Bhubaneswar: Senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chauhan on Sunday said dynasty politics was rejected in the last general elections, but the Congress did not learn from it and still wants Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi to lead the party. Chauhan said the BJP has set an example as its leaders grow in the party naturally, while the Congress is unable to move beyond a family. “I thought the Congress would learn from the poll outcome, but it is still clinging on to one family. It is surprising that the CWC still wants Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi to lead the party,” the BJP vice-president told reporters here. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details In a resolution, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday appointed Sonia Gandhi the interim party chief till the AICC elects a regular president. Chauhan, a former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, said political parties governed by dynasty, family and caste politics were defeated everywhere including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the general elections. People have also rejected the politics of appeasement in West Bengal and supported the BJP’s agenda of nationalism and development, he said. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday It seems the Congress is facing a scarcity of leaders with quality, strength and talent, Chauhan said adding that none can save the party if it fails to choose a leader through a democratic process. Terming Rahul Gandhi as “ranchod” (one who runs away from battlefield), the BJP leader said he acted like an escapist after the Congress’ debacle in the Lok Sabha elections, leaving the party in utter despair. Gandhi had quit as Congress president on May 25 after the Lok Sabha polls debacle. The BJP leader alleged that no one in the Congress remembers former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao as he did not belong to the Gandhi family. He also claimed that though Manmohan Singh was made the prime minister, the “mother-son duo” of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi controlled everything. Accusing the Congress of being responsible for many problems in the country, Chauhan said Jawaharlal Nehru had committed a “sin” by introducing the Article 370 which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir. “Now the historic blunder committed by Nehru has been corrected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the revocation of the Article 370,” he said. He said the Modi government also enacted a law to put an end to the practice of triple talaq, which many Islamic countries had done away with long ago but the Congress did not do anything to stop this when it was in power.
New Delhi: The New Delhi Municipal Council Secretary (NDMC), Rashmi Singh on Tuesday said that school children pay a vital role in the fight against the spread of vector-borne diseases. She said that children “are capable of convincing their near and dear ones about how to make their habitat neat and clean”. Inaugurating an interactive session organised for principals, nodal officers and school children on the containment of vector-borne diseases, Singh said that children are crucial to spread awareness about the dangers of unclean areas and advocate for an environment that is free of diseases like dengue, malaria and Chikungunya. Around 200 children from 75 government and private schools in the NDMC area had attended the interactive session at the municipality’s Convention Centre here. At the session, Singh told the audience that medicine is still a long way from finding a cure for a lot of vector-borne diseases and that prevention is the safest way to control these illnesses. “The problem of vector-borne diseases might not be solved alone by the NDMC or any other civic body but it should be a joint venture of each and every segment of society to get rid of the dread diseases,” she said.
Changzhou (China): World champion PV Sindhu will look to continue her great work when she leads the Indian challenge at the China Open World Tour Super 1000 tournament beginning here on Tuesday. Sindhu created history when she bagged India’s first gold medal at the world championship at Basel, Switzerland last month. The World No. 5 achieved the feat after her third successive final appearance. Sindhu last won the China Open in 2016 and would like to add another feather to her glittering cap. The 24-year-old from Hyderabad will start her campaign against China’s Li Xuerui, a former Olympic gold medallist and World No 1. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhSaina Nehwal will also look to fire on all cylinders after recovering from injuries which stymied had her year so far. Saina will face Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan in the opening round and is expected to clash with former world no.1 and her nemesis Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in the quarter-finals. India will miss Kidambi Srikanth and H S Prannoy who are down with knee injury and dengue, respectively. But there is B Sai Praneeth, who ended India’s 36-year wait to become the first Indian male shuttler to claim a medal at the World Championships. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterThe shuttler will open against Thailand’s Suppanyu Avihingsanon and is likely to face China’s third seed Shi Yu Qi in the second round. The pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who became the first men’s pair from the country to win a super 500 event at Thailand Open last month, will also return and will open against Canadian combination of Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura. In mixed doubles, Satwik will pair up with Ashwini Ponnappa and meet Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti, the Indonesian sixth seeds. The other men’s pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy will take on Indonesian pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.
Bangkok: More than half of the 147 tigers confiscated from a controversial Thai temple have died, park officials said Monday, blaming genetic problems linked to in-breeding at the once money-spinning tourist attraction. For years, the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua temple in the western province of Kanchanaburi pulled tourist hordes who could be photographed — for a fee — next to scores of tigers. But in 2016 park officials began a lengthy operation to remove the big cats amid allegations of mismanagement, and claims the creatures were being exploited. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USDozens of dead cubs were found kept in freezers, sparking claims the carcasses were being sold by a temple rumoured to have raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from visitors. Tiger parts can fetch enormous sums in China and Vietnam, where they are falsely believed to have medicinal properties. The surviving adults were taken to two breeding stations in nearby Ratchaburi province but only 61 of the 147 have survived so far, parks officials told reporters. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”It could be linked to in-breeding,” Pattarapol Maneeon, of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said. “They had genetic problems which posed risks to body and immune system.” Many suffered from tongue paralysis, breathing problems and lack of appetite that led to fatal seizures. “Most of the tigers were already in distressed state stemming from the transportation and change of location… later their health problems emerged,” Sunthorn Chaiwattana, another department official said. Legal cases against the temple are ongoing. Conservationists questioned whether authorities had looked after the seized animals appropriately, with small, cramped cages enabling the spread of disease. “To be very honest who would be ready to take in so many tigers at once?” said Edwin Wiek, founder of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand. Conditions at the enclosures were “not good enough to house so many tigers and the set up was wrong”, he added. Tens of millions visit Thailand every year, and a lucrative wildlife tourism industry has grown in-step with visitor numbers. But critics say cash often trumps animal welfare at many attractions. For a price, visitors can ride and bathe with elephants, hold monkeys and pose for selfies with tigers. Animal rights groups have long criticised the industry, with chained up animals kept in small quarters with inadequate veterinary care, or forced to perform tricks for tourists.
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – A research team was honoured Wednesday for identifying the cause of the “Newfoundland curse” — a deadly heart condition that has afflicted Newfoundland families for centuries.The condition, known to the medical community as arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, is a genetic cardiac muscle disorder that often shows no symptoms before sudden cardiac arrest.A team from Memorial University of Newfoundland received the Governor General’s Innovation Award for leading research that identified the genetic mutation and the cause of the lethal heart attacks.The team also developed a blood screening test for people at risk.“It really is a life-saving kind of research endeavour,” said Daryl Pullman, who is being honoured along with fellow researchers Terry-Lynn Young, Kathy Hodgkinson and Sean Connors.“We’re accepting the award on behalf of many others, on behalf of the many families who have participated, coming forward to donate their samples and their histories.”ARVC affects people worldwide, but there is a concentration in Newfoundland, where the mutation has already been specifically linked to more than two dozen families.Many people with the condition feel perfectly healthy before the first fatal heart attack.Eighty per cent of men and 20 per cent of women with ARVC die by age 50. Pullman said it has claimed the lives of men in their late teens and early twenties.As well as developing a blood test to detect the previously hidden condition, the team also developed a preventative treatment for the disease.Connors, a cardiologist, developed a small defibrillator to be inserted into the heart that can recognize abnormal rhythms and restore the heart to its regular pattern before a heart attack can happen.Pullman said the award recognizes work that began two decades ago.Hodgkinson was working with families in Newfoundland and Labrador, collecting their blood samples and family stories, when she learned that similar research had already begun. Researchers from Texas had visited the province and left with blood samples and personal medical information, but never reported back with their findings.Pullman, a medical ethics professor, came on board to tackle the ethical oversight aspect of the project. He helped create unique legislation in Newfoundland and Labrador that requires all medical research done in the province to be reviewed locally.“It was a major issue for us in Newfoundland. Researchers were coming from outside the province, taking valuable information with them, but not sharing it with local people,” said Pullman.The Memorial University findings are being shared with medical practitioners in other parts of the world where the cause of ARVC has long baffled families and physicians.Pullman says there are still more pieces of the puzzle to figure out. For example, it’s still unknown why women are less severely affected than men, despite carrying the same genetic mutation.But Pullman is hopeful that further research will uncover more of the science behind this longstanding medical mystery, and lead to more lives saved.“You hear a story about a single vehicle accident on a nice clear summer day, a car went off the road for no apparent reason, and the driver’s dead, and I immediately wonder, ‘I wonder if that’s ARVC, that’s some person who has this condition,’” said Pullman.“So there’s still work to be done.”
VICTORIA – The leaders of British Columbia’s New Democrats and Greens say it is not unprecedented for an Opposition member to serve as Speaker as they prepare to navigate a potentially tricky political situation in the provincial legislature.NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver are using former Liberal MP Peter Milliken as an example, saying he served as Speaker in the House of Commons during a minority Conservative government.“Peter Milliken, elected Speaker after five ballots under (former prime minister) Jean Chretien back in 2001, served as the Speaker through successive Conservative minority and majority governments,” Weaver said Wednesday.B.C.’s election last month did not produce a clear winner in the 87-seat legislature with Christy Clark’s Liberals winning 43 seats, the NDP 41 and the Greens three.The NDP and the Greens have a deal that would see the New Democrats form a minority government if the Liberals are defeated in the legislature.Clark said when politicians return to the house on June 22 the Liberals will put forward a member to serve as Speaker.But if her minority government is defeated, political tradition dictates a new Speaker be elected and that person normally comes from the government side of the house, which would mean electing a New Democrat to the position.In that scenario, there would be a 43-43 tie in the legislature.Horgan suggested the person who becomes Speaker next week, likely a member of Clark’s caucus, should remain in the position following the expected defeat of the Liberal government in a confidence vote later this month.“This is how I see it,” said Horgan. “The government, current, is going to put forward a Speaker. Good. That Speaker should be in place as a non-partisan for the term of the parliament.”Attorney General Andrew Wilkinson suggested it is up to the NDP and Greens to supply the Speaker if the NDP forms a minority government.“If the Greens and the NDP are purporting to be able to provide a stable government for British Columbians, then they have to do it from within their own resources,” he said.Experts have said an impasse over the Speaker could send voters back to the polls.The Speaker’s role is to enforce the rules in the legislature and he or she only votes in the event of a tie, and even then only to maintain the status quo, as per tradition.
TORONTO – There are two winning tickets for Saturday night’s $13 million Lotto 649 jackpot.One was purchased in Ontario, the other in Quebec, and each is worth just over $6.4 million.The guaranteed $1 million dollar prize was claimed by a ticket sold in the Prairies.The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Aug. 16 will be approximately $5 million.
TORONTO – Monday’s deadly crash on the set of “Deadpool 2” in Vancouver was a rarity in an industry that takes extreme precautions to ensure safety, say stunt professionals, who nevertheless accept there is always an element of risk involved.“Most of us know each other and everybody was shocked, because this stuff just doesn’t really happen, in Canada, anyway,” says Neven Pajkic, a 39-year-old Toronto-based stunt performer whose credits include Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming film “The Shape of Water” and the TV series “The Handmaid’s Tale.”“It just doesn’t happen and it’s heartbreaking.”Joi (SJ) Harris, a 40-year-old female stunt driver from New York, died after her motorcycle crashed into a window of a building during production. Details have not emerged as to exactly what happened but some witnesses said she appeared to lose control of the vehicle.The incident came about a month after the death of a stuntman on the set of “The Walking Dead.”“It is a rarity but the possibility exists that it can happen,” says Rick Forsayeth, a Toronto-based stunt co-ordinator, noting in his 35 years in the industry — working on films including “X-Men,” “Resident Evil: Extinction” and “AVP: Alien vs. Predator” — there’s never been a fatality on set.Adam Winlove-Smith, a 34-year-old stunt performer from Toronto whose credits include the upcoming “Code 8” film starring Stephen Amell and Robbie Amell, agrees that catastrophic accidents “are super rare” but professionals accept there are risks.“It is risky but everybody knows that going into the industry, so you have to have that personality to deal with that risk that may occur.”Stunt performers hail from various backgrounds, including martial arts, boxing, motorsports, mountain climbing, gymnastics, circus arts and swordfighting.Pajkic got into the industry after being a professional boxer and has since taken various industry certification courses, including one for rappelling.Meanwhile, Winlove-Smith says he was trained in extreme sports growing up, including freestyle skiing, martial arts, knife fighting and acrobatics.Both are members are Canada’s performers’ union and say stunt co-ordinators research the background of all talent in order to ensure they have the proper skills.“Nobody’s going to pick you to do a stunt if you don’t have sufficient training,” says Pajkic.“You can’t just go out there and pretend you’re a stunt guy. That doesn’t happen, ever.”Pajkic can’t speak for the industry in British Columbia but says in Ontario and Quebec, where he’s worked, “it’s an utmost controlled and safety-oriented place.”“I had more bumps and bruises in my boxing career,” he says. “You’ve got to understand, there are people who’ve done stunts for 40 years in this city. You don’t do something for 40 years if it’s that dangerous.”Both he and Winlove-Smith say they’ve never been seriously injured on set, or felt unsafe.“Most of my friends who are stunt performers tend to get injured when they’re doing their own training,” says Winlove-Smith“There’s only a few people I’ve known that have actually gotten hurt on set but it hasn’t been to the extent of career-ending. You get bumps and bruises, but that comes with the territory.”Pajkic says the one time he felt uncomfortable with a stunt he was asked to do, the stunt co-ordinator understood and found someone more specialized to do it. Pajkic was still paid for that day’s work.“They’re never willing to take risks with lives,” he says. “When there’s a high-speed chase, there’s always a risk. When there’s a stair fall, there’s always a risk.“We take precautions…. This is very extensive training to get into the industry. But you get killed walking a doggie nowadays, a car runs you over…. You can only control so much. There is obviously an X-factor with our industry that’s a little bit higher.”Safety precautions vary according to the stunt being performed. When a scene involves rappelling, the cables and wires used to rehearse are switched out with new ones for the day of shooting, says Forsayeth.If a scene involves a car crash or car chase, they may use fuel cells, which bypass the gas tank and contain just enough fuel for the scene in order to avoid explosions. Such a scene may also involve roll cages and safety bars.Stunt scenes are often extensively rehearsed at a different site and then again once more on the site of production before cameras start rolling.“Any co-ordinator will do his max (to prepare) … then it’s out of your hands as those cameras roll and somebody calls ‘action,’” says Forsayeth.He expects Monday’s crash will prompt the industry to “certainly have a close look at it and see whether it was preventable.”“These situations sometimes open eyes and get more people involved.”
If it seems as if the weather’s getting weirder, you’re not wrong.An index of extreme weather in Canada compiled by the insurance industry backs that up.“Yes, we see definite trends that can’t be explained by normal variability,” said Caterina Lindman of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.The institute compiles what it calls the Actuaries Climate Index, a joint effort by insurance organizations across North America. It recently released its latest quarterly update — up to spring 2017.The index begins with a 30-year average taken from 1961 to 1990 of everyday weather conditions such as temperature, precipitation, wind speed and sea level. Thresholds are set for each of those based on the top 10 per cent of readings.For an average month, for example, about three days would be in that 10 per cent.Using data provided by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — one of the top American government science organizations — the index then counts how many days actually exceed that threshold. The index plots the results for every three-month period since 2016.The method reveals a slow, gradual increase in extreme weather.The overall Canadian index indicates that during the entire three decades between 1961 and 1990, extreme weather fell outside the range of normal variability only five times. In the last 10 years, however, that happened 12 times.Temperatures have been climbing.Across Canada, hot days have exceeded the normal number every quarter since the winter of 2015. The number of cold days hasn’t exceeded normal for nine years.It’s getting wetter, too. Across Canada, the average number of days with heavy rain or snow has been outside the norm since spring 2013. In Ontario and Quebec, it’s been since winter 2008.It’s harder to draw conclusions about wind for Canada as a whole. Likewise for sea level — unless you live in the Maritimes, where sea level has been higher than the normal range for the last 12 years.The findings correspond with data from Environment Canada, which suggests average summer temperatures have climbed one degree since 1970 and precipitation has increased about five per cent.Actuaries use the information in their calculation of risk as they insure lives and property, said Lindman. But they also do it to contribute to public debate.“There’s a lot of political angst around the issue of global warming and we’re trying to be neutral sources,” she said. “We’re just adding our voice.“We’re in it for the long haul, so we are concerned for the sustainability of our planet.”— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960
WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government will benefit from the biggest jump in federal equalization payments in a decade, but says it’s still keeping an eye on spending controls that include a review of a major tax credit for the film industry.Documents from the federal government show Manitoba is set to receive more than $2 billion in equalization payments in the fiscal year that starts in March, up 11 per cent — or $217 million — from the current year.The reason, according to the federal Finance Department, is a stronger economic picture in Ontario.“Ontario’s fiscal capacity has improved relative to that of the other equalization-receiving provinces, including Manitoba,” deputy spokesperson Jocelyn Sweet wrote in an email.Equalization is designed to help poorer provincial governments provide public services that are reasonably comparable to richer ones. It is entirely federally funded and based on a complex formula that measures the fiscal capacity of each province. Six provinces currently receive money under the program.Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen said the extra cash is welcome, but the province is dealing with lower-than-expected income taxes this year and is still working to cut a deficit of $779 million.“Does this solve all our problems? Absolutely not, many challenges ahead. But it is some revenue for certain this year,” Friesen said in an interview.As part of its promise to balance the budget, the government hired auditing firm KPMG to conduct a wide-ranging review of government spending and operations. The report, released last year, said the province’s Film and Video Tax Credit should be reduced.The credit provides either 45 per cent of a project’s labour costs or 30 per cent of production costs in Manitoba, along with certain bonuses. The KPMG report said the credit is the most generous among the provinces, and Manitoba should consider reducing it to a level even with other western provinces.Friesen said he would not reveal his plans in advance of next month’s budget, but said he wants to strike a balance between recognizing the value of the film and television industry and getting a return on investment for taxpayers.“We certainly see the tremendous value that the film and video industry has in Manitoba, not just for filming now … but also for the post-production work, for the expertise we’re building here in Manitoba,” Friesen said.“We have said that we’re a government that takes a view that there must be a return on investment. There must be a value-for-money principle in play here.”Film and video production in recent years has produced the equivalent of 680 to 920 direct full-time jobs in Manitoba, according to a 2016 industry report by the Canadian Media Producers Association.The tax credit has cost the province $15 million to $24 million annually in recent years, according to a review of the industry last year by On Screen Manitoba, a provincial association. The money given out by the province exceeded the money it recouped through higher income taxes and other sources in four of the preceding five years, the association’s report said.
OTTAWA – Right about now, the kings of the butterfly world are emerging from hibernation in Mexico looking for love and ready to make more butterflies.But scientists Monday said the number of monarch butterflies which will start their annual, 5,000-kilometre migration north to Canadian gardens and wild flower patches this summer is down sharply thanks to extreme weather last fall.A survey released Monday by the World Wildlife Fund and the Mexican National Commission for Protected Areas showed a 15 per cent drop in the forest area occupied by hibernating monarchs in the fir forests of central Mexico this winter.In absolute terms, that’s likely a loss of about 16 million butterflies compared with this time last year. Monarchs are a critical element in the North American ecosystem serving as food for birds and other insects.Emily Giles, senior specialist for species conversation with the World Wildlife Fund Canada, said the population of monarchs goes up and down but over the last 25 years the overall trend has been downward.“We think this again is just another indicator of another species, and another pollinator species, that is in decline,” said Giles.Monarch butterflies have already been assessed as endangered in Canada, she said.This last year, a warmer than usual fall lulled the butterflies into delaying their annual southern flight to Mexico, and when they did start to make the trip, many were killed in hurricanes and tropical storms that pummelled North America.“This year, researchers in the states have identified that we had a number of weather events that likely impacted the migrating population,” said Giles.The population is measured by the size of the forest area where scientists can locate them during hibernating months in December and January. In 1993, the butterflies were found in about 6.23 hectares of forest in central Mexico in the states of Mexico and Michoacan — about the equivalent of 12 football fields.Last year, the size of the forest where scientists could trace the butterflies was 2.48 hectares, or only about 4.5 football fields.Habitat loss due to deforestation coupled with extreme weather events linked to climate change are largely to blame, says the WWF report.Monarchs go through at least four generations each year — three of which last from six to 10 weeks and take place in the United States and Canada between March and September. The fourth generation lives for months, migrating south to Mexico and southern California where they hibernate over the winter before emerging to fly back north and lay new eggs in the spring.Research at Cornell University suggests the declining population is largely the result of die-off during the migration period because of weather and issues with the hibernation grounds themselves.Giles said Canadians can help the species revive by planting milkweed in their gardens, a species of native plants that is the only type of plant where monarchs will lay their eggs.She said a lot of milkweed has been eradicated over the last few decades by herbicide applications. so replacing those plants is a critical element to keeping the monarchs from disappearing.“It’s a species we can all help and I think we all love and care about this species,” she said. “It’s kind of a national icon in a lot of ways.”— follow @mrabson on Twitter.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said monarch butterflies are pollinators of wild flowers.
OTTAWA – No Myanmar politician, including Nobel laureate and honorary Canadian citizen Aung San Suu Kyi, is above a potential investigation by the International Criminal Court of possible war crimes, says Canada’s special envoy to the crisis.Bob Rae, who was appointed Canada’s special envoy to the seven-month-old Rohingya crisis, offered that warning as he released his final report Tuesday on the troubles engulfing Myanmar and Bangladesh.He said Canada needs to step up its spending on the mass migration crisis and should play a leading role in the investigation by the International Criminal Court of possible war crimes.Canada should also consider granting refugee and resettlement status to Myanmar’s persecuted ethnic Rohingya, 700,000 of whom have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape a brutal campaign by Myanmar’s military, he said.The Trudeau government said it would assess the recommendations and respond later.The 39-page report was noticeably silent on another major issue: how to address Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto political leader who has been widely criticized for not speaking out against the atrocities being committed against the Rohingya.Rae told a news conference on Parliament Hill that he wishes she would act.“Whoever is found responsible, whether in the civilian government or the military government, for what has happened should be held responsible. I don’t exclude anybody from that,” he said.Rae reiterated the past view of the Liberal government — that Suu Kyi is not in charge of her country’s powerful military, which once held her under house arrest and that targeting her does not address the main crisis.“I wish that she had spoken out. I wish she would speak out,” Rae said, adding that his report urges Myanmar’s government, which includes her, to take responsibility for what has happened and allow an independent investigation.The veteran politician made two trips to Myanmar in recent months and described what he essentially characterized as a slow march towards genocide.The Canadian government and others have referred to the crisis as ethnic cleansing, because branding it a genocide would carry an international legal obligation to intervene, potentially with force.Rae recommends Canada take a lead role with like-minded countries in a UN genocide investigation.He also invokes the UN’s Responsibility to Protect doctrine, which Canada helped create more than a decade ago, a doctrine that has been widely criticized for its failure to stop carnage elsewhere — notably Syria.The duty to protect citizens lies initially with states themselves “but failing that, becomes a wider regional and, ultimately, international obligation,” Rae writes.“The lesson of history is that genocide is not an event like a bolt of lightning. It is a process, one that starts with hate speech and the politics of exclusion, then moves to legal discrimination, then the policies of removal and then finally to a sustained drive to physical extermination.”Fareed Khan, spokesman for the Rohingya Human Rights Network, said in a statement that the report is far from perfect but he praised Rae for raising the possibility of a genocide in progress. He called the report “a solid foundation on which Canada can base its long-term approach to addressing the crisis, including bringing to justice Myanmar leaders who have committed crimes against humanity and genocide.”Rae said at the news conference he wasn’t interested in an academic debate about whether genocide is occurring, but said the current crises “has very disturbing echoes of what has happened elsewhere in history, and we need to listen to those echoes.”In the meantime, Rae says Canada needs to do more help refugees, including those in the region and those who might be able to find sanctuary elsewhere, and it needs to commit to a longer-term humanitarian strategy for the region, as it has in Syria and Iraq. Canada also needs to deepen its commitment to human rights on the ground, by protecting women and girls.Aid agencies and rights groups welcomed the report because it showed the government specific areas where Canada can lead.David Morley, president of UNICEF Canada said hundreds of thousands of children are at risk and they must be educated because “educating children in times of crises is key to helping them contribute to peace.”Alex Neve, the secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said Canada was well-positioned to aid in the ongoing humanitarian relief efforts and “to establish mechanisms to ensure justice and accountability for perpetrators of crimes against humanity.”The report also suggests the federal government could target more of Myanmar’s military leaders under its new Magnitsky Act that seeks to isolate human rights abusers by freezing assets and blocking travel.But Rae stopped short of recommending further sanctions, saying those would only hurt the 50 million people of an already impoverished country, and make Canada irrelevant to any solutions.
TORONTO – Canadians born between 1945 and 1975 — essentially the baby-boom generation — should be tested for the potentially liver-destroying virus hepatitis C, a new set of guidelines recommends.More than 250,000 Canadians are believed to be infected with hepatitis C, but 40 to 70 per cent are unaware they harbour the blood-borne virus because it can take decades before symptoms become evident. Chronic infection can lead to cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.The Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver, a national group of health-care providers and researchers, published its guidelines on testing and treating hepatitis C in Monday’s edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.A key recommendation is that people be tested based on their age — not only possible risk factors, said Dr. Jordan Feld, a liver specialist at Toronto’s University Health Network and a co-author of the guidelines.“And the reason we’ve done this is it just happens that somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of people with hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1975 in Canada,” he said.“So just the way someone gets a blood pressure check or a cholesterol check or a colonoscopy based on their age, we would recommend that they get a hepatitis C test if they’re born between those years.“And if we do that, we hopefully diagnose the vast majority of people living with hepatitis C.”The recommendations differ from those issued last year by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, which advised screening only people at high risk of infection, no matter their age.“If we could identify people who were not at elevated risk of hepatitis C, I would be all for saying we shouldn’t screen those people,” said Feld. “The problem is we aren’t very good at identifying (them).“That means we have to ask people about risk factors … and most people don’t know whether they’ve been exposed.”People at high risk include those who: engaged in IV drug use with shared needles; had a tattoo or body piercing with unsterile equipment; had unprotected sex with multiple partners; or received a blood transfusion, blood product or an organ transplant prior to 1992.One of the arguments the task force made against age-based screening was the lack of access to effective treatment.But since those guidelines were issued, hepatitis treatment has improved dramatically with the advent of antiviral medications, Feld said.“The old treatments were difficult to take, had lots of side-effects and a low cure rate. Our current treatments are as simple as a pill or a few pills a day for as little as eight to 12 weeks, with cure rates above 95 per cent,” he said.While the drugs are relatively expensive, they are cost-effective in terms of the health-care resources needed to treat advanced liver disease and other complications of chronic hepatitis C infection, said Feld, adding that almost all private and most provincial and territorial drug plans now cover their cost.Screening for the hepatitis C virus, or HCV, involves an inexpensive blood test. Most people exposed to the virus are able to clear the infection, so more than 98 per cent of those tests will be negative, based on prevalence studies of the disease.But for those found to be chronically infected, the test can mean timely life-saving treatment.“Our nightmare is when we see someone who is coming to see us for the first time because they have symptoms,” he said. “They only develop symptoms when they already have cirrhosis and very advanced liver disease in general.“But we really don’t want to wait until that point because the treatments don’t work quite as well in these sick folks. We cure the infection, but we don’t reverse all of the liver damage.”In a related commentary, Drs. Jawad Ahmad and James Crismale of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, lauded the new recommendations.“The updated Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver guideline takes an important step in continuing the fight against HCV in Canada, expanding screening indications to the baby boomer cohort and recommending curative therapy to all individuals affected by HCV.”Feld said the World Health Organization wants to eliminate hepatitis C cases globally by 2030, a goal that Canada has endorsed.“But we’re not going to get there unless we screen and treat those who are infected.”— Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.
VANCOUVER – Health authorities in British Columbia are urging parents of toddlers who were vaccinated in parts of China last year to check their records for a recalled vaccine.The BC Centre for Disease Control says two batches of vaccines for DTP — diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, also known as whooping cough — failed testing and were eventually recalled in October 2017.The centre says the two batches in question may not provide full immunity to patients, and children who received them may require additional vaccination.The two batches were used by provincial disease control centres in both the Shandong and Hebei provinces, and by the city of Chongqing’s Disease Prevention and Control Centre.The centre says there are no safety concerns with the vaccines, but parents of children who were under two years old and living in those areas from March to October 2017 should check their immunization records.Parents are urged to contact local health authorities if their child received either vaccine. Complete details are on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.
TORONTO – The president of Tim Hortons is fed up with the leaky brown tops on its coffee cups that haven’t changed a bit in 20 years — so much that he pushed the company to turn over a new leaf — literally.Alex Macedo said Thursday that six of the brand’s locations are experimenting with more environmentally-friendly lids emblazoned with a maple leaf, adding they have been rigorously tested by thousands of people who climbed hundreds of stairs and drove plenty of kilometres with cups in hand to design a cap that will cut down on the leaking.“If we don’t make these adjustments, we will fall back in time,” Macedo said.“The only people who are going to be pissed off are dry cleaners and car-washing companies. They will wash fewer shirts and fewer cars.”The lid change is just one aspect of the company’s plan to admit mistakes, some of which caused it to fall behind competitors, and make significant changes to win over consumers and franchisees alike.Macedo and Duncan Fulton, the chief corporate officer at Tim Hortons’ parent company Restaurant Brands International, said in a meeting with The Canadian Press that customers will soon see new packaging, marketing campaigns and an emphasis on being environmentally friendly.The initiatives are part of a raft of changes the company recently announced including all-day breakfast, a kids menu, delivery, digital kiosks and a loyalty program.They’re the product of hours of meetings the executives had with franchisees, feedback they received from customers and gripes they’ve heard from their top ranks.“Our head of marketing, who is in charge of packaging, has fallen in love with the Boston cream doughnut,” said Fulton. “Every day I watch him as he gets his Boston creme doughnut, takes it out of the bag looks at the doughnut and looks at the bag and the top of the Boston cream doughnut is smeared inside the bag.”“He is (saying) functionally this is the worst way in the world to serve someone a doughnut with a fresh topping, so packaging has to get at (the) environment, function and design.”He and Macedo said the pressure to change packaging has also mounted in recent months as environmentalists have pushed restaurants to ditch the use of plastic straws unless individual customers ask for them. Tim Hortons most recently that it is “actively reviewing” the use of straws.Macedo doesn’t know which kind of packaging environmentalists will turn their attention to next, but said “we need to be ahead of whatever is next.”That includes looking beyond plastic to the brand’s perception, which came under fire in recent months because of a dissident association, which claims to represent at least half of Tim Hortons franchisees.The Great White North Franchisee Association has publicly argued with Tim Hortons over everything from alleged misuse of a national advertising fund to cuts to employee benefits after Ontario’s minimum wage hike, but Macedo has previously vowed to patch things up.“We think it is not wise to drag the brand through the mud in the public eye because there are 1,500 families that depend on the brand to make a living,” Macedo said, emphasizing that his focus is on keeping franchisees profitable and customers happy.He aims to do that with a new marketing plan he hopes to roll out later this year with a focus on true stories, including one about a Kenyan hockey team that played hockey with little equipment at a mall and has embraced the brand so fervently that Tim Hortons will fly the players over to skate with NHL stars.Another will feature a story Tims staff stumbled across about a girl with a hearing impairment who often heads to Tim Hortons after school with friends. She used to have a hard time communicating that she wanted to order a doughnut or hot chocolate.“It was wintertime and she would blow on the glass and write hot chocolate so the (Tim Hortons staff) would know. The next week (she) came in the lady that had served her had on her own learned how to sign hot chocolate and doughnut,” said Fulton.“They are at a Tim Hortons today shooting the story with the actual lady (and girl). It is what the brand is all about.”Follow @Tara_Deschamps on Twitter.Companies in this story: (TSX: QSR)
FOX POINT, N.S. – Photographs of a cherubic toddler and bright-eyed young woman sit atop Bob Conrad’s well-worn piano, their smiling faces looking out to the site where the veteran fisherman raced 20 years ago as tragedy unfolded in the distance outside his front window.The pictures are mixed in with photos of Conrad’s two daughters and mementoes he has received over the years from families touched by his efforts to recover anything he could the night Swissair Flight 111 plunged into St. Margaret’s Bay, killing all 229 people on board.For Conrad, they are daily reminders of friendships forged in the aftermath of the air disaster and the unexpected joy that can grow out of such sorrow.“You know, something like that event was just so significant at the time and still is and it’s a wonderful thing that we were able to maintain connections and grow those relationships,” he said in his living room overlooking the bay’s glistening waters in Fox Point, N.S.“We have made wonderful friendships, so out of a tragedy there’s the little bit of a bright side that happens. And, they are treasures to us.”Those connections began soon after the MD-11 jet fell from a moonless sky on Sept. 2, 1998, shattering into millions of pieces when it hit the ocean floor about 10 kilometres off Peggy’s Cove on the south shore of Nova Scotia.Conrad, now 71, was dozing on his couch in front of the TV after a long day of tuna fishing when he heard athunderous boom race across the water toward shore. Soon after, he began hearing reports of a possible plane crash not far from his hilltop home.He quickly told his wife, Peggy, that he was going to head out on his boat to see if he could help in what many thought at the time would be a rescue effort.Casting off from the wharf nearby, Conrad motored toward the glow of orange flares illuminating the crash site on a rain-soaked, miserable night. Alone in his boat, he heard the radio chatter of colleagues who had already drifted into a gruesome array of plane wreckage, clothing and all manner of human remains.He soon found himself in the middle of a debris field full of pieces so pulverized he knew no one could have survived.One of the first items Conrad tried to bring aboard was a waterlogged suitcase that was too heavy to pull up on his boat. He let it go, but used his gaffe to haul in a jacket that was sticking out of the case.He turned it over to the police and thought little of it until he met Nancy White when she ventured out to his house with Janet and David Wilkins, who had lost their 19-year-old son, Monte, in the crash.Conrad soon learned that White’s teenage daughter had packed her suede jacket before boarding Flight 111 to go to Switzerland to study pastry making.“She recognized it as her daughter’s and of course those kinds of connections are extremely important to people who are dealing with that kind of loss,” Conrad said of the young woman, Rowenna Lee, the spirited teen whose photo is a fixture on Conrad’s piano.“One thing that we came to learn very much and very quickly was that these family members wanted to know every detail of whatever it is that they can possibly know about the event in all of its detail. So, we were able to meet them and have a wonderful time with them at the time and we made friendships that have borne the test.”Those relations also extended to the family of Robert Martin Maillet, the brown-eyed toddler who was 14 months old when he perished with his parents Karen Domingue Maillet and Denis Maillet, both 37, of Baton Rouge, La.Conrad spotted the baby’s body as he moved through the debris, his light trained on what he at first thought was a child’s doll.“I brought him aboard and later found out he had the same name I had — he was a Robert and I was a Robert. So I just cared for the body and wrapped it in a blanket,” said the soft-spoken fisherman, glancing at the photo of little Robert, whose grandparents later made an emotional visit to the Conrads and still keep in touch.“What meant a lot to them was simply to hold the hands that had last held their grandson.”The emotions also reverberated in the communities that dot the rugged coastline.At the time, dozens of fishermen took to their boats in a futile bid to find survivors, while residents spent days combing the picturesque shoreline for any sign of debris.Scott Hubley had just gotten in from fishing when news reports began coming in that a plane had gone down somewhere off Peggy’s Cove, close to where he plied the waters for mackerel, halibut and lobster. He pulled on his boots so quickly he didn’t put on socks and headed to his father’s house so they could begin searching for survivors.“It was a black old night,” he said. “We started picking up luggage, clothes, food trays — whatever’s on a plane — and then it got more graphic. Stuff you’ve never seen before, but you knew what it was.”Hubley, 49, doesn’t think often of the crash but says memories of that night remain vivid and return “every now and then,” particularly for his elderly father.Reminders of the accident are inescapable for many in the area — where the sky above serves as an aviation superhighway that hugs the coast of Nova Scotia before veering across the Atlantic to Europe.Flight 111 was on that track when it set off from New York for Geneva at 8:18 p.m. with pilot Urs Zimmerman and co-pilot Stephan Loew at the controls. It began tracking north, but about 52 minutes into the flight Loew caught a whiff of what he thought was smoke in the cockpit.The pair began a descent as an electrical fire in the ceiling over the cockpit spread and the pilots struggled to get the aircraft on the ground. Just 31 kilometres from Halifax International Airport, Zimmerman turned the aircraft back over the ocean to dump fuel before attempting a final approach.Doomed by a catastrophic system failure, the plane struck the water nose first at 10:31 p.m. local time at 560 kilometres an hour, killing the 14 crew and 215 passengers instantly.Investigators concluded in 2003 that the fire started when an arcing wire — a phenomenon in which a wire’s coating is corroded and can lead to sparking — ignited a flammable insulation covering in the ceiling.For many, recollections of that night and the exhaustive investigation that followed will likely return as people gather for the 20th anniversary of the crash this Sunday.A service will be held at a memorial site just up the road from Conrad’s house in Bayswater, where many of the 15,000 body parts recovered after the crash were buried. Set against a stunning ocean vista, the granite memorial is engraved with the names of the dead and the epitaph: “They have been joined to the sky and the sea.”Another memorial in Whalesback stares out to the crash site and the iconic lighthouse in the tourist mecca of Peggy’s Cove, which became ground zero for police, the Transportation Safety Board and military officials in the days after the crash.John Campbell, who lives in Peggy’s Cove and runs the Sou’Wester restaurant, saw his community taken over by officials, grieving family members and the media immediately after the crash. His restaurant was closed for more than five days when it became a sort of command centre for officials orchestrating the massive recovery and investigation.The government wharf outside his window became a makeshift morgue for crews bringing in remains and flotsam.Campbell too saw first-hand the devastating impact of the crash after spending hours at sea collecting debris, something he still is not comfortable discussing. But for Campbell, the immediate impact of the crash didn’t end when the TV crews and investigators left.For years, he ferried relatives out to the crash site to spread the ashes of their loved ones. It was an act that eventually took a toll on the affable businessman, who ended up selling his boat and ending the trips after a memorable encounter involving a woman who lost her fiance on Flight 111.“She made a comment along the lines of, ‘I’m not sure it’s worth going on,’ and I’ll never forget it because I was scared that she had a different plan than just going out to the site,” he said, standing in the shadow of the cove’s picture-perfect white and red lighthouse.“I thought, ‘I’m not equipped for dealing with this’… So after the five years and taking the families out, I decided to get out of the boat business.”Still, others like Conrad embrace the “bright” legacy of the Swissair disaster and the enduring relationships it spawned.The Wilkins family were due to arrive at his home from California this week for one of their semi-regular visits and to mark the anniversary.Conrad beamed as he described their coming reunion and the bond forged from a tragedy he says has taught him valuable lessons.“It has sharpened my understanding of what it is really important,” he says.“It makes the life that you live, especially as you get older, just that much more precious and meaningful. That was 20 years ago, but it just gets better and better and better. Those relationships don’t die off, they just secure themselves.”– Follow @alison_auld on Twitter
OTTAWA – Ottawa ran a surplus of $1.11 billion in June, compared with a surplus of $16 million in the same month last year, boosted by higher income tax revenue, employment insurance premiums and other revenue.According to the monthly fiscal monitor report from the Department of Finance, revenue totalled $27.13 billion in June, up from $24.98 billion in the same month last year.Program spending totalled $23.81 billion, up from $22.94 billion, while public debt charges for the month totalled $2.21 billion, up from $2.04 billion.For the April-to-June period, the federal government posted a surplus of $4.29 billion, compared with a surplus of $83 million reported in the same period of 2017–18.The government’s February budget predicted a deficit of $18.1 billion for the current 2018-19 fiscal yearThe fiscal monitor said the financial results so far are broadly in line with the fiscal projection for 2018–19 presented in the budget with expenses expected to be concentrated later in the fiscal year.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is recalling certain types of cauliflower, red and green leaf lettuce due to possible E-coli contamination.The products were imported by Adam Bros. Farming Inc. and were sold to consumers, retailers and restaurants in several provinces including Ontario and Quebec.The CFIA is recommending that the recalled products be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.The recall was triggered by a recall in the United States resulting in an investigation into an outbreak of E-coli linked to the consumption of romaine lettuce.Food contaminated with E-coli O157:H7 may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. So far, the CFIA says there have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, mild to severe abdominal cramps and watery to bloody diarrhea.
MONTREAL — Longshoremen at the Port of Montreal have voted nearly unanimously for a strike mandate to be used at any time during ongoing contract negotiations with their employers.Union spokesman Michel Murray said today 99.49 per cent of voting members recently gave their union the power to call a strike at the second-largest port in the country.Murray says he is not optimistic regarding the state of negotiations between his union and the Maritime Employers Association, a group that includes ship owners, operators, agents and longshoring companies.He says the roughly 1,100 longshoremen at the port are looking to improve working conditions, including changing schedules that require members to work 19 days out of 21.Murray adds that longshoremen work under strict rules, face habitual disciplinary measures and are suspended frequently.A spokesman for the employers’ association says negotiations are going well and its members are surprised by the union’s statements.Yves Comeau says the objective of the association is to conclude a good deal for both sides.The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — The packed holiday masses that took place as scheduled in the St-Antoine and St-Paule churches north of Montreal seemed extra special this year, given that a few months ago it looked like they might not happen at all.That’s because the churches were two of more than 30 that were on a list to be considered for closure as part of the Diocese of St-Jerome’s tentative plan to radically slash its 54 churches by more than half.But amid the uproar that followed in the early months of 2018, the diocese reversed course and is now trying a different experiment: letting the congregations decide their own futures.Bishop Raymond Poisson, who was brought in from the neighbouring Joliette diocese this summer to help manage the file, said the fact remains that there are too many church buildings and not enough worshippers.However, he admitted that the original committee’s plan to unilaterally close and sell off churches — with no input from their members — was a mistake.“These buildings are filled with emotions,” he said. “We can’t do just anything with them.”Poisson, who recently completed a tour of all the diocese’s parishes, said no churches will be closed without the community’s consent.Instead, the diocese is asking each parish to provide building inspections and repair estimates for each church, as well as a report on attendance and finances.These reports, he said, will be shared with the community, who will collectively decide whether to close and merge with another church or develop a plan to stay open.While it seems unlikely a congregation will vote to close its own church, Poisson believes that church communities will be willing to make tough choices if given the right information.But at the same time, he said, money won’t be the only factor.“A church isn’t (a business), it’s a family, and decisions aren’t made only based on money,” he said. “In a family, sometimes you make a decision that seems strange, but it’s out of love.”Poisson said the rumours of impending closures was devastating to congregations, which saw their attendance decline and financial offerings drop by up to 25 per cent.But he said it also had a positive effect, as congregations and local communities formed citizens’ groups and brainstormed to find solutions.Gauthier Elleme, the priest at St-Antoine and St-Paule’s churches, also believes the threat of closures served as a wake-up call.“The parishioners were shocked, because they saw the churches were closing, but at the same time they saw there was a problem,” says Elleme, who helps co-ordinate activities in four parishes.In response to the bishop’s challenge, Elleme said the churches are looking at ways to raise revenue, including renting out rooms and forming more partnerships with community organizations.Church buildings are expensive to maintain, and some congregations will be faced with raising tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for major repairs that have been put off too long.But most importantly, Elleme and other priests are asking the faithful to step up and become increasingly involved in welcoming new members into a “living community” that goes beyond the priest.He acknowledged that reversing a decades-long attendance decline will be difficult, and it’s not always easy for elderly church-goers to change their ways.But nevertheless, he sees signs of hope.Elleme said that while the church is emerging from a “dark period” where many turned away, he’s seeing a growing core of young members who are willing to embrace faith.And the 36-year-old priest has plenty of ideas on how to appeal to them, from “redynamizing” traditional church music to sermons that emphasize love and joyful living rather than the prohibition of sin.And while he said congregations will never rebound to the numbers they reached in the past, when many attended out of a sense of duty or obligation, he believes they’ll live on in a smaller and maybe better way.“People (who attend) will have made a choice, rather than submitting to social pressures, and as a priest I prefer that than to see churches full of people who didn’t choose to come,” he said.Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press