Attawapiskat Chief Spence reissues call for PM GG treaty meeting

first_imgAPTN National News OTTAWA–Hunger-striking Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence issued a statement Tuesday again calling on the prime minister and the governor general to agree to a meeting with First Nations leaders from across the country to discuss the treaties.Spence is into her eight day of a hunger strike and she is spending most of her days and nights in a teepee on Victoria Island, which sits in the Ottawa River and in the shadow of Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court of Canada.Spence, whose northern Ontario community burst onto the national consciousness last year during a housing crisis, began the hunger strike to force a national treaty meeting.“I am calling on Prime Minister Harper and the governor-general to initiate immediate discussions and the development of action plans to address treaty issues with First Nations across Canada,” said Spence, in a statement which was distributed by the Assembly of First Nations. “There has been no progress in alleviating the state of poverty that exists with First Nations across Canada, especially in rural isolated reserves, contrary to progress reported by the Conservative government.”The Prime Minister’s Office has indicated it’s unlikely Harper will agree to the meeting. The PMO said Monday the prime minister already attended the Crown-First Nations gathering last January which included Gov. Gen. David Johnston and First Nations leaders from across the country. The PMO also said Harper met with Atleo on Nov. 28.Johnston ignored questions about a meeting with Spence during a public appearance Tuesday at Ottawa’s city hall.Spence says in the statement that the Canadian government has not followed through with any of its commitments flowing the Crown-First Nations gathering.“Canada has not upheld the honour of the Crown in its dealings with First Nations, as evidenced in its inadequate and inequitable funding relationship with our nations,” said Spence’s statement. “Treaties are international in nature and further Indigenous rights are human rights, both collective and individual and must be honoured and respected.”Spence said the time for talk had passed.“There has been enough talk, enough politics, now is the time to develop action plans,” said Spence, in the statement. “All First Nations across Canada stand united and in solidarity in advancing this urgent call for action and attention.”Members of Parliament MP’s are starting to take notice of Spence’s hunger strike.  Today Ottawa NDP MP Paul Dewar spent time with Attawapiskat’s chief to talk about her concerns.“It’s a mixture of sadness, frustration and anger, we have seen this all too often and just ignoring it as if there’s nothing to deal with here and almost like it’s an irritant when people do speak up and speak out,” he said.And Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, the party’s Aboriginal affairs critic, also released a letter to the prime minister Tuesday accusing Harper of treating First Nations peoples as “adversaries.” Bennett said Harper had damaged any of the goodwill generated by his 2008 apology to Indian residential school survivors.“The discontent of First Nations with your government’s subsequent unilateral and paternalistic approach has reached a level that could irrevocably damage the relationship between First Nations and the Crown and will lead to a long-term confrontation,” said Bennett. “The hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat…illustrates the profound frustration of First Nations leaders with your refusal to listen to or act upon their legitimate concerns.”In her letter, Bennett calls on Harper to agree to the treaty meeting and also visit Spence to hear “directly from her why she has felt it necessary to take such drastic action.”last_img read more

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Company hopes government pushes Ring of Fire

first_imgAPTN National NewsA company with a stake in the chromite rich Ring of Fire hopes the provincial government will continue to push for the development to finally start.For decades, companies, governments and First Nations have failed to come to an agreement on how to share in the rich resources.APTN’s Delaney Windigo reports.last_img

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Several chiefs say theyve already been posting salaries

first_imgAPTN National NewsChiefs across the country are making their salaries public as part of a federal act to promote transparency.As of midnight Wednesday the numbers were supposed to start rolling in.Several chiefs APTN spoke to say they have no problem disclosing their pay, and have been doing so for a while now.APTN’s Shaneen Robinson with more on the story.last_img

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Indigenous boxer remembers Muhammad Ali

first_imgMatt ThordarsonAPTN National NewsThe world lost an iconic figure late last week.Muhammed Ali, born Cassius Clay, passed away on June 3rd at the age of 74.Ali has left a deep impression far beyond the borders of his home country.As APTN’s Matt Thordarson explains – Indigenous people are among the millions fondly remembering the man known simply as “the Greatest”.mthordarson@aptn.calast_img

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Kashechewan students travel to Ottawa with message for government

first_imgTodd LamirandeAPTN NewsStudents and leaders from Kashechewan greeted members of parliament returning from the summer break with a rally demanding that they build a new school in the community.The portables in the Cree community on the shores of James Bay were flooded out forcing officials to close them.Now, they say, a new school is needed.tlamirande@aptn.ca@ToddLamirandelast_img

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National MMIWG inquiry will release final report June 3 in Gatineau

first_imgAPTN NewsThe national inquiry looking into the violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls has set June 3 for the release of its final report.The report was originally due April 30, but the government agreed to extend the date.In a release sent Wednesday morning, the inquiry said the report will be presented to federal, provincial and territorial governments at a ceremony in Gatineau, Que., across the river from Ottawa.“The Commissioners have completed their report after a process of invaluable validation with the National Family Advisory Circle, Grandmother Advisors, and the Métis, Inuit, Québec and 2SLGBTQQIA Advisory Committees,” the statement said.Read the statement: National Inquiry to Present Final Report to Governments at Closing Ceremony in Gatineau, QCAccording to the inquiry the report, “will comprise the sacred truths of 1,484 family members and survivors of violence and 83 knowledge-keepers, experts and officials who provided testimony at 24 hearings and statement gathering events held from coast-to-coast-to-coast in 2017 and 2018, as well as 819 people who shared their truths through artistic expressions.”The inquiry was first announced Aug. 3, 2016 by Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, and former attorney general and justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.Handed a two-year mandate and $53.8 million, inquiry suffered from endless resignations of legal and executive staff, front line workers, and the resignation of one of its commissioners.On June 5, 2018, Ottawa gave the inquiry a one-year extension – a year less than what it requested.In November 2017, the inquiry released a series of interim recommendations.The federal government says it is acting on a number of them including increasing health support and victim services, establishing a commemoration fund to “honour the lives and legacies of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” and addressing service gaps for Indigenous peoples “throughout the criminal justice system.”(Editor’s Note: The original story said that the inquiry did not have the powers to  compel the RCMP or other police forces to testify. This was an error. Under the Inquiries Act the commissioners did have the powers of subpoena.)news@aptn.ca@aptnnewslast_img read more

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North American stock markets down moderately ahead of Christmas holiday weekend

first_imgTORONTO – Canada’s main stock index and its American peers posted minor losses in a low-volume trading session on Friday ahead of the Christmas holiday weekend.The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 17.36 points to 16,165.27, with the gold sector leading major advancers.The February gold contract was up $8.20 to US$1,278.80 an ounce.South or the border, a subdued week of trading came to a close on Wall Street.The Dow Jones industrial average fell 28.23 points to 24,754.06. The S&P 500 index inched down 1.23 points to 2,683.34 and the Nasdaq composite index gave back 5.40 points to 6,959.96.“You really can’t read too much into market movements in a pre-holiday trading session today. The volumes are quite anaemic across the board,” said Ian Scott, equity analyst at Manulife Asset Management.“U.S. volumes are down 27 per cent from average volumes. Canadian volumes are off almost 25 per cent from average volumes.”In economic news, Statistics Canada reported Canada’s economy took a pause in October, with gross domestic product unchanged from the previous month. Analysts had estimated that Canada’s GDP would grow 0.2 per cent from September, based on some of the recent October economic data released earlier this week by Statistics Canada.In currency markets, the Canadian dollar closed at an average trading price of 78.38 cents US, down 0.15 of a U.S. cent.On the cryptocurrency front, trading in Bitcoin futures was volatile after making gigantic gains throughout the year. Futures dropped as much as 28 per cent before recovering some of their losses. Many economists and market watchers say bitcoin is a speculative bubble that is ready to burst any time.Elsewhere in commodities, the February crude contract was up 11 cents to US$58.47 per barrel and the February natural gas contract was up seven cents to US$2.66 per mmBTU. The March copper contract was up two cents to US$3.24 a pound.Canadian markets will be closed Dec. 25 and Dec. 26. American markets will be closed Dec. 25.– With a file from The Associated Press.Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter.last_img read more

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More advertisers drop Laura Ingraham after Parkland comments

first_imgMIAMI – More advertisers dropped Fox News personality Laura Ingraham on Friday, two days after she mocked a Florida school shooting survivor online.At least 11 companies had said by Friday afternoon that they would pull their ads from “The Ingraham Angle.”On Wednesday, Ingraham tweeted, “David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it.”In response, Hogg, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who filmed students hiding from the gunman in their classrooms, was quick to respond, tweeting a list of a dozen advertisers and encouraging followers to immediately call them and ask them to drop Ingraham. Hogg has faced intense criticism from right-wing conservatives and gun advocates who have falsely called him a crisis actor after the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland that killed 17.“Soooo @IngrahamAngle what are your biggest advertisers … Asking for a friend,” he wrote with the hashtag #BoycottIngramAdverts.Of the businesses listed by Hogg, online home goods store Wayfair, food company Nestle, travel website TripAdvisor, video-streaming service Hulu and Rachel Ray’s dog food Nutrish said they are removing their support from Ingraham. Though not specifically mentioned in Hogg’s initial tweet, Office Depot, Jenny Craig, Expedia, StitchFix, Johnson & Johnson and Atlantis, Paradise Island resort have also dropped Ingraham.Ingraham apologized Thursday on Twitter, saying, “On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland.”Ingraham tweeted that she thought she was the first to feature Hogg on her show after the shooting and added, “he’s welcome to come on my show anytime for a productive discussion.”Hogg tweeted later Thursday that an apology to save advertisers wasn’t enough and that he’d only accept Ingraham’s apology if she denounced the way Fox News has treated his friends.“It’s time to love thy neighbour, not mudsling at children,” Hogg wrote.last_img read more

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Experts warn of economic uncertainty until USMCA ratified Dems cast doubts

first_imgWASHINGTON — Democrats are calling for tweaks to Canada’s new trade pact with the United States and Mexico as experts warn that economic uncertainty will linger until the deal is ratified in Congress.New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, the presumptive next head of the influential Ways and Means Trade subcommittee, is the latest member of the newly reconfigured House of Representatives to warn that it’s not about to rubber-stamp the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.Pascrell tells Bloomberg that the new Democratic majority in the House will want better enforcement of the agreement’s labour and environmental clauses before voting to approve one of U.S. President Donald Trump’s singular accomplishments in his first two years.California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to lead the new House majority, has also indicated she wants to see better enforcement on labour and the environment before she’ll support the agreement.Trade lawyers, meanwhile, say economic uncertainty will be the norm rather than the exception until the deal is formally ratified by all three countries.And they say that uncertainty would only get worse if Trump, in an effort to spur Congress into action, were to renew his threat to tear up NAFTA, the 24-year-old deal that remains in place until the USMCA comes into effect.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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CN Rail in joint bid for stake in largest container terminal in

first_imgHALIFAX — Canadian National Railway is bidding to acquire a stake in the largest container terminal in Eastern Canada.The Montreal-based company has confirmed joining a partner to bid for an interest in Halterm, a 30-hectare site at the Port of Halifax, but is declining to provide details.Halifax is Canada’s fourth-busiest port in terms of container traffic, behind Vancouver, Montreal and Prince Rupert in northwestern British Columbia.CN Rail is the lone railway operator in Halifax.The Halterm Container Terminal was purchased by New York-based Macquarie Infrastructure Partners for $172.7 million in January 2007.Industry analyst Walter Spracklin of RBC Capital Markets says the purchase of a minority stake, although not large for CN, would be strategically positive for Canada’s largest railway. Companies in this story: (TSX:CNR)The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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USW issues strike notice at 13 sawmills in Northern BC

first_imgIn mid-August, 1,509 of the over 1,600 workers at the CONIFER operations voted in favour of strike action, which works out to 93 percent of those who cast ballots.He said that the union negotiators and negotiators with CONIFER, which acts as a bargaining agent for the thirteen sawmills, were in mediated negotiations through the Labour Relations Board for five full days last week, before the union asked the mediator to book out last Friday evening.O’Rourke said that CONIFER continues to demand concessions from the union on a new collective agreement, including longer probationary periods, lower starting wages, and extra costs for health and welfare benefits.“They’ve got a number of things on the table,” said O’Rourke. “We believe, given where were are in the industry, I don’t think they’ve ever made higher profits.”He said that at this point, the union does not intend to go on strike, and issued the 72-hour strike notice to keep as many options available as possible.“With luck, we’ll get back to the table and get a fair agreement and settlement for the membership.” FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The United Steelworkers Local 1-2017, which represents workers at the Canfor lumber mill in Fort St. John, issued 72-hour strike notice on Wednesday morning.Local 1-2017 President Brian O’Rourke said that the notice affects 13 sawmills affiliated with the Council of Northern Interior Forest Industry Relations, or CONIFER.O’Rourke said that the union will be able to legally go on strike at 8:00 a.m. Saturday.last_img read more

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Snowfall warning issued for the BC Peace

first_imgSee the full warning belowIssued at 2018-11-03 11:22 UTC by Environment Canada:Snowfall warning issued for:B.C. Peace River, B.C. (087300)Current details:Snowfall with total amounts of 10 to 20 cm is expected.An approaching Pacific frontal system will track inland today and move across the interior tonight. Snow will begin this evening and taper to flurries near noon Sunday with snowfall amounts of 10 to 20 cm expected.Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions. Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions.Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada. To report severe weather, send an email to BCstorm@canada.ca or tweet reports using #BCStorm. UPDATE – As of 12 p.m. Sunday the snowfall warning has been ended for the B.C. Peace.FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for the B.C. Peace.  The region could see 20 cm of snow by Sunday afternoon.A Pacific frontal system will move inland today bringing with it heavy amounts of snow.  The snow will start on Saturday evening, and the region could see anywhere from 10 to 20 cm before the system moves out of our area on Sunday. More details on the alert are available here.last_img read more

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Environmental assessment filed for proposed Tilbury Pacific LNG marine jetty

first_img“The world is turning to natural gas as an energy alternative to coal and oil,” said Peter Gallenberger, Tilbury Pacific project manager. “Exporting LNG through the Tilbury Pacific jetty will help support the environmental goals of countries that lack Canada’s wealth of energy options, while also helping the shipping industry as it shifts from bunker fuel to natural gas.”The outlook for LNG has been positively shifted by the market in recent years as the need for a low-emission fuel is growing shares WesPac as global demand has surged as countries look to reduce their reliance on coal and oil for fuel. Tilbury Pacific would have the capability to supply bulk shipments of LNG and connect customers overseas with Canada’s extensive natural gas reserves.A new global cap on sulphur emissions is being introduced by the International Maritime Organization in 2020 that will encourage more shipping companies to switch their fleets from bunker fuel to natural gas. Tilbury Pacific is positioned to play a key role in supplying LNG-fuelled ships in the Pacific Northwest region and trans-Pacific ships.Over the last year, WesPac has been planning and refining the Tilbury Pacific project and say there have been a number of changes to the proposed design as a result of feedback from the public, Indigenous communities and potential customers.These changes include;Proposal to build a temporary floating berth to serve bunker vessels and ocean-going ships as soon as 2020Permanent berth to serve export and bunker vessels would be operational by 2022Reducing the project’s physical footprint with a shorter, narrower walkway and smaller trestle to allow more light to pass through. This means less impact on the marine environment near this historically industrial site. VANCOUVER, B.C. – An application was filed for an Environmental Assessment Certificate with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office for the Tilbury Pacific LNG marine jetty on the Fraser River in Delta, B.C.The proposal to build and the filing of the application can start a new public consultation period.WesPac Midstream shares -Vancouver’s Tilbury Pacific would be a vital link in the West Coast LNG supply chain delivering low-emission fuel to a new generation of coastal and ocean-going shipping. It would also have the capability to supply bulk shipments of B.C.-produced LNG to customers across the Pacific and along the West Coast.last_img read more

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Cabinet okays renewable status, new funds for large hydro power projects

first_imgNew Delhi: To boost hydro power generation, the government Thursday approved a slew of measures including providing renewable energy status for large hydel projects and new funding provisions. Earlier, hydro projects up to 25 MW capacity were considered as renewables and were eligible for various incentives like financial assistance and cheaper credit. With the government’s decision, hydro projects above 25 MW can also avail the benefits. “Union Cabinet approves a slew of measures to promote hydro power sector,” an official statement said. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepThe Cabinet decision has also paved the way for adding hydro capacities of about 45 GW to the renewable energy basket of existing 74 GW which includes solar, wind and small hydro. India is aiming 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022. With addition of large hydro to clean energy segment, India is poised to have 225 GW of renewable energy by 2022. With the new measures, large hydro projects (LHPs) would be allowed back loading (reducing) of tariff after increasing project life to 40 years, increasing debt repayment period to 18 years and introducing escalating tariff of 2 per cent. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsAt present, hydro power tariff is expensive than other sources. These measure would help rationalise the tariff by hydro power projects. Also, LHPs would now be able to sell renewable energy certificates under non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) to discoms. Discoms are required to either purchase specified proportion of renewable energy or buy renewable energy certificates in lieu of that. After notification of these measure, the Hydro Purchase Obligation (HPO) as a separate system within non-solar RPO will cover LHPs. Small hydro projects are already covered under non-solar RPO. The Cabinet also approved funding for enabling infrastructure like roads and bridges of Rs 1.5 crore per MW for projects up to 200 MW and Rs one crore per MW for projects above 200 MW. The statement noted that discoms are reluctant to sign Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for hydro power due to higher tariff, particularly, in the initial years. One of the reasons for high tariff of hydropower is the loading of cost of flood moderation and enabling infrastructure in the project cost. In this backdrop, the decision has been taken to adopt measures to promote hydropower sector including providing budgetary support for flood moderation cost and enabling infrastructure cost and tariff rationalization measures to reduce tariff and thus the burden on the consumer, the statement said.last_img read more

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Pulwama attack: Families of slain CRPF personnel paid over Rs 1-crore ex-gratia

first_imgNew Delhi: Families of the 40 CRPF personnel, killed in a recent terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district, have been paid over Rs 1 crore ex-gratia funds till now as per service rules, the force said on Friday. Officials said the ‘next of kin’ of these slain personnel will also get an additional ex-gratia amount that has been announced by various state governments, where the troops hailed from, in a case-to-case basis. A total amount of over Rs 1.01 crore has been paid to the families of the 40 personnel who were killed in the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, an official from the force said. He added that this amount includes Rs 35 lakh given by the central government as ex-gratia to the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel killed in the line of action, Rs 21.50 lakh under the risk fund, Rs 15 lakh from the ‘Bharat Ke Veer’ corpus and Rs 30 lakh from the SBI paramilitary service pay insurance cover. The families additionally are also being provided financial benefits from various government and non-government agencies even as some institutions have volunteered to take care of education of the wards of these personnel, he said. “Liberalised Pension Award (LPA) is being given to all the 40 families and this amount equals to the last basic pay plus dearness allowance drawn by the killed personnel. This amount will be paid lifelong,” the official said. He added that while in some cases, the ‘next of kin’ of the killed personnel have been offered jobs by state governments, they are also eligible for compassionate appointment for jobs in the CRPF. The force is soon going to launch a special mobile application which has been designed specifically for redressal of grievances relating to the families of killed personnel of the force. This will be launched soon, he said. The 40 CRPF personnel were travelling in a force bus when a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the bus on February 14. The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has deployed as many as 61 battalions in the state, with about 65,000 personnel, and is the lead counter-terrorist and internal security force in the Kashmir valley.last_img read more

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Ethiopia mourns crash victims as plane’s ‘black box’ found

first_imgEjere: Ethiopian Airlines has grounded all of its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft as “an extra safety precaution” following the crash of one of its planes in which 157 people were killed, a spokesman said Monday, as Ethiopia marked a day of mourning and the plane’s damaged “black box” of data was found. Although it wasn’t yet known what caused the crash of the new plane in clear weather outside Addis Ababa on Sunday, the airline decided to ground its remaining four 737 Max 8s until further notice, spokesman Asrat Begashaw said. Ethiopian Airlines had been using five of the planes and awaiting delivery of 25 more. Some other airlines around the world were deciding to do the same. Aviation authorities in China and Indonesia along with Caribbean carrier Cayman Airways temporarily grounded their Max 8s. Red Cross workers slowly picked through the widely scattered debris near the blackened crash crater, looking for the remains of 157 lives. A shredded book. A battered passport. Business cards in multiple languages. Heavy machinery dug for larger pieces of the plane. The plane’s “black box” of flight data and cockpit voice recorder had been found, Ethiopian Airlines said. An airline official, however, told The Associated Press that the box was partially damaged and “we will see what we can retrieve from it.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authorization to speak to the media. Forensic experts from Israel had arrived to help with the investigation, said Ethiopian Airlines’ spokesman Asrat. Ethiopian authorities lead the investigation into the crash, assisted by the U.S., Kenya and others. “These kinds of things take time,” Kenya’s transport minister, James Macharia, told reporters. People from 35 countries died in the Sunday morning crash six minutes after the plane took off from Ethiopia’s capital en route to Nairobi. Ethiopian Airlines said the senior pilot issued a distress call and was told to return but all contact was lost shortly afterward. The plane plowed into the ground at Hejere near Bishoftu. “I heard this big noise,” one local resident, Tsegaye Reta, told the AP on Monday. “The villagers said that it was a plane crash, and we rushed to the site. There was a huge smoke that we couldn’t even see the plane. The parts of the plane were falling apart.” Kenya lost 32 people, more than any country. Relatives of 25 of the victims had been contacted, Macharia said, and taking care of their welfare was of utmost importance. “Some of them, as you know, they are very distressed,” he said. “They are in shock like we are. They are grieving.” Canada, Ethiopia, the U.S., China, Italy, France, Britain, Egypt, Germany, India and Slovakia all lost four or more citizens. Leaders of the United Nations, the U.N. refugee agency and the World Food Program announced that colleagues had been on the plane. The U.N. migration agency estimated that 19 U.N.-affiliated employees were killed. Both Addis Ababa and Nairobi are major hubs for humanitarian workers, and some had been on their way to a large U.N. environmental conference set to begin Monday in Nairobi. The U.N. flag at the event flew at half-staff. The crash was strikingly similar to that of a Lion Air jet of the same Boeing model in Indonesian seas last year, killing 189 people. The crash was likely to renew questions about the 737 Max 8, the newest version of Boeing’s popular single-aisle airliner, which was first introduced in 1967 and has become the world’s most common passenger jet. Safety experts cautioned against drawing too many comparisons between the two crashes until more is known about Sunday’s disaster. The Ethiopian plane was delivered to the airline in November. The jet’s last maintenance was on Feb. 4, and it had flown just 1,200 hours. The crash shattered more than two years of relative calm in African skies, where travel had long been chaotic. It also was a serious blow to state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, which has expanded to become the continent’s largest and best-managed carrier and turned Addis Ababa into the gateway to Africa.(AP) ___ Meseret reported from Addis Ababa.last_img read more

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Securing the stage

first_imgIndia is already on the election mode now amid hectic politicking with political parties, activists and cadres pitching in with full steam to score a convincing victory over their adversaries. The battle lines are clearly drawn and the stage is set to witness the most spectacular democratic exercise in the not so distant future. All said, its not only the Election Commission or the Indian government agencies which are watchful about the upcoming mega event but security agencies equally have an arduous task at hand to ensure that the elections pass off without any security hitch or undesirable activity casting aspersion on the organising ability or efficiency of those responsible for holding a peaceful election. Also Read – A special kind of bondOther than the internal outfits keeping the happenings related to the polls under alert, several foreign countries and their agencies are also keenly observing the election-related developments. They are constantly undertaking appraisals of the fall out particularly on the possibilities of violence emanating out of communal problems, terror happenings and other matters of security concern. The foreign powers, needless to underline, evince keen interest in anything concerning India possibly due to their geopolitical interests as well as for economic investments. Also Read – Insider threat managementSeveral foreign countries must have commenced their exercise in evaluating Indian security scenario during the elections long back, collecting hard information through their collaborators and proactive intelligence gathering to get updated with the happenings to be. Here, it would be pertinent to state that Dan Coats, Director of the US National Intelligence, stated as early as in January this year that elections in India increase the possibility of communal violence ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in May. Coats made this important statement as part of the US Intelligence community and intelligence briefing through a written statement in the Senate as part of the exercise studying prevailing threats in the year 2019. The aforesaid statement was made in the presence of CIA Director, Gina Haspel who had then just returned from India possibly after getting the latest inputs from her officers in the US Embassy, New Delhi, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Defence Intelligence Agency Director, Robert Ashley. Such high profile presence of important functionaries is enough to confirm that the US, like some other countries, are already focussed on watching Indian elections and are apprehensive of security matters including communal violence. Coats further pointed out that if communal clashes do happen, India-linked Islamic terror groups may feel emboldened to expand their influence. However, in the same vein, it is safely assumed that Indian intelligence and security agencies are professionally competent and will not lower their guard in undertaking an evaluation of the ground realities ahead of the elections, thus, diffusing any communal tension perceived to be brewing in the communally sensitive places, especially in communally-prone districts in Uttar Pradesh which has a history of communal and caste-related clashes. According to Coats, cross border terrorism may be unleashed by Pakistan due to strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad. This is likely to include firing across the LoC and related misadventures in and around the elections as it will be opportune, then, to strike. Such US assessments could be exaggerated and hyped but given the nefarious machinations by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), it can be estimated that the ISI, in all likelihood, will try its best to create disturbances during the elections in an apparent attempt to reassert its ugly presence which got exposed in the February 14 attacks on the CRPF at Pulwama leading to diplomatic isolation and alienation of Pakistan. Its ISI network must be weighing on priority in the minds of the concerned Indian intelligence outfits meriting immediate neutralisation to prevent damage to the national security interests. The counter-intelligence apparatus must be in the process of adjusting its antenna to address the ISI menace. With the security scenario in mind, intelligence at all levels, both at the central and state, must act in consonance to pick up the scent early and foil any attempts to disturb the elections by the hostile quarters. State intelligence machinery at the district level must also be sensitised to remain alert to deal with any terror threat. Within some places in our vast country there is a shortage of staff, and hence just retired officials, especially from the intelligence fraternity, could be appropriated with their services to beef up surveillance and action. During this election, unlike that of 2014, Social Media is today very active and its abuse is equally rampant. This needs extra watch lest it has security implications adversely affecting the elections from the point of view of peace and tranquil. Pulwama (Feb 14) and Christchurch (March 15) fatal attacks are still fresh in mind and the modus operandi employed in these places should not be allowed to the advantage of the perpetrators of terror with mala fide intentions of sabotaging the elections. Indian Security and intelligence outfits, therefore, have a huge security challenge in front of them to ensure a peaceful election. Given their track record of keeping the radicalisation well under check and preventing the flow of radicals to join the ISIS, it is hoped that the threat perceptions and security commitments will be met with finesse by our anti-terror security forces and 2019 will see hassle-free parliamentary elections. It is a tall order but certainly doable. (The author is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor of Mauritius. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

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Power producers seek TReDS to clear dues worth Rs 41,240 cr

first_imgMumbai: Private power producers have urged the government to consider extending the trade receivables discounting system (TReDS) applicable for MSMEs to them to help resolve their payment woes, which are to the tune Rs 41,240 crore. In a letter to power secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, the Association of Power Producers Friday said delay in recovery of receivables, especially regulatory receivables, has created stress on their finances as it impacts their ability to service debt and severely restricts working capital liquidity. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalAccording to the letter, as of end January 2019, the amount of receivables due from discoms is to the tune of Rs 41,240 crore, of which dues from sale of power are around Rs 17,246 crore, while dues stuck in litigation are worth Rs 17,128 crore and nearly Rs 6,865 crore of receivables are pending despite adjudication. “We urge the Union power ministry to take expeditious action on this issue to help avoid create more NPAs and to ensure the availability of adequate power during the summer which is also the election season,” APP director-general Ashok Khurana said in the letter. He further said since the government has taken measures to address the receivables situation for MSMEs through the TReDS, extending the same to them will be of immense help. Moreover, the RBI has also issued guidelines for implementing the system. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost”We believe a similar system would greatly ease current stress on private power producers and we request the ministry to consider implementing the same for us as well,” Khurana said. It may be recalled that the power ministry had suggested a similar system to the empowered committee, which had proposed formulation of a proposal for tri-partite agreement for discounting bills of power producers. A senior official at a private producer said if the discoms are unable to make timely payments, it will severely impact the sector in the long-run. “Nearly 25,000-mw capacity has receivables of over Rs 41,000 crore. Also, nearly Rs 3 lakh crore of bank funds are stuck in these projects. “On top of it, discoms, due to mostly political reasons, have not been able to raise tariffs or improve recoveries. Unless the government takes prompt steps, there will be a situation when there will be no power as generators will not be able to produce due to liquidity crisis,” he said. He said IPPs have to make advance payments for to Coal India for fuel as well as to the Railways for shipment. “Coal India’s production has increased significantly this month, but if we don’t have money how will we procure coal and if we dont procure coal, how will we run our plants? So it is important that payments are on time,” he added. The Reserve Bank has identified as many as 34 financially stressed power projects with loans of over Rs 1.8 lakh crore at risk of becoming NPAs. The matter is pending before the Supreme Court.last_img read more

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Directors, investors in unlisted cos cannot file ITR Sahaj, Sugam

first_imgNew Delhi: The Income Tax department has barred directors as well as those who have invested in unlisted companies from filing ITR forms Sahaj and Sugam in a bid to clamp down on shell companies and check routing of black money. According to the new tax return forms for Assessment Year 2019-20 notified by the I-T department, the directors in both listed and unlisted companies will be required to file their returns in ITR-2 in which they will have to disclose details of Director Identification Number (DIN), Permanent Account Number (PAN), equity holding along with the names of the companies. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalSimilarly, investors in unlisted equity shares too will have to give details, like acquisition cost, sale consideration, date of purchase/sale, of holding of such shares at any time during the previous year. ITR-1 or Sahaj can now only be filed by resident individuals having a total income of up to Rs 50 lakh, from salaries, one house property, other sources (interest), and agricultural income up to Rs 5,000; excluding those who are directors or have invested in unlisted companies. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostSugam or ITR-4 will be filed by individuals, HUFs and firms with a total income of up to Rs 50 lakh under the presumptive income scheme from business and profession, provided the assessee is neither a director nor have invested in any unlisted company. This stipulation, according to tax experts, is aimed at tightening the noose on unlisted companies appointing dummy directors and use shell companies to round trip black money. As regards ITR-6, which is filed by the companies, the new forms provide for a separate column for Startups. They will have to provide details regarding recognition by Department of Industrial (DPIIT), investors, issue price of shares and funds received. Unlisted companies filing ITR-6 too will have to provide details of investors, their residential status in India, PAN, date of allotment, number of shares held, issue price per share and amount invested.last_img read more

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