Maoists reemerge in UP after Sonebhadra carnage

first_imgSonebhadra: Revival of Maoist activities in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonebhadra district has put intelligence agencies on alert. According to highly placed sources, there have been reports of Maoist supporters holding meetings in the region that was once the centre of Maoist activities. This could indicate a possibility of resurgence of Maoist activities in the region after the massacre of 10 people belonging to the Gond tribal community. A senior official of state intelligence agency said: “We are aware of the possible repercussion and have activated our sources. We are keeping a close vigil on Naxal (Maoist) supporters and are monitoring their movements.” Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ A number of telephones in the region have been put under surveillance, sources said. Central intelligence agencies are also keeping an eye on the situation. According to sources, about two dozen youths of Murtiya and Umbha Villages where the massacre took place have gone underground and their families are not disclosing any information about their whereabouts. Reports claim some Maoist leaders from Dantewada and Bastar in Chhattisgarh have also been seen in the neighbouring Mirzapur area. Sonebhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli have been Maoist-prone areas in Uttar Pradesh though Maoist activities have not been pronounced in the past one and a half decade. The last major Maoist attack in the state had taken place in November 2004 when 17 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) jawans were killed in an ambush near the ‘Narkati’ culvert in the Chandauli district.last_img read more

FPI outflow crosses Rs 3700 cr in July

first_imgNew Delhi: Reversing their five-month buying trend, overseas investors have pressed the exit button in July and pulled out a net Rs 3,758 crore from the Indian capital markets on account of multiple headwinds, including the super-rich tax announced in Budget 2019-20.As per the latest depositories data, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) pulled out a net sum of Rs 14,382.59 from equities during July 1-26, but invested Rs 10,624.15 crore in the debt segment, taking the total net outflow to Rs 3,758.44 crore. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalPrior to this, FPIs infused a net Rs 10,384.54 crore in June, Rs 9,031.15 crore in May, Rs 16,093 crore in April, Rs 45,981 crore in March and Rs 11,182 crore in February into the Indian capital markets (both equity and debt).In the equity segment, “FPIs have been on a selling spree since the announcement of super-rich tax … in the Union Budget for 2019-20,” said Himanshu Srivastava, senior analyst manager research at Morningstar.Expressing similar views, V K Vijayakumar, chief investment strategist at Geojit Financial Services, said “The sentiments have been impacted by the higher tax on FPIs registered as trusts and association of persons. However, the main reason for the selling is the sharp slowdown in the economy particularly in segments like autos. Besides, the second quarter results from corporates have not been reassuring.” Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostIn addition, sub-par monsoon in key areas, lacklustre earnings season, slowing domestic growth and weak rupee added to the concerns of FPIs, he added.On the other hand, inflow in debt markets was witnessed amidst re-emergence of growth concerns globally, due to which central banks around the world softened their monetary policy stance.”Hence, the yields in some countries are ultra-low or even negative while India, with relatively higher yield, is one of the best options available to FPIs for fixed income investments,” Srivastava noted.Going ahead, the flows into Indian equities would be largely driven by the growth trajectory of the Indian economy along with policies and reform measures undertaken by the government, Srivastava said.last_img read more

20 dead as violence mars Afghan election season

first_imgKabul: Deadly violence marred the start of Afghanistan’s election season on the weekend, after President Ashraf Ghani insisted “peace is coming” to the war-torn nation. At least 20 people were killed and 50 others wounded on Sunday in an attack targeting the Kabul office of Ghani’s running mate, Amrullah Saleh. The violence came on the first day of campaigning for the upcoming presidential elections, serving as a grim reminder of Afghanistan’s woeful security situation and the sort of mayhem and murder that have beset previous polls. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe attack began around 4:40 pm (1210 GMT), when a huge blast struck near the office of Green Trend, a youth and reform-focused civil society organisation Saleh heads. He escaped without serious injury, his office said. The interior ministry said the assault began when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed car at the entrance to the building, then three attackers ran inside. After about six hours the siege ended with all attackers killed and the rescue of about 150 people who had been trapped in the building, according to the interior ministry, which also provided the toll of 20 dead and 50 wounded. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsNo group immediately claimed responsibility. Earlier on Sunday, a buoyant Ghani kicked off his campaign by insisting “peace is coming,” after nearly 18 years of conflict, and that pivotal talks with the Islamist extremist Taliban would take place. He is hoping to fend off challenges from 17 other candidates to score a second term at twice-postponed presidential elections now slated for September 28. On Saturday Ghani’s peace minister, Abdul Salam Rahimi, said direct talks would take place with the Taliban within two weeks as part of a larger, US-led push for peace. Such a development could be crucial, as the Taliban — who now control or influence about half of Afghanistan — have so far refused to speak to Ghani’s government. They consider the Kabul administration illegitimate. War aside, the country faces a host of major issues ahead of the election, including rocketing crime, a lacklustre economy, soaring unemployment, and crumbling infrastructure. Voters are despondent about the prospects of a fair election. Many worry about a repeat of violent attacks on previous polling stations by the Taliban and other insurgent groups trying to undermine Afghanistan’s fragile democracy. Ghani insisted this year’s vote would be “clean”, but distrust is rife. Sayed Jan, a 27-year-old student, said he won’t be voting as he has lost faith since the 2014 election that was mired in allegations of fraud and ballot stuffing. “We have been betrayed by the candidates in the past. We cannot trust them this time,” he told AFP. “We need peace in Afghanistan instead of elections. Even if I vote, the election will be fraudulent.” In Kabul, security forces fanned out across the city as leading candidates held rallies.last_img read more

Unnao CBI searches Sengars home questions him in jail

first_imgNew Delhi: The CBI on Sunday raided Unnao rape accused MLA, Kuldeep Singh Sengar’s premises in Uttar Pradesh in addition to conducting searches at premises related to the other accused in the rape victim’s accident investigation.Officials from the special CBI team formed to probe the case, conducted searches at four districts in the state, including Unnao, Lucknow, Banda, and Fatehpur, according to sources in the know. Further, CBI officials also visited the Sitapur jail, where the expelled BJP MLA is currently lodged, to question him in connection with the case. Investigators also questioned the driver and cleaner of the truck that hit the teenager’s car. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The 19-year-old rape survivor was travelling in a car with her lawyer and family, when a truck hit them in a head-on collision, killing her two aunts and leaving her and her lawyer in critical condition. The truck’s number plates were blackened. Sources here added that people who visited Sengar in jail in the days before the accident are also being examined. Central Bureau of Investigation officials had on Saturday also visited Sitapur jail to speak to officials there and examine visitor logs. In the meantime, the Unnao cases are set to begin trial on Monday in the court of Judge Dharmesh Sharma at Tis Hazari here. The court has issued a production warrant for Sengar and his associate Shashi Singh to be produced before it. Other accused in the case are to be produced on Tuesday. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KThe central probe agency had filed a chargesheet last July against Sengar and Singh for raping the teenager and another one against the MLA’s brother, Atul Sengar for the murder of the rape victim’s father, who was killed in custody of UP Police. The Supreme Court had last week taken suo moto cognizance of the Unnao rape victim’s accident and ordered that the trial be moved to a Delhi court, which is to finish hearing the trial on a day-to-day basis within 45 days. In the same order, the Apex court had asked the CBI to complete the probe in the rape victim’s accident and file a chargesheet by Aug 14. The accident case will remain with a Lucknow court, till the central agency completes its probe. Following this, the CBI has made extensive efforts to finish the investigation in the prescribed time. The agency constituted an additional special team of around 20, comprising of officers from the sub-inspector level to the Superintendent of Police level. According to officials, this team is assisting the five-member team from Lucknow that was already probing the case. In addition to this, a six-member team of “top experts” of different fields from the CBI’s Central Forensic Science Laboratories are also in UP helping with the investigation. While the rape victim herself remains in critical, having recently developed pneumonia her lawyer is now able to breathe without a ventilator. Both are being treated at the KGMU Hospital in Lucknow. The Apex court had suggested that both the rape victim and her lawyer could be airlifted to AIIMS here if their families wanted, provided their medical condition allowed.last_img read more

With heavy hearts party workers and admirers bid adieu to Jaitley

first_imgNew Delhi: Supporters and admirers from all over the country on Sunday braced the sun and rain to bid their last goodbyes to former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who passed away at AIIMS here on Saturday at 12:07 pm.Not just people who have been with the party for decades, but freshly minted saffron soldiers and people who had no association with Jaitley’s ruling BJP or politics also waited in lines at the party headquarters to catch a glimpse of the 66-year old BJP troubleshooter and Minister-extraordinaire. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderThe BJP’s go-to man for solutions – Jaitley’s mortal remains were on Sunday afternoon placed at the party’s national headquarters, located on Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg here, where thousands of party workers waited in line to pay their last respects – some with garlands in their hands; some with tears in their eyes. “There is no one like him in Indian politics anymore. He stood out among all the others who rely on playing the blame-game,” MK Mishra, a Delhiite outside the party headquarters said, adding that he was there just as a citizen and not associated with the party or with politics. Sanjeev Gupta (40), a Delhi party worker also echoed that “there was no one like him in politics.” Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsSenior party workers from Chennai (Tamil Nadu), ML Raja and BT Arasukumar were also waiting in line to pay their last respects to Jaitley and said, “He was a great economist, wonderful legal man, and a great human being. This is a great loss for everyone.” Another party worker from Bijnor, UP, said, “I have always wanted to meet him, and now I will get to see him, but on such a tragic day.” 26-year-old Vineet Behal from Ludhiana said that Jaitley was his inspiration to finally join the party. He said, “He (Jaitley) was always grounded and truly a very tall leader.” In fact, Bharat Dave (54), a senior manager at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), who had travelled to the Capital from Bombay was also waiting in line and said that Jaitley beautifully understood both finance and law. “He has always tried to find ways to fix things – maybe not all people like it – but it will yield long-term fruits,” Dave said. Remembering the time when he met Jaitley at the BSE stamp launch, Dave said, “He was always positive with the facts. He wouldn’t falsely paint a rosy picture. He would explain that he does not have a magic wand and policies need time to bear fruits.”last_img read more

Lt Gen Mukund Naravane takes charge as vice chief of Army

first_imgNew Delhi: Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane on Sunday assumed charge as vice chief of the 1.3 million-strong Army.Lt Gen Naravane will be in contention for the Army chief’s post as he will be the senior-most commander when incumbent Gen Bipin Rawat retires on December 31, official sources said.Lt Gen Naravane succeeds Lt Gen D Anbu who retired from service on Saturday.Before taking charge as vice chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Naravane was heading the Eastern Command of the Army which takes care of India’s nearly 4,000-km border with China. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsIn his 37 years of service, Lt Gen Naravane has served in numerous command and staff appointments in peace, field and highly active counter-insurgency environments in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast. He has also commanded a Rashtriya Rifles Battalion in Jammu and Kashmir and an infantry brigade on the eastern front.He was also part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka and had served as India’s defence attache at the Indian Embassy in Myanmar for three years. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayLt Gen Naravane is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy. He was commissioned into the 7th battalion, the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment in June 1980. “He brings with him an enormous amount of experience in serving in the most challenging areas,” the Army said in a release. The General is a decorated officer who has been awarded the Sena Medal’ (Distinguished) for effectively commanding his battalion in Jammu and Kashmir.He is also a recipient of the Vishisht Seva Medal’ for his services as the Inspector General Assam Rifles (North) in Nagaland and the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal’ for commanding of a prestigious strike corps.He was also honoured with Param Vishisht Seva Medal’ for his distinguished services as the GOC-in-C of the Army Training Command.last_img read more

Kolkata Police uncovers communication system used by arrested JMB terrorists

first_imgKolkata: The Jammat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) terrorists who have been arrested by the Special Task Force (STF) of Kolkata Police during the last few days, have been found to have maintained contact using technological help.During interrogation of the arrested JMB chief in India Ejaz Ahmed alias Ezazul, police came to know that the terrorists used to interact with each other through SIM-less mobile phones. They used internet connections to talk using the mobile phones. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaPolice have also got some passwords which the JMB members were using to establish contact using their unique network. The accused persons also used to send code words using encrypted text, to convey messages to their counterparts across India. Police are trying to break these codes using the passwords in order to identify what JMB was planning. It is suspected that several other JMB members are still hiding in Bengal. Several JMB members are suspected to be hiding in South India as well. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayInvestigating officials suspect that Ahmed was in regular touch with JMB chief Salauddin Salahein, using the passwords and codes. Ahmed was arrested from Gaya in Bihar a few days ago, with the help of Bihar police and Intelligence Branch (IB) in Bihar. Following his arrest, three more JMB members were nabbed as well. Police have also recovered several objects which were being used to manufacture Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). It is suspected that they might have had plans to blast IEDs in Bengal in order to prove their existence.last_img read more

Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall hired as advisor for Calgary law firm

first_imgSaskatchewan’s former premier has landed a job in Calgary.Brad Wall is joining the law firm of Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt as a special advisor.In a statement on the firm’s website, Chief Executive Doug Bryce says “Some have called Brad one of Canada’s great leaders. We agree with that assessment.”Bryce says they are excited to offer their clients Wall’s “strategic insights” in the energy and agri-food businesses.Wall served as premier of Saskatchewan from November 2007 until he retired from politics this past February.last_img read more

Strike forces more cancellations at Caesars Windsor

first_imgWINDSOR, Ont. – Caesars Windsor says it is postponing hotel reservations and concerts through the end of May due to an ongoing strike by employees.About 2,300 members of Unifor Local 444 walked off the job April 6 after rejecting a tentative agreement by a vote of 59 per cent.Caesars Windsor says hotel reservations booked through May 31 have been cancelled and affected guests will be contacted via email or phone as soon as possible.The facility says shows by Pitbull, Lee Brice and Daniel O’Donnell will be rescheduled on dates to be determined.The striking workers include dealers, cooks, housekeepers and janitors. Wages and working conditions are the key issues.No talks are scheduled and the union said Monday that it continues to push Caesars management to return to the bargaining table.Caesars Entertainment president Kevin Laforet says the latest postponements are a difficult message to send again.“As with earlier decisions to postpone upcoming concerts and cancel hotel reservations, it is necessary in order to give our customers advance notice to make alternate plans.”last_img read more

Nunavut is in crisis Arctic communities stressed dealing with social issues

first_imgIQALUIT, Nunavut – Nunavut’s health minister says more than one Arctic community is at a crisis point dealing with social problems.“We already have some letters crying out for more services,” said Pat Angnakak, who said several hamlets have written her asking for special help.“It’s not just Pangnirtung in a crisis. I think Nunavut is in a crisis.”Last week, the community of Pangnirtung on the southeast coast of Baffin Island sent a letter to the territorial government that pleaded for extra resources to deal with suicide attempts and growing violence.The picturesque hamlet of about 1,400 surrounded by mountains, glaciers and ocean had 12 suicide attempts over two weeks last February after a year without a suicide.Police calls had increased 50 per cent since 2016. Assaults, especially domestic violence, nearly tripled. In March, the territory’s poison control centre took 55 calls from Pangnirtung — three times as many as from any spot in Nunavut.Booze flows in what is supposed to be a dry community. Local officials said violence is a daily occurrence and the community could no longer cope.Angnakak said Nunavut has since sent in two mental health workers, filling slots that had long been vacant.They will join two other such workers. The hamlet also has a 12-step program for addictions. A community wellness group was granted $630,000 to write a wellness plan for Pang.But Angnakak gave no indication the hamlet will get the kind of investment its letter asks for — an emergency shelter, basic crisis counselling, victim support and faster mental health referrals.The demand is just too widespread.“It’s not just one community,” Angnakak said. “We have stats from across Nunavut that are high in all the areas you don’t want them to be high in.“It’s not just Pangnirtung. It’s everywhere.”Markus Wilcke, a Pangnirtung hamlet councillor, welcomed the extra mental health workers. But he said help has to come from more than one government department.“We need to have a more holistic approach to things,” he said. “Things are very fragmented.”He said the community should have a one-stop storefront for people who are struggling with issues from addictions to family violence to trouble with the law.The two new workers, who may only remain temporarily, amount to “a drop in the bucket,” Wilcke said.He said representatives from four government departments, as well as the RCMP, will attend a hamlet council meeting next Monday.“We can create in the community, more of a wrap-around service to the people. It is not just a couple individuals that will make the difference. It’s also the way they’re being integrated into our community services.”Angnakak said the issue boils down the same thing many Nunavut issues boil down to — lack of resources and infrastructure such as proper housing.“We need to have more shelters. We have women fleeing from their own houses and have no place to go. We need transitional housing,” she said. “It all stems around housing and the need for more housing. We need more money.“Do you have a magic wand I could wave around a bit?”—By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow him on Twitter at @row1960last_img read more

Trudeau touts benefits of international trade in speech to Italian lawmakers

first_imgROME – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is praising the benefits that international trade can bring to a world where people are anxious about the future.In a speech to Italian parliamentarians in Rome today, Trudeau held up the trade deal between Canada and the European Union as an example of an agreement that can both create new jobs and ensure more people can benefit from economic growth.The trade agreement, known as CETA, is now being considered by the Senate.Trudeau thanked the Italian parliamentarians who supported the deal, and said it would not have been possible without the support of “like-minded” leaders like Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, with whom he is also meeting today.International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne says the Liberal government hopes to bring other countries onside with trade by making it “real” for people.Trudeau is in Italy to promote trade and cultural ties between the two countries, at the end of a trip to Europe that included the NATO meeting in Brussels, the G7 Summit in Sicily and a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.last_img read more

Health Canada looking into complaints about Banana Boat sunscreen

first_imgTORONTO – Health Canada says it’s looking into three recent complaints of babies allegedly being burned by Banana Boat sunscreen products.Spokeswoman Renelle Briand says the three reports were all made within the past month and came from multiple locations in Canada.The most recent report involves a Montreal mother alleging her son developed blisters on his face after she applied a Banana Boat product.Briand says the other complaints, originating in Newfoundland and an unknown location, are similar in nature.Briand says Health Canada has reached out to Banana Boat products maker Edgewell Personal Care for more information, but has not taken any action against the products yet.Edgewell did not immediately respond to request for comment.Briand says Health Canada is taking the complaints seriously and has not ruled out the idea of further action if it determines there’s a significant public risk.“If we do determine that the product actually needs to be taken off the shelves, we’ll take the appropriate measures to do a recall,” she said. “”We’re not at that point yet. We’re just looking into it.”The most recent complaint surfaced on May 26 when Montreal mother Caroline Morneau wrote a Facebook post about her nine-month-old son’s recent experience with a Banana Boat product, though she did not indicate which specific sunscreen she used.Morneau wrote that her son developed blisters on his face shortly after using the product, prompting a visit to his pediatrician.The doctor diagnosed second-degree chemical burns and attributed them to the sunscreen, Morneau alleged in her post, which was accompanied by a photograph showing a child whose nose, cheeks and upper lip appear burned.Health Canada acknowledged receiving Morneau’s complaint, which it has not yet had a chance to add to its database of adverse reactions.Once it has been added, the database will reflect 10 complaints against Banana Boat products filed since 1965. Briand said one previous incident reported in 1996 involved alleged burns.“Often it is not possible to determine if an adverse reaction reported to Health Canada is a result of using a specific health product,” Health Canada said in a statement. “Other factors, such as a person’s health conditions or other health products they are using at the same time, could contribute to the reaction.”Adverse reaction reports are suspected associations that reflect the opinion or observation of the individual person making the report, Health Canada noted. The data does not reflect any Health Canada assessment of association between the health product and the reactions, it said.Briand confirmed that one of the database complaints over Banana Boat products was filed by Newfoundland mother Rebecca Cannon.Cannon had previously told the CBC that her 14-month-old baby allegedly sustained a second-degree burn after she applied Banana Boat Kids Free Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+.Like Morneau’s son, Cannon said her daughter developed blisters shortly after the spray was applied.Briand said the third recent complaint was filed on May 15, but had few details other than that it involved burns allegedly suffered by a baby.last_img read more

U of C research finds common acne drug can be used to

first_imgCALGARY – When Jill was 27, she woke up with tingling and numbness in her left hand that eventually spread to half her body.The Calgary woman, who did not want her last name used for fear it could hinder her future employment, went for tests and was told there was a possibility she would develop multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system.Jill was enrolled two months later in a clinical trial led by University of Calgary researchers studying whether minocycline, a common acne drug, could be a more affordable treatment for those in the early stages of MS.“I was happy in this case to help in any way I could,” said Jill, now 34. “It was an easy decision for me personally.”The results of the Phase 3 trial, to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, showed that minocycline, an antibiotic, works just as well as the current available MS therapies.But instead of costing more than $20,000 a year in Canada, minocycline would have an annual price tag of just $600.Making treatment more readily accessible would be a major benefit for those early on in the disease, said Wee Yong, one of the study’s authors.“We do know that time matters in MS. Time is brain loss in MS,” said Yong, a University of Calgary neuroscientist who has been studying minocycline as a potential MS treatment for nearly two decades.The current treatment for MS involves injections that require frequent blood monitoring.Minocycline can be taken orally and the most common side effects are initial dizziness and digestive upset. It’s been on the market for decades and does not need further Health Canada approval to be used as an off-label drug for MS, the researchers say.For the Phase 3 trial, the researchers studied 142 people across Canada between 18 and 60 who had recently experienced symptoms for the first time, but had not been formally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.About two-thirds of people who experience MS-like symptoms once — called a clinically isolated syndrome — go on to be diagnosed with the chronic disease within six months, said lead researcher and University of Calgary neurologist Luanne Metz.In the clinical trial, 61 per cent of participants developed full-blown MS in that time frame, as predicted. But that figure dropped to 33 per cent in those given minocycline.“Our target was to decrease the proportion that get multiple sclerosis,” said Metz.“And that degree of benefit is very similar to … the other therapies that are already approved for treating clinically isolated syndrome.”The Phase 3 trial was funded with more than $4 million from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and its affiliated scientific research foundation.Angelica Asis, the society’s acting director of research, said they would welcome larger minocycline trials in the future.“More research is needed to really establish how long does the effect last or does it apply to more people with MS?” she said.“What about people who are later in their disease versus a very early stage?”Aside from a little stiffness in her hand, Jill said she is symptom-free and has not been diagnosed with full-fledged MS.“I don’t even actually notice it until someone asks me if I’m feeling it,” she said.She took minocycline for six and a half years, but recently decided to stop for a while to give her body a break from the antibiotic. She expects she’ll go back on at some point.“I feel perfectly healthy now.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said the study was being published Wednesdaylast_img read more

Iögo yogurt products recalled due to risk of containing plastic pieces

first_imgUltima Foods is recalling seven iögo yogurt products because they may contain pieces of plastic.The company says the affected items have been sold across all of Canada.The recalled products include six 93-millilitre Iögo Nano packs of strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and banana drinkable yogurt.They also include one-litre Iögo smoothie protein packs with mango, strawberry-raspberry and strawberry flavours.Click here for a list of the recalled products.Ultima triggered the recall and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is now investigating.The CFIA says the investigation may result in more recalls.The agency says there have been no reported injuries associated with the consumption of the yogurt.last_img read more

Tech firm at centre of security debate could go with takeover bid

first_imgVANCOUVER – Norsat International Inc. (TSX:NII), which is subject to a controversial takeover bid from a Chinese firm, says it may accept a better offer from an American investment fund.The Vancouver technology company says the deal from Privet Fund Management LLC values it at US$67.3 million, which is slightly above the deal proposed by Hytera Communications.Hytera, which manufactures radio transceivers and radio systems, made its friendly takeover offer last year and received clearance under the Investment Canada Act this month.But its proposal has sparked a heated political debate over national security risks and the federal government’s willingness to approve a Chinese takeover of a Canadian tech company.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his government Tuesday, saying Canada consulted the U.S., a major customer of Norsat’s, before concluding that Hytera’s takeover doesn’t pose any national security concerns.Yundong Yang, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, says the deal is a normal business transaction and shouldn’t become politicized.“From Canadian media’s relative reports, in these commercial merger cases China is often regarded as an enemy that jeopardizes Canada’s national security,” Yang said in a statement. “Absurd thoughts like this totally go against the mutually beneficial co-operation between China and Canada.”There have been calls in the U.S. to review its dealings with Norsat and take a closer look at Hytera’s takeover bid.Norsat says Hytera has until Tuesday to match the offer of US$11.50 cash per share by Privet, which already owns about 17.6 per cent of Norsat’s common stock. The Privet proposal is 2.2 per cent above Hytera’s bid, and Norsat says that if Hytera doesn’t come back with a better offer it intends to accept the Privet proposal.last_img read more

New study suggests link between foster care system and youth homelessness

first_imgOTTAWA – A first-of-its-kind study in Canada is drawing a link between youth homelessness levels and a foster care system that researchers say could be playing a more active role in keeping young people off the streets.The study, to be released Wednesday, found nearly three out of every five homeless youth were part of the child welfare system at some point in their lives, a rate almost 200 times greater than that of the general population.Of those with a history in the child welfare system, almost two of every five respondents eventually “aged out” of provincial or territorial care, losing access to the sort of support that could have kept them from becoming homeless, the study found.Canada is creating a group of young people who are at higher risk of becoming homeless because they lack resources when coming out of foster care, said Stephen Gaetz, the study’s co-author and director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.The report urges the federal government to focus on preventing youth homelessness — particularly among Indigenous youth — and provinces and territories to focus on “after care” by providing support as needed until age 25.“We’re not calling out child protection services. We’re not pointing fingers going, ‘It’s horrible what you’re doing,’” Gaetz said.“Rather, we’re saying this is an unintended consequence of a whole number of things, but it’s something that we can identify as leading to bad outcomes when young people leave care.”Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Liberal government’s self-proclaimed minister for youth, may want to champion the issue himself to ensure system-wide changes, he added.The study, based on a survey of 1,103 young people who were experiencing homelessness in 42 different communities in nine provinces and Nunavut, offers the first national portrait of Canada’s population of homeless youth.Aged 13 to 24, homeless youth make up about one-fifth of Canada’s homeless population. In raw numbers, that means there are about 6,500 people in that age cohort experiencing homelessness on any given night.New census data released last week reported some 43,880 youth in foster care in 2016, a decline of about 4,000 from the 47,890 young people Statistics Canada counted in 2011, the first time such data was collected for the census.The problem is particularly acute for Indigenous youth, who in 2011 made up nearly half of the children in care nationally. Statistics Canada is set to release more census details about Canada’s Aboriginal population later this fall.The study says that the problems with Indigenous child welfare, which governments have vowed to tackle, highlight the need for structural reforms to help marginalized populations in Canada, such as Aboriginals and new immigrants.“None of these approaches can be a one-size-fits-all approach,” said study co-author David French, director of policy and planning with A Way Home, a national, anti-youth homelessness coalition.“So when you speak about Indigenous young people or young people who identify as LGBTQ2S, or new immigrant young people, each of them does require a targeted response underneath a specific strategy.”LGBTQ2S stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit, the latter term referring specifically to members of the Indigenous community.Last week’s census figures also showed one in three Canadians aged 20-34 lived with at least one parent in 2016, an increase of five percentage points between 2001 and 2016.The numbers were particularly acute in some of the country’s hottest housing markets, with one in two young people living with at least one parent in Toronto last year.Child protection legislation hasn’t kept pace with these social and economic changes that have made it more difficult for young people to live independently, Gaetz said.— Follow @jpress on Twitterlast_img read more

Anger over controversial Liberal tax proposals to be focus at caucus retreat

first_imgOTTAWA – Liberal backbenchers have been getting an earful this summer from small business owners outraged by the Trudeau government’s proposals to end what it calls “unfair tax advantages.”And now they’re preparing to unleash the concerns of their constituents — and pressure Finance Minister Bill Morneau to adjust his plans accordingly — during the government’s summer caucus retreat next week in Kelowna, B.C.“From what I’m hearing right now, the highest priority thing is to engage in a meaningful discussion of the proposed tax changes to Canadian-controlled, private corporations,” said Stephen Fuhr, who represents the riding that encompasses Kelowna.“There are a whole host of people — i.e., the ones that are on the receiving end of the tax proposals — that are not happy … My job is to deliver their input or that message to my colleagues.”Fuhr is far from alone.“I think we’re all hearing from small business” about the planned tax changes, said Liberal caucus chair Francis Scarpaleggia, a Montreal MP.“The small business people that I’m speaking to obviously would like to see some changes … I’ve told them that I’m going to take their concerns to Kelowna, for sure.”The backlash from doctors, lawyers, accountants and other small business owners has been building since mid-July, when Morneau released a controversial, three-pronged plan aimed at closing tax loopholes used by a growing number of small businesses, creating what he called an “unfair playing field.”One change would restrict the ability of business owners to lower their tax rate by sprinkling income to family members in lower tax brackets. Another would limit the use of private corporations to make passive investments in things like stocks or real estate.A third would limit the ability to convert a corporation’s regular income into capital gains, which are typically taxed at a lower rate.The government is allowing 75 days for consultation on the proposed changes, a period that ends Oct. 2. Backbenchers are hopeful that it means Morneau would be open to adjusting the plan in order to address the concerns.“There is a genuine outrage among people who have made all their financial calculations and planning based upon a certain set of tax assumptions and are now seeing those tax assumptions challenged,” said Toronto MP John McKay.“I don’t know at this stage how locked-in the government is on their proposals, but I do know there is significant outrage among a relatively influential group of people.”Those people would be “really irritated” if the consultation turns out to be strictly pro-forma, McKay added.Winnipeg MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette said he’s heard loud complaints in his riding about the proposed changes, but has also received feedback from others who say it’s time for a more level playing field when it comes to taxes.Ouellette, who represents one of Canada’s poorest ridings, supports his government’s plan and believes a system that enables people to divide their income up among family members in order to save on taxes is “inherently unfair.”“How much income does one really need to earn in life in order to have a good life?” Ouellette asked.“I think everyone has to contribute to help pay our taxes because these government services aren’t for free. They have a positive impact on the world around us.”Still, if necessary, he believes Morneau will be open to changes, tweaks and suggestions.Another Toronto MP, Rob Oliphant, says he’s heard from accountants who oppose the proposals and others who agree with Morneau that the loopholes need to be closed.“We have to make sure that we have a fair tax system that people have confidence in. At the same time, I think it’s incumbent on us to make sure there’s no unintended consequences.”On that score, Fuhr says he’s heard from some tax professionals that the restriction on passive investments could result in fewer small business owners investing in rental properties which could, in turn, exacerbate the existing shortage of affordable housing.“It may have an adverse effect on the rental market and that’s something that we’ve already got an issue with so that’s something we may want to consider, for an example.”Fuhr is hoping the government can find some middle ground that increases tax fairness but avoids unduly penalizing small business owners.“I think there’s a mediated solution in there somewhere. I think, I hope.”last_img read more

International Monetary Fund report warns of Canadas high debt levels

first_imgThe International Monetary Fund warns in a new report about Canada’s high debt levels and higher-than-average pressure on Canadian households’ ability to pay down that debt.The IMF says in its Global Financial Stability report released Wednesday that these dynamics in Canada’s private non-financial sector leaves its economy more sensitive to tighter financial conditions and weaker economic activity.Canada was named along with Australia, Brazil, China and Korea as countries where the debt-service ratio has risen to high levels.The IMF also says there was a particularly strong need in these economies for financial sector policy to guard against letting these imbalances grow any further.The IMF also notes that in Australia, China and Canada, where the ratio of household debt payments relative to disposable income is highest, it has been coupled with a steep increase in house prices.It warns that past experience shows these two factors can create strain and, with a sharp fall in asset prices, can spill over to the economy.last_img read more

Regulator rejects Via Rails efforts to limit wheelchair access

first_imgTORONTO – The Canadian Transportation Agency is rejecting Via Rail’s efforts to limit access on its trains for passengers using wheelchairs and other mobility aids.The national rail provider has been actively resisting a previous Agency ruling dictating that all trains coast to coast must double their capacity to accommodate mobility aids and create two tie-down spots for the devices.The CTA’s ruling came about as the result of a complaint from a Toronto married couple, both of whom have cerebral palsy and use motorized scooters. They contend that Via’s long-standing approach prevents them from travelling together.Via Rail had tried to push back against the CTA ruling, saying it only planned to create two tie-down spots on one of three classes of train travelling on one specific route.In a decision dated Nov. 1, the CTA rejected Via’s approach and ordered the company to either add tiedowns for all trains across the country or present clear arguments as to why doing so would create undue hardship.Via Rail says it is “analyzing” the CTA’s latest decision and “cannot comment further at this time.”Martin Anderson and Marie Murphy, the Toronto couple at the heart of the complaint, said they feel validated by the CTA’s pushback.Despite the agency’s fairly clearcut ruling, however, they fear more fighting lies ahead.“We remain cautiously optimistic, but with each victory we feel we have, Via tends to drag it out again,” Murphy said in a telephone interview. “It feels like we have the weight of the CTA behind us and that they are now finally being called to be accountable. I hope they won’t be able to wiggle themselves out of this one.”The couple’s long-standing battle with Via appeared to be at an end in February when the CTA first ruled on the formal complaint they filed protesting the company’s approach to wheelchair accessibility.Murphy and Anderson decried Via Rail’s policy dictating that trains only required one tie-down area for someone travelling in a wheelchair or mobility scooter. Other passengers using such devices were forced to dismantle the aids and store them in the luggage compartment, risking damage to the expensive equipment.Anderson and Murphy argued that the policy was discriminatory towards people with disabilities, while Via said any difficulties the couple encountered were the result of individual customer service failings rather than flawed policy.The CTA sided with the couple in February, ordering Via to either provide two tie-down areas per train or allow two mobility aids to make use of the same tie-down by May 15. Alternatively, Via could offer evidence that it could not comply without undue hardship.Via opted to change its policy, saying it would make it possible for two mobility aids to use the existing tie-down area on specific trains as long as the users had the capacity to transfer to a regular seat for the trip.On June 23, the CTA sent Via a letter seeking “confirmation” of several points, including the fact that the new accessibility rules would be applied on every Via train across the country.Via Rail’s July 12 response, filed after a deadline set by the CTA, made it clear that it planned only to apply the rules on one of three train types travelling within the Quebec-Windsor corridor.The rail provider argued that Murphy and Anderson only travelled on that specific route and contended establishing more than one tie-down on the other two train types was either in the works or not feasible.The CTA’s latest ruling rejected that approach.“This … is inconsistent with the Agency’s order,” the CTA wrote. “While VIA refers to a ‘series of issues that make the application of this policy elsewhere not possible,’ it did not explain what those issues are, nor make a clear claim of undue hardship. Given the above, the Agency finds that the revised policy does not comply with the order.”The decision also took Via to task for failing to thoroughly research ways in which additional mobility aids could be safely secured on board its trains, saying it “notes with concern how little work appears to have been done since 2015 on the question of scooter storage.” The CTA gave Via until Nov. 16 to “confirm that no consultations were conducted” on the issue.Murphy and Anderson said full compliance cannot come too soon, saying train travel is still very challenging.When the couple tried to book two tie-down spots for an upcoming trip to Windsor, Ont., they found their first four time options were not available because one of the spots had already been reserved.Anderson said their situation proves that there’s a demand for broader accessibility for all Canadians.“The tie-down spots were used,” he said. “That shows the need for more spots now.”The CTA has ordered Via to either allow for two wheelchair tiedowns on all trains across the entire network or submit a claim of undue hardship “supported by clear and detailed evidence” by Jan. 3.last_img read more

Video game addiction a disease WHO prepares to codify gaming disorder

first_imgTORONTO – Lisa Pont has heard plenty of skepticism about video game addiction and whether it’s truly a medical condition that should be classified as a disease, as the World Health Organization plans to officially do in a couple of months.“Some people think it trivializes other diseases. People think, ‘Oh my God, how can you get addicted to gaming? Just put (the controller) down,’ or like, ‘Please, then anything can be a disease,’” says Pont, a social worker at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.“But I’ve been seeing people coming to CAMH for treatment for almost 10 years, so whether it was an official diagnosis or not, we could observe people were having problems with (video games) and we needed to respond to those problems…. I don’t think we’re 100 per cent all in agreement on what the conceptualization of it is, but there are definite themes and phenomenon that seem to be consistent.”The WHO has said it will include “gaming disorder” in a June update to its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), defining it as a pattern of behaviour “characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”A diagnosis would recognize “significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”A CAMH study released in 2016 estimated 13 per cent of Ontario students — or almost 123,000 kids — have experienced symptoms of a “video gaming problem,” which was up from nine per cent in 2007. About one in five boys reported having “problematic symptoms” linked to their video gaming.The WHO has been studying the issue since 2014, while the American Psychiatric Association has flagged “internet gaming disorder” for further study and consideration in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) since 2013, but has not yet moved forward with it. They are two of the main groups the medical community in Canada looks to for guidance on diagnosing and treating patients.Prof. Jeffrey Derevensky, director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling at McGill University, consulted with the WHO in preparing the upcoming ICD-11 release and says video game addiction is “clearly a growing problem.”“It may not have the same prevalence as some other disorders but … I get a call at least once every two weeks from a parent who says, ‘I can’t get him off his computer,’ or ‘I can’t get him off his cellphone because all he wants to do is play these games,’” Derevensky says.“There’ve been a number of instances where individuals have actually committed suicide because they weren’t able to have access to their computer for gaming.”He suspects the DSM will eventually include video game addiction as well, although the process to update the guidelines moves slowly. The last update in 2013 was 14 years in the making.A coalition of video game organizations, including the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, has called on the WHO to abandon its plans to add gaming disorder to the ICD.“The WHO’s process lacks transparency, is deeply flawed, and lacks objective scientific support. We urge this process to be halted,” reads a statement from the group, which adds “the educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games is well-established and recognized.”Calgary native Cameron Adair is a reformed gaming addict who has turned his recovery into a full-time business, Gamequitters.com, which offers a how-to ebook and one-on-one coaching along with free resources. The 29-year-old’s work to help others break the cycle of addiction was recognized last year by CAMH, which included Adair on a list of Canadian “difference makers” in mental health. Adair believes the spotlight the WHO is putting on video game addiction will be crucial in legitimizing the issue and getting more help for young people.“There’s a lot of resistance around this being an addiction and I think that comes from just a lot of misinformation,” Adair says.“I get emails from parents every single day who say they have taken the Xbox away and now their kid is threatening to commit suicide. We need to be sensitive that there’s people out there struggling, they’re losing relationships, they’re failing out of college, they’re losing their families and their kids. This is a significant thing and if they want support, let’s give it to them.”Adair sees to the rise of lucrative competitive video gaming, called esports, as “a coming storm.” He notes that excessive game playing led to his dropping out of high school, and that was before elite players were being treated like celebrities online.Pont says there’s a lot of confusion about how to get help for a video game addiction but a good starting point is speaking to a family doctor. Among the treatment options in Ontario are counselling at CAMH, and an in-patient video game and internet dependency program at Hotel-Dieu Grace in Windsor, Ont.She says it’s also worth considering that in many cases, video game addiction may be “a symptom of underlying issues.”“For most people, where there’s addiction there’s something they are trying to soothe. Whether it’s a clinical issue like depression or even other issues like relationship conflict or poor self-esteem, there’s almost always underlying issues.”last_img read more