New York: Indian-American activist Priya Sawhney, who interrupted Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ on-stage talk, has been arrested on trespassing and burglary charges, according to media reports. Sawhney, 30, rushed on stage during Amazon’s “re:MARS” event here on Thursday and asked Bezos to do something about “chicken farms”. Sawhney evaded event security, as well as some of Bezos’ personal detail, which costs a reported USD 1.6 million per year, the BBC reported. Also Read – ‘Hong Kong won’t rule out Chinese help over protests’ “You are the world’s richest man. You’re the President of Amazon and you can help the animals,” shouted Sawhney, asking Bezos to stop the abuses of animals in California farms, the report said. The security guards quickly surrounded her and took her away. Bezos and Jenny Freshwater, another Amazon executive on stage at the time, sat calmly as the woman was removed. A judge in Las Vegas says a California animal rights activist can be freed from jail without bail pending her next court date on felony charges for approaching Bezos, the world’s richest man, on a conference stage, according to a media report. Also Read – Pak Army chief accompanies Imran at key meetings in China Sawhney is due again in court July 15 on false identification and burglary charges. In Nevada, burglary relates to entering a building with intent to commit a felony, the report said. Sawhney is co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere (DXE), an international grassroots network of animal rights activists founded in 2013 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Direct Action Everywhere animal rights group said it was protesting against what it claims is poor treatment of chickens at a farm in Petaluma Poultry, a California farm that supplies chicken and turkey to Amazon and others. “Animal abuse is the crime here, not animal rescue,” Ms Sawhney said in a press release published quickly after the incident. “It’s time Amazon and Jeff Bezos take a stand for transparency, rather than actively suppressing the truth.” Once she was taken away, Bezos turned to the moderator and said: “Do you have a response to that?”
London: After registering a nervy win against Pakistan, Australia will look to come out with a commanding performance when they meet Sri Lanka in their fifth World Cup encounter at the Kennington Oval on Saturday. With six points in four games, the defending champions are sitting pretty in the top section of the points table and, therefore, would aim to gain two points to get to the top of the chart. One of the things that has been witnessed in Australia’s campaign so far is that none of the games have been easy for them. Barring their first game against Afghanistan, the mighty Aussies have had to grind and struggle to registers wins against West Indies and Pakistan. Also Read – Djokovic heaps praise on ‘very complete’ MedvedevWith David Warner returning to his usual batting fluency like he did against Pakistan, Australia’s top-order looks more formidable, while the middle-order has been in good form to begin with. Their bowling, too, is in fine form with Mitchell Starc leading their pace battery. While they were taken for plenty by the strong batting line-up of the Men in Blue, they put up a good show against Pakistan and will look to keep the foot on the pedal. On the other hand, Sri Lanka, have four points from four games, which includes two washouts. In their two completed games, Dimuth Karunaratne’s men have not looked a very challenging side. Their batting has been in tatters, providing little chance to the bowlers to get them back into the game. The onus, will however, be on Karunaratne and Kusal Perera to make sure they play positive brand of cricket and provide enough runs for the likes of Lasith Malinga to unleash themselves against the five-time world champions.
Kolkata: Three persons have been held for interrogation in connection with the killing of a local Trinamool Congress leader in West Bengal’s Hooghly district, police said on Sunday. “Manoranjan Patra, 55, was beaten to death near the Trinamool party office in Harishchowk. Like every day, he was on his way to the party office when some people attacked him on Saturday. Three individuals have been held for interrogation,” an officer of Khanakul police station said. A Trinamool supporter claimed that Patra was threatened by some Bharatiya Janata Party activists a few days back. Patra’s body has been sent for post-mortem and investigations are going on, the officer added.
Narendra Modi never ceases to surprise. He surprised everyone, probably including himself, by sweeping the 2019 elections. The brutal victory evoked fears of Armageddon and critics saw Modi 2.0 as confirmation of the proclamation of a Hindu Rashtra. But these have since been found to be grossly exaggerated. The massive victory seems to have done some magic as Modi in his second term has behaved more like a statesman than anything else that has been conjured up of him. Also Read – A special kind of bondHis address to members before the commencement of the first day of proceedings of the newly-elected Lok Sabha was a star performance, especially his gesture of reaching out to the opposition in the interest of legislating for fulfilling the aspirations of ‘130 crore Indians’. “When we come to Parliament, we should forget paksh (treasury) and vipaksh (opposition). We should think about issues with a nishpaksh (impartial) spirit and work in the larger interest of the nation,” the Prime Minister said. That was more statesman-like than Modi has ever been known for. Also Read – Insider threat managementSimilarly, his emphasis on the constructive role of the opposition, even in its truncated form, is a refreshing change. “The opposition need not bother about their numbers. I hope they speak actively and participate in the proceedings of the House with gusto,” Modi said. One hopes the new Speaker takes note and extends the courtesy to the leader of the opposition. Ever since he was swept to power on the wave of what he claimed to be India’s first ‘pro-incumbency wave’, Modi has been maintaining that it was important for the NDA to listen to the opposition ‘even if the opposition had just one member’. Modi even reminded the opposition of its duty to constructively oppose the government. After winning his second mandate, the Prime Minister used typical symbolism to pick Kerala’s temple town of Guruvayur for his first public meeting, where he delivered a clear message on his government’s policy of inclusiveness. He told an enthusiastic crowd of BJP supporters that he opted to hold his first public meeting in Kerala, although the state did not send a single BJP representative to the Lok Sabha. “Some people must be wondering what kind of a man this Modi is, coming first to a state which refused to elect a single BJP candidate,” the Prime Minister said in a speech at a school ground near the famous Sri Krishna temple at Guruvayur, where he offered prayers. Modi said his government belonged to 130 crore Indians and not just the people who voted BJP back to power. He also complimented the people of Kerala for participating in the great national festival of democracy. He said he considered the people of Kerala in the same way as he considered the people of Varanasi. This was in sharp contrast to what Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on the same day at a place not far off from where Modi was speaking. In Wayanad for a thanks-giving visit for electing him convincingly while his supposed family burrow of Amethi rejected him, Rahul continued to attack Modi and reiterated his charge that the prime minister was a liar. Rahul’s diatribe appeared to be completely out of sync with Modi’s approach, which was anchored on moderation and conciliation. The same symbolism was on show when Modi first entered the central hall of Parliament House for his second term as he bowed down ritualistically before the Constitution, which his government had been accused during the election campaign and the period leading up to that of systematically subverting. This phase was marked by an orchestrated campaign against Modi’s alleged disregard for the constitution and its institutions, which prompted the prime minister to complain against what he derisively described as the ‘Khan Market Gang’. Later in his address to the new batch of MPs, he asked the NDA members not to discriminate against anyone and win the trust of minorities, who he said had been cheated by the Opposition for generations and now it is time to win them over. He pointed out that the minorities have been made to live in an ‘imaginary fear’ all this while and the ruling front MPs have to break this ‘deception’. He said they should take everyone along, including those who have not voted for the ruling alliance and have been its trenchant critics. Down and out in the Modi tsunami, the opposition parties by and large seem to have reconciled themselves to the new reality. But the ‘Khan Market Gang’ is persisting with its ways, running down the verdict of the people and igniting passions. Some of the writings by the so-called members of the gang deserve unequivocal condemnation. An article carried by a news portal captioned ‘Being Muslim in New India is an inherently existential struggle subsumed as a community is under an emergent Hindu nation’, authored by a Muslim, provides a good sampling of the attempts to create the fear psychosis that Modi referred to in his speech. The highly provocative article surmises that the 2019 election results have one clear message: ‘a New India is here and it is a Hindu Rashtra’. It argues that it is too simplistic to give credit for the BJP’s massive mandate to the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo and claims that the credit should go to over 180 years of sustained efforts of ‘Sangh Parivar reformists’. “However, out of all that is being spoken about in this victory — Shah, Modi, New India, and a Hindu nation — the Muslims of the country are left with a question: Where are we in all this?” Whether it is the result of an oversight by the editors of the portal or a deliberate attempt to ignite passions, it is a fit case for the Press Council of India to take up. (The views expressed are strictly personal)
New Delhi: Mobile operators Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have vehemently opposed allocation of premium 700 MHz spectrum to Indian Railways for specific services, citing commercial value of such radiowaves and the potential for 4G and 5G offerings.The mobile telephony services industry — otherwise polarised over a range of issues — has spoken in one voice this time to assert that spectrum allotted to the Railways for captive use should not be utilised for commercial services for passengers (wi-fi and internet offerings) as such services should be provisioned by entities that hold a valid licence. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalReliance Jio said that the Railways should not be permitted to offer commercial services like wi-fi and voice and video communication, without obtaining authorisation under the Unified Licence. The Railways should obtain commercial spectrum for commercial use via auction like all other interested parties, it said. “… we do not agree with the Indian Railways demand for reserving 15 MHz spectrum in 700 Mhz spectrum band for LTE (Long Term Evolution) based communication corridor…The spectrum in 700 Mhz band should not be allocated to Indian Railways for Radiocommunication Systems between Train and Trackside (RSTT) due to its commercial use and being a backbone band for 4G-5G services,” Reliance Jio said in its response to regulatory consultation on the matter. The suitable allocation for such captive use should be in the 450-470 MHz spectrum band, it opined. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost”Department of Telecom (DoT) has rightly noted that considering the limited spectrum available in 700 MHz band and the fact that this digital dividend spectrum has immense potential for coverage in wide and rural areas, the spectrum for Indian Railways may be explored beyond this band and that the spectrum in 450-470 MHz seems most suitable for this purpose,” Jio said. Jio said it strongly disagrees with the proposal to use the RSTT radiowaves for providing Wi-fi services to passengers and using the spectrum for faster data network communication for voice, video and other applications as well as IoT based services “as the same are commercial services and can be provisioned only under Unified Licence authorisation by DoT”. The operator, however, termed as “valid and legitimate”, the Railways’ requirements to provide mission-critical passenger safety services and applications, video surveillance through close circuit cameras in trains, along with video analytics. “The Railways is a commercial organisation and it can very well take the requisite licences and auction acquired spectrum to offer commercial services like Wi-fi… to its customers under the applicable licence and service terms and conditions,” Jio has said. Vodafone Idea argued that if spectrum from 700 MHz band were to be reserved for Indian Railways, there will be insufficient spectrum left for 4G/5G services (considering that 3-4 service providers will be providing services in each service area), in effect, jeopardising growth plans of the telecom operators. Hence, it said, spectrum in 700 MHz band should be allocated and utilised only for IMT (international mobile telecom) services, Vodafone Idea said. Vodafone Idea further said spectrum should not be reserved or assigned to Indian Railways for commercial purposes to meet the communication needs of the railway passengers, which the operator felt should be served through the telecom service providers’ networks. “The Indian Railways may avail and utilise the spectrum for their captive/internal purposes such as for passenger safety, train positioning and security purposes or requirements,” it said. Bharti Airtel also felt that spectrum in 700 MHz band should not be allocated to Indian Railways, and should only be made available to the licensed telecom operators via due auction process. Indian Railways can be allocated the 450-470 MHz for deployment of LTE based RSTT, it added.
Kolkata: A part of National Highway-117 at Diamond Harbour caved in due to erosion of River Hooghly early on Thursday morning. Transport services from Kolkata to Kakdwip and Namkhana via Diamond Harbour were disrupted due to the subsidence and vehicles were diverted from an alternative road via Sirakole near Amtala.Diamond Harbour MLA, Dipak Halder who visited the site said work for the beautification of the river bank in Diamond Harbour was going on for the last few months with MPLAD funds. There was a strong tidal current at the time of the cave in. A tunnel boring machine, three JCV machines and two generator vans which were engaged in the work have been swallowed by the river. “We began work of mending the road to resume vehicular movement soon after the damage. We are hopeful of restoring normal vehicular traffic along the stretch by Friday. We want to ensure that the daily commuters along the stretch are not inconvenienced,” said P Ulaganathan, District Magistrate, South 24-Parganas. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaEngineers have already been instructed to come up with a detailed plan of thorough restoration of the road. “This work will also go side by side and will be carried out at a brisk pace,” a senior district official said. Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee also tweeted saying that normalcy would be reinstated and restoration work will be completed by Friday. Locals expressed their apprehension that a major disaster was averted as the timing of the incident was early morning when there was no traffic.
Los Angeles: James Wan is returning to his horror roots with an untitled secret film. Sources tell Variety, the movie will be a project for New Line Cinema, the plot of which is currently under wraps. Wan and Ingrid Bisu came up with the story for the film and the Aquaman director will also produce through the Atomic Monster banner with Michael Clear. The search for a scriptwriter is still on. It is said the filmmaker wants to shoot the movie in late 2019 in Los Angeles and then move into pre-production on the Aquaman sequel next year. The horror project is being independently financed via Starlight Media and Midas Innovation, who will retain distribution rights in China. Wan and New Line have previously collaborated on The Conjuring universe, The Curse of La Llorona and Lights Out. He is also producing the upcoming Mortal Kombat.
New Delhi: Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday that all options are open with the ministry for closure or merger of three public sector undertakings – MMTC, STC and PEC. When asked whether the government is considering to shut or merge these units, Goyal said: “All options are open”. He said gradually the purpose of these companies is getting eroded and they are no more canalising agencies. “It is not the government’s business to be in the business,” he told reporters here at the sidelines of a CII function. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalHe said there is no meaning for such a big infrastructure (MMTC) to carry out gold imports. “We have started discussions. One by one we will do,” he added. STC and PEC are debt-ridden firms. According to STC’s annual report for 2018-19, the company is facing “severe liquidity crisis” as all the lender banks have reported STC’s account as NPA due to non-payment of interest on the banking limits availed by the company”. Therefore, at present, the company has no banking limits, funded or non-funded, available with it. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostThe company has reported a net loss (after tax) of Rs 881 crore during 2018-19 as compared to net profit (after tax) of about Rs 38 crore in 2017-18. The net loss reported in 2018-19 was mainly due to write-offs amounting to about Rs 626 crore made in the books of accounts. STC was set up in 1956 as a trading arm of the government to undertake trade with east European countries. PEC was incorporated as a subsidiary of STC in 1971 to handle canalised business of export of railway and engineering equipment. It became an independent firm in 1997. MMTC was created in 1963 as an independent entity on separation from STC primarily to deal in exports of minerals and ores and imports of non-ferrous metals. All three companies are under the administrative control of the commerce ministry. When asked about India, US trade talks, he said both countries are in continuous dialogue on trade related issues. “If things get resolved, we will announce something,” he added.
OTTAWA – The Trudeau government committed Wednesday to spend $62 billion more over the next two decades for a major expansion of the Canadian Armed Forces, aimed at ensuring it can properly defend the country in an increasingly unstable world.But much of the money won’t flow until after the next election, and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan refused to entertain the question of whether the spending spike would mean bigger federal deficits or spending cuts in other areas.The promised new cash is the cornerstone of the government’s long-awaited defence policy update, which Sajjan unveiled to much fanfare at the Cartier Square Drill Hall in Ottawa.“If we’re serious about our role in the world, we must be serious about funding our military,” he told a news conference attended by dozens of uniformed military personnel.“And we are.”That cash will be essential for the ambitious, 20-year vision laid out in the new policy document, which includes old standbys such as working with the U.S. to defend North America, saving Canadians in distress and working with NATO allies to confront threats abroad.But the plan also calls for adding various military capabilities, such as the ability to conduct offensive cyberattacks, the purchase of armed drones and the addition of 5,000 more full- and part-time troops.At the same time, the review also acknowledged significant shortfalls to date in terms of supporting ill and injured soldiers, as well as the amount of money that has already been set aside for major procurement projects.For example, while the previous government planned to spend $26 billion to replace Canada’s 15 frigates and destroyers, the actual cost will be closer to $60 billion, the review says.Underpinning everything is the reality — spelled out in a major policy speech Tuesday by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland — that Canada can no longer rely on the U.S. for its defence to the same extent it has in the past.While some of the new money will start flowing this year, the taps aren’t expected to really open until 2020-21 — well after the next election, and a veritable lifetime in political Ottawa.Officials speaking on background said the delay was unavoidable because of the amount of time needed to buy new warships, fighter jets and other major equipment.But it immediately raised concerns among the opposition Conservatives, as well as some defence analysts, about future spending cuts, which is what happened to Canada’s last defence policy.“This is a book of empty promises,” said Tory defence critic James Bezan, whose party released a defence policy while in government in 2008 but raided it a few years later to eliminate the deficit.“All this spending has been punted down the road until we see any increases after the last election. And of course the government can change its mind.”Sajjan shrugged off such concerns, saying the current as well as future governments “owe it” to those in uniform to “fully fund the Canadian Armed Forces on a long-term footing. And that’s what we have done.”There were also unanswered questions about where the Liberal government — already staring at a deficit projected at $23 billion for 2016-17 — will actually find the money to make good on its promises.Officials say the money for the first five years has already been included in the government’s current fiscal plan, but that decisions will need to be made over the longer term.For his part, Sajjan would only say that the Liberals’ defence policy had been “rigorously costed” and was “fully funded,” before emphasizing what he described as good news for the military.The plan sparked immediate praise from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who has previously joined U.S. President Donald Trump in calling for all allies to spend more on their militaries.“This new policy affirms Canada’s unwavering commitment to NATO and will ensure Canada has the armed forces and key capabilities that the alliance needs,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.“In these challenging times, Canada’s commitment to the alliance is important as we work to keep our nations safe and NATO strong.”The U.S. is “heartened” by the police announcement, Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis said Wednesday, noting it “demonstrates Canadian resolve to build additional military capacity and a more capable fighting force.”“The United States welcomes Canada’s marked increase in investment in their military and their continued commitment to a strong defence relationship with the United States and NATO,” Mattis said in a statement.Trump spokesman Michael Short appeared to give the U.S. president credit for the planned spending increases, linking to a media report on Twitter and writing that Trump was “getting results.”But there also wasn’t any indication that the government plans to increase defence spending to meet NATO’s target of two per cent of GDP, which is what Trump has demanded of alliance members.The policy document instead says Canada has been under-reporting its defence spending for years by not including the money spent by other departments on such items as peacekeeping and veterans’ benefits.As a result, it says defence spending is actually around 1.19 per cent this fiscal year, which it will increase to 1.4 per cent of GDP by 2026-27.— Follow @leeberthiaume on TwitterNote to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version left the impression the spending increase only amounted to $14 billion over 10 years.
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – A Newfoundland woman was banking on the third time being the charm in her seemingly cursed bid to see Adele.Lori Shortall and two girlfriends jetted off to London, England, last Friday, thrilled by the prospect of finally getting to see Adele in concert as the British songstress wrapped up a tour that had been plagued by health issues.But, when Shortall checked her email hours after settling into their hotel and just days before the scheduled concert, she was stunned to see one from the concert promoter announcing that the performance at Wembley Stadium had been cancelled.For Shortall — a 48-year-old music teacher from St. John’s — the news was a frustrating three-peat coming after she had bought tickets to Adele concerts in 2011 and in 2016 only to have them cancelled at the last minute.“I could not believe it when I saw that email — it didn’t even enter my head that it would be cancelled!” she said from a shop in London, where she and her pals were wrapping up their vacation. “I was so disappointed I couldn’t even tell the girls — I couldn’t even deal with it — it was almost like it was a dream. So yeah, that’s bad juju, bad karma!”Soon after she heard that the London concert was being cancelled because of the singer’s recurring vocal cord issues, Shortall took to social media to appeal to her for a private audience.On her Facebook page, Shortall posted a photoshopped picture of her and Adele arm-in-arm, along with a direct appeal to the singer.“I still haven’t seen you in concert and I estimate I have forked out almost $10,000 now. Help a girl out!!!! All I want is five minutes of your time and a cup of tea!!!,” Shortall said in her post.Some people commenting on the site used lines from one of the singer’s biggest hits, saying, “Hello, it’s me. I’ve been travelling around the world in hopes that I could see. You performing, for all your fans. But still no sight of you and now I’m down about 10 grand.”Shortall also reached out to TV talk show hosts Ellen DeGeneres and James Corden in a bid to have them arrange a tea date with Adele, but has so far not heard back from either.Shortall’s history with the singer, known for her devastating ballads and overpowering vocals, goes back to 2011 when she bought tickets to see her in Houston, where her sister was living at the time. She took a few days off work at her school and flew down. As she was heading to the concert, a friend told her it had been cancelled because the singer had a vocal hemorrhage.Five years later, she and her husband decided to go to Phoenix, Arizona, for a vacation so he could mountain bike and she could take in an Adele concert.“So, he got to do lots of biking and I didn’t get to see my show!” she said with a chuckle.Her tale of woe has captured the attention of British media, with the Sun newspaper interviewing her by phone on a bus to Windsor Castle and Stonehenge. She says everyone on the bus could hear her story, and that at least two couples had travelled from the United States and Israel to see the concert.“So the whole bus heard my interview and were looking at me like, ‘Oh my God woman, nobody has that kind of luck,’” she said through laughter.Still, Shortall, who sings herself, says she and her friends are not upset with the singer and if given the opportunity would wish her a good recovery.“The first thing I would do is to absolutely wish her well and then I’d say, ‘Hey girl, you need to cut a girl a break. Let’s hang out!’” she said. “I’m sure we would enjoy each other’s company.”– By Alison Auld in Halifax
OTTAWA – Canada’s national annual inflation rate was 1.0 per cent in June, Statistics Canada says. Here’s what happened in the provinces and territories (previous month in brackets):— Newfoundland and Labrador: 1.5 per cent (3.0)— Prince Edward Island: 1.2 (1.4)— Nova Scotia: 0.5 (0.5)— New Brunswick: 2.0 (2.4)— Quebec: 0.6 (0.7)— Ontario: 1.3 (1.4)— Manitoba: 0.2 (1.0)— Saskatchewan: 0.5 (0.9)— Alberta: 0.4 (1.2)— British Columbia: 1.7 (1.9)— Whitehorse, Yukon: 0.6 (2.1)— Yellowknife, N.W.T.: 0.8 (1.2)
OTTAWA – It would not make any sense for the Liberal government to divulge what they hope to get out of a new North American Free Trade Agreement, said Andrew Leslie, the parliamentary secretary for Canada-U.S. relations.“It’s illogical to unmask and to lay down detailed objectives when we don’t have to,” Leslie said Friday.“What we’d rather do is analyze what they’ve laid down — no real surprises there — figure out where we can negotiate, what we can probably push ahead or hold the line on and take it from there,” he said.The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump released an 18-page summary of its objectives for the new NAFTA on Monday, as required by U.S. law.There are no such rules forcing the Canadian government to do the same, but Conservatives and New Democrats teamed up to ask that several cabinet ministers appear before an emergency summer meeting of the House of Commons trade committee to do just that.Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has agreed to attend, alongside officials, on Aug. 14 — two days before the first round of negotiations between the U.S., Canada and Mexico begin in Washington, D.C.Leslie said Freeland can be expected to outline approaches, rather than share detailed objectives, to avoid “giving up a negotiating advantage.”When it comes to the overall approach Canada will take, Leslie said it is akin to what U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said in a speech when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Rhode Island last week: a “win-win-win” for all three of the trading partners.The American NAFTA objectives do not always appear to take that approach.They say the U.S. government will insist on maintaining “Buy American” rules that limit opportunities to foreigners, while at the same time demanding more opportunities for American suppliers to bid on government procurement contracts in Canada and Mexico.“That’s one reason why we should not start negotiating in public,” Leslie said when asked about how this squares with the message from Pence.“That will have to be part of the give-and-take of the negotiating teams,” Leslie said.If the president wants “Buy American,” then what about access to projects like the billions the Liberals intend to spend on infrastructure?, Leslie said.“I think our friends and allies would do well to watch what we are about to build in Canada and they may want to take part in that,” he said.The Conservatives and New Democrats had asked for International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Finance Minister Bill Morneau to attend the committee as well, but the Liberals said Freeland has the lead on the file and is best placed to answer questions.They had also wanted to hear from Canada’s chief NAFTA negotiator, which remains a possibility if Freeland decides to bring him.The opposition said they are not asking the Liberals to share their strategy, but want greater transparency.“We want to make sure that they’ve dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s and lay out the list of priorities so Canadians can understand exactly what’s going to be in these negotiations,” said Conservative MP Randy Hoback.“We were promised by the Liberal government that they would have a progressive trade agenda,” said NDP MP Tracey Ramsey.“It’s time for them to show Canadians what they mean by that.”Ramsey had asked the committee to invite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to appear as a witness, but no one supported the motion.Trudeau said his government wants to work with all political parties on the issue, even though he will not come to committee.— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter
HAMILTON – A Canadian man accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails will forgo his extradition hearing and go face the charges in the United States in what his lawyer has called an effort to speed up the legal process.Karim Baratov signed documents agreeing to waive the hearing before a Hamilton judge on Friday, after weighing the decision for months.Ontario Superior Court Justice Andrew Goodman warned Baratov that the move could leave him open to more charges in the U.S., prompting the 22-year-old’s lawyer to confirm his client knew the implications of his choice.“Good luck, Mr. Baratov,” the judge said as the hearing came to a close.An extradition hearing for Baratov had been scheduled for early September, though his lawyer, Amedeo DiCarlo, suggested in June that his client may opt out if talks with American officials proved fruitful.He would not comment Friday on discussions with the U.S., saying he didn’t want to compromise any negotiations.But he said outside court that this latest development was welcomed by his client.“He’s happy, he’s excited,” DiCarlo said. “All along, we’ve said he wants to move this along, he’s not trying to delay the system, he wants to assert his rights in the U.S.”DiCarlo has stressed that waiving the extradition hearing does not mean admitting guilt.U.S. marshals will be dispatched to fetch Baratov and take him to California, DiCarlo said. That is to take place “as soon as possible,” he said, possibly within the next few days.Baratov was arrested in Hamilton in March under the Extradition Act after U.S. authorities indicted him and three others — two of them allegedly officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service — for computer hacking, economic espionage and other crimes.He has been held without bail since his arrest because an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that he was too much of a flight risk to be released prior to an extradition hearing.The judge also found that Baratov’s parents would not make appropriate sureties since they had not been suspicious of their son’s alleged activities while he lived under their roof.American authorities alleged in court documents that Baratov, who was born in Kazakhstan, posed an “extremely high flight risk” in part due to his alleged ties to Russian intelligence agents and his financial resources.Baratov appealed the ruling that denied him bail but it was upheld in June.Yahoo said last September that information from at least 500 million user accounts had been stolen in a cyberattack two years earlier. Baratov is accused of hacking 80 Yahoo accounts and faces 20 years in prison in the U.S. if convicted.
TORONTO – With so many humanitarian crises in the world, it’s on everyone to educate themselves and continue pushing for democracy and human rights, Angelina Jolie told a Toronto conference focusing on women Monday.“There’s just so much for all of us to do and the first and foremost is we have to just get the best education … With all that’s accessible to us sometimes we get completely overwhelmed and we don’t know what to believe and what to do, so I’m just trying to listen to other women, I’m trying to lend my voice where possible,” Jolie told the Women in the World summit in an afternoon panel.“We all need to do, I think, even more than we’ve ever done because we’re at a very dark time.”The filmmaker and special envoy for the United Nations refugee agency was in Toronto to promote “First They Killed My Father,” a movie about the Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia, which was to have its Canadian premiere Monday night at the Toronto International Film Festival. Jolie directed, co-wrote and co-produced the film.She said bringing her six children — three of whom were adopted from orphanages in Cambodia, Ethiopia and Vietnam — to work on movies and humanitarian projects around the world has been a key part of their education.Her son Maddox Jolie-Pitt, who was born in Cambodia, was involved in “First They Killed My Father” and has a producer credit on the film.“I hope they’re being raised to see the value of diversity, the value of other people,” Jolie said. “They ask the questions we’re all asking. They see what’s happening in Syria or in Myanmar and they ask why, and we’re all trying to find the same answers.”It’s particularly important that they learn about their own background from a culturally relevant perspective, she said.“I will look for all different ways to communicate about their histories and really to teach them,” she said.“We homeschool and I’m very very aware of their education, mostly very aware of what’s lacking. For example it’s very important to me my daughter Zahara doesn’t start learning about her history through the civil rights movement in America, that’s not how she begins to learn about herself as a young African-American,” she said.“She needs to learn about the great history of Africa and who she is…and not start with the civil rights (movement).”
TORONTO ONTARIO, – One of Canada’s most high-profile forecasters is projecting comparatively mild temperatures and dry conditions for much of Canada this coming fall.The Weather Network says temperatures are expected to be near or above seasonal norms from coast to coast, with only momentary flashes of prospective winter conditions.Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott says the outlook is similar for precipitation.Most regions are on course to receive rainfall in line with seasonal averages.The one exception is the East Coast, which Scott says is likely to experience some fallout from an unusually active Atlantic hurricane season.The network says Canadians fresh from summer conditions that have deviated from the norm in many cases can now ease into a “quintessentially Canadian” autumn.“We think that this fall will have its share of ups and downs, as is normal, but there will be a few more ups than downs,” Scott said in a telephone interview.This especially holds true for those who prefer a dose of summer mixed in with transitional fall temperatures, Scott said, adding milder conditions are expected to prevail across most of the country.This will be particularly pronounced in Western Canada, which Scott said is just cooling down from an unusually warm past few months.He said fall temperatures are expected to exceed seasonal norms in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, western Manitoba, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.Areas further east, including Ontario and Quebec, have already experienced previews of fall weather in recent weeks thanks to some unseasonable dips in temperature, but Scott said those regions, too, will see overall warmer weather, forecasting an unusual number of pleasant days in October especially.Southwesterly air approaching the Atlantic provinces is expected to keep temperatures in check slightly above the normal range, Scott said, but added the area should brace for wetter conditions than the rest of the country.“We’ve had such a busy Atlantic hurricane season,” he said. “There may be some remnants of storms, or at least moisture from those storms, that gets pulled up and gives us above-normal precipitation for the next few months.”Central provinces will see close to average precipitation, with heavier individual rainfall balanced out by a higher proportion of rain-free, pleasant days, he said.Such conditions will come as a relief to stretches of Ontario and Quebec, which shivered through unseasonably cool and wet summer months.Scott said dry conditions that characterized the summer across the southern Prairies and southeast interior of British Columbia are expected to carry over into the autumn, with rainfall levels expected to be below seasonal averages.The B.C. coast, however, can expect typical rainfall patterns, which Scott said may come as a relief to an area ravaged by wildfires in recent months.Scott said winter conditions will likely settle in nationwide around mid-November, adding colder temperatures are expected to prevail across a large swath of the country for the latter part of the year.— With files from Maija Kappler
Former Toronto Maple Leafs player Dave ‘Tiger’ Williams is facing a charge of sexual assault related to an alleged incident aboard a military flight in 2017.According to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, Williams was a passenger on a flight last December as part of a morale visit to deployed Canadian Armed Forces personnel in Latvia when the alleged incident occurred.No details of the incident have been revealed except that Williams, 64, has been charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of assault.While the charge was laid by the military, the case is scheduled to proceed through the civilian court system in Ottawa.Williams was released from custody on a promise to appear in court. A hearing date has not yet been set.“We were just made aware of the charges against Mr. Williams, a member of our alumni association,” said Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan. “First and foremost, we want to acknowledge the incredible courage of this woman for coming forward. As an organization, we stand firmly against all or any forms of physical and emotional assault. With so little information available to us at this moment, and out of respect for the necessary legal process, we will refrain from commenting any further at this time.”Williams was one of the most popular players with the Maple Leafs from 1974 to 1980. His NHL career also included stops in Vancouver, Detroit, Los Angeles and Hartford.
OTTAWA – Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair’s promotion to cabinet gives the Trudeau Liberals a political firefighter on the thorny issues of irregular migrants, gun violence and criminal syndicates.Blair’s move to the front benches in the newly created cabinet post of minister of border security and organized crime reduction also gives Justin Trudeau a new ally in a much broader ideological battle — combating what the prime minister calls the “politics of fear” practised by conservatives at home and abroad.Blair was one of five MPs promoted to cabinet in Wednesday’s shuffle, a pre-emptive move by the Liberals to prepare for the next federal election in 15 months.Trudeau faces complications from populist governments at home in Ontario under Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives and in the United States under President Donald Trump.Ford has clashed with Ottawa over the strains posed by an influx of irregular border crossers from the U.S. into Ontario, a problem that has also affected Quebec. The escalating tariff war and uncertainty over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement — not to mention the complete breakdown in personal relations between Trump and Trudeau — has diminished Canada-U.S. relations.Blair’s new job will bring him face to face with provincial premiers as well as politicians south of the border. He will face challenges in both settings.Both are drug-related.At Queen’s Park, Ford’s emotions are reportedly still very raw over the fallout from police chief Blair releasing the infamous video of his brother, then-Toronto mayor Rob Ford, smoking crack cocaine in 2013.Blair’s clash with the Ford family capped what was at times a tumultuous decade as the city’s top cop.Blair will be drawing on his vast law enforcement experience to help find solutions to gun violence that in Toronto alone has left 27 people dead and 82 injured so far this year, compared with 17 deaths and 80 injuries at this time last year.“The best response is when all three levels of government come together,” Blair said after being sworn in at Rideau Hall.“I look forward for the opportunity to work with the provinces, territories, and with the municipalities across the country to address that concern.”In Washington, as Blair tries to stem to flow of northward migrants, he will face questions over Canada’s plans to legalize marijuana as of this fall. The Trump administration opposes relaxing restrictions on the drug.But Blair will be prepared, having stoically served as the Trudeau government’s main political spokesman on cannabis.It was lifetime away from the start of his career as a beat cop on the streets of some of Toronto’s toughest neighbourhoods.As chief, he would fight off calls for his resignation after hundreds of protesters were rounded up on Toronto’s streets during the G20 summit protests in 2010. He also clashed with both Fords at Toronto city council while fighting cuts to the police budget.Lisa MacLeod, the Ontario minister responsible for immigration offered hope of good relations, when she tweeted her congratulations to Blair on Wednesday, saying said she looked forward to meeting with him.That followed last week’s bitter clash between MacLeod and federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen when they met to discuss the impact of migrants.Blair’s new portfolio overlaps with those of Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.Trudeau played down any suggestion that Blair was being parachuted in to clean up a problem, saying he’s adding value to an already strong team.“Bill Blair has always stepped up in public service and we’re excited about being able to have him focus on this particular question within the larger areas of public safety and immigration,” said Trudeau.Trudeau said his first conversation with Blair — years ago when he was trying to lure him into politics — resonated with him now that he is in his cabinet.“He said the number one enemy of public security is fear,” Trudeau recalled.“When Conservatives across the country are playing the fear card we need strong, reassuring voices to counter that and to demonstrate that the safety and security of Canadians and their communities is something that we will never flinch on, that we will continue to deliver.”Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt said the shuffle would continue to lead to Liberal failures, partly due to Blair’s appointment. “I think what it’s saying is that this government is ready to take on the provinces and have a fight.”Raitt also took issue with the appointment of Jonathan Wilkinson, a North Vancouver MP, as minister of fisheries, saying that would isolate him from the fishers he will be serving because “the most turbulent place for fisheries is the Atlantic Canada coast.”Trudeau created a new seniors portfolio, appointing Hamilton MP Filomena Tassi to court a constituency that traditionally has a higher voting rate than younger people. The Canadian Medical Association applauded a decision it says gives seniors a voice at the cabinet table.Trudeau rounded out his new cabinet appointees by naming Toronto MP Mary Ng to the small business and export promotion portfolio, and giving her responsibility for the Business Development Bank of Canada.And veteran Montreal MP Pablo Rodriguez, who was government whip, was promoted to heritage, replacing the embattled Melanie Joly.— with files from Janice Dickson and Andy Blatchford
NANAIMO, B.C. – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his newly shuffled cabinet gathered Tuesday for a retreat on Vancouver Island, under smoke-filled skies amid a province-wide wildfire emergency.Ministers are to discuss plans for the fall sitting of Parliament, including proposals to beef up measures aimed at protecting Canadian elections from foreign interference.But Trudeau’s first order of business was to meet with British Columbia Premier John Horgan, who had toured one of the hardest hit areas in the northern part of the province earlier in the day with federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.“I want to start by saying, obviously, our thoughts are with all the first responders, the firefighters and the residents who are struggling through the wildfires that are raging across the province,” Trudeau said during a brief photo op at the start of his meeting with the premier.Trudeau is planning to take time out from the cabinet retreat on Thursday morning to personally meet with firefighters and evacuees in Prince George.“As a born and raised Vancouver Islander, I was racking my brain trying to think of the last time a federal cabinet would have come to hold a meeting here and I can’t remember it ever happening,” Horgan said.“So, it’s a delight to have the prime minister and his team here.”Horgan also praised the federal government’s response to the wildfires. Seeing different levels of government working together on the crisis, “I think gives comfort to the public that federal, provincial, municipal, Indigenous leaders all coming together, speaking with one voice about the courage of our first responders and the tragedy that’s hitting families and people throughout British Columbia.”He noted that this is the second consecutive summer that B.C. has declared a state of emergency, an unprecedented situation that “speaks to the challenges of climate change, which again are values that we share” with the federal government.Multiple federal departments and agencies, from Environment Canada to the armed forces, are involved in helping B.C. cope with the crisis. And Trudeau has now created a special ad hoc committee of cabinet to ensure that all federal actors are pulling together in the same direction, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.Trudeau said he and Horgan would also discuss how their two governments are working together on infrastructure projects, housing and protecting wild salmon, “something that is iconic and essential to B.C.’s culture and to B.C.’s economy.”Neither he nor Horgan mentioned the one big issue on which their governments vehemently disagree — the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project to carry Alberta bitumen to tidewater in Burnaby, B.C.The Trudeau government has decided to purchase the pipeline from Kinder Morgan, which backed out last spring, citing continued uncertainty that the project would ever go ahead given the B.C. government’s determination to use every avenue possible to stop it.Dominic LeBlanc, appointed last month to the newly created portfolio of intergovernmental affairs, said the two leaders briefly discussed the pipeline during their private meeting. But he said they concentrated on issues on which the two governments are in agreement.The pipeline dispute could still come up Wednesday, when Horgan is to attend part of the cabinet retreat.Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould, meanwhile, confirmed that cabinet will consider proposals to strengthen Bill C-76, omnibus legislation governing election rules that was introduced last spring. In particular, she said the government is contemplating ways to ensure foreign money is not involved in trying to influence how Canadians vote.“We have to look very carefully at C-76,” Gould said in an interview.“We’re certainly thinking about is C-76 robust enough to deal with the issues that are confronting us. I would say that in many ways it is but there are some things that have been pointed out, that’s what we’re looking at.During the retreat, ministers are to hear from a number of experts in cyberthreats to elections.Ahead of the retreat, Conservative MP Ed Fast issued a statement accusing the Trudeau cabinet of ignoring the most pressing issues facing the country, focusing instead on “how they can further manipulate election rules to benefit the Liberal Party of Canada in the next election.”But Gould noted that the Conservatives themselves have criticized C-76 for failing to do enough to cut off the use of foreign money in elections.“In direct response to some of the things the Conservatives have been talking about with regards to foreign funding in elections, we’re taking a closer look at that to see if there are indeed any loopholes and what we could do to close those,” she said.Gould dismissed Fast’s contention that the Liberals are trying to rig the rules in their favour for next year’s election.“I think all that you can say is that protecting our democracy is a non-partisan issue and that we should all be focused on making sure that we’re doing what we can to ensure the integrity of the process and the integrity of the outcome,” she said.Goodale indicated the government may also beef up Bill C-71, which would tighten Canada’s firearms law with more stringent background checks and new mandatory record-keeping practices for vendors.Toronto city council has passed a motion calling for a ban on handgun sales in the city and Montreal’s council has passed a motion calling for a nationwide ban on the possession of handguns and assault weapons.“We will examine that proposition very carefully, both in terms of effectiveness and fairness,” Goodale said.
CALGARY (660 NEWS) – While some people in Alberta say the federal government should help out the oil and gas industry, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) says the General Motors closure should act as a warning signal that corporate bailouts don’t work.CTF Federal Director Aaron Wudrick said while it is difficult to watch some major corporations struggle, that doesn’t mean the government should be picking which ones to invest in.“I certainly don’t blame folks in Alberta for saying ‘why will you bail out Bombardier? Why will you bailout the auto sector? But you won’t bailout the oilsands?’ I think the answer is that you can’t afford to bail anyone out.”He noted some of the regionalism that comes into play when corporations are bailed out in eastern Canada.“People rightfully start to get upset when they see one communities company getting saved, and then when something happens in their community there is no help, it strikes them as unfair. They are right, it is unfair.”When govts bail out Bombardier but not Blackberry; when they help automakers but not the oilsands; when they deem some companies worthy of taxpayer life support while letting others die; they are not just distorting our economy for the worse – they are sowing regional divisions.— Aaron Wudrick (@awudrick) November 26, 2018He is not, however, advocating for governments to do nothing about these layoffs.“I think it is entirely appropriate for governments to concern themselves with how do we help people who affected, but that is very different from bailing out the company.”He believes a few things could help the country.“What we can do is try and create business environments with streamlined regulations and lower taxes that attract all industries and have a level playing field,” he said. “You can look at ways to retrain people, you can look at ways to create an environment where you are confident that you are going to attract new work so that you are not so concerned about one particular company going under.”
BERLIN — Four young men have gone on trial over the brazen theft of a 100-kilogram Canadian gold coin from a Berlin museum.The “Big Maple Leaf” coin, worth several million dollars, was stolen from the Bode Museum in March 2017.Three men, identified only as Wissam R., Ahmed R. and Wayci R., are accused of stealing the coin during the night using a wheelbarrow to haul it away.The fourth suspect, Dennis W., worked as a guard at the museum for a private security firm and is accused of scouting out the scene.German news agency dpa reported the four men, aged between 20 and 24 years, went on trial Thursday in Berlin district court.Investigators believe that the suspects cut up the coin and sold the pieces.The Associated Press