the state government permits Dam can take up lectureship jobs in institutions such as Calcutta University and Jadavpur University. Senior officials of the state Correctional Administration department including minister Ujjal Biswas have expressed joy over Dam’s achievement.last_img read more

Williamson to lead New Zealand in World Cup 2019

first_imgDubai: Kane Williamson will lead the 15-member New Zealand squad in the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019, the country’s cricket board announced on Wednesday. The biggest surprise is the inclusion of wicketkeeper Tom Blundell, who is yet to play a one-day international (ODI). Tim Seifert, a regular back-up in recent times to first-choice gloveman Tom Latham, has been excluded, partly due to a broken finger which has kept him out of action for the past month. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh Blundell’s domestic white-ball record is modest as he has averaged 23.81 with three half-centuries in 40 games so far, though he has a Test hundred. He is also considered one of New Zealand’s most talented behind the stumps. Seamer Doug Bracewell has also been left out. Commenting on the development, Kiwi head coach Gary Stead was quoted as saying by the ICC: “The World Cup is the pinnacle of cricket, and to be the first nation to name a squad for the tournament is really exciting. I’d like to congratulate all the players selected. To represent your country at a World Cup is a huge honour, and I know the entire squad and support staff are looking forward to the challenges ahead. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later “As with any squad named for a major tournament, there had to be some tough calls and there will be some disappointed players. The key for us was finding the right balance for the squad and making sure we had our bases covered for what is going to be a very competitive World Cup,” he added. The Black Caps will open their campaign against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on June 1. New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (Captain), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (Wicket-keeper), Tom Blundell (Wicket-keeper), Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Ish Sodhi, Henry Nicholls, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Jimmy Neeshamlast_img read more

Major Gogoi suffers ignominy of seniority reduction and exit from Kashmir Valley

first_imgSrinagar: Major Leetul Gogoi, who was at the centre of the 2017 ‘human shield controversy’, will suffer the ignominy of reduction in seniority and exit from Kashmir Valley with the Army headquarters confirming the punishment for “fraternising” with a local woman last year, officials said here on Sunday. A court martial had held Gogoi and his driver Sameer Malla guilty on two counts – “fraternising” with a local woman in spite of instructions to the contrary and “being away from the place of duty while in operational area”, the officials said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange framework The company commander of the unit of Malla, who was facing charges of unauthorised absence, has been authorised to decide on his punishment which includes a “severe reprimand”. Malla was recruited in the Territorial Army in 2017 and he was posted with 53 sector of Rashtriya Rifles, a counter-insurgency force fighting militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. The proceedings of the court martial were confirmed by the Army headquarters after which it was decided to shift him out the valley, the officials said, adding that the final orders were received very recently. Also Read – Trio win Nobel Medicine Prize for work on cells, oxygen Gogoi and Malla’s summary of evidence was completed in early February, followed by the initiation of the court martial proceedings, they said. The statements of the both the accused as well as other witnesses were recorded by the Army court and the punishment, which has been vetted by the Army headquarters, has been given, they added. Major Gogoi and his driver were detained by Jammu and Kashmir Police following an altercation with the hotel staff when he was allegedly trying to enter it with an 18-year-old woman on May 23 last year. The woman had expressed her unwillingness to depose during the court martial proceedings and informed the Army authorities that she had given a statement before a magistrate and the same should be treated as her final stand. The woman had also stated that she had gone out with Major Gogoi on her own will, besides disclosing that she had become a friend of the Army officer through his fake Facebook profile, where he had named himself Ubaid Arman. Immediately after the incident came to light last year, Army chief Bipin Rawat had said that exemplary punishment would be given to Major Gogoi if he was found guilty of “any offence”. “If any officer of the Indian Army is found guilty of any offence, we will take strictest possible action,” General Rawat had said. Major Gogoi hit the headlines after he tied a man to a jeep purportedly as a shield against an unruly mob which was hurling stones during a by-poll at Budgam, which forms part of the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, on April 9, 2017.last_img read more

Normal services restored at Kolkata airport after 9 hours

first_imgKolkata: A day after scores of passengers were inconvenienced at the Kolkata airport due to technical glitches in the check-in system, a senior official said it took the authorities nine hours to restore normal services. “The system, which slowed down and conked off around 5.15pm yesterday (Monday), was up and running by 2.30am,” Airport Director Kaushik Bhattacharjee said Tuesday. A tweet by Kolkata Airport thanked passengers and other stakeholders for their patience. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”The Local Area Network has been restored around 2:30am. We thank our passengers, airlines and all the stakeholders for the patience and cooperation,” it said. Five Kolkata-bound flights were also diverted Monday evening owing to bad weather in the city. The technical snag did not affect the arrival of flights to Kolkata, thunderstorms and subsequent rain did, a spokesperson of Airports Authority of India (AAI) said. “A Singapore Airline flight was diverted to Dhaka, three others were diverted to Bhubaneswar and one to Lucknow,” the spokesperson said. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThe Airports Authority of India (AAI) owns and manages more than 100 airports – including the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) Airport in Kolkata. A fault was detected at the local area network (LAN) of NSCBI Airport Monday evening, hampering check-in process of the passengers. Around 30 flights were delayed by an average of 20-25 minutes as boarding passes had to be issued manually. The airlines, therefore, have been issuing boarding passes manually since 5.30 pm, the official added. “The Internet server has been down since 5.30 pm and it is likely to start working from 10.30 pm on Monday. Around 30 flights have been delayed in between 5.30 pm and 9 pm by an average time of 20-25 minutes,” said an AAI official. The official said the IT team of the AAI worked diligently to resolve the issue. Several thousand passengers who were to board flights at the Kolkata airport on Monday evening were caught in serpentine queues at airline check-in counters as the system used to issue boarding pass to passengers and tickets for registered baggage blanked out during peak hour. The glitch and the resultant slowdown in check-in process delayed departing flights by 25 minutes to an hour. Incoming flights were, however, not affected and touched down at the airport on time.last_img read more

Ifrane International Festival to Kick Off in July

By Safaa KasraouiRabat – The city of Ifrane will hold its second annual international festival from July 7until July 9, under the theme, “ Les Chants des Cèdres,” or Songs of Cedarwood.The three-day festival will gather together national and international musicians to perform. Notable Moroccan singers at this year’s event will include Abdelwahab Doukkali, Hatim Idar and Shada Hassoun. International stars Egyptian singer, Sherine Abdel Wahab and Lebanese superstar, Wael Jassar, will also be in attendance.West Africa will be represented by Senegalese singer, Badara Seck, who will lead a concert highlighting the talents of African artists called ” Le Chant de la Diversity,” “Diversity Songs.”The festival will also feature a forum about the environment, mountains and spirituality in collaboration with Morocco’s top university, Al Akhawayn.“This meeting will bring together a plethora of officials, researchers and experts to discuss various topics. The forum will be alsoan opportunity to award scientific works and local initiatives related to the promotion and protection of Moroccan mountains and environment,” the organizers said in a press release.Other activities at the festival will include a basketball tournament and animated movies for the children. read more

Security Council Extends MIUNRSO’s Mandate, Pressures the Polisario

Rabat – The Security Council adopted on Friday afternoon a new resolution extending MINURSO’s mandate for six months until October 31, 2018. Unlike last year, the resolution was adopted without consensus, with three members abstaining from voting, Russia, Ethiopia and China.Resolution 2414 was initially scheduled to be adopted on Wednesday, but due to lack of agreements between members of the council, the vote was deferred until today. Despite Russia and Ethiopia’s attempt to water down the language of the draft resolution and avoid “alienating” the Polisario, no major changes were made to the final version of the resolution.However, there are two changes in the latest draft compared to the original resolution circulated to the members of the Council on Monday, April 23. The first consists in renewing MINURSO’s mandate for six months only rather than 12 months. The second change relates to the Council’s call on Algeria and Mauritania to fully contribute to the negotiation process. Whereas the first draft called on the neighboring states to “increase their engagement in the negotiating process and to fulfill their special essential role in supporting the political process,” the language of the final draft calls on the neighboring states to merely “make important contributions to the political process and to increase their engagement in the negotiating process.”Essentially, the language of the final draft has been watered down in a way that it relieves pressure on Algeria, the main supporter of the Polisario. Morocco has repeatedly called on Algeria to be fully involved in the political process, since it is the country that hosts, arms, and supports the Polisario politically and diplomatically.Emphasis on Morocco’s autonomy proposal Like in last year’s resolution, preamble paragraph of the resolution gives preeminence to the Moroccan autonomy plan presented on April 2007 by “welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution.” Meanwhile, the resolution merely mentions the counter-proposal that the Polisario submitted the same month without giving it any credit for moving the political process forward.Regarding the recent tensions in the whole area east of Morocco’s defense wall, the resolution commended the “measured response of Morocco to most recent concerns regarding the buffer strip.”Other than the usual language contained in the remaining preamble paragraphs, the operative paragraphs of the resolution contain positive language overall for Morocco.Taking note of Morocco’s calls to United Nations to stop the Polisario’s attempts to change the status quo in the whole area east of Morocco’s defense wall, including the buffer zone, the Security Council has expressed “concern” over the Polisario’s actions and called for its immediate withdrawal from the Guerguerat region.In addition, the Security Council expresses its concern over Polisario’s announcement to transfer administrative functions to the zones of Tifariti and Bir Lahlou and “calls for the Polisario Front to refrain from any such destabilizing actions.”Security Council calls for a “realistic” and “practical” solution to the Western Sahara conflictBesides the paragraphs on tensions in the area east of Morocco’s defense wall, the most significant change in this year’s resolution in comparison to previous years is it emphasis on the need that the parties to the conflict work towards reaching a “realistic” solution.Paragraph 2 of the resolution emphasizes the need for the parties to “make progress toward a realistic, practicable, and enduring political solution to the question of Western Sahara based on compromise and the importance of aligning the strategic focus of MINURSO and orienting resources of the United Nations to this end.”This is a highly significant change in that it is first time the Security Council uses such language in a resolution related to the Western Sahara conflict. Since the adoption of Resolution 1754 in April 2007, the Security Council had never used such terms. In the resolutions adopted since, the council instead called the parties to show “realism and compromise” towards reaching a political solution.This language is positive for Morocco, as it puts more emphasis on the fact that a solution to the conflict would only be achieved if the parties worked out a formula that is realistic and viable. Since Morocco submitted its Autonomy Proposal to the Security Council in 2007, a number of influential members of the Security Council, such as France and the United States, have described it as “serious, realistic” and credible,” paving the way towards reaching a mutually acceptable solution to the conflict.Meanwhile, the Polisario submitted a counter-proposal to the Security Council, which emphasizes that any resolution to the conflict must be achieved through the holding of a referendum for self-determination, which maintains independence as a potential outcome. Many observers, as well as former UN officials, ruled out the possibility that an independent state can be established in southern Morocco.  In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais in August 2008, former United Nations Secretary General Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Peter Van Walsum, said that the establishment of an independent state in southern Morocco was “unrealistic.”Morocco has repeatedly emphasized that any solution calling for the independence of the territory is red a line, stressing that autonomy is the most it can offer.While the Security Council has renewed its call for the parties to resume negotiations in order to achieve a mutually acceptable political solution, it remains to be seen whether Morocco will accept direct talks with the Polisario. Given Morocco’s calls for the United Nations to push Algeria to fully partake in the political process, it is unlikely that Morocco will engage in such a negotiations as long as Algeria is not involved as a full-fledged party.However, based on the dynamic of negotiations within the Security Council, it seems that the latter its moving towards calling clearly on Algeria to become fully involved in the political process. Though Russia watered down the language of the resolution, that the first draft adds a new paragraph calling on Algeria and Mauritania to fulfill their “special essential role in supporting the political process,” is an indication that the Security Council is moving towards viewing Algeria as part of the problem and part of the solution.If by the end of October 2018, no progress has been achieved and Morocco continues to shot down any UN request of direct engagement with the Polisario, the Security Council might push harder to call more clearly on Algeria to be involved in the political process.Read Also: Security Council to Vote on UN Resolution on Western Sahara, No Major Changes Included read more

Stocks move sideways on Wall Street after record-setting day

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks followed a record-setting day with more subdued trading Wednesday as investors continue digesting a steady flow of corporate earnings and a potential break in the trade war between the U.S. and China.Stocks are essentially stalling and bond prices are rising as investors pull back into a more defensive position. Real estate companies and utilities, both typically considered less-risky investments, are gaining early, while health care companies and banks lag.Analysts have been expecting a contraction in first-quarter corporate profits, but the results so far have been mostly solid. That trend continued with profit beats from e-commerce company eBay and industrial giant General Dynamics.Anadarko surged as Occidental tries to push out Chevron in a bidding war for the company. Boeing rose 1%, despite a disappointing first quarter report and a pulled forecast because of its troubled 737 Max.Investors have been becoming more confident that the economy will continue to grow steadily after the Federal Reserve indicated it would hold off on raising interest rates. However, there are still threats to the economy from international trade disputes.The U.S. and China are still embroiled in a trade war that has raised costs for several companies. Others, like Caterpillar, are seeing lower revenue in Asia because of the dispute.A U.S. delegation will visit Beijing next week to continue trade negotiations. Chinese officials will visit Washington for more talks starting May 8. They are aimed at resolving a dispute over Beijing’s technology policies and other issues that have clouded the economic outlook and shaken financial markets.KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index edged up 0.1% as of 10:10 a.m. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq composite were little changed.THERE WILL BE BIDS: Occidental Petroleum started a bidding war for Anadarko Petroleum as the oil industry’s largest companies try to secure their positions in the oil-rich Permian Basin.Occidental fell 3% after it offered $57 billion in cash and stock for Anadarko Petroleum. Anadarko surged 11% and Chevron fell 1.8%.SLUGGISH ROOMBA: IRobot plunged 20% after the robotics company’s revenue fell short of Wall Street forecasts.The company is best-known for its robotic Roomba vacuum. It beat profit forecasts for the quarter and gave investors solid guidance for the year, but it wasn’t enough to overcome disappointing revenue growth.Damian J. Troise, The Associated Press read more

UN wraps up repatriation of Southern Sudanese from DR Congo

Senior government officials who joined the welcome ceremony for the refugees, including a number who had been in exile for 17 years, hailed “the effort returnees will make in rebuilding their country,” Jennifer Pagonis, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a press briefing in Geneva. The 2005 peace accord ending the north-south civil war in Sudan – separate from the fighting in the country’s Darfur region – paved the way for the repatriation effort, which has seen the return of more than 8,000 Sudanese refugees from a string of refugee camps in the DRC’s north-west. The DRC becomes the second country – after the Central African Republic which wrapped up its repatriation to south Sudan in April – to complete the process. Launched in June 2006, the DRC operation ended Saturday when the last of 10 flights chartered to transport some 470 refugees from Dungu landed in Yambio in western Equatoria Province of south Sudan. In Yambio, UNHCR has supported the construction of eight water boreholes and sanitation blocks for area schools. “We have also constructed and equipped a maternity clinic, repaired and equipped six primary health care centers and are now building three more schools,” said Ms. Pagonis. In a related development, a meeting bringing together the Governments of Sudan and Kenya as well as UNHCR held in Khartoum last Friday agreed to increase the pace of repatriation of Sudanese refugees living in northern Kenya’s Kakuma camp. There are 45,000 Sudanese refugees there, down from 70,000 in December 2005. Since the start of voluntary repatriation to South Sudan, some 145,000 Sudanese refugees have returned home, more than 63,000 of them with UNHCR assistance, according to the agency. 5 June 2007The United Nations refugee agency has wrapped up its repatriation of southern Sudanese from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), ending a yearlong effort that saw the return of 8,000 people. read more