New Delhi: India has received satellite data on its flood-hit regions from eight nations, including the US, China and Russia, as part of a multilateral mechanism for sharing space-based data for countries affected by natural or man-made disasters, the External Affairs Ministry said on Friday.Whenever there is a natural disaster, the National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) and member space agencies of 32 other countries which are a part of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters can activate the platform, the ministry said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”The charter then seeks the information pertaining to the disaster-hit area available with all the 33 member space agencies. This is the standard practice,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to a query on sharing of satellite data for flood relief efforts. The NRSC represents the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as a member of the charter which has been set up under the UN-SPIDER (United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response), he said. “By combining earth observation assets from different space agencies, the charter allows resources and expertise to be coordinated for rapid response to major disaster situations,” he said.
Travelers are welcomed to spice up their journeys at Plaza Premium Lounge in India. Located at New Delhi airport, Hyderabad airport and Ahmedabad airport, Plaza Premium Lounge presents Street Food Festival for travellers to indulge in delectable Indian flavors from all over the country at the airports. Guests visiting the place in Domestic Departures of Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi can sample Ragda Kachori, Tale Aloo ki chaat, and Misal Pav. When: Until August 14, 2019 Time: 11:00 AM- midnightVenue: Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi
Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and all Cabinet ministers on Tuesday decided to donate their one-month salary towards the Chief Minister’ Relief Fund in view of devastation caused by floods. This amount will be utilised for providing relief and facilitating rehabilitation of those affected by floods, said an official from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO). As many as 43 people have lost their lives in floods and rain-related incidents in Maharashtra. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Floods had caused largescale destruction in Kolhapur and Sangli districts of western Maharashtra, besides affecting Satara, Pune and Solapur districts. Thane, Nashik, Palghar, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Sindhudurg districts had also received heavy rains. Ministers of State Yogesh Sagar and Vidya Thakur, Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade were among the first to donate their salaries. Separately, Mumbai Congress leader Milind Deora has appealed to party leaders, including incumbent and former MPs, legislators, corporators from Mumbai to donate their one-month salary/pension for the flood relief. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KThe Mumbai Congress will be sending trucks of relief material to the flood-affected areas in the next few days. Meanwhile, help in cash and kind is pouring in for the flood victims from various quarters. Harman Finodchem Ltd. has donated Rs 51 lakh while Gurudwara Board Takht Sachkhand Shri Huzur Abchal Nagar Sahib, Nanded, has provided food and medical assistance in Kolhapur and Sangli. Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje Sakhar Udyog has donated Rs 10.51 lakh, Super Agriculture Produce Market Committee contributed Rs 11 lakh and Aurangabad District Cooperative Milk Producer Union Rs 25 lakh, the CMO official said. Maharashtra unit of the BJP had already decided to adopt flood-hit villages in western Maharashtra and Konkan regions. State BJP president Chandrakant Patil had on Monday asked BJP leaders from the level of sarpanchs to MLAs and MLCs to donate their one-month salary or wages for the relief work.
New Delhi: It is the belief of Hindus that Ayodhya is Lord Ram’s birthplace and the court should not go beyond to see how rational it is, said deity Ram Lalla Virajman’s counsel on Wednesday before the Supreme Court which is hearing the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case for the sixth day. Senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for deity Ram Lalla Virajman, advanced arguments before a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “It was the belief of Hindus to say Lord Ram’s birthplace is Ayodhya and the court should not go beyond to see how rational,” said Vaidyanath to the bench also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer. The senior advocate had on Tuesday told the court that the birth place of Lord Ram is also a deity and Muslims cannot claim right over the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya as any division of the property would amount to “destruction” and “mutilation” of the deity itself. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday The submissions came while responding to a query posed by the bench that if Hindus and Muslims were jointly possessing the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site then how Muslims can be ousted. Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
Los Angeles: “Wonder Woman” star Chris Pine has been roped in to play Richard Nixon’s lawyer John Dean in a new biopic. Amazon Studios has acquired the pitch and is developing the project about Dean, a pivotal figure in the Watergate scandal, reports variety.com. The film will trace the life of Dean, who served as White House counsel for Nixon from July 1970 through April 1973. Producer Bob Cooper is backing the project with his Landscape Entertainment banner along with Billy Ray. Dean will be executive producer of the movie with his manager Rick Berg. Screenwriter Evan Parter is on board to pen the feature. John Dean, known as the ‘connoisseur of cover-ups’ in the media, was one of the most important whistle-blowers that implicated Nixon in the Watergate cover-up. In exchange for his testimony, Dean served four months of house arrest and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.
Hong Kong: Two Hong Kong police officers were arrested Tuesday after a video emerged of them beating an older man on a hospital trolly, heaping further pressure on a force already facing accusations of brutality. The footage, recorded in late June, shows two uniformed officers assaulting the man with batons and holding a cloth over his mouth. There are no other people in the room as the officers take turns to abuse the patient over several minutes. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USPolice said the man was under arrest at the time. “It is clear that the actions committed by the police officers concerned are unlawful,” said police spokesman John Tse, adding that police viewed the video for the first time on Tuesday. “So far, two involved officers were arrested for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.” He vowed a full, independent probe, insisting “police officers are never allowed to use abusive force for their own sake”. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThe incident is likely to further fuel anger towards the stretched police force. Pro-democracy protesters who have staged weeks of rallies throughout the city have called for an independent inquiry into the police response, which has included frequent use of tear gas and rubber bullets. The force has become the loathed face of the Hong Kong government, and small groups of hardcore protesters have frequently clashed with frontline officers.
Hyderabad: Ganesh pandals being erected in the city this year will have a QR Code for foolproof security and will also keep a tab on police officials visiting the area during the 11-day celebrations, a top police official said here on Wednesday “Once permission is granted online for putting up a pandal on a request, a QR code is generated. The advantage of this is that once a police officer goes there for checks, he has to put his cellphone in front of the QR code and we will come to know which police officer visited the area and at what time,” Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar told PTI. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ Replying to a query, he said the department expects more than 25,000 requests this year for setting up pandals for Ganesh Chaturthi. The QR code would also help police streamline the procession of Ganesh idols,which will be immersed on the day of culmination of the festival, a police official said. About 20,000 to 21,000 police personnel would be deployed to oversee the 11-day long festival celebrations, Anjani Kumar said. The department has held a series of meetings with all the stakeholders for the smooth conduct of the festival, he said. He urged the public to install small and eco-friendly Ganesh idols, keeping in mind environmental concerns.
New Delhi: India’s crude steel output increased by 1.7 per cent to 9.215 million tonne in July 2019, according to World Steel Association’s report. The country had produced 9.059 MT of crude steel during the same month a year ago, the global steel industry body said in its latest report. Global steel production for the 64 countries reporting to the association stood at 156.697 MT in July 2019, registering 1.7 per cent increase over 154.009 MT in July last year, the report said. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalChina’s production for July 2019 was at 85.223 MT, as against 81.180 MT in the year-ago-month. “India produced 9.215 MT of crude steel in July 2019, an increase of 1.7 per cent compared to 9.059 MT in July 2018,” the report said. It said, in July 2019 Japan produced 8.387 MT of the metal as compared to 8.420 MT during same month previous year. South Korea produced 6.041 MT in July 2019, followed by the US 7.514 MT, Brazil 2.449 MT, Turkey 2.925 MT and Ukraine 1.784 MT. World Steel Association (worldsteel) is one of the largest industry associations in the world, with members in every major steel-producing country. It represents steel producers, national and regional industry associations, and research institutes. Its members represent around 85 per cent of global steel production.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit Jammu and Kashmir, but said he cannot hold any political rally. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister can visit four districts — Srinagar, Jammu, Baramulla, Anantnag — to meet people. The bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer, was told by senior advocate A M Singhvi, who was appearing for Azad, that he wants to meet the people and inquire about their welfare. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Singhvi said Azad had tried to visit the state thrice, but was turned back from the airport. Azad, who has filed the petition in his personal capacity, had said on Sunday that it was “apolitical”. In his plea, Azad has also sought a nod from the top court to visit his family members and relatives. In his petition before the top court, Azad has also sought permission to check on social conditions after a clampdown was imposed by the authorities following the scrapping of the state’s special status.
UCLUELET, B.C. – A search is underway on Vancouver Island for two British Columbia men who have not been seen for almost a week.A RCMP news release says 37-year-old Daniel Archibald and 43-year-old Ryan Daley docked their sailboat in Ucluelet harbour on May 13 and then left it three days later.Both men were carrying large duffel bags and Daley was also wearing a yellow and green backpack.The news release says the men have had no contact with friends or family in Squamish since last week.Friends have launched a Facebook page saying it’s believed Archibald and Daley were heading to a residence in Jordan River, B.C., and likely intended to hitchhike the nearly 300 kilometre route.Ucluelet dockmaster Kevin Cortes was the last to see them on May 16 and says they had paid for one month of moorage for their newly purchased boat, which they had bought in Panama.“When they left they had full packs, so they wouldn’t have been going hiking because they left with a lot of gear,” Cortes said.“I assumed they were going home, or at least in that direction.”Archibald and Daley were healthy but tired after a long trip, Cortes said, adding there was nothing out of the ordinary about them during the three days they spent in Ucluelet.There is video footage from the day they left the harbour and Cortes said he thinks they got a ride from someone in the harbour’s parking lot, but it’s out of camera range.Police want to speak to anyone who may have seen the pair, both described as 5-foot-9. Archibald is of average build with strawberry blonde, short hair, and Daley has short, dark hair and hazel eyes.
VANCOUVER – A British Columbia man accused of using his Facebook account to express support of “lone wolf” terrorists in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant says he was on social media to “shine a light” on atrocities in the Middle East.Othman Hamdan testified in B.C. Supreme Court Wednesday that his posts highlighted government clashes against citizens during the Arab Spring that started in Tunisia in late 2010 and spread to Syria and elsewhere.Hamdan, 36, told his trial that mainstream media did not initially report people’s suffering, especially in Syria, where president Bashar Assad’s forces “squashed” people trying to hold peaceful protests, resulting in a wave of refugees leaving the region.Hamdan said he began posting comments on his Facebook profile and created some pages based initially on what he saw on social media, which played a big role in the series of demonstrations that swept through the Arab world.The Fort St. John resident has pleaded not guilty to encouraging the commission of murder, assault and mischief as well as inducing and instructing someone to carry out a terrorist act.Hamdan, who described himself as a non-practising Sunni Muslim, said his posts of political satire, poetry, including some he’d written himself, and parodies were used to “highlight the problem” through humour and exaggerated blunt statements that were innocuous.“This is my struggle with Facebook. I’m the little guy on Facebook against multimillion-dollar media organizations, whether it’s Saudi Arabian TV or CNN.”Hamdan said that when he noticed Facebook accounts using an Islamic insignia were being deleted, he launched a page using a pixilated form of the image to see what would happen, only to learn his page was suspended for three days for “graphic violence,” followed by an indefinite suspension.“I recognized that this was their attempt to direct the narrative, their way to suppress and give rise to secular speech,” he said. “There’s no graphic violence whatsoever in this.”Hamdan told the court he was inspired by a Palestinian cartoonist who was killed in London in 1987 and was known for criticizing Arab regimes and Israel and that he could relate because he’s a Palestinian and a refugee to Canada who seeks to return to his homeland.“I have no country, no homeland. It’s my struggle. I’m a liberal in many ways.”The trial heard earlier that Hamdan posted “Lone wolves, we salute you,” in March 2015, in reference to those who carry out terror attacks on their own.The trial before Justice Bruce Butler also heard that Hamdan paid tribute to gains made by ISIL and attacks in Canada and other Western countries.Hamdan testified the Islamic State fought back against Assad’s forces and that prompted more social media commentary about the group that was included on his Facebook profile and pages.“I view them as the equalizer, a force that’s bringing the balance of power to the region,” he said of issues between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.Hamdan said he abandoned his Islamic religion after moving to the United States in 1999 and converted to Christianity before dropping that and returning to his former religion, though he doesn’t agree with the “hypocrisy” of the clergy.The court heard Hamdan left the United Arab Emirates on a student visa and attended a community college in Tucson, Ariz., where he studied electrical engineering.He said he enjoyed the freedom of living in the United States, drank plenty of alcohol and regularly smoked marijuana as he lived the life of a Rastafarian and a drifter who was soul searching.Hamdan told court he faced discrimination in the U.S. after the terrorist attacks in 2001 and that he eventually moved to Vancouver, where he sought refugee status.— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
HALIFAX – Driving an electric car along Canada’s rugged East Coast is about to get a lot easier.Electric utilities in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are moving ahead with plans to install more charging stations along major highways.“It’s a good step forward,” says Wayne Groszko, renewable energy co-ordinator with the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre. “When they’re in place, people will be able to drive their electric cars farther. I see that as a good thing.”In Nova Scotia, the province’s electric utility announced Wednesday it will set up 12 more stations along the province’s 100-series highways, though the locations have yet to be determined. Nova Scotia Power Inc. says these stations will offer so-called fast-charging, which will dramatically reduce the time it takes to charge electric-only vehicles.The average charge time for Level-3 fast-chargers is 15 to 30 minutes, whereas most of the 100 or so Level-2 chargers in Nova Scotia take from three to eight hours, and a regular household outlet can take 12 hours or more. (There are currently only two Level-3 chargers in the province — one in Halifax, the other in Truro.)Nova Scotia Power says the new stations, which should be ready by next spring, will enable electric vehicle drivers to travel from Sydney to Yarmouth without worrying about where they can charge their batteries. Fast charging will cost $10 per hour, or $2.50 for a 15-minute session.“Electric vehicles are the future, and we want to help make Nova Scotia ready for that future,” Nova Scotia Power CEO Karen Hutt said in a statement.New Brunswick’s NB Power announced a similar plan last month, committing to adding 10 Level-3 fast-charging stations along the Trans-Canada Highway, from Edmundston to Aulac.Currently, New Brunswick has more than 50 standard Level-2 chargers.Prince Edward Island has about 30 Level-2 chargers, and Newfoundland and Labrador has about two dozen.Groszko says the shift toward electric vehicles will eventually have a big impact on the environment. In Nova Scotia, drivers of fully electric vehicles typically produce 30 per cent less greenhouse gasses than those driving gasoline-powered vehicles. That number will improve as the province reduces its reliance on coal-fired generating plants, which currently produce about 50 per cent of Nova Scotia’s electricity.“The savings will get better over time,” he said.On a per capita basis, however, the Atlantic provinces are well behind Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia when it comes to charging stations and electric vehicle ownership, said Sanjeev Pushkarna, Nova Scotia Power’s manager of customer solutions.There are only about 150 electric-only and plug-in hybrid vehicles in Nova Scotia, he said.The three bigger provinces are well ahead on electric vehicles because they offer sales rebates, education programs, special driving lanes and parking spots, and workplace charging, among other things, Pushkarna said.The sales rebates, which can reach up to $8,000 in Quebec, have helped boost sales. Last year, nearly half of all of Canada’s electric car sales were recorded in Quebec, where electricity is relatively cheap due to abundant hydroelectric power.The province also recently passed the country’s only legislation requiring automakers to sell a minimum number of electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles for the 2018 model year.In P.E.I., the leader of the opposition Green party, Peter Bevan-Baker, has said the provincial government should bring back an incentive program that was killed in 2013.“In terms of offering incentives to Islanders to actually purchase the vehicles and use them we’re really lagging behind,” he told CBC.However, Groszko says he doesn’t support such a program for Nova Scotia.“Using an electric vehicle does reduce emissions, but there are lots of other things that we can do to reduce more emissions,” he said, pointing to investments in public transit and improving the energy efficiency of homes.“Someone who can afford an electric car, frankly, is not in the same situation as someone who has to decide between paying their heating bill and feeding their children. That’s the person we should be helping by insulating their house. That would save just as much emissions or more.”In a report released in June, the Montreal Economic Institute concluded provincial subsidies were the most expensive, least effective way to help cut greenhouse gas emissions. The organization studied the subsidies offered by Quebec and Ontario and found they could cost those provinces a total of $17 billion by 2030, while cutting emissions by less than four per cent a year.In Canada last year about 0.6 per cent of all new cars sold were electric or electric hybrids. There are now about 32,000 electric vehicles on Canada’s roads.
WASHINGTON – Two Canadian men are among more than a dozen people indicted Tuesday by a grand jury in Washington, D.C., for attacking protesters in May 2017 during a U.S. visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.The indictments charge the defendants with attacking peaceful demonstrators who had gathered on May 16 outside the home of the Turkish ambassador to await Erdogan’s arrival after he had met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House.The two Canadians named in the American court document are Mahmut Sami Ellialti and Ahmet Cengizhan Dereci.In June, police in the U.S. capital issued arrest warrants for Ellialti on charges of felony aggravated assault and felony assault with significant bodily injury and Dereci on charges of felony assault with significant bodily injury and misdemeanour assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner.Sixteen of the defendants named in Tuesday’s indictment had already been charged on June 13. Two of the defendants were arrested in June and face an initial court hearing on Sept. 7. The rest remain at large, including the two Canadians.The pair told the CBC last year that they are staunch supporters of Erdogan and had voted to elect him.“Recep Tayyip Erdogan was chosen by the Turkish people. We voted for him and we want him to be our president,” Dereci said at the time.All 19 defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, a felony punishable by a statutory maximum of 15 years in prison. Several face additional charges of assault with a deadly weapon.Several are members of Erdogan’s security detail who returned with him to Turkey, so it is unclear if any will face legal repercussions in the United States. However, they could end up being threatened with arrest if they return to the U.S. If any are still in the country, they could be expelled if Turkey refuses to waive diplomatic immunity.Video of the protest showed security guards and some Erdogan supporters attacking a small group of protesters with their fists and feet. Men in dark suits and others were recorded repeatedly kicking one woman as she lay curled on a sidewalk. Another wrenched a woman’s neck and threw her to the ground. A man with a bullhorn was repeatedly kicked in the face.After police struggled to protect the protesters and ordered the men in suits to retreat, several of the men dodged the officers and ran into the park to continue the attacks. In all, nine people were hurt.Police detained two members of Erdogan’s security detail, but released them shortly afterward. Two other men were arrested at the scene — one was charged with aggravated assault and the other was charged for assaulting a police officer.American officials strongly criticized Turkey’s government and Erdogan’s security forces for the violence; the State Department summoned Turkey’s U.S. ambassador to complain. The Turkish Foreign Ministry then summoned America’s ambassador to protest the treatment of the detained security guards.Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said at the time that Erdogan’s security team moved in to disperse the protesters because “police did not heed to Turkish demands to intervene.” The Turkish Embassy claimed the demonstrators were “aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the president.— With files from The Canadian Press
MONTREAL – A Montreal-area man who broke into pay phones 65 times over several months and made off with $6,000 has been sentenced to 16 months in prison.Laval police say Stephane Sauve, 48, had been detained since his arrest last February as he emptied the contents of a pay phone.Police spokeswoman Evelyne Boudreau said Sauve, a local resident, was caught with help from Bell Canada’s security team, which installed a computer chip inside a number of phones.She noted that some phones had been targeted more than once.“With Bell, we decided to have a small chip inserted in some phones which would be an alarm system that would alert Bell Canada,” Boudreau said.“And on that particular day, on the 10th of February 2017, an alarm came out from a gas station with a phone booth and Bell called 911.”The investigation began in June 2016 following a number of police reports about public phones and telephone booths being broken into.Boudreau said there were 37 such incidents in Laval and 28 in Montreal.“It’s not a usual target because there are fewer and fewer telephone booths,” she added.Sauve, who was formally charged Feb. 13 with robbery, mischief, possession of burglary tools and violating his conditions, was sentenced Wednesday.Boudreau said Sauve was detained because he had a prior criminal record that included shoplifting as well as thefts from vending and coffee machines.Police say damage was estimated at $109,000.
SUNNY CORNER, N.B. – A New Brunswick RCMP corporal who was rebuked for publicly criticizing the force’s top brass said Thursday he was assigned to administrative duties for refusing to shave off his goatee.Cpl. Patrick Bouchard said he has had the goatee for two months, grown in support of the member’s yellow stripe campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about RCMP working conditions.Bouchard said he was told on Tuesday afternoon, in the middle of his shift, to go home and shave the goatee.The 40-year-old said the RCMP told him he was in contravention of the Canada Labour Code because a particulate filter mask used by the force would not seal properly on his face with the goatee, and that his safety was at risk.He said when he “respectfully declined” to shave, he was told to report to work Wednesday in civilian clothing and perform administrative duties.The 15-year veteran of the force said he believes the RCMP is targeting him for speaking out after the force was convicted last month of failing to provide its members with adequate weapons and training in the 2014 Moncton shooting that left three officers dead.“I’ve had the goatee for two months and this is just starting to be an issue now. I find the timing of it quite suspicious,” said Bouchard in an interview Thursday.“Other members have beards and they haven’t been issued sanctions, yet now I am being issued sanctions and being issued punitive reactions. To me that’s punitive and nobody else is being called to do that, just me.”The RCMP said in an email statement late Thursday said it would be “inappropriate for us to comment” on the Bouchard matter.But it said the force’s policy is for officers to keep their face clean shaven, with exceptions for religious or medical reasons.“If a moustache is grown, it must be neatly trimmed, conservative and not excessive or unsightly,” the statement said.The statement also said respirators are part of “established safety procedures when dealing with toxic substances and their effectiveness can be compromised by facial hair.”“If an employee cannot be clean shaven, they cannot be involved in any work that involves the handling of toxic substances,” it said.Bouchard, who is stationed at a detachment in Sunny Corner, N.B., told reporters after the Moncton verdict that the decision exposed the divide between the RCMP’s top ranks and Mounties on the ground, noting a conspicuous absence of senior managers in the courtroom.Bouchard received a document last week stating that his comments were unacceptable. He says the “performance log” indicated that due to his comments, which had been televised, he did not meet the “basic competencies” required by his position.He said at the time he was told to shave, he had not even received his particulate filter mask yet, despite being trained on the device months earlier. When he brought this to the RCMP’s attention, the mask was delivered the next day, he said.Bouchard also says he had the goatee during training on the mask and it wasn’t an issue.His goatee is part of the yellow stripe campaign, which seeks to draw attention to a multitude of issues including staffing, retention, recruitment, equipment and resource levels within the RCMP. Mounties have been removing the yellow stripe from their uniform, and others have been growing facial hair.“We finally are in the process of getting an association that represents us, but we don’t have one yet. The yellow stripe movement was meant to unify the membership,” he said. “But instead of addressing the issues that we’re trying to bring forward, (management) have chosen to put their efforts into making my life difficult.”Bouchard said he has received hundreds of messages of support from other rank and file members.“I believe I have a responsibility to speak out,” he said. “I knew (Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, Dave Ross and Doug Larche). They were my colleagues and friends. I feel compelled to bring these issues forward so that more members don’t get hurt or injured when it could be prevented.”The three Mounties were killed by Justin Bourque during a shooting rampage in June 2014.In June, Bouchard wrote an open letter on Facebook condemning the testimony of then-commissioner Bob Paulson in the trial as a clear failure of leadership.Paulson had testified that management had concerns over the possible militarization of the force as it prepared to arm officers with carbine rifles.— By Aly Thomson in Halifax.
EDMONTON – Alberta is proposing new legislation to ensure students who join gay-straight alliances in school are not outed without their permission.Education Minister David Eggen says the new law will also mandate that all schools that get public dollars take more specific steps to embrace and create gay-straight alliances if students ask for them.“No student will be outed if they choose to join a GSA,” Eggen told the house Thursday as he introduced the bill.“We are continuing to ensure that all students feel welcome at school regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”Gay-straight alliances are social clubs set up by students to help LGBTQ children feel welcome and to lessen any chance of bullying.They have long been a controversial issue in Alberta, given their location at the intersection of education, religion, students’ rights, parents’ rights and human rights.Students already have the right to set up an alliance in their school if they want one, but the government says updated rules are needed to clarify language, mandate action, and close loopholes.Eggen said the proposed legislation makes clear that parents are not to be notified when a child joins a GSA.“We know that Alberta parents love and support their children and that they play a critical role in their children’s lives and education,” said Eggen.“But we also know students sometimes feel safer and more comfortable talking about these issues with their peers.”He has said the GSA clause is a direct response to Opposition United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney’s comments that parents should be told when their child joins a gay-straight alliance unless there is concern that the disclosure would result in the child coming to harm.Advocates of gay-straight alliances say the final decision must always rest with the child because there is no way to be sure whether outing a child to their parents will lead to family ostracism or physical harm.They say students won’t join a GSA under such a policy and that the clubs will then wither and die.Eggen agreed, telling reporters Kenney’s approach “is dangerous.”Kenney, in statement, replied: “We will comment on Bill 24 after our caucus has had an opportunity to review and discuss it.“It is unfortunate that the NDP is using this sensitive matter as a partisan political wedge issue. Our approach will always be determined by what is in the best interests of children.“We trust highly trained educators to use their professional judgment to make decisions in the best interests of children, particularly given that this policy applies to children as young as five years of age.”The bill also has a provision beefing up the mandate for all schools to post rules and codes of conducts to ensure students feel welcome, know that they have legal rights to be protected from discrimination, and can set up gay-straight alliances if they wish.The rules must be displayed prominently on school websites starting next June.The new law will apply to all public, separate, francophone, charter and accredited private schools that get public money.Eggen has said that many schools have already been working with the province on these policies, but some of them, most of them private schools, have been resisting.The changes will also make it clear that the principal of a school is responsible for approving a gay-straight alliance and getting it off the ground quickly rather than waiting for approval from higher-ups.Kris Wells, with the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies, said, “I’m pleased that the minister has addressed some of the ways that many school districts are trying to get around GSAs (by) telling principals that they need to immediately support a GSA.“Because we’ve seen that happen, where the schools will try to outwait the kids and wait until they graduate and they think the GSA issue will (then) go away.”Greg Jeffery, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the legislation is critical.“Some students who are even nervous that their participation in GSA activities might be disclosed simply will not go — and the support they need disappears,” said Jeffery.
WASHINGTON – The Russia probe is burrowing deeper into U.S. President Donald Trump’s inner circle. Suddenly, a high-profile Trump confidant, perennial campaign sidekick and paramount national-security staffer is assisting police in the dig for incriminating details.Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser and top-level campaign aide, turned himself over to authorities and pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about two interactions with the Russian government.But that’s not the worst news for the White House.Flynn has announced he’s co-operating with the police investigation following a plea deal — the arrangement grants Flynn more lenient treatment in exchange for working with Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.“I am working to set things right,” Flynn said in a statement.“My guilty plea and agreement to co-operate with the special counsel’s office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country.”The terms of the deal mean Flynn will agree to testify and share information about others in exchange for lighter sentencing, now that he’s admitted to a crime that carries a maximum five-year sentence.The deal lets Flynn avoid charges on other alleged misdeeds of unregistered foreign lobbying, undeclared foreign income and unreported contacts with foreign officials, all of which carry potential multi-year sentences.One particular bit of news sent the stock market plunging, before it recovered later in the day: ABC News reported that Flynn has promised to testify against Trump.The news sent a political thunderclap through Washington, overshadowing major tax changes advancing through Congress, with a bill progressing through the Senate that would drastically cut corporate taxes.Yet there were still ripples of unconcealed glee in a capital where the administration is deeply detested.One Washington bar is offering $5 drinks to celebrate whenever someone is charged in Mueller’s Russia probe; it announced that Friday’s Michael Flynn happy hour special was to start at 4 p.m.The news was greeted with a yawn from the White House, at least in its public statements.A lawyer for the president said in a statement that Flynn had been a senior defence official in the Obama administration, only worked 25 days in the Trump administration and had lied to everyone.“Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn,” said the statement from Trump lawyer Ty Cobb.But in a sign of disquietude within the administration, White House staff kept a low profile Friday and cancelled one scheduled media appearance involving Trump and a visiting Libyan dignitary.The court documents hint at broader troubles ahead.They state that senior Trump staff were involved in the conversations that got Flynn convicted: phone calls placed to Russian officials, which he later lied about to police, resulting in the criminal charge.One such senior staff member, according to numerous published news reports, was Trump’s own son-in-law — current White House staffer Jared Kushner.The court documents say Flynn called a senior official at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort to discuss a planned phone call with Sergey Kislyak, who was then the Russian ambassador, and phoned again later to provide an update on the conversation. In that call with Kislyak, he persuaded the Russians not to retaliate against U.S. sanctions levelled by Barack Obama.In another case, Flynn, according to court documents, was directed by a “very senior member” of the incoming administration in December to try persuading other countries to stop a U.S.-backed resolution on Israeli settlements at the UN.Flynn has pleaded guilty to making numerous lies about those calls.His arrest left two unanswered questions: Why did Flynn and other administration members repeatedly make false statements about these conversations? And what was it that persuaded the Russians to lay off retaliatory measures?Administration foes say that information could lead to the one cardinal question at the heart of the Mueller probe, which is whether members of the Trump campaign committed crimes that assisted the Russian government in its attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. election.Trump’s defenders say there’s no evidence of any of this. They suggest the Mueller probe is off chasing red herrings as four people have been charged so far and none of the crimes involve election collusion.Former campaign manager Paul Manafort and an assistant have been charged with financial crimes and making false statements to police, a foreign-policy adviser has pleaded guilty to lying and Flynn is the fourth defendant nabbed.One person weighing in Friday was James Comey.He was the former FBI director fired by the president while investigating the Flynn case. Comey tweeted a verse from the biblical book of Amos: “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.”Another party involved chose not to weigh in. Hillary Clinton refused to comment on a rather ironic turn of events, given that it was Flynn at last year’s Republican convention who helped popularize the campaign-rally chant of “Lock Her Up.”As he left a federal courthouse Friday, where he pleaded guilty, Flynn was greeted outside with heckles and a cardboard sign that offered a personal twist on that now-iconic campaign chant.The hecklers, and the sign, said: “Lock Him Up.”
Alex Gough captured Canada’s first-ever medal in women’s luge.The Calgary native won the bronze medal in the women’s singles race at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.Competing at her fourth Olympics, Gough finished with a combined four-run time of three minutes 5.64 seconds.German Natalie Geisenberger captured her second consecutive gold medal in 3:05.232 while compatriot Dajana Eitberger was second in 3:05.599. Alex Gough makes history!After an incredible bronze medal performance at #PyeongChang2018, Gough is #TeamCanada’s first Olympic medallist in #luge.Details https://t.co/IqzEePRLwd pic.twitter.com/gBD55rLJFK— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) February 13, 2018
OTTAWA – Federal officials expressed concerns about possible changes to a grant program for parents of missing and murdered children that only doles out a tiny fraction of its multimillion-dollar budget, newly released documents show.The July briefing material, crafted for the minister in charge of the program, shows that officials fully expected to go ahead with efforts to simplify the application process and expand outreach efforts to raise awareness about the five-year-old fund, completing both by the end of 2017.However, loosening what one watchdog described as restrictive eligibility criteria carried “varying levels of program risk,” Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos was told. What was meant by that, along with the options presented to Duclos, are blacked out from the documents, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.The government has yet to act on the eligibility criteria — central to the changes advocates had were hoping for after a critical review of the program in August by then-victims ombudsman Sue O’Sullivan, which found grant take-up was abysmally low and that administrating the fund was costing 14 times as much as the grants themselves.Despite O’Sullivan’s findings, “essentially, the grant has been meeting its objectives in providing income support to current applicants,” the documents show Duclos was told.Heidi Illingworth, executive director of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, called it disappointing that officials appear to have been “satisfied with the status quo.”“We know that very few parents have accessed the funding overall compared to the costs to run the program,” Illingworth said.Federal outreach efforts since the briefing have done little to boost take-up of the grant, which continues to spend less than one per cent of its annual $10-million budget on grants, and far more on administering the money.Duclos spokesman Mathieu Filion said the government is still working on changes with the input of stakeholders and the victims ombudsman — a position the Liberals have yet to fill, a delay advocates say has only compounded issues.“It is taking a bit more time that we intended, but we wanted to make that the changes we will propose will have the best impact,” Filion said. “We will make sure this program better helps and supports families who face such tragic circumstances.”First introduced by the previous Conservative government in 2013, the program has never come close to providing the financial support to families the Tories originally touted.The grant was intended to provide up to $12,250 to parents whose children have either been killed or gone missing as a result of a probable criminal offence in Canada. It requires, however, that the victim be under age 18, the parents neither working nor receiving employment insurance benefits, and the offence less than a year old.The Tories estimated annual funding of $10 million would help 1,000 families each year.Since the program came into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, the government has doled out $403,550 of the $53 million available over that time, or about 0.8 per cent of the budget. That figure includes $86,450 spent over the last 12 months on grants, according to numbers provided by Duclos’ office.Only a couple dozen families have received grants over the last five years.O’Sullivan, the former victims ombudsman, called on the government to raise the age limit for children and allow siblings, grandparents and extended family members to be eligible for funding to accommodate shifting family structures. She also recommended the government make funding available beyond the one-year limit to help parents who need time off for a trial.Illingworth said less restrictive criteria could help families like those of Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou, who went missing in Montreal one month ago. Police believe the 10-year-old fell into a river, which would make the family ineligible for the grant. Family members remain convinced the child was a victim of foul play.“This is where the grant should be expanded to include situations where there is an active police investigation ongoing,” Illingworth said.— Follow @jpress on Twitter.
OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the conviction of two Reuters journalists for covering the Rohingya crisis undermines the rule of law and freedom of the press in Myanmar.Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced Monday to seven years in prison for illegally possessing government documents in a guilty verdict Freeland says is not supported by the facts in the case.In a statement issued Monday, Freeland says Canada is joining the international chorus calling for their immediate release.Freeland says the verdict in the case “seriously jeopardizes” the idea of democracy in Myanmar, which requires the ability to report facts without fear of retaliation, violence or imprisonment.The two journalists were reporting on a massacre of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar military in 2017 and say they were framed by police.The United Kingdom and the United States have also condemned the verdicts as have numerous international human rights organizations.British Prime Minister Theresa May also called for the journalists’ release, while the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar issued a statement saying there were “clear flaws” in the case and that the verdict was “deeply troubling.”Freeland, who herself worked for Reuters before her political career, said Canada will use every opportunity to stand up for human rights and freedom of expression.“This verdict gravely undermines the rule of law and freedom of the press in Myanmar, and betrays the decades-long struggle by the Myanmar people for democracy,” Freeland said in a written statement issued by her office.“Today’s ruling does not reflect the facts of the case.”Former Liberal leader Bob Rae, Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar to investigate the Rohingya crisis, said the courage of the two journalists is “worthy of the world’s praise and attention.”“They were doing their job, and were framed by security forces, on the evidence as heard in court,” he said on Twitter.United Nations Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet said Myanmar should “immediately and unconditionally” release the two journalists along with any other journalists being held in Myanmar for exercising their legitimate right to free expression.“Their conviction sends a message to all journalists in Myanmar that they cannot operate fearlessly,” she said.The Rohingya are a stateless people who lived primarily in Rakhine State on Myanmar’s west coast. A majority of them are Muslim and have faced repeated persecution, including military crackdowns that began in 2016. An estimated 900,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape the violence.In his final report to Parliament earlier this year Rae called on Canada to increase humanitarian aid for the Rohingya and express a willingness to accept Rohingya refugees who wish to move to Canada.