Kolkata: A man was arrested in Puruliya on Wednesday for posting a distorted picture of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the social media.According to a source, Joymal Bhattacharya, who is a member of Para Panchayat Samiti, recently lodged a complaint against Jhantu Rajwar of Dhankidi village for allegedly distorting Chief Minister ‘s picture and posting it on his social media profile. Rajwar also allegedly wrote some lewd comments on the post. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaBhattacharya lodged a complaint against Jhantu Rajwar at the Para police station. On the basis of the complaint, police officers nabbed Rajwar on Wednesday. Sources informed that Rajwar is associated with the BJP but the party has denied the claim. “One person has been arrested in this regard and a probe is on,” said a police official of Puruliya District Police. According to police sources, Rajwar has been booked under relevant sections of the Information Technology Act. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersEarlier this month, BJP Yuva Morcha leader Priyanka Sharma was arrested in Howrah for allegedly posting a distorted picture of Banerjee on social media profile. On May 9, a Trinamool leader in Howrah lodged a complaint against her at the Dasnagar police station. After the complaint was lodged, the Cyber Crime section of Howrah Police took charge of the investigation. On Friday morning, Sharma was called for interrogation. After a few hours of questioning by the police officers, she was arrested for allegedly distorting Banerjee’s picture and posting it on social media. After her arrest, Sharma claimed that she has been framed and targeted. Sharma was remanded to judicial custody for 14 days after her arrest. While she was in judicial custody, Sharma, through her lawyer, appealed to Supreme Court for bail. Sharma was granted bail by the Apex court on May 15.
New Delhi: After a delay of a week, the Monsoon hit the Kerala coast on Saturday, marking the official commencement of the four-month rainfall season in the country. “Monsoon has made an onset over Kerala today (June 8),” said India Meteorological Department’s Director General-designate Mrutyunjay Mohapatra.Several parts of Kerala have started receiving a good amount of rainfall. The news will augur well for the country as large parts have been witnessing agriculture distress and water levels in reservoirs in west and south India have dipped to low levels. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twistMost of rural India depends on the four-month monsoon season, which accounts for 75 per cent of the annual rainfall, due to a lack of adequate alternative source of irrigation. A good monsoon has a direct impact on the economy as agriculture remains the major contributor to India’s GDP. The north Indian plains, central India and parts of south India have been recording temperatures over 45 degrees Celsius. Mercury has soared to over 50 degrees in parts of Rajasthan. On Thursday, IMD said the arrival of monsoon in Delhi is likely to be delayed by two-three days from its usual onset on June 29. However, Skymet said it may take at least a week longer. The city is likely to receive normal monsoon. Northwest India too is likely to have normal monsoon. The IMD has made a forecast of 96 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA) which falls on the border of normal and below normal rainfall.
Etawah: At least four people were killed and six injured in Uttar Pradesh when the Delhi-bound Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express ran over them near a railway station on Monday morning, a railway official said. The incident took place near Balrai railway station at 6.50 a.m. The victims were passengers of the Surat-bound Avadh Express that was stopped at the station to give way to the Rajdhani Express coming from Kanpur, the official told IANS. The injured were shifted to a hospital in Saifai.
San Francisco: With a new “Augmented Reality (AR) Beauty Try-On feature”, Google-owned video sharing platform YouTube would now let users try on virtual make-up while watching tutorials in real time. “Thanks to machine learning and AR technology, it offers realistic, virtual product samples that work on a full range of skin tones. Currently in alpha, AR Beauty Try-On is available through FameBit by YouTube, Google’s in-house branded content platform,” Aaron Luber, Head of Branded Experiences, AR and VR, Google wrote in a blog-post on Tuesday. Also Read – Spotify rolls out Siri support, new Apple TV app The company said it tested this experience earlier this year with several beauty brands and found that 30 per cent of viewers activated the AR experience in the YouTube iOS app, spending over 80 seconds on average trying on lipstick virtually. The feature splits the screen horizontally and while the top part shows the YouTube tutorial, the other part uses the front facing camera to let users capture themselves and try on AR filters and virtual makeup samples. Also Read – New Instagram tool to help users spot phishing emails M·A·C Cosmetics is the first brand to partner with FameBit to launch an AR Beauty Try-On campaign. “Using this new format, brands like M·A·C will be able to tap into YouTube’s vibrant creator community, deploy influencer campaigns to YouTube’s 2 billion monthly active users, and measure their results in real time,” Luber said. In addition, Google is also bringing three-dimensional assets to display ads with its first immersive display format called Swirl which is currently only available through Display and Video 360 which is a single, integrated tool that helps creative, data and media teams work together to execute end-to-end campaigns.
New Delhi: Amid growing rumblings in the Karnataka Congress, the grand old party dissolved its unit in the southern state on Wednesday, while retaining its president and working president. “The AICC has decided to dissolve the present committee of (the) Karnataka Pradesh Congress. The president and working president remain unchanged,” a statement issued by AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal said. Rumblings within the Karnataka Congress have grown ever since the Lok Sabha poll debacle in the state. There have also been problems of coordination in the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government in the southern state. Voices of dissent have been growing in the Karnataka Congress for some time now due to differences over the functioning of the coalition government in the state. Two members of the Congress were recently inducted in the Karnataka cabinet.
Chester-le-Street: England fast bowler Mark Wood believes his side’s crucial 119-run win over New Zealand on his home ground in Durham is one of the proudest days of his career. On Wednesday, Wood took 3/34 as England booked a place in the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1992. The 29-year-old hails from the north-eastern village of Ashington around 50km north of the Riverside. “It was a pretty special day. Apart from maybe my debut, that was the proudest game I’ve had,” Wood was quoted as saying by the ICC. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football together “Singing the national anthem with my whole family in the crowd was pretty special. The ground looked great and the result was even better.” Wood, who will make his 50th ODI appearance if selected in the semi-final, praised the team’s comeback from back-to-back defeats to beat India and New Zealand, saying: “It’s taken a lot of courage from the team to maintain our values even when we’ve had our backs up against the wall. “Now we’re going on to another huge game but one we’ll be pretty confident about. Maybe at the end of the World Cup if everything goes to plan we might look back at the Sri Lanka and Australia games and say they built the character of the team,” he added.
Colombo: A soldier has been arrested in Sri Lanka for attacking the editor of a popular Sinhala language newspaper 10 years ago, police said Monday. The corporal was arrested after his finger prints matched with those in the editor’s car. Upali Tennakoon, the editor of Rivira newspaper, was brutally attacked along with his wife in January 2009, two weeks after the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunga, the editor of The Sunday Leader. Tennakoon and his wife were attacked as they were driving to office. Also Read – Imran Khan arrives in China, to meet Prez Xi JinpingA gang of unidentified persons assaulted the couple after surrounding their car. Tennakoon has been living in the US since the assault. The incident was one of the attacks against media during the former regime of then president Mahinda Rajapaksa between 2005 and 2015. The arrest came after the Attorney General’s instructions on June 27, the police said. The attacks on media people during the Rajapaksa regime were blamed on an alleged military intelligence group operating form a camp in central Colombo. Five more from the group had been previously indicted and granted bail on the murder of Wickrematunga and abductions and assault on two other journalists. During the Rajapaksa regime, Sri Lanka was ranked as one of the worst places in the world for journalists.
New Delhi: Indian aviation regulator DGCA is waiting for its US counterpart FAA to certify Boeing’s solution to issues being faced by the 737 Max to allow the aircraft to fly in the country again, the government said Wednesday. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in a written reply in Rajya Sabha said that “18 Boeing 737 Max aircraft are grounded in the country, out of which 13 are from SpiceJet and five are from Jet Airways”. The aircraft was grounded by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on March 13 after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crashed near Addis Ababa on March 10, killing 157 people, including four Indians. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepIn October last year, a Lion Air operated 737 Max crashed, leaving 180 people dead in Indonesia. “A solution from Boeing, the manufacturer, and certification of the said solution by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is awaited by DGCA to consider the safe return of the aircraft to service,” Puri said. On June 26, Boeing had said, “During the FAA’s review of the 737 MAX software update and recent simulator sessions, the FAA identified an additional requirement that it has asked the company to address through the software changes that the company has been developing for the past eight months.”
San Francisco: To give group on its app a better control over how members engage, instant messaging app Telegram has introduced a new feature called “Slow Mode”. The feature allows a group admin to dictate how often a member could send a message in the group. “When an admin enables Slow Mode in a group, you will only be able to send one message per the interval they choose. A timer will show how long you have to wait before sending your next message,” Telegram wrote in a blog-post on Saturday, Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year The feature is aimed at making conversations in the group more orderly, while raising the value of each individual message. Telegram is now letting users set custom titles for group admins like “Meme Queen”. In addition, the app is also going to let users even send “silent messages” to somebody. While the text would appear as a notification, it would not trigger a sound-alert. The feature would let users simply hold the Send button to have any message or media delivered without sound. “This also works in groups, should you get an urgent idea at five in the morning – but not urgent enough to wake up everyone in your work chat,” the post explained. Telegram’s Android’s attachment menu has also been refreshed with larger thumbnails. The app claims to be encrypted from end-to-end and currently has a global user base of over 200 million monthly active users.
Bengaluru: The second day of the Duleep Trophy opener between India Blue and India Green was washed out on Sunday without a ball being bowled due to wet ground conditions owing to heavy overnight showers. Play was called off at 2 pm IST. India Green had reduced India Blue to 112 for 6 in 49 overs on a truncated opening day on Saturday. Lanky Bengal speedster Ishan Porel (3/26) took three wickets including the prized scalp of his former India U-19 teammate Shubman Gill as India Blue found the going tough against India Green’s disciplined bowling display. A total of 49 overs were bowled after India Green captain Faiz Fazal won the toss and elected to field as play started mid-way into the second session. The in-form Ruturaj Gaikwad struck 30 off 63 balls (3X4s, 2X6s) before he was bowled by Tanveer Ul-Haq (2/36).
Islamabad: Pakistan on Monday summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia for the fourth time over alleged ceasefire violations by the Indian troops along the Line of Control (LoC). Pakistan Foreign Office said that Director General (South Asia and SAARC) Mohammad Faisal “condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations on August 18 in Hot Spring and Chirikot Sectors”. It claimed that two elderly civilians were killed and a seven-year-old boy was seriously injured in the firing. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US “This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from the year 2017 when the Indian forces committed 1,970 ceasefire violations,” Faisal, who is also the spokesperson of Pakistan’s foreign ministry, said. Faisal also said that the deliberate targeting of civilian-populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws. He said the ceasefire violations by India were a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls Faisal asked the Indian side to respect the 2003 Ceasefire arrangement; investigate these and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC and the Working Boundary, the Foreign Office said. This is the fourth time in a week that Ahluwalia has been summoned by Pakistan. Ahluwalia was also summoned by Pakistan on August 14, 15, 16 over alleged ceasefire violations.
NEW DELHI: The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) on Monday approved the extension of the scheme to regularise unauthorized water connections till March 31, 2020. Under the scheme, domestic consumers will have to pay Rs 500 per connection, while the commercial connections can be regularized by payment of Rs 1500. Earlier in July, the DJB had approved the scheme to regularise unauthorised water connections for a period of three months.The Board also allowed the proposal of extension of scheme of levy/Recovery of Development charges of Water and Sewer at reduced rates for domestic connection in case of colonies falling in D, E, F, G & H Category of Unauthorized Colonies up to 31 March ,2020. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderThe decision was taken in the meeting held under the chairmanship of Delhi Chief Minister and DJB Chairman Arvind Kejriwal. The board also approved the procurement of 4000 safety kits for DJB Sewer Gang Beldars and private labours engaged in desilting/ cleaning of sewers/drains/ septic tanks. Similarly rejuvenation of 12 water bodies using Phytorid Treatment Technology of capacity 400 KLD & 150 KLD were approved by the Board. The six water bodies of treatment capacity 400 KLD are Mungeshpur, Nangal Thakran, Punjab Khore, Dera Mandi, Dhichaunkalan, Burari and Kamalpur Majra Burari. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsThe other six water bodies of treatment capacity 150 KLD includes Ibrahimpur, Karala, Daulatpur, Dhool Siras, Neelwaal and Tikrikalan. The work includes construction of Phytorid beds along with screen chamber, collection tank, sedimentation tank, installation of Hypo-dosing system and excavation of lake in case of dry water bodies. The work also has a provision of operations and maintenance for 12 months including watch and ward. The Jal Board approved providing and laying of internal and peripheral( P/L) sewer line of 1000 mm dia in Shalimar Bagh and Batla House (Phase-II) under Okhla WWTP catchment area in Delhi, as per sewage Master Plan 2031.
New Delhi: Gaurav Gill believes that motorsports has the potential to become a mass sport in India. The 37-year-old rally car, who recently became the first from the field of motorsports to win an Arjuna award, said that India having one of the largest automobiles industries in the world is something that motorsports should harness. “India is very quickly becoming the world’s third largest automobile manufacturer. If it has the capacity to do that and if it can have millions of vehicles on the road, our sport is directly linked to that,” Gill told IANS. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh Gill announced on Friday that he will be entering the World Rally Championship 2 this season representing JK Tyre Motorsport for the first time. His previous forays into the WRC2 came during his tenure with MRF that lasted over 12 years. He will be starting at Rally of Turkey that is scheduled for later this month. Gill said that it took some time for the news of his Arjuna award win to sink in. “I had just finished my training and was having my power nap in the afternoon,” he said about the day he got to know about it. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later “Somebody called me up and said congratulations. And I said, for what? I didn’t do any rally recently and I didn’t win anything. Then the person told me that I was on the final list of Arjuna Awards. I got up and made a few other calls and it took me a few days to realise that this had happened. It was an amazing feeling.” He said that a direct effect of this win is the encouragement it gives to parents to let their kids get into motorsports, citing the example of the number of calls he and JK Tyre Motorsport chief Sanjay “Hardy” Sharma received. “I am flooded with calls and messages about my academy. People want to have me help their younger ones to pursue it. Hardy actually got more calls because people are sending their kids for karting. Now they can see that if they start something like this now, 10 years down the line they will reap the rewards,” he said.
HALIFAX – A sexual assault charge against a Halifax taxi driver has been dropped, after the Crown said there was no realistic prospect of conviction.Farset Mohammad’s judge-alone trial, in relation to an alleged sexual assault in a cab in downtown Halifax in 2015, was scheduled to begin in Nova Scotia Supreme Court Monday.But Crown lawyer Kim McOnie told Justice Timothy Gabriel they would not be calling evidence in the case.The judge then told Mohammad, who was sitting in the public gallery, that the sexual assault charge against him had been dismissed.“You’re free to go, sir,” he told him.Outside of court, McOnie said the Crown determined there was no realistic prospect of conviction.“I’m not going to talk about the evidence. It was a combination of factors,” said McOnie. “The Crown’s mandate is not to proceed if there’s no realistic prospect of conviction.”The Halifax Regional Municipality said Mohammad’s taxi licence was suspended in July 2015.A number of Halifax taxi drivers have faced allegations of sexual assault in recent years.In January, a taxi driver acquitted of sexually assaulting a drunk and unconscious woman was ordered to again stand trial in a case that sparked a national debate over intoxication and the capacity to consent to sex.The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal had concluded the judge that presided over Bassam Al-Rawi’s trial erred in law by finding there was no evidence of lack of consent.A decision is expected Friday in the case of Seyed Mirsaeid-Ghazi, accused of groping a female passenger in October 2015.The Crown in that case alleges Mirsaeid-Ghazi rubbed the woman’s thigh and slid his hand down the top of her dress and touched her bare breast as she sat in the front seat of his cab.
STOUFFVILLE, Ont. – Ontario’s animal welfare agency has laid 14 cruelty charges against an unnamed mink farm.The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says it began an investigation in February after concerns were expressed about the welfare of the mink on the farm.The OSPCA says their investigation revealed sick animals with injuries and large lesions, rough handling of animals, unsanitary conditions and a lack of general care.The agency says it declined to name the farm due to internal policies.The farm faces five counts of permitting an animal to be in distress, two counts of causing an animal to be in distress, three counts of failing to provide adequate and appropriate medical attention, three counts of failing to provide care necessary for general welfare and one count of failing to provide adequate and appropriate sanitary conditions.OSPCA deputy chief inspector Jennifer Bluhm says there is no excuse for failing to treat animals humanely.“No one is exempt from the law when it comes to providing for the animals in their care,” she said in a statement.
TORONTO – The physical and mental health of people living in Grassy Narrows is “significantly worse” than other First Nations since mercury was dumped into a river system near the northern Ontario reserve half a century ago, a new health survey suggests.The community commissioned the survey to examine the fallout of eating fish caught from nearby waterways contaminated by mercury. It found that there are fewer elders in the community, which the report suggests means that people are dying there prematurely.“The results provide clear evidence that the physical and mental health of (Grassy Narrows community) members is poorer than that of other First Nation communities in Canada and Ontario,” said the report. The health and well-being of the community “cannot be understood without taking into account their history of mercury poisoning and its consequences,” it said.It also found that 33 per cent of residents have lost a close friend or family member to suicide, which is five times the rate documented in other Ontario First Nations. Twenty eight per cent had attempted suicide — more than double the rate of other First Nations.“If any of you have ever had a family member or a close friend who has committed suicide, you know the anguish that it creates for each and every one of us,” said Donna Mergler, a mercury expert at Universite du Quebec a Montreal, who conducted the study.Residents over the age of 50 who reported eating more fish as children also had experienced poorer success in school and are two times more likely to have an annual income of less than $20,000, she said.More than 80 per cent of community members took part in the survey, which included a lengthy questionnaire administered to more than 300 adults in Grassy Narrows ranging in age from 18 to 80 between December 2016 and March 2017, Mergler said.Community officials said Mergler’s report is “the most comprehensive assessment of the health of the community to date” and included comparisons to First Nations regional health surveys done in 2008 and 2010.Grassy Narrows Chief Rudy Turtle called the results of the survey “a very dark picture.”“But at the same time, our people are doing the best they can to live under the conditions they’re living in,” Turtle said.Mercury contamination has plagued the English-Wabigoon River system since a paper mill in Dryden, Ont., dumped 9,000 kilograms of the substance into the river systems in the 1960s. The contamination closed a thriving commercial fishery that devastated Grassy Narrows’ economy.“Because of the discovery of mercury, things have come to a stop and, as a result, our people have suffered health-wise and also in terms of self-esteem,” Turtle said. “When a person doesn’t have a job, it leads to despair and many in our people have turned to alcohol.”The Ontario government has pledged to spend $85 million to remediate the river and the federal government has committed to funding a treatment centre that the community believes will cost about $4.5 million, but a feasibility study needs to be completed to determine the cost.Turtle said the Ontario and federal governments need to do more to help the community, calling on them to implement the study’s recommendations that include increased funding for physical and mental health programs, a long-term care facility on the reserve to address issues of mercury poisoning and programs for food security.The report also said people who reported being diagnosed by a medical professional with mercury poisoning were almost six times more likely to have a neuropsychological disorder, five times more likely to have stomach and intestinal problems, and three times more likely to have blindness or vision problems.“We need more (from the government) because it’s been a devastation of a whole way of life, a whole way of culture that we need to rebuild,” Judy Da Silva, the environmental health co-ordinator for Grassy Narrows.“I don’t want to appear the victim, because we’re not, we’re fighters. We are going to keep fighting, we’re going to keep doing what we have to do to bring justice to our people.”In a statement Thursday, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said if her party forms government after the June 7 election, they will implement the recommendations of the report.“Grassy Narrows is one of the clearest examples of how governments of all stripes have failed to treat First Nations with the respect they deserve,” Horwath said.
MONTREAL – The families who sheltered U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden in Hong Kong need to be brought to Canada immediately while the country processes their asylum claims, their lawyers said Monday.Hong Kong-based attorney Robert Tibbo said Canada needs to take this “exceptional” step and allow the seven people to enter the country after the Hong Kong government rejected their asylum applications last Friday.The seven people — four adults and their three children — allegedly helped hide Snowden when the fugitive was in the region in 2013 after he leaked documents revealing extensive U.S. government surveillance.They were put in contact with Snowden because they share Tibbo as a lawyer.Speaking from Hong Kong through a video conference, surrounded by the seven refugee applicants, Tibbo told reporters they have two weeks to appeal the decision or risk deportation to their countries of origin, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, where they fear for their safety.A non-profit group is attempting to raise the estimated $15,000 to cover the appeals.There is little chance their appeals will be successful, however, Tibbo said.“The solution is Canada,” he said, adding the country is one of a handful of jurisdictions that permit a review of refugee applications from people who haven’t been screened by the United Nations.Tibbo said the Hong Kong government doesn’t allow the UN to screen refugee applicants into the country.Michael Simkin, part of the families’ legal team, said in Montreal his clients’ file could be handled “within days” in Canada if the government wanted to.“More importantly, if they were willing they could bring the families to Canada as an exceptional measure” while their claims are processed, he said. “It has been done before and can be done again.”The families’ lawyers say the Hong Kong government rejected their applications because it believes the Philippines and Sri Lanka are able to protect them.One of the refugee applicants, Ajith, said he is convinced he will be killed if he returns to Sri Lanka.Tibbo said he has “no regrets” about his decision to introduce the families to Snowden.“They made fully informed decisions but at the same time I feel a moral responsibility,” he said. “With Mr. Snowden moving on from Hong Kong it is my view my clients shouldn’t be left behind.”All four adults told reporters via video conference that they had no regrets sheltering Snowden.Snowden remains in exile in Russia. He has been charged with espionage in the United States and could face up to 30 years in prison.— With files from The Associated PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said lawyer Robert Tibbo was seeking to raise $15,000, not a non-profit group.
Highlights from the news file for Monday, May 29———POPE OPEN TO RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS APOLOGY, PM SAYS: Canadians are anxious to reconcile with Indigenous Peoples, Justin Trudeau described telling Pope Francis on Monday as he asked the pontiff to apologize for the role the Catholic Church played in the tragedy of residential schools. The Pope — himself no stranger to the cause of social justice, he noted to Trudeau — seemed open to the idea, the prime minister said as he related the broad strokes of their private conversation at the Vatican. “He reminded me that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalized people in the world,” Trudeau said after he arrived back in Rome. Pope Francis also expressed his enthusiasm for working with the prime minister and the Canadian bishops on finding a way forward on the issue of an apology, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission included the demand for a papal apology — to survivors, their families and communities — as one of the 94 recommendations in its report on the dark 120-year history and tragic legacy of residential schools.———SCHEER GETS HERO’S WELCOME FROM TORY CAUCUS: New Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is basking in a hero’s welcome on Parliament Hill. The Saskatchewan member of Parliament was feted by his fellow MPs and leadership rivals alike as he arrived Monday to address the Tory caucus, fresh off a thrilling final-ballot win in the party’s leadership contest on the weekend. He called the role a great honour, but an even greater responsibility. Scheer touched on all of the same themes he delivered following Saturday night’s win, hailing the efforts of the other 12 candidates who sought the job and singling out Quebec MP Maxime Bernier in particular. Bernier was the presumptive front-runner throughout the race and the leader throughout Saturday night’s nail-biting process of elimination, right up until the last ballot. He did not stop to speak to reporters prior to Monday’s meeting. Scheer did have significant support among other elected MPs going into the campaign, about two dozen by the end of it. Many of the rest had backed fellow MP Erin O’Toole.———NDP LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE PREGNANT: NDP leadership candidate Niki Ashton says she is expecting a baby in November. Ashton, a Manitoba MP, is one of six candidates seeking the party’s top job. The leadership race is scheduled to wrap up in October, when rank-and-file members pick a successor to Tom Mulcair. Ashton says she plans to carry on her work, adding she will continue to reach out to party members, activists and progressives across Canada. She says she intends to visit B.C. and the Atlantic provinces in the next two weeks. Ashton’s rivals in the race include Quebec MP Guy Caron, Ontario legislature member Jagmeet Singh, Ontario MP Charlie Angus, former veterans ombudsman Pat Stogran and B.C. MP Peter Julian.———SACRED FIRE LIT TO LAUNCH MISSING WOMEN INQUIRY: A sacred fire ceremony in Whitehorse has marked the first family hearings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. About 30 people gathered in a circle at sunrise for traditional prayers and songs as the fire was lit this morning. It will burn until the hearings conclude in Whitehorse later this week. Forty families are registered to testify before the commissioners in both public and private hearings between Tuesday and Thursday. Commissioners will be examining and reporting on the causes of violence against indigenous females by scrutinizing practices, policies and institutions, including policing and child welfare. Yukon minister responsible for the women’s directorate, Jeanie Dendys, says 41 indigenous women have disappeared or been killed in the territory over several decades. Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston says he’s pleased the families of missing and murdered women in the territory finally have a chance to present their stories and share their challenges.———CANADIANS WEIGH IN ON PLANNED ACCESSIBILITY LAW: Public consultations on Canada’s first national law for disabled people have identified high unemployment rates, inaccessible buildings and barriers in transportation as some of the key issues that need to be addressed. The priorities were laid out in a report, released by the federal government Monday, summarizing eight months of consultations held with Canadians from coast to coast. It says participants wanted to see laws that would help lower stubbornly high unemployment rates for those with disabilities, reduce the number of buildings inaccessible to those with physical and intellectual disabilities, and remove accessibility barriers for the country’s air, rail, ferry and bus transportation systems. The report also says Canadians have voiced a strong preference for the government to set up an independent body to oversee compliance with the new laws, which are expected to come before the House of Commons in early 2018.———GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES FAMINE RELIEF FUND: Aid agencies are urging Canadians to respond generously to the federal government’s matching fund for famine relief in Africa and the Middle East, calling it a response to the worst humanitarian crisis in decades. The Liberal government said Monday it would match donations made by Canadians to registered charities to create a famine relief fund for more than 20 million men, women and children who are at risk of starvation. International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the fund would support Canadian and international organizations working to provide assistance in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen and neighbouring regions. Bibeau said the government’s window to match donations is from March 17 to June 30. Millions of people in the four affected countries and neighbouring regions are in need of necessities including water, sanitation services, shelter and urgent food assistance, Bibeau added.———JUDGE BANS ABORTION PROTESTS AT NEW BRUNSWICK HOSPITAL: As provinces across Canada move to establish protest-free “buffer zones” around abortion providers, a judge has banned anti-abortion activists from demonstrating outside a hospital in northern New Brunswick. Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Reginald Leger granted a permanent injunction against protesters outside the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst. The anti-abortion picketers, affiliated with the 40 Days for Life campaign, put the safety of patients and employees at risk, Leger said in his recent decision. The ruling comes amid efforts across the country to strike a balance between the constitutional right to free expression and ensuring safe access to health-care services without harassment or intimidation. Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said Monday he plans to introduce legislation that would create safe zones outside abortion clinics in that province, citing reports of harassment at an Ottawa clinic. The Newfoundland and Labrador government introduced a law last November, modelled after British Columbia’s Access to Abortion Services Act, to keep protesters at least 50 metres away from an abortion clinic.———FILINGS SHED LIGHT ON BOMBARDIER-BOEING DISPUTE: Boeing says its trade complaint against Bombardier is designed to prevent the Montreal-based rival from using subsidies to build a larger version of the CSeries plane that would directly compete with its own flagship narrowbody 737 aircraft. Last week, Boeing filed a document with the U.S. International Trade Commission that sheds new light on the tit-for-tat dispute between the two aerospace manufacturers. In the 109-page filing, Boeing said Bombardier would be positioned to build a full-fleet of single-aisle planes — repeating a strategy employed by French aerospace company Airbus — if Canadian subsidies to Bombardier are left unaddressed. Bombardier said in a separate filing that Boeing’s effort to shut down its innovative technology from the market is “misguided,” adding that the complaint is tantamount to asking the U.S. International Trade Commission to imagine a hypothetical world in the future.———QUEBEC TABLES BACK-TO-WORK CONSTRUCTION BILL: The Quebec government tabled a bill Monday forcing the province’s striking construction workers back on the job by Wednesday. In response, a coalition of construction unions promised to contest the bill in court, saying the legislation favours construction companies. Thousands of workers gathered in front of Quebec’s legislature earlier Monday to voice their disapproval of the government’s decision to end their strike after five days. The back-to-work bill maintains current working conditions for the province’s 175,000 construction workers and grants them a pay raise of 1.8 per cent. It also opens an immediate five-month mediation period after which the unions and construction companies will be required to enter into arbitration. Members of the legislature are expected to debate the bill late into the night but the Liberal majority in the legislature will ensure it passes. Quebec Labour Minister Dominique Vien said before tabling her bill that both sides had months to negotiate a new agreement and added that every strike day costs the Quebec economy $45 million.———ONTARIO TAXPAYERS FOOT $120K BILL FOR GIANT DUCK: An Ontario government grant of about $120,000 that is going toward a giant rubber duck for Canada 150 celebrations is ruffling some feathers. The 18.6-metre, 13,600-kilogram yellow duck is being brought to Toronto by the Redpath Waterfront Festival, reportedly at a total cost of $200,000, combining other funding. It’s being billed as a tourist attraction — with particular Instagram and selfie appeal — and will also be taken to other communities in Ontario. Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives say they’re unclear on the giant duck’s connection to Canada’s heritage celebrations and call it a waste of taxpayer money. Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Eleanor McMahon says the province has been funding the waterfront festival for the past three years and it does a good job promoting tourism. She cautions against focusing too much on the duck, adding she thinks it is much ado about nothing.
HALIFAX – Nearly two-thirds of Nova Scotians seeking assisted suicide in the first six months of 2017 did not receive a lethal injection, with doctors saying the province’s system is short of available physicians and payments are low.The Nova Scotia Health Authority reports that of 64 referrals made for medical assistance in dying, 23 were completed between Jan. 1 and Canada Day.The remaining patients either dropped the request, lost the mental ability to agree — a requirement under Canada’s Bill C-14 — or died before anyone could carry out the euthanasia.Over the past year Bill C-14 has allowed for the procedure when patients are over 18, have a serious and incurable illness or disability, are in an advanced state of irreversible decline, endure intolerable pain, and face a “reasonably foreseeable” death.Dr. Tim Holland — a Halifax doctor who performs medically assisted deaths — said the province’s system needs better ways to train physicians for euthanasia, improved administration and higher reimbursement for doctors.“We have a small set of providers, but we can’t possibly keep up with the patient demand,” he told delegates at the International Conference on End of Life Law, Ethics, Policy and Practice in Halifax earlier this month.He said 20 doctors came to a recent training session, but many also want to witness a procedure first hand — a step that is taking more time than expected to arrange.“We’re two years behind the mark of where we should have been compared to other jurisdictions,” Holland said during a presentation on the early days of medically assisted dying in the province.He also said he has been advocating for the ability to bill for more than four hours, as the process often requires more time than that.“None of us want to make money off of it. But we’d like to see a situation where we’re not losing money in it,” said Holland.A spokeswoman for the Health Department said Friday the fees are still being reviewed, and policies for medical assistance in death are still under development.Cancer was the most common reported underlying condition for the euthanasia, followed by neuro-degenerative, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, according to the health authority’s records.Since it became available in Nova Scotia in June 2016, 46 people have received medical assistance in dying, the health authority says.Dr. Lynne Harrigan, the vice-president of medicine at the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said there is a “learning curve for everybody involved.”She said in some cases, gravely ill people are applying too late and lose the capacity to consent.In other instances, there is difficulty finding an available doctor, she added.“We’re working to train physicians to come forward,” she said.The law requires agreement between two physicians who are examining the request, and families need to have the process carefully explained, he added.The process also involves a 10-day wait period after a consent form is signed as a time for sober second thought and families to make last preparations. It can be waived if the person is at risk of losing their capacity to agree to their death.Under Canadian law, the person must have the capacity to understand what is occurring up until the point the fatal drug is provided.Another Nova Scotia physician, Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie, said during the euthanasia conference that doctors in the province involved in assisted suicide over the past year already have multiple practices and responsibilities, and most live in a 100-kilometre radius of Halifax — meaning long journeys around the province.Some patients are waiting until the “very end” to request the process, and that is putting pressure on the small pool of doctors involved, she added.“We feel guilt we can’t provide the service right away. Obviously we care about these patients and people having the kind of death they want to have. It’s a bit emotionally overwhelming for us to constantly have these emergency assessments.”Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other world leaders are gearing up for what already promises to be a lively debate on defence spending at the upcoming NATO summit in Brussels next week.On Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau is looking forward to meeting with the 28 other NATO leaders to discuss ways to reinforce peace and security among nations.“Throughout the summit’s discussions and working sessions, the prime minister will reiterate Canada’s commitment to playing an active role in the alliance, and a strong and constructive role in the world,” said Trudeau’s press secretary Eleanore Catenaro.The PMO also said that just prior to the summit, Trudeau will visit Canadian troops in Latvia, where Canada is leading a key NATO battle group established as the alliance’s response to Russia’s surprise annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its invasion of eastern Ukraine.The prospect of conflict among NATO leaders is already looming on the horizon, thanks to a series of pointed letters from U.S. President Donald Trump to leaders of several NATO allies, including Canada, calling on them to finally meet the alliance’s defence spending targets.In his letter to Trudeau, Trump says there is “growing frustration” in the U.S. with North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies like Canada that have not increased defence spending as promised.“This frustration is not confined to our executive branch. The United States Congress has taken note and is concerned as well,” the president writes in the June 19 letter.“The United States is increasingly unwilling to ignore this alliance’s failure to meet shared security challenges.”The letter comes with tensions between Canada and the U.S. running high, thanks to an ongoing dispute over American tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that have prompted Canada and other European countries to impose politically targeted retaliatory tariffs.It also comes in the wake of a stormy end to the G7 meetings in Quebec, when Trump called Canada’s prime minister “dishonest and weak” and backed out of the final joint communique issued by the G7 leaders after hearing Trudeau’s defiant comments over the tariff dispute.The Liberals promised last year to increase spending on the military by 70 per cent over the next 10 years, but Canada continues to fall short of NATO’s target of spending two per cent of GDP on defence. In 2017, the alliance’s own preliminary estimates showed Canada spent 1.29 per cent of its gross domestic product on defence, up from 1.16 per cent in 2016.Trump is not the first American president to complain about NATO member countries not living up to their spending commitments and relying too heavily on the U.S., which last year spent 3.57 per cent of its GDP on defence.Currently, only four countries that belong to NATO are meeting the two per cent target that allies agreed to during the 2014 summit in Wales.Trump has threatened to leave NATO if member states do not follow through with their pledges.But NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted a marked improvement in defence spending among member nations since 2014 in his annual report, issued earlier this year.Three consecutive years of growth in defence expenditure across Europe and Canada have added a total of $46 billion to defence, he said.In 2017 European allies and Canada increased their defence expenditures by almost five per cent. This year, eight NATO countries are expected to meet the two per cent guideline while many others have plans to meet the target by 2024.“So the picture is clear — the alliance is doing more to respond and adapt to an uncertain security environment,” Stoltenberg says in the report. “All allies are stepping up, doing more, in more places, in more ways, to strengthen our shared security.”That, however, isn’t good enough for Trump.Canada’s continued defence spending of less than two per cent “provides validation for other allies that also are not meeting their defence spending commitments,” he writes.“I understand domestic political pressures, as I myself have expended considerable political capital to increase America’s defence spending,” Trump’s letter continues.“It will, however, become increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries continue to fail to meet our shared collective security agreements.”Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office pointed to Canada’s commitment 10-year commitment to grow funding to the department, which will see $32.7 billion in annual increases.“Also, our recent and ongoing contributions to NATO, such as our mission in Latvia, are clear demonstrations of our government’s commitment to the alliance and international security ,” Sajjan’s director of communications Renée Filiatrault said in statement Tuesday.Trudeau will visit Canadian troops in Latvia July 9-10 before attending the NATO summit July 11-12.— Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.