Odawa provides safe space for LGBTQ community to exercise in Ottawa

first_imgAnnette Francis APTN National NewsMembers of Ottawa’s LGBTQ community have a new safe space to workout.Thanks to an initiative created by two local youth.And the Odawa Native Friendship Centre.last_img

4 people in Vancouvers Downtown Eastside recovering after knife attack

first_imgLaurie Hamelin APTN NewsFour people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside are recovering after being attacked by a man went on a slashing attack.The Eastside has a bad reputation for crime and drug use.One of the victims says in spite of the attack, he wants people to know he feels safe in his community.And he hopes his attacker gets the help he needs.lhamelin@aptn.ca@laurie_hamelinlast_img

California company has pot license workers still arrested

first_imgSACRAMENTO, Calif. – The confusing rollout of marijuana regulations in California has been underscored in Mendocino County, where local authorities licensed a company to deliver pot only to have state police arrest two employees who were trying to do just that with nearly a ton of weed.The workers for Old Kai Distribution were transporting the marijuana from a farm when they were pulled over Friday afternoon by a California Highway Patrol officer on Highway 101 near Ukiah, according to Joe Rogoway, an attorney for the company. They were driving an unmarked van and were stopped for a traffic violation.The workers showed the officer the company’s county license and a manifest for the marijuana, but the officer insisted it was illegal, called for backup and arrested the men.The company argues it can transport marijuana within the county with its local license, and county spokeswoman Sarah Dukett backed that interpretation. She said Old Kai was issued a distribution license last week that allows it to legally transport marijuana under two local ordinances passed earlier this year.The workers were cited for unlawful transportation of marijuana and unlawful possession for sale. Investigators also seized all of the marijuana and the company’s van.“It is incomprehensible that this has occurred,” said Rogoway, who sent a letter to CHP demanding that the charges be dropped and the marijuana returned to Old Kai.Acting California Highway Patrol Commissioner Warren Stanley said the arrest was appropriate because a state license also is required for legal transport and those permits don’t take effect until Monday, when broad legalization arrives in California.“They are following the laws that are in place now,” Stanley said Wednesday, referring to his officers. “And when Jan. 1, 2018, comes they’ll start following the laws that come into effect on that date.”The officer who made the Ukiah stop was not targeting the business, said Stanley, who is not aware of any other arrests of a locally licensed marijuana operation. CHP primarily is concerned with drivers who could be high behind the wheel and the agency has trained 97 per cent of its officers and sergeants in advanced drugged driving recognition skills, he said.Stanley commented after a ceremony for CHP Officer Andrew Camilleri, who was killed on Christmas Eve by a driver believed to be drunk and high.California has had legal medical marijuana for two decades. In 2016, voters approved broad legalization and the state and communities that want such “adult use” marijuana businesses spent the last year writing complex regulations.Some didn’t get their regulations finalized in time to start issuing local licenses by Jan. 1 while others decided to outlaw recreational pot altogether. Meantime, all forms of pot remain illegal under federal law.The marijuana that was seized in Mendocino County, about 115 miles (185 kilometres) north of San Francisco, had been collected from a family-owned farm and was being brought to a distribution centre to be sorted and tested.“This was basically their entire harvest,” Rogoway said. “Their entire year was in the back of this vehicle. If that cannabis is destroyed, it really puts at risk the safety and well-being of their family.”He worried the arrest could have a chilling effect as the state and local governments encourage marijuana businesses to come out of the shadows and adhere to regulations to ensure a level playing field for all.“This incident highlights the fear that many people have,” he said. “It takes a lot to be a complaint operator. Even if they follow through with the whole process, something bad can happen. This is a perfect example.”___Balsamo reported from Los Angeles.last_img read more

Recipe Unlimited to phase out plastic straws at its 19 brands by

first_imgTORONTO – It’s the final straw for plastic at Recipe Unlimited Corporation.The restaurant giant, formerly known as Cara Operations, will start to ditch plastic straws at its 19 brands in August and replace them with compostable and biodegradable paper straws by the end of March 2019.The company, which owns brands such as Harvey’s, Swiss Chalet, Kelsey’s and New York Fries, joins a growing group of Canadian restaurants and international food corporations that are phasing out the plastic drinking implements.Recipe Unlimited, which has 1,382 restaurants, says compostable and biodegradable straws will automatically be provided with drink orders at its quick serve brands, including the Burgers Priest and St-Hubert. Paper straws will be available on request at its full-service restaurants like the Pickle Barrel, The Keg and Milestones.“Straws are just one component of the work we’re undertaking to eliminate single use plastics from our supply chain and shift to recyclable or compostable materials wherever possible,” Frank Hennessey, Recipe Unlimited’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.A&W Canada said last month it would soon switch to paper straws, while Ikea Canada promised to phase out plastic straws by 2020. Plenty of local bars and dining establishments have made similar declarations.McDonald’s announced in June that it will switch to paper straws at all its locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and test an alternative to plastic ones in some of its U.S. restaurants later this year. However, a McDonald’s Canada spokesman said it would monitor the trials in those countries before taking steps in Canada.The shift comes amid global pressure from environmentalists demanding restaurants switch to compostable options in an effort to stop wildlife from getting stuck and injured by plastic and to prevent the material from littering coastlines and green spaces.Experts say Canadians use about 57 million straws a day, but less than 20 per cent are recycled. They often recommend paper, metal or wood straws as alternatives.However, plastic straw bans have also generated concerns among some people with disabilities who say they need them and worry that sweeping bans will have unintended consequences.Still, many restaurants appear to be moving ahead with phasing out the plastic version.Restaurant Brands International, which owns Tim Hortons, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Burger King, said Wednesday that it is reviewing its packaging and looking at alternative options.Their considerations come after Vancouver city council recently put forward a proposal pushing servers to ask customers if they want a straw, instead of automatically delivering one with drink orders.On top of the recent environmental push, food industry expert Robert Carter said millennials — the restaurant industry’s biggest customer base — are playing a big role in the move away from plastic straws.“This is a segment that skews towards cause-based issues, so I think that is also putting pressure on restaurants to get ahead of these things before they have a backlash,” he said.He anticipates that the influence of millennials will soon extend beyond straws to target other plastic restaurant goods, including cutlery and packaging, because that consumer base often uses food delivery services, which are “exploding.” However, materials related to beverages are only a “tiny component” of the plastic items such services distribute, he said, making them ripe for change.Across the pond, British Prime Minister Theresa May is also eyeing a ban on plastic straws, cotton swabs and stir sticks and prodding other nations to follow suit.Canada has yet to make a similar commitment, but Carter believes “it is only a matter of time before it comes to North America.”Companies in this story: (TSX:RECP)last_img read more

Apples stock sours Microsofts soars Say what

first_imgMicrosoft is close to overtaking Apple as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company.The market closed Tuesday with Microsoft just a half per cent behind Apple in market value.That Microsoft is even close to eclipsing Apple — and did so briefly this week — would have been surprising not long ago as rival tech giants Amazon and Google were the more likely favourites for catching up to the iPhone maker.It’s a sign of Microsoft’s steady resilience under CEO Satya Nadella as it transitions into a cloud computing provider more focused on long-term business contracts than consumer demand.That helped shield it from holiday season turbulence and U.S.-China trade war jitters affecting Apple and other tech giants.Matt O’Brien, The Associated Presslast_img read more

What the FSJ RCMP want you to know about driving with Cannabis

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C.- With Cannabis now being legal for persons 19 years and older there are special requirements for carrying Cannabis in motorized vehicles.There have been new laws put in place to protect the public and users of cannabis, and law enforcement agencies have additional powers to enforce those laws. The new Provincial Cannabis Control and Licencing Act have a $575 charge for consuming Cannabis while operating a vehicle or a boat and $230 ticket for consuming Cannabis in a vehicle or boat operated by another person.No persons while in a vehicle can consume Cannabis. If everyone is using Cannabis, all persons in the motorized vehicle receive tickets and the cannabis is confiscated. You can only transport Cannabis when the following conditions are met:• The cannabis was produced by a federal producer,• The cannabis is still in the original packaging,• The packaging has not been opened or• IF the packaging has been opened, it cannot be accessible by the driver or any passengers.You are allowed to transport no more than 4 cannabis plants, that are not budding or flowering, this includes anything that has a root system.Minor’s (youth under 19) driving a vehicle must have an adult present abiding by the conditions or the youth can be issued a $230 ticket for a Minor operating a vehicle with cannabis in it, contrary to the Act.Impaired Driving Laws have also been updated with the new legalization under the Federal Cannabis Act. There is a new charge for being impaired by drugs and alcohol at the same time. These charges can go to court and create a Criminal Record for anyone found guilty of being impaired while driving. As the driver is waiting for court, their driver’s licence will be suspended and their vehicle will be impounded.Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines recommends waiting at least six hours before a driver gets behind the wheel.  It is recommended to have a designated driver, call a taxi or just consume cannabis where you are able to stay until you are sober once again.The Fort St John RCMP wants to inform citizens and help them to protect themselves when it comes to using drugs and driving.last_img read more

BC Hydro provides media with tour of Site C Project

first_imgAccording to Construction Director, Ross Turner, crews are working around the clock to finish the construction of the diversion tunnels.Turner says the completion of the diversion tunnels is a top priority for Site C, with plans of completing the tunnels by March and have them in operation by September 1, 2020.One of the two diversion tunnels located on the north bank of Site C. Photo by Scott BrooksOnce the tunnels are complete, they will divert a capacity of 3,000 cubic metres per second of the Peace River.On the south bank, the dam and spillway are being constructed at a quick rate with over 60,000 cubic metres of concrete having been poured.A section of penstock being lifted into place as part of the dam. Photo by Scott Brooks FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – B.C. Hydro invited members of the media on Tuesday for a tour of the Site C Dam Project.During the tour, media was provided with a look and an update on the various construction projects that are taking place on the north and south banks of the Peace River.This included a close-up view of the diversion tunnels and the generating station. Hydro says the substation, located above the dam, will be the largest within the province and will service Fort St. John and Taylor.According to Community Relations Manager, David Conway, all projects within Site C are in sequence of one another and that they must be completed on time to avoid any delays.Despite it being an unseasonably wet summer, Turner says while it did slow down construction, it did not stop work and that all projects are on schedule.Site C is an estimated $10.7 billion project and is expected to be completed by 2024.last_img read more

Iranian MPs convene with ‘Death to America’ chants

first_imgTehran: Iranian lawmakers dressed in paramilitary uniforms chanted “Death to America” as they convened Tuesday for an open session of parliament after the White House designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a foreign terrorist organization. President Hassan Rouhani declared that the force’s popularity would only surge in the wake of the designation, saying guard members would be dearer “than any other time in the hearts of Iranian nation.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the guard and said America’s “evil designs would not harm” the force. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe move by Washington on Monday was an unprecedented declaration against a foreign government entity one that could prompt retaliation and make it harder for Americans to work with allies in the region who have contact with members and affiliates of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC. It marks the first time the United States has designated an entire entity of another government as a terrorist organization, placing a powerful and expansive armed force with vast economic resources that answers only to Iran’s supreme leader in the same category as al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsIran’s rival, Saudi Arabia, welcomed the U.S. decision, describing it as a “serious and practical step to combat terrorism.” A Foreign Ministry official said the designation “translates Saudi Arabia’s repeated demands for the international community to confront terrorism supported by Iran.” Within hours of the Trump administration’s declaration, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council responded by designating the US Central Command, also known as CENTCOM, and all its forces as terrorist, and labeling the U.S. a “supporter of terrorism.”last_img read more

Hardik wants to prove a point with bat and ball: Rohit

first_imgMumbai: Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma says Hardik Pandya has been driven by a desire “prove a point to himself”, more than anyone else, in what is turning out to be a good IPL season for the flamboyant all-rounder. Pandya’s 16-ball unbeaten 37 guided Mumbai Indians to a five-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore Monday night. The all-rounder is averaging a healthy 46.50 and has a strike rate of over 190 in the eight matches he has played this season. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh “His (Hardik’s) hitting has been helping the team and him as well to move forward. This is something he wanted to do because he didn’t have a lot of time before coming to the IPL,” Rohit said after Monday’s match. “So he wanted to prove a point with bat and ball, to himself more than anyone else. The way he is hitting it gives us confidence as a team that there is someone who can hit that well at the end and win crucial games.” Talking about veteran Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who took four wickets to restrict RCB to 171 for 7, Rohit said, “Lasith’s performance matters a lot to us. We missed him for a few games. Trust me, with all that he has done over the years, bowling at the death at the Wankhede is very difficult. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later “Credit goes to the bowlers in general for restricting a good RCB batting line-up to 170 odd.” Rohit, however, admitted that he is yet to figure out the Wankhede pitch. “To be honest, I still haven’t figured out the pitch here this season. Normally it’s safe to chase here, but today no one expected it to play this way. If the pitch plays like that I don’t want to chase,” he said with a smile. Pandya, on his part, praised openers Rohit (28) and Quinton de Kock (40) for the the start the team got in the run chase. “Hats off to both the openers. It was not easy to bat on this wicket but they made it easy for us in the end. I felt RCB didn’t bowl well in the Powerplay and that’s where I thought they lost the game,” he said. “We began well and had the bowlers who hit the deck hard and got some purchase off the wicket. The way the wicket started playing, even AB found it difficult but they both (AB and Moeen) played well. A disappointed RCB and India captain Virat Kohli defended the move to use left-arm spinner Pawan Negi in the 19th over of which Pandya smashed 22 runs to end the match. “At the end, we had to take the risk with the left-arm spinner, with two right-handed batsmen. Giving pace was risky, especially with a bit of dew. Unfortunately, it didn’t come off,” said Kohli. “With the ball, we weren’t that great in the first six overs but the guys fought hard in the middle overs and came back well. We just have to enjoy ourselves, play the way we did in the last two games. Need to keep our composure under pressure. Need to take half-chances.last_img read more

CSK look to consolidate position at top against MI

first_imgChennai: They might have already reached the cut-off limit of 16 points needed for the play-offs, but Chennai Super Kings would like to consolidate their position at the top when they take on an inconsistent Mumbai Indians in an IPL match here on Friday. The MS Dhoni-led side roared back to form after two losses, with a six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad here on Tuesday night, riding on Shane Watson’s big hitting. Come Friday, the hosts would be looking to continue the momentum. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhThe visitors, currently in third spot with 12 points from 10 games, are coming off a defeat against Rajasthan Royals and will be keen to keep themselves in the hunt for the playoffs. While CSK’s must have welcomed Watson’s return to form, the team would be hoping for Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav to get going ahead of the knockout phase. It is important for Jadhav to get his touch back with the World Cup looming. The bowlers have played a big role in CSK’s success so far, especially at home, on sluggish tracks. The much-improved Deepak Chahar will be key in the matches to come with his intelligent bowling at the start and at the death. Though Imran Tahir, who is the second highest wicket-taker with 16, went wicketless in the SRH match, the South African veteran will be expected to stymie the powerful Mumbai Indians batting line-up along with fellow spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajan Singh. Mumbai have had a roller coaster season so far and they now need to be at their best in the last lap of the preliminary phase.last_img read more

PM Modi used hatred in elections, we used love: Rahul Gandhi

first_imgNew Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi Sunday cast his vote in Lok Sabha polls here and hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he “used hatred” during the elections but the grand old party “used love”. Asserting that this elections saw a “good fight” between the two rival parties, Gandhi said he thought that “love is going to win”. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi used hatred, we (Congress) love. And, I think love is going to win,” he told reporters, soon after exercising his franchise. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange framework Clad in his trademark kurta-pyjama, he was accompanied by party’s New Delhi candidate Ajay Maken on way to the polling booth, a walking distance from his Tughlaq Lane residence. “There are four issues in this election, these are not our issues but people’s issues. And most important among these is of unemployment. Then, condition of farmers, demonetisation, Gabbar Singh Tax (mocking GST), corruption and the Rafale issue,” he said.last_img read more

Morocco condemns recent “terrorist attacks” in Egypt

first_imgRabat – Morocco condemned the recent terror blasts in Egypt as “horrendous terrorist acts” that are contrary to religious and human values and to the principles of peaceful co-existence.Morocco “is deeply concerned by the series of terrorist attacks” that occurred these last two days in Egypt against security and cultural administrations and some districts of Cairo, killing several people and injuring others, says a release of the Moroccan ministry of foreign affairs and cooperation.Morocco, which offers its heartfelt condolences and expresses sympathy and solidarity with those wounded, reiterates its support to Egypt to face the plague of terrorism and all types of threats against its stability and security, the release says. “Morocco condemns these horrendous terrorist acts that are “contrary to religious and human values and to the principles of peaceful co-existence” and attempt to jeopardize the ongoing democratic transition in Egypt.last_img read more

France Won’t Use its Veto on the Sahara: Gérard Araud

New York- Gérard Araud, France’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said in a Tweet on Friday that his country would not use its veto power in the Security Council against any resolution on the Sahara. The French diplomat was apparently answering the Polisario and its supporters, who accused France of its willingness to use its veto to block any resolution that doesn’t take into account Morocco’s interests.“Once for all and I stop here. France has NOT threatened to use its veto directly or not. The last French veto was in the 80s,” the French diplomat said. The UN Security Council is scheduled to vote on the renewal of the MINURSO’s mandate on April 23rd. But as in recent years, France won’t have to use its veto power, since the draft resolution that is being circulated to the Security Council members does not include any provision calling for the extension of MINURSO’s mandate to include a human rights monitoring mechanism, a position that has been defended in recent years by the Polisario and its supporters, mainly Algeria, South Africa and Nigeria.In all likelihood the French Ambassador made this tweet while being sure that the UNSC resolution on the renewal of MINURSO’s mandate will be adopted by consensus as has been the case in recent years.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

Germany Humiliates Brazil

Rabat – Germany have a clear chance to lift the world cup trophy for the first time since 1990, after they destroyed host country Brazil with an outstanding 7-1 in the semi-final clash at Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.Joachim Low’s side took great advantage of the absence of Captain Thiago Silva due to suspension, and Brazil’s talisman Neymar who suffered a fractured verterbra during the selecao’s quarter-final face-off against Columbia.The game saw Miroslav Klose entering history as he became the leading scorer of the World Cup surpassing Ronaldo Da Silva’s record tally of 15 goals. Germany started their ruthless campaign early as Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller put his team ahead just 11 minutes after the start whistle. 36-year-old Klose netted the second goal which crowned him the top scorer with 16 goals that he scored throughout four World Cup tournaments.Toni Kroos managed to score Germany’s third and fourth goals, respectively. And Sami Khedira added the fifth goal before halftime.The Germans continued shelling Julio Cesar’s nets in the second half with substitute Andre Schurrle scoring a double, leaving the hosts with their biggest World Cup loss since they lost to France 3-0 in the 1998 final.Brazil’s Oscar pulled a late goal, but it was with no value as the hosts are out of the World Cup with the most humiliating semi-final loss ever.Germany will face the winner from Argentina vs the Netherlands second semi-final clash in Sunday’s final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

African Ambassadors Meet in Rabat to Discuss Climate Change

By Natalie YazharyWashington DC – Discourse around Africa and climate change have begun with COP22 just around the corner in November. Various committees, such as The African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa, and African Ambassadors based in Morocco, all met in Rabat, Morocco to discuss COP22. COP22, taking place on November 7-18 in Marrakech, follows COP7 (2001) and COP17 (2011) as the third Climate Change Conference in Africa, which is very significant for Africans.According to the COP22 press release, “This will be a key moment for Africans to push for global commitments towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 and a shift towards resilient, low carbon development.”Mobilizing the continent is a main goal for Morocco, especially with the Climate Change Conference coming up. Morocco is looking to expand the communication throughout the conference, and invite journalists to cover the climate change talks.Communication is key in promoting discourse around global climate change, before it becomes too late to come up with a solution.Climate change is an incredibly pressing issue in various countries in Africa. So much as a slight 2 degree change in global temperature by 2050 could “cause Africa’s GDP to decline by 4.7%,” according to the latest COP22 press release.Although the consequences seem long-term, COP22 and the global climate talks have made it clear that the time to find a solution is now. read more

King Mohammed VI Orders Humanitarian Aid to Be Sent to Rohingya…

Rabat- King Mohammed VI has given instructions to send urgent humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a communiqué on Tuesday.“This humanitarian action aims at assissting the efforts of a brother country to face the massive influx of the Muslim minority of the Rohingya, coming from Myanmar,” said the release.The communiqué explained that the supplies are comprised of tents, covers, basic food and medicine. The aid package will be transported by air, explained the release. Seen as a serious humanitarian crisis, the Rohingya exodus has been making the headlines of international media.The number of the Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh from prosecution in Myanmar has shot up to 270,000, said a spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Friday.The Muslim minority has been facing prosecution in their country for decades.Today’s crisis has prompted the UN to call for urgent action and adress the issue in Myanmar. “The numbers are so alarming,” the UN official told AFP.On Monday the UN human rights chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein called the prosecution of the Muslim minority ” a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”He urged Myanmar authorities to end the “cruel military operation” in Rakhine state from where the Rohingya have been forced to flee for their lives.It has been difficult for international media to access Rakhine state to verify the horrific accounts refugees have given about the persecution conducted by the Myanmar army.The Myanmar government has defended its military operations by accusing Rohingya rebels of committing atrocities in the area and launching attacks on army elements.In June the monarch took another humanitarian action by giving instructions to send food supply to Qatar following the decision of four Arab countries to cut ties and impose an embargo on the Gulf state, which is depends on food imports. read more

Moroccan Alt-Rockers ‘General Rest in Peace’ to Play at Fez ALC…

Rabat – General Rest in Peace (GRIP), a Moroccan alternative and indie rock group, will play a free show on Saturday, September 30 at the American Language Center in Fez.The four-piece band, founded by cousins Talal and Ayoub, mixes alternative rock, metal, pop, and R&B. The group cites influences ranging from Muse to The Clash.GRIP has performed across Morocco and appeared at the Sziget Festival in Budapest. GRIP’s self-titled debut album, released in April 2017, evokes a “dark and romantic atmosphere, with poetic metaphors and reflections on life, death, and love,” writes a press release issued by the language school.The concert has been organized by the Fez ALC’s Music Club.The American Language Center offers courses in English, while the Arabic Language Institute, in the same building, provides instruction in Modern Standard Arabic and Moroccan Arabic. read more

Lebanese Prime Minister Resigns, Fearing ‘Assassination’

Rabat – Amid regional tension, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned from his position on Saturday in a surprise move during a televised speech from Saudi Arabia.Hariri said that he is afraid of the possibility of an assassination plot against him, recalling the murder of his father, former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, who was killed in an explosion in 2005.“We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination martyr Rafik Hariri. I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life,” he said in the speech. He also severely criticized Iran and its Lebanese Shia ally Hezbollah, for “their meddling in Arab affairs.”“I want to say to Iran and its followers that they are losing in their interference in the affairs of Arab nations, and our nation will rise as it did before and the hands that are extended to it with evil will be cut off,” Hariri said.He accused Hezbollah’s policies of putting Lebanon “in the eye of the storm.”“Hezbollah was able in past decades to impose a status quo in Lebanon through its weapons directed at the chests of Syrians and Lebanese,” he said.Hariri has made several visits in the past days to Iranian opponent Saudi Arabia, raising speculation that its influence might have played part in his decision.Hariri served as prime minister from 2009 to 2011 and took office again in 2016. During his term, he headed a 30-member national unity cabinet that included the Shia militant Hezbollah.Lebanese President Michel Aoun “will ask Hariri to remain in his position” until a candidate replaces him and forms a government, said The Independent.Hariri’s replacement has to be a Sunni Muslim, in accordance with the Lebanese constitution. read more

Management group warns rental rates increasing this year in Calgary

CALGARY (660 NEWS)- A new report predicts residential rental rates will be going up this year in Calgary.Property management group Hope Street said the average advertised price for all rentals has increased 13 per cent to $1, 671 a month.That’s compared to September 2018 when the average price was $1,481 a month.READ MORE: Mortgage risks fading thanks to higher rates, tougher rulesPresident and CEO of Hope Street Shamon Kereshi said if you’re a renter, now might be a good time to lock in a rate for the long term.“They’re meant to be for 12 or 24 months, or what not. The trends are telling us in the coming spring and summer seasons, those rates will be going up when we look at listing data.”Kereshi said that vacancy rates are also inching down as a result of the new mortgage rules.READ MORE: A rough real estate market in Calgary“People who were qualified to buy their first house or families that were qualified to move into a slightly larger house are no longer qualified to do that because the mortgage rules have become stricter. As a result, the houses they were hoping to buy, they can no longer afford to buy or no longer get approved to buy.” read more

Venezuelan opposition targeted by internet censors

CARACAS, Venezuela — Opposition leader Juan Guaido’s calls for Venezuelans to abandon Nicolas Maduro’s government are booming across the world outside, but the self-declared interim president is having a harder time delivering his message at home.Watchdog groups in Venezuela and abroad say Guaido’s efforts to reach citizens via the internet have been hindered by the dominant provider — state-run CANTV — in a country where critical newspapers and broadcast media already have been muzzled.Since Jan. 23, when Guaido proclaimed himself interim president and when protests against Maduro’s rule broke out, CANTV has blocked access to social media sites at least four times, according to the monitoring groups.Those disruptions have coincided with politically significant events, including a rally attended by thousands of people last week and a Sunday night speech that Guaido livestreamed on Periscope to call for a new round of protests and urge members of the military to defect.CANTV accounts for about 70 per cent of Venezuela’s fixed internet connections and 50 per cent of mobile, and Netblocks, a non-government group based in Europe that monitors internet censorship, found that the government provider blocked Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube during 12 of the 13 minutes that Guaido’s speech lasted, so the stream could only be seen without interruptions by people using privately run internet providers.The organization runs tests from its headquarters with software that captures evidence of connection failures. It also has designed a scanner app that volunteers in affected countries can use to run tests from their own phones or computers.“We built tools that could diagnose the problems and differentiate between overload disruptions and actual blocking,” said Netblocks director Alp Toker.VESinFiltro, a Venezuelan internet monitoring group that uses technology developed by the Open Observatory for Network Interference, published similar findings on the Sunday night speech.Rights groups say the targeted disruptions show that methods to silence critics are becoming increasingly sophisticated in Venezuela, where internet providers have been hindering access to news sites and illegal currency exchange sites since 2014.VESinFiltro director Andres Azpurua said that while internet providers previously restricted access to websites through a technique known as DNS blocking, methods have evolved to allow just-in-time disruptions during different stages of a computer’s connection to websites, making it harder for site administrators to evade.He also said other civil liberties advocates have been urging Venezuelans to try to avoid blockages by using virtual private network software that encrypt data and often hide the origin of a connection, and he said use of VPNs has increased over time.A study by Venezuela’s Press and Society Institute found that 53 websites were partially blocked by internet providers in Venezuela last year, including an investigative news site and the website for one of the country’s last remaining opposition newspapers. Analysts say that this year, Guaido’s Wikipedia page, and social media sites have suffered blocks.“The previous modus operandi was to place long-term blocks on certain web addresses,” Azpurua says. “But the most recent forms of blocking are more tactical. You can tell that someone is investing in the technology to do this.” While some analysts have speculated the know-how could come from Russia, Toker points out that technology developed by Western countries to block sites run by terrorist groups can also be reconfigured to block other sites.Social media include some of the few platforms where Guaido can still be seen by Venezuelans. Local television and radio stations, fearful of government sanctions, have generally refrained from airing opposition rallies for years and avoid interviews with Guaido. A nationally broadcast radio program hosted by journalist Cesar Miguel Rondon was cancelled after it covered last week’s turmoil and discussed Guaido’s claim to Venezuela’s presidency.The opposition leader argues that Maduro’s re-election in May was fraudulent and with no legitimate president, the constitution gives him power to be interim leader because he is head of the congress. The Trump administration and a dozen other countries have recognized Guaido as the country’s rightful leader.The Venezuelan government has previously ordered some internet news content to be blocked, claiming it is defamatory. It has also banned some news networks from cable systems, arguing they violated communication laws.Venezuela’s telecoms regulator and the Ministry of Communication did not respond to requests for comment on the most recent blocks on social media sites.Technical interference isn’t the only problem for internet users in Venezuela, where social media are rife with campaigns of false information benefiting both the government and the opposition.Twitter last week removed 1,900 accounts located in Venezuela as part of a broader purge of international accounts tied to misinformation campaigns.Twitter’s head of site integrity, Joel Roth, wrote that many of the deleted Venezuelan accounts appeared to be engaged in a “state-backed influence campaign targeting domestic audiences.”Mariengracia Chirino, a researcher at the Venezuelan Press and Society Institute, said that access to information is also hampered by Venezuela’s low bandwidth, as telecommunications infrastructure crumbles in the economically struggling nation.The average connection speed in Venezuela is 1.8 mpbs, which is less than half the average speed in Latin American countries. Chirino said that her organization conducted tests during the Jan. 23 protests that found connection speeds dropping to an average rate of 0.9 mbps, making it difficult to share videos.“During the protests, we also registered temporary blocks on Google sites like Gmail and YouTube,” Chirino said.Manuel Rueda, The Associated Press read more

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