APTN National NewsIf you haven’t heard of the name Sho Sho Esquiro, you will soon.The fashion designer originally from Ross River, Yukon, is making her mark on the international fashion scene in a big way.APTN National News reporter Tina House has this story.
APTN National NewsIt’s the cornerstone of the Prime Minister’s Aboriginal agenda.The Harper government says it’s trying to address dismal education outcomes by bringing on-reserve schools up to par with provincially run schools.They plan on doing that with the First Nations Education Act.APTN’s Delaney Windigo knows more about the proposed legislation.
Willow FiddlerAPTN NewsPolice in Thunder Bay failed to properly investigate at least nine sudden death investigations of Indigenous people in the city, a long-awaited report has found.In its report, released Wednesday, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) called the Thunder Bay Police Service’s (TBPS) investigations into a number of sudden deaths in the city “inadequate” and “so problematic that at least nine of these cases should be reinvestigated.”In his report, titled Broken Trust, Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police, Gerry McNeilly reviewed 37 Thunder Bay police investigations, most of them missing persons and homicides, and mostly involving Indigenous victims.The independent director found “significant deficiencies” in how TBPS records or maintains 11 investigation files.“A number of TBPS investigators involved in these investigations lacked the expertise and experience to conduct sudden death or homicide investigations,” McNeilly said about his findings.McNeilly called the relationship between Indigenous people and Thunder Bay police “nothing short of a crisis.”(Brad DeBungee, brother of Stacey DeBungee. His complaint against the TBPS for how they investigated his brother’s death prompted the OIPRD systemic review of the service. Photo: Willow Fiddler/APTN)The 196-page report delivered 44 recommendations related to sudden death investigations, the Criminal Investigations Branch and the operations and relationships between TBPSMcNeilly said he became increasingly aware of the strained relationship between the TBPS and Indigenous people over the years.“I raised the issue with the police chief on a number of occasions, but remained unconvinced that TBPS’s responses improved the relationship,” he says in the report.It’s the first systemic review of a police service in the province.McNeilly has conducted other systemic reviews related to police oversight but not one that specifically looked at how forces police Indigenous people.McNeilly said he initiated the systemic review of TBPS after he received complaints about the 2015 death invetigation of Stacey DeBungee, a First Nations man from Rainy River First Nation found in the McIntyre River.“Indigenous leaders and community members told me that TBPS investigations of Indigenous deaths and other interactions with police devalued Indigenous lives, reflected differential treatment and were based on racist attitudes and stereotypical preconceptions about Indigenous people,” McNeilly said.The OIPRD reviewed DeBungee’s death investigation and found two TBPS investigators guilty of discredible conduct last winter.Some of McNeilly’s recommendations include: -The inadequacy of the TBPS sudden death investigations the OIPRD reviewed was so problematic that at least nine of the cases should be reinvestigated.-A multi-discipline team should be established to reinvestigate, at a minimum, the deaths of the nine Indigenous people identified. The team should include representatives from TBPS, a First Nations police service, outside police service(s), the Office of the Chief Coroner and the Office of the Chief Forensic Pathologist. The team should also establish a protocol for determining what additional death investigations should be reinvestigated.-TBPS should initiate an external peer-review process for sudden death and homicide investigations for at least the next three years.-TBPS should focus proactively on actions to eliminate systemic racism, including removing systemic barriers and the root causes of racial inequities in the service.-TBPS leadership should publicly and formally acknowledge that racism exists at all levels within the police service and that it will not tolerate racist views or actions. TBPS leadership should engage with Indigenous communities on the forum for and content of these acknowledgements. This would be an important step in TBPS advancing reconciliation with Indigenous people.-The Thunder Bay Police Services Board should publicly and formally acknowledge racism exists within TBPS and take a leadership role in repairing the relationship between TBPS and Indigenous communities.-TBPS leadership should create a permanent advisory group involving the police chief and Indigenous leadership.-The Office of the Chief Coroner, Ontario’s Chief Forensic Pathologist, the Regional Coroner and TBPS should implement the Thunder Bay Death Investigations Framework on a priority basis. The framework clarifies roles and responsibilities, improves communication and increases information sharing to ensure objective, high quality death investigations.These concerns are not new for Indigenous people in Thunder Bay.The student inquest in 2015-2016 looked at the deaths of seven First Nations students attending high school in the city between 2000-2011.McNeilly reviewed sudden death investigations going back to 2009, as well as the seven student death investigations.Four of the cases the OIPRD recommends reopening appear to be from the Coroner’s student inquest. APTN News matched the dates of the cases in the report with these names: Jethro Anderson, Curran Strang, Kyle Morrisseau and Jordan Wabasse.McNeilly says the concerns about Thunder Bay police date back even further.“That the questions raised by Indigenous people in 1993 remained as valid as they did some 25 years ago, was deeply troubling, and demanded an urgent and comprehensive response,” McNeilly writes in the report.The report also includes recommendations that the TBPS “initiate an external peer-reviewed process for sudden death and homicide investigations for at least the next three years.”It also recommends the force and its board “publicly and formally acknowledge racism exists at all levels within the police service and that it will not tolerate racist views or actions,” that TBPS leadership “create a permanent advisory group involving the police chief and Indigenous leadership,” and that the force take action to eliminate systemic racism, including removing systemic barriers and the root causes of racial inequities in the service.”On Wednesday afternoon Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde called the report “tragic” but “unsurprising,” saying in a statement its findings “reinforce what First Nations have been saying for years — systemic racism is clearly something that needs to be addressed in a profound and substantial manner.“Obviously, current approaches to investigating the deaths and disappearances of First Nations fail all of us, erode trust and exacerbate already strained relationships,” Bellegarde said, calling on the TBPS to “work with First Nations to take action on the recommendations.”(Thunder Bay Police Chief Sylvie Hauth listens to McNeilly’s assessment of her force. Photo: Willow Fiddler/APTN)In a statement released shortly after the announcement Wednesday Thunder Bay Police Chief Sylvie Hauth said in a written statement her force “acknowledge[s] that there are systemic barriers in policing that must be addressed,” and that they will “need time to study and consider all of the specific recommendations.“With help from this report, the service continues to work towards bias-free policing. In the coming days, we will examine these recommendations. It is our hope that they will be of great value as we continue to build trust with the Indigenous community,” she saidJulian Falconer, a lawyer who represented the Nishnawbe Aski Nation during the inquest and is counsel to Brad DeBungee (Stacy DeBungee’s brother) and Rainy River First Nations, said in a statement following the report’s release that the OIPRD’s findings “are absolutely unequivocal regarding the widespread nature of racism that is rampant at the TBPS.“The report is unprecedented. I have never seen a report of an entire police force on this level with these findings,” Falconer said.Brad DeBungee said in the statement that he “could feel in my heart from the first day I dealt with a police officer that he treated me and my family differently because we are Indigenous.“Now the proof is out, and they must answer for this.”Rainy River First Nation leadership also issued a statement Wednesday, calling the OIPRD report’s recommendations to be “implemented fully and promptly”.“It is of utmost importance that this Systemic Review is the catalyst for meaningful change in the way Indigenous people are treated by the Thunder Bay Police Service,” the statement reads.“If we are to understand the broken relationship between Indigenous people and police, we must first understand the history and impact of colonization on Indigenous people,” McNeilly writes in the report.“Much of the suspicion and distrust that Indigenous people feel toward police is rooted in a history of colonial policies.”After the OIPRD report was released the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) announced it will release its review of the TBPS board on Friday.That investigation was launched in July 2017 after Indigenous leaders raised shared concerns around the deaths of Indigenous students in Thunder Bay. It is being led by Canadian Senator Murray Sinclair, who also led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s firstname.lastname@example.org@willowblasizzo
Willow FiddlerAPTN NewsThunder Bay is known for its legendary landmark, Nanabijoo or the Sleeping Giant.It provides a calmness to a city that can feel chaotic.But what would it take to wake the giant?A group of teachers from Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School tried to do just that as they pulled off a music festival with a loud message of reconciliation.It started out last year when they made stickers with the Wake the Giant logo – and asked businesses put it on their store window as a sign that Indigenous people are welcome and safe.More than 300 businesses have signed up to get a sticker so far, according to organizers.Sean Spenrath is one of those organizers.He said a music festival is a way to broaden their audience.“It really is getting the message out to people that you wouldn’t normally get the message out to. It’s a different crowd,” Spenrath said.“We’re obviously targeting a younger crowd because at the end of the day the crowd that we’re targeting are the next people that are going to have kids and we want them to raise those kids without those stereotypes attached or anything like that.”(Musicians July Talk and Nick Ferrio perform the song they recorded together called “Mourning.” Photo: Willow Fiddler/APTN) Among the impressive and diverse lineup that drew crowds of music fans was Ernest Monias, who’s earned the title King of the North from his fans, and Thunder Bay’s own award-winning Coleman Hell.“Obviously there’s just like a history of colonialism and racism and things like that all throughout Canada, it also happens in Thunder Bay,” Coleman Hell said in an interview.“I think that the more inclusive we can be and the more we can talk about this kind of stuff, it’s just a step in the right direction.”Norma Kejick is the school’s administrator.She said the campaign is a response to the recommendations from the inquest into the deaths of seven students to make the city more inclusive and safe.“We wanted something to identify to our students that this was a safe place,” Kejick said.“That if somebody was following them, if somebody was chasing them that they had a business they could go in and they would get help.”Kejick said she’s heard some criticism because the Wake the Giant campaign is being led by 3 non-Indigenous teachers but says the work of reconciliation can’t always be led by indigenous people.“The message here for all of us to come together. It’s about time that we have to stop saying who should be doing what it’s together,” she said.“We always say it takes a whole village to raise a child, well it does. It’s not just us that needs to do it, we need to do it together.”A highlight of the festival was a performance by music students from DFC and July Talk, a Juno award-winning Canadian band.Organizers say about 3,500 people attended including Bruce O’Keese from Eabameetoong who has a granddaughter living in the city.“It’s really good for the up north people to come and support an event like this because I just heard about it too last week, so I just decided to come and try to sneak off from work,” he said laughing.Logan Ollivier said the city was overdue for an event like this.“To not only show First Nations people they’re welcome here but for us to learn more about what their culture is about and to meet them and not see them as someone outside of the community but just brothers and sisters in the community.”email@example.com@willowblasizzo
The cost of borrowing for a home keeps going up, a potential obstacle to would-be buyers at a time when home prices are at all-time highs in more than half of major U.S. markets.Average long-term mortgage rates have been rising steadily this year and are now at the highest level in almost four years. That translates into higher mortgage payments and more money paid out over the life of the typical 30-year home loan.Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to 4.38 per cent this week, up from 4.32 per cent last week. That’s the highest rate since April 2014. At the start of the year, the average rate was just under 4 per cent. The rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose to 3.84 per cent from 3.77 per cent last week.The pickup in mortgage rates dims prospects for would-be homebuyers struggling to compete in a housing market where a thin inventory of homes for sale continues to drive up prices.The median U.S. home price climbed 5.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2017 to $235,400, according to the National Association of Realtors. The trade group said that prices for single-family homes hit record highs in 114 of 177 major metropolitan areas that it tracked.The increases in home prices have been growing at a pace more than double the gains in average hourly earnings.“We’ve seen 5-to-7 per cent price gains since 2015, and we’re still seeing prices rise this year,” said Javier Vivas, director of economic research at Realtor.com. “When you have that sort of growth with prices, and now with mortgage rate increases, that’s putting a dent especially in the entry level buyer.”Recent wage gains and rising prices are stoking concerns about inflation picking up, which has caused investors to seek higher interest rates. Mortgage rates are closely aligned with the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes, which has climbed above 2.90 per cent from 2.43 per cent at the end of last year.Just a few months ago, homebuyers had the benefit of average 30-year mortgages that were 3.78 per cent in September. The low mortgage rates had eased some of the price pressures facing would-be homebuyers. Now they might find it harder to save for a down payment and purchase a home.How much the latest rate increase affects the cost of a loan depends on whether one looks at the monthly cost, versus the cost over a 30-year span of a loan.Using the median U.S. home price in December of $246,800, and assuming a 20 per cent down payment, a 30-year mortgage at 4.38 per cent would translate roughly to $986 a month, but to $157,653 paid in interest over the full term of the loan. The same home purchased in the first week of this year, when rates were just below 4 per cent, would have saved the buyer about $45 a month, but that would add up to roughly $16,163 in interest payouts over the loan’s full term.The rise in mortgage rates this year is already spurring would-be buyers to act now, rather than wait until the spring, traditionally the busiest period for home sales, noted Kim Wirtz, a broker at Century 21 Affiliated in Chicago.“Many sellers are listing their homes earlier and many buyers are buying a lot earlier than in the past,” Wirtz said. “Buyers are out there a little earlier than they normally would have been to try to lock in an interest rate before it’s too late.”If mortgage rates keep rising at a quick pace, it could limit what people can afford to pay and cause demand for housing to fall.So far, Wirtz hasn’t had any buyers lower their price range because higher rates have reduced their buying power.“I have not yet had any buyers stop looking because of the rates,” she said. “But I believe that might be on the horizon.”Economists expect rates to move higher this year. Bankrate’s forecast calls for rates on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage to climb above 5 per cent, then pull back to finish the year at 4.5 per cent.That’s still a bargain to anyone who bought a house decades ago.“The first home I bought in the ’80s was at double-digit interest rates,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com. “Were mindful that it was something that was historically unusual, but it didn’t dissuade us from buying homes and it didn’t kill the housing market.”
HAMILTON – Ontario’s Liberal premier says her first priority if re-elected will be to support the province’s steel industry in the wake of newly announced U.S. trade tariffs.Kathleen Wynne, who is days away from a provincial election, said Friday that her Liberals would provide support equal to “half the hardship” incurred as a result of the tariffs, and called on the federal government to cover the other half.“The tariffs on steel and aluminum exports imposed by (U.S. President Donald) Trump yesterday are completely unacceptable to me,” Wynne said at a campaign event near Hamilton, one of Ontario’s steel-producing cities. “They just make no sense and they put so many families at risk.”Provincial support could take the form of worker training or education but the Liberal party is still figuring out how to best support the industry if the tariffs persist, Wynne said.Ontario’s Liberals say the province’s steel industry employs 16,000 people and accounts for 70 per cent of Canada’s steel production capacity.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Ottawa will work with Canadian companies hit by the tariffs to protect jobs and workers but hasn’t offered further details.On Thursday, he announced retaliatory dollar-for-dollar tariff “countermeasures” on up to $16.6 billion worth of American imports.Wynne told reporters she is “150 per cent committed” to Trudeau’s response.“When you’re being bullied you have to stand up to the bully,” she said. “You have to say ‘We’re not going to take this, we are going to push back in order to protect our workers, their families, our communities.”Former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, campaigning with Wynne in Waterloo, Ont., on Friday afternoon, applauded the federal government’s “very strong” stance on U.S. tariffs.“We are going to do far better than anybody thinks,” Martin said. “The reason is the strenght of the government’s response and the kinds of things that Premier Wynne has done.”Wynne said she will fight for the tariffs to be repealed and, until then, to make sure Ontario’s steel industry has the necessary support to remain competitive.She also criticized Tory Leader Doug Ford — who she said has not responded to her call for united opposition to the tariffs — and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who has said Wynne and Trudeau could have done more to prevent the tariffs.The premier said she has met with dozens of U.S. politicians to talk about trade and called Horwath’s response to the tariffs “inadequate.” Wynne’s criticism of her rivals comes as recent polls suggest either Horwath or Ford could be the next premier.
GENEVA – China is challenging the latest round of U.S. tariffs against Chinese goods through the World Trade Organization.The Chinese government on Monday formally requested “dispute consultations” with the United States over the Trump administration’s imposition of $16 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods last week. China has responded with similar taxes on U.S. goods.Its request to the World Trade Organization opens a 60-day period for the two countries to hold talks.China already is holding talks with the U.S. about its previous tariffs on both Chinese steel and aluminum products and over alleged Chinese violations of U.S. intellectual property protections.All told, the administration is preparing tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese products. China has vowed to retaliate on American goods worth $60 billion.Separately, the U.S. ambassador to the WTO, Dennis Shea, told a WTO body that the United States would not support the reappointment of Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing as a member of the WTO’s appellate body, according to a transcript of his remarks in the closed-door session.If that holds up, the appellate body will fall to three members when Servansing’s term expires on Sept. 30. Three is the minimum number of members for the appellate body to rule on cases.Critics say the United States is trying to asphyxiate the appellate body. The next expiration of a member’s term looms in December next year, and the appellate body would become inoperable if new appointments or reappointments aren’t made before then.Shea says the U.S. has long believed the appellate body has operated beyond the terms of its original mandate, and blasted “persistent overreaching” with its decisions on issues like subsidies and antidumping duties, and by “restricting the ability of the United States to regulate in the public interest or protect U.S. workers and businesses against unfair trading practices.”He said U.S. concerns about the appellate body have not been addressed.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The Group of 20 summit enters its crucial second and final day Saturday with hours left for diplomats to bridge divisions on major issues including world trade, climate change and tackling migration.The day will also see a highly anticipated meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose nations have been embroiled in an escalating trade war with new U.S. tariffs on China goods set to take effect a month from now.The divisions among the world’s leading economies were evident from the moment Argentina’s president opened the summit Friday with a call for international co-operation to solve the planet’s problems.Trump sought to use the gathering to make his own trade deals. Meanwhile, two men under heavy criticism from the West lately — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — appeared to seek refuge in each other, bonding with a tough-guy hand grab as the leaders sat down around a huge round table for talks.Security concerns also weighed on the two-day talks in Buenos Aires. Argentina’s security minister said eight gasoline bombs were discovered in an area of the capital several miles from the summit venue where a protest in the afternoon drew thousands of demonstrators who held up banners with slogans like “Go away G-20” and “Go away Trump.”Diplomats from the G-20 countries were haggling hard over a final joint statement, with disagreement over what language to use on the Paris climate accord and the World Trade Organization.Two European officials involved in the discussions said the U.S. was stymieing progress on both.So an unorthodox solution emerged: Because of resistance from the Trump administration, an official in the French president’s office said the statement may have language that sets the U.S. apart. For example, a draft says 19 of the participants agree on the importance of upholding the Paris climate accord, but the U.S. doesn’t.The officials said the U.S. was also blocking any mention of migration in the final statement. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the closed-door discussions.Asked about the European concerns, a U.S. official said progress was being made on the joint statement and the White House was “optimistic” about the document as a whole.Laura Jaitman, the Argentine Treasury official shepherding the G-20’s financing talks, said leaders have made progress on finance and trade and was hopeful a joint statement would be possible.“There’s a very positive message of how trade has been an engine of growth for the next decades and how it will continue in the future providing benefits for all citizens,” Jaitman said.Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said trade talks were moving forward and nations were continuing to work on climate change wording.“All issues being discussed at the summit have the same relevance,” he told reporters. “We are debating (trade and climate change) more closely because we want to reach the consensus of all the countries involved.”Faurie said the final communique does not require the signature of presidents.Argentine President Mauricio Macri kicked off the summit by acknowledging divisions within the G-20 while urging world leaders to have a “sense of urgency” and take actions “based on shared interests.”European Council President Donald Tusk urged G-20 leaders to discuss “trade wars, the tragic situation in Syria and Yemen, and Russian aggression in Ukraine.” He said the European Union is expected to extend sanctions on Moscow over its “totally unacceptable” seizure of Ukrainian ships and their crews near the Crimean Peninsula.Russia and Ukraine have traded blame over the weekend ship incident — which Trump cited in cancelling a much-awaited meeting with Putin at the G-20. Russia’s foreign minister regretted the move, but said “love can’t be forced.”Also looming large amid dozens of bilateral meetings in Buenos Aires was the gruesome slaying of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate and the participation at the summit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is alleged to have ordered the killing.As soon as he arrived, bin Salman was confronted by French President Emmanuel Macron, who pressed him on the Khashoggi investigation and the Saudi-backed war in Yemen.Bin Salman told Macron not to worry, but Macron countered, “I am worried.”Saudi Arabia has denied that bin Salman played a role, but U.S. intelligence agencies concluded he ordered the killing.Leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico, meanwhile, met Friday morning to sign a trade deal replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement that was struck following months of tough negotiations that analysts say left a bitter taste among the partners.Trump called the pact a “model agreement that changes the trade landscape forever.”It must still be ratified by lawmakers in all three countries, and passage in the U.S. could face a tough road in the House of Representatives after Democrats won a majority in November midterm elections.While Trump cancelled his meeting with Putin, the U.S. president was still scheduled to meet with China’s Xi, but analysts were not optimistic about prospects for a major breakthrough on their countries’ trade disputes a month before U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods are set to ramp up.___Associated Press writers Luis Andres Henao, Almudena Calatrava and Debora Rey in Buenos Aires and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.Angela Charlton, Peter Orsi And Luis Andres Henao, The Associated Press
LONDON — As Brexit enters its endgame, the big divide is not between the U.K. and the European Union, but between Britain’s government and Parliament.Since Britain struck a divorce deal with the EU late last year, the executive and legislature have been at war.Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to win backing for the agreement ahead of Parliament’s vote next week while lawmakers try to grab control of the Brexit process.The battle has destabilized a country without a formal written constitution and where democracy rests on centuries of law, precedent and convention.London School of Economics Professor Iain Begg said Thursday that Britain is “getting very close” to a constitutional crisis.He says “if Theresa May loses the vote next week, we don’t actually know what happens next.”The Associated Press
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The first-ever count of Fort St. John’s homeless population will be conducted this April, and is being done in coordination with the Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society.The Society will be conducting the survey alongside Homelessness Services Association of BC. Fort St. John is one of twelve communities across B.C. that will participate in the province-wide count. Williams Lake, Prince Rupert, and Smithers are the three other Northern B.C. communities conducting a homeless count, which occurs between March 1st and April 30th. The provincial government’s role in the count is to ensure that the point-in-time methodology is being used consistently in the communities undergoing the count.The homeless count will occur over a span of 24 hours, beginning the night before April 18th and will include counts in shelters, RCMP holding cells, hospitals, and other known places where at-risk individuals stay overnight. During the day, the same procedure will occur; with mechanisms in place to avoid duplicating persons who have been counted already. Each person that is counted will be asked to complete a survey about their living situation to highlight needs for at-risk individuals, which can give feedback on potential future funding to help combat homelessness. The survey’s full results should be publicly available several months after the count is completed.The Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society is currently searching for volunteers to help with this year’s homeless count. Each volunteer must be available the day of the count, and for a training session that is taking place the evening of Tuesday, April 10th. A survey has been created to best identify the commitments of each volunteer, and can be found at the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FSJ2018.For more information about the homeless count or how to volunteer, contact coordinator Phallon Stoutenburg at 250-787-1121 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fort St. John City Council will be deciding whether or not to give the City’s mascot a makeover at Monday’s council meeting.Last fall, the City started the public consultation process with the idea of replacing Frozen John due to the mascot costume’s age. After gathering public feedback, staff put forward a proposal to replace Frozen John with a hockey-playing moose.Last December, Council rejected the idea due to the City getting confused with this radio station’s news website, Energeticcity.ca. At Monday’s meeting, staff will present a new version of the mascot based on the City of Fort St. John’s branding guidelines.“These guidelines ensure that the new Frozen John is aligned with the corporate look while maintaining his character and charm.”The mascot will swap his elf shoes and bright orange jacket for a pair of boots, a blue scarf and a yellow zip-up jacket.The estimated cost for the mascot update would be $6,930.If approved, the new Frozen John would be unveiled at an upcoming city celebration like the Santa Claus Parade or Canada Day, depending on when the mascot is finished.
New Delhi: A Delhi court Friday extended till March 25 the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis scam cases filed by the CBI and the ED. Special Judge O P Saini adjourned the matter after senior advocate Sonia Mathur, appearing for the CBI, sought time to argue on their anticipatory bail applications. Similar request was also made by ED’s Special Public Prosecutors Nitesh Rana and N K Matta which was allowed by the court. During the hearing senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Sinhgvi, appearing for the father-son duo, opposed the adjournment sought by the agencies, saying a lot of time has been spent since filing of the applications. The case relates to alleged irregularities in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal.
Rahul Gandhi has finally promised Rs 72,000 yearly to 20 per cent of the poorest people in the country if Congress comes to power. BJP’s Arun Jaitley, the Union Finance Minister, called it a bluff and termed Rahul’s announcing the basic minimum income scheme ‘a bid to cheat poor’. Supporters of the idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI) hailed the announcement. Sceptics, being worried about fiscal costs, raised a probing finger as to how the required money would come? Also Read – A special kind of bondHowever, the two recently published papers of the IMF, one published as Finance and Development article in December 2018 and the other as an IMF Working Paper with special reference to India in July 2018, have already proved that budget neutral UBI can be planned for economic growth and well-being of the people. The papers have also given various models of implementing such a programme emphasising that a UBI can be a more effective way of supporting low-income households when existing income support programmes are inefficient, and can play an important role in generating public and political support for the implementation of structural reforms in support of economic growth. Also Read – Insider threat managementThe authors of the article published in December are soon coming with IMF Working Paper titled “Universal Basic Income: Debate and Impact Assessment” which the present article draws on. The article was titled ‘What is Universal Basic Income?’ The article says that simple UBI programme could save administrative costs and increase the transparency of transfer systems, making them less subject to administrative discretion and corruption. It would also be useful as a strategic instrument to support structural reforms. The IMF Working Paper published in July was more specific. It was titled “Universal Basic Income in Developing Countries: Issues, Options, and Illustration for India.” The paper starts by discussing the adoption of UBI as a substitute for the Public Distribution System (PDS), which provides income support to households through price subsidies for wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene consumption. It then discusses the introduction of UBI as part of an ambitious structural reform programme centred on increasing energy prices to efficient levels that reflect the true social cost of energy consumption. Both models are designed to be budget neutral. While the replacement of PDS with UBI would help to address the under-coverage of low-income households, this gain would come at the expense of a slight increase in leakage of benefits to higher income groups. Alternatively, by excluding higher income groups from the UBI, the savings could be recycled to finance the scheme. A key feature of the analysis in the paper is the focus on fiscally neutral reforms to help bring out the important trade-offs between various policy objectives and possible concerns about the adoption of UBI, such as enhancing public expenditures (e.g., public investments in infrastructure, education, health, and nutrition). Fiscal gains from subsidy reforms may finance such a scheme, the paper showed. The authors of the papers argue in support of replacing the inefficient system to reach the poor. They cited the example where the Indian Ministry of Finance estimates that 36 per cent of total PDS allocation never reaches final beneficiaries because of “out-of-system” leakages along the procurement-transportation-distribution chain (Ministry of Finance, Government of India, 2017). More specifically, taking kerosene as an example, there is an estimated 41 per cent gap between the total PDS subsidised kerosene allocation by the Central Government and actual household consumption as captured by the 2011–12 NSS (Ministry of Finance, Government of India, 2016). Furthermore, despite its broad coverage of the population, sizeable under-coverage of lower-income groups still exists under the PDS. Based on NSS 2011-12, approximately 20 per cent of households in each of the bottom two income quintiles do not receive any benefits. At the same time, a large proportion of higher-income deciles receives PDS subsidies, with the richest 40 per cent of households receiving 35 per cent of total PDS subsidies. It has been estimated that 36 per cent of PDS total spending never reaches the intended households (Ministry of Finance, Government of India, 2017) due to the existence of “ghost beneficiaries” and the large illegal diversion of subsidised goods resold in the open market. That is, out of every 100 Rupees spent on the programme, only 64 reaches households. The case of energy subsidy and prices is more alarming. Since the rich consume more energy in all its forms, they are the largest beneficiaries of it. The poor are getting little benefit. It has been estimated that the efficient energy prices would require following price hike: gasoline (67 per cent), diesel (69 per cent), kerosene (10 per cent), LPG (67 per cent) and coal (455 per cent). The high level of subsidies to the rich can be cut to finance UBI for the poor. Rich should be charged efficient energy price without subsidy. On average, household subsidy benefits are equivalent to around 10 per cent of their total expenditures, with wealthier households benefiting more (on average, 11.5 per cent of total expenditures in top three income deciles) than poor households (on average, 9 per cent in the bottom three income deciles). While households in the bottom four income deciles receive 17 per cent of total energy subsidies, households in the top four income deciles receive 69 per cent. Replacing these subsidies with a UBI in a budget neutral way would, therefore, result in a substantial redistribution of benefits from higher to lower income groups and a substantial increase in benefit generosity for lower income groups. Over recent years the government has implemented substantial energy subsidy reforms but benefits are not percolated to the poor. Gasoline prices have been liberalised since 2010. Starting in 2013, diesel prices were increased by a half rupee per month until they reached international parity, and have been fully liberalised since January 2015. Since June 2017, gasoline and diesel prices at the pump are changed daily according to a revised automatic pricing formula that sets consumer prices, instead of twice a month under the previous regime. The government also used the fall in oil prices to offset the price decline at the pump with higher taxes. Currently, petrol and diesel are taxed once by the Central government through a central excise tax and then again at the state level through a value-added tax. Excise duties, levied by the Central government on petrol and diesel, have been increased nine times since November 2014. In 2017, the government committed to gradually phase out LPG subsidies by April 2018 for domestic consumers, by increasing the cost of LPG cylinders by four rupees/month. The present government seems to be interested in only making money for themselves or giving maximum benefit to the rich even in the subsidies. They fail to visualise that a little curtailment of benefit to the rich can make the UBI budget neutral. Jaitley’s remark on Rahul is thus in bad taste. (The views expressed are strictly personal)
NEW DELHI: As many as 112 FIRs and daily diary (DD) entries have been registered till date against various political parties and others for violation of the model code of conduct in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, the poll body in Delhi said Wednesday. The statistics surveillance team of Delhi’s chief electoral office constituted to keep an eye on the expenses of political parties, has seized Rs 1.21 crore in cash. “A total of 112 FIRs or DD entries have been lodged till date in connection with the violation of the model code of conduct. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder”Out of these, 13 are against the Aam Aadmi Party (six FIRs and four DD entries), 11 against the Bhartiya Janata Party (eight FIRs and three DD entries), three against the Congress (all DD entries), one against the Bahujan Samaj Party (one DD entry) and Samajwadi Party (one DD entry), and 83 against others or non-political (entities),” the CEO office said in a statement. Delhi CEO Ranbir Singh had told reporters on Monday that social media was being aggressively monitored to check any violation of the poll code and experts are also assisting the election team. The office of the Delhi CEO said more than 2.6 lakh posters, banners and hoardings have been removed since the poll code came into force. “As many as 30,533 posters, banners and hoardings were removed from areas under the New Delhi Municipal Council, 43,075 from East Delhi Municipal Corporation areas, 2,411 from Delhi Cantonment Board, 90,415 from South Delhi Municipal Corporation, and 89,162 from North Delhi Municipal Corporation areas,” the statement said. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsPolice have registered 599 FIRs and arrested 592 people under the Excise Act, it said, adding, 203 FIRs have been registered under the Arms Act in which 243 people were arrested. They have also seized 316 unlicensed arms and weapons, and 2,354 cartridges and explosives. As many as 44,477 people have been booked till date under various sections of the CrPC and the Delhi Police Act. “Till date, 738 bottles, 67 half-sized bottles, 86,968 quarter-sized ones of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and 643 bottles, 779 half-sized and 1,64,202 quarter-sized ones of country liquor and 4,974 bottles of beer have been seized,” it said. The Lok Sabha polls, conducted in seven phases will begin on April 11 and continue till May 19. Delhi will vote on May 12 and the overall results will be declared on May 23.
New Delhi: The campaigning came to an end on Tuesday for 97 Lok Sabha constituencies spread over 13 states and Union Territories which will go to the polls on Thursday in the second phase of the mega seven-phase electoral exercise. Since poll timings vary in different seats, the campaigning period also ended at different times between 3 pm and 6 pm in different constituencies (except Madurai) — 48 hours before the voting closure time. In Madurai, since the polling period is till 8 pm due to the famous car festival that day, campaigning in the constituency was allowed till 8 pm on Tuesday as well. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsThe 48-hour period preceding the conclusion of voting is called the “silence period” during which any kind of political campaigning is prohibited. As the silence period began, the election rallies and street corner meetings ended in the 97 constituencies of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Tripura and Puducherry. In the first phase, voting will take place in all 39 seats in Tamil Nadu. It will also cover 14 seats in Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra, eight in Uttar Pradesh, five each in Bihar and Odisha, and three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. The electorate in five Assam constituencies, two Jammu and Kashmir constituencies, and one constituency each in Manipur, Tripura and Puducherry, would also cast their votes in this phase.
New Delhi: Extremely severe cyclonic storm ‘Fani’, which is approaching India’s eastern coast, is likely to hit Gopalpur and Chandbali, south of Puri in Odisha on Friday, the National Disaster Management Authority said Wednesday. Heavy rains is also very likely at isolated places over Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya. “Extremely severe” cyclonic storm ‘Fani’ is likely to hit Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, south of Puri on May 3 with wind speed of 175-185 km per hour gusting up to 205 kmph, the NDMA said quoting a bulletin of the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange framework Gusty wind with speed 40-50 km per hour is expected at isolated places over coastal Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir, sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim. Gusty wind with speed 30-40 km per hour is also likely at isolated places over Odisha and gangetic West Bengal, the NDMA said. Navy and Coast Guard ships and helicopters, relief teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in strategic locations, while Army and Air Force units have been put on standby as the cyclonic storm is approaching the coast, officials said. Also Read – Trio win Nobel Medicine Prize for work on cells, oxygen The NDRF is deploying 41 teams in Andhra Pradesh (8), Odisha (28) and West Bengal (5) for prepositioning. In addition, it is keeping on standby 13 teams in West Bengal and 10 in Andhra Pradesh, an official said. An NDRF team comprises about 45 personnel. The Home Ministry, in a statement on Tuesday, said based on the decision of the first meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), headed by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha, the central government has already released advance financial assistance of Rs 1,086 crore to Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal to assist them in undertaking preventive and relief measures. The states have issued advisories and are ensuring that fishermen do not venture into the sea.
Taroudant, Morocco – In response to the call of King Mohammed VI, commander of the faithful, the Jewish community of the Kingdom performed Saturday morning Salatul-Istisqua (Prayer for Rain) to implore God to shower on them His bounty of rain.According to a statement from the Council of the Jewish community in Morocco, Moroccan Jews performed prayers in all the synagogues in the country, imploring God to spread bountiful rain on the entire territory of the Kingdom.“In conformity with the high instructions of HM the King Mohammed VI, commander of the faithful, these prayers will be called for in all the synagogues to implore the Almighty to spread ample rain throughout the territory of the Kingdom,” affirmed the Council in a statement. In line with the teachings of the prophet Mohamed (PBUH), Muslims all over the country performed the Salatul-Istisqua on Friday morning in different mosques and prayer areas of the Kingdom, in an atmosphere of piety and devotion, begging the Almighty to spread bounteous rain on earth and have mercy on His creatures.The Prophet (PBUH) made it a custom for the people to invoke this occasional prayer whenever affected by drought and seek the mercy and grace of Allah to send abundant rain.The agricultural sector in Morocco depends largely on seasonal rain fall. The rain has been late this year, threatening a decline in agricultural production, which would have a detrimental effect on Morocco’s national economy.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed
New York – Three Moroccan ministers have decided to forgo their official salaries and serve their country without the State’s remuneration.Moulay Hafid Elalamy Minister of Industry, Trade & New Technologies, Aziz Akhannouch, Minister of Agriculture, and Mustafa Ramid, Minister of Justice and Liberties, have declined the monetary compensation that they are entitled to in their roles, according to daily Les Eco.Ministers Elalamy and Akhannouch notified the Ministry of Economy and Finance that they would not receive any salary for their ministerial duties since the beginning of their terms. Minister Ramid, on the other hand, donates his full salary to the Ministry of Justice and Liberties’ internal fund, which is intended to finance the department’ activities and festivities, the same source noted.Moulay Hafid Elalamy, 55, born in Marrakech, is an investor who heads Saham Group, which operates CNIA Saada, one of Morocco’s biggest insurance companies. He is number 34 on U.S. Forbes magazine list of “2015 Africa’s 50 Richest” people, with a net worth of US $620 million.Aziz Akhannouch, 54, born in Tafraout, is the majority owner of Akwa Group, a multibillion-dollar Moroccan conglomerate with interests in petroleum, gas and chemicals, as well as media, real estate, and hotels.Akhannouch and his family ranked 18 on the Forbes’ “2015 Africa’s 50 Richest” people, with a net worth of US $1.4 billion. He is also number 2 on “Morocco’s Billionaires” list.Mustafa Ramid, 56, born in Sidi Bennuor, is a lawyer and human rights activist from the Justice and Development Party (PJD).Heated debate over pensions and salaries of Ministers and MPsSalaries and pensions of Moroccan Parliament Members and Ministers have been a topic of debate in the recent weeks.Charafat Afilal, Minister Delegate in Charge of Water to the Minister of Energy said on a TV program on Al-Aoula, two weeks ago, that the pensions of representatives, which ranges between MAD 5,000 to MAD 8,000 per month, are just “two Francs” (peanuts) and that discussing the issue is a “populist matter.”The Minister’s comment sparked debate among Moroccan social media users, especially on Facebook, who are now asking the government to reduce the salaries and privileges of both ministers and parliamentarians.Opponents of the controversial pensions argue that ministers and representatives chose to work for their terms of office and they do not deserve to benefit from a retirement pension for the rest of their lives.Under current law, Moroccan ministers and MP’s receive a pension for their entire lives after only one term of service.
Bangui – Two Moroccan members of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) squad of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic MINUSCA were killed on Tuesday, January 3 in an armed attack near the town of Bria, on the northeast of the capital Bangui, reports the Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).In its statement, the MINUSCA explained that the incident occurred while the Moroccan peacekeepers, stationed in Bria, were escorting a convoy of trucks transporting fuel from the town of Zemio to Obo. According to the UN mission, two other Moroccans were injured in the incident.The attackers, who were not identified, fled the scene. “Nothing can justify why these individuals would direct their grievances against peacekeepers whose presence on the Central African ground has no other objective than to help the country rid itself of violence!” stated Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSCA.“Everything will be done to track down and get hold of the perpetrators of these attacks so that they can be brought to justice,” he said.In its press release, MINUSCA reminded that “harming the life of a peacekeeper can be considered a war crime and can be prosecuted.”This is not the first time peacekeepers have been targeted in the Central African Republic. Several convoys of foreign soldiers have already been shot at by armed groups.Last April, a Moroccan soldier died after a clash between a FAR unit and armed residents in Rafai, in the east of the country.MINUSCA is a peacekeeping operation created in April 2014 by the UN in the framework of the war in the Central African Republic.
Rabat – A large number (by thousands) of medical certificates are issued on daily basis for employees, be they working in the private or public sector. This, according to many, explains why many offices are almost always empty.According to Al Massae, the Moroccan government is planning to issue a decree that will stop, or at least considerably reduce, this uncontrolled and detrimental proliferation of medical certificates. The government considers such practices as an important reason for low output and poor quality of work in many sectors.The government is therefore said to be planning harsh measures against the routine absenteeism of public employees. From now on, AL Massae added, absences from work will be either due to serious and strongly convincing reasons, or be duly punished by the disciplinary commission that the new bill will introduce. The commission will oversee the strict respect and implementation of relevant disciplinary measures.The outlet cited the example of the ministry of national education which, in just six months, registered a shocking figure of 54,000 sick leaves, many of which were suspected to be obtained through fake medical certificates.According to official statistics, a whopping number of these fake certificates is generally issued by private hospitals. This, Al Massaeexplained, is the case because norms for issuing medical certificates are stricter and more respected in public hospitals, especially since a related circular by former minister of health, Houcine Louardi.It is hoped that such measures by the government will stop unjustified work leaves and eradicate the now fashionable excuse of “malade imaginaire” (those who fake illness).