New Delhi: Five-star hotels charging exorbitant rate for food items like bananas and eggs is ‘unfair trade practice’ and the government will seek explanations from them, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Tuesday. The minister asserted that provisions will also be made while framing rules and regulations under the recently enacted Consumer Protection Act to crack down on such cases. Paswan was referring to a video that recently went viral in which actor Rahul Bose was seen complaining about five-star hotel JW Marriott, Chandigarh for billing two bananas for Rs 442. One more complaint of charging Rs 1,700 for two boiled eggs by another 5-star hotel has also gone viral on social media. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ “There are complaints and reports in social media and media about overcharging by some five-star hotels for items like bananas and eggs. This is a serious and unfortunate matter,” Paswan told reporters here. The minister wondered how five-star hotels could charge Rs 442 for two bananas and Rs 1,700 for two eggs when these items were sold in the open market at very cheap rates. “How much they (hotels) will charge for services offered,” he quipped. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K Paswan said the department will seek explanations from the fiver-star hotels concerned on what basis they have charged such huge amounts. “We will not allow dual MRP (maximum retail price),” he said, adding that the government will make rules to check such practices under the Consumer Protection Act that was recently passed by Parliament. Speaking on the sidelines after the minister’s press conference, Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash K Srivastava said, “Prima facie it is an unfair trade practice. As the minister has directed, we will seek explanations from these hotels.” He further said that action would be taken against such hotels if they are found indulged in such unfair practices. The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) had however defended JW Marriott, Chandigarh when the controversy broke out saying the hotel did not do anything “illegal” and asserted it did the right thing by charging 18 per cent GST on food and beverages served in the hotel premises. The FHRAI had argued that unlike a retail store where bananas could be purchased at market price, a hotel offers service, quality, plate, cutlery, accompaniment, sanitised fruit, ambience and luxury, and not just the commodity alone.
Kolkata: CPIM politburo member Md Selim has lodged complaint with the Cyber Cell at Lalbazar against a post in the social media spreading canard against him.The matter came to light when Selim saw a post on August 15 midnight criticising him for his behavior in the United States a few years ago.The person sending the post alleged that while in the United States, Selim had taken beef but refused to take pork. When pork was offered he became furious and smashed the table. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaHe left the place. He went to the house of a person known to him and stayed there. His hosts were taken aback and after this incident they gave up Left idealism and started contributing money to an organization preaching Hinduttva. Selim also reported the matter to the Face Book authorities. Selim tweeted alleging that the BJP IT cell was behind this post. He alleged that making religion a shield, BJP was trying to spread hate politics. But, their attempt to malign him will fail, he commented.
OTTAWA – Some quotes from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s foreign policy speech Tuesday and reaction to it:“To put it plainly: Canadian diplomacy and development sometimes require the backing of hard power. Force is of course always a last resort. But the principled use of force, together with our allies and governed by international law, is part of our history and must be part of our future.” Freeland.___“Whatever their politics, Canadians understand that, as a middle power living next to the world’s only super power, Canada has a huge interest in an international order based on rules. One in which might is not always right. One in which more powerful countries are constrained in their treatment of smaller ones by standards that are internationally respected, enforced and upheld.” Freeland.___“In short, Canadian liberalism is a precious idea. It would not long survive in a world dominated by the clash of great powers and their vassals, struggling for supremacy or, at best, an uneasy detente. Canada can work for better. We must work for better.” Freeland.___“We will make the necessary investments in our military, to not only redress years of neglect and underfunding, but also to place the Canadian Armed Forces on a new footing — with the equipment, training, resources and consistent, predictable financing they need to do their difficult, dangerous and important work.” Freeland.___“What we’re seeing from this government actually is a de-emphasis of principles and an emphasis of what they perceive to be national self-interest.” Conservative MP Garnett Genuis.___“The accent on hard power is interesting. The Liberals have traditionally been soft power champions and she is saying that Canada needs both.” Fen Hampson, head of the global security program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont..
LUNENBURG, N.S. – The RCMP are seeking the public’s help in the theft of an historic object once owned by Nova Scotia’s most famous sea captain — Capt. Angus Walters, skipper of the schooner Bluenose.The Mounties say that some time between last September and July 17, someone broke into a property in Kingsburg, N.S., and stole a brass weather vane once owned by Walters, who skippered the famous schooner during its racing heyday in the 1920s and 1930s.The 45-centimetre weather vane is in the shape of a sperm whale, and was stolen from a shed.Police say the item holds sentimental as well as historic value.Built in Lunenburg in 1921, the original Bluenose was a Grand Banks schooner often used for fishing, but it won international fame for its speed — routinely defeating the fastest American schooners.It remained undefeated until its final race in 1938 and was later sold off and used as a tramp freighter until it hit a reef and was wrecked off Haiti in 1946.
WATERTON, Alta. – Parks Canada issued a precautionary evacuation alert on Tuesday evening for all of Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta due to potential danger from an expanding wildfire.Parks officials called it “a pre-emptive action” so they can be fully prepared if fire conditions change, saying “safety is paramount.”They said there was no immediate threat.The Alberta government called the evacuation “voluntary” and said it includes not just the National Park but the community of Waterton, which has a population of about 100 people.Waterton park officials said should a mandatory evacuation be ordered, “you must leave the park within one hour of formal notice” and suggested people ready themselves by gathering their medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers and keepsakes.“Travel will only be permitted out of the park,” said a warning on the park website. “Admittance to evacuated areas will be limited to emergency vehicles.”The government’s emergency alert noted that “cottagers, campers and visitors are encouraged to leave the area.”Parks Canada said the so-called Kenow fire, which was sparked by lightening in British Columbia, has started some small spot fires in the national park near Sage Pass.A Parks Canada national incident management team is on site, along with three initial attack crews and five helicopters, with another crew expected on Wednesday.The fire was about 65 square kilometres in size.Waterton National Park is located in the province’s southwest and borders Glacier National Park in Montana.The townsite includes a historic railroad hotel called the Prince of Wales, which was construction in the 1920s by the Great Northern Railway of the U.S. to lure tourists during the prohibition era.
CALGARY – A Calgary judge has dismissed all charges against a well-known Vancouver marijuana activist who had been accused of trafficking and drug possession.Dana Larsen was arrested following a public appearance in Calgary in April 2016.He was charged after he handed out marijuana seeds to the audience as part of his Overgrow Canada tour.The tour was aimed at distributing one million pot seeds to be planted in public places.Police also seized marijuana, cannabis oil and resin from his vehicle.Larsen said after his arrest that he had no intention of pleading guilty.Following the April 2016 rally, officers escorted Larsen and another man to a police car while supporters chanted, “Shame! Shame!”Larsen said he visited 14 cities on his campaign and Calgary was the only place where police showed up.Following a court appearance, the activist said he would fight the charges all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.“I feel that if they really do persist, the possible outcome is that we win and that cannabis seeds are declared no longer illegal at all,” he told reporters, while surrounded by about two dozen placard-carrying supporters.Larsen was in Calgary again this past April to promote his campaign. Two police officers attended the meeting, but left after a short time.Larsen served 10 years as editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine and was a founding member of the B.C. Marijuana Party and the Canadian Marijuana Party.He led an unsuccessful bid for a marijuana referendum in British Columbia and has run a medicinal cannabis dispensary for seven years.In 2011, he ran for the leadership of the provincial NDP in B.C. (CTV Calgary, The Canadian Press)
ANTIGONISH, N.S. – The bucolic university campus is set in a small Nova Scotia town: A cluster of steeples, ivy-covered brick and stone buildings and manicured sports fields.St. Francis Xavier University, an undergraduate-focused school with Antigonish County’s rolling hills as a backdrop, is a tight-knit community with small class sizes, a familial atmosphere and a strong spirit.It also has a reputation as a party school, with rowdy weekends and a binge-drinking culture — one that is under scrutiny after allegations of sexual assault surfaced last week.Two varsity football players have been charged with sexual assault. Both have been released with conditions and are set to appear in provincial court in January, police said.The allegations first came to light after an 18-year-old woman reported an alleged sexual assault to Antigonish RCMP on Wednesday, Nov. 22.She said the incident took place over the previous weekend.During their investigation, another victim — a 19-year-old woman — came forward and alleged that one of the accused had also sexually assaulted her, RCMP said.She said the assaults happened on two separate occasions on campus, once in September and again in November, police said.RCMP said Jonah Williams, 19, has been charged with three counts of sexual assault, while Tyler Ball, 18, was charged with one count of sexual assault. Both men played defensive back for the X-Men varsity football team, but their online profiles have since been removed.The university administration has responded by imposing immediate interim measures against the two students while an internal investigation is conducted.“One of the accused has been denied access to campus. The other has been granted restricted access to campus, only permitted to attend classes,” Andrew Beckett, head of student services and vice-president of finance and administration, said an emailed statement. “It is important to note that arrangements are being made to allow continuation of course work remotely.”He added that all student privileges have been revoked, including participating in varsity athletics.The allegations against the young men have not been tested in court. But the charges have rekindled a wider conversation about sexual assault allegations and universities.Although St. F.X. recently introduced new consent and sexual violence training, as well as a victim-centric sexual assault policy, such allegations underscore the need for greater awareness about sexual assault on campus, the student union president said.“We can always do more,” said Annie Sirois. “But the fact that people are reporting these incidents is indicative that these education programs are working.”Sirois rejected the notion that St. F.X. has an out-of-control party culture.“It’s a really social atmosphere. We definitely have fun but we work hard,” she said. “Most first-years live in residence and there is a really strong sense of community … you’re kind of indoctrinated into this family.”One of the accused was also reportedly a house president of a student residence, a leadership position among the student body.“You can be really popular and a really amazing athlete and have great grades and still be a perpetrator of sexualized violence,” said Heather Blackburn, manager of the sexual assault nurse examiner program at the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre.It’s not until recently that society has inherently believed the victims of sexualized violence, Blackburn said.“We are at a watershed moment now in North America,” she said.Blackburn stressed that sexual education during orientation week at the Antigonish university has improved by “leaps and bounds.” But she said awareness about consent and what constitutes sexualized violence needs to start earlier.“If the first conversation they have about consent is at university, it may be too late,” she said. “Evidence suggests that one-off conversations tend to not change attitudes and behaviour.”While the small university campus in a rural area has its benefits, she said it can also make it hard for victims to come forward and report crimes.“We know that sexualized violence tends to go unreported or under reported … especially in rural Nova Scotia.”– By Brett Bundale in Halifax
TORONTO – An Inuk woman with acute liver failure spoke of her sadness that Canadians are dying due to rules that prevent some from receiving organ transplants, as she gave an emotional news conference Tuesday from her hospital bed.The visibly exhausted Delilah Saunders, 26, expressed concerns that while she appears to be recovering, others with alcohol-related liver disease often aren’t allowed to go on a waiting list for transplants that will keep them alive.“I’m really feeling for the families who have lost loved ones due to these policies, due to small technicalities and things that could have saved so many lives,” she said at the University Health Network hospital in Toronto, where she was transferred earlier this week from Ottawa.Saunders’ struggle has drawn support from Amnesty International and Aboriginal groups, as friends and family of the advocate for Indigenous women learned of a rule in Ontario that requires people with alcohol-related liver disease to have abstained from drinking for six months before being eligible for a transplant.Saunders’ family has said she was told she wouldn’t be eligible due to the Ontario rule, and they have argued it’s a policy that discriminates against Indigenous citizens, the poor and other marginalized groups, while being based on shaky science.Transplant doctors have cited evidence that some alcoholics return to drinking after a transplant of the organ, and the transplant may not succeed as a result. They say this poses ethical issues for clinics who have other recipients in need of the donated organ.As the issue unfolded and vigils were held, offers from Canadians to provide the young woman from Labrador with part of their liver through the living donor program flowed in, and the young woman said it had been “beautiful and encouraging.”With relatives nearby, Saunders spoke of living through auditory illusions, struggling to sleep and a roller-coaster ride of emotions as she struggled to regain her health.Now, she is urging all Canadians to get out and register to donate organs, so that the shortage of livers won’t drive policy-making.Data from 2015, which are the most recent available, show that 127 people in Ontario died on a waiting list for an organ. Meanwhile, so far this year, 377 people whose organs could have been used didn’t register and their families declined to consent.Her call for more organ donations was echoed by Ronnie Gavsie, the chief executive of the Trillium Gift of Life Network, Ontario’s organ donation agency.“The way we’re going to win here is if all of us, everyone of us who are 16 years of age or older, register consent at beadonor.ca. It takes less than two minutes,” Gavsie said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Monday.Gavsie also said the donor agency wants to accelerate a pilot project that waives a six-month sobriety requirement for drinkers seeking liver transplants.“Our goal is to start it as early as possible, which means accelerate the planning of the pilot and the resources required to support it,” she said.However, the executive said the pilot program still needs to hire people at the transplant centres and for the program.A spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Health said the department expects to receive a business case for the pilot program from Trillium by February. “After receiving the business case, the ministry will be able to assess funding required to proceed,” wrote David Jensen in an email.Meanwhile, the debate over whether there is enough evidence to simply waive the abstinence requirement is continuing.Debra Selkirk, whose husband died of liver failure in 2010, led a two-year court battle over the abstinence policy that led to the introduction of the pilot project.She argues there is enough evidence to end the abstinence rule, citing an analysis completed at the University of Pittsburgh in 2008 of 54 studies over 22 years suggesting the relapse rate of a return to heavy alcohol use was 2.5 per cent.However, Dr. Nazia Selzner, transplant liver specialist in the multi-organ transplant program at the University Health Network, said in an interview there is a wide variation in the rate of relapsing to alcoholism after a transplant.She said studies vary between 10 per cent of patients relapsing up to “as high as 90 per cent,” with one of the issues being that many of the studies don’t have a clear enough definition of what constitutes a relapse into drinking.She also noted a long-term study published in 2010 in the American Journal of Transplantation that found 20 per cent of the 208 patients with alcohol-related liver disease studied over a number of years relapsed into heavy drinking.Saunders said she plans to remain in hospital for the time being, as she continues to recover.“I’m not completely out of the woods after this. The staff here have been amazing. Same as Ottawa General (hospital),” she said.“It’s unfortunate there are policies that could have found me in a different fate. My next step is to see a hepatologist and see what damage has been done for the long term.”— By Michael Tutton in Halifax. Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.Note to readers: This is a corrected version of the story. An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that the study found two in five patients relapsed into heavy drinking, rather than 20 per cent.
A recently released federal report suggests the gap is growing between Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction promises and what its policies are likely to achieve.The news comes as the Liberal government continues to promise a new pipeline will be built to take bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to ports in British Columbia — a move critics say would push Canada’s emissions even higher.In December, the government delivered a report to the United Nations outlining its progress on reaching targets agreed to in the Paris Accord to fight climate change. Canada has promised to reduce those emissions to the equivalent of 517 megatonnes of carbon dioxide.In 2016, Ottawa made a similar report to the UN acknowledging that both its current and planned policies would likely leave the country 44 megatonnes short of its target.But in the recent report, Canada notes the gap between its commitments and the likely result of its policies has grown to 66 megatonnes — a 50 per cent increase in only 18 months.Environment Canada was unable to immediately explain that expanding shortfall. Figures for greenhouse gas emissions in the report are only given up to 2015 and are reported to have been largely stable for several years previously.Keith Stewart of Greenpeace said the increasing gap between promises and probable results is likely due to increasing energy production.“There might be some changes from demographic growth, but I can’t believe there’s been a huge change in those projections in a year and a half,” he said. “I think the main factor here is oil and gas.”Figures from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers suggest overall oil production declined by 15 per cent between 2014 and 2016. Production from the oilsands, the most carbon-intensive form of production, increased 12 per cent over that time.Stewart said Canada should not be considering a new pipeline to move more of that high-carbon production at a time when the country is falling further behind its commitments. Pipeline critics say building more infrastructure to move the product will only increase production.“Another pipeline is just going to dig an even deeper hole,” he said.Simon Fraser University energy economist Mark Jaccard said, overall, Canada’s climate change policies aren’t tough enough to meet its targets.“We would need much higher stringency of any package of the intended policies to achieve Paris (targets),” he said.Higher carbon taxes, though politically difficult, are one method. Others include a lower overall emissions cap on the oilsands, tighter rules on methane emissions, quicker phase-out of coal-generated power that leans more on renewables than natural gas and a clean fuel standard.“We can do it all with only carbon taxes. We can do it all with only regulations. We can do it all with a combination.”A “package” of policies is called for, he said.In its report, Environment Canada offered few specifics on how the 66 missing megatonnes of carbon might be made up.It said greater reductions might come from investments in public transit and clean technology. Calculations of the capacity of forests and wetlands to store carbon may also increase, the report says.— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960
MONTREAL – Mitsou Lefebvre-Lafrance never realized that the piles of books, papers, clothes, collectibles and craft supplies that covered every surface in her Montreal apartment were a problem until she needed to move to a smaller space.But as the move approached, she suddenly realized she just couldn’t, or didn’t know how to, let anything go.“For me, (hoarding), it was a kind of protection, a void, an identity, too,” said Lefebvre-Lafrance, 43.“Objects that were given to me represented people, and it felt I was rejecting the person when I threw out the object.”On Thursday, citizens like Lefebvre-Lafrance joined doctors, social workers, city workers and emergency services in Montreal for a symposium on compulsive hoarding disorder, with the goal of creating awareness of the little-understood condition.The disorder, which is believed to affect between two and six per cent of the population, occurs when a person forms such a strong attachment to the objects around them that they can’t discard them, even as their spaces become unlivable, doctors say.The most common objects are clothes, books, cards, documents and household decor, but can include almost anything, even animals or food.Pierre Rondeau, a mental health physician who spoke at the symposium, characterizes it as a “hidden disorder” that most sufferers are reluctant to discuss with their family or doctors.“People are ashamed of their situation,” he said.“They could be functional in their life, but living in a non-functional house. But they don’t talk about it, or bring people over.”But for Lefebvre-Lafrance, ending the isolation brought on by the disorder was key to breaking its hold.Like many compulsive hoarders, she also struggled with other forms of mental illness, including anxiety, depression and social phobia.As she sought treatment, she met others like her, which helped her to begin addressing her attachment toward her possessions and creating a functional living space, although she admits she still likes having things around her.After seeking help in 2006, Lefebvre-Lafrance helped to form a peer support group that is run out of a local health clinic in Montreal’s Verdun borough.Since then, their initiative has expanded to include a 30-person committee that includes community workers, therapists, fire services, building inspectors and compulsive hoarders.The goal is to lobby for improved services and support for people with the disorder, as well as encouraging them to reach out for help before things get out of hand.Natalia Koszegi, a clinical psychologist who studies the disorder, says that too often, interventions only occur at “crisis level,” when a person is facing eviction or extreme pressure from landlords, family or building inspectors.But while people may feel clearing the home is an emergency, she says what’s needed is patience and the co-operation of various actors, including city workers and firefighters enforcing city bylaws.“It takes authority, so the hoarder knows that’s it’s serious and they have to (get rid of the) clutter, but it also takes help to support the person, to work with them,” she said.“It’s a job for a lot of people.”While hoarding runs in families, it’s unclear whether that is due to genetic or environmental factors.Koszegi would like to see more studies on long-term treatment options, although she stresses that people can generally manage the disorder with a combination of self-awareness, therapy, and support from family, friends and peer support groups.Encouragement, she says, is better than criticism.“A person who succeeds in taking out one bag of stuff is a victory, and family and friends need to realize that and encourage it, even if there are 50 bags left to do.”
VANCOUVER – A search is underway in Vancouver for a tiny, teacup poodle snatched from the British Columbia SPCA shelter earlier this week.Mickey weighs just over one kilogram and was being cared for at the society’s kennel while recovering from giardia, a contagious intestinal infection.SPCA spokeswoman Lorie Chortyk says the fluffy brown dog, along with five other teacup poodles, had been surrendered about two weeks ago by the owner after a complaint about their care.Chortyk says Mickey was stolen when someone used bolt cutters to break through the outer gate of the shelter after it closed Tuesday and then cut through the kennel door to grab the dog.There’s concern that Mickey may not be getting adequate care for his condition and Chortyk says if anyone has seen the poodle or knows anything about the theft, they should contact the society or Vancouver police.Adoptions had already been arranged for all the poodles and Chortyk says Mickey’s new owner was scheduled to pick him up on Wednesday.
NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. – Dog owners in North Vancouver are being advised to keep their pets on a short leash if they are walking in Cates Park along the shores of Burrard Inlet.RCMP Sgt. Doug Trousdell says at least two dogs are confirmed to have died after eating what is suspected to have been some type of poisonous mushroom.Trousdell says police have received reports in the last month about several dogs becoming ill after visiting the park, and a third dog may also have died, although that is still being confirmed.He says the BC SPCA and District of North Vancouver parks department are also investigating.Signs have been posted advising owners to keep their dogs leashed, even in off-leash areas, until further notice.Police have taken samples of mushrooms from the park and are waiting for test results, but Trousdell says the fungus is likely to have caused the dog deaths.“We are obviously alive to the possibility it could be something else but we don’t have any reason at this point … to suggest it is a deliberate act,” he said in a phone interview.If it turns out to be deliberate, Trousdell said police will become more involved. But if naturally occurring mushrooms are determined to have been the cause, the matter will be handed over to the SPCA and District of North Vancouver.
GAO, Mali — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is returning from Mali this evening after paying a surprise visit to Canadian peacekeepers at their hot and dusty UN base there only days before Christmas.The trip was Trudeau’s first — and likely only — visit to the West African nation, where about 250 Canadian peacekeepers have been providing lifesaving medical evacuations and transporting equipment and personnel.After watching a mock evacuation and serving the peacekeepers a pre-Christmas dinner, Trudeau told the troops they were continuing the Canadian military’s long tradition of helping around the world.Yet even as he emphasized the importance of bringing peace to Mali, the prime minister defended his government’s refusal to extend Canada’s mission by several months next summer.Romanian peacekeepers will take over in Mali next year, but they aren’t expected to arrive until several months after the Canadians have stopped operations.Sources say the United Nations wants Canada to extend its mission to prevent a gap.Trudeau, whose government also has yet to deploy a promised transport aircraft to Uganda and a 200-strong rapid reaction force for the UN, played down the effects of a gap and said Canada and the UN are working to ensure a smooth transition.The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — A hate letter bearing a United Conservative logo and dropped off at an Edmonton mosque has Muslim advocates and Premier Rachel Notley demanding party leader Jason Kenney take a stronger stand on Islamophobia.Kenney has already condemned the letter and neither he nor the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council believe the United Conservatives had anything to do with it.The letter delivered to the Markaz Ul Islam mosque in southeast Edmonton said that Islam is a sham religion with no place in the province and when Kenney wins the spring election he will “take Alberta back.”Faisal Suri, president of the council, says Kenney must specifically call out Islamophobia, because the hate goes beyond worshippers to the religion itself.Notley is echoing Suri’s demand and is calling on Kenney to root out Islamophobic elements in his party.Kenney says on Facebook that hatred and bigotry have no place in Alberta, and his spokesperson says Kenney has clearly spoken out against Islamophobia in the past.The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — The Alberta government has created a working group to determine the most effective way to ban conversion therapy.Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says the practice is both damaging and hateful and she looks forward to acting on the group’s recommendations.The committee, to be co-chaired by NDP Edmonton legislature member Nicole Goehring, will meet with stakeholders over the next five months, then draft recommendations.Goehring has already been working on a private member’s bill to outlaw conversion therapy, which has been previously banned in Manitoba and Ontario.Conversion therapy refers to any treatment, counselling or behaviour modification to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.The working group is to include representatives from the health and legal professions, faith leaders and the LGBTQ community.Goehring says the recommendations need to be a broad-based effort.“I’ve heard from Albertans and community leaders that any ban on conversion therapy must be community-driven and can’t let anyone fall through the cracks,” said Goehring in a statement Friday.Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan accused the NDP of playing politics with the issue and said the government should ban the practice immediately.“Alberta’s youth cannot wait another five months for an NDP committee to reach the conclusion that is obvious to most people in this province. What further input is needed to convince this government?” said Khan in a statement.“The NDP are willing to delay any meaningful decision in a desperate attempt to turn this into an election issue. This could put vulnerable children at risk.”Voters will go to the polls this spring in a general election, which by law can be called any time now but must be over by the end of May.Goehring had been expected to bring forward her private member’s bill this past fall, possibly with the support of the government, but that never materialized.United Conservative Opposition Leader Jason Kenney said at the time he couldn’t comment on legislation he hasn’t seen, but said he would keep an open mind on whether to support such a bill.The Canadian Press
In the lead up to World AIDS Day 2012, three passionate advocates for an HIV-free generation will come together in UNAIDS’ first Google+ Hangout to talk about how the world is moving towards zero new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive.On 27 November at 2:30 pm GMT (London), 9:30 am ET (New York), Annie Lennox, UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador, Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director, and Florence Ngobeni, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Ambassador, will share their insight on the global effort to end new HIV infections among children in the next 1000 days.The Hangout will be broadcast live on UNAIDS’ Google+ page.Viewers can submit questions to the three panellists via Twitter, using the hashtag #ZeroHIV and by posting on UNAIDS’ Facebook and Google+ pages.
Actor Tom Hiddleston has just returned home from his trip with UNICEF UK to Guinea in West Africa, and has blogged about his trip.“When I started writing this blog, I talked of life in Guinea as a “jigsaw puzzle, one where the pieces keep moving or changing shape, which in turn alters the picture. You might be looking at it from a different angle, or at a different time of day”. On my first night, Julien had suggested an idea of reality in Guinea as “open to interpretation”. In so many respects, that is true of all life. The view always changes with the viewer. That’s the law of relativity.“Here’s what’s not open to interpretation. Every year in the world more than two million children die of hunger. It shouldn’t be like this. Children in Guinea start life at a severe disadvantage. Those that are malnourished may survive in the end. If they are caught in time. If their mothers respond to symptoms early enough; if they make it to the centre de santé, which is often miles away; if they respond to the therapeutic peanut paste, and special therapeutic feeding milk. If their parents are able to grow crops and feed them with enough nutritious foods so they can keep healthy. If they win the fight against malaria. If they live near a good school. If they can get work. If their parents can protect them from exploitation by the military. If they are lucky. Previously malnourished children can make it. It sounds paradoxical to say it, but they are the lucky ones.“Malnourished children grow up at a disadvantage. They will be physically smaller, possibly with diminished intellectual capacity. Their brains and bodies won’t develop in the same way. Of course, there is always a chance that through hard work, education, training, and strength of will any individual can and will progress to great achievement. But these children start so far behind. The race of life – the race for life – is infinitely longer and infinitely harder. Every day there are challenges to their survival and development. Context is important. I’ve been privileged enough to have seen that context at first hand. They live in the middle of nowhere. There is no water. There is poor sanitation. There is a shortage of food. There is lack of education. Conditions are inconceivably hard: they are incredible, until you have seen them with your own eyes, until you have lived in their midst, even for the shortest while.“What I learned in Guinea is that we are all responsible for the state of our world. The world – and the system by which we trade, share, cooperate and conflict – is clearly not working. We are only as strong as our weakest members. UNICEF is run at every level by strong, relentlessly energetic, deeply capable people who use that strength, energy and capability to help those who need it most: the weakest, most disadvantaged women and children of our world. All I can do now is help make people aware of what is happening, of what they are doing. That is all that I can do. For now.”To read the full blog post, click here.
PetSmart Charities has teamed up with actor/producer Josh Duhamel and his production company, Dakotakid Media, to launch Rescue Waggin: Tales from the Road.Video: Episode 1: Rescue Waggin’ Tales From the RoadUnder the direction of Executive Producers Josh Duhamel and Jude Weng, the 8-episode web series follows homeless dogs as they travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles for a better chance of being adopted. The web series includes cameos from a cache of celebrity pet adoption advocates including Kristen Bell, Adam Shankman and Bret Michaels.Rescue Waggin’: Tales from the Road puts viewers in the passenger’s seat of the Rescue Waggin’ vehicle to experience the shelter pet transport process from start to finish. The web series chronicles real stories of dogs and puppies from communities with more pets than adopters to communities where adoptable pets are in demand. Visit www.rescuewaggin.org to view a new websiode each Monday in March.Rescue Waggin’ vehicles travel up to 3,000 miles a week giving hopeless pets a new “leash” on life. The program has saved the lives of more than 70,000 dogs and puppies since 2004.“The Rescue Waggin’ program is an extension of our adoption program and unites animal shelters from across the country in an effort to avoid euthanizing healthy, adoptable dogs,” said Jan Wilkins, executive director of PetSmart Charities, Inc. “We are excited to show the world how our Rescue Waggin’ program gives thousands of beautiful dogs and puppies a second chance at life.”After learning about the Rescue Waggin’ program last year, Josh Duhamel vowed to use his production company to help raise awareness and funding for the life-saving program.“Adopting my dachshund, Meatloaf, changed my life,” said Josh Duhamel. “He was a clumsy little dude with horrible breath–but we adored him.”Meatloaf turned the Hollywood actor into a passionate advocate for animal rescue.“I tell anybody who’s going to get a pet that adoption is the only way to go, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because they make incredible pets. I’m honored to partner with PetSmart Charities to help share the joy of pet adoption with others.”PetSmart Charities Rescue Waggin’ program has not only helped save the lives of thousands of pets, but also helps many shelters improve their operations through spay/neuter programs, grants and mentoring. To learn about the many ways PetSmart Charities is saving the lives of homeless pets, visit www.petsmartcharities.org.
The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights has launched its 8th Annual Spring Auction with support from more than 100 of the world’s most recognizable figures spanning business, entertainment, sports, and politics.Tim Cook, Sally Field, Diana Nyad, Blake Shelton, and Chef Morimoto are just a few of iconic figures hitting the online auction block to benefit the RFK Center. The auction, powered by global charity auction site Charitybuzz, is open to bidders internationally from April 23 through May 13 at www.Charitybuzz.com/RFK.“Whether we’re opening health clinics in the Gulf Coast or building schools in indigenous Mexico, fighting for access to justice in Egypt or labor rights in Upstate New York, the RFK Center’s annual auctions make all of our work possible,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center. “Each year, it’s a delight to see stars from the worlds of business, media, entertainment, and sports join together with generous auction bidders to help us carry forward Robert Kennedy’s dream of a more just, peaceful, and compassionate world.”Last year’s coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook was incredibly successful, raising more than $610,000 to support the RFK Center. Cook is continuing his commitment to support human rights by offering the opportunity to have lunch with him at Apple for a winning bidder and guest. Bidding for the 2014 experience is starting at $10,000.Other coveted auction experiences include a set visit to Scandal or Grey’s Anatomy, the chance to have lunch with Allison Williams of the HBO show Girls, and coffee with Academy Award winner Sally Field.Additional auction highlights include:• Lunch with Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner • Go behind the scenes at Facebook when you visit the Silicon Valley Campus and meet top executives• Visit the Set of Blue Bloods in NYC and meet available cast members• Meet Blake Shelton with two tickets to his Ten Times Crazier Tour• Meet Michael Kors backstage at his September fashion show, including a $5,000 shopping spree• Sushi making class and sake tasting for six with Chef Morimoto in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago or Napa• Walk-on role in an upcoming Farrelly Brothers movie• Lunch and laughs with Richard Saul Wurman, Founder of the TED Conference• Meet Ted Danson on the set of CSI in LA• Lunch with Dr. Ben Bernanke, Former United States Federal Reserve Chairman • Have Coffee with World Champion Swimmer Diana Nyad• Meet Bryan Cranston with two tickets to Broadway’s All The Way• Meet Conan O’Brien with four tickets to CONAN in LA• Go behind the scenes at Nightly News with Brian WilliamsPlus experiences with Anderson Cooper, Arianna Huffington, Jenna Bush Hager, Tim McGraw, Regis Philbin, Henry Schleiff and more.To date, the RFK Center’s annual auctions at Charitybuzz have raised more than $5 million for the Center’s human rights work.“We’re thrilled to partner with the RFK Center for the eighth consecutive Spring Auction, as the Center has been a key partnership since I started Charitybuzz in 2005,” said Coppy Holzman, CEO and Founder of Charitybuzz. “It’s an incredible honor to know we’re raising funds for such a worthy cause, while bringing bidders and philanthropists around the world access to some of the most coveted celebrity, business and entertainment experiences.”
On May 23, Jack Johnson, 1% For The Planet Ambassador and business member, will perform at the Boston Calling Music Festival in Boston, MA, kicking off a summer long collaboration with 1% for the Planet, the world’s largest environmental network.During his 2014 summer tour, Jack will entertain crowds around the globe. He’ll simultaneously raise awareness around sustainable local food systems and plastic free initiatives in his All At Once Village Green, which highlights several environmental nonprofits within the 1% for the Planet network.Jack Johnson joined 1% for the Planet in 2004, becoming the 50th business member to join the movement. Businesses within the network donate at least 1% of sales annually directly to nonprofit partners to maintain membership, however, this past year Jack went well beyond the required minimum, donating nearly 6% of record royalties and 100% of his net tour income back to environmental organizations. A longtime advocate for the earth, Jack is also an ambassador for the network, raising awareness and encouraging additional organizations, businesses, and individuals to get involved.From May 23 – September 1, 1% for the Planet will hit the road with Jack, appearing at multiple venues from New York to Hawaii to gain support and raise awareness about 1% for the Planet and Jack’s commitment to local foods, clean water, and a plastics-free lifestyle. 1% for the Planet will attend the following shows:• May 23 – Boston, MA (Boston Calling Festival) • May 30 – Cuyahoga Falls, OH • June 7 – Wantagh, NY (Jones Beach) • August 1 – Oahu, HI (Wakiki Shell) • August 23 – Quincy, WA (The Gorge) • August 28 – Los Angeles, CAAs part of the All At Once Village, Jack Johnson’s tour is collaborating with over 130 community groups that focus on plastic-free initiatives, sustainable local food systems, and other hands-on, grassroots environmental projects. At most Jack Johnson shows, nonprofits from the 1% for the Planet network will be on-site and for every donation made by fans, Jack’s charity, the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, will offer a matching contribution up to $2,500.“As our 50th member and a longtime ambassador, Jack has always gone above and beyond to encourage individual action to better the environment,” said 1% for the Planet’s Managing Director, Melody Badgett. “We’re excited to be able to partner with him during his summer tour to amplify his work through our network.”Jack Johnson’s All At Once Campaign was founded in 2008 and aims to empower consumers to connect with nonprofits, take environmental action, and receive recognition for their efforts. Jack empowers people to get involved with a simple mantra: An individual action, multiplied by millions, creates global change.To learn more about 1% for the Planet’s involvement on Jack Johnson’s tour this summer, click here. To learn more about Jack Johnson’s All At Once Campaign, click here and for a complete list of Jack Johnson tour dates visit JackJohnsonMusic.com.Source:PR Web