Rly writes to firms of people caught travelling in special coaches

first_imgMumbai: Central Railway has begun writing to the employers of people caught travelling unauthorisedly in suburban train coaches meant for passengers with disabilities or cancer and women in advanced stage of pregnancy, an official said Saturday. In the past two days, as part of a special drive, CR has nabbed 766 passengers and letters have been sent to 42 employers, the CR official said. The offence is punishable with a fine or jail under section 155 of the Railway Act. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ The initiative will curb the menace of illegal travel in such special coaches as violators will fear disciplinary action from their employers, said Sunil Udasi, chief public relations officer, CR. “We have collected Rs 22.36 lakh in fines from 9,173 such offenders between January and July this year. The letters being sent by the Railway Protection Force to employers will hopefully start showing results in the next few days,” Udasi said. An RPF officer said the “name and shame” tactic should work, adding that offenders included police personnel and those employed in reputed companies and banks. Letters written earlier to police commissioners about offenders from the force had yielded results, the officer said.last_img read more

Continue reading »

During checking drive RPF finds vehicles lying in railway premises from several

first_imgNew Delhi: The Delhi division of the Railway Protection Force (RPF), during a checking drive has found several vehicles stranded at parking lots of various railway stations in the city, officials here said. They added that more than 1 lakh such vehicles were screened in three days.Senior Divisional Security Commissioner (Coordination) AN Jha said that they have asked for details about 11 vehicles from the Regional Transport Office. “We also found 10 vehicles which were parked at these spots for several years at the railway premises. These include a car which was standing at one of the parking lots for more than five years. Maximum number of the stranded vehicles were found in Ghaziabad, Old Delhi, and Delhi Cantt,” Jha said, adding that no number plates were found in five of the vehicles. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderAccording to RPF, as many as 128 vehicles were found to be parked for more than five days. Of these vehicles, three bikes were reported stolen. The Northern Railways on Monday released an official statement, saying that the Indian Railways for the first time in its history had conducted an All India operation code-named “Operation Number Plate” from August 9 to August 11 to survey, check and legally dispose the vehicles parked inside railway premises for more than one to five days. The operation was carried out under the direct instruction and supervision of DG RPF Arun Kumar (RPF). Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsAs part of “Operation Number Plate” RPF’s Delhi division conducted secret surveys of such abandoned vehicles at Delhi’s railway stations in the days before the seizure, so that they can prepare to make appropriate security arrangements for the upcoming Independence Day. As many as 95 cases were registered under sections 159 of the Railway Act and Motor Vehicle Act. Sanjay Sankrityayan, IG (RPF) said,” Northern Railways reiterated the commitment of RPF in holistic Railway Security individually and in coordination with other government agencies.” S C Jain (DRM Delhi) stated that such innovating operations help to focus on those less focused areas which sometimes get missed due to priority issues. Jain added that such operations will send a strong message of alertness and boost the confidence of the public.last_img read more

Continue reading »

IDBI Bank Q1 loss widens to Rs 3801 crore

first_imgMumbai: Life Insurance of Corporation of India (LIC)-owned IDBI Bank net losses widen to Rs 3,801 crore in the quarter ended June on higher provision for NPAs. The bank had reported a net loss of Rs 2,410 crore in the same quarter of the last year. “As we had to make higher provisions for NPA there was a net loss of Rs 3,801 crore during the quarter,” its managing director and chief executive Rakesh Sharma told reporters. Its provision for NPAs stood at Rs 7,009 crore as against Rs 4,603 crore in the year-ago period. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”There were two accounts worth over Rs 2,000 crore from the power sector-owned by Navratna company that RBI had asked us to downgrade and because of that some additional Rs 1,200 crore of provision we had to make. We are quite sure that these two accounts will be upgraded within a year or so,” Sharma said. Total provision stood at Rs 4,752 crore as against Rs 3,491 crore. Net interest margin were at 2.13 per cent as against 2.17 per cent. Gross NPA ratio improved to 29.12 per cent as against 30.78 per cent, while net NPA ratio improved to 8.02 per cent from 18.76 per cent as on June 30, 2018. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostIt expects to bring net NPA to below 6 per cent by September quarter. The bank’s recovery from NPAs stood at Rs 729 crore. Fresh slippages were at Rs 3,486 crore, it said. “Except these two accounts where slippages had to be downgrade, the slippages were well within the limit which we had prescribed,” Sharma said adding the bank has set a recovery target of Rs 12,000-13,000 crore in FY20. It is also planning to raise Rs 3,000-3,500 crore of NPAs to asset reconstruction companies during the year.last_img read more

Continue reading »

4 injured in house collapse

first_imgNew Delhi: Four people were injured after the roof of a house collapsed on them while they were asleep in Delhi’s Jharoda part-2 on Monday, a Delhi Fire Service official said. Vipin (25), Rajan Kumar (20), Kundan (18) and Vikas (18) have been admitted to a hospital, they said. A senior fire official said they received a call about the collapse at 6.45am, after which four fire tenders were rushed to the spot. The house was old, had a ground floor with four rooms. The roof of the room where the victims were sleeping collapsed, the official said. One of the victims suffered head injuries, another had his left leg fractured. The other two men had minor injures and were discharged after first-aid, the official added.last_img read more

Continue reading »

Facts and figures from 2016 agriculture census released Wednesday

first_imgStatistics Canada says fewer and slightly older Canadian producers are planting more cropland on larger farms while canola is still the country’s most-planted commodity. Here are some highlights from the 2016 Census of Agriculture released Wednesday:— There are 193,492 farms in Canada, down 5.9 per cent from 2011.— Crops make up 37.8 million hectares, up 6.9 per cent.— Total farm area sits at 64.2 million hectares, down 0.9 per cent.— The average age of the Canadian farmer is 55, up from 54 in 2011.— Gross farm receipts totalled $69.4 billion in 2015, while operating expenses reached $57.5 billion.— Oilseed and grain-type farms continue to be the most common, increasing from 30 per cent in 2011 to 32 per cent in 2016— The size of the beef cattle herd decreased 2.4 per cent, while the number of operations reporting beef cattle declined 12.3 per cent. Prairie provinces accounted for just over 80 per cent of beef cattle.— Fruits, berries, and nuts acreage rose 6.7 per cent from 2011, mainly due to blueberries and cranberries.— Apple orchard area continued to decline, with the largest decreases in Nova Scotia and Quebec. Overall, total land dedicated to apple production fell 3.2 per cent from 2016.— Ontario saw a 29.8 per cent increase in the area dedicated to greenhouse vegetables.— Lentils are now the third-largest crop in Saskatchewan behind canola and spring wheat.— Soybean area in Manitoba more than doubled between 2011 and 2016 to 665,868 hectares.— In Central Canada, corn and soybeans remained the largest field crops.— Fodder crops and potatoes were the largest crop areas in Atlantic Canada.last_img read more

Continue reading »

Toronto cop to face disciplinary hearing after investigation sparked by video

first_imgTORONTO – A disciplinary hearing will be held for a Toronto police sergeant after a civilian oversight agency found there were grounds to believe he used excessive force in stomping on and repeatedly Tasering a handcuffed man during an arrest earlier this year.The Office of the Independent Police Review Director says Sgt. Eduardo Miranda was not justified in deploying his stun gun six times on a man who, on most of these occasions, was “prone face down on the ground and being physically controlled by four officers.”In a report into the January incident, the agency says Miranda’s decision to stomp on the man’s leg was “equally not justified as a response.”It further says there are grounds to believe the sergeant engaged in discreditable conduct when he directed other officers to interfere with a witness who was recording the arrest on his phone.The report says there are grounds to believe two other officers engaged in misconduct when they threatened to confiscate Waseem Khan’s phone and behaved in a manner meant to intimidate him, and that all the officers involved neglected their duty by failing to turn on their cruisers’ cameras and microphones.The investigation was triggered after Khan, who captured much of the incident on video, lodged a complaint with the oversight agency.Khan’s lawyer, Selwyn Pieters, says the findings against Miranda automatically require a disciplinary hearing, which has been scheduled for Sept. 26. It is unclear whether the remaining officers will also face a hearing, since they are accused of lesser offences, he said.Pieters said his client is pleased that the report confirmed his feeling that “something wasn’t right with what was taking place” that day.“It just shows the importance of what Waseem did on that day, to take his camera out on his cellphone and record that incident,” Pieters said. “Had he not done that, it would have been this civilian versus the police with no objective evidence.”The cellphone video shows several police officers standing by a man who is lying face down on the street. Khan can be heard saying an officer used a stun gun on the man. The video appears to show the same officer stomping on the back of the man’s leg.The video then shows the same officer looking in Khan’s direction and asking his colleagues to “get that guy out of my face please!”“I’m a witness,” Khan is heard saying. “I’m not obstructing the arrest. I’m not involved in the investigation.”A female officer walks toward Khan and says: “If you’re a witness, then we’re going to be seizing your cellphone.” A male officer also approaches Khan, looks at the camera and says, “he’s going to spit in your face, you’re going to get AIDS.”Toronto police apologized for the AIDS comment after the video surfaced.Khan has said he felt intimidated by the officers and offended by the comment about AIDS.The officers who approached Khan told the OIPRD they did not mean to intimidate him, with one officer saying he believed he had the authority to seize the phone, the report says.Miranda, meanwhile, said the man on the ground was “displaying aggressive behaviour” and that the Taser, combined with the blows to the upper leg, were appropriate responses, the document says. He told the agency the man being arrested had tried to bite one of the other officers, but recognized the officer was not injured and that the man did not appear to be moving in the video.The sergeant also denied trying to intimidate Khan, saying he was “concerned” for him, though he estimated Khan was about three metres away from the action.Toronto police could not immediately be reached for comment.Pieters said the officers’ behaviour raises concerns about the administration of justice.“How do you deploy a Taser six times within a space of minutes on a person who was, from the video, semi-conscious or unconscious, and then say the person was resisting arrest and was assaultive?” he said.“Certainly the video, together with their allegations against the man, brings the administration of justice into disrepute. It shows that the police will say whatever they want to put a man, to put a person before the courts.”last_img read more

Continue reading »

We all knew he was like this Salman Rushdie unsurprised by Trump

first_imgTORONTO – As Donald Trump continues to face backlash for blaming “both sides” at a deadly protest in Charlottesville, Va., celebrated author Salman Rushdie says he’s not surprised by the embattled U.S. president’s behaviour.“If you’ve lived in New York as I now have the last almost 20 years, we in New York, we’ve seen Trump,” Rushdie said in an interview Wednesday for his novel “The Golden House,” which is set against the backdrop of the last eight years of U.S. politics.“He’s been around, and people in New York got his number a long time ago. Everybody knew who he was, and it’s as if America is now discovering what New Yorkers have known for a long time. So, it’s no surprise Trump would behave like this.”In a news conference Tuesday, Trump appeared to equate the actions of white supremacist groups and those protesting them.Violence broke out Saturday in Charlottesville after a loosely connected mix of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists assembled to protest the city’s decision to remove a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Heather Heyer was killed when a man plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Heyer’s memorial was held Wednesday.Trump’s remarks were met with swift condemnation, including by those within his own party. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham issued a statement saying the president’s words were “dividing Americans, not healing them.”“He seems to have a great difficulty in condemning neo-Nazis. It seems to actually be physically difficult for him to do so,” said Rushdie. “As a result, he goes into these bizarre rants where he makes false moral equivalencies between the extreme right and the left.“If he weren’t the president, it would seem like the ranting of an idiot. But since he’s the most powerful man in the world it’s deeply alarming to see him issuing a series of dog whistles which are… picked up quite clearly by the extreme right even to the point to which (former Ku Klux Klan leader) David Duke texts or tweets his thanks to Trump during the press conference. …“The destruction that has been wrought in these six months is impossible to overstate,” he added.When asked if Trump would serve out his full term, Rushdie said he was “bad at forecasting the future,” but seemed less than thrilled by the other potential contenders for the office.“Like anybody else, I’m watching the (Robert) Mueller investigation with great interest,” he said of the FBI probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election.“If we lose Trump we get (U.S. Vice-President Mike) Pence and if we lose Pence we get (House Speaker Paul) Ryan. If we get Ryan, we get Orrin Hatch. It’s not particularly an optimistic forecast.”— With files from The Associated Press—Follow @lauren_larose on Twitterlast_img read more

Continue reading »

Housing agency explores cutting red tape for selfemployed borrowers

first_imgOTTAWA – The national housing agency is exploring ways to make it easier for entrepreneurs and new immigrants to buy a home by cutting some of the red tape required to prove they can afford to pay the mortgage.“Right now, under our mortgage insurance policies, you have to be able to document income to get mortgage insurance, to a level of specificity that discriminates against new Canadians, because they can’t do that,” Evan Siddall, the CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said in a wide-ranging interview with The Canadian Press.“It discriminates against entrepreneurs, as well, because they can’t prove their income as well, so we’re looking at our own policies to try and make sure that there is more equity in our mortgage insurance programs,” he said.Anyone who wants to buy a home in Canada without a down payment of at least 20 per cent of the purchase price is usually required to get mortgage loan insurance from the CMHC, which requires a smaller down payment of five per cent on a home worth up to $500,000.A 10-per-cent down payment is required for the portion of the price over $500,000, with $1 million being the maximum property value allowed.The mortgage insurance comes with a premium, which the lender will then pass on to the person buying the home.Borrowers need to satisfy lenders they will be able to make their mortgage payments, which usually means providing proof of employment and a few pay stubs. But that can be tricky for people who just started their own business.It can also be a barrier to those whose employment history has gaps for other reasons, such as having recently immigrated to Canada.People who are self-employed, for example, usually need to provide notices of assessment for the previous two years. Their income is determined by averaging those two years, although the most recent year can be used if it has increased annually for at least four years.They also need to have been doing the same type of work for at least two years.Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said more flexibility would be welcome, especially for startups.“If one starts a business or is self-employed, the lines between their personal and business finances are often quite blurry,” said Kelly.“Often, their personal assets are required to get financing for the business. But then they also have a challenge getting financing on the personal side, because they don’t have the nice, clean letter of offer from an employer that is often quite convincing in these situations,” he said.Any relaxation of the rules would naturally increase the risk. So Siddall said the agency is looking at how to manage that, including different ways to document income, and higher premiums.“Can we charge for that risk? Better to charge that risk than not to make it available,” he said.Jack Fiorillo, a broker with TMG The Mortgage Group in Woodbridge, Ont., said he expects the CMHC to be fairly conservative on this front.“It will be a very small sandbox that CMHC will play in, probably at the beginning, and then maybe if once their risk appetite increases, maybe they can expand that box,” said Fiorillo.He said he expects the potential change to make it easier for a relatively small number of self-employed people to get a mortgage, and they will likely have to pay higher interest rates.The CMHC said it has been compiling data on how many would-be homeowners have their mortgage applications rejected for these reasons, but cannot disclose those numbers right now because it is based on conversations with commercial lenders.“We are still doing research and development to move this forward,” CMHC spokesman Jonathan Rotondo said in an email.Siddall said the Crown corporation has raised the idea with its board and expects to announce something within the next six months.– Follow @smithjoanna on Twitterlast_img read more

Continue reading »

Two military members charged with sexually assaulting other personnel

first_imgOTTAWA – Two members of the Canadian Forces have been charged with sexually assaulting other military personnel in separate incidents.National Defence says Cpl. George MacLeod of 36 Combat Engineer Regiment reserve unit in Sydney, N.S., was charged in relation to an alleged incident during a training exercise at Base Gagetown in New Brunswick in August.The National Investigation Service offered no other details, saying only that the incident involved another member of the Armed Forces.In a second case, Master Cpl. Maxime Demers of the Canadian Forces Health Services at Canadian Forces Base Borden, is also facing a charge of sexually assaulting another member at a private residence in Halifax in June 2014 when he was posted to HMCS Charlottetown.The investigation service says the charges could go before military court martials.Dates and locations for the hearings have not been determined.last_img read more

Continue reading »

Guardians charged with neglecting fouryearold girl who later died

first_imgEDMONTON – Alberta Mounties have laid charges against relatives of a four-year-old girl, alleging they neglected her after taking over from the government as her legal guardians.Brenda Rabbit, 56, and Clyde Rabbit, 55, each face one count of failing to provide the necessities of life to little Serenity Rabbit, who later died.The accused from the central Alberta reserve of Maskwacis, south of Edmonton, have been released on bail and are to appear in court Nov. 9.Serenity had a severe brain injury when she was taken to hospital where doctors noticed she was underweight and had multiple bruises. She remained on life support for about a week before she died on Sept. 27, 2014.Late Friday, Mounties clarified that the charges against the Rabbits were related to the circumstances in which the child lived, noting that the specific injury that caused her death was not criminal in nature.RCMP Chief Supt. George Stephensen said Friday that he couldn’t release many details about the case and defended the length of time it took to get it to court.“This investigation in my opinion would be one of the most complex investigations that we’ve done in a long period of time,” said Stephensen, who added that the Crown was consulted on what charges should be laid.“This has been and continues to be a very difficult time for all who knew Serenity and we feel her loss. Our thoughts are with them.”Serenity’s death drew criticism and concern when details became public last year. Premier Rachel Notley struck an all-party panel to come up with ways to improve child welfare in the province.It has been reported that there were delays and secrecy over the girl’s autopsy and about police and government investigations. It was also reported that the child and youth advocate’s office was denied critical information in examining the case.Earlier this year, Alberta introduced legislation to increase the power of the advocate to investigate deaths of children in government care.The aboriginal girl had been with foster parents for two years before she was placed in what is called kinship care, a program that aims to keep children with relatives and maintain ties to their culture and communities. The relatives became her legal guardians and the government had not been involved with her for almost a year.Serenity’s birth mother had raised concerns to social workers that the child was being abused, and wanted her moved back to foster care.“I’m glad to see charges have finally been laid, but I still have questions as to why it took so long,” Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark said in a release. “We still don’t have clear answers about what went wrong, and we cannot wait for a fatality inquiry to provide those answers.”Clark said he wants assurances that court cases related to the abuse or death of children are not delayed.United Conservative Party members Jason Nixon and Ric McIver, who are on the province’s child-welfare panel, also issued a statement that said they are relieved to finally see charges.“It’s clear that this case was mishandled from the very beginning and we must understand what went wrong in order to prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future. The United Conservatives remain committed to getting answers for Serenity’s family and seeing that our broken child intervention system is fixed.”Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said in a statement that Serenity’s death was a “call to action — a symbol of why we must never stop doing everything we can to prevent tragedies like this one.“Three years is a long time to wait for a family who has already suffered such heartbreaking loss. And we know that Serenity’s family, and Albertans, want answers.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Serenity was in government care when she died and that Jason Nixon and Ric McIver had been on child-welfare panel; while earlier headlines incorrectly suggested the charges were related to the girl’s deathlast_img read more

Continue reading »

The Wednesday news briefing An ataglance survey of some top stories

first_imgHighlights from the news file for Wednesday, Dec. 13———HOSTAGE TAKING AT ONTARIO BANK LEAVES GUNMAN DEAD: Police shot and killed a gunman during a hostage taking at a bank north of Toronto on Wednesday. Police say nobody else was injured but those inside the Royal Bank in Maple, Ont., were definitely traumatized. Police arrived at the scene to find a gunman and several others inside and say they had to use “lethal force” to gain control of the situation.———VIOLENT ALTERCATION LEAVES TORONTO INFANT WITH CRITICAL INJURIES: Toronto police say a four-month-old baby girl suffered serious injuries during a violent incident in a Toronto condo building that also left a man injured. Police say a woman was also injured and is under arrest in hospital. Police won’t say what the relationship is between the man, woman and child. Police weren’t clear on the nature of the injuries to the baby.———GOVERNING LIBERALS FLESH OUT TWEAKS TO TAX PROPOSALS: The Trudeau government is spelling out some of its adjustments to its controversial tax reforms. The Liberals are tweaking a proposal that would tighten existing rules enabling small-business owners to lower their tax burden by distributing earnings among family members who do not make significant contributions to their companies. Critics have denounced the proposals but the government said Wednesday that the revisions contain clear tests to determine whether a relative has made a meaningful contribution to — or investment in — the family business.———ANTI-NAFTA POLITICIANS URGE TRUMP TO STAND HIS GROUND: Some left-wing politicians opposed to the North American Free Trade Agreement are urging U.S. President Donald Trump keep his promise to drastically overhaul the deal. They held a news conference in Washington on Wednesday calling on Trump to keep stand firm. Sen. Bernie Sanders expressed support for American demands like increased Buy American protections.———MONTREAL MOSQUE DENIES COMPLAINING ABOUT FEMALE CONSTRCTION WORKERS: Members of a Montreal mosque are denying a televised report that they asked for female construction workers to be excluded from a site opposite their building. The company employing the construction workers did not immediately respond to a request for an interview. Officials with the mosque said they’re astonished by the TVA report and called it false.———WINDOW CLOSING TO BUY MARKLE HOME: The real estate agent selling “Suits” actress Meghan Markle’s Toronto home is expected to nail down a buyer as soon as tonight. Alex Beauregard says the three-bedroom home where Markle and Prince Harry spent time before announcing their engagement has drawn a lot of interest. It was listed last week at $1.395 million.———FED CHAIR EXPECTS ‘MODEST LIFT’ FROM TAX CUTSU.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says she and her colleagues expect a “modest lift” to economic growth from the tax cuts being proposed by President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers. Yellen said at a news conference the likelihood of lower taxes is why Fed officials expect the economy to grow at 2.5 per cent in 2018. But growth would then slip back closer to its recent two per cent average. She says the potential for greater consumer spending and capital investments from tax cuts has been reflected in part by rising stock prices.———SALMON ASSESSMENT LAUNCHED IN BC: A decline in the steelhead salmon in British Columbia’s Fraser River has prompted an emergency assessment of the species. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada says the average annual returns of the fish should be in the range of 1,000 to 2,000. The results would be first sent to the federal government, which has 90 days to respond with a decision or to launch a further review.last_img read more

Continue reading »

Naked truth Calgary naturist group criticized for public pool tradition

first_imgCALGARY – Swimming in the buff in a public pool is creating waves in Calgary.Naturist groups across Canada say it’s nothing new. They’ve been renting public pool time for family-friendly swimming events for years, if not decades.“We are everyday people … who just prefer and are more comfortable living as much as possible in the nude lifestyle — and using a city pool nude,” said Ray Jorritsma with the Edmonton Naturists Swim Group.The group is one of two in Edmonton that regularly holds nude swims at public pools and has been doing so for about 30 years. Jorritsma is at a loss to explain why the issue is causing controversy in the southern Alberta city.The Calgary Nude Recreation club has sold out tickets for a swim night on Sunday at the Southland Leisure Centre. The club describes the private, after-hours event on its Facebook page as a way of snubbing winter — in the nude and on a waterslide.An online petition is calling for the club to cancel the swim or ban children from attending because of potential pedophiles.“Sexual predators will be on the prowl — having an event like that is just like Christmas to them,” says the petition posted by April Parker. By Monday afternoon, 10,000 people had signed.The Calgary club did not respond to a request for comment, but has posted replies on its Facebook page.“The suggestion that our events should be marketed as ‘adult only’ entertainment illustrates the disconnect between what people THINK social nudity is about versus what social nudity is ACTUALLY about,” it said.A spokesperson for the City of Calgary would not comment on the swim night, but said the attention the event is getting has prompted staff to meet with organizers “to ensure the privacy and security of participants can be maintained.”In 2013, the Surrey Skinnydippers in British Columbia were told they could no longer rent out the Newton Wave pool after a community newspaper published a story about their swims and people phoned in with complaints. The group took the city to court and four years later won the right to keep on swimming.Perry Fulop with the City of Surrey said the group continues to rent the pool once a month, covering windows with paper for privacy, and there have been no issues or complaints.Nude swimming parties in public pools are more popular than people know, he said.Ron Schout, president of the Federation of Canadian Naturists, said groups in Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver have long held swim events at public facilities. In Toronto, he’s been organizing such swims for 30 years.Most swimmers are club members, he said, and include parents who bring their children. Some also invite friends, but all have to register with photo identification. Other clubs also do interviews.Ward King with the Sunny Chinooks group out of Sundre, Alta., said its swim events are kept quiet. Events aren’t publicized and the group doesn’t have a Facebook page.They’ve been swimming naked in a Calgary public pool for at least 10 years.“We’re low key and we do that for a reason,” he said. “People don’t know — they think the worst — and it’s all taboo. And it’s really not that at all.“It’s actually a really fun time.”— By Chris Purdy in Edmontonlast_img read more

Continue reading »

Research needed into environmental impact of tidal energy executive director

first_imgHALIFAX – As Nova Scotia pushes ahead with its bid to become a world leader in tidal energy, significant knowledge gaps remain — particularly when it comes to environmental monitoring of test turbines in the Bay of Fundy, the head of an independent research group says.“We don’t know enough about the environmental impacts of those devices,” Stephen Dempsey, executive director of the Offshore Energy Research Association, told a news conference Tuesday at Dalhousie University.“Will they harm our marine life? What will it do to … our intertidal bays? This work has to proceed. We have to deepen our understanding to make progress.”Dempsey, whose non-profit organization dispenses funding from the Nova Scotia Energy Department, made the comments after the province announced a new competition for research funding.In all, $150,000 is being offered to support five projects that will involve the use of Dalhousie’s Aquatron — one of Canada’s largest aquatic research facilities.Dempsey, standing in front of one of the Aquatron’s huge water-filled tanks, said the top research priorities include developing specialized technology to deal with the extreme conditions within the bay, where the amount of water flow as the tide changes amounts to a larger volume than that produced by all of the rivers in the world.In the Minas Passage, a five-kilometre-wide channel near Parrsboro, two tidal turbines have undergone testing in recent years. In 2009, the first in-stream prototype — weighing in at 400 tonnes — was torn apart by the world’s highest tides, which can move at 18 kilometres per hour.As well, Dempsey said more research is needed to reduce the cost of producing electricity from tidal energy.“Costs are too high to be economically viable,” he said. “If we solve all of the technical problems and we don’t deal with the cost issue, we’ll have an elegant solution that is not implementable.”But the first priority Dempsey mentioned was the need to improve environmental monitoring.“We certainly need to understand more about the interaction of the device on the environment,” he said when asked about a myriad of concerns raised by the 175-member Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association.“We’re just getting started with one device in the water.”On Nov. 22, 2016, a second test turbine, this one developed by Cape Sharp Tidal, began producing power from the bottom of the bay near Parrsboro. With the flick of a switch, it became North America’s first in-stream tidal turbine linked to an electricity grid.The 1,000-tonne turbine, which is five storeys tall, was hauled out of the water last June and sent to Saint John, N.B., for upgrades.“Our careful inspection of the recovered Cape Sharp Tidal turbine found that the overall exterior is in good condition,” the company said in a statement released Tuesday, adding that a closer inspection of the internal workings will be conducted later.The fishermen’s association had challenged deployment of the second turbine, arguing in court that Cape Sharp Tidal’s environmental effects monitoring program was drafted without “relevant baseline data” about the bay’s ecosystem. They also argued that a federal review had found “knowledge gaps” in information provided to the provincial government.But Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Heather Robertson rejected those arguments in April, saying “extraordinary efforts” had been made to evaluate the risks associated with the pioneering project.On Tuesday, Nova Scotia Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan said environmental protection remains key to the project.“We’re not allowing the (turbine testers) to do anything haphazard in terms of getting out ahead of environmental protection,” he told the news conference at Dalhousie.“For us, there’s nothing in terms of dangerous decisions or getting out too far — that’s certainly not the case.”MacLellan said the tidal energy industry has the potential to create 22,000 jobs and generate $1.7 billion for the Nova Scotia economy.Cape Sharp Tidal confirmed Tuesday that a third test turbine will be lowered into the bay this summer.“The work we’re doing on that turbine is focused on improving efficiency and reliability,” the company said. “With the world’s highest tides and some of the strongest tidal flows on the planet, the untapped energy potential of Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy presents a tremendous opportunity for renewable energy developers.”last_img read more

Continue reading »

Staffers on Parliament Hill call for closer look at workplace bullying survey

first_imgOTTAWA – The #MeToo movement may have given national prominence to the issue of sexual misconduct on Parliament Hill, but some of the responses to a recent Canadian Press survey suggest bullying and exploitation of those who work for political bosses are largely unexamined problems.“Sexual harassment happens and is devastating to those that experience it, but it is dwarfed by ‘regular’ harassment that is far more prevalent and just as destructive,” wrote one respondent to the anonymous online survey, which asked political staffers in Ottawa for their views and experiences with sexual assault and sexual harassment.“Many staffers have broken down, were forced out of their jobs, and many have contemplated suicide over the intense harassment and exploitation of staffers.”The Canadian Press questionnaire was distributed among those who work in the Hill offices of MPs, senators and cabinet ministers. There is no way to verify the size of the population, so the non-representative results of the survey do not allow for broad conclusions about the prevalence of the problem.Still, the 266 responses do provide a rare glimpse into how both male and female employees perceive the challenges they face as they work behind the scenes for powerful political superiors.Sixteen of the 75 people who responded to an open-ended question at the end of the survey inviting additional comments or feedback raised the issue of workplace bullying, abuse of power, exploitation or other forms of non-sexual harassment.“You would be surprised by how many offices burn through staff and how many staff are afraid to speak out because there are no good options for recourse,” one respondent wrote.“I’m more concerned about a different type of power play on the Hill,” wrote another, noting the lack of job security leaves staffers vulnerable to exploitation. “I personally have more than 300 overtime hours each year, which are not even recognized in any way.”One respondent wrote that while it is difficult to believe sexual harassment would be more common in politics than elsewhere — especially considering the higher risk that allegations against elected officials become public — day-to-day workplace mistreatment is another matter entirely.“It seems clear that psychological harassment is a much more widespread (and very serious) problem in politics compared to other workplaces,” the respondent wrote. “This is because it is an environment where employees are treated as disposable resources and it is much more difficult to prove.”Another respondent described the bullying as sexist — rather than sexual — in nature.“My boss has made sexist comments towards me, belittled me and bullied me for the primary reason of me being a woman,” she wrote.“His microaggressions have resulted in increased stress at work, and I am actively seeking another job outside of Parliament Hill. I can no longer tolerate this abuse and I cannot depend on anyone here to make it stop.”The Canadian Press emailed the online survey, which was available from Feb. 20 to March 12, to staffers currently working in the parliamentary offices of MPs and senators, as well as to key ministerial aides.The emails were sent to roughly 1,500 people, although it is difficult to determine precisely how many actually received the message, since recipients were also encouraged to share the survey with any colleagues currently in qualified roles.The Canadian Press has agreed to shared anonymized, aggregated data with Samara Canada, a non-partisan charity that promotes civic engagement, for further research. The organization also provided feedback on the design of the survey.last_img read more

Continue reading »

Large wildfire in northwest BC not expected to grow further wildfire service

first_imgPRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – The BC Wildfire Service says precipitation and favourable weather have allowed it to contain one of the province’s largest active wildfires, more than a month after it was initially discovered.After growing to more than 900 square kilometres, the fire burning near Shovel Lake in northwestern B.C. was hit with scattered showers overnight, and Claire Allen of the BC Wildfire Service said any further growth is unlikely.“We’re not under control yet, seeing as there is still a lot of internal activity and a lot of work for crews to do over the next few weeks here,” Allen said Sunday.That work includes clearing up hotspots, perimeter patrols and assessing potentially-dangerous tree falls.The nights in the northwest part of B.C. are becoming quite cool and dropping to near-freezing levels, which Allen said reduces their burning window considerably, though the turn of seasons does not necessarily mean the end of the wildfire season.“The winds do tend to pick up in the fall so that’s something we’re watching quite closely,” she added.Apart from potential gusts, Sunday’s forecast in the area was favourable, with highs in the mid to upper teens and plenty of moisture in the air with a humidity index of nearly 40 per cent.This comes after winds gusting up to 60 kilometres per hour hit the blaze on Friday, which did not push the fire past the established containment lines.Allen said as the season ends, the importance of establishing containment lines ahead of a fire front is considerably lessened, and firefighters can change their tactics to match the lowered fire activity.“Fire behaviour generally becomes reduced this time of year, so our crews are able to do a bit more direct attack,” she said from the fire centre in Prince George, B.C.Allen said they have not seen as much torching in the area, where trees burn from the bottom up and resemble a torch, but noted that as autumn nears, deciduous trees will shed their leaves and create a different problem.She said deciduous leaves tend to hold more moisture in the summer and can act as natural barrier for ground fires, but as the leaves dry and tumble from their branches, they can act as fuel for smouldering ground fires.“We’ll be watching that in case it kicks up additional surface ground fires and have crews respond to that,” she said, adding she expected firefighters would have another few weeks left before that could become a problem.Several evacuation alerts in the area were rescinded on Aug. 31, though further evacuation orders and alerts in the area will remain in effect.On Sunday, an alert issued for 872 properties by the district of Fort St. James, a municipality due northeast of the wildfire, was fully rescinded.Allen said there is no longer a threat to any structures near the Shovel Lake wildfire and Fort St. James, and that while the wildfire service could confirm the blaze was man-made, the exact cause of the fire was still under investigation by the Prince George Fire Centre.An area restriction for public safety will remain in place for the wildfire near Shovel Lake until at least noon on Sept. 15.— By Spencer Harwood in Vancouver (follow him on Twitter @SpenceHarwood)last_img read more

Continue reading »

Cities make power play for new fiscal order with eye to 2019

first_imgOTTAWA – Canada’s cities believe they will finally land easier and direct access to federal dollars in next year’s budget, or at least wrest a platform pledge from parties in the 2019 election.A pre-budget submission from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities asks the Liberals to end the buffet of application-based programs, and instead put the money into predetermined, annual payment programs.If Finance Minister Bill Morneau doesn’t answer the request in his 2019 budget, the federation is vowing to make their financial concerns an election issue and says it has willing ears from opposition parties.“Everyone is very interested and I feel we can get some important gains in the election of 2019,” FCM president Vicki-May Hamm said in an interview this week.Municipal officials also believe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter to Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, released in late August, gives their argument a boost. Trudeau ordered Champagne to talk with provinces and territories about ways to “address the timeliness of the flow of funds” to projects.Champagne will meet with his provincial and territorial counterparts this week in Halifax, and his office said the new marching orders will form part of the agenda.Infrastructure spending is regularly subject to delays because dollars don’t flow to projects until cities and provinces submit expense receipts, which often creates a lag between when work takes place and when federal money is spent.“This has made it a challenge to account for project activity in real time or close to it,” Champagne spokeswoman Kate Monfette said in an email.“We want to change that and with the new mandate from the prime minister, we will be working with our partners to do so.”The federation’s pre-election push happens against the backdrop of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s threat to use the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause after a judge struck down his government’s bid to shrink the number of councillors weeks ahead of a municipal election.Although Ford backed down from the plan — an appeals court stayed the earlier decision this week — the FCM’s board of directors used the moment to publicly call for a “mature and modern conversation” among federal leaders “about how to strengthen municipal autonomy.”How cities get federal cash is high on that list.For years, cities have relied on a smattering of short-term federal programs to fund local work and services to ease the burden carried by the local tax base.“It’s really hard for municipalities to (not) have stable, predictable funding and to be able to work on the long-term investment plan,” Hamm said.The Liberals changed some of that with the introduction of their decade-long infrastructure program, which allocates $180 billion in government spending by province and project type to provide cities with some long-term planning ability.The money still flows through provinces, and municipalities see that as a fiscal — and federally, a constitutional — hiccup to a smooth flow of funds to address a backlog of infrastructure needs.“Our progress is constrained by an inadequate and outdated fiscal framework,” the FCM writes in the pre-budget submission, a copy of which was provided to The Canadian Press.“With this fiscal limitation, municipalities will continue to rely deeply on variable investment programs for other orders of government. Respecting our constitutional framework doesn’t mean we can’t innovate within it.”Hamm pointed to the gas tax fund that provides money directly to cities each year as the kind of thing the FCM is looking for in a new fiscal blueprint.— Follow @jpress on Twitterlast_img read more

Continue reading »

Prairie ticket takes Friday nights 60 million Lotto Max jackpot

first_imgTORONTO – This should be a weekend to remember for a very lucky person, or persons, on the Prairies.That’s where the lone winning ticket for Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot was sold.The exact location has yet to be revealed.The draw also offered 56 Maxmillions prizes of $1 million each — and 27 of them were won.Those prizes will be shared amongst 36 winning ticket holders.The jackpot for the next Lotto Max draw on Nov. 2 will be approximately $39 million.last_img

Continue reading »

Mourners pay respects to former premier Bernard Landry at Quebec legislature

first_imgQUEBEC — Mourners in Quebec City braved a fall snowstorm on Saturday to pay their respects to former premier Bernard Landry as his body in lay in state at the provincial legislature.By 1 p.m., some 400 citizens and dignitaries had already stopped by to express their condolences to the family of the former Parti Quebecois leader, who died Tuesday at the age of 81 of a pulmonary disease.One by one, the mourners shook hands with Landry’s spouse, Chantal Renaud, who was dressed in black.In addition to Renaud, Landry leaves behind three children from a previous marriage.Landry’s daughter Pascale thanked the visitors, saying the wave of public affection that has followed her father’s death has helped the family to grieve.“It comforts us enormously,” she said.Landry’s casket arrived early in the morning, draped in a blue-and-white Quebec flag and accompanied by a police procession.Premier Francois Legault was among the first to pay his respects alongside his wife, Isabelle Brais.Afterwards, Legault described Landry as “a man of duty” who always put Quebec first.“Mr. Landry often said it: ‘the party before the men, the state before the party.’ And I have seen him often apply these two sentences in practice,” Legault said.“For him, it was always important to put the common good before the partisan interest.”Landry was a prominent figure in Quebec’s sovereignty movement for half a century, and served as the province’s premier from 2001 to 2003.The Parti Quebecois’ interim leader Pascal Berube said he hopes the politician’s death would be a rallying cry for all those who dream of an independent Quebec.“The best tribute we can pay him is to be faithful to his commitment, to be faithful to the dream of youth he had for Quebec, and that we continue to carry,” he said. Another visitation will take place Monday at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica, ahead of a state funeral on Tuesday. Jocelyne Richer, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Continue reading »

Canadas Gabriela Dabrowski books spot in Wimbledon doubles final

first_imgWIMBLEDON, England —  Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan of China advanced to the Wimbledon women doubles final with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over defending champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova on Friday.The fourth-seeded team of Dabrowski and Xu will face either No. 1 seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic or No. 3 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova in Saturday’s final.It will be the first women’s doubles appearance in a Grand Slam final for Dabrowski and Xu. Dabrowski has won two Grand Slam titles in mixed doubles.Dabrowski and Xu dominated the first set before the second-seeded Czech tandem of Krejcikova and Siniakova rallied in the second. The Czechs converted their third set point at 5-3 after a Siniakova volley forced a long error by Dabrowski.Dabrowski and Xu got off to a strong start in the third set, then overcame three break points to take a 4-1 lead. The duo then held serve and won on the third match point.last_img read more

Continue reading »

Celebrity Mothers Who Make A Difference To Be Honored

first_imgLove Our Children USA has announced the recipients of the Eighth Annual Mothers Who Make A Difference Awards.May 12th is Mother’s Day. It’s a time we celebrate Mothers not just for their love and nurturing, but their selfless acts and their ability to give to others.It’s also a time when violence against children affects over 3 million children and when bullying and suicides are at an all-time high.Love Our Children USA takes pride in announcing the recipients of the Eighth Annual Mothers Who Make A Difference Awards, recognizing celebrity mothers for balancing motherhood, work and causes.This year’s winners are celebrity moms Sandra Bullock, Sheryl Crow and Marie Osmond. These three incredible moms take on vital issues, giving of themselves to better the lives of others, still balancing their work and parenting!Ross Ellis, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Love Our Children USA said “We are thrilled to honor three mothers who are not only noted celebrities, but they are three selfless and caring women who contribute so much to their children and families, their careers, society and to causes.“At a time when our country’s youth are plagued by bullying, cyberbullying, Internet dangers, school violence and suicide; these mothers serve as role models to mothers everywhere — making children their first priority.”The 2013 Mothers Who Make A Difference include: Sandra BullockSandra Bullock is an Academy Award-winning actress who rose to fame after roles in such hit films such asSpeed, Hope Floats, While You Were Sleeping, Miss Congeniality and Crash to name a few. She won a Golden Globe for Best Actress and a SAG Award for her role in the movie The Blind Side.Bullock is the mother of Louis Bardo Bullock who she adopted in 2010. Sandra Bullock continues to balance life between being a mom, filming movies as one of the most popular actresses in our country and in her humanitarian efforts. Her philanthropic efforts include the adoption of the Warren Easton High School in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. She has contributed funds for college scholarships for graduating seniors, band uniforms, athletic equipment and has helped fund the renovation to the auditorium and the construction of a school-based health clinic. Sandra Bullock has been a public supporter of the American Red Cross, the Liberty Disaster Relief Fund, the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunamis, the Haiti Earthquake, the 2011 Japan Earthquake and the oil spill in the 
Gulf of Mexico. She was awarded with the People’s Choice 2013 “Favorite Humanitarian Award.” Sheryl CrowSheryl Crow is a Grammy Award-winning musician, singer-songwriter, record producer, actress, mother and political activist. She has released seven studio albums, two compilations, a live album, and has contributed to a number of film soundtracks. Having sold more than 17 million albums in the US and over 50 million albums worldwide, Crow has garnered nine Grammy Awards (out of thirty-two nominations).Pursuing her dream of becoming a mother, she adopted Wyatt Steven Crow in May, 2007, and in June, 2010 adopted son Levi James Crow. Sheryl Crow and her sons live on a farm outside Nashville, Tennessee.A breast cancer survivor, Sheryl Crow is no stranger to giving back. She supports numerous children’s and cancer organizations, and performed at a fundraiser to help build Canada’s largest Breast Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Hospital, as well as a fundraiser with Sting to support the hospital’s expanding High Risk Mothers and Babies centre. She has been inspired by the work of the World Food Programme and encourages her fans to make donations to this non-profit organization. She performed at a concert as part of the All-Star Game festivities, helping to raise money for the cancer charity, Stand Up To Cancer, and has continued to show her dedication to environmental causes. Politically active, Crow has supported Rock the Vote’s youth registration drive. 
 Marie OsmondMarie Osmond a member of the show business family The Osmonds is a singer, actress, doll designer and mother.She gained success as a solo country music artist in the 1970s and 1980s. Beginning with her national debut at age three on The Andy Williams Show, Marie has proven to be a resilient talent with a magnetic presence recognized across generations. Entertaining for five continuous decades is a rare accomplishment, achieved by very few women. Her best known song is a cover of the country pop ballad “Paper Roses.” From 1976 to 1979, she and her singer brother Donny Osmond hosted the TV variety show Donny & Marie. As a recording artist with over 35 albums and numerous gold records, a standout career highlight was a Country Music Association’s “Vocal Duo of the Year” Award for “Meet Me In Montana.”The mother of eight children, Marie Osmond has a lot to balance and does it well. She has written books, performed on Broadway and in television movies, performed on Dancing With The Stars, and for over 18 years has received the Dolls of Excellence and Doll of the Year Awards and nominations; making her one of the top doll designers in the world. Marie Osmond Dolls is the top selling line of dolls in QVC. Despite her fame, Marie remains devoted to her family.Along with actor John Schneider, she co-founded the non-profit organization Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) in 1983. The CMN is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals around the world. She also supports the Gibson Girl Foundation, the MedicAlert Foundation and the Annual Celebrity STOMP Out Bullying Auction. Marie also serves as a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and “Go Red for Women.”The winners will receive crystal heart awards designed specifically for Love Our Children USA by the illustrious crystal designers FineAwards.com. We congratulate them and all mothers who make a difference and wish them a very Happy Mothers’ Day.last_img read more

Continue reading »