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Blood Tribe trying to keep new drug from hitting community

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first_imgChris Stewart APTN National NewsHundreds of people across Alberta have died from the drug fentanyl.Just last year, the Blood Tribe declared a state of emergency because of the increase in overdoses.Now, police have discovered a new drug one hundred times more toxic and the community is trying to keep it.last_img
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Privacy czar decries gap in law for political parties handling personal info

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first_imgOTTAWA – The fact that political parties are excluded from federal laws on handling personal information — such as social media data — amounts to “an important gap” that could jeopardize the integrity of the electoral process, Canada’s privacy czar says.There should be a law governing the use of personal data by parties to prevent manipulation of the information to influence an election, privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien said Thursday in an interview.“From a privacy perspective, personal information is unregulated with respect to political parties, so that’s clearly not a good thing,” Therrien said.Neither of the two federal privacy statutes — one for government institutions, the other for private-sector organizations — covers political parties.“The absence of regulation facilitates the manipulation of information to influence elections in a way which I think is completely contrary to the public interest,” Therrien told The Canadian Press.Therrien’s comments come as he begins investigating the alleged unauthorized use of some 50 million Facebook profiles — possibly including those of Canadians — by Cambridge Analytica, a firm accused of helping crunch data for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.Therrien said his officials will meet Facebook representatives to determine whether the data of Canadian users was involved. If Canadian information was harvested, the commissioner’s office will look at whether Facebook respected the federal privacy law covering private companies.Facebook Canada has said it’s strongly committed to protecting personal information and would answer any questions from Therrien.This week’s events have shown that weak privacy safeguards can have serious effects that go beyond the commercial realm, potentially distorting democracy, Therrien said. “It’s a wake up call, frankly, if not a crisis in confidence.”Therrien wants other legislative changes to usher privacy laws into the era of big data and artificial intelligence, including new powers for his office to audit companies, make binding orders and levy fines.To ensure a political campaign’s success, all parties have long been heavily dependent on access to quality data about voters.After news emerged about the Facebook breach, Scott Brison, the acting minister for democratic institutions, said he’d be open to strengthening federal privacy laws, although he did not specify whether any change could include applying privacy laws to political parties.Either way, public concerns over the use of private Facebook data will likely force political parties to re-examine how they use data — particularly as they prepare for the 2019 federal election.Karl Belanger, the NDP’s former national director, agrees Ottawa must broaden privacy laws to include political parties if it truly hopes to calm fears.“I think that people who are concerned about their private information should be worried and should demand changes in the law,” Belanger said in an interview.Melissa Bruno, the NDP’s current national director, said political parties are covered by some privacy rules and regulations on the use of data. The NDP fully respects them, Bruno said in a statement.When asked whether parties should be explicitly subject to federal privacy laws, Conservative spokesman Cory Hann wrote in an email: “On the laws, we’ll do what we’ve always done, and that’s follow them.“We recognize the importance of privacy and personal information, especially in light of these latest stories, and we take every step to keep that data protected,” Hann said.A spokesman for the Liberal Party insisted it follows the laws as well as a strict privacy policy. The party protects the information of Canadians it engages as a “foremost priority,” Braeden Caley wrote in an email.On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Liberals will continue to use social media as a way of connecting with people and getting their message out — but he insisted they will do it responsibly.He said he’s been calling on Internet companies to act responsibly as well.“There’s no question that Facebook and other Internet giants wield an extraordinarily large amount of power and influence over modern society, over the lives of individual citizens,” Trudeau said at an event in Sussex, N.B.Trudeau sidestepped a question on whether the Liberals would use Facebook data to target voters in the 2019 election campaign. He said the government would make ensure it protects citizens and online communities as well as electoral processes.This week, reports by The Canadian Press forced the Liberals to disclose that in 2016 their caucus research bureau awarded a $100,000 pilot project to the Canadian data scientist at the centre of the international uproar over Facebook users’ data being inappropriately mined for political gain.The research bureau says that after seeing a sample of Christopher Wylie’s services, it decided not to move forward.Wylie, who has not been accused of any unethical activities or of breaking the law in Canada, has argued that the profiling approach he helped create went too far.On Thursday, the all-party House of Commons ethics committee voted unanimously in favour of inviting Wylie, Facebook officials and Therrien to appear in front of them to discuss the privacy implications for Canada related to the data breach.— With a file from Lee Berthiaume— Follow @JimBronskill and @AndyBlatchford on Twitterlast_img
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Federal government finalizes regulations to reduce methane emissions

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first_imgCALGARY – The federal government said Thursday it has finalized regulations that should reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by close to half.The regulations include flexibilities to reduce costs, while ensuring industry meets the target of reducing methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025, it said.Announced by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, the regulations are expected to cut carbon pollution by about 20 million tonnes a year, the equivalent to taking about five million vehicles off the road per year.Several environmental groups including Environmental Defence and the David Suzuki Foundation welcomed the regulations as the first country-level commitment to reducing methane from both new and existing oil and gas facilities nationwide.In a joint statement, the groups said the test now will be whether the federal government will ensure any provincial regulations achieve at least the same level of reduction. The groups are particularly concerned about draft regulations released by Alberta earlier this week that they say is a “much weaker” regulatory approach.Patrick McDonald, director of climate and innovation at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, says that while industry supports the reduction target, the regulations as finalized are too prescriptive and will make industry less competitive.“The regulations very much are not reflective of CAPP’s proposal that was issued in October,” said McDonald.The industry is concerned about details including the frequency of monitoring and site specific limits as opposed to more flexible approaches, he said.“This new regulation is going to be a significant cost to the industry and as such will have additional impacts on our competitiveness when we’re looking at the global market.”He said Alberta’s draft plan does look to have more flexibility in how to best reduce methane emissions.Methane is a focus of climate efforts because it is a potent greenhouse gas that is considered to have 70 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.last_img
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Recycling How tos in Fort St John

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first_imgContamination of blue carts with things such as grass, diapers, bags of garbage, needles, make it unsafe for recycling to be processed and then becomes garbage. Contamination is also considered items that might be thought of as recyclable and they are not.City staff urge residents to view the following material to know what is acceptable in the blue cart program.Or you can download the City of Fort St. John’s App or CLICK HERE  As for people living in Fort St. John that do not have curbside pick up such as residents of apartment buildings, Recycle-It Resource Recovery located at 10095 85th Ave is able to accept household recycling.The big picture of recycling is overseen by the Peace River Regional District with their pRRRdy Bird waste education mascot and program. With an interactive website, it is a tool to help residents and businesses learn the steps they can take to help reduce waste.  (250) 785-1114Karen Mason-Bennett, Executive Director of NEAT shares, To read more about pRRRdy, CLICK HEREcenter_img FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With the recent closure of a recycling centre and the refusal of the City’s blue cart recycling program, recycling is on people’s minds.The City is wanting to remind homeowners who participate in the blue cart recycling program the difference between what goes in the blue carts as recyclables and what is garbage and goes in the grey cart.Wednesday, April 24th, 2019, City staff reported to their FB Page that the recycling was so bad that it was refused at the depot and had to go straight to the landfill, from the picture accompanying the post it was obvious that one blue cart was contaminated with dog feces.last_img
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Moroccan Scholar Gives Green Light for Jihad in Gaza

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Meknes- Following the recent “weird” fatwa issued by Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti and General President for Scientific Researches and Fatwa, Abdul Aziz Al Ash-Sheikh, prohibiting pro-Gaza marches, Moroccan scholar Sheikh Ahmed Raissouni said that jihad in Palestine is legitimate, contrary to the doubt that hovers over the legality of jihad in other conflict areas in the Muslim world.According to the Moroccan Arabic based website Alyoum24, the Moroccan scholar said that who ever wants “unquestionable jihad” should go to Palestine.The Moroccan Islamic scholar stressed that the jihad that is not questionable is the one “aimed at the liberation of Palestine and the support of the people of Palestine,” on the grounds that since the occupation of Palestine no fatwa has been issued questioning its legitimacy, he said. The Moroccan scholar, however, denounced the self-styled “caliph” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).“Al-Baghdadi’s declaration is just an illusion, and what is more, everything that comes of violence can only bring misfortune for the Muslim world,” he said.Since the Israeli shelling of Palestinians started on July 8, demonstrations have been organized in Arab and non-Arab countries alike in solidarity with the Gaza Strip.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed
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Morocco to Celebrate Eid Al Fitr Friday June 15 Astronomer

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Rabat – Morocco will celebrate Eid Al Fitr on Friday, June 15, astronomer and researcher Abdelaziz Kharbouch Al Ifrani told Morocco World News today.The astronomer said that June 15 will mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.Al Ifrani said that the crescent of the month of Shawwal (the tenth month in the Islamic calendar) will be seen in most Arab and Islamic countries except in the east, where it will be difficult to see. Celebrated among Muslims worldwide, Eid Al Fitr is translated as the “Feast of Breaking the Fast” in English.Kharbouch, whose previous predictions for Ramadan and other religious celebrations were all correct, said that the observation of the moon will be clear across the country on the evening of Thursday, or Ramadan 29, 1439 by the Islamic calendar.Ramadan began in Morocco on Thursday, May 17, marking a unified first fasting day throughout all Muslim countries, including North Africa and Saudi Arabia.The UAE-based news outlet the National reported on June 7 that Eid Al Fitr is expected to be on Friday, June 15, in most Islamic countries.Muslims worldwide begin the celebration with Eid prayers at dawn in mosques across the country.Morocco usually gives a three-day holiday for the celebration, it is a time when families visit each other.After the prayer, families gather around a table full of various Moroccan pastries, cakes ,and breads, accompanied by mint tea, milk, and coffee.
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UN rural development official begins visit to Guatemala

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Kanayo F. Nwanze, the President of the UN International Fund Agricultural Development Fund (IFAD), will meet with President Álvaro Colom Caballeros and representatives from the IFAD-funded Rural Development Program for Las Verapaces (PRODEVER) to review progress of the programme’s poverty-reduction and market-access projects.He will also tour the Guatemalan countryside to visit IFAD co-financed projects in the departments of El Quiché and Las Verapaces.The $26 million PRODEVER program in Las Verapaces, which started in 2001 with financing from IFAD, has helped some 1,800 farmers and small business owners to increase their incomes. The programme has successfully improved market access by creating several infrastructure and training projects, including the construction or rehabilitation of approximately 169 kilometres of rural roads.Project participants have also built 12 new cardamom processing centres and eight new cacao facilities.“PRODEVER has provided smallholder farmers with the training and tools they need to become independent entrepreneurs,” said Josefina Stubbs, the Director of IFAD’s Latin America and the Caribbean Division.“They have also created lasting mechanisms to ensure small-scale farmers and rural producers have access to national and international markets. Over the long haul, this increased market access means that the poor rural people of Guatemala are more likely to break the cycle of poverty,” said Ms. Stubbs.The PRODEVER programme has also helped more than 1,600 women learn to how to read, generated over 300 new jobs for the region and opened new international markets for local producers.“Guatemala has broken into the big leagues. Thanks to programs like PRODEVER, smallholder producers are now exporting around 1 million mandarin oranges to [US supermarket chain] Wal-Mart,” said Ms. Stubbs. “They also succeeded in exponentially increasing exports of coffee, cardamom and other speciality produce,” she added.In El Quiché, Mr. Nwanze will meet with leaders from the IFAD-supported first phase of the National Rural Development Programme in the west of the country. The $48 million project is designed to reduce poverty levels and discrimination in the predominantly indigenous area. IFAD is to provide $30 million of the programme’s funding.“We are starting out by providing some of the basic services necessary to build a better life, like water, roads and training,” said Ms. Stubbs. “And we are receiving reports indicating that we are succeeding. With the increased productivity that modern irrigation systems and improved market access can bring, the people in these communities are no longer going hungry and the children are able to go to school,” she said.Since 1986, IFAD has provided $114 million in loans for eight projects in Guatemala. The projects have helped an estimated 120,000 households. 5 August 2010The head of the United Nations rural development arm, Kanayo F. Nwanze, today began an official visit to Guatemala to talk with the Central American country’s leaders today about ways of alleviating poverty and tackling environmental challenges.
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UPFA to protest if highway is not extended

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Alahapperuma urged President Maithripala Sirisena to push the Government to go ahead with the extension of the highway to Hambantota via Beliatta, which was part of the original plan of the highway project.The second phase of the Southern Expressway from Pinnaduwa in Galle to Godagama in Matara was declared open by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in March last year. Alahapperuma however said that while the land for the extension of the Colombo – Matara highway to Beliatta had been acquired, the construction work was at a standstill. The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) today warned that it will stage street protests if the Colombo – Matara highway is not extended to Beliatta.UPFA MP Dallas Alahapperuma said that the new Government had promised it will complete the highway projects for 20 percent less than the originally estimated costs. The Galle to Matara extension costing US$ 180 million was funded by the Exim Bank of China and the former Sri Lankan Government had sought funds from China for the Matara to Hambantota extension as well.The Southern Expressway extension from Matara to Hambantota was to be done in three stages with the first stage being from Matara to Beliatta (30 km), second stage from Beliatta to Wetiya (26 km) and the last stage from Mattala to Hambantota via Andarawewa (25 km).However extension work on the expressway from Matara was suspended after the January 8 Presidential elections when the new Government came to power. (Colombo Gazette) “If this Government does not commence the work on the highway project we will be compelled to join the people of Matara and protest on the highway,” the former Minister said.
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Niagara Leadership Summit for Women returning to campus

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Madi Fuller wants to inspire women — and men — to support one another, lift each other up and create a sense of empowerment.The recent Brock University graduate will be one of several speakers bringing to light issues impacting females in the community during the fourth annual Niagara Leadership Summit for Women.The event takes place Saturday, Oct. 28 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at various locations on campus and is expected to draw more than 300 attendees.A proud political science alumna and member of the summit’s planning committee, Fuller will be delivering one of three 10-minute ‘Power Talks’ scheduled throughout the day.In addition to an address by keynote speaker Ashley Callingbull, who became the first First Nations woman to win the title of Mrs. Universe in 2015, the summit will also include a series of presentations and workshops, including several hosted by members of the Brock community.Some of the topics to be discussed include leadership in parenting, breaking mental health barriers, women in politics, women in business and entrepreneurship, addressing racism and building inclusivity through language, and indigenous issues.Fuller is hopeful she will see women, but also men in the summit’s crowd.“Feminism is for everyone,” she said. “Women’s rights, feminism is a political issue and everyone needs to be involved in that process.”Event chair and founder Julie Rorison (BA ’10) encouraged people to attend and participate in a fun but educational day of learning, sharing and networking with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.“It’s a day that presents opportunities for people who aren’t the usual suspects, who aren’t the people that you see in the newspaper everyday or hear on a microphone,” she said. “We are creating opportunities for different leaders, people from different backgrounds who aren’t necessarily elected or holding a chair in a boardroom, or have a title on a business card that says they’re a leader. We’re creating opportunities for people who are successful, accomplished leaders in their everyday lives and giving them a space to share their stories, leadership and lessons.”Rorison thanked Brock, her alma mater, for its ongoing support of the event.“Brock has been a key partner and major catalyst for bringing the summit to fruition,” she said.For a full list of speakers and workshops, or to register, visit www.niagaralsw.ca.Free child care is available for registrants.
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Increased CPG members for Guyanas borders

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Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedGovt moving to beef up security in border communities with Venezuela; more CPGs to be formedMarch 5, 2018In "latest news"Community Policing Groups urged to get to the root of crimesApril 1, 2016In "Crime"Systematic gun license programme to be implementedJune 25, 2015In "Business" Members of the Community Policing Groups (CPG) will be increasing their presence at bordering villages in an attempt to ramp up security in those far-flung locations.Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan told media that mechanisms were put in place to establish more community policing groups as well as police stations in Regions One, Seven and Nine.“We must emphasize, because of the developments in the border area, more police stations, more CPG group formations in these communities especially when it is hard to get more policemen in these areas…CPGs are now active in villages spanning the hinterland’, Ramjattan noted.Moving forward, the Ministry is expected to increase the number of such groups in the interior regions. Ramjattan noted that these groups have received international support from the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration.Community Policing in Guyana commenced 43 years ago with the aim of harnessing the energy of willing members of communities across Guyana in support of the work of the Police.To date, there are 210 policing groups, consisting of 4255 members. To observe the group’s anniversary this year, a number of activities are scheduled for March and April including a spelling bee competition, women’s conference and a route march.
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WATCH Tony McCoy reaches 4000 winners in thrilling ride at Towcester

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first_imgCredit: At The RacesThe Russians have launched the Olympic torch into space TONY MCCOY CELEBRATED the 4,000th winner of his career at Towcester this afternoon, marking the milestone with a ride that summed up his genius in the saddle.After missing out with his first runner of the day, McCoy drove 6/4 favourite Mountain Tunes to win the Weatherbys Novices’ Hurdle.The 39-year-old, who has been crowned champion jockey 18 times, becomes the first person in the history of the sport to reach the landmark.His magnificent 4,000 is considerably more than the next most successful jockey, Richard Johnson, who has more than 2,500 wins to his name.“It was just amazing,” McCoy said. ”It couldn’t have worked out any better.”Riding in the colours of JP McManus for Jonjo O’Neill, McCoy looked set to come up short in the home straight.But as the leaders jumped the last, he passed Aidan Coleman on Panama Petrus and then reeled in Jamie Moore and Kris Spin to edge a thrilling finish by half a length.Watch it here:last_img
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States crack massive wildlife poaching ring

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first_imgUp to 10 individuals from Cowlitz County are the target of a massive poaching investigation in Oregon and Washington that looked into the killings of dozens of deer, elk, bear, cougar and other animals over several years, according to court records and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers.The investigation began in December, when Department of Fish and Wildlife officers received a call from Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife officers. Oregon officers had set up hidden trail cameras after finding headless deer on several trails.The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department investigation led to several Cowlitz County residents. More than 20 search warrants have been served connected to this investigation.When officers served the warrants at several Cowlitz County residences in March, they found more than 25 deer and elk skulls, said Capt. Jeff Wickersham of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.“They had taken the heads and left the rest,” Wickersham said. “That’s what got us into the primary investigation. At the same time (Oregon State Police) had seized photo and video on their phones.”last_img
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interCaribbean Airways introduces new Providenciales Tortola Flights

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first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppTurks and Caicos, April 10, 2017 – Providenciales –interCaribbean Airways is pleased to introduce a new way to Tortola every Wednesday and Saturday, Tortola from Providenciales.  Beginning May 3, these new same plane flights will fly to Tortola via Santo Domingo.  (no deplaning required).  This new service is designed especially for Caribbean Passport holders (without a USA Visa) to be able to visit BVI, bypassing San Juan or St Thomas as the USA points of entry..The service with a 30 seater Embraer 120 aircraft commences on May 3, 2017 and adds to interCaribbean’ current nonstop flights from Beef Island to both San Juan and Antigua giving increased connectivity for Tortola to Santo Domingo.Trevor Sadler, interCaribbean Chief Executive Officer said “Tortola is a great destination covering a wide range of tourist possibilities, especially for sailing, with quite possibly the largest sailing fleet world-wide.  The BVI offers unique Islands, fabulous boutique resorts and exclusive villas.  We are happy to be adding another destination to Tortola and removing the obstacles of a Turks & Caicos Passport Holder in visiting the BVI.  Also for the BVI citizen the ability to now easily visit friends and family in the Turks & Caicos Islands has become so much easier.The initial schedule will operate as follows. Schedule Flight No                     From     To             Eff                          Till                                 Days                     Stops          Dep        ArrJY233/411                 PLS         EIS          01-May-17          04-Nov-17             Wed Sat                    1              12:00        3:15JY410/234                EIS          PLS         01-May-17          04-Nov-17             Wed Sat                    1              12:00        3:15EIS = Tortola, PLS = ProvidencialesReservations now can be made at www.interCaribbean.com or calling interCaribbean Reservations at +1-649-946-4999, visiting our airport and customer care centers or visiting your preferred Travel Agent. About interCaribbean Airways:interCaribbean Airways, based in the Turks & Caicos Islands, is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017. The company operates EMB 120, Twin Otter and BE99 aircraft connecting the Turks & Caicos, Antigua, Tortola, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and Bahamas; Domestic flights are provided in Jamaica between Kingston and Montego Bay, as well as flights within the Turks & Caicos archipelago.MEDIA CONTACT – Media@interCaribbean.com#interCaribbeanAirways#ProvoTortolaflights Related Items:#interCaribbeanAirways, #ProvoTortolaflights Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Sneak peek, guess who’s got dazzling new plane!center_img Recommended for you Four new destinations for Turks and Caicos airline company, interCaribbean says routes start in Feb 2018last_img
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More Garbage Trucks for Jamaicas NSWMA

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first_img Related Items: MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, July 11th 2017: Seventeen new garbage trucks will be purchased for the National Solid Waste Management Authority, NSWMA, at the cost of $250M.The announcement was made by Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, who says the trucks, which should be procured by the end of the financial year, will significantly boost the fleet of garbage-collection units across the island. The trucks will add to the current fleet, and comes after 11 new garbage trucks were acquired at the start of the year, with some six more units to come by the end of July.Minister McKenzie was speaking at a luncheon for members of the all-island property tax team held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay, St. James, on Friday.He also added that six new fire units will be acquired for the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), while a new station will be built in Montego Bay, St. James, through support from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the World Bank, a contract he will sign later this week. Minister McKenzie says talks were also being finalised with the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) to reduce the cost of street lights through the installation of light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, and expects in the next three years, all street lights across the island should be retrofitted with energy-efficient bulbs. Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp #MagneticMediaNews#NewGarbageTrucksForJamaicaNSWMA Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApplast_img
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Von Imhof wins Republican primary for Senate L

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first_imgNatasha Von Imhof (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)Natasha Von Imhof won the three-way race for the Republican nominee for Senate District L Tuesday with 48 percent of the vote. Von Imhof, a former Anchorage School Board member, says one of her main challenges was gaining name recognition when running against Representative Craig Johnson. She says she thinks part of her appeal is that she listened to voters and didn’t focus on cutting the PFD.“When I went door to door, the message that I heard was ‘We understand that we have a budget deficit.’ And people were concerned about the economy. People were concerned about whether they would have jobs in a year and what the value of their homes would be in a year from now.”She says she brings skills that she developed as the self-described “lone conservative” on a liberal school board.“It learned me the art of inserting influence using data and common sense and listening and trying to find solutions that everyone could live with,” she said.GOP spokesperson Suzanne Downing says it’s not surprising that she beat Johnson, even though he was already serving in the Legislature.“She had a lot of money. She raised a lot money. He came in quite late. He had about 60 days to run his race. He didn’t raise a lot of money. He raised his own money. He paid for it himself.”Johnson took nearly 30 percent of the vote. Challenger Jeff Landfield had 23 percent.last_img
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MasterCard Visa want level playing field with RuPay in PMs Jan Dhan

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first_imgUS-based card companies MasterCard and Visa have demanded a level playing field with government-backed card issuer RuPay in the government's financial inclusion scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), as they have been kept out of the programme despite their services being cheaper than that of the local card issuer.Both companies see "invisible mandate" behind choosing RuPay as the card issuer for the scheme.Banks are unable to do anything despite being mindful of increase in costs as there seems to be "mandate in favour" of RuPay, said Ari Sarker, co-president, Asia Pacific, MasterCard."It is not that nobody was interested in this space, and therefore, by default, the government was left with no choice (but to give the National Payments Corporation of India, or NPCI, the mandate to issue new cards). Banks are aware, but there is an invisible mandate that we are not able to play in that space," The Economic Times quoted Sarker as saying.After seeing a sharp increase in cards issued by RuPay, MasterCard and Visa have asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the government to contemplate their services for the Jan Dhan Yojana, which is regarded as the world's biggest financial inclusion programme."There is no official mandate from the government, but yes, there is a preference for RuPay for the Jan Dhan financial inclusion scheme," said T R Ramachandran, group country manager, India and South Asia, Visa.Services of MasterCard and Visa are priced lower than that of RuPay. MasterCard had cut prices in 2014 as it changed its business strategy from "higher margins to larger volumes", taking into account a vast increase in the number of digital transactions."Visa, too, is priced lower than RuPay, but the payment space in India is not driven purely by competition," said a senior official at the company.So far, MasterCard issued a total of 18 crore credit and debit cards in India, occupying a market share of 28% in the total 63.367 crore cards in use in the country, according to Sarker.On the contrary, RuPay, which started issuing cards only in March 2012, has increased its share to about 35% in a short span of time. Over 22.2 crore of RuPay debit cards were in circulation in November."The only reason RuPay has added so many is not because it is cheaper but because there is an invisible mandate from the government to issue only RuPay cards. More than half the cards issued have not been used," said the Visa official, requesting anonymity.last_img
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Rahul Gandhi extends family grip on Indias Congress party

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first_imgNewly elected president of the Indian National Congress party Rahul Gandhi gestures while speaking during a ceremony at the party headquarters in New Delhi on 16 December 2017. AFPIndia’s Rahul Gandhi took over Saturday as president of the main opposition Congress, becoming the sixth member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to head the party that has ruled the country for much of its independent history.Fireworks erupted over the party headquarters in New Delhi drowning out the voice of his mother Sonia Gandhi as she handed over the reins of power to her 47-year-old son.Rahul, wearing a long flowing white kurta, smiled and waved from the dais adorned with posters of his late grandmother and father, former prime ministers Indira and Rajiv Gandhi.Slogans of “long live Rahul” were shouted as hundreds of supporters danced to drum beats and burst firecrackers.Gandhi was elected unopposed to take over from his mother who has been at the helm since 1998 following the assassination of her husband Rajiv. She helped the Congress win the general elections in 2004 and 2009.But the party was swept out of office by prime minister Narendra Modi’s right wing Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014 and is now in a fight to win back support before a national election which must be held by 2019.Rahul has been party vice-president since 2013 and led its campaign for the 2014 election.He was strongly criticised for what was Congress’ worst-ever showing as it lost power to Modi.Since then, the party has lost polls in many states to the BJP, exposing Rahul to further criticism.On Saturday Sonia was handed a memento by former prime minister Manmohan Singh as a token of appreciation for her “astute leadership” over the years.last_img
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Taiwan holds Asias first samesex marriages

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first_imgShane Lin (C) is comforted by his partner Marc Yuan (R) and a friedn during a wedding ceremony in Shinyi district in Taipei on 24 May. Photo: AFPTaiwan made history on Friday with Asia's first legal gay weddings as same-sex couples tied the knot in jubilant and emotional scenes, the culmination of a three-decade fight for equality.The weddings, which came a week after lawmakers took the unprecedented decision to legalise gay marriage despite staunch conservative opposition, places Taiwan at the vanguard of the burgeoning gay rights movement in Asia.Some dozen couples were among the first to arrive at a government office in downtown Taipei to legally register their relationships as marriages.They embraced and kissed in front of the gathered press before proudly holding aloft their wedding certificates as well as new identity cards listing each other as spouses.Among those tying the knot were social worker Huang Mei-yu and her partner You Ya-ting.They held a religious blessing conducted by a progressive Buddhist master in 2012 but they longed for the same legal rights granted heterosexuals."It's belated, but I'm still happy we can officially get married in this lifetime," Huang told AFP after signing her marriage certificate, clutching a bouquet and beaming.Legal recognition of their love, she said, was a crucial step and might help others accept their relationship."Now that same-sex marriage is legally recognised, I think my parents might finally feel that it's real and stop trying to talk me into getting married (to a man)," she said.Shane Lin and Marc Yuan, a couple who fell in love at college, were the first to register."It's not been an easy journey and I'm very lucky to have the support of my other half, my family and friends," Lin told reporters through tears."Today I can say in front of so many people that we are gay and we are getting married. I'm really proud that my country is so progressive," he added.Long fight for equalityTaiwan made history last week when it became the first place to legalise gay marriage in Asia, home to 60 percent of the world's population.But the issue has also caused deep divisions on an island that remains staunchly conservative, especially outside of the cities and among the older generation.Some 300 same-sex couples are expected to register on Friday, according to local authorities, around 150 in the capital Taipei which boasts a thriving and vocal gay community.The city hall will co-host an outdoor wedding party near the famous Taipei 101 skyscraper, with local and foreign dignitaries expected to attend.For veteran gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei -- dressed in an eye-catching red suit with a rainbow headband -- Friday's registrations were the culmination of a three-decade fight trying to persuade successive governments to change the law.It was Chi who eventually petitioned Taiwan's Constitutional Court leading to a 2017 judgement that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional.Facing an imminent court deadline, parliament finally passed a bill last Friday allowing same-sex couples to form "exclusive permanent unions" and another clause that would let them apply for a "marriage registration" with government agencies."I feel very happy that same-sex couples can finally register and be listed as each other's spouse. I am honoured to witness Friday's marriage registrations," he told AFP.Conservative pushbackIn the last decade Taiwan has become increasingly progressive on gay rights with Taipei hosting by far Asia's largest pride parade.But the issue has polarised society.Conservative and religious groups mobilised after the court ruling and comfortably won a series of referendums last November in which voters comprehensively rejected defining marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman.Conservative lawmakers put forward rival bills that offered something closer to limited same-sex unions but those measures failed as parliament comfortably passed the gay marriage law.However, the new law still contains restrictions not faced by heterosexual couples.Same-sex couples can currently only adopt their partners' biological children and can only wed foreigners from countries where gay marriage is also recognised.Gay rights groups say they are willing to accept partial equality for now in the hopes of winning later legal battles over issues such as adoption, surrogacy and marrying foreigners.Opponents have vowed to punish President Tsai Ing-wen and the lawmakers who supported the gay marriage law at January's elections when Taiwanese will elect both a new president and a new parliament.last_img
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Zynga launches standalone social gaming portal Zynga Direct

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first_imgUnless you live under a rock, you’ve heard of Zynga before. They’re the folks who developed Farmville and Cityville and flooded millions of Facebook walls with updates about digital livestock and imaginary municipalities.Their viral Facebook gaming hits turned Zynga into a force to be reckoned with and drove the company’s revenues to nearly $100 million in 2010. With 250 million users, Zynga’s games generate enough traffic to power their own independent gaming site — and that’s exactly what the company has announced it’s doing.Called Zynga Direct, the new platform will enable Zynga to — you guessed it — connect directly with its quarter billion players. With Zynga games now available on Facebook, Google+, and mobile platforms, Zynga Direct will provide a centralized location where players can head when they want to immerse themselves in the gaming experience.Zynga has branched out before, of course, with the launch of Farmville.com and Zynga City in China. It’s not yet known which titles will be made available on Zynga Direct, but what is known is that Facebook probably isn’t going to be too upset about the launch. Sure, there’s the potential of losing a few million page views as Facebook gamers head off — but Zynga Direct will still utilize Facebook accounts to log in users.That means the service will tap into your graph, so Facebook wins no matter where a user decides to play. In that sense, the launch is great news for Facebook — since it’s one more massive site that extends its reach and yet another incentive to encourage the few remaining internet users who don’t yet have a Facebook account to sign up for one.More at VentureBeatlast_img
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Blast from the past Zamindar family Puja gives taste of a bygone

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first_imgBALURGHAT: Gun firing in open air during Sandhipujo is a decade-long tradition of this Zamindar Barir Durga Puja — almost since the British era in India.The Puja, popularly known as Baidul Zamindar Barir Durga Puja, is held at the Chowdhury's ancestral premises in Baidul.The puja was first started under the patronage of zamindar late Prasanna Lal Chowdhury in 1811. He had six sons and each family has one licenced gun as legal property, which is used in Durga Puja every year. Also Read - Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeThe Puja is organised rotationally by the family members of six sons once in every six years. Chowdhury family is celebrating the 108th year this Puja uninterruptedly, particularly even in the age of big-budget themed Pujas in South Dinajpur. This puja still remains a crowd-puller along with many revelers visting it for a taste of its unique heritage.Asking about the tradition of gun firing, Prasanna Lal's grandson Mrityunjay Chowdhury who stays in Baidul, said: "The custom of gun firing started from early fifties as I learnt from my uncle late Kshitish Chandra Chowdhur. The area as I learnt from him was dominated by robbers and goons then. They had frequently targeted rich zamindars and landlords of the area. We were their soft target due to lack of proper security measures back then. Also Read - Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedAs a result, the rich people were forced to keep licenced firearms to keep goons and robbers at bay. Our forefathers had started the tradition of gun firing during Sandhipujo to send a stern message publicly that they can protect themselves from those anti-social elements. The person who fired the gun in the air during the Puja had to take blessings from Maa Durga, so that he can protect his family from unwanted incidents throughout the year. My father late Baidyanath Chowdhury, who was the youngest son of my grandfather told me that the six brothers had purchased one Belgium made double bore riffle along with four one-shutter India made riffle for self-defence."Baidul is about 9.5 km from Balurghat and located on the banks of Atreyee River. According to the sources, there are about 21 family pujas across the district. "We are proud maintaining our ancestral tradition. The puja days are family reunion for us too as many of them are scattered in different parts of the country and foreign as well," said Mainak Chowdhury, who is another successor and great-grandson of Prasanna Lal Chowdhury.last_img
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