Washington: Days after the meeting between President Donald Trump and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Pentagon notified the Congress on Friday of its decision to approve military sales worth USD 125 million that would result in 24×7 end-use monitoring of the F-16 fighter jets of Pakistan. US officials asserted that the freeze in security assistance to Pakistan on Trump’s direction since January 2018 was still in place and the latest decision would help it in 24×7 end-use monitoring of the F-16 fighter jets in that country as this would require the assignment of 60 contractor representatives there to assist in the oversight of the F-16 programme. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “There has been no change to the security assistance suspension announced by the president in January 2018. As the president reiterated this week, we could consider the restoration of certain security assistance programmes consistent with the broader tenor of our relationship,” a state department spokesperson told PTI. He referred to the notification sent in this regard by the Pentagon to the Congress on Friday. “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by protecting American technology through the continued presence of US personnel that provide 24×7 end-use monitoring,” he said. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan for Technical Security Team (TST) in continued support of the F-16 program for an estimated cost of USD 125 million,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement. The Pentagon delivered the required certification notifying the Congress of this possible sale on Friday. According to the statement, Pakistan had requested a continuation of technical support services — US government and contractor technical and logistics support services — and other related elements of logistics support to assist in the oversight of operations in support of the Pakistan Peace Drive advanced F-16 programme. Pakistan has used the F-16 fighter jets against India, the latest being in the aftermath of the Balakot airstrike inside Pakistan by India. In its notification, the Pentagon asserted that the proposed sale of this support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. “Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 60 contractor representatives to Pakistan to assist in the oversight of operations as part of the Peace Drive F-16 program,” the statement said. According to F-16.Net, the aircraft order by Pakistan was designated as “Peace Drive I”, continuing with a long tradition of naming the F-16 international sales programmes with the word “Peace”. The programme raised the total number of F-16s ordered by Pakistan to 54. The Pakistan Air Force received its first F-16, in the block 15 F-16A/B configuration, in 1982. The country has been operating the Lockheed Martin aircraft since 1963, when it received C-130B airlifters. The “Peace Drive I” order was for 12 F-16Cs and six F-16Ds, all powered by the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine.
Korba: Two persons died after consuming illicit country-made liquor in Korba district of Chhattisgarh, police said on Wednesday. The incident occurred on Tuesday night in Dharampur locality under Kusmunda police station area, said Rajesh Mishra, Station House Officer (SHO). As per preliminary information, Santram (28) and Suresh Kurre (26) had purchased the liquor, which was made from Mahua flowers, on Tuesday evening, he said, adding that the liquor was sold illegally in the locality. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ The duo, both residents of Dharampur area, were found lying unconscious at a ground in the night, he said. Their relatives shifted them to district hospital where they were declared dead after examination, he added. Police have recovered an empty liquor bottle from the spot where the two were found lying, he said. The officer said the kin of Santram and Kurre have demanded an inquiry claiming the liquor was poisoned. He said the exact cause behind the deaths would be known on receipt of postmortem report. A case has been registered and further investigation is underway.
Kolkata: The state Information Technology and Electronics (IT &E) department is encouraging innovative technology in the area of senior citizen support for the third edition of Bengalathon 2019, which will be launched on August 15.Bengalathon organised by the state IT department is aimed at showcasing the innovative skills of technology enthusiasts at the national and international arena. “The problem statement for Bengalathon this year will highlight the aspect of elderly care. But the department will also welcome innovations in face recognition, solid waste management, safe roads, health, citizen feedback, water quality monitoring, smart water metering, soil productivity, quick accident response and open data platform. The details will be soon uploaded in the website of the department,” a senior official of IT and E department said. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaIt may be mentioned that the trend for the past few years has been to declare the names of the winners of Bengalathon at the Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS) every year. However, this year the finals are expected to be done before November 15. TiE Global, a nonprofit organization devoted to entrepreneurs in all industries will try to provide a linkage of the winners for further interaction with large enterprises globally. Senior officials of IT department led by Additional Chief Secretary IT &E Debashis Sen held a meeting with Abhisekh Rungta, President TiE Kolkata, Mahavir Pratap Sharma, Vice Chairman TiE Global and Rajesh Swain of PwC on Saturday . Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayIt may be mentioned that the state government in a recent meeting with a start up has decided to install app based digital visitor control system at Snehodiya, the senior citizen’s home at New Town. This will enable security guards at the gate of Snehodiya to monitor entry-exit of all visitors electronically and notify facility manager or resident by SMS. “Our government is taking all possible measures to position Bengal as the best in embracing emerging technologies and its use in real life challenges. We are trying to extend assistance to those who have come out with such solutions so that they can commercialise their ventures. The next generation needs encouragement which will give them the impetus to produce their best,” the official added.
Karachi: The Afghan Taliban has said the killing of its chief Mullah Haibatullah Akhun dzada’s brother in a blast at a mosque in Pakistan’s troubled Balochistan province will not derail the peace talks with the US.The brother of the Taliban chief was among seven people killed when a powerful bomb ripped through the mosque during Friday prayers in Kuchlak area, 25-kilometre from Quetta. Twenty-two people were injured in the attack.Nobody took responsibility of the attack and Pakistan officials only said that an improvised explosive device (IED) was planted inside the building. The IED contained around eight to 10 kilograms of explosives which was planted inside the mosque, police said. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe Afghan Taliban confirmed on Saturday that Hafiz Ahmadullah, younger brother of Haibatullah, was killed in the Friday attack, asserting that peace talks with the United States would not be affected in its wake.A senior Taliban source said that Ahmadullah was the imam of the mosque.According to information available, the Taliban chief was not present at the mosque when the bomb was set off. His brother, who was leading the Friday prayers, was killed and his son injured. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsA local police official said the attack may have been an attempt to target the Afghan Taliban leader.The killing of the Taliban leader’s brother came at a crucial time when talks between the militant group and the US have entered their final phase.Pakistan is a key player in the talks between the Taliban and the US in an effort to end the war in Afghanistan and allow withdrawal of American troops.The US wants to withdraw thousands of troops and turn the page on its longest ever war.
North Sound (Antigua): Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane’s half centuries strengthened India’s position in the first Test against West Indies, the two performing their leadership duties with aplomb here. After a career-defining 81 in the first innings, vice-captain Rahane remained unbeaten on 53 while skipper Kohli was batting on 51, as India reached 185 for three at stumps on the third day of their opening World Championship Test on Saturday. The visitors enjoyed an overall lead of 260 runs with seven wickets in hand and two full days play remaining. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhDropped on 17 by John Campbell off Kemar Roach’s bowling, Rahane made full use of the life to register his career’s 18th half-century. Rahane and Kohli’s unbroken fourth-wicket stand yielded 104 runs in 41.4 overs. India lost three wickets after lunch before Rahane and Kohli joined hands and the duo played without taking any risk to keep the visitors ahead. Off-spinner Roston Chase was the pick of the bowlers for the hosts, taking two wickets for 69 runs. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterOpener Mayank Agarwal (16) was the first wicket to fall for India in the second innings, controversially trapped in front by Chase in the 14th over. Although TV replays showed the ball was missing the leg stump, the batsman didn’t go for a review. After Agarwal’s departure, K L Rahul (38) and Chesteshwar Pujara (25) added 43 runs for the second wicket to take India forward. Rahul, however, gave away his wicket, bowled by Chase. He went across his stumps while going for a sweep, only to expose all the three stumps and the West Indian spinner succeeded as the batsman failed to connect the ball. An over later, Roach went through Pujara’s defence to reduce India to 81 for three. India had earlier taken a healthy 75-run first-innings lead, which had swelled to 89 by lunch. The visitors bowled out West Indies for 222 in 74.2 overs in their first innings in reply to their 297 all out, with Ishant Sharma returning figures of 5 for 43. Besides Ishant, Mohammed Shami (2/48) and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (2/64) scalped two wickets apiece. For West Indies, Chase top-scored with 48 while skipper Jason Holder played a fighting 39-run knock, as the hosts failed to build up partnerships. At the opening break of the third day, India were 14 for no loss in their second innings.Earlier, resuming at overnight 189 for eight, Holder and Miguel Cummins ground it out for 103 balls, forging a 41-run partnership for the ninth wicket to take West Indies closer to the Indian total. Holder made 39 off 65 balls with the help of five boundaries and even though Cummins could not open his account, he lasted 45 balls to frustrate the Indian bowlers. India needed 85 balls in the opening session to dislodge the duo. The partnership was finally broken when Holder edged a Mohammed Shami delivery to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant in the 74th over. Left-arm spinner Jadeja drew the curtains on West Indies innings when he cleaned up Cummins an over later.
TORONTO – A young woman stranded for hours after scaling a construction crane in the middle of the night is a thrill seeker, a friend said Thursday.Marisa Lazo, 23, appeared in court Thursday to face six counts of mischief by interfering with property.Lazo was granted bail for $500 with several conditions, including staying away from construction sites and rooftops. The dual Canadian-American citizen also had to surrender her U.S. passport and attend “suitable counselling.”Lazo’s perilous climb and the dramatic hours-long rescue operation that followed on Wednesday made headlines around the country.Her friend, Sara Burton, called her a “really good girl” and an “adventure-seeking” person.“When I saw it, I knew that it was maybe not the best decision, obviously, maybe some logic was not playing into place,” Burton said outside court. “But the fact that she did it was not a shock to me — or that she had the ability to do it.”Firefighters said Wednesday they believed Lazo climbed up the crane, crawled out along the boom, and slid down a cable to a large pulley, where she was stranded.Toronto Fire Capt. Rob Wonfor, who rescued Lazo by rappelling down the towering machinery with her, said he was impressed she had been able to scale the crane unharmed.“She has to tell me how she did it, because she has to be our new training officer for high-angle (rescue) because it’s impressive,” Wonfor said after the rescue. “It was hard enough for me to go up with ropes and harnesses and she free-climbed that.”Burton, however, was not surprised.“She’s always there for the thrill,” the friend said.Lazo left court, pursued by reporters, without saying anything.Earlier on Thursday, Mayor John Tory commended Wonfor’s actions as well as the police officer who climbed the crane and helped in the rescue that left part of the downtown core shut down for several hours.“We want the people of Toronto to know that this is a small example of the public service rendered every single day by police, firefighters, paramedics, transit workers and a whole bunch of other people,” Tory said.
VANCOUVER – More than four people a day on average died in British Columbia in May from illicit drugs, a death toll the coroner’s service says should serve as a warning to people who are not drug-dependent to avoid experimentation.The service says provisional data show 129 persons died in May, down slightly from 136 who died in April.It says until November 2016, there had never been as many as 100 drug deaths in the province for a single month, but in every month since then the number of deaths has exceeded 110.The highest number of deaths came in December, when 159 died.The service says the powerful painkiller fentanyl was detected in 72 per cent of people who died in the first four months of this year, up from 60 per cent last year.Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said people should not casually use illicit drugs because of the risk.“The number of deaths shows that the risks remain extreme,” she said in a news release on Friday. “The drug supply is unsafe, and casual and occasional users are at high risk of overdose due to their opioid naivete.”The highest numbers of deaths were in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.Last year, 967 people died in B.C. from illicit drug overdoses. In the first five months of this year, 640 have died.
HALIFAX – The new supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy will be able to go where it is tasked to go, says the company responsible for delivering the converted civilian vessel.Spencer Fraser, CEO of Federal Fleet Services, said Wednesday the Asterix, which will have a primarily civilian crew and captain, will serve where the navy determines it’s operationally needed.“If you look at the traditional employment of a replenishment ship it’s always held out of harm’s way and that’s one of your critical mission objectives is not to put it in harm’s way,” Fraser said in an interview.Still, Fraser said the vessel isn’t prevented from going where it’s needed.“There’s no area or ocean or sea at the moment where we cannot go with this vessel,” he said. “That’s an operational (navy) decision. Where we have an input is on the day-to-day safety at sea, but you would expect that of any captain of a vessel.”Fraser said the vessel will be based in Halifax for the next 10 years, creating about 100 direct jobs, and will be staffed by two, 36-member civilian crews.“Most of those crew are Nova Scotians,” he told a defence industry conference in Halifax.All of the engineers on board will be employees of Federal Fleet Services, Fraser said as will the deck personnel. The rest of the civilian crew will consist of cooks and stewards while the military would provide additional crew depending on operational needs.He said the vessel was completed at a cost of $650 million and would be delivered to the navy in Halifax before the end of the year, following a series of sea trials.It will then sail to the West Coast to take part in some naval exercises.Fraser said the company is pushing to build a second supply vessel, because the first of two replacement supply ships being built by Vancouver’s Seaspan isn’t expected to be delivered to the navy until 2020 at the earliest.Sister company Chantier Davie held a lavish ceremony to unveil the vessel at its shipyard in Levis, Que., in late July.The sole-sourced project was launched by the former Conservative government after the navy was forced to retire both of its 45-year-old resupply ships earlier than expected.The project was under a cloud earlier this spring after court documents revealed the RCMP suspected Vice-Admiral Mark Norman of having leaked cabinet secrets to keep the Liberal government from cancelling the project.No charges were laid against Norman, who was suspended from his position as the military’s second-highest officer in January. His lawyer has denied any wrongdoing.Davie has maintained that Norman was unfairly targeted for investigation.The Liberals green-lighted the project in the fall of 2015 after facing pressure from two companies that received contracts under the national shipbuilding program — Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax and Seaspan in Vancouver.Both firms wrote letters protesting the Davie deal.Fraser was asked about touting Davie’s capabilities in what amounts to Irving’s backyard in Halifax.“The last time I checked I don’t believe Nova Scotia is the monopoly of Mr. Irving,” he said. “This is a lot of jobs, this is a lot of work for local companies.”
VANCOUVER – Taxpayers are footing the bill to fly sheriffs around British Columbia as the province grapples with a chronic shortage of the courtroom staff and frustrated judges speak out about delayed and stayed cases.Attorney General David Eby said the government is working to train more sheriffs to provide courtroom security while dealing with the problem of police forces luring recruits with higher pay.“We have a very serious issue with a shortage of sheriffs in the province and we are currently flying some sheriffs from courthouse to courthouse to make sure we have enough sheriffs to keep courthouses open,” Eby said in a recent interview. “It’s obviously a significant public expense to do that.”Eby said part a $20 million NDP platform commitment has been earmarked to deal with the shortage, and he’s concerned the issue could erode public confidence in the justice system.Lack of sheriffs is a long-standing problem that surfaced under the previous Liberal government, Eby said, adding a low salary is one of the key retention issues.“Many of them are being hired to work as police officers instead of staying on to work as sheriffs because of very significant pay disparity between working as a sheriff in court and being a police officer,” he said.Chief provincial court judge Thomas J. Crabtree said court facilities can’t operate without appropriate security.“B.C. Sheriff Services members are located in each courthouse across the province to ensure the safety of court users while on court property and in courtrooms, including members of the public, witnesses, victims, the judiciary, legal counsel and parties,” Crabtree said in a statement.Dean Purdy, vice-president of Corrections and Sheriffs Services for the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, said 14 deputy sheriffs have left in the last four weeks and 90 per cent of them have been recruited by police forces.“They’re trying to plug holes where they can,” he said of sheriffs who escort the accused from holding cells and provide security in courtrooms. “They’re triaging the courts. They know which judges will squawk about not having security in their courtrooms and speak out and which judges won’t.”The shortage of sheriffs has led to problems across the province and most recently on Vancouver Island, Purdy said. Two high-profile drug cases were among those thrown out in Victoria because a deputy sheriff wasn’t available.A trial delayed for hours last week in Victoria because there was no sheriff had a provincial court judge calling the situation “appalling.”“We’re pleased to see that judges are speaking out about this issue because the security and the safety of the public and the courts and court staff is paramount,” Purdy said.There’s a $36,000 gap between the top average salary of a sheriff and a police officer, and that has RCMP and municipal forces, along with transit police in the Vancouver area, “actively and aggressively recruiting both correctional officers and sheriffs,” Purdy said.“It costs approximately $30,000 to train a new recruit and it just doesn’t make sense from a fiscal standpoint, and I know you certainly wouldn’t run a business that way, to pay for new recruits to be trained, bring them in, only to have them leave, sometimes months later,” he said.“We’re not saying that both corrections and sheriffs need to be paid the same as police, because they’re not police, but they need to close that gap about half way just so they can retain good, highly trained sheriffs and correctional officers because they’ll continue to leave as long as that incentive of a significantly higher wage is right there in their sight.”Sheriffs are required to pay back $11,000 of the training cost if they leave in the first two years of their job, Purdy said.Union representatives are scheduled to meet with Eby on Oct. 17, the second meeting with the new attorney general since last month, he said.Bentley Doyle, spokesman for the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., said limited court time is wasted when trials don’t go ahead because a sheriff isn’t available.“In that sense, sheriffs and judges are equally important, as both are required in order to make the system run,” he said in an email statement.“There are too many cases in need of trial time. Courtrooms cannot be dark during the workweek. Justice delayed far too often ends up being tantamount to justice denied.”— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
WASHINGTON, United States of America – It’s a refrain frequently heard in Canada: That ending NAFTA wouldn’t change much in economic relations with the United States, because the countries could simply pull their older agreement off the shelf, dust it off, and persist in trade without tariffs.It’s also wrong, some analysts say.A few people interviewed this week disputed the idea that the original Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement of 1987 would automatically snap back into place if NAFTA disappears, an increasingly relevant topic as hostilities mount in the trilateral trade talks.“That’s so naive,” said Sarah Goldfeder, a former U.S. diplomat in Mexico and Canada who is following the trade negotiations at Earnscliffe Strategy Group in Ottawa, on the idea of an automatic snap-back.“You’d have to re-implement (the original agreement).”That would raise new challenges, she said. First of all, she said the current American political climate would not make for an easy re-implementation. She said there would be demands for a renegotiation within the U.S., and the parties would soon be back at the table struggling with many of the same sticking points.“There’s no way this (Trump) administration would do this (re-implementation) without negotiating a new agreement,” she said.“So you’re still going to have to negotiate all the same irritants.”The current talks have become bogged down amid huge gaps between the countries — and not only in material things like dairy, automobiles, and public works’ Buy American rules, but in basic philosophical differences on the architecture of a trade deal.The Trump administration’s proposals would make it easy to cancel the agreement within five years, and hard for countries to count on stable long-term access to each other’s markets.The president says he’ll cancel NAFTA if he can’t get a deal.Insiders now view termination as a real possibility, raising unprecedented procedural questions — like what the rules are for cancelling a trade deal and, of particular importance to Canadians, what the rules are for reviving an old one.The suspension of the old agreement was signalled in diplomatic notes exchanged between the countries. The 1993 notes were brief and vaguely worded. The countries complimented each other on their new deal with Mexico, and confirmed that each would make separate arrangements to suspend the old deal.The American suspension is laid out in Section 107 of the law implementing NAFTA in that country in 1994. The earlier deal negotiated by Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan was to be suspended, and, according to the law, it would remain suspended until such time as that suspension might be “terminated.”It doesn’t define how you “terminate” a suspension. But a trade consultant who two decades ago advised Canada’s parliamentary committee on NAFTA implementation said it obviously requires someone to do something.“It’s been suspended. Somebody has to un-suspend it,” Peter Clark said.That someone could be Congress. And even if Congress does successfully vote to re-introduce the old FTA, its vote would either require the approval of President Donald Trump, or an overwhelming, two-thirds majority vote in Congress to overcome a presidential veto.A Washington trade expert says lawmakers could also try sneaking bits of trade legislation into larger bills — it’s a common practice in American lawmaking to tack on unrelated items to a bill.But Eric Miller says his own congressional sources have already told him: American lawmakers would expect a vote on any FTA re-implementation. He’s warning Canadians now — over what he calls a dangerous complacency that there’s some insurance policy if NAFTA dies.“I think it’s highly questionable that this insurance policy will pay out, and pay out in full, in the case of an accident,” he said.“I’m highly doubtful the agreement would come back into place and everyone would be fine with it… If Congress believes they’re going to have to vote on it, then they’re going to have to vote on it.”The U.S. Constitution, after all, gives Congress the power over international commercial agreements. Historically, Congress has merely lent that power to the president, and worked out a compromise set of rules known as fast-track legislation.Now some analysts suggest the Congress could try wresting back its rightful power, block any Trump effort to cancel NAFTA, and avoid all this uncertainty over the 1993 deal, the 1987 deal, and trade in general.But a former U.S. trade czar expresses some doubt this will happen.Barack Obama’s trade representative Michael Froman points to the track record of this current Congress — which has failed to pass a single piece of policy legislation of any significance.“I think it would require a lot of action, a lot of consensus in Congress. And that may emerge,” Froman told the Council on Foreign Relations this week.“But so far, there haven’t been a lot of profiles in courage.”The end of free trade in North America would leave new tariffs averaging 3.5 per cent in the U.S., 4.2 in Canada, and 7.1 in Mexico. Some analysts say that would reduce Canada’s GDP by about 2.5 per cent on a long-term basis.
Alberta’s crown prosecutors say an increased workload and a wage freeze is causing some members to bolt for greener pastures. Damian Rogers with the Alberta Crown Attorney’s Association believes the government putting money aside to hire 10 more prosecutors for regional offices is a good move. But he said 20 have left those offices in the past year and the government needs to rethink how it’s doing things.“Review staffing to make a determination as to what the appropriate size of our prosecution service is and also to review the decision on this four and a half year salary freeze because it’s made it very difficult for us to retain and attract prosecutors,” said Rogers. Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said her government is monitoring the problem and she shares the prosecutors concerns.“Because those offices are very small, we have challenges with file caseloads so we’ve put in a few more people so we can help with those file caseloads but of course the concern is someone leaves and they get a little higher,” said Ganley. “We’re going to continue monitoring and working with them in the hopes of being able to solve that problem.”The association believes the heavy work and stress are a result of the Supreme Court’s Jordan decision, which means an accused can have their charges dropped if too much time passes before going to trial.
TORONTO – The GoFundMe page dedicated to the Humboldt Broncos, believed to be the largest of its kind in Canadian history, stopped taking donations at midnight Wednesday as planned.The page displays a final total of $15,185,700 raised from more than 142,000 contributors in 12 days from across Canada and numerous countries around the world.“Funds for Humboldt Broncos” was started by Humboldt resident Sylvie Kellington after the horrific bus crash on April 6 which killed 16 players and staff and injured 13 others.Team president Kevin Garinger said earlier this week that money raised in the GoFundMe campaign would be transferred to the new Humboldt Broncos Memorial Fund.He said money from the fund would be used to pay the expenses of the victims’ families, but added was too soon to provide a more specific breakdown of the way the money would be allocated.Garinger said the team would continue to accept donations through an organization called the Humboldt Strong Community Foundation.He said it would “support Humboldt Broncos players, employees, families and volunteers, as well as first responders and emergency services personnel, teams, athletes, related organizations and communities affected by the crash.”
VANCOUVER – Special weather alerts and warnings have been posted for most areas of British Columbia as a heat wave moves into the province.Environment Canada says sun and very warm air are in the forecast for the next few days as a strong ridge of high pressure envelops B.C.It says temperatures will jump about 12 to 14 degrees above average for the middle of June.Highs are expected to reach the low 30s in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, while in the Interior, temperatures are expected to hit about 35 C.Heat warnings have also been issued for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Fort Nelson, and the Cariboo and Peace River regions.Environment Canada says the heat risks are greater for young children, pregnant women, older adults and people with chronic illnesses or those working outdoors.
Canada’s labour minister called on Canada Post and its biggest union Tuesday to continue bargaining with the help of a third party after postal workers across the country voted in favour of strike action that could see them off the job before month’s end.Members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action in several weeks of polling that wrapped up Sunday.CUPW said Tuesday that 93.8 per cent of urban letter and parcel carriers and 95.9 per cent of rural and suburban members provisionally signalled their willingness to walk off the job.The two sides have been negotiating separate contracts for urban and rural employees since late last year without success.If no agreements are reached by Sept. 26, there could be a strike or lockout.“The minister has appointed federal mediators to assist the parties in their negotiations and encourages both parties to continue their discussions in an effort to reach an agreement and renew their collective agreements,” Labour Minister Patty Hajdu’s press secretary Veronique Simard said in an emailed statement.“Our government believes in a fair and balanced approach to labour relations.”Canada Post said it tabled offers on Friday which reflected recent growth in the agency’s parcel business “and the important role employees have played in this success.”It said the offers contained wage increases and benefit improvements, but the union described the proposals as “unacceptable.”“Over the last decade, the working conditions of all our members has deteriorated, leaving many overburdened with little time for their home life,” CUPW national president Mike Palecek said in a statement.“Our members have spoken – this is the time to address serious workplace problems.”Besides coming to grips with work-life balance issues, the union said it also wanted Canada Post to expand services to include postal banking and grocery delivery, and to invest in an environmentally friendly fleet of delivery vehicles.Before the strike vote results were made public, CUPW posted a statement to its website urging its members to stock up on prescription medications because health benefits could be cut off during a strike or lockout.“Members would then have to pay 100 per cent of the cost of any prescription,” the union said.Canada Post has not indicated publicly that it is prepared to lock out its unionized employees, instead maintaining that both sides were working hard to find common ground.CUPW represents about 42,000 urban carriers and 8,000 rural employees. Collective agreements for both sets of workers expired last December.An arbitrator has been aiding both sides in trying to reach settlements since early June.Palecek warned early last month that, should talks fail, his members should be prepared for “some type of job action.”Canada Post employees were last locked out in 2011 but were legislated back to work.Job action was also averted in 2016 through a last-minute agreement that sent a pay equity dispute to arbitration.In May, arbitrator Maureen Flynn gave both sides until the end of August to reach a settlement on pay equity, calling pay discrepancies at Canada Post “fundamentally flawed.”Flynn is now expected to impose a settlement but has not indicated when that might happen. That settlement is distinct from the current contract talks.Canada Post has already written off the potential cost of that settlement in its second quarter financial results, estimating it could exceed $200 million.
FREDERICTON – It’s not exactly Cheech and Chong University, but New Brunswick’s new government cannabis agency is offering lessons on how to roll a joint.The Cannabis NB website includes a “Cannabis 101” section to teach people new to the recreational drug how to prepare it.It says to break down your cannabis until it looks like the consistency of oregano — but adds it should not smell like oregano.The instructions — which include pictures — say to “fill the centre of the rolling paper with your ground cannabis and distribute it evenly so that your joint does not resemble a hill, with a bulge in the middle.”The website goes on to say how to shape the joint, and ends with “finish and enjoy.”Other topics include the different kinds of cannabis and their effects, and how to keep your cannabis fresh.
MONTREAL — A prominent Montreal lawyer is trying to save a pit bull from an order to have it put down after it attacked six people, including four children, last August.Anne-France Goldwater argued in court today the section of the city bylaw that declares a dog must be euthanized once declared dangerous contravenes provincial animal welfare legislation.She’s arguing the dog should instead be sent to a specialized refuge in New York, where it would be kept away from the public and never adopted to a home.Goldwater says the evidence demonstrates the dog in the current case wasn’t given a proper behavioural evaluation and the owner was shut out of the process.But a lawyer for the City of Montreal argued the dog’s actions on the day of the attack clearly showed it was dangerous, and municipal authorities had every right to order its euthanization.The Crown announced this week that there would be no criminal charges against the woman who was watching the dog when the dog attacks took place.Among the victims were two children — a brother and sister — were attacked by the dog in separate attacks on the same day, after which the dog was seized by authorities.The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — The shipping industry is under increased scrutiny after two cargo ships were fined for sailing too fast through the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where the rising death toll among endangered North Atlantic right whales has been partly blamed on collisions with vessels.There have been eight deaths reported since early June, and examinations of five of the carcasses showed three of them had injuries consistent with ship strikes — a leading cause of death for these rare mammals.“While the shipping industry has been overwhelmingly compliant in respecting these (speed limits), there are still some exceptions, and Transport Canada is examining all reported cases of non-compliance,” the department said in a statement Friday.Sonia Simard, a spokeswoman for the Shipping Federation of Canada, stressed the industry’s level of compliance has been impressive, given the number of vessels that move through the gulf.“It is our understanding that the compliance rate is over 98 per cent for 2019 and was equally high in 2018,” Simard, the federation’s director of legislative and environmental affairs, said in an email.Of the more than 2,200 large vessels that transited the gulf’s shipping corridors between April 28 and July 25, the Canadian Coast Guard found 227 vessels had exceeded the reduced 10-knot speed limit — but after investigation three quarters of these cases were closed without fines.Simard said many of the vessels flagged by an automated tracking system had exceeded the limit by only 0.5 knots or less.However, another 48 cases are under review.“We know how important it is,” Simard said in an interview. “We are dedicated to the best management measures.”Chad Allen, the federation’s director of marine operations, said it’s important to understand how difficult it is for the crews of large ships to spot whales.Typically, larger commercial vessels have an officer of the watch and a lookout posted on the bridge. Though they usually enjoy a commanding view of the seas, it can be easy to miss right whales when they break the surface.“The right whale doesn’t present a big profile,” he said. “It doesn’t have a big dorsal fin.”As well, when the whales surface to breath, the spray from their blowholes is often indistinguishable from breaking waves when the winds exceed 15 kilometres an hour — a common occurrence on the gulf.“As the wind picks up, when they do spray, that spray gets dissipated very quickly,” said Allen.The federation represents 70 shipping businesses in Canada, which include ship owners, operators and marine agents.Boris Worm, a biology professor and well-known whale expert at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said marine mammal experts are aware of the challenges faced by the shipping industry.“Even in good conditions, when it’s easier to see the whales, it’s hard to judge which way the whale is moving,” he said. “It becomes hard to guess which way to turn.”David Browne, director of conservation with the Canadian Wildlife Federation, said it may be time to start talking about moving the shipping lanes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.“It’s a massive undertaking,” he said. “You have to convince all of the countries of the world.”That’s exactly what happened in late 2002, when the International Maritime Organization approved Ottawa’s plan to shift routes in the Bay of Fundy to reduce collisions with right whales. The altered lanes force ships to divert several kilometres around zones where right whales are known to gather.“Unfortunately, the whales also moved and mostly left the Bay of Fundy and started moving into the gulf,” Browne said.On Friday, Transport Canada said it had issued $7,800 speeding fines to two cargo vessels: the Americaborg, a Dutch container ship, and the Atlantic Spirit, a bulk carrier registered in Hong Kong.A third vessel, cited for a $6,000 fine on July 18, was the Big Eagle, a 52-metre luxury yacht. And a fourth vessel — the bulk carrier Milos Warrior — was “sanctioned” on May 30 for an alleged infraction on Nov. 3.Allen said even if a whale is spotted before a collision, avoiding the slow-moving animals can be tough.“A ship is similar to a car on ice — once you start the turn, it may not take immediately,” he said.Worm said other whales, including fin and blue whales, are fast enough to avoid most ships — but right whales are bulky and slow, which is why whalers decided long ago they were the “right” whales to kill.And even though they have good long-range hearing, the excessive engine noise in shipping lanes can leave them confused.“Imagine yourself standing on a highway with your eyes closed and you’re trying to cross the highway — you’ll get more nervous as you hear more noise,” Worm said. “This is the situation the whales face.”Though commercial vessels are typically equipped with radar for navigation, that technology is designed to detect metal objects with sharp angles, not the rounded, blubbery bodies of right whales.Sonar uses underwater sound waves instead of radio waves to detect objects, but there are concerns this technology could have an impact on the whales’ communication and navigation.“It’s not just an issue of cost,” said Simard. “It’s a mix of research and development … in the context of the biology of the whales.”Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister genuinely appears to have little interest in being well-liked on a personal level.Pallister has repeatedly said politics is not a popularity contest and admits that people may not want to sit down with him and have a beer.He promotes himself as someone who may not be likable but, more importantly, can work hard and get things done.“I lack personality, I’m not inspirational, I’ve been told. But I’m a problem-solver,” Pallister said shortly after being elected as premier in 2016.“I think Manitobans are the stars in this thing, not me.”Pallister, 65, grew up on a small farm — the homestead of his great-grandparents — near Portage la Prairie. Money was tight. He recalls having one ball that he and his younger brother Jim used for a variety of sports.Pallister grew tall at a young age and eventually reached six-foot eight. He recalls being bullied as a kid because of his lanky stature.He developed a passion for sports and hitchhiked to Brandon University to try out for the basketball team. His coach, Jerry Hemmings, recalls making Pallister run until he vomited in a garbage can. He’d then continue running.Pallister took the same grit to other sports, enjoying success in curling and softball. What he lacked in natural ability, he made up for with hard work. He went on to win a provincial curling title and was enshrined in the Manitoba softball hall of fame.That determination stayed with him. Pallister started an insurance and investment firm along with his wife, Esther, and grew the company over three decades. They sold it and used the proceeds to help pay for a $2-million, 9,000-square-foot mansion in Winnipeg — a far cry from Pallister’s humble roots.The couple later bought a second home in Costa Rica, for which Pallister has been criticized. After becoming premier, he said he planned to spend up to two months a year there. He later reduced that to five weeks — a rare change of course for a politician who seems to have never backed down from a fight.After serving briefly in the Manitoba legislature in the 1990s, Pallister became a member of Parliament from 1997 to 2008. He ran unopposed for the leadership of the Manitoba Tories in 2012 and was elected premier in 2016 with the biggest majority government in the province in a century.His hard-driving, ready-for-battle personality quickly showed.He demanded politicians and staff sell memberships and fundraise, or make way for those who would. At one meeting in 2012, he had people’s names drawn from a hat. They were assigned a constituency held by the NDP or Liberals and told to sell as many memberships as possible in that area.The party entered the 2016 election flush with cash and support.Since becoming premier, Pallister has engaged in fights with Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro’s board members, who resigned en masse; the Manitoba Metis Federation, which is suing over a cancelled hydro benefits package; and public-sector unions suing over a wage freeze.“I’m not trying to make enemies with this job,” Pallister said in an interview. “I’m trying to stand up for the quiet people out there who are asked to pay for all this stuff.”Pallister’s personality stands in contrast to the gregarious, hand-shaking image that other politicians have, says one political analyst.“I think he’s more comfortable by himself, almost, and that comes out of a whole lifetime of being a kind of solitary person,” says Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Manitoba.Strong opposition has not stopped Pallister from pressing ahead to cut management jobs in the public sector, close some hospital emergency rooms, raise tuition fees and reduce subsidies for items ranging from sleep-apnea machines to public housing.Doing so has helped him fulfil his two biggest campaign promises — reining in a string of annual deficits that had grown under the previous NDP government and cutting the provincial sales tax to seven per cent from eight.But, his critics say, those actions have broken Pallister’s promise to protect front-line services that people depend on.“We got into a situation where our provincial debt doubled in six years, partly because people couldn’t say no to special interest groups and wanted to be popular,” Pallister said.“Politicians who want to be popular today often create problems for people later.”Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
The Carl V. Bini Memorial Fund, a Staten Island-based non-profit, announced today that Tony Award Nominee and Broadway’s Rock of Ages Star, Constantine Maroulis, will headline the Foundation’s signature event, Bikers For Bini, on August 24th at the Staten Island Mall.In addition to the celebrity performance the event will also feature rides and games for the kids, a charity motorcycle run, monster trucks rides, food, classic car show, and live music on two stages. The event will run from 11AM-6PM.“We are excited to have Constantine Maroulis perform at Staten Island’s largest charity event,” said Massimo DiDonna, President of The Carl V. Bini Memorial Fund. “Last year the event drew more than 5,000 people, and this year we anticipate an even bigger turnout as we’ve added more rides, attractions, and talent such as Mr. Maroulis.”The Carl V. Bini Memorial Fund is a 501c not-for-profit organization founded in honor of Carl V. Bini, a fireman tragically taken on 9/11. It is uniquely positioned to help the Staten Island community in times of need. Most recently, the organization funded The Carl V. Bini Memorial Basketball League for the second year in a row after Nike pulled out, and was named Staten Islander of the week by New York 1 News for its $35,000 renovation of the cafeteria in P.S. 37. The money used was a portion of the funds raised at last year’s Bikers for Bini event.“I’m excited to bring my Rock of Ages inspired classic rock show to Staten Island with the help of a full band and dancers from Rock N’ Roll Debauchery of NYC. I grew up in Brooklyn and have family in Staten Island. I also lost my first cousin in 9/11, he was working on the 104th floor of the South Tower, so this is a cause that definitely hits home for me,” said Constantine Maroulis. “I can’t wait to perform at this great event to help the Bini Foundation and the people of Staten Island.”Tickets to the event are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12-18. Children 12 and under are free. The Staten Island Mall is located at 2155 Richmond Avenue and gates will open at 11am and close at 6pm. Tickets are available for purchase online here, at the door the day of the event, or at any Victory State Bank location on Staten Island. You may also enter to win free event tickets by texting the word “BINI” to the number 313131 from your mobile device. Winners will be notified via text daily. For questions or more information please dial (718) 412-1851 or click here.Source:PR Web
Prince Harry was won over by a young boy who greeted him with a passionate hug at an awards ceremony to recognise the courage of seriously ill children and their families.Prince Harry meets Carson at the WellChild AwardsCredit/Copyright: www.princehenryofwales.org/The Prince met with winners of the 10th annual WellChild Awards at the Hilton in Park Lane, Central London.Four-year-old Carson Hartley, who has a heart defect and is fitted with a portable ventilator, wasted no time in running straight up to Prince Harry and wrapping his arms around his legs.The pair then exchanged a number of high fives while His Royal Highness chatted to Carson’s parents about his complex heart condition.His mother Kirsty said: “We were worried he was going to high-five Prince Harry in the face he was so excited.“Harry got down on his knees and had a big smile on his face while he was chatting to Carson, he couldn’t believe how active he was despite all the conditions he has.“He said he thought he was inspirational for still being so happy, but he also said that parents must be recognised too for how hard they work, which was really nice to hear.”The WellChild awards, of which Prince Harry is Patron, recognises the courage of children and young people living with serious illnesses as well as the dedicated families, nurses and doctors who care for them.The Prince was also presented with a pottery pig that was designed to look like him, with the addition of curly red hair and a suit and tie.The Prince, who had the letter “H” inscribed on the soles of his shoes, has been patron of WellChild since 2007 and is guest of honour at its annual event.“This event seems to get bigger and better every year for those of you who have been before ; it is fantastic to see so many people getting behind WellChild,” said Prince Harry. “The charity continues to go from strength to strength in its mission to support children, young people and families all across the UK. First and most importantly, I would like to congratulate each of the Award Winners – your stories are moving beyond words and remind us all of just how fantastic you all are. You are an example to us all – we can learn a great deal from your strength of character, resolve and humour in facing down challenges every day.“WellChild remains committed to ensuring the very best care is available for all children who need it. Thanks to the fantastic support the charity has received this year:- WellChild has been able to increase the profile and awareness of its work- It has raised more money than ever before- Expanded its network of WellChild Children’s Nurses- And ultimately reached many more families who need so much help.”The awards ceremony was hosted by TV presenter Vernon Kay and was attended by the charity’s celebrity supporters including Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne, comedian Russell Howard and pop singer Pixie Lott.Source:www.princehenryofwales.org