January 21, 2020
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by The Canadian Press Posted Dec 12, 2016 9:17 pm MDT Last Updated Dec 14, 2016 at 6:20 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Alberta Rocky Mountain town gets OK to build affordable housing project BANFF, Alta. – The Alberta Rocky Mountain town of Banff has been given the go-ahead for its affordable housing project, subject to any appeals.The municipal planning commission approved of the town’s plan on Monday, and since then, the town has gotten word of two appeals.The resort community has struggled with high rents and low vacancy.Sharon Oakley, housing sustainability co-ordinator, says it’s been a constant problem for the town, which has been constrained from growing by the fact that it’s located in a national park.Parks Canada released 14 lots to the town in December 2015, and Oakley hopes to see some solutions for those struggling to find housing.She says she’s seen a single mother with two teenaged boys living in a makeshift apartment in a parkade filled with exhaust fumes, and a person who was living in the garage of a friend that had no plumbing or heating.At the seniors’ centre in town, Oakley says it was common to find mattresses stored under the ramp and women in their 50s living in their cars during the winter.She says the economic downturn caused by low oil and gas prices has made things worse.“Based on the studies from 2012, if we continue on the trajectory of growth that we are currently on, we are short 430 to 755 units,” says Oakley. “It’s a significant shortage, so we have zero vacancy, and it’s been like that for three years.”She is excited to see that the town will now build a $22 million affordable housing project, which will provide 132 units reserved for people who fall under the guideline of 32 per cent of income used for housing.“It impacts everyone, from people who come here that can’t find a place to live and then they leave and we have less employees to work for the businesses,” she says. “We are a tourist community, the need is across the board.”The project is expected to break ground in January and will take 20 months to build.(CTV Calgary, The Canadian Press) read more

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Minister of Finance Bill Morneau is greeted by Senator Larry Smith (right) as he appears at a National Finance Senate committee on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 in Ottawa. A Senate committee chaired by Smith warns that the Liberal government could end up wasting billions in new infrastructure money unless it develops a detailed strategy to dole out the cash in the coming years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang Senate committee slams Liberals for looking to spend $186B without a solid plan by Jordan Press, The Canadian Press Posted Feb 28, 2017 7:23 am MDT Last Updated Feb 28, 2017 at 12:40 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email OTTAWA – A Senate committee warns that the Liberal government could end up wasting billions in new infrastructure money unless it develops a detailed strategy to dole out the cash in the coming years.The national finance committee said in some cases, the only metrics that Infrastructure Canada uses to measure success are the number of projects completed and the value attached to them — how much money goes out the door rather than what the money is buying.Absent a strategic plan, the government can’t develop meaningful objectives or performance measures, leaving parliamentarians and Canadians in the dark about whether the infrastructure program will meet the Liberals’ goal of growing the economy.The committee’s report released Tuesday morning recommended the Liberals craft a plan to make sure the government invests enough in infrastructure, and invests in the right places — particularly in trade infrastructure to move goods towards Europe and Asia — to ensure an economic return.The federal government is set to dole out $186 billion in infrastructure money over the coming decade, with almost half of that stemming from the Liberals’ new infrastructure plan.“The operational plan is let’s get X number of dollars out and Y number of projects,” committee chairman Sen. Larry Smith said in an interview. “Is that the measurement that we want to be using when we’re talking about $186 billion?“Is it about getting money out, or is it about getting projects that are strategically important on a national basis, on a provincial basis and on a municipal basis, to get it done properly and to measure what they are returning to you?”A spokesman for Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the government will release its long-term infrastructure plan with the Liberals’ “vision, outcomes, indicators and program details” some time this spring. Brook Simpson said the government will work with municipalities and parliamentarians on the design of the plan.The first phase of the program was aimed at renovating and repairing existing infrastructure in order to get some stimulus money into the economy while the Liberals worked on the plan for the second phase, valued at around $80 billion.The Liberals say that money will be aimed at large, transformational projects that will help the economy.The government has been slow to allocate the first tranche of money from its infrastructure program to provinces and cities. The Senate committee found that as of December, 308 projects worth $806 million had actually started, far below the 719 projects worth $1.5 billion that the government said were to immediately start after the 2016 budget.The slow pace of project work puts Liberal economic projections at risk. But the slow pace also has a political advantage, as projects may still be underway in 2019 when voters head to the polls.The committee said problem is symptomatic of an overly complex system, where too many department and agencies are responsible for slices of the infrastructure pie. Cities find the federal funding web confusing to navigate, the report said.The report recommended the government create a single window for funding, instead of spreading it across multiple departments and agencies, and take into account the needs of municipalities when deciding how money will be spent.Simpson said the government has already started streamlining approval processes and tried to simplify funding programs by letting provincial and local official prioritize projects. read more

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In this Thursday, June 1, 2017, photo, a builder works on the roof of a home under construction in Jackson Township, Butler County, Pa. On Monday, June 5, 2017, the Labor Department issues revised data on productivity in the first quarter. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) US productivity flat in first quarter, while labour costs up WASHINGTON – The productivity of American workers was flat in the first three months of this year, while labour costs rose at the fastest pace since the second quarter of last year.Productivity growth was zero in the January-March quarter after rising at a 1.8 per cent annual rate in the fourth quarter, the Labor Department reported Monday. It was the weakest performance since productivity had fallen at a 0.1 per cent rate in the second quarter of last year but an improvement from an initial reading of a 0.6 per cent decline.Productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, has been weak through most of the current recovery. Many analysts believe finding a way to boost productivity growth is the biggest economic challenge facing the country, but there is no consensus on the cause of the slowdown.Labour costs rose at a 2.2 per cent rate after having fallen at a 4.6 per cent rate in the fourth quarter. It was the fastest gain since April-June of last year.The revision in first quarter productivity had been expected because of the revision to first quarter gross domestic product, the economy’s total output of goods and services. The government initially reported that GDP had risen by a tepid 0.7 per cent rate in the January-March perio. But that was revised to show a slightly better reading of a 1.2 per cent gain. The boost in output led to the better reading for productivity.Since 2007, productivity increases have averaged just 1.2 per cent. That’s less than half the 2.6 per cent average annual gains turned in from 2000 to 2007, when the country was benefiting from increased efficiency from greater integration of computers and the internet into the workplace.Rising productivity means increased output for each hour of work, which allows employers to boost wages without triggering higher inflation.The effort to boost productivity back to the levels since before the Great Recession will likely be a key factor in determining whether President Donald Trump will achieve his goal of boosting overall growth from the weak 2.1 per cent average seen since the recession. The economy’s potential for growth is a combination of increases in the labour force and growth in productivity.During the campaign, Trump pledged to double growth to 4 per cent or better. Trump last month released a budget that projects faster economic grwoth will produce $2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade but that forecasts expects growth to rise over the next few years to a sustained pace of 3 per cent annual gains. by Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press Posted Jun 5, 2017 6:33 am MDT Last Updated Jun 5, 2017 at 8:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

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“Every individual should have equal access to freedom of movement,” said the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Michel Sidibé. “Restrictions on entry, stay and residence for people living with HIV are discriminatory and a violation of human rights,” he added. The Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are speaking out ahead of World AIDS Day, which is observed globally on 1 December. They represent nearly two million employees in industries from banking to mining, travel to technology, according to a news release issued by UNAIDS and GBCHealth, which comprises companies addressing global health challenges.Travel and other restrictions remain in 45 countries, and threaten people with HIV with such penalties as deportation, detention or denial of entry into the country in question.Calling HIV restrictions “bad for business,” Chip Bergh, President and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., said, “Global business leaders are coming together to make sure we end these unreasonable restrictions.”Most restrictions were imposed by governments in the 1980s, when less was known about HIV transmission, and treatment did not exist. Since then, much has been learned about how to effectively prevent, manage and treat HIV, the news release noted. “It’s time to send HIV travel restrictions packing,” said Kenneth Cole, CEO of Kenneth Cole Productions. “Using our collective might, I believe we can use our influence to eliminate these discriminatory practices.”Mark Bertolini, Chairman, CEO and President of Aetna, reflected that sentiment by adding: “Travel restrictions on individuals with HIV are unnecessary and hinder the ability for individuals and companies to operate in a truly global workforce.”Other major companies whose CEOs have joined the appeal include Johnson & Johnson, The Coca-Cola Company, Pfizer, Heineken, Merck, the National Basketball Association, Kenya Airways and Thomson Reuters.While restrictions affecting HIV carriers vary from country to country, they can also include denial of work visas, disallowing short-term stays for business trips or conferences, and blocking longer-term stays, such as residence-for-work relocations and study-abroad programmes, according to UNAIDS. The United States lifted its 22-year HIV travel ban in 2010, while other countries that have removed restrictions include Armenia, China, Fiji, Moldova, Namibia and Ukraine. “These countries include major hubs for international business,” noted the agency. Ending discrimination against HIV carriers is part of the “Getting to Zero” theme for World AIDS Days from 2011 to 2015. The day was launched in 1988, and was the first ever global health day. read more

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An Inuit musher and dog team in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tries his hand at ice fishing with a Inuit fisherman. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mrs. Ban and Prime Ministers of Denmark and Greenland with an Inuit family. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tours a whaling museum in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten A scene from the town of Illulissat, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten Designated a World Heritage site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the fjord is the mouth of a glacier which has been studied for more than 250 years and has contributed to better understanding of climate change.Mr. Ban’s two-day visit to Greenland provided him with an opportunity to see first-hand the impacts of climate change, where the melting of ice sheets is accelerating. Yesterday, Mr. Ban visited the town of Uummannaq, which is several hundred kilometres above the Arctic Circle, along with the Premier of Greenland, Aleqa Hammond, and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. The UN chief expressed his deep concern at the fast-moving glaciers and by the fast-melting ice cap which raises the sea level, affecting the entire international community’s environmental system.“It’s not only Greenland’s people – it’s the people of the whole world [who] are threatened because of this rapidly changing climate change,” he said on Wednesday at a joint press encounter with the two officials. “There may be still many studies to make, the nature and the impact of the climate change, but [there is] one, simple plain fact: climate change is happening much, much faster than we might think.”The climate summit planned for 23 September at UN Headquarters in New York comes ahead of a conference scheduled to take place next year in Paris to agree on a global, legal climate change agreement. Mrs. Ban checks out a couple new Inuit dog sled puppies. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefs the media about his experience on the ice in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tries out an Inuit dog sled ride in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten ‹ › Mr. Ban has invited leaders of Government, business, finance and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions to address climate change to the summit, which will focus on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.“We cannot negotiate with nature. A lot of disasters, natural disasters, have happened,” he stated. “We have to take action now. The time is now, and I’m very much committed to working with world leaders.”Following his return to New York, Mr. Ban will travel next week to Brussels, Prague and Kigali. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt take a tour of Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond of Greenland take a look at the ice. UN Photo/Mark Garten Members of the Uummannaq community await Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s arrival. UN Photo/Mark Garten School children and other members of the Uummannaq community await Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s arrival. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon receives a gift from a local artist in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten Indiginous Inuit women in the Uummannaq community await Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s arrival. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s delegation with a local church pastor. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon disembarks the plane on arrival in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gets a first-hand view from above of the worlds fastest moving glacier in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon motions for the world to see what is happening to the environment after touring the ice in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gets the honour of hoisting the UN flag at the town hall in Uummannaq, Greenland. UN Photo/Mark Garten read more

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“[ISIL] is systematically targeting men, women and children based on their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation and is ruthlessly carrying out widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in the areas under its control,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in a statement to the press.The violations include targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, destruction of places of religious and cultural significance, and the besieging of entire communities because of ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation. Ms. Pillay said among those directly targeted have been Christians, Yezidi, Shabaks, Turkomen, Kaka’e and Sabaeans.In Nineveh Governorate, hundreds of mostly Yezidi individuals were reported killed and up to 2,500 kidnapped at the beginning of August. Of those who refused to convert, witnesses report that the men were executed while the women and their children were handed over to ISIL fighters as slaves.Similarly, in Cotcho village in Southern Sinjar, ISIL killed and abducted hundreds of Yezidis on 15 August. Reports indicate, again, that the male villagers were killed while women and children were taken away to unknown locations. “UN staff members in Iraq have been receiving harrowing phone calls from besieged civilians who are surviving in terrible conditions, with little or no access to humanitarian aid,” Ms. Pillay said. “One of the women abducted by ISIL managed to call our staff, and told them that her teenage son and daughter were among the many who had been raped and sexually assaulted by IS gunmen. Another said her son had been raped at a checkpoint.”At least 13,000 members of the Shia Turkmen community in Amirli in Salah al-Din Governorate, among them 10,000 women and children, have been besieged by ISIL since 15 June. Residents are enduring harsh conditions with severe food and water shortages, and a complete absence of medical services – and there are fears of a possible imminent massacre, said Ms. Pillay. “The Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and the international community must take all necessary measures and spare no effort to protect members of ethnic and religious communities, who are particularly vulnerable, and to secure their return to their places of origin in safety and dignity,” said the High Commissioner.The effect of the ongoing conflict on children is catastrophic, she said. According to interviews by UN human rights monitors with displaced families, ISIL is forcibly recruiting boys aged 15 and above. ISIL has also reportedly been deliberately positioning the boys at the front-line in battle situations, as human shields.The Human Rights Office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq has also verified reports of a massacre of prisoners and detainees in Mosul’s Badoush Prison on 10 June. According to interviews with 20 survivors and 16 witnesses of the massacre, ISIL gunmen loaded between 1,000 and 1,500 prisoners onto trucks and transported them to a nearby uninhabited area, Ms. Pillay said. There, armed men asked the Sunnis to separate themselves from the others. Around 100 prisoners who joined the Sunni group were suspected by ISIL not to be Sunni and were subjected to individual checks based on how they prayed and their place of origin. Sunni inmates were ordered back on the trucks and left the scene. ISIL gunmen then yelled insults at the remaining prisoners, lined them up in four rows, ordered them to kneel and opened fire. Up to 670 prisoners were reportedly killed.“Such cold-blooded, systematic and intentional killings of civilians, after singling them out for their religious affiliation may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Ms. Pillay said.“I urge the international community to ensure that the perpetrators of these vicious crimes do not enjoy impunity. Any individual committing, or assisting in the commission of international crimes, must be held accountable according to law.” read more

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In Bangui, the delegation – led by Ambassador François Delattre of France – is meeting with the Transitional Authorities, including Catherine Samba-Panza, who is the Head of State of the Transition, as well as with representatives of civil society and the diplomatic corps.More than two years of civil war and sectarian violence have displaced thousands of people in CAR. According to UN estimates, nearly 440,000 people remain displaced inside the country while some 190,000 have sought asylum across the borders. At the same time, more than 36,000 people remain trapped within the landlocked country in enclaves across the country, hoping to find asylum in neighbouring States.In December, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous warned of a potentially explosive situation in CAR amid continuing violent clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka alliance and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian.During the Council’s visit, members will also meet with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA). Deployed last September, the mission primarily tasked with the protection of civilians and facilitation of the political process, including implementation of the provisions of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities. The Council’s mission to Africa this week will also take the 15-member body to Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, and Bujumbura, in Burundi. read more

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“Current developments in and around the city of Ramadi and in Anbar Governorate once again showed grave consequences of ISIL’s actions […], as around 237,786 individuals have been displaced from and within Anbar to date, while thousands were killed and injured, sometimes in the most horrendous way,” UNAMI chief Ján Kubiš said today on the release of the figures.According to UNAMI’s latest figures, 665 civilians were killed and 1,313 injured, while a further 366 members of the Iraqi Security Forces lost their lives and another 371 were injured during the entire month of May. The data marks an uptick of 219 casualties compared to last month, although the confirmed numbers might not fully reflect an increasingly volatile situation, where civilians are also being displaced by the thousands.Nonetheless, Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 1,044 civilian casualties (343 killed, 701 injured). According to its Health Directorate, the Anbar Governorate follows, with a total of 583 civilian casualties (102 killed, 481 injured).Convinced that a military solution alone will be insufficient to defeat ISIL, Mr. Kubiš urged that the Government of Iraq to adopt a “set of confidence-building measures” towards disaffected communities, “enabling them to assume a share in governing their matters,” and “assuring them of the State’s ability to ensure their protection from violence.” read more

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Assessing the major milestones of the ICJ – commonly referred to as the ‘World Court’ – Mr. Couvreur, who has served as Registrar for 15 years, noted that focus of the Court’s cases has changed over the past 70 years; whereas it focused on boundary issues in its earlier years, over time, the Court began dealing with more political disputes. “Originally, the Court was busy with land or maritime boundary issues – these are very important issues to prevent conflicts – but from the 80s, it has been called upon to deal with disputes which were politically, let’s say, more important – cases concerning the use of force between States. So the activity of the Court has adapted itself to the evolution of international relations,” he said. The ICJ – the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice – began its work in April 1946, in the aftermath of World War II. Based in The Hague, it comprises 15 judges, who are each elected for nine-year terms by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. The Court is also the only main organ of the UN not located in New York.The Court’s first case was submitted in May 1947, the Corfu Chanel, a “contentious case” concerning state responsibility for damages at sea involving the United Kingdom and Albania. Mr. Couvreur, who began his career at the Court in 1982, is currently serving his third seven-year term, having been first elected in 2000. As the Court’s Registrar, he keeps the general list of all cases and is responsible for recording documents in the case files. Among other tasks, Mr. Couvreur also manages the case proceedings. Registrar Philippe Couvreur of Belgium (center) looks on as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) is welcomed by President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Ronny Abraham of France. UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/Frank van Beek “The Court is what the States make of it […] only if they choose the Court can the Court act,” he stressed, adding that this doesn’t make the Court any less effective.“To say that the Court was not successful is certainly not correct, because when the Court is seized it settles the dispute efficiently. There have been some minor difficulties, but at the end of the day,” almost all of the Court’s cases have been implemented immediately, Mr. Couvreur said. He also noted that the Court had not backlog of cases.In fact, he said, the Court’s permanent presence and long jurisprudence have resulted in States having a “strong confidence” in the ICJ. The registrar also noted that the Court’s budget is less than one per cent of the UN’s regular budget. Asked about some of the challenges that might impede the ICJ in achieving a path to justice, he emphasized that, through its mandate, the Court is tasked with settling legal disputes submitted by States. “It is very important to understand that the Court cannot seize itself of cases and intervene in disputes between States without being seized by those States,” he said. “The activity of the Court is highly dependent on the use States want to make of it or international organizations.” Indeed, under the UN Charter – which established the ICJ in June 1945 – the World Court is tasked with settling legal disputes submitted by States and with giving advisory opinions on legal questions that authorized UN and specialized agencies refer to it. As such, Mr. Couvreur said that States have the right to choose how to solve their own disputes. International Court of Justice lit up in ‘UN Blue’ in November 2015 for celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. Photo: UNIC/Marcel Vogel read more

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Mr. Ban notes that UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) based in Djibouti should provide fast and impartial clearance services for shipping companies transporting commercial imports and bilateral assistance to Yemeni ports outside of the authority of the Yemeni Government, Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said.According to the Spokesperson, the Secretary-General further notes that the launch of UNVIM is part of broader efforts to bring relief to suffering Yemeni civilians, which he hopes will culminate in a negotiated political settlement between the Yemeni parties through UN-mediated talks under way in Kuwait.

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