Thiruvananthapuram: A Kerala court on Tuesday granted bail to suspended IAS officer Sriram Vekitaraman, who was arrested for alleged drunken driving that caused the death of a journalist here. Judicial First Class Magistrate Aneesa A granted bail after perusing the chemical examination report of Venkitaraman’s blood samples, which was found negative for alcohol content and the case diary of the police. “Bail application allowed”, the judge said, accepting the defence argument that there was no alcohol content in the blood sample of the accused. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Venkitaraman’s blood sample was taken nine hours after the mishap after he initially refused to provide it and after getting himself admitted in a private hospital. The IAS officer was arrested on August 3, hours after the luxury car driven by him in an alleged inebriated condition while returning from a private party, hit journalist, K Muhammed Basheer, killing him on the spot. He was later remanded to 14 days judicial custody. The government had on Monday suspended the 33-year-old officer, who was serving as the Survey Director. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) had also been constituted to probe the case. 35-year-old Basheer, Thiruvananthapuram Bureau Chief of Malayalam daily “Siraj”, was on his home from work when the mishap occurred at around one am on Saturday.
New Delhi: Delhi’s air quality has been oscillating between good and satisfactory categories for the past one week, making it one of the longest spells of clean air in the national capital this year, authorities said on Friday. The authorities have attributed increased rainfall with approaching western disturbance as the main reason behind the improvement in air quality. According to the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR), the overall air quality index (AQI) of Delhi was 44 on Friday which falls in good category, while the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said the AQI was recorded in satisfactory category at 59. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’. The level of PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometre) was recorded at 44 and the PM10 level was recorded at 21 on Friday, SAFAR said. The AQI was recorded at 69 on Tuesday, 63 on Wednesday and 75 on Thursday. Officials said it is the longest spell of clean air experienced by Delhiites this year. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchings The air quality is predicted to be in good category for the next three days, according to SAFAR. “Overall air quality of Delhi is in good category. Wide spread rain helped to the sudden improvement of the air quality. Increased rain fall activity is likely in association with approaching western disturbance and monsoon low, fairly widespread to widespread rainfall and isolated heavy rain falls are expecting over the weekend,” it added. According to the CPCB, PM2.5 levels in the national capital dropped by 7.3 per cent in 2018 when compared to 2017 and by 14.8 per cent over 2016. Similarly reduction in PM10 levels in 2018 is 8.6 per cent over 2017 and 16.5 per cent over 2016.
Mumbai: Jailed media baron Indrani Mukerjea, the prime accused in the killing of her daughter, on Thursday termed the arrest of former Union finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX media money laundering case as “good news”. Chidambaram was arrested on August 21 by the CBI in the INX Media corruption and money laundering case. Indrani Mukerjea and her husband Peter Mukerjea are former promoters of the INX Media Group. “His (Chidambaram) arrest is good news. He is now cornered from all sides,” Indrani Mukerjea told reporters in a sessions court where she was produced to attend trial in the case of killing of her daughter Sheena Bora. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details She further said the bail granted to the former Union minister’s son Karti Chidambaram in the INX Media case should also be cancelled. Indrani Mukerjea had earlier recorded her statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), claiming she and her husband met P Chidambaram at the latter’s office in Delhi’s North Block. She also claimed in her statement that the former Union minister had asked her to help his son Karti Chidambaram in his business and make overseas remittances in lieu of granting Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval to INX Media.
Three deaths occur every day, on an average, concerning two-wheelers on Delhi/NCR roads – this is the horrific fact. And, in the rest of the country too, fatal road deaths account for a mindboggling number. The Union government has taken a much-required step and increased cash penalty on offenders, primarily to stem deaths on the seemingly innocuous roads of our country. The transport minister reminded citizens that India tops the list of countries with fatal road accidents and to correct the long-pending anomaly, fines, which actually act as a deterrent, need to be hiked. Also Read – A special kind of bondYet, politics has again assumed centre-stage. It is disheartening to see a number of political leaders grabbing the limelight by voraciously expressing solidarity with law-breakers who are keen to emphasise that the steep fine be eased – so that they can flout the law day-in and day-out without any impunity and without digging any measurable hole in their pocket. While Chandrayaan-2 evokes pride, this routine political hullaballoo on rolling back fines against law-breakers dampens the idea of India becoming a truly modern society. Where are we headed? In this era of technology, while we are striving to become the viswaguru again, this medieval mindset takes us many steps back. It is especially disheartening to see political leaders from the opposition and some even from the present treasury benches come up with this retrograde façade. Is it all about appeasement and caring a bare minimum for the law of the land – but one mustn’t forget that politics is after all empty when in violation of people and their well-being. Also Read – Insider threat managementLife is precious and human life, the most precious. Surely, roads and accidents are not the appropriate place to lose one’s life to untimely death. Respect for the law is of utmost importance and should be upheld by one and all. Political leaders, especially, should be responsible for paving any iota of negativity on the psyche of the people on the subject. Rather than reducing the challan rates, cars and two-wheeler riders should be encouraged to follow the rule and remain within the boundary of the yellow line. In fact, the government, especially the Union transport minister, should be lauded for this long-overdue step of increasing the fine amount for violating traffic rules, which has been initiated after much ado. One minuscule percentage of law enforcement agencies may be taking advantage and indulging in malpractice, which is condemnable, but that is not reason enough to seek a rollback on the fine amount. Such instances should be reported to the concerned higher authorities for appropriate punitive action against the black sheep of the law enforcement agencies. There are several interlinked issues on traffic and a holistic approach is most definitely required. The ultimate intention is to pave the way for smooth, safe, free-flowing traffic in our cities without any accidents, especially avoidable fatal accidents. For safe traffic, one most important factor is good and respectful driver behaviour – besides good roads, good vehicles and good enforcement. This good behaviour is scanty on our roads and demands organised inculcation. An old aphorism says, ‘catch them young if you want them to deliver’. Thailand’s capital Bangkok was notorious for traffic problems even a decade ago. The Thai government then decided to teach traffic rules and regulations to children, beginning from kindergarten itself. Transportation and traffic rules were introduced in the curriculum for all. And then, the results also proved to be satisfactory. Accidents were down, drivers’ behaviour on the road improved, road rages reduced and as an overall impact, the city of Bangkok received the blessing of smooth traffic. Another aspect, important for overall traffic improvement is parking in Central Business Districts (CBDs). Across civilised countries, parking rates in CBDs are very stiff and also vary during the day. Office time rates are obviously higher than the normal time. A similar approach should be taken in our country on this issue. For example, in Delhi, Nehru Place, Connaught Place, Ajmal Khan Market, South Extension Market, Lajpat Nagar, etc., are places with much higher footfall. So, the parking rates in these areas, especially during the office working hours, should be much higher, which actually would act as a deterrent as people will avoid bringing their private vehicles and opt for public transport instead. One can’t be selfish in ignoring the larger picture and importance of the situation in its totality. Good sense should prevail, and the sooner the better! (The author is a senior IAF officer, former OSD to LG, Delhi and has been closely associated with UTTIPEC in NCT of Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal)
TORONTO – The brother of a woman missing in Toronto says a widespread community search for his sister is helping his family get through a difficult time.Zubair Afzal said more than 100 people have joined the effort to find his younger sister, 30-year-old Zabia Afzal, a PhD student who has been missing since Thursday.Afzal’s family is heartened to know there are so many people concerned about her, the woman’s brother said.“It’s the one thing that keeps us going,” he said Monday. “Looking at the friends, looking at the community that’s come out with support. We’re trying to have positive thoughts.”Zubair Afzal said 15,000 posters have been plastered all over Toronto — from the east-end community where his sister was last seen to the downtown core and up to York University, where she is a student.“She’s a very smart, caring individual,” he said. “She especially fights for women’s rights.”He says that his sister is also very communicative, so it’s out of character for her to disappear without telling anybody.The family has also launched a social media campaign, and hundreds of people have tweeted and posted using the hashtag “FindZabia.”Two police forces are investigating the disappearance. York regional police say she was reportedly last seen near Woodbine Beach in Toronto on Thursday morning.Officers in York Region are collecting and investigating tips from the public, while Toronto police are searching the water around where she was last seen.They’re asking anyone with information about Zabia Afzal’s whereabouts to come forward.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled Zabia Afzal’s first name.
TEL AVIV, Israel – President Donald Trump says peace in the Middle East can be achieved only by working together. He says, “there is no other way.”Trump spoke during a brief airport ceremony after he arrived in Israel on his first visit as president.Since taking office in January, Trump has been bullish about wanting to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace that so far has been elusive. Trump meets later in the day with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.On Tuesday, Trump sits down with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.At the airport, Trump urged both sides to take advantage of the “rare opportunity” that he says currently exists under his administration to bring security, stability and peace to the region and its people.
OTTAWA – The federal government’s bug-addled public service pay system saw a fresh spike in problems last month, the result of new labour contracts and summer hiring, officials said Friday.Public Services and Procurement Canada managed to stabilize the backlog of pay change files that were being dealt with in March and April, deputy minister Marie Lemay told a teleconference.But the backlog surged by about 10 per cent last month when the Phoenix system was inundated with new pay requests, she said.The system was jammed by pay changes made to accommodate new collective agreements coming into force for roughly 24,000 government employees working as financial managers, auditors, scientists and patent examiners, among others.In addition, about 5,000 summer students were hired.There are roughly 345,000 pay change transactions currently in the system, about 265,000 more than the system’s average monthly capacity of about 80,000, officials said.“All this means the number of transactions awaiting processing has grown,” said Lemay.At least one union representing civil servants predicted the backlog could grow larger still as new collective agreements come into force.“The government should have foreseen this challenge months ago,” said Steve Hindle, vice-president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.“The number of pay transactions resulting from implementation of new collective agreements is only going to increase over the coming months.”The government said last month it was hoping to enlist 200 temporary workers on top of the 300 hired to date to deal with the Phoenix issues, which initially left tens of thousands of public servants underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all.Lemay said Friday she expected up to 230 new pay system employees could be hired over the next two years, 90 of them at the government pay centre in Miramichi, N.B.“We need the capacity,” said Lemay. “It absolutely will help us get through that queue.”How long it will take to tame the backlog will depend on how quickly the department can hire — and train — new compensation advisers, said Lemay, noting that intensive “boot camp” training sessions were underway for the latest new hires.The government said it will spend $142 million in hopes of bringing the Phoenix system to what it calls a “steady state.”The Liberals blamed the expense on the Conservatives, who they said axed hundreds of workers who handled pay claims before Phoenix was brought on line.“The previous government eliminated over 700 compensation jobs in departments, resulting in a shortage of capacity to implement a new pay system,” said Steven MacKinnon, the parliamentary secretary to Public Service and Procurement Minister Judy Foote.“We inherited this mess, but we are committed to fixing it.”Had those jobs not been eliminated, the pay system problems could have been significantly reduced, Lemay suggested.“As part of the consolidation of compensation advisers in Miramichi, we lost experienced experts before Phoenix was launched,” she said.“We can now clearly see that this caused a critical gap during our transition to the new pay system. Having that expertise available during the implementation would have been a game changer.”The Conservatives, however, argued the Liberals knew of the pay system problems before deciding to launch Phoenix, and certainly had time to beef up staffing levels to cope with recent changes in civil service contracts.“It’s stunning that the deputy minister said her department was unprepared for things like summer students and new collective agreements, even though these factors had been anticipated for over a year,” said Conservative public service deputy critic Kelly McCauley.“The Liberals have mismanaged the Phoenix pay fiasco from Day 1 and taxpayers are going to be forced to pay for their mistakes.”— Follow @tpedwell on Twitter
OTTAWA – Temporary shelters set up in Cornwall, Ont., to house asylum seekers will remain on standby until Oct. 1, but the province’s immigration minister said Tuesday that, for now, it doesn’t look like they’ll be needed.But Laura Albanese said if there’s one lesson to be learned from how the federal and provincial governments have dealt with thousands of people crossing over the border this summer, it’s that Canada has to be ready at any moment to handle them.“It may just be an anomaly, but at the same time, given the times we’re living in, given what we see going on in Europe, the Mediterranean, any country, any province has to be attentive and on the alert,” Albanese said Tuesday.Part of being ready is knowing who is coming and who is already here and Albanese said the federal government needs to reveal more of that data.Information sharing is part of the mandate of the federal-provincial task force set up in mid-August to manage the arrival of hundreds of people a day, mostly through an unofficial border crossing in Quebec. The group is scheduled to meet again on Friday in Ottawa. Albanese said she’s expecting an update on current levels, but also hopes to learn a bit more about the population already here.While the vast majority of the nearly 7,000 people who’ve arrived just since July are believed to be Haitian, not much else is known. Although Quebec has said that a third of new arrivals are under 18, the Canadian Press has been asking the federal Immigration Department for a population profile of the crossers since last week and has yet to receive a response.The Quebec government is ramping up plans for schools for the children and exploring the possibility of temporary work permits for adults. Albanese said Ontario is, so far, not rolling out similar programs, given the relatively small number of arrivals from the current group expected to stay in Ontario — less than 10 per cent, she said.Those who will stay are part of the population that’s been housed in Cornwall, Ont. to await the first stages of their applications for asylum. Both a government facility and tents were set up for them, with officials estimating up to 500 people would seek temporary shelter there.Albanese said the latest figures she had were that 199 were at the NAV centre and those numbers would keep going down. Still, the temporary facilities will remain at the ready throughout September, she said.The RCMP said Tuesday they are not ready to release updated figures for August but the trend — at least in the number of people they are apprehending at the border — does seem to be going down.But among the details Albanese is looking for: what’s happened to those who came before this group?When earlier this year groups of asylum seekers began arriving in Manitoba, the assumption was most would go on to Ontario. Whether that happened remains unclear, she said.That no one has been apprehended crossing illegally into Ontario this year is a matter of geography, Albanese said. It also doesn’t mean Ontario isn’t facing an increasing number of claimants arriving by other means.Prior to the spike in arrivals in Quebec beginning in July, Ontario was on track to receive more asylum claimants than any other province. Between January and June, 9,450 claims were filed there, compared with 6,635 in Quebec.Funds allocated in the province’s spring budget should help with providing the services newcomers require, but Ontario will be asking Ottawa for more financial assistance, Albanese said.
All of the talk about tax reform, this week, may have some people confused. After all, the tax code isn’t exactly the easiest thing to read.Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said small business owners have an unfair advantage that could create two classes of Canadians, arguing the current system is unsustainable.Terri Holowath, Managing Partner at Catalyst Accountants and Taxation, said despite Morneau’s assertion, proposed tax changes will have a disproportionate effect on family owned businesses.“The legislation is very broad and it will have an impact not only on the wealthiest of Canadians, but a lot of small and mid-sized businesses,” she said.She used the example of a feedlot company, owned by five unrelated individuals, where only one is actively engaged in the business. “That company can declare a proportionate dividend to the five unrelated share holders with no adverse consequences to the four inactive share holders under the draft legislation,” she explained.But if those people were related, there would be a huge tax hit if the inactive shareholders were paid a dividend.Holowath said it also affects people looking at retirement, using the example of ranchers whose wealth typically lies in land and herds. “Mom and dad, they sell the heard within the company, we pay the corporate small business rate of 12.5 per cent, which is what it is right now, and the cattle are converted into cash,” she explained.The ranchers also pay a low personal tax rate, but under changes to the passive investment rules, Holowath said they could be taxed at an effective rate of 70 per cent.
OTTAWA – The inclusion of the phrase Islamophobia in a hotly debated motion passed by the House of Commons last year was meant as an example of forms of racism, the Liberal MP who sponsored the proposal said Monday.Iqra Khalid told the House of Commons heritage committee that her motion calling for parliamentarians to condemn Islamophobia and for a study on systematic racism and religious discrimination was about the study itself that began Monday.“It uses the example of Islamophobia to make a larger point about the problem of all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination — that we have to find ways to tackle that broad problem in Canada as a whole,” Khalid said.Khalid said she was motivated to introduce M-103 after hearing several stories of racist acts against different faiths in the fall of 2016. When she looked into the issue, she found the statistics to provide context to the problem were lacking and something had to be done.“The objective of the motion was to bring forward this study, it is upon this committee as a whole to take that unified approach to study the issue, to work with each other to find those recommendations to assist us as policy makers,” she said.Khalid’s motion passed in a vote of 201-91 last spring. It called on MPs to recognize something had to be down to “quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear,” and to that end, the House ought to condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and direct the heritage committee to study the issue, including how better to gather hate crime data.The conflict around the motion centered largely around the word Islamophobia, setting off protests on Parliament Hill and arguments across the country over the meaning and implications of the phrase.Khalid told the committee she defines it as “irrational fear or hatred of Muslims or Islam” that leads to discrimination.But opponents say the word it is vague and essentially means criticism against Islam of any kind is forbidden, and some saw Khalid’s motion as the first step in criminalizing that criticism. Conservative news outlet Rebel Media seized on that issue with gusto, forcing it into the Conservative leadership race as contenders were grilled on their positions.The Conservatives had sought to remove the phrase and instead broaden the motion to refer to multiple faiths.They lost over objections from the Liberals that they would be watering down Khalid’s effort. Several Conservatives raised their own motion in quizzing Khalid on Monday about her intentions.“Both of us would have liked to have found ourselves on the same side of the vote in the House on the issue,” Conservative David Anderson said.“We are sir,” Khalid replied.Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said she had never seen as much “fomented anger, concern and misconception” around a House of Commons motion as she heard around Khalid’s.She and other MPs told Khalid they’d received calls that the motion would lead to Islamic religious law, known as Sharia, being introduced in Canada or that it would give Islam a protected status in Canada greater than that of other religions.Khalid was asked to directly address some of the specific concerns, but didn’t tackle them all, saying while there were misconceptions, it was time to move forward.“The conversation that Canadians had over the past number of months was a very important conversation,” Khalid said.“It is a great way to lead up to this study.”
CARDSTON, Alta. – A southern Alberta landlord is hoping the courts will help him with a squatter living in a small shack sitting on a trailer in the driveway of the man’s rental property.“What can you do? Our hands are tied and nobody’s prepared to help,” said Ivan Negrych, who is attempting to remove Bob Cox from the property in the town of Cardston, about 235 kilometres southeast of Calgary.“It’s kind of turning into a nightmare.”Negrych said he had been renting the five-bedroom home to Cox’s former common-law wife. The woman and two daughters allowed him to move in after he was injured in a car accident about 18 months ago. She moved out Sept. 30 and Negrych rented out the property to another person within days.“He moved in and now he’s refusing to move out,” said Negrych.He said Cox, who wasn’t reachable by phone, is perfectly happy living in the small wooden, windowless shack still parked in the driveway.“It’s roughly 12 feet by 8 (feet) and it’s on a little channel-frame trailer with little wheels on it. It has no brakes. No electricity. He’s pulling electricity from the house from an extension cord.”Cox says he has squatter’s rights. He told CTV News he hopes to move soon, but isn’t ready to do so yet.“I don’t want to be in Ivan’s way,” he told CTV.The problem, said Negrych, is Alberta’s Residential Tenancies Act.“Once (tenants are) in, you can’t get them out. It takes several months, because the process is so long … to get a judgment and eviction court order,” Negrych said.He’s working on getting that order now, he added.Negrych said he asked the RCMP for assistance but was told it’s a civil matter.“They can’t touch him and, in fact, the police asked me to leave the property because I was trespassing and hadn’t given him a 24-hour written notice, which is part of the … act.”A court date has been set for Nov. 7.Negrych said he has given Cox an eviction notice and watched him roll it up and throw it in the garbage. Even if the judge does grant a removal order, it could be between four weeks and four months before Cox can be legally removed, he said.— By Bill Graveland in Calgary. Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter
New Brunswick boxer David Whittom, who had been in an induced coma since suffering a brain hemorrhage following a fight last spring, has died. He was 39.His partner, Jelena Zerdoner, announced his death on Facebook on Friday.“With a broken heart in a million pieces, I announce to you my friends that my David Whittom has joined the angels and my mother this afternoon,” she said in French.“Rest in peace my champion.”Whittom’s passing nearly 10 months after a knockout prompted an outpouring of support on social media from friends, fans and fellow boxers.Brandon Brewer, a professional boxer and Canadian light middleweight champion from Fredericton, offered his “deepest condolences” to Whittom’s family.“Every time Dave came down to Fredericton he would help me train,” Brewer said in a Facebook post Saturday.“He was always trying to help guide me in the right direction. He always taught me to stay positive and stay focused no matter what.”Whittom, a native of Saint Quentin, N.B., was once a promising super-middleweight who fought world title contenders.Saskatoon’s Gary Kopas beat him by technical knockout with just 37 seconds left in the 10-round bout in May.Whittom became ill hours later and was taken to hospital in Fredericton and later to Saint John, N.B., where he underwent surgery the next day.He had twice considered retirement, hanging up his gloves briefly only to return to the ring.
Alberta’s battle with B.C. over the Trans Mountain pipeline hasn’t much impacted Rachel Notley’s approval rating, according to the latest numbers from Angus Reid.But, the quarrel may have added to John Horgan’s popularity.Notley is sitting at 33 per cent — in the middle of the pack compared to other provincial leaders.“What that says to me is that — the trade war that started between B.C. and Alberta over wine, certainly the war of words and rhetoric is something that hasn’t hurt Notley or her approval levels, (but) it hasn’t necessarily given her much of a bump. Being up a point really means being statistically unchanged,” Shachi Kurl, Angus Reid’s Executive Director, said.B.C.’s premier is tied with Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, with the highest approval rating at 52 per cent.“It looks like the face-off against the government of Alberta does appear to have helped John Horgan, a little bit. A three point increase in approval is not massive but it’s certainly in the right direction.” Kurl said.Kurl said we’ve heard the opposition saying Notley has lost the conflict with Horgan.“The numbers would indicate, well nothing necessarily lost, nor nothing necessarily gained,” she said.
MONTREAL – Walmart Canada is apologizing for the way it chose to end its involvement with a Quebec program that provides job training for people with intellectual disabilities.Spokesman Robert Nicol says the company’s goal in withdrawing from the program was to find other ways to help the participants, including through direct employment.The retailer has been facing criticism since a health agency in central Quebec told the media earlier this week that the program’s participants would be losing their jobs.Walmart has not confirmed why it is pulling out of the program, which is run by local agencies and provides work experience for people with intellectual disabilities or who are on the autism spectrum.Nicol says the retailer acknowledges that the way it handled the matter caused confusion and disappointment.He says the company would be working with all the participants to find them new arrangements or to hire them directly.
Justin Trudeau mingled with hundreds of friendly people at two family-focused events on Vancouver Island, but the prime minister was also reminded of the strong opposition his government faces over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.At an outdoor news conference Saturday at the Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan, B.C., Trudeau acknowledged there are people opposed to the government’s decision to buy the pipeline from Kinder Morgan, however, he said it won’t stop the project or Liberal plans to fight climate change.“There are people out there who think there is still a choice to be made between what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy. I don’t,” he said. “I know the only way to build a strong economy, moving forward, is by protecting the environment, and ensuring we are protecting the environment for future generations is a deep priority of mine. Always has been.”In May, Trudeau’s Liberal government announced its decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs from Alberta to the B.C. coast, and related infrastructure for $4.5 billion. It could also spend billions more to build the controversial expansion.“We know we have to put in place a strong plan to fight climate change,” said Trudeau. “There are people on the other side of the political spectrum who don’t like that.”The prime minister shook a lot of hands and posed for countless selfies, but some placard carrying protesters at the gates of the forestry centre let him know the pipeline issue will continue to dog him, with one even calling him an “oil pimp.”Trudeau also made comments about North Korea, reacting to reports from the United Nations that the country has made few moves to halt its nuclear weapons program.“We must see a denuclearized North Korea,” he told reporters. “North Korea continues to be a concern, not just for regional security but global stability. We need to continue to put pressure on the North Korean regime.”Earlier in the day, Trudeau made a surprise visit to the Duncan Farmers’ Market, which quickly attracted a crowd of people around him, with many posing for selfies.The local band playing at the market stopped its regular set and played “O Canada,” with Trudeau later singing with the crowd.The prime minister wrapped up his Saturday tour with a visit to the Richmond Night Market, where he received enthusiastic applause from the hundreds of people who gathered near a stage to hear his remarks.Trudeau was joined on stage by Steveston-Richmond East MP Joe Peschisolido, the MP for Delta Carla Quatrough, and Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan.He reminded the crowd that Saturday was Canada Food Day, and he noted that all the delicacies being served up at the market were made in Canada.“Just like this night market, we come together and we share, and celebrate, and bring our families to know that our differences make us stronger as individuals, as communities, and as a country,” Trudeau told them.—With files from Spencer Harwood.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had an incorrect name for the Minister of National Defence
MONTREAL – Criticism of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by the wife of Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault raised questions Wednesday about how a possible Coalition government would get along with the federal Liberals.In a newly emerged recording, Isabelle Brais, Legault’s wife, can be heard telling a party meeting last month that while Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was “brilliant,” his son is not.Brais, a fixture by Legault’s side during the election campaign, described the younger Trudeau as incompetent and suggested a Coalition government could have strained ties with his federal government.Brais issued an apology through the party after audio of the August meeting in Montreal was obtained by Montreal’s La Presse, which published details Wednesday. She said she had gone too far.Campaigning in Tadoussac, Que., Legault declined to say whether he endorses his wife’s comments about the prime minister.“My wife, who I’ve been with for 28 years, is an independent woman who has her opinions, who is spontaneous, who apologized,” Legault told reporters. “I think we should turn the page.”Asked his own opinion of the Trudeaus, he dodged the question. “I’m not able to judge who of the two is most brilliant,” Legault said.Legault said he is not worried the remarks will harm relations with Ottawa if he becomes premier. He would need to be on good terms because his centrepiece policy proposals on immigration rely heavily on federal support.The Coalition is proposing to reduce immigration by 20 per cent and to oblige newcomers to pass French and values tests within three years of arrival or face removal. Responsibility for the expulsions would fall to the federal government.“I’m confident that the demands we make to Ottawa — because they are supported by a large percentage of Quebecers — will be accepted regardless of who is (prime minister),” Legault said.He added that his aide in charge of transition in the event of an Oct. 1 Coalition victory has already had discussions with federal officials. Recent opinion polls have shown the Coalition neck-and-neck with the Liberals in popular support but better positioned to form the next government.In the recording, obtained by The Canadian Press, Brais weighs in on a wide-range of issues during a question-and-answer session with party supporters.She said it would be impossible for the Coalition to work with Trudeau on re-opening the Constitution.“It is not going to be possible with Justin Trudeau,” Brais said. “His father was brilliant, but he is not.”She also praised Quebec as a jewel in North America, with a European-style culture distinct from the rest of Canada.“We are different, we are not coming from Saskatchewan …. Have you been to Saskatchewan? It’s almost the United States,” Brais said.Following the event, she was asked to confirm her observations about the prime minister.“I don’t think he’s competent, that’s it,” Brais replied, adding: “I shouldn’t have said that …. I won’t say it again, I promise.”Federal Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, a Montreal MP, called Brais’ comments unacceptable.“I understand that Madame Brais apologized, and I’m pleased because these comments have no place in politics,” he told reporters in Ottawa.— with files from Patrice Bergeron in Tadoussac, Que.
FREDERICTON — Rising waters have reduced the Trans-Canada Highway to a single lane outside Fredericton, as New Brunswick officials warn residents of flood-prone areas to get out while they can.The provincial government says its offices in downtown Fredericton are open for essential services only, as flood levels in the capital are back at last year’s levels.It says civil servants who are personally affected by the floods and “need to tend to their obligations” were not required to come to work.Many streets and parking lots in Fredericton remain under water, while the swollen Saint John River is also causing flooding in the southern parts of the province.MRDC, the private company that maintains a stretch of the Trans-Canada, says high water levels have shrunk the highway near Jemseg, N.B.., and is warning motorists to “proceed with caution.”On Tuesday, Greg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, urged people living in areas that are typically cut off due to flooding to “act now to relocate.”EMO warned motorists to avoid any roads covered by water, saying they are a serious safety risk.“Water may be deeper than it appears and may conceal sinkholes or other damage and debris,” it warned Wednesday.Residents were advised to remain on high alert in areas in and around Clair-Fort Kent, Saint-Hilaire, Edmundston, Fredericton, Maugerville, Jemseg, Grand Lake, Sheffield-Lakeville Corner, Oak Point and Quispamsis-Saint John.The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure reported 59 road closures across the province on Tuesday.About 200 soldiers from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown have been deployed to provide assistance to residents who need it, while sandbag stations have been set up across the province.Late Monday, residents in parts of Saint John were given voluntary evacuation notice.The Saint John Emergency Measures Organization said water levels could reach 5.3 metres by Friday, and flooding and road closures could isolate some homes for five days or more.The Canadian Press
Jennifer Hudson, an Oscar and Grammy winner, will perform at T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest Woman of Purpose concert.Comedian and talk show host Steve Harvey will host the event featuring a performance by pop star and actress Brandy. A portion of concert proceeds will benefit Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy group. Two families with children on the autism spectrum will be recognized at the concert which will take place on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 8 p.m. CDT at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.Additional performers at the Woman of Purpose concert include: Joe, Baby Face, Mary Mary, Tamar Braxton, Kim Burrell and Ray Chew. Celebrity mothers who champion awareness of autism Holly Robinson-Peete and Toni Braxton will also be recognized during the event.MegaFest will take place Aug. 29-31 in Dallas and will offer fun-filled activities for those of all ages and interests including Oprah’s Lifeclass, the inaugural International Faith & Family Film Festival, the Just Churchin’ Comedy Show, the Ball Up Streetball Classic Tour Championship and empowerment sessions for men, women, young adults and children.The partnership between MegaFest and Autism Speaks focuses on reducing the average age of diagnosis and increasing access to high-quality early intervention for all children on the autism spectrum. Many studies have documented that minority populations are diagnosed later than the general population. Early identification and early intervention give children with autism the best chance of improved outcomes. Autism Speaks is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.Autism Speaks will host a booth in MegaFest’s healthcare pavilion with clinicians providing short consultations with families who have concerns about their child’s early behaviors. During these “Ask a Clinician” sessions, families can sign up for a 10-minute appointment with an expert to discuss specific problems and receive guidance on the next steps. The family-friendly booth will have space for children to play and families to relax. The Autism Speaks science team will be on hand to provide information on the nationwide Early Access to Care Initiative, with tips and recommendations on strategies for promoting a child’s healthy development.Tickets for the Woman of Purpose concert are available at Mega-Fest.com. American Airlines Center is located at 2500 Victory Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75219.Source:PR Newswire
Vanity Fair, Leon Max, and Benedikt Taschen Present the Annie Leibovitz Book Launch – Wednesday, February 26 – Vanity Fair and Leon Max, along with Taschen Books’s Benedikt Taschen, will host a party in honor of Annie Leibovitz’s new limited-edition, sumo-size Taschen book, Annie Leibovitz. Held at the Chateau Marmont, the event will benefit the nonprofit organization Donors Choose. Beauty Luncheon and Spa Day with Lancôme and Clarisonic – Thursday, February 27 – Vanity Fair will join Lancôme and Clarisonic for a day of pampering hosted by Vanity Fair beauty director SunHee Grinnell at the Spa Montage at the Montage Beverly Hills Hotel. Hollywood’s top makeup artists and beauty bloggers will be treated to Clarisonic facials, Lancôme makeup touch-ups, spa treatments, and a light lunch at this intimate, invitation-only event to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the nonprofit advancing cures and the means of prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Vanity Fair and Chrysler Toast American Hustle – Thursday, February 27 – Vanity Fair and Chrysler will host a private cocktail party at AGO to toast director David O. Russell and the cast of the Academy Award–nominated film, American Hustle. The event is being held in support of the Ghetto Film School, an organization that educates, develops, and celebrates the next generation of great American storytellers, and a cause close to David O. Russell’s heart. The Campaign Hollywood 2014 schedule of events is as follows: Vanity Fair and Fiat toast “Young Hollywood” – Tuesday, February 25 – Vanity Fair senior West Coast editor Krista Smith and Captain America star Chris Evans host Vanity Fair and Fiat’s toast to “Young Hollywood” in support of the Concord Youth Theatre, a nonprofit educational organization committed to making high-quality live theater accessible, relevant, and memorable for young people and their families. This invitation-only event will be held at Hollywood’s No Vacancy and will feature music by D.J. Ms. Nix. Vanity Fair has announced a new initiative within Campaign Hollywood, its annual, weeklong celebration leading up to the Academy Awards.Called Vanity Fair Social Club, the lounge is located in Hollywood’s WeWork creative co-working space and will provide bloggers and online journalists with a fun and inspiring space to write, work, and be entertained while in Los Angeles for the week of the Academy Awards. This is the first social club of its kind to be held during Oscar week.From Monday, February 24 through Sunday, March 2, Vanity Fair and presenting sponsors Chrysler and L’Oréal Paris will host several events at the V.F. Social Club space centered around the Academy Awards, fashion, and, of course, social media. V.F. Social Club guests also will be treated to Chobani “Simply 100” Greek yogurt, as well as custom recipes for both breakfast and afternoon appetizers. Additional Social Club participants include Clarisonic, Giorgio Armani Beauty, Lancôme, Leon Max, Mionetto Prosecco, and Stella Artois. Vanity Fair Social Club and Campaign Hollywood reflect the glamour, art, and excitement of Oscar Week in Hollywood, while spotlighting brands and charities in a way that only Vanity Fair can.“This year, Campaign Hollywood has been taken to an entirely new, socially activated level with the introduction of Vanity Fair Social Club,” says Vanity Fair vice president and publisher Edward Menicheschi. “V.F. Social Club is geared to the online entrepreneurs who are original content makers. From the high-touch client integration across a broad cross-section of advertising partners to an event lineup that provides serious Hollywood-style high-wattage, there’s no doubt that Vanity Fair truly owns Oscar Week.”The Chrysler and Fiat brands have returned for the fourth year as the automotive sponsors of Campaign Hollywood. By partnering with Vanity Fair, Chrysler and Fiat will allow the magazine’s V.I.P. guests to arrive in luxury throughout Oscar Week in the sophisticated and smart 2014 Chrysler 300 and experience the exceptional 2014 Fiat 500L. On Thursday, February 27, Chrysler will host a private cocktail party at Robert De Niro’s Ago restaurant to toast the cast of the Academy Award–nominated film, American Hustle. The evening will benefit the Ghetto Film School, a charity close to the heart of director David O. Russell’s, and will feature “cameos” by the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200. On Tuesday, February 25, Fiat will host the “Young Hollywood” event with Vanity Fair senior West Coast editor Krista Smith and Captain America actor Chris Evans, at No Vacancy, in Hollywood. The event will benefit Evans’s mother’s Concord Youth Theatre, in Concord, M.A.For 2014, L’Oréal U.S.A. once again is the beauty sponsor of Campaign Hollywood. L’Oréal Paris, Lancôme, Clarisonic, and Giorgio Armani Beauty brands will be represented at select events and at V.F. Social Club throughout the week by way of product displays, sampling, and touch-up stations. The beauty brand will conclude Campaign Hollywood with D.J. Night, on Friday, February 28, hosted by actress Anna Kendrick and featuring a special performance by D.J. Jaime Winstone, in support of The Art of Elysium. On Thursday, February 27, Lancôme and Clarisonic will hold a beauty-inspired luncheon and spa day at Spa Montage at the Montage Beverly Hills hotel, hosted by Vanity Fair beauty director SunHee Grinnell to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Finally, on Friday, February 28, Giorgio Armani Beauty’s Tim Quinn will discuss Hollywood beauty with SunHee Grinnell at V.F. Social Club.Throughout the week, Grey Goose will celebrate those who achieve the extraordinary within the film industry with its Awards Season Cocktail Collection to be served throughout the week’s evening events. D.J. Night with L’Oréal Paris – Friday, February 28 – Actress Anna Kendrick, along with Vanity Fair and L’Oréal Paris, will host a chic party at Sadie Kitchen and Lounge, in Hollywood, featuring an exclusive performance by D.J. Jaime Winstone. This invitation-only event will benefit The Art of Elysium, a nonprofit organization that encourages working actors, artists, and musicians to volunteer their time and talents to children who are battling serious medical conditions.
Christopher Reeve’s children have released the following statement via the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation on the death of Robin Williams.Robin Williams with Christopher Reeve“The Reeve family, like many, will remember Robin for the humor, energy and brightness he brought into our lives through the screen. We will cherish him, though, for the quiet and unwavering support he showed our family through the hardest times. The world knew Robin as a comedic titan, but to our family, he was simply one of our Dad’s dearest friends. From the moment they were classmates at Juilliard, their friendship transformed into a brotherhood that was built on a mutual admiration for the theater, the arts and, most importantly, laughter.“After our father’s accident, Robin’s visit to his hospital room was the first time that Dad truly laughed. Dad later said, “My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.” Robin and his incredible family stayed by our side for the rest of Dad’s life, and long after that as well. He and Marsha Garces Williams joined the Board of the Reeve Foundation, and provided unending support without fanfare or question.“Robin’s unparalleled legacy on screen will last through the ages. But beyond the gift of laughter, he gave our family and the Reeve Foundation the gift of his simple, steadfast friendship. It’s a gift we’ll treasure forever.”Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams met as roommates while studying at Juilliard. While training side by side, their camaraderie on stage blossomed into a friendship that would remain steadfast through each chapter of their lives. Following Christopher’s accident, Robin stayed at his side and was a pillar of support for the entire family.“‘The world has lost a tremendous activist and artist, and an inspiration for people worldwide. I have lost a great friend.’ Ten years ago, Robin Williams shared those words when Christopher Reeve passed away,” said Reeve Foundation President & CEO, Peter Wilderotter. “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of a dear friend, former board member and advocate for our community. While the world knew Robin Williams as an Oscar-winning actor, we knew a different side to the man whose smile was as big as his heart.“To share a familiar and beloved story: When Christopher was first hospitalized, Robin Williams arrived in his room, dressed as a doctor, reprising his role from the movie Nine Months. ‘He announced that he was a proctologist and had to examine me immediately. For the first time since the accident, I laughed,’ as recounted by Christopher in his autobiography.“Without hesitation, Robin joined the Reeve Foundation Board of Directors and immediately assumed the role of advocate for our community. For his dedication and unwavering support, the Reeve Foundation honored Robin in 1998 at A Magical Evening with the inaugural “Human Spirit Award” and then recognized him again in 2007 at an event in Los Angeles Even his attendance at events resulted in a surge of supporters reaching out to contribute to the Reeve Foundation mission.“While our hearts ache with the loss of our friend, it is unlikely Robin would want us to mourn his passing with silence, but to celebrate his life through laughter. Together, let’s remember Robin for the man who made the world laugh.”Source:ChristopherReeve.org