APTN National News“Got land – Thank an Indian”.It’s a slogan that’s caused some controversy the last few months.Now in Saskatchewan a teenaged girl says school officials banned her from wearing a hooded sweater with those words.APTN’s Shaneen Robinson has the story.
Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsRCMP investigators and Canadian spies would legally be able to access personal information found in Indian status records held by the federal Aboriginal Affairs department if the Harper government’s proposed anti-terror bill becomes law, according to Public Safety Canada.A spokesperson for the federal Public Safety department confirmed Bill C-51’s changes to allow freer information sharing between federal departments and agencies on broadly defined national security grounds would include the personal information contained in the Indian status registry held by Aboriginal Affairs.Public Safety spokesperson Josee Sirois said in an emailed statement to APTN that information would be shared only if “it relates to an activity that undermines the security of Canada, such as terrorism, espionage, or weapons proliferation.”The actual wording in the information sharing section of Bill C-51, however, provides a broader criteria allowing for the sharing of information. This particular section of the bill deals with the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and encompasses any activity that “undermines the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada” along with the interference of border operations “or the economic or financial stability of Canada” and “interference with critical infrastructure.”The definition of what constitutes a national security threat in this section of Bill C-51 “is new and far more expansive than previously known in Canada,” said human rights lawyer Paul Champ.The Assembly of First Nations has expressed concerns this expansive definition would encompass First Nation protest and dissent activities associated with the defence and assertion of Aboriginal and treaty rights. Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash has said Bill C-51 poses a direct threat to Aboriginal rights for this same reason.There is an extensive record of the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Canadian military monitoring First Nation events and individuals. APTN has already revealed the RCMP keeps an active file on former Idle No More organizer Clayton Thomas Muller, that CSIS tracked the travel of Mohawk Clifton Nicholas and that the military’s counter-intelligence arm monitored Mi’kmaq anti-fracking protests near Elsipogtog in New Brunswick.APTN also reported Wednesday that Aboriginal Affairs shared information with CSIS to bolster surveillance of Idle No More protests.Bill C-51 empowers 17 federal departments and agencies, including the RCMP, CSIS and Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), to obtain the personal information of Canadians held by any other federal department, including Aboriginal Affairs, on broadly defined national security grounds.Aboriginal Affairs holds detailed personal information of everyone who is registered as a status Indian.The Indian status record of an individual includes information on the names of any of their children, registration number and status, the names of any siblings, registration numbers and status and the names of their parents, registration numbers and status. The file also includes a family tree extending to their maternal and paternal grandparents.The record also includes the name of their band, date of birth and when they activated their status. It includes information on whether they live on or off-reserve, marital status, marriage date, registration number of spouse, whether they are on a band list and category of status. Registration numbers include an individual’s order of birth.Aboriginal Affairs has already been caught sifting through the Indian status record of child advocate Cindy Blackstock who took Ottawa to the human rights tribunal over its alleged underfunding of child and family services on reserve.The federal department twice accessed Blackstock’s status record for reasons other than to update the file.The Privacy Commissioner’s Office investigation in the accessing of Blackstock’s Indian status records hit a dead end because Aboriginal Affairs did not keep a log of officials who accessed the database.Blackstock said Bill C-51 would allow the federal government to put a whole family under surveillance in one swoop.“If you have a baby, that record is there and if that status file was accessed for the purposes of Bill C-51 then the baby’s personal information is now the subject of surveillance by the government of Canada,” said Blackstock. “They will have his or her gender, their full name, their date of birth and registry number.”While Aboriginal Affairs and Justice Canada officials monitored Blackstock’s online and real-life activities, she said it was the accessing of her status record that really bothered her.“That probably disturbed me more than anything else,” she said. “It is one thing for me as a human rights activist to be subject to this, it’s another thing when they are collecting information on your family or extended family.”The Privacy Commissioner’s Office also confirmed that Health Canada’s information obtained through the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) for First Nation and Inuit could also be shared under Bill C-51. NIHB information would include details on prescription drug use along with dental and eye care issues.“The 17 federal departments in question would be in a position to receive information about any or all Canadian’s interactions with government,” said a statement from Privacy Commissioner’s Office. “That would include the personal information…relating to status Indians and Inuit people.”Health Canada said it could not provide a detailed list of the information it collects through the NIHB until Monday.Blackstock said it appears the federal government may hold more information on those registered as a status Indians than other Canadians.“I am filing my taxes, like a lot of us have, and I’ve applied for a passport. In neither of those situations have I been required to identify the name of my grandparents,” said Blackstock.The Privacy Commissioner’s Office said it couldn’t say whether status Indians would be disproportionality affected under the proposed bill.“While the federal government clearly holds a great deal of personal information related to Aboriginal people, we cannot comment on whether they could be disproportionately affected by the legislation,” it said in a email@example.com@JorgeBarrera
APTN National NewsFormer priest Eric Dejaeger was back in Nunavut court Thursday where he was sentenced to four counts of sex crimes against Edmonton youth between 1974 and 1978.They’ll be served concurrently with the 11 years he was already serving for attacking Nunavut children while in the position of a priest.APTN’s Kent Driscoll reports it won’t be the last time he’s in Nunavut court.
Tom Fennario APTN National NewsParents got a surprise when they dropped their children off for the first day of classes at an elementary school in Montréal.Teachers waiting at the gates wearing headdresses.Could this be a teaching moment for teachers and the school firstname.lastname@example.org@
Melissa RidgenAPTN InvestigatesIt’s been more than a year since a crash killed a Delaware Nation teen, paralyzed a young man and injured a young woman and APTN Investigates has discovered problems with the police investigation that determined no charges against the driver in the collision.Brayden Hopkins was 21 on Nov. 19, 2016 when at 1:40 a.m. he was driving through Moraviantown and hit the three pedestrians.Bailey Jacobs died two days shy of her 17th birthday. Tanner Whiteeye remains in a wheelchair. His mother’s home is retrofitted to accommodate his new life. Jordi Whiteye didn’t suffer serious physical harm but lives with the horror of what happened that night.They and their families are dissatisfied with what police concluded: that the crash was just an unfortunate and unavoidable occurrence on an unlit road late one night.“There’s just a lot I don’t understand,” says Tanner’s mother Yolanda Whiteeye. “We weren’t given any investigation. I continually, throughout this entire thing — while my kid was in a coma — constantly asking what happened. How does someone plow through three kids? I don’t understand that.”Bailey Jacobs died two days shy of her 17th birthday.Was the driver not paying attention? Did he stop at the four-way stop before turning and hitting them? Where was he coming from and going to at 1:40 a.m.? How did police rule out speed as a factor when they didn’t do a speed analysis?They say he was driving with his high beams on but how could you not see three people ahead of you if you’re driving slowly with your beams on? How is a 350-pound girl thrown to her death if you’re going slowly? Why was a man on the hood of the car for approximately 50 meters before it came to a stop?Why weren’t people at the scene interviewed until weeks later, and after they contacted police who hadn’t contacted them for statements? During the 10-month investigation why was the driver – a former police summer cadet — allowed to move to Sweden to play pro hockey?These are some of the questions APTN Investigates wanted answered.We requested the Chatham OPP investigation in its entirety through the Freedom of Information Act in October 2017. The Ontario government has 30 days to respond but to date – three months later – has not.APTN was forced to purchase a copy of the traffic reconstruction report for $1,130. But the OPP refused to answer questions about it or be interviewed about the crash or the investigation.Tanner Whiteeye remains in a wheelchair. His mother’s home is retrofitted to accommodate his new life. Jordi Whiteye didn’t suffer serious physical harm.To make sense of the report APTN retained the services of retired Winnipeg traffic investigator Damian Turner who reviewed it.“Very basic investigative techniques weren’t included in the report,” Turner said. “It’s just totally lacking in any detail. I would be incredulous that they would believe that was a proper and thorough investigation,”APTN spoke with several people who claim the driver was ignored by police at the scene and left to himself for up to an hour.Turner explains the problem with that:“The person who was driving the car and the condition they’re in at that time, if they have been drinking or have drugs in their body, their behavior, the smells, the way they look — that all forms evidence and that needs to be preserved and the only way to do that is to detain them while you conduct your investigation,” he said.In an audio recording obtained by APTN from a meeting with survivors and their families, an OPP officer says, “Five separate police officers dealt with Brayden that night and even after driving from Moraviantown (Delaware Nation) to the Chatham-Kent detachment with the heat on, not one of them observed any alcohol odor.”As such, the driver was not breathalyzed.So what caused the collision?“Based on the lack of information in the report we’ll never know,” Turner said. “To an ordinary person traveling down a dark road at relatively low speed you shouldn’t miss three people walking ahead of you on the roadway.”“The truth is not known,” said Greg Holden, owner of the online news service CK News Review in Chatham, who followed the investigation. “It’s been covered up either by bungling or deliberateness and it’s hard to know for sure, but I believe it’s bungling. That the police didn’t do their jobs very well.”Brayden Hopkins.APTN contacted Hopkins through social media and asked questions about the collision and if there’s anything he’d like to say to the families. The message was read but he didn’t respond.“No apologies from him, it’s like the kids wasn’t the victims, it’s like he was. Not our children,” said Alma Jacobs, Bailey’s grandmother.APTN asked the Crown Attorney’s office why they recommended no charges in the case – whether it was lack of evidence a crime was committed, or if the police investigation was insufficient to proceed. They said their reasons are “privileged and confidential.”The Office of the Independent Police Review Director deals with complaints about police in Ontario and has the authority to investigate investigations and discipline if it finds grounds to. But they won’t launch an investigation unless a formal complaint has been filed. So far the families and survivors haven’t done that.“The Crash” airs tonight (Jan. 19) on APTN Investigates, right after the APTN National News.
PYONGYANG, North Korea – Beachfront, five-star hotels? Skyscrapers just blocks from Kim Il Sung Square?North Korea is racing forward with major development projects some experts believe are aimed at expanding a market for rented or privately owned real estate to help fortify the finances of Kim Jong Un’s regime against the bite of sanctions over its nuclear program.A swelling market for private property doesn’t sound very socialist, and it’s not.But the chronically cash-strapped government appears to be nurturing a fresh source of revenue — sales of property to the newly affluent class of North Koreans who have made their fortunes on the country’s growing, but still largely unofficial, market economy that has come into its own since Kim assumed power.The pressure on Pyongyang is growing as the Chinese investors who traditionally have propped up its economy are retreating amid tougher than ever restrictions imposed by Beijing.The construction projects, which could cost well over a billion dollars to complete, have a lot of momentum behind them. They are part of a six-year building spree under Kim that has transformed the Pyongyang skyline. North Korean officials told The Associated Press they hope to have at least some of the developments ready to show off for celebrations in September marking the country’s 70th anniversary.“Since 2012, we have been building a new project each year, so I think one year from now a lot of changes will have been made in the city,” said Kim Kum Chol, an architect with the Paektusan Academy of Architecture, the centre for architectural research and design in North Korea. “We have a lot of construction plans.”He said there are three main projects this year:— First, to redevelop the centre of Pyongyang by replacing low-rise housing built after the 1950-53 Korean War with more space-efficient new skyscrapers, offices, public buildings and residential high rises. “For the centre of the city there are many old residences, so we are trying to turn that into new ones,” Kim explained.— On the east coast’s Wonsan-Kalma area, more than 10 hotels, thousands of units of residential housing and a number of recreational facilities are either planned or underway, Kim said. He said the hotels would range from relatively modest three-star facilities to luxury five-star resorts. Kim Jong Un has already built a new airport to serve the area known as his home away from home.— The third focus is near the Chinese border in Samjiyon, a scenic town at the foot of Mount Paektu, the spiritual home of the ruling Kim dynasty. The area is to become an “open-air museum for education in revolutionary traditions,” according to state-media reports, and a centre of mechanized potato farming “envied by the people the world over.”North Korea has often used ostentatious projects to inspire nationalistic pride, reward loyalty and enhance the prestige of the ruling regime. But Kim Jong Un seems to have a penchant for spearheading the completion of high-rise neighbourhoods and modern, seemingly quite functional recreational facilities.In theory, housing, education and health care are provided free to all in socialist North Korea, where the state owns all capital, including the buildings, factories and land. Selling property outright, or collecting rents, would pull money out of the pockets of those who can afford it, putting it back into the coffers of the regime. Demanding prepayment could help finance projects underway or in the planning stages.North Korea has been doing this to some degree for years.Chinese investment has generally been seen as the key source of funds. So has slow but steady growth in the North’s domestic economy, helped along by a swelling sector of entrepreneurs who have savings in foreign currencies like the U.S. dollar and Chinese yuan.These people, known as “donju,” or money masters, have been more visible since Kim Jong Un assumed power, creating a natural market for better housing that didn’t exist in the past. Most live in Pyongyang and the Wonsan area, where construction is most active. A big part of the building boom is focused on high-end properties in prime locations, like the Pyongyang city centre or along riversides or ocean fronts that might be expected to appeal to them most — and have a higher market value.Whether such projects would ever pay for themselves is unclear. That could help explain why Kim has made diplomatic overtures over the past few months to Seoul and Beijing — two potentially huge pools of investment and aid if the political tensions on the peninsula ease.Before stepped up sanctions kicked in last year, North Korea made a massive sell-off of minerals to China that coincided nicely with the building boom.William Brown, an economist at Georgetown University, said the “liquidation” of some state property makes fiscal sense, despite the cost to socialist principles, especially given North Korea’s chronic trade deficit with China.The downturn in Chinese trade and new investment since about September and Kim’s inability to get foreign loans or woo other investors has cast serious doubt on the future of the economic boom and is jeopardizing funding for the military, said Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, a scholar with the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Research Institute think-tank and co-editor of the North Korea Economy Watch website.Dwindling trade with China is not only sucking foreign reserves away from the regime, but also hurting businesses the “donju” rely on as well, a one-two punch to the economy that could get significantly worse in the months to come, possibly undermining demand for luxury property.“The state really doesn’t have any sustainable revenue source as of now,” Silberstein said.___Talmadge is the AP’s Pyongyang bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @EricTalmadge
Biometric screening is expanding to the rental car industry.Hertz said Tuesday it is teaming up with Clear, the maker of biometric screening kiosks found at many airports, in an effort to slash the time it takes to pick up a rental car. Clear hopes it will lead more travellers to its platform, which has 3 million members in the U.S.It’s the latest place consumers will find biometric technology, which has migrated over the last 50 years from secure government facilities and banks to airports, stadiums and even smartphones that unlock with the touch a fingerprint. Hertz is the first rental car company to use the technology.Improvements in cameras and other technology have made it cheaper to install scanners that can read fingerprints, faces, and irises. More than 100 airports worldwide use biometric readers from Clear, Vision-Box and other companies to scan passengers. Walt Disney World verifies visitors’ identity by scanning fingerprints.And the advancements will likely keep coming. Microsoft is working with Australia’s national bank on cardless ATM machines that would let people withdraw cash using a facial scan and personal identification number. Universities in London and Copenhagen have on-campus groceries that let students pay with their finger. Some laptops can now be unlocked with a fingerprint scan.Hertz with Clear launched their biometrics scans this week at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It will be rolled out to 40 more U.S. Hertz locations next year, including John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, San Francisco International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.Hertz Gold Plus Rewards loyalty program members with access to Clear will be able to bypass the counter, pick up their car and head to the exit gate. There, Clear pods equipped with cameras and touchscreens can read their face or their fingerprints. If they match up with Hertz’s reservation data, the gate will open. Hertz will have at least one lane dedicated to Clear members at each location.Hertz President and CEO Kathy Marinello expects Clear to shave 1.5 minutes off what’s now a two-minute checkout process.“In the world of travel, I think time is of the essence,” she said.The service is free for members of the Gold Plus Rewards program, which also has no fee. Travelers can sign up for Clear at a Hertz location. To upgrade to airport service, which promises to move Clear members through security lines more quickly, travellers must pay a monthly fee of $15.Clear says it’s the first time it will be identifying members based on their face instead of their iris or their fingerprints. Clear CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker says the cameras can take measurements and identify minute differences in facial features.Amil Jain, a professor at Michigan State University who researches biometrics, says facial screenings work by comparing an original photo to a new one. That could be tough in a rental car lane, where the lighting may differ substantially and drivers could be wearing makeup or winter scarves that change their features.“If you don’t do the biometrics right, you’ll turn off the customer more,” he said. But biometric scanning done well could be more robust and secure than having an employee see if a driver’s face matches their license, he said.Jain doesn’t think customers need to be particularly worried about facial scans. He points out that millions of people have shared photos of their faces on Facebook and other platforms already.But Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy and technology for Consumer Reports, said consumers should think twice before sharing personal identifiers.“Once your biometric data gets leaked or compromised, you can’t really do anything about it,” he said. “The more people who potentially have it, the more potential for things to go bad.”Seidman-Becker said Clear will not sell or share the data it collects. She noted that the company has been certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.But Jeramie Scott, the national security counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said sharing biometric data is still risky, because there are no federal laws governing the collection, use and retention of biometric data.“An individual might sign up for one use only to find out that down the road their data is being used in another manner,” he said.Marinello said Clear approached Hertz about the partnership and Hertz agreed to pay for the installation of the Clear pods. Marinello wouldn’t say how much Hertz is investing, but said the company expects to recoup that through increased customers and return visits.Hertz has been eager to adopt new technology and partner with other companies in an effort to prove there is still a future in rental cars despite pressure from ride-hailing companies and self-driving cars. It’s a partner with Volvo in an autonomous driving incubator in Israel, for example.Clear, too, has been trying to boost its membership through partnerships after Seidman-Becker bought it out of bankruptcy in 2010. Delta Air Lines bought a 5 per cent stake in the company in 2016 and offers discounted Clear membership rates for its frequent fliers.Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers have reached an agreement on the farm bill, a mammoth package that will fund key safety net programs for the next five years.The conference report signed Monday by members of the House and Senate is the result of months of negotiations. The bill has a price tag of $867 billion over a decade and is expected to be brought to a vote this week in the House, possibly as soon as Wednesday.The legislation reauthorizes crop insurance and conservation programs and legalizes the cultivation of industrial hemp.It does not make significant changes to the food stamp program that serves nearly 40 million low-income Americans. President Donald Trump and House Republicans had pushed to create new work requirements for food stamps, but negotiators rejected them.Juliet Linderman, The Associated Press
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The cool weather continues to help firefighters working the Tommy Lakes Forest Fire.While the fire remains 20% contained, there was no growth of the fire on Friday even though the fire did not receive any rain. The cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity continue to aid fire suppression efforts.There are 216 firefighters building and reinforcing guard working to increase containment supported by 9 helicopters along with 20 pieces of heavy equipment. The Peace River Regional District has lifted the evacuation alert for a small area near the fire.The size of the fire decreased from 22,659 hectares to 22,583 due to more accurate maps.
VICTORIA, B.C. – With the expansion of the B.C. Land Matching Program, delivered by Young Agrarians, new and young farmers in Northern British Columbia will have access to support and services to enter the farming sector.According to Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham, this program will connect farmers looking for land with landowners wanting to lease their land for farming.Popham also says this program will lead to security of land within the farming industry. “Land matchers are making it much easier for young people and aspiring farmers to find affordable, suitable land and enter British Columbia’s vibrant farming sector. Their work to connect farmers and landowners in more remote areas will help ensure farmland is being farmed and secure the industry and land for future generations.”The BCLMP is part of Grow B.C., a mandate commitment of the Ministry of Agriculture that supports young farmers and food producers seeking a career in agriculture and addresses major challenges for new farmers.For more information on the Land Matching Program, you can visit the Province’s website.
FORT NELSON, B.C. – The RCMP have released new photos of the two people found dead south of the Liard River Hotsprings.International media shared the identity of the two victims early Friday and now the RCMP have confirmed the two people found dead are Chynna Noelle Deese of the United States and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia. Lucas is the son of New South Wales Police Chief Inspector Stephen Fowler, and the Fowler family is travelling to Northern B.C. to bring their son home. Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese were found deceased on the Alaska Highway 20 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs on Monday, July 15, 2019. Police would like to speak to anyone that may have travelled this stretch of highway between Sunday, July 14, 2019, at 4:00 PM and Monday, July 15, 2019, at 8:00 AM.Police would especially like to speak with anyone who may have a Dashcam video while travelling that area.A vehicle an older blue minivan with Alberta plates was found at the scene and police would like to speak with anyone who may have seen the vehicle or render assistance.Anyone with information is asked to contact the Northern Rockies RCMP at 250 774-2700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Washington DC: India and the United States have asked Islamabad to “meaningfully address” the international community’s concerns on terrorism, including that emanating from across the border from Pakistan. The concern was raised in an statement by the Indian Embassy here after Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and his American counterpart Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale held Foreign Office Consultations here at the State Department, nearly a month after the Pulwama terror attack. “Both sides called on Pakistan to meaningfully address the concerns of the international community on terrorism, including cross-border terrorism,” the statement said. Tensions between India and Pakistan flared up after a suicide bomber of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14. India has provided a dossier to Pakistan, detailing the role of JeM in the Pulwama terror attack. India has also said that Pakistan has failed to take any credible action against JeM and other terrorist organisations, which continue to operate with impunity from Pakistan. On Monday, Gokhale called on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and they agreed that Pakistan must take “concerted action” to dismantle terrorist infrastructure and deny safe haven to all terror groups on its soil. Gokhale and Hale also reaffirming their commitment to the Indo-US Strategic Partnership and they reviewed the progress made since the first Ministerial 2+2 meeting held last September and discussed ways to further expand cooperation. While cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region formed an important part of their deliberations, they also discussed counterterrorism cooperation and a range of global and regional issues of mutual interest, including the current situation in Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, the State Department said in a readout of the meeting. “They affirmed the vitality of the US-India strategic partnership and the importance of joint leadership to strengthen the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region,” the State Department said, amidst China increasingly flexing its muscles in the region. The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region, comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea. Beijing asserts nearly all of the South China Sea as its territory, while Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts. During the meeting, Gokhale and Hale affirmed their support for increased cooperation to include advancing initiatives undertaken as part of the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue process. “Recognising that the US and India share complementary visions for the Indo-Pacific, they agreed to deepen cooperation toward their joint goals in the region, including in conjunction with other Indo-Pacific partners,” the State Department said. According to the Indian Embassy, Gokhale and Hale exchanged views on building convergence in the Indo-Pacific and agreed to work with each other and regional partners to promote inclusivity, stability, peace and prosperity in the region.
Mumbai: Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday directed his ministry’s secretary to hold an emergency meeting on the debt-ridden Jet Airways massively cancelling flights after grounding of a large part of its fleet. The minister’s direction came in the wake of the airliner drastically reducing its operations due to liquidity crunch. “Directed Secretary, @MOCA GOI to hold an emergency meeting on grounding of flights by Jet Airways, advance bookings, cancellations, refunds and safety issues, if any,” Prabhu said in a tweet. “Asked him (civil aviation secretary) to get a report on Jet compliance issues immediately from DGCA,” he added. Earlier Monday, Jet Airways engineers’ body wrote to aviation regulator DGCA, seeking its intervention in the recovery of their salary dues, saying non-payment was affecting their psychological condition which, in turn, was a “risk” to the airline’s flight operations.
New Delhi: Job creation dropped by 1.73 per cent in February to 15.03 lakh compared to 15.30 lakh in the same month last year, according to the latest payroll data of the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). The data showed that during September 2017 to February 2019, nearly 3 crore new subscribers joined the ESIC scheme. According to the data, the gross new subscribers addition remained the highest at 19.81 lakh in July 2018.
The Imperial New Delhi joined hands with Hotel Association of India (HAI) to observe the 6th HAI Hand Hygiene Day by creating awareness amongst both associates and guests about the importance of hand hygiene.This year, the overarching theme for World Hand Hygiene Day by W.H.O was “Clean care for all – it’s in your hands”, focusing on the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC) which includes access to quality essential health care services, and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all. Hand hygiene is critical to achieve UHC as it has a direct impact on the quality of care and patient safety across all levels of the health system. Also Read – The Puja carnivalIncorporating the same message, The Imperial conducted various activities to inculcate greater responsibility towards hand hygiene by engaging associates and creating substantial awareness about the issue. Speaking on the occasion, Vijay Wanchoo -Sr Executive VP and GM, The Imperial New Delhi said, “Hand hygiene is vital to a healthy lifestyle which is why we at The Imperial strive to maintain best practices and my aim is to promote initiatives like these so they reach the grass root level. When we are operating in the service industry it becomes our prerogative to prioritise health in every way which is why the message of clean hands as the foundation of a healthy system is reiterated every year in the hotel. Like last year, this year too, we had organised focused activities to emphasise on keeping hand hygiene at all times and shall continue to do so in near future to make our country aware, safe and healthy”. HAI intends to create awareness among the local communities, schools, orphanages, public institutions, guests, visitors and employees of hotels and the people who handle food by including them in a series of activities under the program. It aims to spread the importance of washing hands with soap and water or using a hand sanitiser as the simplest and most cost-effective way of promoting community health and well-being.
For many people, the phrase maritime piracy evokes images of a one-eyed sailor drinking rum and singing obscene songs. For some younger people, piracy may bring to mind the picture of Hollywood actor Johnny Depp, wearing a headband in a scene from the film Pirates of the Caribbean. But maritime piracy is not just an action movie. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea defines piracy as “illegal acts of violence or detention” committed on the high seas against ships or aircrafts. Piracy is a serious problem and it poses a real threat not only to the safety of vessels and their crews, but also to the economies of affected countries.In Africa, while piracy in Somalia’s Gulf of Aden is currently on the decline, it has spread to West Africa. Although most attacks in the region take place in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, there have also been attacks in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Togo, among others, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Reuters news agency reported that one such attack took place in October 2013 off Nigeria’s coast, where pirates attacked an oil supply vessel and kidnapped the captain and chief engineer, both American citizens,. The report says that “pirate attacks off Nigeria’s coast have jumped by a third this year as ships passing through West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, a major commodities route, have increasingly come under threat from gangs wanting to snatch cargoes and crews.”Unlike pirates along Somalia’s coast, who are often only after ransom, pirates in West Africa also steal goods, particularly oil. Many attacks end up with crew members injured or killed. But pirate attacks do not only result in killings and injuries, tragic as those are; they also damage the economy. In some cases, affected countries in West Africa have become less concerned with direct losses from piracy than with the ways in which these losses affect international insurance rates and other trade-related costs.In Benin, for example, taxes on trade account for half of government revenue, and 80% of these are derived from the port of Cotonou, according to UNODC figures published in March 2013. Last year the spike in pirate attacks in West Africa led London-based Lloyd’s Market Association, an umbrella group of maritime insurers, to list Nigeria, neighboring Benin and nearby waters in the same risk category as Somalia, says Claims Journal, a magazine for insurance professionals. The result was a significant decrease in maritime traffic in the region, which meant a 28% loss in Benin’s government revenue. The decrease also affected the livelihoods of the country’s citizens, says UNODC, by increasing the cost of imports and decreasing the competitiveness of exports.According to Reuters, though ships now speed with armed guards on board through the dangerous waters off Somalia and the Horn of Africa on the east coast of the continent, many vessels have to anchor to do business with West African countries, with little protection. This makes them a soft target for criminals, says Reuters, and jacks up insurance costs.Corruption drives piracyAs is often the case, corruption, weak law enforcement and poverty are the main causes of piracy, according to Dr. Christian Bueger, a Cardiff University researcher and editor of Piracy-Studies.org, an online research portal. In an interview with Africa Renewal, Dr. Bueger said, “Piracy tends to be conducted or supported by marginalized communities that have not been participating in economic development.”This appears to be the case for Nigeria, for example, where the majority of the recent African pirate attacks have occurred, driven mainly by corruption in the oil sector. Chatham House, a British research group, reported in September 2013 that “corruption and fraud are rampant in the country’s oil sector,” and “lines between legal and illegal supplies of Nigerian oil can be blurry.” In such a climate pirates have an incentive to steal oil, since they know that they will be able to sell it on the black market.“Illegal bunkering [filling ships with fuel] is enormously profitable” in Nigeria, writes Martin Murphy, a professor at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United States, a policy think tank, in his article “Petro-Piracy: Oil and Troubled Waters,” published in Orbis for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “The scale of losses is staggering—more than $100 billion worth of oil has gone missing since 1960,” says Professor Murphy.The damage caused by thieves has forced oil companies to shut down pipelines. Royal Dutch Shell is selling off four of its onshore Nigerian oil blocks because of the constant theft of large volumes of oil from its pipelines, United Press International reported in October 2013. As a result of the shutting down of pipelines, Nigeria is producing about 400,000 barrels a day below its capacity of 2.5 million barrels a day, according to the Economist, a British weekly.The New York Times reported in September 2013 that Nigeria’s former top anti-corruption official, Nuhu Ridabu, had written a report in 2012 charging that over the preceding decade, thieves had stolen between 6% and 30% of the country’s oil production.Countering piracy In his interview with Africa Renewal, Dr. Bueger suggested four steps to counter piracy. First, the key is for affected states to share information on what’s happening on their coastlines and their neighbours’. Second, joint training activities are required so countries can develop procedures and learn how to use technology. Training not only educates future generations of maritime security professionals, but also creates confidence and trust between different agencies. Third, states that face maritime and piracy challenges should develop strong legislation to prosecute criminals.And finally, states should set aside enough money to build local capacity. “Even if a state has the information, even if the state has well-trained coast guards, and even if the state has incorporated all the right laws,” Dr. Bueger explains, “without vessels, the state is powerless.” At the moment, of the states most affected by piracy, only South Africa and Nigeria have a professional navy. Most other countries have small and outdated coast guards with no more than three to five skiffs.What has been done?Several international legal instruments are in place to combat threats posed by piracy. The key agreement is the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which prescribes exclusive economic zones over which individual states have the rights for exploration, energy production from water and wind, and the use of marine resources. For this agreement to be operative, states have to adopt and incorporate it into their national laws. All West African countries have signed and ratified the Law of the Sea Convention.However, the UN Security Council has yet to call for concerted international action against piracy along the Gulf of Guinea, as it did in the Somali case when, in June 2008, it authorized other countries to enter Somali territorial waters to stop pirates. In 2011 the council passed two resolutions expressing its concern about piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and urging states to reinforce domestic legislation, develop a comprehensive regional counter-piracy framework, issue appropriate guidance to shipping and cooperate in prosecuting pirates and their backers.Despite the absence of any Security Council action so far, and unlike in the Gulf of Aden, in West Africa there is already an institutional infrastructure to combat piracy. The Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) has in its treaty of 1993 a maritime component intended to harmonize all maritime issues across the region; the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa, established in the 1970s, holds member countries to a similar agreement. Last year ECOWAS, the Gulf of Guinea Commission and the Economic Community of Central African States signed a memorandum of understanding between the International Maritime Organization and the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa, to establish a subregional integrated coast guard network in West and Central Africa, among other things.Records show that despite these regional actions, the number of pirate attacks continues to increase. The International Maritime Bureau, a specialised division of the International Chamber of Commerce, reports that while pirate attacks (actual and attempted) in the Gulf of Guinea fell from 54 in 2008 to 37 in 2010, there has been a steady increase since then: 49 in 2011 and 58 in 2012. As of August 2013, there were 28 attacks in Nigeria alone. These numbers, however, might be deceptive because many attacks go unreported.But piracy is not the only security threat at sea. “Piracy has drawn attention to wider problems of maritime insecurity,” says Dr. Bueger, such as trafficking and smuggling of humans, weapons and narcotics, and illegal and unregulated fishing activities. Hence, he says, the attention currently being given to the fight against piracy could be used as a stepping stone by the international community to create sustainable institutions of maritime security.International institutions are crucial for counter-piracy efforts, but they require long-term commitment. The African Union has already declared that its objective is to implement the African Maritime Security Strategy by 2050. Among the strategy’s goals are to “ensure security and safety of maritime transportation systems,” and to “prevent hostile and criminal acts at sea, and to coordinate/harmonize the prosecution of the offenders.”It’s a long-term strategy, but without a doubt concerted action is needed now to stop piracy in West Africa before it deteriorates and spreads to other African coastal areas.Photo: IRIN/Daniel HaydukAfrica Renewal
BEIRUT– A Lebanese security source confirmed to Anadolu Agency that Sunday’s shooting across the Lebanon-Israel border had left one Israeli soldier dead and a Lebanese soldier missing.The UN International Force in Lebanon is hosting a Monday morning meeting that will bring together senior officers from both the Lebanese and Israeli armies to discuss Sunday’s deadly cross-border shooting that left one Israeli soldier dead.A Lebanese security source confirmed to Anadolu Agency that Sunday’s shooting across the Lebanon-Israel border had left one Israeli soldier dead and a Lebanese soldier missing.The shooting took place in the Ras al-Naqoura border area, the source added.UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti told AA that the international force was working with both countries to contain the situation and avoid escalations.The Israeli government has lodged a complaint over Sunday’s shooting with both UNIFIL and the Lebanese government.Israeli troops along the border with Lebanon, meanwhile, have been put on high alert since the shooting.“We will not tolerate aggression against the State of Israel and maintain the right to exercise self-defense against perpetrators of attacks against Israel and its civilians,” Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner was quoted as saying by the Israeli daily Haaretz.
Rabat- King Mohammed VI has entrusted his older sister, Princess Lalla Meryem, to honor an imam, a rabbi, and a bishop, all Moroccan natives, at the Institute of the Arab World in Paris.Princess Lalla Meryem will preside over the ceremony at the Institute of the Arab World (IMA) in Paris on Sunday, with Royal Wissams.Some of the ceremony’s attendees will be French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Moroccan Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs Ahmed Tawfiq, King Mohammed VI’s Ambassador-at-Large Serge Berdugo, Moroccan Ambassador to France Chakib Benmoussa, and President of the Institute of the Arab World Jack Lang. According to the website Atlas Info, the three recipients are Khalil Merroun, the leader of the Grand Mosque of Evry, Michel Serfaty, the rabbi of Ris Orangis, and Michel Dubost, Bishop of Evry Monseigneur.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.
Meknes – Ahmed Salah Zarug, the Moroccan rapper known by his stage name A.z.DANDI, dreams of representing Moroccan music all over the world.In an interview with Morocco World News, the promising singer described his life and the beginning of his artistic journey, which started during the recent emergence of hip-hop culture in Morocco.“In 2008, I embarked on … [rapping] in English because it is the mother language of hip-hop in order to address the whole world and to show the power of my lyrics, as well as to give my message an understandable meaning [that] can be clear to audiences from different cultures.” Zarug experienced several obstacles along the way. Lack of support was one of the challenges that impeded the start of the Casablancan native’s journey, an issue he blames on Moroccan audiences’ lack of knowledge of rap and hip-hop culture at that time. “The major hindrance in my career is big lack of encouragement and motivation from people,” he said.The 19-year-old artist views art as an integral part of human existence, the tool that connects the souls of people. “Music is my inspiration and the bridge to [speak] to [human] feelings. This is why I believe that music is the world itself,” he said.The flamboyant rapper participated in several well-known events in Morocco in which he bolstered his artistic credentials such as Boulevard in Casablanca, and a concert in Essaouira on Youth Day in 2013.Before he fully immerses himself in his rap career, Zarug is studying International Studies at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane. He has seized the opportunity while living in Moroccan Switzerland to draw inspiration from his surroundings, creating a video clip called “Beautiful Nature” which portrays the beauty of natural landscapes and scenes throughout the kingdom.“Creativity is associated with the beauty of nature. I am nowadays in a natural, glamorous place. I seized the opportunity to sing about it and embody nature in order to demonstrate the relationship between creativity and nature. The song was in a collaboration with Yassine Adnane and Soufian El Maliki. Furthermore, It was supported passionately [by] my friends,” Zarug said.Zarug is currently working with another rapper on a mixtape that will be released in mid-March, in addition to an album in collaboration with other Moroccan artists that will be released in August.Zarug is not merely an ordinary artist, but is also a producer and a director. He believes that the world is full positive things that allow humans to enjoy the splendor of life. “I always try to make people understand my positive vision and philosophy in life that might help us to contribute [to] the development of the world,” Zarug said. “Thus, people need blissful and happy songs as a form of celebration.”Edited by Kelsey Fish© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission