Month: October 2019

BlackBerry shares fall below 10 for first time since November amid renewed

TORONTO — BlackBerry shares closed below $10 for the first time since last year on Wednesday, a day after the smartphone maker’s chief executive encouraged investors to remain patient while the company navigates its recovery plan.[np_storybar title=”BlackBerry hunts for fresh partnerships to boost market share as devotees dwindle” link=”″%5D [/np_storybar]The Waterloo, Ont.-based company’s stock ended the session down nearly four per cent, or 40 cents, to $9.80 at the Toronto Stock Exchange.The stock last closed below $10 on Nov. 20 and reached a 52-week high of $17.80 in January, around the time that its new smartphones were unveiled.BlackBerry has faced a heightened level of scrutiny since it posted quarterly results last month that fell short of analysts’ largely optimistic expectations.A growing sentiment between analysts has focused on whether BlackBerry will be able to successfully recover from its past blunders any time soon, particularly because even some of the industry’s most popular smartphone developers are running into headwinds. Both Samsung and HTC recently posted quarterly sales reports that fell short of expectations.While Heins has hinted at products that could hit stores before the end of this year, the company hasn’t announced anything specific. It’s widely expected that the company will unveil a phablet — a smaller-sized tablet device — designed to fill the void left by its decision to no longer update the PlayBook.“They are wanting to launch products at a measured pace, but time is of the essence and we believe the company would be better served with shorter product cycles,” said Bill Kreher, a technology analyst with financial services firm Edward Jones in an interview.“In the smartphone category today you need to be front-of-mind with consumers, which requires consistent rollouts to keep you relevant.”Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette said the high-end smartphone market is facing a point of “general saturation” that could weigh on BlackBerry’s attempt to gain a stronger position.The launch of the lower-priced BlackBerry Q5 smartphone in the UK has fallen short of expectations with sales of roughly 5,000 devices, according to Faucette’s checks with retailers.The numbers are not official and BlackBerry does not release specific sales figures for its devices.Faucette also said U.K. retailer Phones 4U has sent back their stock of Blackberry Z10 phones from “as many as a third” of its locations and doesn’t plan to stock it any longer.“We believe BlackBerry is at risk of similar behaviour from other retailers and in other regions in the coming quarters, which we believe would impede the company’s ability to regain scale,” he said in a note, with an underperform rating on the company.“Checks indicate continued deterioration of BlackBerry’s business. We see downside to $6 per share and remain sellers.”Emails to UK.. representatives of Phones 4U were not answered on Wednesday and a BlackBerry spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.On Tuesday, Heins outlined BlackBerry’s strategy to become profitable once again at the company’s annual meeting.The three-stage plan included pushing ahead with new products yet to be unveiled, focusing more on corporate customers, and opening the BlackBerry Messenger service to competing devices like Apple’s iPhone and smartphones on the Android operating system later this summer.From there, Heins said the company aims to return to profitability, which he called the third stage of the plan, but he stopped short of predicting when that would happen.Sales of BlackBerry’s new smartphones in the United States have been considered underwhelming by analysts, and shareholders expressed their concerns on Tuesday about the company’s position in the highly-competitive U.S. market at the annual meeting.Heins said he is aware that investors expect “better results and faster progress from us.”Last month, BlackBerry parted ways with Richard Piasentin, who was responsible for the management of its sales in the United States. The company is also working to save further costs throughout its operations.The Canadian Press read more

TSX advances as Loblaw moves to buy Shoppers Drug Mart Chinese data

The Toronto stock market was higher Monday, led by strength in the consumer staples sector after grocery giant Loblaw Cos. Ltd. announced plans to buy Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. for $12.4 billion in cash and stock.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 86.28 points to 12,548.46.In a related move, Loblaw’s majority owner, George Weston Ltd. (TSX:WN) will subscribe for 10.5 million additional shares of the grocer for $47.55, the closing price for Loblaw shares on Friday. Proceeds from the Weston stock purchase will be used to pay a portion of the Shoppers purchase.Traders also applauded the deal, sending Loblaw shares up $4.08 or 8.58 per cent to $51.63 while George Weston climbed $4.92 to $88.20.Loblaw is offering $33.18 in cash plus about six-tenths of a Loblaw common share for each Shoppers Drug Mart common share. Shoppers shares surged $12.84 or 26.59 per cent to $61.24 as holders of Shoppers stock also have the option of receiving $61.54 cash but the amount of cash is capped at $6.7 billion and the number of shares is capped at 119.9 million.The Canadian dollar was down 0.13 of a cent 96.06 cents US.U.S. indexes were lacklustre despite better than expected earnings from banking giant Citigroup. Both the Dow industrials and S&P 500 closed at fresh record highs on Friday, and on Monday the Dow edged up 9.79 points to 15,474.09, the Nasdaq composite index was 2.98 points higher to 3,603.06 while the S&P 500 index rose one point to 1,681.19.Other data showed that U.S. retail sales increased last month. While overall sales were up, much of that increase was driven by higher gas prices and volatile auto sales. Core retail sales rose just 0.15 per cent, the weakest showing since January.The report from the Commerce Department showed some weakness at retail stores, particularly department stores.Citigroup turned in earnings of US$1.25 a share, ex-items, which beat analyst forecasts of $1.17. Its shares were up almost two per cent. Citigroup shares climbed 52 cents to $51.33.The strong showing followed earnings on Friday from JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo that also beat forecasts.There was also relief that a slowdown in China’s economic growth wasn’t as sharp as previously thought. The world’s second-largest economy grew 7.5 per cent from a year earlier in the second quarter, slowing from the previous quarter’s 7.7 per cent, as weak trade and a clampdown on lending took their toll.A clampdown on risky lending at state banks had contributed to worries that China’s growth might fall below seven per cent.Other data showed that growth in Chinese factory output slowed to 9.3 per cent for the first half of the year, down 0.2 percentage points from the first quarter’s rate. And retail sales growth decelerated to 12.7 per cent for the first quarter, declining by 1.7 percentage points from a year earlier.However, signs of slowing Chinese growth depressed other commodity prices. Oil retreated with the August contract on the Nymex down 30 cents to US$105.65 a barrel.Oil is up about 10 per cent so far this month, jolted higher by unexpectedly sharp drops in U.S. crude and gasoline inventories, which suggest stronger demand. The energy sector was up 0.04 per cent.The September copper contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange down three cents to US$3.13 a pound. The base metals sector was off 0.4 per cent. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) declined 30 cents to $15.48.The utilities group was the strongest gainer next to the consumer staples group which houses Loblaw, Shoppers and George Weston, up 0.85 per cent. Just Energh Group (TSX:JE) rose 12 cents to $6.95.The industrials component was ahead 0.7 per cent as Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) advanced $1.23 to $132.96.The financials group was ahead 0.5 per cent while Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) improved by 24 cents to $18.20.The TSX gold sector was slightly lower while August bullion gained $5.90 to US$1,283.50 an ounce.Endeavour Silver Corp. (TSX:EDR) were up 30 cents or 8.89 per cent to $3.67 after the miner said it is adjusting its second quarter revenue upward, saying the figure reported on July 10 was 12 per cent lower than it should have been. The revised revenues for Q2 are $71.3 million, up 76 per cent from $40.5 million in the same quarter last year. The company attributes the change to the marking to market of certain concentrate sales that had already received final pricing during the quarter.North American markets ended last week with strong gains after U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke reassured markets that the U.S. needs a “highly accommodative monetary policy,” or low interest rates, for the foreseeable future. The Fed is buying $85 billion a month in bonds to keep interest rates low.In other corporate news, Fiera Properties Ltd., a joint-venture between Fiera Capital Corp. (TSX:FSZ) and Fiera Properties’ management team, is launching a diversified open-ended property fund. The Fiera Properties CORE Fund will be managed by Fiera Properties’ real estate portfolio management team. Fiera Capital shares added 13 cents to $12.08.European bourses advanced with London’s FTSE 100 index ahead 0.59 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX rose 0.17 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 was up 0.56 per cent. read more

Quebec Newfoundland and Labrador face pension risk Moodys

TORONTO — Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador face the biggest pension risk among Canadian provinces due to large shortfalls in their pension funds, ratings agency Moody’s says.Moody’s said Thursday that Saskatchewan also has a large pension deficit, but noted it has closed its defined-benefit plans and takes a pay-as-you-go approach to funding them.“In both Quebec and in Newfoundland and Labrador, relatively large unfunded pension liabilities pose a challenge as they are likely to continue to rise for multiple reasons,” Moody’s analyst Michael Yake wrote in a report.The report said average asset returns have been lower since 2008-09, while the discount rates which are used to calculate liabilities have fallen and the average life expectancy of pensioners is rising.Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest ratio of unfunded liabilities to revenues at 55%, while Quebec stood at 49%, it said.Ontario was the best positioned as the only province with a small surplus.“We believe that credit risk tied to pensions is manageable because of the relatively small size of unfunded liabilities as a share of revenue and because we expect the provinces that are facing the highest liabilities to enact reforms,” Yake wrote.“If they do not, then credit risk could rise.”The provinces are not alone in facing the problem of underfunded pensions in the wake of the financial crisis.Several of the biggest names in corporate Canada also face deficits in their employee pension plans, forcing them to put millions into the plans.Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian National Railway, Bell Canada, MTS Allstream, Canada Post and NAV Canada have all lobbied Ottawa in hopes of gaining some measure of funding relief for their pension plans.Air Canada struck a deal earlier this year to give it some help, but the relief came with rules that set limits on executive pay and prevent it from paying dividends to shareholders and buying back stock. read more

Cineplex Entertainment plans to launch complex featuring live performances arcade games

Cineplex Entertainment is looking beyond Hollywood with a new concept that combines arcade games and live performances.The country’s biggest movie theatre chain said Monday it plans to launch The Rec Room later this year in Edmonton as part of a pilot project that will ramp up to a bigger expansion.Each location will have space for a restaurant and bar, as well as an array of entertainment options, like an arcade and an auditorium for live music and comedians.The company is also considering other games like bowling, billiards and ping pong.The idea is in the vein of restaurant and arcade chains in the United States like Latitude 360 and Dave and Buster’s.“When you look at Canada we really don’t have a location-based social environment where people can game, have a meal, watch [sports], all of those kinds of things that create a destination,” chief executive Ellis Jacob said in an interview.“It allows us to capitalize on our strength, from our infrastructure to the assets we’ve built up.”Box office flops like Sex Tape and Blended cut into Cineplex’s bottom lineCineplex looks to diversify business as fourth-quarter profit falls 38%The first Rec Room will open late this year adjacent to an existing Cineplex theatre at the South Edmonton Common shopping centre.Another 10 to 15 locations will follow in major cities across the country over the next several years, though they won’t necessarily be next to a movie theatre, Jacob said.Cineplex already operates 18 Xscape Entertainment Centres with popular arcade games and billiards. Some of the locations also have lounges with liquor licences.What makes The Rec Room different is the broader game and food selection, and the large digital screens, Mr. Jacob said.He hopes Cineplex can tap into the rising popularity of video game tournaments on the big screen, where audiences gather to battle each other playing Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4 games.Cineplex also owns an advertising business and premium-priced movie theatres. The company has been focused on diversifying its business to lessen the impact of the volatile movie industry, which thrives on blockbuster hits but falters when a big movie tanks.Last month, Cineplex backed out of screening the controversial Seth Rogen movie The Interview when hackers threatened terrorist attacks at theatres showing the comedy.While Cineplex said it only planned to postpone screenings, the company decided against showing it at all when Sony Pictures made The Interview available to rent and buy online.The Canadian Press read more

Go big Inside the 24million federal plan to market Canadian oil

WASHINGTON — The multimillion-dollar campaign to market Canadian oil in the U.S. was hard to miss.The Maple Leaf was plastered on the walls of subway stops in Washington, D.C., and it popped up in all sorts of American publications with messages like, “America’s Best Energy Partner,” and “Friends and Neighbors.”Documents obtained by The Canadian Press offer a peek at the behind-the-scenes strategic considerations in 2013, as the federal government conducted a $1.6-million U.S. ad campaign that grew into a $24-million, two-year program that wraps up this month.The records, released under the Access to Information Act, reveal the websites to be shunned as advertising outlets; the Internet search words that would trigger a Canadian energy ad; the coveted locations for billboards in Washington, D.C.; the rejected proposals; and the U.S. ad salespeople who angled for a slice of the publicity pie.Throughout the two-year campaign, the Keystone pipeline issue remained unresolved. But that doesn’t mean it failed, defenders say. In fact, the ads didn’t mention Keystone. The original call for tenders spelled out the mission: to defend Canadian energy’s reputation against hostile groups and lawmakers threatening anti-oilsands measures in the U.S. and Europe.One proposed weapon for fighting back: pop-up ads.Someone whose name was blacked out proposed using so-called takeover or roadblock ads that would monopolize people’s computer screens: “If we’re going to do this right, we might as well go big.”But a marketing manager at Natural Resources Canada suggested a more delicate balance. “We’ve attempted to maximize our non-standard presence — without being offensive,” he replied.The subway posters were designed to grab the right people’s attention, but there was some initial disappointment on that score. Space was snapped up at two downtown D.C. metro stations, but the most coveted spots close to Capitol Hill were unavailable. There were many conversations about websites.LinkedIn was used, then dropped because of a disappointing click-count. Buzzfeed was interesting but the marketing manager at Natural Resources didn’t want federal ads appearing underneath glib headlines with acronyms like LOL, OMG and WTF: “I’m a bit weary of their content,” he wrote.He warned against using Facebook: “I think it’s dangerous.” Aggressively partisan news sites were dropped, with Drudge Report and MSNBC turfed in favour of the more centrist National Journal.Google was embraced. The campaign identified more than 250 terms that, when plugged into the ubiquitous search engine, would elicit a Canadian energy ad. The search terms included “Keystone,” “Canadian oil,” “Alberta oil,” “tarsands,” “greenhouse gas emissions” — and less-obvious ones about Saudi Arabian and Venezuelan environmental policy.One famous term was apparently rejected. “I do not suspect Google will approve Obama as a (keyword),” said an ad-buyer from M5, one of the agencies working on the project. “Just giving you a heads up.”For print ads, there were clear conditions. Spots were not to appear next to any anti-Keystone editorials or ads. Space was purchased in the Economist, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Forbes editions on three continents and in publications in Beijing, Shanghai, London and Brussels.U.S. ad-sellers took notice. They began calling with various pitches, and the correspondence shows that Canadian officials discussed ways to politely turn them down.One unsuccessful pitch involved an ambitious project with an eight-page advertising spread in the New Yorker and a Washington event featuring policy-makers. When warned of the catch, the steep price tag, a Canadian diplomat responded: “That’s quite an expensive catch.”Another idea considered, and rejected, was to turn Washington city buses into wraparound ads.There were funds for advocacy — available to cover travel and hotel costs for people who might have some influence in a public discussion about Canadian resources. There was opposition research. The embassy kept tabs on the work of environmentalists such as billionaire Tom Steyer and on the number of YouTube clicks for an anti-Keystone video featuring Robert Redford.An internal memo to Washington embassy staff told them to stick to talking points if they were asked about the ads during a diplomatic reception.Among the official lines: natural resources support 1.8 million Canadian jobs, they account for almost one-fifth of the country’s economic activity, and the ads were a timely and appropriate endorsement of the sector.So was the campaign successful?A separate budget was used for gauging the public response — $58,335 for an initial focus group and $49,393 later for a poll.The poll showed most D.C. respondents had seen the ads. They didn’t quite agree, however, on what they’d seen. The most popular takeaway message, at 17 percent, was that Canada and the U.S. were friends and energy partners. Building Keystone XL got 11 percent.One federal official says the ads were never designed to sway people about Keystone. They were there to spread a broader message people could remember and repeat, about an energy partnership with Canada.“The ads were there to help create the political space for a (Keystone) approval.” read more

Bank of Canada daily avg for the Cdn dollar 7996 cents US

The average value for the Canadian dollar on Tuesday was 79.96 cents US, up 0.04 of a cent from Monday.The U.S. dollar was at C$1.2507, down 0.05 of a cent.Pound sterling was at C$1.6319, up 0.16 of a cent, and US$1.3048, up 0.18 of a cent.The Euro was at C$1.4592, up 0.27 of a cent.Quotations provided by the Bank of Canada.

Suspect in human smuggling arrested

Of the 269 people who were stranded in Togo 103 have already returned to Sri Lanka and statements have been recorded from 8 of them.The Colombo Fraud Bureau is conducting further investigations. The police said that a key suspect, who was involved in sending 45 of the 269 Sri Lankan illegal immigrants stranded in Togo, has been arrested from Wellawatte.According to the police, the suspect is a resident of Trincomalee and he had masterminded the operation to send 45 people to Togo on the promise of taking them to Canada. A group of 269 Tamils were promised asylum in Canada and were charged between Rs. 800,000 and Rs. 1 million before they were eventually stranded in Togo by the human smugglers. The police said that initial investigations led to the arrest of a suspect last month and further investigations resulted in one of the masterminds being arrested on Friday.According to the police media unit, the suspect arrested on Friday was produced in court today and remanded. The police also said that the human smuggling ring leader, identified as Vellupillai Waradan, is evading arrest and is believe to be residing in Canada. read more

Ship anchored off Panadura begins sinking

If the ship sinks the oil could harm a vast area of marine life and also get washed ashore in Panadura and adjoining areas and pose a threat to other forms of life as well. The vessel was found drifting off the coast of Panadura three years ago and had been anchored there since, pending the outcome of a Court case. MV Thermopylae Sierra was detained over a dispute on its cargo and with the court case dragging the condition of the ship had been deteriorating.Engineers were kept on board the vessel but they withdrew saying they had not been given food or other facilities. (Report by Indika Sri Aravinda) A foreign ship anchored off Panadura for the past three years has begun sinking, a ship engineer told the Colombo Gazette today.Second Engineer M. Muheen said that a  nearby navy camp had informed the engineers to take urgent measures to prevent the ship from sinking as that could result in an oil leak. However the engineers have refused to address the issue as they have not been paid their dues by the owning company of the vessel. read more

We have low quality politicians

Likewise, he says having similar competition between the state and private sector health service is also good for the people.Minister Sirisena also said that health workers, including doctors, should be rated based on their performance to ensure they are of high standards. (Colombo Gazette) “Like when picking a hospital or when picking a company, if we pick politicians based on their standards then we need to give them a quality certification,” he said. He noted that at the end of the day a high quality product or service will benefit the people.The Minister also noted that having competition like in the passenger bus service between the private and state operations, helps increase the quality and standards of that service. Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena says Sri Lankan politicians should be certified for their standards like products are certified by the standards institute, as there are several low quality politicians in the country.A Health Ministry statement quoted the Minister as saying that in society the issue of quality gets priority. The Minister said that when the quality is low one can only expect low quality work like in some hospitals. read more

MOD claims Uthayan orchestrated attack

Meanwhile the army rejected allegations that troops in Jaffna may have carried out the attack. “The setting fire to Uthayan newspaper printing office has been an inside job to tarnish the government’s image,” he said. He said that according to preliminary investigations carried out by the authorities the damage caused by the latest attack is not excessive.“Only three paper rolls are partially burnt along with few papers, no damage to any printing machines, and power supply has been interrupted due to heat. When power is restored the paper can resume its operations, perhaps today itself,” he said.“As things appear, it is obvious that the publicity gained by the paper through this alleged attack on its printing press is enormous. The local as well as international political mileage that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), as well as other international pro LTTE organizations propagating the ideology of establishing a separate state in Sri Lanka, gain by way of discrediting the Government and Military is much greater than the physical damage. This publicity will surely be used by them to support their widespread claims that international interference is essential for local reconciliation,” the army spokesman added. (Colombo Gazette) The Ministry of Defence (MOD) claims the attack on the Uthayan office in Jaffna early this morning was an inside job.Director General of the Media Center for National Security Lakshman Hulugalla was quoted on the MOD website as saying that the attack was carried out in an attempt to tarnish the image of the government. Army spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said the military is duty bound to protect the constitutional rights and freedom of expression is one of the guaranteed rights.“The Military has no requirement to engage in acts against freedom of expression. There are a large number of different media institutions in Sri Lanka and anyone following what is published/broadcasted/telecasted would know that criticism on Government as well as Military are very common,” he said. read more

Venezuelan arrested after swallowing cocaine at airport

She was later admitted to the Negombo hospital and is under customs supervision. (Colombo Gazette) A Venezuelan national was arrested at the Katunayake airport and has been admitted to hospital after she swallowed cocaine.The Venezuelan, a 62 year old female, was arrested by the staff of the Customs Narcotics Unit after she arrived from Brazil via Dubai. She is suspected to have swallowed 87 pellets of cocaine weighing more than 500g, the customs department said.Customs officers produced the foreigner before the Negombo Magistrate who remanded her for 14 days. read more

UN Committee orders Sri Lanka to compensate torture victim

“We are thrilled with the committee’s conclusions,” said Matt Eisenbrandt, legal director of the CCIJ, which urged Sri Lankan to “immediately implement” the obligations set out in the decision.A refugee from Sri Lanka, Samathanam traveled to Colombo during a 2007 lull in the country’s civil war to marry. But police raided his home and seized 600 mobile phones he had helped import from Singapore for a friend’s business. He said after he refused to pay a bribe to police he was taken to a Terrorism Investigation Division detention centre, where he was branded a “Canadian Tiger” and subjected to abuses.He was locked up under the authority of controversial anti-terrorism measures. The order authorizing his detention accused him of “acting in a manner prejudicial to national security.”Initially accused of importing “high tech communication and radar equipment” for the Tamil rebels, he was later accused of plotting to assassinate VIPs. But it was all untrue, he said.While in custody, he was handcuffed in painful positions, slapped, kicked, struck with rifles, beaten with pipes, threatened with death and told his wife would be arrested and raped unless he confessed. He eventually pleaded guilty to a single count of illegally importing an electronic device and paid a fine. He returned to Canada in April 2011 and testified before the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights. A Toronto man who was imprisoned and tortured while visiting Sri Lanka must be compensated for the abuses he suffered, the United Nations Human Rights Committee has ruled.The decision calls for Sri Lanka to prosecute those responsible and “provide adequate compensation” to Roy Samathanam, a Canadian who had filed a complaint with the committee three years ago, The National Post reported. Samathanam, 46, called the ruling handed down in Geneva “a measure of justice” in a statement to be released Monday by the Canadian Centre for International Justice, which worked with him on the complaint. The case is another rebuke of Sri Lanka arising from abuses committed by security forces during the country’s long civil war that ended in 2009 with the defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels. Allegations that Sri Lanka committed atrocities during the conflict have long been dismissed by the Commonwealth nation, but videos and photos that appear to show victims of executions have surfaced, along with first-hand accounts of rape and torture. (Colombo Gazette) read more

JR has said he was forced to sign deal with India

Interestingly, the then President opened up to Mr. Galbraith and said he would hold elections in the Tamil-populated northern and eastern provinces in Sri Lanka. Polls were finally held in November 1988.Mr. Galbraith also provides an insight into the relations between the IPKF and the Sri Lankan Army (SLA), and the ground situation in the Jaffna peninsula after being flown to the area during his visit.“…the IPKF and the Sri Lankan forces are getting on well together, and…the situation in Jaffna, while still far from normal, is gradually improving,” the American diplomat said in an assessment. (Colombo Gazette) Sri Lanka was forced into making a deal with India as its own armed forces had twice refused to “take Jaffna”, then President J.R. Jayewardene has been quoted as saying in a declassified document, nearly 30 years after the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was deployed in the island nation, The Hindu newspaper reported.Jayewardene told visiting American diplomat Peter Galbraith that he had twice ordered his troops to take Jaffna — “burn the place to the ground” — and they had talked him out of it on grounds of unacceptably high casualties. A little over 1,200 Indian soldiers died in IPKF operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in northern and eastern Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990. In May 1991, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who had signed the July 1987 peace deal with Jayewardene, was assassinated by the LTTE. “He [Mr. Jayewardene] made clear that he shared the GOI’S [Government of India’s] implacable hostility toward Prabakaran, calling the LTTE leader ‘a mad fellow’, ” a declassified CIA document said about the February 1988 conversation.“He stressed, though without obvious bitterness, that none of his outside friends would help him, so he had no choice but to make a deal with India,” the CIA document read. In response to significant promises of devolution of powers to the Tamil minority and recognition of Tamil as an official language, India agreed to provide military assistance — the IPKF — to ensure peace according to the 1987 Gandhi-Jayewardene accord. read more

Sri Lanka optimistic restrictions on tea by Russia will be lifted

Last year (2016) Russia ranked as the second largest buyer of all types of Ceylon Teas (including green tea made in Sri Lanka) at $ 143 Mn–the leading buyer in 2016 was Iran, at $ 154.10 Mn. However, in 2015 Russia was the topmost buyer of Ceylon Tea at $156.65 Mn, and the second leading buyer was Turkey. The watchdog said it had taken the decision to impose restrictions after it found an insect, known as the Khapra beetle, in the packaging of one consignment of tea from Sri Lanka. Yesterday President Maithripala Sirisena said he will make an official request from Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the restrictions imposed on Sri Lanka tea imports.The Russian agricultural safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor announced last week that Russia will place temporary restrictions on imports of all agricultural products from Sri Lanka, including tea, from December 18. “I am optimistic of a quick solution. Russia and Sri Lanka have long-standing friendly and cordial relations. The only reason for our concern is that nearly 80% of our exports to Russia is Ceylon Tea. We praise President Maithripala Sirisena for his prompt action in contacting the highest levels of the Russian Government to resolve this,” the Minister said following urgent consultations with his officials. The Government says it is optimistic restrictions imposed on local tea by Russia will be lifted.Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said that the restrictions imposed by Russia is not a total ban on Sri Lankan products by Russia but only a suspension of one item. read more

UNFPA calls for a safer Sri Lanka for all Sri Lankans

Understanding the importance of providing safe spaces for young people, the Youth4Youth Central Province symposium created a space for over 100 Sri Lankan youth to connect ideas and build communities to nurture lasting peace in Sri Lanka. In creating an inclusive environment where no one is left behind, the Youth4Youth programme ensures the participation of young people from diverse backgrounds.Speaking on the important and positive role of youth in peacebuilding, UNFPA Representative, Ms. Ritsu Nacken stated; “The recent incidents of communal violence that took place this year call for action to create a safer space and safer Sri Lanka for all Sri Lankans, including youth. At UNFPA, we strive to deliver a world where every young person’s potential is fulfilled. This is what Youth4Youth intends to do. In order to build peaceful communities, we must consider young people as partners for peace. When youth have safe spaces to engage, without fear of discrimination, they have a better chance to contribute to peace and social cohesion in the country”. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says incidents of communal violence that took place this year call for action to create a safer space and safer Sri Lanka for all Sri Lankans, including youth.UNFPA said that the recent communal violence in Digana and other parts of Sri Lanka highlights that young people need safe spaces where they can come together to freely express themselves, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, and participate in decision-making processes. According to the UNFPA, a young person’s ability to meaningfully participate in society relies heavily on the socio-economic and political environment in which they live. Without the existence of safe spaces, youth from different backgrounds may feel intimidated to freely contribute to the community. Leading up to the symposium, a survey was conducted by UNFPA’s partner organization, Chrysalis – a social enterprise working to empower women and youth in Sri Lanka – to identify issues and opportunities that young people face in relation to peacebuilding in the Central Province. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Imported milk powder prices increased under new formula

The price of imported milk powder has been increased under the new price formula announced this week.The Ministry of Commerce and Industry said that the price of a 1kg packet of milk powder has been increased by Rs 60 while the price of a 400g packet has been increased by Rs 25 from today. Accordingly, the new price of a 400g imported milk powder packet is Rs 370 and 1kg imported milk powder packet is Rs 920. (Colombo Gazette)

Lightfoot steps in for Young in Dundas

A major announcement Thursday night for fans upset over the cancellation of Neil Young and his Crazy Horse band at the upcoming Greenbelt Harvest Picnic in Dundas.Gordon Lightfoot is going to be appearing instead. But is that going to be enough for Neil Young fans demanding a full refund?Al Sweeney is following this story tonight and joins us live. Al, what’s the response so far? 00:00:00 | 00:00:00::Projekktor V1.3.09

Ontario leadership debate reactions

It may have been one of the liveliest Ontario election debates in decades. It also led to the release of a hashtag-worthy phrase trending today.“Sorry, not sorry …. sorry but I’m not sorry.”It’s a new slogan Kathleen Wynne is pumping out following her debate introduction. Leaving us wondering if she’s been listening to a whole lot of Demi Lovato on her morning runs.However, Wynne says, “I’m really really proud of the work we’ve been doing.”The morning after debate night Andrea Horwath spent some time in a coffee shop reflecting on her performance.“The debate for me, anyways, was to show people the importance choice they have ahead.”Some people in Hamilton and Burlington think she nailed it but some voters leaning PC weren’t overly impressed with Doug Ford. Saying that Ford was rambling a bit and caught in his words, or caught off guard by the format of the debate.At a round table discussion today there was no fumbling but still no costed platform from the PC leader.The leaders laid it on the line, but were the voters listening or have they already made up their minds?For those who watched, some felt left without a clear choice just 10 days before voters head to the polls.CHCH asked viewers on social media who you thought won the debate Sunday night: 54% of voters say Andrea Horwath, 30% in favour of Doug Ford and 16% for Kathleen Wynne. read more

Portugal truckers plan another strike risking gas supplies

LISBON, Portugal — Portuguese tanker truck drivers have announced a new walkout, just days after returning to work and resuming talks with employers in a pay dispute.The Hazardous Materials Drivers Union said Wednesday its about 750 members — from a total of some 900 in Portugal — will refuse to work overtime and on weekends and public holidays Sept. 7-22.The union says truckers work many overtime hours to keep the country’s 3,000 gas stations stocked.Truckers ended a seven-day walkout on Sunday, after government emergency measures prevented gas pumps from running dry. Talks with employers broke down late Tuesday.A spate of strikes has tested the Socialist government, traditionally sympathetic to trade unions. But with a general election less than two months away, the centre-left is wary of taking sides.The Associated Press read more

Welcome to Simcoe

Two new gateway signs have been installed to welcome people to Simcoe.The signs, located at Highway 24 North and South, feature two pieces of the town’s history: the county administration building and the Carillon Tower.“Gateway signs to your community are like the front door to your house,”   Clark Hoskin, Norfolk County Director of Tourism and Economic Development, said in a release. “It is one of the first things that a visitor or potential investors see. It’s our chance to make a great first impression.”The Simcoe Gateway Sign Committee, comprised of community stakeholders and county staff, spearheaded the design, fundraising and installation of the signs.Funding is provided by the county and through matching funds raised in the community.Several  organizations each donated $1,000 to the project. These groups include: The Rotary Club of Norfolk Sunrise, Rotary Club of Simcoe, Simcoe Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, Simcoe & District Chamber of Commerce, Gentlemen of Harmony, Royal Canadian Legion and Downtown Simcoe BIA.This is part of a county-wide initiative. Signs have already been installed or upgraded in Port Rowan, Waterford, and Port Dover. Two other gateway signs for Simcoe are expected to be installed by 2020. read more