Kabul: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday the US should clarify remarks President Donald Trump made about Afghanistan, including a claim he could easily win the war but didn’t “want to kill 10 million people”. Trump had made several controversial statements a day earlier alongside Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House, including that he had plans that would ensure a speedy end to the Afghan conflict, but which would wipe the country “off the face of the Earth”. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USHis comments sparked outrage in Afghanistan, where the war-weary and traumatised population is already worried about a precipitous pull-out of US forces and whether that means a quick return to Taliban rule and civil war. Afghanistan “would be gone. It would be over in literally, in 10 days”, Trump said, adding, “I don’t want to go that route”, and that he didn’t want to kill millions. Trump’s statements came as his peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, travelled to Kabul ahead of a new round of peace talks with the Taliban. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThe insurgents — who now control or influence about half of Afghanistan’s territory — have been talking to Washington about a possible deal that would see foreign military forces quit in return for various security guarantees. “The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan calls for clarification on the US president’s statements expressed at a meeting with the Pakistan prime minister, via diplomatic means and channels,” Ghani’s office said in a statement. Trump also said Pakistan would help the US “extricate” itself from Afghanistan, adding there was “tremendous potential” in the relationship between Washington and Islamabad. Afghanistan has long blamed Pakistan for fuelling the Afghan conflict and for supporting the Taliban — which Islamabad denies — and Ghani is furious about being continually sidelined by the US in ongoing peace talks with the Taliban. Pakistan’s influence over the Taliban, who have waged an insurgency since they were ousted by US-led forces in 2001, is seen as key in facilitating a political settlement with Ghani’s government. “While the Afghan government supports the US efforts for ensuring peace in Afghanistan, the government underscores that foreign heads of state cannot determine Afghanistan’s fate in absence of the Afghan leadership,” Ghani’s office said. Everyday Afghans took to social media to vent after Trump’s comments. “I feel shocked, threatened and humiliated. We trusted Americans to help us in the war against terror, and now President Trump is threatening us with genocide,” Facebook user Mohd Farhad wrote. “I cannot believe he said it. I know it is him but I’m still in shock,” Nadene Ghouri, another Facebook user, wrote. Trump’s envoy Khalilzad meanwhile arrived in Kabul on Tuesday ahead of a trip to Qatari capital Doha for what will be the eighth round of direct talks he’s held with the Taliban.
Kabul: Every day before dawn, 10-year-old Kamran goes to work with his father and other relatives at a brick factory on the outskirts of Kabul. Like many children in Afghanistan, school is a luxury his family can no longer afford. His father, Atiqullah, supports his family of eight as well as several siblings, nieces and nephews. One of Kamran’s uncles is ill and another has passed away, leaving their families in his father’s care. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US”My children wake up early in the morning and right after prayers they come here for work, so they don’t have time for school,” said Atiqullah, who like many Afghans has only one name. “These days if you don’t work, you cannot survive.” The U.S. and its allies have sunk billions of dollars of aid into Afghanistan since the invasion to oust the Taliban 18 years ago, but the country remains mired in poverty. Signs of hardship are everywhere, from children begging in the streets to entire families including children as young as five or six working at brick kilns in the sweltering heat. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls Atiqullah’s family comes from the eastern Nangarhar province, a stronghold for both the Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate that has seen heavy fighting in recent years. Brick factory owners travel to the villages and offer loans to cover basic necessities, forcing families to work them off during the summer months in a form of indentured servitude. Workers say a family of 10 can bring in an average of 12-18 a day, depending on their productivity. Shubham Chaudhuri, who recently completed a three-year stint as the World Bank country director for Afghanistan, said more than half of Afghans live on less than a dollar a day, the amount considered necessary to meet basic needs. “Even more striking was the fact that almost three quarters of the population was close to that level. So I think the state of poverty in Afghanistan today is that it is deep and it is widespread,” he said. A U.N. report released last year said that more than 2 million Afghan children aged 6-14 were engaged in some form of child labor. Laws governing child labour in Afghanistan are poorly enforced, especially in rural areas. Afghanistan’s economy grew by just 2% last year, the slowest rate in South Asia, held back by the lingering conflict, drought and endemic corruption. The watchdog Transparency International regularly rates Afghanistan among the most corrupt countries on earth. Much of the international aid has ended up in the hands of former warlords who live in gated compounds, cruise around in motorcades and stash their fortunes in the Gulf. Widespread misery and anger at the country’s elites has added fuel to the conflict and swelled the ranks of the Taliban, who now effectively control around half the country. The insurgents have held several rounds of talks with the United States in recent months, aiming for a deal in which foreign forces would withdraw. A World Bank report released in this week said a political settlement with the Taliban could boost the economy by encouraging the return of capital and skilled workers from overseas but only if the security situation improves. “Rapid growth will only be possible with improved security under a government that remains committed to private sector development, respects the rights of investors, and maintains the gains Afghanistan has achieved over the past two decades toward establishing strong and impartial government institutions,” the World Bank’s current country director, Henry Kerali, was quoted as saying in the report. Jan Agha, a 65-year-old who works alongside Atiqullah’s family in the brick kilns, has little hope for the future. He’s been working off loans for more than 30 years, 20 of them spent as a refugee in neighboring Pakistan. His four sons have already joined him on the assembly line, and he expects his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to do the same. “We always think about our future,” he said. “We don’t know how long we will live with economic problems like this, when we will be able to live our own lives, when we will be able to breathe in freedom. Right now we live like slaves.”
San Francisco: Despite delivering a record 95,200 cars in the second quarter (Q2) of 2019, Elon Musk-led electric car maker Tesla reported a net loss of $408 million for the quarter that ended June 30.Tesla reported revenue of $6.3 billion — a significant improvement from Q2 last year when it reported revenue of $4 billion.The company also announced its Chief Technology Officer J.B. Straubel is leaving Tesla.”In the second quarter of 2019, we achieved record deliveries of 95,356 vehicles and record production of 87,048 vehicles, surpassing our previous quarterly records of 91,000 deliveries and 86,600 units produced in Q4 of 2018,” the company said in a statement late Wednesday. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”As a result of this growth and operational improvements, we generated $614 million of free cash flow. We ended the quarter with $5 billion of cash and cash equivalents, the highest level in Tesla’s history,” said the company.Tesla said this level of liquidity puts it in a comfortable position as it prepares to launch Model 3 production in China and Model Y production in the US.In Q2, Model 3 deliveries reached an all-time record of 77,634.”Model 3 is approaching sales levels of established premium competitors. As we stated previously, more than 60 per cent of Model 3 trade-ins are non-premium brands, indicating a larger total addressable market for this product than initially expected,” said Tesla. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostThe Model 3 average selling price (ASP) was stable at approximately $50,000.Model S and Model X production continues to run on a single shift schedule, and Tesla produced over 14,500 vehicles in Q2.Gigafactory Shanghai continues to take shape, and in Q2, Tesla started to move machinery into the facility for the first phase of production there.”This will be a simplified, more cost-effective version of our Model 3 line with capacity of 150,000 units per year — the second generation of the Model 3 production process,” said the company.Depending on the timing of the Gigafactory Shanghai ramp, Tesla continues to target production of over 500,000 vehicles globally in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2020.
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday paid her tribute to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his first death anniversary. The Trinamool Congress chief, who had served as the railway minister in Vajpayee-led cabinet, urged people to bear in mind his principles of ‘insaniyat (humanism), jamhooriyat (democracy) and kashmiriyat (inclusive Kashmiri culture)’. “Tribute to Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji, former Prime Minister, on his first death anniversary. Let us recall his words: ‘The gun can solve no problems. Issues can be guided by the three principles of insaniyat, jamhooriyat and kashmiriyat’,” Banerjee tweeted. The former prime minister had based his Kashmir policy on these three principles. Vajpayee died on this day last year at the age of 93
New Delhi: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday attacked the government over the state of the economy and said it should now admit that there is a “historic slowdown” and move towards resolving it. She said the slowdown was for everyone to see and asked till when will the government run by “managing headlines”. “Telling a lie a hundred times does not turn it into truth. The BJP government should accept that there is a historic slowdown in the economy and they should move towards taking measures to resolve it,” she said in a tweet in Hindi. “The slowdown is before everyone. Till when will the government keep running with headline management,” she said. Her attack comes after the GDP growth fell to 5 per cent for the quarter ending June, the lowest reported in over six years.
New Delhi: India and Pakistan on Wednesday decided on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan using the Kartarpur corridor, officials said.However, during the meeting between the two sides at Attari in Amritsar, Pakistan insisted on charging a service fee for allowing pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara, which was not agreeable to the Indian side. Pakistan has also shown its unwillingness to allow the presence of Indian Consular or protocol officials at the Gurdwara premises. Pakistan side was urged to reconsider its position, officials said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsOfficials said the two sides agreed on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan without any restrictions. Persons of Indian origin holding OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card too can visit the Gurdwara using the Kartarpur corridor, official sources said. It was also decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine every day and that additional pilgrims will be allowed on special occasions, subject to capacity expansion of facilities by Pakistan side, the sources said. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayIn November 2018, India and Pakistan had agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak, to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district. Kartarpur is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the Ravi river, about four km from Dera Baba Nanak. “Pakistan has conveyed its solemn commitment to increase this number to the maximum possible,” said a source.
New Delhi: Adani Power on Tuesday said electricity tribunal APTEL has allowed its subsidiary Adani Power Rajasthan to charge a higher cost of coal regarding a 1,200-MW power supply agreement with distribution companies of Rajasthan. The tribunal has allowed the compensation due to the shortage of domestic coal, the company said in a regulatory filing. “Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) has issued a judgement, allowing the claim of compensation for non-availability/shortage in linkage coal supply from Coal India Ltd, and use of alternate coal by the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, APRL in respect of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) of 1200 MW signed with Distribution Companies of Rajasthan,” a BSE filing said. APTEL has allowed compensation for domestic coal shortfall arising from change in law pertaining to the New Coal Distribution Policy, 2007 (NCDP), and the Scheme for Harnessing and Allocating Koyala (Coal) Transparently in India policy of the Government of India (SHAKTI Policy).
OTTAWA – Former overseas hostage Joshua Boyle, awaiting trial on assault charges, is slated to hear Friday whether he’ll be released on bail.Ontario Court Justice Robert Wadden is expected to hand down the decision following a two-day hearing that wrapped up Tuesday.Boyle was arrested by Ottawa police in December and charged with various offences including assault, sexual assault, unlawful confinement and causing someone to take a noxious substance.The charges against Boyle relate to two alleged victims, but a court order prohibits publication of any details that might identify them or any witnesses.Boyle and his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, were seized in 2012 by a Taliban-linked group while on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan.The couple — along with the three children they had during five years in captivity — were freed by Pakistani forces last October.After returning to Canada, the family stayed for several weeks with Boyle’s parents in Smiths Falls, Ont. They had been living in an Ottawa apartment for about a month when Boyle was arrested.An initial evaluation found Boyle fit to stand trial, but he underwent a fuller assessment at a mental health centre in Brockville, Ont. The confidential psychiatric evaluation was completed earlier this spring.Lawrence Greenspon, one of Boyle’s lawyers, said earlier this year his client had been taking medication and that he hoped the treatment would continue once Boyle returned to an Ottawa detention centre.Details of this week’s bail hearing cannot be reported due to a publication ban.Boyle attended high school in Kitchener, Ont., and earned a degree from the University of Waterloo in 2005.He was briefly married to Zaynab Khadr, sister of Toronto-born Omar Khadr, who spent years in a U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after being captured in Afghanistan.In 2011 he married Coleman, who grew up in rural Pennsylvania, during a lengthy trip the pair took to South America.The following year, they set off for Russia and travelled through Central Asia for several months, winding up in strife-torn Afghanistan.In an email sent shortly before their capture, Boyle said he was in an Internet cafe in an “unsafe” part of Afghanistan.In June 2014, Coleman’s family released two videos of their daughter and Boyle in captivity. In the clips, they called on the U.S. government to free them.Another video was posted to YouTube in August 2016. The couple soberly warned they would be killed by the hostage-takers unless Kabul abandoned its policy of executing captured prisoners. They urged Canada and the United States to pressure Afghanistan into changing its policy.The family’s dramatic rescue last October made global headlines and prompted a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
OTTAWA – Canadian privacy could be imperilled by apparent U.S. plans to demand cellphone and social media passwords from foreign visitors, a federal watchdog says.In a letter to the House of Commons public safety committee, privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien warns the recent pronouncements from the Trump administration could mean intrusive searches — even at preclearance facilities in Canada.In February, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly suggested at a hearing that American officials could ask people entering the U.S. about the Internet sites they visit as well as passwords to help assess their online activities.Kelly’s proposal prompted an American coalition of human rights and civil liberties organizations and experts in security, technology and the law to express “deep concern.”The Wall Street Journal reported last month that visitors to the U.S. could be forced to provide cellphone contacts and social-media passwords.Currently, passengers flying to American cities through eight major Canadian airports can be precleared there by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.The Commons public safety committee is studying legislation that would expand preclearance operations.Under the bill, U.S. searches at preclearance facilities would be governed by Canadian law, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.But Therrien says those protections appear to be hollow because they could not be enforced in court due to immunity provisions that significantly limit access to civil remedies for the actions of U.S. border officers carrying out preclearance duties.In many situations, Therrien says in the letter, “it would appear that Canadians who wish to enter the U.S. will, at preclearance locations in Canada as well as at border points in the U.S., have to face the difficult choice of either accepting a search without grounds or forgoing their wish to travel to the U.S.”Under long-standing plans, preclearance is being expanded to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Quebec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport, as well as for rail service in Montreal and Vancouver.In March, Canada and the U.S. agreed to bring preclearance to other, unspecified locations.The Liberal government says the preclearance arrangements would strengthen security and prosperity while ensuring respect for the sovereignty of both countries.Efforts to move people and goods across the 49th parallel more quickly and efficiently have unfolded against a backdrop of uncertainty following Donald Trump’s election in November.The Nexus trusted-traveller cards of about 200 Canadian permanent residents were suddenly cancelled after Trump issued an executive immigration order banning visitors from several largely Muslim countries.There have also been reports of minorities from Canada being turned away at the U.S. border.— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
Highlights from the news file for Wednesday, June 14———GUNMAN WOUNDS U.S. LAWMAKER, THEN KILLED BY POLICE: A Republican-hating gunman who had spewed rage upon U.S. President Donald Trump and his party opened fire on a group of U.S. lawmakers Wednesday, causing a range of injuries in what appeared to be a politically motivated shooting. A senior Republican lawmaker was in critical condition. Steve Scalise is the third-ranking House Republican and the hospital treating him tweeted that his status was more precarious than described earlier by colleagues: “(Representative) Scalise was critically injured and remains in critical condition.” The scene of terror unfolded on a suburban baseball field. Standing along the third-base line, shooter James Hodgkinson sprayed gunfire at a group of congressional Republicans who were practising for their annual baseball game against Democrats. The multi-minute mayhem ended with five injured and one dead: the shooter. A more severe bloodbath was averted because Capitol Hill police were there to return gunfire, holding back the assailant, according to one politician there.———DON’T STAY OVERLY DELAYED TRIALS, SENATORS SAY: The Liberal government needs to establish a different consequence for cases that take too long to make their way through the courts to prevent those accused of sexual assault or murder from walking free without a trial, a Senate committee says. The Supreme Court’s groundbreaking Jordan decision last summer set out a new framework for determining whether a criminal trial has been unreasonably delayed to the point where it has violated an accused’s charter rights. The high court cited a “culture of complacency” as part of the problem, and imposed a ceiling of 30 months for a case to make its way through superior courts, and 18 months for provincial courts. Wednesday’s new Senate committee report points out that a stay of proceedings is currently the only remedy for a trial that goes on too long, and recommends reduced sentences or the awarding of costs as other solutions. The Supreme Court ruling came with a transitional measure for cases already in the system, although a dissenting minority opinion argued the new time limits could lead to thousands of prosecutions being tossed out.———DEATH TOLL RISES TO 12 IN LONDON APARTMENT BUILDING INFERNO: They banged on windows, screamed for help and dropped children from smoky floors in a desperate attempt to save them. Terrified residents of the Grenfell Tower said there was little warning of the inferno that engulfed their highrise apartment building and left 12 people dead — a toll that officials said would almost certainly rise. The blaze early Wednesday in the 24-storey building in west London’s North Kensington district also injured 74 others, 18 of them critically, and left an unknown number missing. A tenants’ group had complained for years about the risk of a fire. More than 200 firefighters worked through the night and were still finding pockets of fire inside later in the day. A huge plume of smoke wafted across the London skyline and left a burned-out hulk in the working class, multi-ethnic neighbourhood. Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said she was “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life” in the fire. Mayor Sadiq Khan said many questions must be answered about safety for the scores of other apartment blocks around the British capital.———SAN FRANCISCO UPS SHOOTING LEAVES 4 DEAD, INCLUDING GUNMAN: A UPS employee opened fire at a San Francisco package delivery facility on Wednesday, killing three employees and then himself as officers closed in, police and the company said. San Francisco assistant police chief Toney Chaplin said at a news conference that two others were wounded in the shooting that prompted a massive police response in an industrial neighbourhood near downtown. Police have not determined a motive. Chaplin said that the shooter was armed with an assault pistol and put the weapon to his head and pulled the trigger when police found him. A UPS statement said the shooter and all the victims were employees. Spokesman Steve Gaut told The Associated Press that the gunman opened fire inside the facility before the drivers were sent out for their daily deliveries. Neighbours said they heard up to eight rapid gunshots.———LARGE WAVE ROLLED WHALE-WATCHING VESSEL, TSB REPORT SAYS: The Transportation Safety Board says a large, breaking wave hit a whale-watching vessel off British Columbia’s coast in October 2015, overturning the boat and dumping passengers and crew into the water. The board makes three recommendations after the fatal capsizing, including that all commercial passenger vessels operating beyond sheltered waters carry emergency radio beacons that indicate their positions. Six people, five Britons and one Australian, died in the capsizing and 21 others were rescued on Oct. 25, 2015, near the resort community of Tofino. The board also recommends that passenger vessels across Canada adopt risk-management processes that identify hazards, such as areas known to have large, breaking waves. The report says search and rescue authorities were not aware of the capsizing for 45 minutes because the crew didn’t have time to transmit a distress call and it was only by chance that they were able to activate a flare, alerting rescuers nearby. In the days after the capsizing, the board said many passengers were standing on the top deck on one side of the ship when a large wave hit the opposite side, rolling the boat and sending the passengers and crew into the water.———HALL OF FAME CFL COACH MATTHEWS DIES AT AGE 77: They called him “The Don,” and with good reason. A larger-than-life character with a sharp wit who thrived in the spotlight, Don Matthews took wicked pleasure in keeping people around him on edge with his abrasive, no-nonsense style. The Hall of Famer, who died Wednesday at the age of 77, was one of the most prolific coaches in CFL history with 231 wins and 10 Grey Cups on his resume. Players traditionally loved suiting up for him because of his reputation for creating a winning atmosphere and protecting his athletes. While known for being a “player’s coach,” he could also be ruthless when it came to making tough personnel decisions and he wasn’t afraid to bench a veteran or cut him outright if he wasn’t producing. “It’s that balance and to do that you must be brilliant,” said running back/slotback Mike (Pinball) Clemons, who won two Grey Cups over three seasons playing for Matthews in Toronto. “Some people try to be a player’s coach but they let it go too far and the players run the roost.”———LA LOCHE SHOOTING WISHED HIS KILLED HIMSELF, HEARING TOLD: A teenager who killed four people and injured seven in the northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche told a case worker that he wished he had killed himself. Christopher Hales told the teen’s sentencing hearing Wednesday that the youth also told him that he got “an extreme scary rush” after pulling the trigger. Hales works at the youth detention centre where the teen has been held since shortly after the January 2016 shooting. Hales told court that the teen slipped a note under the door of his room that said “F–k life” and showed a picture of a stick figure shooting itself in the head. Hales said the teen told him: “I should have shot myself when I had the chance.” The teen pleaded guilty last fall to killing brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine in a home before shooting up the high school where teacher Adam Wood and teacher’s aide Marie Janvier died. The sentencing hearing is to determine if he should be sentenced as an adult or a youth.———MP SAYS RCMP SHOULD HANDLE THUNDER BAY, ONT., DEATHS: Ontario NDP MP Charlie Angus wants Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to ask the Mounties to investigate the deaths of two indigenous young people in Thunder Bay, Ont. In a letter to the minister, Angus says First Nations leaders have also asked the RCMP to intervene in the investigations. The body of a 17-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were found less than two weeks apart in local waterways. On Tuesday, Goodale said municipal policing falls within Ontario’s jurisdiction, adding Ottawa would “respond constructively” if local authorities were to express the need for federal support. Indigenous leaders say children are dying in urban centres like Thunder Bay because they are placed at risk, far from their families, in order to seek education and health care services not offered in remote communities. Last year, an Ontario inquest explored the circumstances surrounding the deaths of seven First Nations high school students that occurred between 2000 and 2011 — all while they were living in Thunder Bay.———SPA’S ‘NO MALE GENITALS’ RULE IGNITES TRANSGENDER DEBATE: Controversy over a female-only spa’s “no male genitals” policy has reignited debate over the rights of transgender people to access traditionally gender-exclusive spaces, even as the federal government pushes stronger protections prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. The uproar over Toronto’s Body Blitz Spa prompted a flurry of complaints on social media, with longtime regular Shelley Marshall among those vowing to boycott the luxurious retreat. Marshall says she tried to bring her transgender friend to the spa last year but was told she would only be welcome at the bathing suit-optional facility if she had undergone sex reassignment surgery. On Wednesday, “Orphan Black” star Tatiana Maslany added her voice to the protest, tweeting that until the spa “changes its policies and is an inclusive space for all women, I’ll no longer be going.” Body Blitz refused to comment on the issue, but released a statement insisting it supports the LGBTQ community. “However, because Body Blitz Spa is a single-sex facility with full nudity, we are not like other facilities. We recognize that this is an important discussion for single-sex facilities to have and we will seek to find a satisfactory resolution,” reads the statement.———TREATY 7 CHIEFS TO LEAD STAMPEDE PARADE: The Calgary Stampede will have not one but seven parade marshals this year. Chiefs of the Treaty 7 First Nations in southern Alberta have been chosen to ride at the head of the parade on July 7. They include three chiefs from the Blackfoot Confederacy, three from the Stoney Nakoda Nations and the chief of the Tsuut’ina Nation. Some 1,800 First Nations people took part in the first Calgary Stampede 105 years ago, president and chairman David Sibbald said Wednesday. “We have had a strong relationship since the beginning of this great festival and we would like to build on that relationship going forward, making our connection even stronger,” he said. Chief Darcy Dixon with the Bearspaw First Nation west of Calgary said the organizer of the first Stampede made a point of making sure indigenous people were able to participate. “It wasn’t until 1912 that we had a person by the name of Guy Weadick who actually went to bat for the nations to talk to the politicians, so that the Indian agents would allow us to travel freely into our own country from the reservations we were put on,” he said.
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – Childhood was never like this.A company in southern Alberta has found an unexpected luxury market that involves the lifestyles of the rich and famous, their offspring and its own reality TV show.Former landscaper Tyson Leavitt launched Charmed Playhouses two years ago after noticing countless houses with big, beautiful yards geared to adults while the kids had to settle for a rickety swingset.So he started building luxury playhouses.“This is a Snow White house and the family has got three kids,” explained Leavitt, 33 as he pointed to the future playhouse which was under construction. “One loves Snow White, one loves Rapunzel and the other one is a boy so he wants a castle.“We combined Snow White and Rapunzel’s house and we’re building this really cool bridge which connects the two over to the castle. The house is going to be really refined because it’s obviously for princesses, while the castle is going to have a dungeon so you can throw some prisoners in there.”The project will sell for about US$40,000.Another treehouse is being built for a couple with six special needs children and includes features to help them with dexterity.“A lot of times clients come to us. They just tell us what they like. We take their ideas, we combine them and they morph into something beautiful by the time we’re done,” said Leavitt.“Our entry level one starts at $3,500 and we’ve done playsets up to $200,000. It really depends on what your budget is and your vision is.”Celebrity clients include NBA most valuable player Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall and Washington National’s slugger Ryan Zimmerman.“I knew it could grow into something great and big but I didn’t imagine the level of clientele I’d be working for. It’s not just celebs — we’ve got amazing families all throughout North America and we’ve shipped stuff over to China which is a travelling set that goes from mall to mall to mall,” he said.“It’s been a crazy ride.”The crazy ride includes the reality TV show ‘Playhouse Masters’ which originally aired on TLC and is now on Animal Planet.Charmed Playhouses started up at the time when Alberta’s economy tanked due to plunging oil prices, but Leavitt said that wasn’t a problem.“A majority of our business is in the U.S. so the recession benefited us because the dollar plummeted and it allowed us to get workers and supplies easily.”The luxury playhouses are completely finished inside, said Leavitt. They feature fireplaces, wainscoting, chandeliers and furniture. No one has asked for indoor plumbing — yet.“Nicer than most houses … legitimately,” Leavitt said with a chuckle.— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter
Eight stories in the news for Wednesday, Sept. 20———PACKED DAY AWAITS PM TRUDEAU IN NEW YORKPrime Minister Justin Trudeau has a packed agenda today in New York City as he prepares for his speech on Thursday before the United Nations General Assembly. He is scheduled to hold bilateral discussions with the leaders of seven countries and take part in the Bloomberg Global Business Forum to discuss trade and the global economy. Trudeau will also participate in an armchair discussion with U.S. philanthropist Melinda Gates before speaking to more than 6,000 young people at WE Day UN.———FREELAND: NO REPORTS OF CANADIAN VICTIMS IN MEXICO QUAKEForeign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says there are no reports of Canadian casualties following a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Mexico. Rescuers and volunteers continue to frantically dig through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings, seeking survivors of Mexico’s deadliest earthquake since 1985 as the number of confirmed fatalities numbered well over 200 early today.———BOMBARDIER WORKERS TO RALLY IN TORONTOThe union representing Bombardier workers says employees at the company’s aerospace plant in Toronto will walk out today — a move meant to pressure Boeing to drop a trade complaint against Bombardier. Unifor national president Jerry Dias says the rally is intended to give workers a voice during the ongoing dispute between the two companies. Boeing has filed a trade complaint accusing Bombardier of selling its C-Series passenger jets to a U.S. airline at an unfairly low price with help from government subsidies.———MULCAIR: IMPORTANT FOR NEW NDP LEADER TO HAVE SEATOutgoing NDP leader Tom Mulcair says it is important for his successor to have a seat in the Commons — an issue playing out in the current battle to replace him. Ontario legislator Jagmeet Singh is the only leadership contender without a federal seat. He is running against three sitting MPs: Ontario’s Charlie Angus, Manitoba’s Niki Ashton and Quebec’s Guy Caron. Referring to Singh, Angus said yesterday that he can’t understand how someone can lack a seat and want a promotion to be prime minister.———CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES TO HOLD FIRST DEBATEFour men vying for the leadership of Alberta’s new United Conservative Party will take part in their first debate tonight in Calgary. Jason Kenney, Brian Jean, Doug Schweitzer and Jeff Callaway will be looking to persuade party members that they have what it takes to topple Rachel Notley’s majority NDP government in the next election. There will be four more debates — in Edmonton, Red Deer, Fort McMurray and Lethbridge — before party members pick a leader next month.———FUNERAL TODAY FOR MOUNTIE KILLED IN COLLISIONA regimental funeral will be held today in Moncton, New Brunswick for a Mountie who was killed last week when he stopped to help motorists change a tire on an SUV. Const. Frank Deschenes of the Nova Scotia RCMP was helping two people when a cargo van plowed into his cruiser near Memramcook, N.B. Deschenes — known or his efforts to get drivers to slow down when driving past emergency vehicles — had just gotten married this summer.———HOSPITAL RECEIVES RECORD DONATIONThe Peter and Melanie Munk Charitable Foundation has donated another $100 million to the Toronto cardiac centre bearing the Barrick Gold founder’s name — the largest single charitable contribution ever to a Canadian hospital. The donation brings the foundation’s support of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and the University Health Network where it is housed to more than $175 million since 1993.———LABATT PLANS $460M INVESTMENT IN CANADALabatt Breweries of Canada says it will pour $460 million into its operations between 2017 and 2020 to help boost growth. The maker of such brands such as Labatt Blue, Budweiser and Alexander Keith’s says the figure includes $62.2 million towards brewery operations this year. Labatt employs more than 3,500 people in Canada and will celebrate its 170th anniversary this fall.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— A court hearing is scheduled in St. Jerome, Que., for a man involved in an Amber Alert this week involving his 6-year-old son.— Sentencing hearing in Calgary for Allan Shyback, found guilty of manslaughter in the 2012 death of his partner Lisa Mitchell.— The federal Liberal, New Democrats and Conservatives will hold national caucus meetings in Ottawa.— Statistics Canada will release July stats on travel between Canada and other countries.— Gov. Gen. David Johnston and Sharon Johnston welcome Canadian athletes who will compete in the Toronto 2017 Invictus Games.
HAMILTON – A southwestern Ontario television reporter is speaking out about the stream of harassment she faces at work after misogynistic comments were hurled her way three times last week.CHCH reporter Britt Dixon says female reporters deal with harassment regularly while on the job, highlighted by three incidents over four days last week where men yelled a vulgar phrase at her.The latest incident occurred as Dixon interviewed a Hamilton police officer in uniform in front of a police station.The officer stopped the interview and arrested the man, charging a 23-year-old American with causing a disturbance.Dixon says the other two incidents occurred while she was at Mohawk College talking to students about returning to school after the five-week faculty strike.The college has apologized to Dixon and is conducting an investigation.“I’d like to think the strong stance that both the college has taken and police have taken will hopefully get a message across to people that it’s not funny, it’s unacceptable and it shouldn’t be happening,” she said.Dixon said she was talking to Hamilton police media officer Jerome Stewart about victims of impaired driving when the man allegedly yelled the remark around 3 p.m. on Friday.Yet she’s been criticized for going public with her message.“Some people think it’s a joke, but it’s harassment in the workplace,” Dixon said.“Those people are harassing me at my workplace. I don’t think people would go into a bank or an office and shout that and expect to get away with it.”There’s been a slew of similar incidents across the country.In August, police charged a Newfoundland man with causing a disturbance after he yelled the phrase at a reporter. Police laid a mischief charge against another Newfoundland man who yelled the same thing toward a journalist in April.And in 2015, a Toronto FC soccer fan shouted the phrase during an interview with CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt. His friend laughed, dismissing the comment as a joke.That man was fired by Hydro One after the station aired the video. He was later rehired as part of an arbitration process, Hydro One said at the time.
HALIFAX – Supporters of a former Somali child refugee facing deportation called on the Nova Scotia government to intervene on his behalf Tuesday, although it appears the appeal fell on deaf ears.The group, which includes Abdoul Abdi’s sister Fatuma Abdi, held a news conference Tuesday at the provincial legislature.Abdi, who was not granted Canadian citizenship while growing up in foster care in Nova Scotia, was detained by the Canada Border Services Agency after serving five years in prison for multiple offences, including aggravated assault.A deportation hearing for the young man is scheduled to begin Wednesday in Toronto, after a Federal Court judge rejected a bid to delay the process,“I think that it is really unfair of the government to deport my brother, all because the Department of Community Services failed both of us on getting our Canadian citizenship,” said Fatuma Abdi. “They are not taking responsibility for it and that angers me on his behalf.”When asked during question period whether the province would oppose Abdi’s deportation, Community Services Minister Kelly Regan would only say the province had been in contact with federal officials.“We have done everything possible to assist,” she told the legislature.Premier Stephen McNeil later said the province hadn’t moved to directly intercede on Abdi’s behalf.McNeil said his government had told federal officials the province provides children under its care with information about citizenship.“We provide all of the options but we can’t force someone to do anything,” he said. “In some cases, we would keep children into adulthood … we would ensure that they would recognize that this (citizenship) is an option, but they need to make that decision on their own.”Sociologist Robert Wright said there should be a review of the treatment of black children and immigrants in Nova Scotia’s child welfare system.“Though his (Abdi’s) fate seems now to be in the hands of federal public safety and immigration authorities, we must not forget that his troubles began through the systemic failures he experienced within the provincial child-welfare system,” said Wright.Wright said Abdi entered provincial care shortly after arriving in Canada at the age of six. He was subsequently shifted 31 times between foster homes, while losing his native language and developing behavioural problems that were not adequately treated, he said.Those problems led to problems with justice system, where the earlier failure to secure citizenship now means he faces deportation.The group made six recommendations for Ottawa and the province aimed at preventing the same thing from happening again.They include implementation of a policy that ensures all immigrant children in care acquire citizenship, and reforms to the Citizenship Act to eliminate barriers for children in care.When McNeil was asked about the call for a review of the treatment of minority children, he sidestepped the specific question and pointing to his support for the inquiry into decades of alleged abuse at a former Halifax orphanage — the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children.“It is about the issue of minorities coming into care and how they have been treated,” he said.Abdi was born in Saudi Arabia in 1993. After his parents divorced, his mother — fearing persecution if she returned to Somalia — fled to Djibouti, where the family obtained refugee status.His biological mother died in the refugee camp when he was four, and two years later he came to Canada with his sister and aunts.
OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau is expected Friday to put a woman in charge of the RCMP, signalling a culture change in the national police force which has been beset by complaints about sexual harassment and discrimination against female officers.Sources say the prime minister will name Brenda Lucki as the new commissioner of the Mounties during a visit to the RCMP training academy at Regina’s Depot division, where Lucki is currently the commanding officer.A 31-year veteran of the force, Lucki has also served in the former Yugoslavia and assisted in the United Nations civilian police mission in Haiti.She has received numerous commendations over the years, including a United National Force Commander’s commendation for bravery, two UN protection forces medals, and the Canadian peacekeeping service medal.According to her RCMP biography, she is also a member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces in recognition of her work to improve relations with First Nations.Lucki’s appointment comes amid continuing embarrassing revelations about sexism and sexual misconduct in RCMP ranks, one year after commissioner Bob Paulson apologized for discrimination against female officers and agreed to a $100-million settlement of two class-action lawsuits.It also comes at a time when the force’s relations with Indigenous people are particularly strained.The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP this week launched an investigation into how the Mounties handled the death of Colten Boushie, an Indigenous youth who was shot by a Saskatchewan farmer after driving onto his property. The farmer, Gerald Stanley, was acquitted last month, prompting accusations of bias against Indigenous people by both the police and the justice system as a whole.The appointment follows the creation last year of an independent, non-partisan selection committee, headed by former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna, which earlier this year recommended three contenders for the top job.In coming up with the short list of highly qualified candidates, the committee was specifically instructed to “seek to support the government of Canada’s commitments to gender parity and representativeness of diversity” in its appointment process.Lucki will become the first woman to permanently take the helm of the RCMP; Beverley Busson held the post on an interim basis for six months in 2007.
VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s Prosecution Service is considering criminal charges against dozens of people arrested for protesting Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.But it will be up to a pair of newly appointed special prosecutors to determine whether charges will be laid against Green party Leader Elizabeth May and New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart.May, Stewart and several others were arrested on March 23 and charged with civil contempt of court over allegations that they protested within five metres of two Trans Mountain construction sites in Burnaby, B.C., despite a court injunction prohibiting the action.The prosecution service says in a statement that it has conducted a general review of the cases and concluded that criminal contempt proceedings are warranted for those who were arrested after breaching the injunction.The announcement comes after B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck called last week for criminal charges to be laid against demonstrators alleged to have violated the court injunction.The prosecution service said in a statement Monday that Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peter Juk has determined that appointing special prosecutors in the cases against May and Stewart are in the public interest.
MELFORT, Sask. – The case of a Calgary truck driver charged in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash has been adjourned until October.Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, who is 29, is charged with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily injury.Sidhu did not appear in court in Melfort, Sask., and his lawyer was connected by phone.Sidhu was released on $1,000 bail in July under conditions he not drive and surrender his passport.Sixteen people, including 10 players, were killed and 13 players were injured when the junior hockey team’s bus and a transport truck driven by Sidhu crashed at a rural Saskatchewan intersection on April 6.The team was on its way to a playoff game.Sidhu was not hurt in the crash.
MONTREAL – The percentage of women seeking office in Quebec’s fall election has jumped to 40 per cent, the highest in the province’s history.With registration now closed, Elections Quebec says it’s the first time the province has reached the “parity zone” when it comes to gender representation.Quebec solidaire boasts the most female candidates with 66, while the Coalition Avenir Quebec leads the three major parties with 65 women compared to 60 men.The Quebec Liberal Party, the Coalition, the Parti Quebecois and Quebec solidaire will all be running a full slate of 125 candidates.Other contenders include the Conservative party of Quebec with 101 candidates, the greens with 97, and the Quebec NDP with 59.There will be a total of 940 candidates on the ballot on Oct 1., compared to 814 four years ago.
Monday, Nov. 12:— In the morning, school administrators receive a video of a hazing incident, which police sources say involved members of the basketball team bullying a student in the washroom and soaking him with water.— The school launches an internal investigation and interviews the students involved and their parents.— The school contacts police to seek advice on how to handle the incident. Police advise that if the alleged victim thinks it was an assault, he should report it to police.— In the evening, the administration receives a video of a second incident, which police sources say involved a group of students on the football team pinning down another student in a locker room and allegedly sexually assaulting him with a broom handle. Thursday Nov. 15:— Police dispute the school’s claim that the administration contacted police about the alleged sexual assault on Monday.— The school is made aware of a third incident captured on video and notifies police, which later said it also involved an alleged sexual assault.— The school sends another email to parents about the incidents and the expulsions. Friday, Nov. 16— The school holds two information sessions for parents regarding the incidents. Tuesday, Nov. 13:— The school investigates both incidents, identifies and interviews all students involved and their parents.— Four students allegedly involved in the hazing incident are expelled. TORONTO — Here’s a timeline of events at St. Michael’s College School based on information provided by the school and Toronto police: With Ont-School-Investigation, The Canadian Press Sunday, Nov. 18:— Principal Greg Reeves says in a series of media interviews that the school has reported a fourth incident captured on video to police.— Reeves admits he didn’t report the alleged sexual assault to police on Monday because the victim had not yet informed his parents about the incident.Monday, Nov. 19:— Police say six boys have been arrested in connection with the alleged sexual assault at St. Michael’s — five of them turned themselves in, a sixth one was arrested on the way to school.— Police say they’re investigating three additional three incidents, including one involving an alleged sexual assault. They warn the ongoing investigation could lead to more charges.— The accused — aged 14 and 15 years old — appear in a youth court and are granted bail. Wednesday, Nov. 14:— The school continues its internal investigation and expels four students and suspends another one in connection with the locker room incident.— Toronto police receive media inquiries about a video of an alleged sexual assault at St. Michael’s circulating on social media.— Police send an officer to the school. Prior to the officer’s arrival, police receive word from the media regarding the expulsions of students related to an alleged “sexual assault involving an object.”— The officer meets with the principal, who hands over the video of the alleged sexual assault.— Police announce they have launched an investigation into an alleged sexual assault.— Police announce the video meets the definition of child pornography and advise it should be deleted immediately.— The school emails parents and issues a statement saying it notified police about both incidents on Monday.
VANCOUVER — A British Columbia Supreme Court judge says jurors will need to use their common sense in assessing the reliability of an alleged confession by a man accused of killing a 12-year-old girl.In final instructions to the jury, Justice Austin Cullen says an undercover police officer posing as a crime boss provided financial and social inducements to Garry Handlen but the man was never threatened.Handlen has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Monica Jack near her home in Merritt in 1978.Her remains were found 17 years later, near where Handlen told the supposed crime boss that he sexually assaulted and killed her.The RCMP began a so-called Mr. Big sting in early 2014, falsely telling Handlen police had DNA linking him to Jack’s murder and witnesses could place him at the crime scene but “things could be done to take care of it” if he told the truth.The trial began in October and jurors are expected to start deliberations on Monday.The Canadian Press