New Delhi: Special Cell of Delhi Police on Friday said that they recovered about 130 kilograms of soaked and dried heroin being imported under the cover of a basil seed consignment from a container in Navi Mumbai.The consignment originated from Islam Qila, Herat, Afghanistan and took the sea-route to Mumbai via Bandar Abbas in Iran. Two people, a Delhi-based man and a Kandahari Afghan national were arrested during the raids. Total recoveries in ongoing operation now exceed 330 kilograms with a street value of about Rs 1,320 crores. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderPolice identified the accused as Tifal Nau Khez who is believed to be the kingpin of the drug cartel and Ahmad Shah Alokozai a native of Kandahar, Afghanistan. Deputy Commissioner of Police (special cell) Manishi Chandra said that after the arrest of one Ahmad Shah, based upon his revelations, a team was dispatched to Mumbai to search for a suspected cargo which was lying somewhere in the vast JNPT Nhava Sheva area of Navi Mumbai. “The team conducted a thorough search at the Customs Bonded area in Maharashtra. A container which was imported by the arrested accused through his contacts in Mumbai from the Bandar Abbas port of Iran was found containing about 260 Jute Bags with Basil seeds,” said DCP Chandra. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsDCP special cell further said that on opening the jute bags, it was found to contain another jute bag covered with thin white colour polythene layering. The inner jute bag covered with thin white colour polythene was found containing soaked and dried Afghan Heroin. Each bag has approximately 500 gms of pure raw heroin. On the directions of his handlers based in Afghanistan, Tifal Nau Khez had setup a reconstitution factory at a flat in Zakir Nagar. He was the one who oversaw all the operations from reconstitution to delivery of processed Heroin in Punjab on the directions of Afghan-based drug lord Haji. Alokozai is living in Delhi for the past few years under the cover of wholesale dry fruits dealer. “This time he was given the of handling the consignment of Basil seeds from Mumbai port. This consignment was also sent by druglord Haji, this time through sea route,” said DCP Cell.
NEW DELHI: The sword of sealing keeps dangling on lakhs of premises in Delhi over their alleged illegal use for commercial purposes in residential areas, because of which there is continued anxiety and uncertainty among the affected people. The issue has major political implications as the livelihood of millions is linked to the sealing drive ordered by a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee.With the Delhi Development Authority planning to unveil the Master Plan for Delhi 2041 for public scrutiny and feedback, there are expectations that it would bring some clarity on the use of premises for commercial purposes. Traders in Delhi have recently called for a campaign against the sealing drive, terming it absolutely arbitrary. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderThe Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), reportedly said in a statement, that the monitoring committee was behaving in an arbitrary manner and was not accepting the amendments made to the Master Plan of Delhi by the Centre. Rajiv Kakria, Convenor Save our City campaign, said, “There was no clarity on mixed land use in master plan 2021. Hundreds of amendments have been made since its rollout, many are pending before the courts specifically in connection with commercial activities in residential areas. This technically means if MPD 2021 is not cleared by the top, why would DDA roll out another master plan.” The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) recently moved the top court to de-seal some of the properties, citing fulfilment of norms under the Master Plan 2021, amended and notified by the Centre in June 2018. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsAccording to a source in SDMC, due to pendency of matters in court, traders end up suffering despite amendments in the master plan as municipal authorities are bound to comply with court orders. Puneet Sharma, advocate-on-record in Supreme Court, said, “the master plan 2041 should detail out clarity on mixed land use, and shield it as much as possible from legal scrutiny. Currently, basement (of a premises) is allowed for storage activities, the MPD 2041 should allow commercial activities in the basement in addition to storage.” Nearly 6,000 shops have been sealed so far due to the ongoing sealing drive in the city. During and after the general election, the pace of the sealing drive has been reduced, but it is still ongoing. Many basements in Green Park and Defence Colony have already been sealed as they were found carrying out commercial activities.
Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has suspended IPS officer N. Kolanchi, who was posted as Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) in Bulandshahr. Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Avanish Awasthi said on Sunday that Kolanchi was found guilty of irregularities in postings of Station House Officers (SHO) in the district which led to corruption charges. The irregularities were found during a review meeting of the district and the Chief Minister has asked the Director General of Police (DGP), O.P. Singh to carry out a detailed investigation into the matter. “Two SHOs were appointed within a week at the same police station and another was transferred within 33 days,” said Awasthi. Meanwhile, SSP Chandauli Santosh Kumar Singh has been replaced Kolanchi, while Hemant Kutiyal will be the new Superintendent of Police of Chandauli.
Kandy: Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga on Friday became the first bowler in Twenty20 internationals to claim 100 wickets, achieving the feat in the third match against New Zealand in Kandy. Malinga, who surpassed Pakistan spinner Shahid Afridi’s tally of 97 scalps to become the leading T20 wicket-taker on Sunday, bowled Colin Munro to get a century of wickets in his 76th match. The 36-year-old speedster went on to complete a hat-trick and took four wickets in four balls. Hamish Rutherford, Colin de Grandhomme and Ross Taylor followed Munro to the pavilion.
Chennai: The Madras High Court has directed the prosecution to produce a copy of a lower court order transferring the cases against Karti Chidambaram to a special court designated to deal with cases involving MPs and MLAs. Justice PD Audikesavalu gave the directive on Monday while hearing a petition against the transfer to the special court the criminal prosecution initiated by I-T Department against Karti and his wife Srinidhi pending before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Egmore. The judge then posted the matter after a week. When the matter came up, a counter affidavit was filed by the Registrar General of the high court, justifying the transfer of cases. The Registrar General, in the counter, said, the transfer of cases were made according to the orders of Supreme Court on September 12, 2018 and the offences alleged to have been committed by the petitioners are classified under section 279 A of Income Tax Act.” He said the penal provision for which the petitioners were charged provides for an imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend up to seven years with fine. The counter further said the EOW court in the cadre of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate does not have exclusive jurisdiction to try cases relating to violations of Income Tax Act. It said the impugned transfer of the case to special Court in deference to the directions issued by the Supreme Court does not suffer from any legal infirmity as contended by the petitioners. Senior counsel ARL Sunderesan, appearing for Karthi, submitted they were served with the copy of the circular of Registrar General only but not with the copy of the order passed by the magistrate concerned transferring the cases to the special court. “If the copy of the order of magistrate is served only then we will come to know whether the transfer was made on the basis of high court circular or as per the Supreme Court order,” Sunderesan said.
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s Liberals and Progressive Conservatives both promised millions for highways and rural roads on the first full day of the provincial election campaign Monday, while the NDP promised millions more to improve access to health care.Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil announced an extra $240 million over four years in infrastructure spending, while Tory Leader Jamie Baillie promised a $2-billion Rebuild Nova Scotia Fund, which relies on half the money coming from Ottawa.Baillie said a Tory government would not go into deficit to come up with its $1-billion share of the fund.He said the fund would be used to twin “Nova Scotia’s most dangerous highways,” build a new Victoria General hospital and bring high-speed Internet to rural areas.“It is my expectation that it will create 10,000 jobs over the 10-year period that we renew our infrastructure,” he said, flanked by workers at an insulation manufacturing plant in Dartmouth.Baillie said his plan would twin more highway kilometres than the Liberal proposal, and includes other safety measures on untwinned sections of the highways.The money would also go toward creating an environmental reclamation and community enhancement fund.Baillie also suggested the newly amalgamated Nova Scotia Health Authority may come under scrutiny to make it operate more efficiently and save money, saying he would provide more details when the party releases its platform.“There’s no Nova Scotian out there that is telling that this new Nova Scotia Health Authority is delivering services either more efficiently or better,” he said. “We’ve actually created more layers of administration, not less.”McNeil said the Liberals would spend $50 million a year on new schools and improvements to main streets, and an extra $10 million a year to improve the province’s gravel roads. The gravel road commitment would add to the $10 million a year already pledged earlier this spring.The work for gravel roads is much needed and long overdue, he said.“There’s no question there has been a level of neglect,” said McNeil. “With the lack of ditching, water is unable to move away … and then we’ve had traffic than has run over top of them, which has rutted them up and worn them down. It will take a complete rebuild.”McNeil also re-announced a Liberal pledge last week to spend $390 million to twin three sections of 100 series highways and to build a new four-lane connector between Bedford and Burnside. The money would also be used for safety improvements to highways across the province.McNeil said the infrastructure spending would also create thousands of jobs, although a specific figure wasn’t provided.The new funding is over and above what was included in the province’s capital plan and the projections were part of last Thursday’s budget, although it wasn’t highlighted at the time by the government.“We see now that they are promising something that was not immediately apparent in the numbers they put forward,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “That’s the trouble you get when you present as they have a non-budget, budget.”Meanwhile, the NDP made a major pledge of its own, saying $120 million would be committed over four years to build new primary care clinics and to hire more doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners.Burrill said an NDP government would work collaboratively with family doctors to determine what resources are needed in various communities.Although he pointed to Statistics Canada figures that indicate about 100,000 people are without a family doctor, Burrill wouldn’t make promises about how much his party’s pledge would reduce current shortages.“On the basis of the numbers we have been able to access, it seems to us that $30 million a year would take us a serious way down the road to significantly grappling with this problem,” he said.Nova Scotians will go the polls May 30.
TORONTO – Ontario’s top court sharply rebuked a prominent judge on Thursday for repeatedly failing to explain why she had acquitted a man accused of beating and sexually assaulting a woman.In setting aside the acquittal and ordering the man face a new trial, the Appeal Court expressed dismay at the conduct displayed by Superior Court Justice Susanne Goodman.“Our order directing a new trial is a terrible result for everyone involved in this proceeding,” Justice David Doherty wrote for the court. “The trial judge’s failure to give reasons, despite her repeated promises to do so, has frustrated the proper administration of justice.”In a post-script to the decision, the Appeal Court said the judge had displayed similar behaviour in the past.“Nor is this the first time that this trial judge’s failure to provide reasons has required this court to order a new trial,” the Appeal Court said. “It must be the last time.”Roslyn Levine, a spokeswoman for Superior Court Chief Justice Forster Smith, told The Canadian Press that it would not be appropriate to contact the Toronto-based judge directly.“As this matter is now before the Canadian Judicial Council, it would be inappropriate for Chief Justice Smith to comment on it,” Levine said.The new issue arose after Goodman dismissed all charges against Stanislaw Sliwka in March last year. He was charged after a distressed woman, who can only be identified as A.C., called 911 from an apartment in March 2014.Police were “horrified” to find A.C. had been badly beaten and needed immediate medical assistance, court records show. Her injuries included severe bruising, swelling, numerous cuts, and bleeding to her face and head.During a nine-day trial, A.C. accused Sliwka of repeatedly physically and sexually assaulting her over many months when she lived with him. He denied the assaults. Instead, he called her a drunk who sometimes hurt herself when she fell. He also blamed her injuries on an unknown intruder that had broken into the apartment. His evidence contradicted police testimony.At the end of the trial, Goodman acquitted him, saying she had carefully considered the matter. She said she did not intend the acquittal to be taken as sign she totally believed him or totally disbelieved A.C., but said that on the whole, she was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of his guilt.“My detailed written reasons will be released on Monday, March 14, 2016,” Goodman said.However, Goodman, who has sat on the court since 2000, failed to release her reasons as promised. Over the following six months, prosecution lawyers repeatedly asked for them, only to be told by Goodman’s assistant that they would be forthcoming on a particular date. It never happened.When the prosecution wrote directly to Goodman last September to say the Crown would argue the appeal should go ahead on the basis that there were no written reasons for the acquittal, the judge simply didn’t respond.At an appeal hearing this month, the prosecution argued the brief comments Goodman made at trial weren’t intended to explain her decision and didn’t count as reasons. As such, they said, the not-guilty verdict had to be overturned.Sliwka argued in response that Goodman’s brief comments were adequate, and that her decision was properly based on trial evidence. The Appeal Court disagreed.“There is no way of knowing how the trial judge arrived at her verdicts,” Doherty wrote.In 2011, the Appeal Court ordered a new trial for a man charged with a weapons offence because Goodman took 25 months to deliver her ruling. In February, the court ordered a new hearing for woman challenging her detention order because Goodman had failed to deliver reasons for keeping her behind bars.
CALGARY – Calgary police have identified two of three people found dead in a burned-out car at a suburban construction site and are asking for the public’s help in tracking down the vehicle’s owner.Police say the bodies of Glynnis Fox, who was 36, and 25-year-old Cody Pfeiffer were discovered after firefighters extinguished an early-morning blaze on the northwestern edge of the city Monday.A third victim — a woman believed to be in her 30s — has been tentatively identified. Police were earlier trying to figure out where a photo she posted on social media early Monday was taken, but have since concluded it was about a year old.Acting Insp. Paul Wozney with the service’s major crimes section confirmed police are investigating the deaths as a triple homicide.He could not provide any details Tuesday about how or where they died.“It’s very, very early on in a very complex investigation,” he said.Investigators are also looking for information about the whereabouts of 26-year-old Hanock Afowerk, the registered owner of the black 2011 Chevrolet Cruze that was engulfed in flames.“We are concerned for his safety. We don’t know his role in this matter. We have been trying to track him down with no luck so far,” said Wozney, adding Afowerk’s family is aware police are looking for him.“We’re trying to piece together the hours leading up to this event so that we can determine who played what role in it and really, in Mr. Afowerk’s case, where he’s at and if he’s safe.”Wozney said Afowerk had a history with Calgary police, but declined to elaborate. No records about Afowerk came up in a search of court documents.Court records show Pfeiffer, one of the victims, had court dates coming up this month on charges of trespassing, failing to comply with probation, failing to appear in court, mischief damage under $5,000, breaching recognizance conditions and possession of a controlled substance.In recent years, he also pleaded guilty to and was sentenced to jail time for offences including assault, mischief, possession of stolen property and trafficking a controlled substance.Someone called 911 early Monday to report a fire next to the wooden frame of a townhome under construction in a new subdivision in the Sage Hill neighbourhood.People in nearby homes said they awoke to bangs and sirens early Monday. Firefighters did not know anyone was inside the car until the flames were extinguished.The blaze left a big black scorch mark on the outer wall of the unfinished structure.
OTTAWA – Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr defended on Tuesday his government’s ability to get major resource projects moving, saying the government has approved a number of proposals and it’s up to their proponents to get them built.Carr was speaking at the end of a meeting of federal and provincial energy ministers in New Brunswick, where TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project was an unofficial topic of discussion.It has been almost a year since the first round of National Energy Board hearings on Energy East collapsed after protesters shut down Montreal hearings and accused the panellists of bias in favour of the oil industry.In January the board started the whole review process from scratch and appointed a new, three-member panel to conduct the hearings. New hearings haven’t yet been scheduled as the NEB is still designing how the new hearing process will work.Energy East is a 4,500-km pipeline to carry 1.1 million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Montreal and New Brunswick. The project includes converting an existing natural gas pipeline to carry crude and building new segments of pipeline to complete the route.Carr said the government has now provided certainty to the review process.“We’ve given the NEB the resources it needs. We have appointed new commissioners. They’re in their midst now, we’ll wait until they make their recommendations. That’s restoring confidence among Canadians that the process is working.”He denied that the government’s requirement to balance the economics of oil and gas development with environmental protections and indigenous consultation was grinding things to a halt.He listed five projects the Liberal government approved or has supported since taking office, including the Pacific Northwest Liquefied Natural Gas pipeline and terminal in B.C., Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline expansion between Alberta and B.C., Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement, expanding TransCanada’s Nova Gas Transmission gathering system in Alberta and the Keystone pipeline proposal awaiting approval in the U.S.He said the government believes all of them are “good for Canada.”“We believe we made those decisions in the balance of interests for Canada,” he said. “We stand by those decisions. It’s now up to the proponents to determine the timing of construction and eventually what will flow through the infrastructure.”However three of the five projects he listed have either fallen apart or face significant hurdles.Earlier this summer, Malaysian energy giant Petronas pulled up stakes on its planned liquefied natural gas pipeline and terminal in British Columbia, citing poor market conditions.Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline expansion between Alberta and British Columbia was given the green light in the fall of 2016 and was supposed to start construction next month. However the new NDP government in B.C. moved last week to join legal challenges against the pipeline, after campaigning on a pledge to do whatever it took to stop the project.Nebraska is currently holding hearings to determine if it will allow Keystone to proceed across its territory.Battles over pipelines in Canada are largely at the provincial level. B.C. and Alberta are on opposite sides when it comes to the TransMountain project. Ontario and Quebec don’t support the Energy East pipeline, which is backed by Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.New Brunswick Energy Minister Rick Doucet said Energy East was on his mind at the meeting and he raised it with a number of his provincial colleagues.“This is a nation-builder. This pipeline is an opportunity for all of Canada and we all understand the importance of this project,” said Doucet.-follow @mrabson on Twitter.
EDMONTON – Terrorism experts say a poorly-planned attack in Edmonton may be have been inspired rather than directed by Islamic State militants, a type of attack that is difficult if not impossible to prevent.Police say a man in a car first ran down, then stabbed, an officer outside Commonwealth Stadium during an Edmonton Eskimos football game Saturday night before running away. A few hours later, police chased a suspect driving a U-Haul cube van as it struck four pedestrians downtown.The officer was not seriously injured but there was no word on the pedestrians. An Islamic State flag was found in the car that hit the officer. A 30-year-old man is in custody.“I’m not sure how you’re going to stop an attack of this nature,” said Phil Gurski, a threat consultant in Ottawa and former analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.Gurski said it’s clear the suspect wasn’t very smart since he handed a police officer his driver’s licence at a checkstop that connected him with the car that struck the officer, sparking the police chase.But he said such attacks are “unstoppable terrorism.”“It’s impossible to stop unless the person’s already on your radar,” said Gurski.Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson called the suspect a “lone wolf,” adding “random acts of sick people are difficult to anticipate.”Stephanie Carvin, a terrorism expert at Carleton University, said the attack looked unsophisticated.“It seems to have been carried out very badly (thankfully) so probably not a mastermind here, folks,” she said on Twitter. “But attacks against crowds and sports fans has been a HUGE fear in Canada over the last 18 months. This will not help that.”Edmonton’s mega mall and oil industry have raised concerns in the past that the Alberta capital might be a terrorist target.In 2015, the RCMP investigated a reported video from Al-Shabab that appeared to urge Muslims to attack shopping malls in western countries, including the West Edmonton Mall. Three years earlier, the federal government set up a counter-terrorism unit in the province to protect the energy industry from possible extremist attacks.Amarnath Amarasingam, an expert on extremism at the University of Waterloo, said the Edmonton attack appears to be a “fairly typical ISIS-inspired one,” although it may be difficult to confirm. The group has recently been sloppy about claiming credit for attacks and is also reluctant to do so when attackers are in custody, he said.The group has long called on followers to attack wherever in the world they may be, Amarasingam added.“Any Western city will do, whether in Europe or North America,” he said. “For them, it’s about sowing fear, turning communities against one another, and creating the impression that they are everywhere.”The leader of the Islamic State recently released an audio message reiterating the need for attacks in the west, especially on military members or police officers of NATO countries, said Edmonton security consultant David Jones.Jones said it wasn’t a coincidence the officer was stabbed outside the football stadium, which was also hosting a military appreciation night.Canada’s spy agency views terrorist acts at home as a “constant” threat, according to a briefing note prepared last November for Michel Coulombe, then-director of CSIS.“The principal terrorist threat to Canada remains that posed by violent extremists who are inspired to carry out an attack in Canada,” reads the document obtained by The Canadian Press under Access to Information legislation.“Terrorist activity can be sudden or spontaneous, or in some cases, take months or years in planning and logistics.”The document also said CSIS is studying “behavioural indicators” that suggest an individual is moving from holding extremist ideas to taking action — whether it’s travelling abroad, supporting others who plan to commit terrorist acts or plotting an attack in Canada or elsewhere.— With files from Andy Blatchford and Jim Bronskill in Ottawa
OTTAWA – After a year in captivity, Amanda Lindhout begged her mother during a frantic phone call to quickly come up with a hefty ransom because her Somalian abductors had started to torture her.In a recording of the September 2009 call played in court Wednesday, Lindhout told her mother, Lorinda Stewart, that she had been beaten while her legs and hands were tied. And she said her captors would abuse her every day until the money was paid.“You have to pay the money now. Where is the money?” a panicked Lindhout says.“Do you understand what they’re doing to me?”Lindhout was a freelance journalist from Red Deer, Alta., when she and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were seized near Mogadishu in August 2008 while working on a story. Both were released in November 2009.Ali Omar Ader, a 40-year-old Somali national, has pleaded not guilty in Ontario Superior Court to a criminal charge of hostage-taking for his alleged role.Upon hearing her daughter’s pleas from half a world away, Stewart tried to assure her she was doing her best to come up with the US$2 million the kidnappers were demanding for release of the pair.“Amanda, we love you,” she says. “We are trying so hard, Amanda. The government will not help us. We are selling everything we can.”By this point, Lindhout and Brennan’s families had managed to scrape together US$434,000 by selling vehicles, farm machinery and property.Stewart asked Ader several times to persuade “the group” to lower the amount demanded, telling him during a series of tense phone calls the families were not rich, there was no insurance money and the Canadian and Australian governments would not pay a ransom as a matter of policy.“You are making our family suffer,” Stewart says during one call.“You need to come down. We don’t have that money.”Ader replies: “What we want is to get that money, and that money is $2 million.”Stewart then asks Ader, “What does Allah think about what you do?”Ader remains unswayed. “We need $2 million.”Stewart insisted to Ader she was not lying or playing games with him.“We want our children home and we are doing the best we can,” she says. “How can I get money that I don’t have?”Ader sat expressionless in the prisoner’s box, his ankles shackled, as he listened to the eight-year-old recordings.He was arrested by the RCMP in Ottawa in June 2015. It emerged during pre-trial motions last spring that the Mounties had lured Ader to Canada with a scheme to sign a supposed book-publishing deal.The Crown says Ader admitted to undercover investigators on two occasions that he was the negotiator in the kidnapping and that he was paid $10,000.Lindhout broke down during testimony last week, describing her abduction by a gang of armed men in masks as the beginning of 460 days of hell.— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
OTTAWA – Canada and its Korean War allies will sit down in Vancouver next week to mull ways to tighten the screws on North Korea — including whether to intercept North Korean shipping.U.S. State Department officials confirmed that China and Russia were not invited to Tuesday’s meeting, which Canada is co-hosting with the U.S. in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests.Instead, only those countries that deployed troops as part of the United Nations during the Korean War between 1950 and 1953 have been invited to participate in the discussions, which China has blasted as “Cold War thinking.”More than 25,000 Canadians served as part of UN Command during the war, of which 516 died. Canada was one of 17 countries to contribute troops to the UN force.The Vancouver meeting is expected to put a heavy emphasis on finding ways to crack down on the many smuggling and money-laundering schemes that Pyongyang has employed to sidestep sanctions and pay for its nuclear program.The Trudeau government has provided little information in the days leading up to the Vancouver summit, despite being a co-host, and appears to be instead consumed with the threat of a trade war with the U.S.But Brian Hook, director of policy for U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said the plan is to come up with concrete ways that Washington and its allies can strengthen the “maximum-pressure campaign” on North Korea.One of the options to be discussed, he said, would be naval interdiction to stop North Korean smuggling.“We will be discussing with our partners and allies the kind of steps that we can take on maritime interdiction and to be disrupting funding and disrupting resources,” Hook said during a briefing in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.“And maritime interdiction helps us to disrupt resources and then the financial side helps us to disrupt the financing of their nuclear and missile program.”Western security officials have accused Russia and China of exporting oil to North Korea in recent months, which would be a violation of UN sanctions.Both countries have denied the charges, but the reports have nonetheless put a spotlight on the importance of maritime trade and smuggling to the North Korean government’s continued survival and weapons development.Any agreement on naval action against North Korean shipping could result in the deployment of Canadian warships and other naval vessels into the area, and is certain to spark anger and threats from Pyongyang.But it could also put Canada, the U.S. and their allies at further odds with China, which has opposed the Vancouver meeting and warned that it will hurt — not help — efforts to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea.“The current situation in the Korean Peninsula is very complicated and sensitive,” Chinese foreign ministry Lu Kang said this week, according to a transcript from the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa.“All parties should work to defuse tensions and promote dialogue, rather than blindly resort to pressure and isolation.”Hook, meanwhile, defended the decision not to invite China and Russia to Vancouver, which State Department under-secretary Steven Goldstein later said was made in conjunction with Canada.Some have questioned what progress can be made without two of North Korea’s most important neighbours, but Hook said the meeting was not intended to replace other efforts involving China and Russia.“This ministerial will enhance and strengthen all of the efforts underway to achieve our policy goals,” he said.“China has the same policy goal in terms of ensuring that North Korea does not become a nuclear-weapons state and acquire the means to deliver a nuclear warhead.”The meeting comes as North and South Korean officials have held their first talks in several years, raising fresh hopes that a diplomatic solution to the crisis can be achieved.But while Canada and the U.S. have welcomed the Korean discussions, Hook said they were unlikely to change the agenda of the Vancouver meeting or result in a short-term softening of sanctions.“We believe that the North Koreans are starting to feel the bite of a global pressure campaign,” he said.— Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.
WINNIPEG – A commissioner who investigated the death of a girl who died after falling through the cracks of Manitoba’s child-welfare system says he is disappointed the province still hasn’t replaced the aging computers used to track children.Ted Hughes, who led the inquiry into the 2005 death of Phoenix Sinclair, said his final report made it clear that the decades-old child and family services information network needed to be replaced “without delay.”“I know it’s expensive, but the system needs the link where everything is available, and everyone is part of the system,” Hughes said in an interview from Victoria, B.C.It’s been more than four years since the inquiry issued its final report into the death of five-year-old Phoenix, who had spend stints in foster care before being killed by her mother and stepfather. The inquiry found “protection of children requires a reliable and up-to-date information management system.”The computer network — created in 1993 and moved online in 2006 — has been plagued with problems, including issues with poor internet service, missing information on caseloads (partly because of non-compliance from some child and welfare authorities) and inaccurate data.The former NDP government announced in 2008, 2012 and again in 2014 that the system would be replaced.But the old computers are still in use. The Conservative government says it won’t consider anything new during an ongoing “transformation of child and family services,” which includes a review of applicable legislation.Daphne Penrose, Manitoba’s children’s advocate, said a new computer system is needed to adapt to changes during the child welfare overhaul.“Any computer system, even a new system, is going to have to upgrade as our province and legislation changes to respond to the differing needs of the communities and what we are seeing here in Manitoba,” she said.Any database also needs to have accurate, culturally appropriate information, she said. There are about 11,000 children in care in Manitoba and almost 90 per cent are Indigenous. The province has one of the highest apprehension rates in Canada.Child welfare in Manitoba has been criticized for years, most recently following the 2014 death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, whose body was found in the Red River after she ran away from a hotel where she was being housed.First Nations leaders have expressed concerns about the centralized database in the past, especially concerning what information is shared and with whom.“The current system is not working for our families,” said Cora Morgan, children’s advocate with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. “It is just a measurement and it’s a way for them to be able to track our families.”The province says it is meeting with Indigenous communities for ideas.Morgan said she’d like a new, separate system where information is owned, shared and monitored by First Nations. Currently, families that are listed can’t see what’s there or challenge it, even though the details can have an impact on their entire lives, she said.“It’s a seriously flawed system.”
OTTAWA – Canada’s national annual inflation rate was 2.2 per cent in February, Statistics Canada says. The agency also released rates for major cities, but cautioned that figures may have fluctuated widely because they are based on small statistical samples (previous month in brackets):— St. John’s, N.L.: 1.6 per cent (1.0)— Charlottetown-Summerside: 2.9 (1.7)— Halifax: 2.1 (1.3)— Saint John, N.B.: 2.7 (1.8)— Quebec: 1.3 (1.1)— Montreal: 1.7 (1.6)— Ottawa: 2.2 (1.9)— Toronto: 2.6 (2.4)— Thunder Bay, Ont.: 1.6 (1.2)— Winnipeg: 2.2 (1.9)— Regina: 3.0 (2.6)— Saskatoon: 2.9 (2.6)— Edmonton: 2.3 (1.5)— Calgary: 2.2 (1.4)— Vancouver: 3.3 (2.7)— Victoria: 2.1 (1.5)
HALIFAX — Efforts to create regional licensing for health care professionals in Atlantic Canada could be the vanguard for similar changes nationally, a leading advocate says.The four East Coast premiers called this week for common licensing for doctors, nurses and other health professionals, saying allowing them to easily move between provinces would improve people’s access to care.The registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dr. Linda Inkpen, said work has actually been underway for a year to align licensing regimes in Atlantic Canada.Inkpen, who is also president of the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada, said the regional work is an offshoot of an issue that has been on the national radar for at least a decade as issues around internal trade gained prominence.She said the issue has gained added impetus over the last few years.“Anything that we can do that enhances mobility of our physicians helps directly and indirectly the public and the patients whom we exist to serve,” said Inkpen.At the national level, Inkpen said ongoing talks have been focused on two areas — the streamlining of regular licensing for fully licensed doctors with no disciplinary history, and to help free up locum physicians, who move from province-to-province for fill-in work.“We are hopeful … that we will have come to an agreement if not in all colleges across Canada, certainly in some colleges, so that we can make that process a little easier for our physicians,” she said.Inkpen concedes it will take longer to get some form of agreement nationally, however, she believes something can be in place in Atlantic Canada sooner.“It’s going to take a little bit longer but we are talking months, we’re not talking years,” she said. “We are talking I would say within 12 months.”The national work is more complicated and will require “more than the colleges to sort it out” Inkpen said. She said provinces and territories will need to get more involved, because colleges are governed by 13 different pieces of legislation.Atlantic Canada’s premiers want to see movement to improve mobility across a range of professions.But they believe it’s especially important for health care workers such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists, given the region faces challenges posed by an aging population and higher-than-average incidences of chronic diseases.Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said it’s part of the puzzle to improve access to primary care in his province, where many people don’t have a family doctor.“One of the biggest complaints that we’ve heard around the whole process is how difficult it is to be allowed to practice in the province,” he said. “We want to provide some consistency within the region, and I would argue once we are able to do that it will probably go national.”Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, said she has talked to a nurse in Alberta who wants to move east, but has been waiting for three months for a temporary licence.“I’m not sure why sometimes it takes so long,” said Hazelton of the time period it can take to work in another province.She points to Ontario, where she says registered nurses are currently being laid off.“They are laying off registered nurses and we (Nova Scotia) can’t hire enough. But if it’s going to take them three months to get a licence then that’s a deterrent.”She said harmonized and streamlined licensing would also help nurses who live in border areas and have to pay twice if they want to work in both provinces: “That’s a lot of money.”Dr. Sheila Marchant-Short, registrar for the College of Registered Nurses of Prince Edward Island, said the issue has the attention of national nursing bodies, and there are “certainly benefits to figuring something out.”“As an Atlantic group we haven’t had a really fulsome discussion yet,” she said. “So we will in a response to the Atlantic premiers, but we aren’t there yet.”Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Three people are dead in northern B.C. and there is a major search stretching across Western Canada for two teens police say are suspects. Here’s a timeline of events:July 15 — The bodies of a man and a woman are found near a blue van on the Alaska Highway, also known as Highway 97, near Liard Hot Springs.July 17 — RCMP say the deaths are suspicious.July 18 — RCMP announce Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and American Chynna Deese, 24, are victims of a double homicide. Meanwhile, in Jade City, B.C., Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are spotted in a store where they stopped for free coffee. Jade City is about 350 kilometres from where the two bodies were found.July 19 — Police announce the body of a man has been found two kilometres from a burned-out truck belonging to McLeod and Schmegelsky near Dease Lake, B.C. The two teens are missing. Dease Lake is about 470 kilometres from the first crime scene.July 21 — McLeod and Schmegelsky are spotted in Meadow Lake, Sask.July 22 — Mounties say Fowler and Deese were shot. They release composite sketches of a man seen speaking with the couple on the highway where they were found dead and a sketch of the unidentified man found dead near the burned truck. Fowler’s father, an Australian police inspector, pleads for the public’s help in the investigation.July 23 — RCMP announce Schmegelsky and McLeod are now suspects in the three deaths. They release photos of the young men and a 2011 grey Toyota Rav 4 they may be driving. Fox Lake Cree Nation says a burned-out vehicle is found near Gillam in northern Manitoba. Police search that area.July 24 — Manitoba RCMP confirm the burned-out vehicle near Gillam is the Toyota Rav 4 the suspects are believed to have been driving. The Canadian Press
To mark the second International Day of the Girl Child on Friday, UNICEF highlighted the power of innovation to get more girls in school and improve the quality of learning for all children.Despite the decreasing number of girls out of school, too many around the world are still denied a quality education and a chance to reach their full potential. Evidence shows that even a single year of secondary school for a girl correlates with as much as a 25 percent increase in her future earnings. But today, millions of girls are still out of school, including 31 million elementary school-aged girls.“Education can transform the lives of girls and strengthen their communities,” said Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF. “Innovation can help us reach every girl by transforming education,”With its partners, UNICEF is exploring how technology can increase access to education for out-of-school girls and improve the quality of learning for every child.In South Africa, for example, the TechnoGirls partnership between UNICEF, the government, and more than 100 private sector companies is connecting 10,000 adolescent girls with mentors from the tech sector to boost their skills and job readiness.Innovation is also helping governments and their partners to reach the hardest to reach children who are at the greatest risk of being out of school. In Uganda, EduTrack is using text messaging to connect students and schools with UNICEF, enabling them to report on learning, teacher quality, and violence in schools.Innovation is not only about technology. It can mean embracing new ways to overcome other barriers that keep girls out of school, like improving sanitary facilities and keeping girls safe as they walk to and from school.“Innovation is giving us powerful new tools to reach and teach more girls than ever before,” said Lake. “To help more girls go to school, stay in school, and complete their learning, we need to keep learning ourselves, using these new tools, generating new ideas, and scaling up the most promising innovations.”UNICEF observed the International Day of the Girl Child with a series of events. These included a Google Hangout with students at the International School of Brooklyn and Anthony Lake to discuss girls’ education, and the unveiling of a unique interactive billboard by award-winning actress Freida Pinto that enables viewers to “erase” the image of child factory workers, revealing a hidden image of students in the classroom.Together with Intel, UNICEF conducted a Code for Good Hackathon, an event that brought together students from Stanford University and Contra Costa Community College in a 24-hour coding marathon to devise new ways of increasing South Sudanese girls’ access to quality learning—a problem posed by UNICEF’s Innovation Lab in South Sudan. Only 800 girls in the world’s newest country reach the last grade of secondary school.UNICEF also released a video by internationally acclaimed American singer and songwriter Katy Perry ahead of the second annual International Day of the Girl Child. Watch the video here.
On Saturday, June 11, Mayor Reed will lead volunteers in a Clinton Foundation “Day of Action” to promote food access and security throughout the City of Atlanta. Volunteers will work with several community-based organizations on activities ranging from planting trees, to sorting fresh fruits and vegetables, to gardening in communal lots. The 2016 CGI America meeting will include a Day of Action — the 31st overall. Founded and led by Chelsea Clinton in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Clinton Foundation Day of Action program mobilizes thousands of volunteers to give back to their communities. To date, the Clinton Foundation Days of Action program has mobilized more than 6,000 volunteers and donated more than 25,500 volunteer hours. On June 12-14, President Bill Clinton will host the sixth annual Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, convening nearly 1,000 participants from across sectors to develop and implement Commitments to Action – new, specific, and measurable plans and projects – to encourage continued economic growth, support long-term competitiveness, and increase social mobility in the United States. CGI America is a working meeting in which attendees participate in small group discussions on topics including energy innovation, sustainable cities, financial opportunity, STEM and early childhood education, college and career readiness, and workforce development, with the goal of forming partnerships to create commitments that will make a tangible difference in these areas.This year, attendees will collaborate on the importance of early learning programs in addressing poverty’s impact on students; bolstering STEM education to ensure workers have the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century; creating quality jobs that support worker wellness and professional development; harnessing the potential of alternative energy and sustainable infrastructure; and supporting U.S. cities looking to transform their local economies; among others.Program highlights at CGI America will include sessions such as: • America in the World: Staying Ahead, where President Clinton will speak with leaders from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, including Ian Bremmer, Sandy Douglas, and Shirley Ann Jackson, to explore how attendees can improve U.S. competitiveness; • Communities in Transition: Building a Sustainable Future, a discussion in partnership with Quartz, moderated by Kevin J. Delaney, Editor in Chief and President of Quartz, with Donnel Baird, W. Paul Bowers, and Adrianna Quintero, which will address how attendees can invest in resilient preventative measures to mitigate and adapt to resource changes and ensure socially and environmentally sustainable growth; • Overcoming Poverty; Improving Opportunity, a discussion with Michael McAfee, Patrick T. McCarthy, Randi Weingarten, and Marian Wright Edelman on creating preventative approaches to alleviate poverty while supporting children to realize their full potential; • Now What? Investing in the Long-Term, a discussion hosted by Bloomberg TV with moderator David Westin, Anchor at Bloomberg TV, and Robert L. Johnson, Steven Sugarman, and Alex Taylor, Executive Vice President of Cox Enterprises, Inc., who will discuss smart investments they believe will have a lasting return for all Americans and make the nation more competitive globally; and • Investing in Quality Jobs, which will include a one-on-one conversation with President Clinton and President Carter on how CGI America attendees can strengthen the American economy.Featured speakers and participants will include: George Arison, Founder and CEO, Shift Technologies, Inc.; Donnel Baird, CEO, BlocPower; Tracy Bame, President, Freeport-McMoRan Foundation; William Basl, Director, AmeriCorps State and National, Corporation for National and Community Service; Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell; Jim Bildner, CEO, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation; W. Paul Bowers, Chairman, President and CEO, Georgia Power Company; Ian Bremmer, President, Eurasia Group; Crystal Bridgeman, Senior Director, Workforce Development Programs, Siemens Foundation; John H. Bryant, Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Operation HOPE, Inc.; President Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, Founder, The Carter Center; Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration; Kevin J. Delaney, Editor in Chief and President, Quartz; Sandy Douglas, President, Coca-Cola North America, The Coca-Cola Company; Barbara Dyer, President and CEO, Hitachi Foundation, Hitachi; Marian Wright Edelman, President and Founder, Children’s Defense Fund; Anthony Foxx, Secretary of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation; Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges; Brian Hook, President, John Hay Initiative; Heather Hurlburt, Director, New Models of Policy Change, New America; Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United; Robert L. Johnson, Founder and Chairman, The RLJ Companies; John V. Ladd, Administrator, Office of Apprenticeship and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor; Terri Ludwig, President and CEO, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.; U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, West Virginia; Jesse Martinez, Co-founder and Co-chair, Latino Start-up Alliance; Michael McAfee, Director, Promise Neighborhoods Institute; Patrick T. McCarthy, President and CEO, The Annie E. Casey Foundation; Leslie Miley, Director of Engineering, Slack; Janet Murguía, President and CEO, National Council of La Raza (NCLR); Thomas Perez, Secretary of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor; Rachel Peric, Deputy Director, Welcoming America; Michael Peterson, President and CEO, Peter G. Peterson Foundation; Adrianna Quintero; Founder and Executive Director, Voces Verdes, Director of Partner Engagement, Natural Resources Defense Council; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; Veronika Scott, CEO and Founder, The Empowerment Plan; Theia Washington Smith, Executive Director, Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, City of Atlanta; Steven Sugarman, Chairman and CEO, Banc of California; Alex Taylor, Executive Vice President, Cox Enterprises, Inc.; Laura D. Tyson, Professor, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; Jason Walsh, Senior Policy Advisor, Executive Office of the President, The White House; Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers; David Westin, Anchor, Bloomberg TV; Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics. For the full program and list of participants, visit cgiamerica.org.
(Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott during question period Thursday. APTN/image)Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsHealth Minister Jane Philpott said Thursday she would be investigating the case of a 14-year-old Cree girl who was denied coverage for urgent dental work despite recommendations from orthodontists the procedure was needed to avoid costlier invasive surgery.Health Canada issued a final denial of coverage on Monday, a day before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued a scathing ruling concluding the federal government discriminated against First Nation children by underfunding child welfare programs.The ruling also ordered Ottawa to stop its narrow application of Jordan’s Principle which requires federal bureaucrats to cover the urgent medical needs of First Nations children before settling jurisdictional funding issues with the provinces.The mother of the girl said she was given renewed hope by Philpott’s pledge, which was made in the House of Commons during question period.“I am starting to feel like there is some light,” said Stacey Shiner, 42, whose daughter is a Sucker Creek band member and is covered by Treaty 8 in Alberta.NDP MP Charlie Angus raised the plight of Shiner’s daughter during question period.NDP MP Charlie Angus during question period Thursday.“I ask myself, as a parent, how is that possible? To the health minister, what steps is she taking to issue directives…to make it right for (the girl) and all the other children who are still being denied basic rights every single day?” said Angus.Philpott said the Liberal government is committed to ending the systemic discrimination of First Nations children.“I will look into the situation that the honourable member has brought to my attention,” said Philpott.Shiner said she has been battling with Health Canada for almost three years over the department’s refusal to cover her daughter’s desperately needed dental work under the Non-Insured Health Benefits for First Nations and Inuit program.Despite letters from orthodontists and lobbying from the band and Treaty 8, Health Canada rejected the coverage request and subsequent appeals. The last rejection came on Monday, a day before the human rights tribunal issued its ruling after finding Canada systemically discriminated against First Nation children.Shiner has since contacted a Toronto lawyer, on the advice of Cindy Blackstock, a prominent child advocate who triggered the human rights ruling through her complaint against Ottawa first filed in 2007. She said the lawyer has taken on the case for free and is preparing to push the matter before the court, if need be.“The next step is to take the Canadian government to Federal Court, which we are preparing to do,” she said.Shiner’s daughter, who she did not want named, has problems with her jaw, which is out of place, and seriously misaligned teeth that causes her pain and headaches.Shiner said the orthodontists told her in 2013 her daughter needed immediate intervention, including an expander, an anchor and braces to avoid invasive surgery when she got older.Mother Stacey Shiner has been fighting Health Canada over coverage for her daughter. Photo courtesy of Stacey Shiner.Shiner said the surgery would have involved cutting bone from her hip and applying it to the jaw which would be wired shut.Yet, Health Canada repeatedly refused to pay for the dental work, concluding that the procedure did not meet its criteria as a “functioning handicap malocclusion.” Malocclusion is a term describing misaligned teeth.Health Canada also told Shiner that if she paid out of her own pocket for the dental work the insurance program would also not reimburse her.“And I said, ‘I have to leave her in her condition and can’t help her?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, pretty much, if you go ahead and start we won’t approve.’”Shiner said she couldn’t handle letting her daughter remain in pain so she paid over $8,000 for the dental work.Shiner said she was told Alberta would have covered at least part of the cost for the dental work if her child was non-First Nation.And this wasn’t the first time Shiner said she’s faced the callousness of Health Canada bureaucrats.In 2008, after surgeons removed a tumour from behind her daughter’s eye she was given a prescription for a specialized eye-drop. Shiner said the eye-drop was designed to protect the eye from the roots of the tumour which were left because they were embedded in such a way their removal would have collapsed the eye.Yet, Health Canada would not pay for the prescription. She still remembers the conversation with the pharmacist after he got off the phone with the Health Canada bureaucrat.“He said, ‘They denied it, as a matter of fact they told me to tell you to guy buy Visine, that it should be sufficient,’” said Shiner.She paid the $90 for the specialized eye-drop.“The more that she gets older and things are happening the more I am realizing they are prejudiced and they just don’t care in helping children, specially Aboriginal children,” she said. “We are quite connected with the Aboriginal communities here and I see it time and time again.”email@example.com@JorgeBarrera
APTN National NewsIt has been the economic engine of Canada for decades.The tar sands boom has yielded unprecedented prosperity. With the steady drop of oil prices in recent months, that boom has turned to bust.APTN’s Brandi Morin has this story about how Indigenous companies in Alberta are coping with the changes.