EDMONTON – Foresters and provincial officials are burning tens of thousands of trees east of Jasper National Park to try to slow the spread of mountain pine beetles.“There’s a lot more activity in the Edson-Hinton region, higher than past years, as we deal with some of this immigration that’s occurring,” said Mike Underschulz of Alberta Agriculture.The province expects to cut and burn up to 90,000 trees killed by the beetles this year throughout the province, Underschulz said. Fully half of them will be in the Edson-Hinton region, where smoke from the burning obscured parts of the Yellowhead Highway earlier this week.The area has seen a huge influx of the pests from the park. Beetle infestation in Jasper is considered rampant and uncontrollable, and foresters along its edge saw a tenfold increase in the problem in just months last year.“We’re trying to limit the damage,” Underschulz said. “We’re trying to buy some time.”Down the road, he’s hoping for a serious cold snap early in the winter to ultimately bring beetle numbers down.Richard Briand of West Fraser Timber (TSX:WFT) says the company has moved crews from other areas of its lease to deal with infected trees near Hinton.He said West Fraser has had to change its long-term plans because of damage from the beetles.“The concentration of our logging around the community of Hinton is higher because that’s were the beetle is today. As we’re controlling it through our logging, we go to where the beetle is and that’s been around the town of Hinton.”Underschulz said the province is spending up to $20 million this year to burn and remove trees killed by the bugs.The good news has been that crews are finding fewer new trees have been attacked than previously feared. That’s allowed them to work close to the park boundary in an effort to reduce beetle numbers.Underschulz said even without control programs, it will take years for the pine beetles to march their way across the province in significant numbers, especially because the makeup of the forest changes.However, the Edson-Hinton region is likely to remain a hot spot for a while because of the vast reservoir of beetles within the park.“We’re trying to keep the populations at bay as much as we can while the inflight from Jasper persists.”
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Two unreleased, collectible rap albums may go up for auction following the criminal conviction of the albums’ owner, pharmaceutical company investor Martin Shkreli.Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison for securities fraud on Friday. He owns an unreleased Wu-Tang Clan album and claims to own an unreleased Lil Wayne album. Both could be auctioned by the government since Shkreli has to forfeit more than $7.3 million in a brokerage account and personal assets.Prosecutors say the forfeiture order requires Shkreli to say if he’s still in possession of the albums — or has proceeds from their sales — by Thursday.Jeff Gold, the owner of music collectibles store Recordmecca, says the value of the albums have decreased since being in Shkreli’s hands.
TORONTO – Clothing retailer Roots Corp. will open two new stores in the Washington, D.C., area in August as part of its U.S. and international expansion plans.“We believe the U.S. represents a minimum 100-store market opportunity for us,” said CEO Jim Gabel in a statement announcing the more than 270-square-metre (or more than 3,000-square-foot) shops.One store will be in Washington’s Georgetown neighbourhood, while the other location will be in Pentagon City, a mall in Arlington, Va.The company announced in March it would also open two locations in the Greater Boston, Mass. area this summer.The four stores are part of the company’s target to open 10 to 14 new locations in America by the end of next year.Roots operated 119 stores as of February 3, according to its most recent quarterly earnings report, with three in the U.S. and the remainder in Canada.The company is also planning to open 10 more locations in Canada by the end of its 2019 financial year, hoping to add up to 25 new shops in Taiwan and China, as well as build a presence in Singapore and Malaysia in the same time frame. It had 110 partner-operated stores in Taiwan and 32 in China as of February 3.The company has been in the midst of a multi-year transformation project that started during its 2016 financial year. The culmination of the plan should see it achieve $410 million in annual sales during its 2019 financial year, which ends in early 2020.Part of the plan included the 45-year old retailer, known for its lounge wear and leather goods, listing shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange.The October initial public offering was considered unsuccessful at the time. The initial stock price of $12 per share was $2 to $4 below the original proposed range and the stock closed at $10 on the first day of trading.Its shares seldom traded above the $12 set for the IPO until its latest quarterly earnings were released April 18. The company’s sales and adjusted earnings topped analysts’ expectations following a busy holiday shopping season.Roots shares were trading at $13.15 at midday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.Companies in this story: (TSX:ROOT)
MONTREAL – Competition is heating up for Canada’s most price-sensitive travellers as WestJet Airlines gears up to launch the country’s second ultra-low cost airline Wednesday.Swoop, an offshoot of WestJet Airlines, will make its maiden flight on its pink and white aircraft before the sun rises in Hamilton, Ont. on a trip to Abbotsford, B.C.“From my perspective coming into this fresh — I’ve been in Canada four months now — I personally believe there’s a huge opportunity in Canada,” said Swoop president Steven Greenway.Greenway is an Australian native who has worked in executive positions at airlines including Japanese low-cost carrier Peach, Virgin Blue, Virgin Atlantic and Qantas.Swoop marks his sixth airline startup.By discounting travel, Swoop, Flair Airlines and others are trying to repatriate the more than five million Canadians who cross the border to catch flights from airports in Buffalo and Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Bellingham, Wash.“From our perspective there’s the opportunity to fill a gap, there’s an opportunity to stimulate demand, there’s an opportunity to welcome Canadians back from crossing the border. We believe there’s a significant enough market to be able to thrive,” Greenway said in an interview.He expects competition will increase significantly over the next 12 months as Canada Jetlines gears up to join Swoop and Flair in offering deeply discounted fares along with charges for everything from a onboard drink to carry-on and checked baggage.Flair welcomed the extra competition.“We think that having more people in the space helps promote the fact the space exists and will work to each other’s advantage,” executive chairman David Tait said in an interview.“I don’t think Canada’s big enough for half a dozen players in this space, but there’s certainly plenty of room for two and maybe three.”Meanwhile, Tait said Flair plans to move its headquarters to Edmonton from Kelowna, B.C., over the coming months to help promote its growth.“Kelowna was a fine base for a charter operator but it didn’t really give us the scope, the potential we need as we’re growing.”Swoop is entering an area of the airline business that doesn’t have a stellar history of success in Canada: Jetsgo, Air Canada’s Tango, Canada 3000 and Roots Air have all floundered in the past.Canada is the only G7 country without a true ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC) and the model has been successful in Europe, Australia and the United States, said transportation analyst Chris Murray of AltaCorp Capital.“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a true ULCC model in the Canadian marketplace before so I think we’re in somewhat uncharted territory,” he said.“I think there’s also frankly some opportunities if they do it well to be successful with it.”Murray estimates the Canadian ultra low-cost market can handle 10 million passengers per year, enough to support up to 50 aircraft. The service is particularly suited to leisure flights to Las Vegas, Arizona and Florida, he added.Swoop says fares should be 30 to 40 per cent lower than a national carrier.The key will be to keep costs down from lower labour costs, cramming 189 seats into Boeing 737-800s, and stimulating demand from people who don’t normally fly because of the high cost.The arrival of new travel options has contributed to a 20 per cent cut in domestic summer airfares from 2016 and a seven per cent reduction in one year, said Steve Sintra, Canada country manager for the Kayak search engine.“One of the biggest changes we’re seeing is the fact that with ultra-low cost carriers, you’re seeing more options for Canadian travellers, whether that be new airports that airlines are travelling to or just the ability to choose what amenities they want to have included in their airfare.”Swoop, however, has already had something of a bumpy takeoff.WestJet’s launch of Swoop had been a source of labour strife between the company and pilots, who were on the brink of a strike last month before reaching an 11th-hour deal.Earlier this year, the union won a Canada Industrial Relations Board challenge to the company’s proposed policy to offer pilots a two-year leave of absence if they go to fly for Swoop.A federal arbitrator ruled earlier this month that WestJet’s unionized pilots will also fly Swoop, which means the airline can no longer outsource Swoop flying, a major disagreement in recent negotiations.Swoop will recognize the union as the exclusive bargaining agent for all Swoop pilots, who will be on the airline’s one seniority list and fly aircraft at Swoop terms and conditions.Initial one-way flights start at $49 tax included from Abbotsford to Winnipeg, $129 between Hamilton and Abbotsford and $99 between Hamilton and Halifax.The fares don’t include a range of fees, including for carry-on luggage and checked bags starting at $26.25, seat selection starting at $5, and an additional $15 to contact the call centre if service can’t be carried out on the website.No pets aside from guide dogs are allowed on board and any credits are only valid for 90 days. No loyalty points will be awarded.Swoop is starting with two planes, with plans to roll out six by year-end and 10 in 2019.Instead of flying from Toronto Pearson International, flights will fly out of Hamilton’s lower-cost airport. Other initial cities are Winnipeg, Edmonton, Halifax and Abbotsford.Additional destinations will be added, including international flights likely by the end of 2018, said Greenway. Flair plans to fly to Orlando and Palm Springs, Calif., next winter.While there is a real concern that passengers could feel being “nickled and dimed” by a series of ancillary fees, experience in Europe over the past 20 years suggests passengers ultimately focus on the fares, said Greenway.“It is an education process and I think people will adapt over time.”Companies in this story: (TSX:WJA)Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly referred to Birmingham, Washington.
VANCOUVER – Teck Resources Ltd. says its adjusted profit attributable to shareholders rose to $653 million in the second quarter, ahead of analyst estimates.The adjusted earnings amounted to $1.12 per share on a diluted basis, up from $580 million or 99 cents per share in last year’s second quarter.Analysts had estimated $1.07 per share of adjusted earnings, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.Revenue was also above estimates at $3.02 billion, up from $2.8 billion. as Teck benefitted from higher prices for steelmaking coal, copper and zinc.Before adjustments, Teck’s net income attributable to shareholders was $634 million or $1.10 per share, up from $2.83 billion or $1 per share.Despite the strong prices for its principle products through most of the quarter ended June 30, Teck warned that commodity prices had weakened significantly in the following weeks due to market uncertainty.Companies in this story: (TSX:TECK)
Tim Hortons will seek to shut down an apparent knock-off restaurant in India that uses a name and branding very similar to the coffee-and-doughnut chain.Tim Hottens, located in Yamunanagar, India, is two letters away from the coffee chain in its name.Its logo and branding appear to mimic the Canadian chain’s as well. The font and colour of the name in its logo is nearly identical. Tim Hottens also uses the phrases “always fresh” and “cafe & bake shop,” as well as the red-hued striped background in its logo.Tim Hottens did not immediately respond to requests for comment.“While we believe that imitation is often the sincerest form of flattery, we do have very high standards when it comes to our brand, the quality of our products and the service we provide our guests,” said Jane Almeida, a spokeswoman for Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Tim Hortons, in an email.“Therefore, we will be taking steps to protect our brand and trademarks, including closing down this imitation restaurant.”She declined to answer whether RBI was aware of the cafe’s existence before the Canadian Press asked about it.It’s unclear how long Tim Hottens has been open. The store’s first post on its Facebook page, a profile picture of the logo, dates May 8, 2016. Its first Facebook review appeared two days later.Inside, it appears markedly different from a Canadian Tim Hortons location. Photos show a dark interior that resembles more of a bar or nightclub than a coffee shop.While it serves coffee, the menu is more expansive and includes alcoholic drinks, like mojitos, and burgers. Wait staff serve the diners.Reviewers on Facebook call the food “delicious” and the coffee “best… I ever had,” leaving it an average score of 4.6 stars.Almeida declined to answer whether the company frequently deals with such imitation cases, but this isn’t the first time a knock-off Tim Hortons cafe has cropped up.In 2015, a Canadian posted a photo of a Tim House cafe under construction in South Korea. The logo also had a striking similarity to that of Tim Hortons.Later that year, another Canadian posted a photo of Tim Mortons brand coffee bags being sold at a market in South Korea. At the time, Tim Hortons released a statement saying it will take the steps necessary to protect its trademark.Other Canadian companies have fought to defend their likeness from copycats as well.In 2012, luxury winter jacket maker Canada Goose Holdings Inc. won a counterfeit case in Sweden after five Swedes sold thousands of counterfeit Canada Goose jackets and other luxury products for several years.More recently, Lululemon Athletica Canada Inc. started a legal fight in the U.S. against an alleged connected group of unidentified defendants it says created hundreds of online stores selling counterfeit Lululemon goods.Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter.Companies in this story: (TSX:QSR)
CALGARY – A hodge-podge of public transportation services are already starting to fill the gap as Greyhound Canada moves steadily towards its midnight Halloween disappearance from most of Western Canada.The venerable national motor coach operator is being replaced by a mix of provincial government-subsidized services, Indigenous-owned bus lines, locally owned startups, flexible fleets of shuttle buses and a scattering of formal and informal ride-sharing services.And passengers aren’t waiting for the last Greyhound next Wednesday to check out new options — according to Stuart Kendrick, senior vice-president of Greyhound Canada, ticket sales have already fallen off to the point that some route frequencies are being reduced.“Demand is quite low as we run into this last week or 10 days,” he said in a recent interview.“You’ve got single-digit riderships on the schedule that we have left throughout Western Canada, so that’s probably about a 50 or 60 or 70 per cent decline based on what corridor you look at.”The company plans to stop selling tickets on long-distance routes a few days before the buses stop running to help ensure passengers aren’t left stranded and holding the unused half of a two-way ticket, Kendrick said.The loss of Greyhound spells opportunity for Regina-based Rider Express, a company that began operating a handful of 15-passenger minibuses on inner-provincial routes shortly after government-owned Saskatchewan Transportation Company shut down its bus services in the spring of 2017.Rider has acquired five full-sized 50-seat buses and plans to begin passenger service on a Vancouver-Calgary-Winnipeg route on the Trans-Canada Highway this week, followed in November by a Highway 16 route linking Edmonton and Saskatoon, said manager Shauna Hardy. Both routes will directly replace Greyhound routes.The interest from Saskatchewan residents has been “overwhelming,” she said, adding the company is being asked to take on more routes but has so far declined.Late last May, Calgary-based Pacific Western Transportation was hired by the province of British Columbia to operate its BC Bus North service after Greyhound cancelled service to communities including Prince Rupert and Dawson Creek.Greyhound’s announcement in July that it would exit almost all of Western Canada convinced the company to offer its own inter-city services in B.C. for the first time, said John Stepovy, director of business development. He added the company is also expanding its Alberta offerings.He said he thinks his company can provide the hub in a hub-and-spoke business model as Greyhound closes — it’s already in discussions with operators of small-scale shuttle bus and transit operators about establishing connections with his firm’s routes.“Overall, long-term, where the needs are, where there’s demand, we would anticipate voids will be filled but it could take a little bit of time for those things to shake out once the landscape changes,” Stepovy said.“Discount airlines coming in will probably take on some of that longer-haul (Greyhound demand),” he said. “For bus travel, That one-to-five/six-hour travel time is kind of in the sweet spot.”He added “disruptors” — new travel options such as Poparides, an app that matches passengers with drivers who happen to be going to the same destinations — are also expected to fill the gap.Indigenous-owned charter service Kelsey Bus Lines is being renamed Mahihkan Bus Lines and has announced plans to offer daily passenger routes from Thompson and Flin Flon in northern Manitoba to Winnipeg, as well as freight service.In Alberta, the provincial government has launched pilot programs at a cost of $2.8 million to help five rural municipalities start inter-city bus services. One, centred on Camrose, about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton, has already started and the others are expected to begin over the next three months.The fragmented inter-city transportation model that is emerging can be a positive change, said Barry Prentice, professor of transportation economics at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business.Greyhound likely failed in Western Canada in part because its costs were too high and it lacked the flexibility to respond to changing markets because it carried freight as well as passengers, he said.“As long as they were in the market, it was hard for anyone else to come in. Now that they’re gone, it creates an opportunity,” he said.Most new services are planning to pick up and drop off passengers at hotels, gas stations or tourist information centres. Prentice said that means they won’t be burdened with the costly terminal network Greyhound had to maintain.Kendrick said shutting down all routes from northern Ontario to the West Coast involves a “significant cost’ to Greyhound Canada.He said it’s expected to take several months to sublet its leased real estate and sell its few owned facilities, which include maintenance shops in centres such as Edmonton, Red Deer, Prince Rupert, Prince George and Winnipeg.The company is laying off about 420 employees. It will move 70 or 80 of its 110 western buses to its ongoing operations in Eastern Canada and sell or scrap the rest.A Seattle-Vancouver route operated by Greyhound U.S. will continue to use a Vancouver terminal leased by the Canadian arm. Kendrick said the company plans to ask other bus companies to come in as tenants to fill unused capacity there.Follow @HealingSlowly on Twitter.
WASHINGTON — Apple is at the Supreme Court to defend the way it sells apps for iPhones against claims by consumers that the company has unfairly monopolized the market.The justices are hearing arguments Monday in Apple’s effort to end an antitrust lawsuit that could force the iPhone maker to cut the 30 per cent commission it charges software developers whose apps are sold exclusively through Apple’s App Store. A judge could triple the compensation to consumers under antitrust law if Apple ultimately loses the lawsuit.Apple says it doesn’t own the apps or sell them. That’s the responsibility of software developers.But the lawsuit says the Cupertino, California-based company exerts control over the process, including a requirement that prices end in 99 cents. And iPhone apps are only available through the App Store.Mark Sherman, The Associated Press
London’s Gatwick Airport has been shut down while officials urgently investigate reports that two drones were flying above the airfield.The airport suspended all flights late Wednesday, causing severe disruptions just days before Christmas during one of the heaviest travel times of the year.Gatwick advised travellers via Twitter to check flights scheduled for Thursday before heading to the airport. It also advised anyone planning to pick up arriving passengers to check first.Gatwick says in a statement that it apologizes for the inconvenience but must place safety first. It is a major airport south of London.There have been occasional reports of drones nearly hitting commercial airliners in the London area in recent years.The Associated Press
TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index edged lower in late-morning trading amid broad-based weakness, while U.S. stock markets also lost ground.The S&P/TSX composite index was down 5.75 points at 14,258.31.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 187.76 points at 23,135.90. The S&P 500 index was down 13.37 points at 2,493.59, while the Nasdaq composite was down 53.52 points at 6,583.31.The Canadian dollar traded for 74.13 cents US compared with an average of 74.35 cents US on Wednesday.The February crude contract was down US$1.54 at US$46.63 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was down 0.9 of a cent at US$3.72 per mmBTU.The February gold contract was up US$2.60 at US$1,259 an ounce and the March copper contract was down 2.95 cents at US$2.69 a pound. The Canadian Press Index and currency in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)
SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. judge will hear arguments Friday over California’s attempt to block new rules by the Trump administration that would allow more employers to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women.Judge Haywood Gilliam previously blocked an interim version of those rules — a decision that was upheld in December by an appeals court. But the case is before him again after the administration finalized the measures in November, prompting a renewed legal challenge by California and other states.Gilliam was not expected to rule immediately at the end of hearing.At issue is a requirement under President Barack Obama’s health care law that birth control services be covered at no additional cost. Obama officials included exemptions for religious organizations.The new rules set to go into effect on Monday would allow more categories of employers, including publicly traded companies, to back out of the requirement by claiming religious objections. They would also allow small businesses and other employers to object on moral grounds.The rules “protect a narrow class of sincere religious and moral objectors from being forced to facilitate practices that conflict with their beliefs,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in court documents.The states argue that millions of women could lose free birth control services, forcing them to seek contraceptive care through state-run programs and leading to unintended pregnancies.Attorneys for California and the other states said in court documents the new rules were very similar to the interim measures. One difference is a suggestion in the new rules that women can seek contraceptive coverage through federal family planning clinics for low-income people, according to the states.The states say that would be an inadequate replacement for the contraceptive coverage many women currently have.Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press
WATSON LAKE, Y.T. – At least three homes in the community of Lower Post along the Alaska Highway have been consumed by the Lutz Creek Fire, which has merged with the nearby Blue River Fire and ballooned to 106,000 hectares.The BC Wildfire Service says that there are currently 41 firefighters, four helicopters, and three pieces of heavy equipment battling the blaze, along with three Type 1 fire engines that are assisting structural protection crews.An evacuation order was issued for the community last Tuesday, and at this point it’s not known when the order will be lifted. The CBC is reporting that three homes in Lower Post have been consumed by the Lutz Creek Fire, and that Northwest Fire Centre deputy manager Tony Falcao said Wednesday evening that the situation around Lower Post is “not good,” adding that there are several things to consider before the evacuation order is lifted.The Alaska Highway has reopened to traffic in both directions between Watson Lake, where Lower Post residents have been evacuated, and Coal River.Heavy smoke is being reported along the highway, and motorists are being advised to turn their lights on in the area.With files from CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/watson-lake-lower-post-evacuees-1.4795624
Washington: The US is tracking 250-270 objects of debris in the space generated due to India’s anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test in lower earth orbit, but the International Space Station or ISS is not at risk, the Pentagon said Friday. US Strategic Command’s Joint Force Space Component Command (JFSCC) said 250 pieces of debris associated with an Indian ASAT launch that occurred on Wednesday are being actively tracked. “Debris from the event is being actively monitored by the JFSCC, and conjunction notifications are being issued to satellite owners/operators in accordance with standard notification processes through the Department of Defense’s public space situational awareness sharing website HYPERLINK “http://www.space-track.org,” it said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details The JFSCC said it will continue to actively track debris associated with the event and issue close approach notifications as required until the debris enters the earth’s atmosphere. US Air Force Space Command Commander Lt Gen David D Thompson told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on Thursday that the JFSCC and Air Force’s 18 space control Squadron are currently “tracking about 270 different objects in the debris” field. Responding to questions from members of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, he said the number is going to grow as the debris field spreads out as the US collects more sensor information. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday Thompson, however, refrained from giving any further details of the debris. “But we do know the altitude at which it occurred. We immediately started providing public notice on our space track website and will provide direct notification to satellite operators, if those satellites are under threat,” he said. Responding to questions from lawmakers, Thompson said, “At this point in time, the International Space Station is not at risk.” The ISS orbits over 100 km higher than the orbit at which India carried out the ASAT test. “That’s another thing that we do and provide warning routinely. That’s just an example of -no other nation –no other military force, no other civil or other body could have detected characterised and begun warning and providing the world, the way we do with air force and other joint assets,” Thompson said. Astronomer Jonathan McDowell from the prestigious Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said India acted in a less irresponsible manner than the Chinese in doing the test. “We don’t know yet how much debris and how high. The United States has said that it’s tracking about 250 pieces. But it will take them at least a few days, if not a few weeks to figure to catalog those pieces,” he told PTI. Once the cataloging is done, only then one could analyses how bad the situation is, he added. Responding to a question, McDowell, who has been following India’s space program since 1970s, described the ASAT test as a “much more aggressive stance” even though it is presented as a defensive measure. This is reflective of the ambitious and military side of the Indian space programme and is in response to the China’s aggressive space militarisation programme, he said. Opposed to such tests, McDowell said, the Indian ASAT test was “relatively responsible” or “less responsible” than the Chinese ASAT test. “Although I’m opposed to the test, I think that if you’re going to do a test, that’s a better way to do it. “There will be debris that ends up in higher orbit but not as much and not as long left. The test at level will ensure that the debris doesn’t stay up for long periods of time, in contrast to what happened with the Chinese test, which was much higher up,” he said. “So that is relatively responsible. Certainly they (Indians) have learned from the mistakes of the Chinese,” said the American astronomer. He said the Chinese debris hundreds of pieces in worst possible orbit – are still in the space. The Indian debris might vanish and burn up when they come down in the next few months, while that of the Chinese might take decades to come down, McDowell said. Well known space professional, Brian Weeden said China is one reason for India’s test. “India sees itself in competition with China for regional power and prestige and has been internally debating its own demonstration ever since the Chinese ASAT test in 2007,” he said. “The other factor is India’s concern about being one of the “have nots” for ASAT weapons like they were for nuclear weapons, in the event of a future ban on ASAT testing,” Weeden said. But more tests like this risk creating space debris that could impact commercial business models for space, plus many of these new space companies feel strongly about social responsibility, he added.
New Delhi: The country’s telecom subscriber base grew marginally to 120.5 crore on account of a net addition of customers by Reliance Jio and state-owned BSNL, according to data published by telecom regulator Trai on Thursday. Both Reliance Jio and BSNL jointly added a net of 86.39 lakh mobile subscribers but the rest of the telecom operators jointly lost a net of 69.93 lakh wireless customers with Vodafone Idea losing the biggest chunk of mobile connections, as per the data. The number of telecom subscribers in India increased to 120.54 crore at the end of February from 120.37 crore in January, according to the Telecom Monthly Subscriber Report released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The sector, dominated by wireless connection, recorded an increase in the mobile services subscriber base to 118.36 crore in February from 118.19 crore in January. Reliance Jio alone added 77.93 lakh customers, taking its total subscriber base to 29.7 crore at the end of February. According to a television commercial of the company, it has crossed 30 crore customer base now. BSNL added around 9 lakh new mobile customers, taking its total subscriber base to 11.62 crore in February. “BSNL is the only operator other than Jio that has gained customers. Our performance shows that customers have faith in BSNL. We are able to compete and gain customers with our much-improved 3G network. In our endeavour to provide service, all our officers and employees are together,” BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava said. The state-run firm is competing in the market with 3G network, while all other operators are loaded with spectrum for 4G services. It has requested the government for the allocation of spectrum for 4G services through an equity infusion in 2017. The government is yet to take final decision. The country’s biggest telecom operator Vodafone Idea lost 57.87 lakh mobile subscribers, reducing its total customer base to 40.93 crore in February. It was followed by Tata Teleservices that lost 11.47 lakh mobile customers, Airtel lost 49,896 subscribers, MTNL 4,652 and Reliance Communication 3,611 subscribers. The broadband subscriber base in the country grew 1.89 per cent to over 55 crore from 54 crore during the period.
New York: Former India opener and chairman of selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth loves the fact that current captain Virat Kohli never shies away from taking responsibility, which is a hallmark of a good leader. Srikkanth, a key member of the 1983 World cup winning team, who was also the head of selection committee during the 2011 triumph feels that Kohli’s aggression complemented by Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s calm will again bring back the World Cup. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh “We have a fantastic leader in Virat Kohli, who leads by example. A good thing about him is he takes up responsibility. So King Kohli will do it (again) along with the cool cucumber Dhoni,” Srikkanth told PTI during an interaction. Srikkanth seemed pretty happy with the composition of the 15-member squad for the World cup, which he believes has all the ingredients to emerge victors. “It’s a superb combination of exuberance, passion, calmness together. The Indian team should not put any pressure on itself and play with a sense of self-belief.” Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later Srikkanth, who was also a chairman of selectors for the 2011 World Cup winning squad said all great Indian cricketers is defined by one characteristic trait. “If you talk about self-belief, one thinks of Kapil Dev, for passion, it is Sachin Tendulkar, talk about exuberance and aggression, think of Virat Kohli and talk about calmness and determination, one thinks of M S Dhoni.” The former Indian captain was present at an event arranged by ICC Cricket for Good in collaboration with UNICEF called #OneDay4Children. The initiative will use the influence and reach of the cricket World Cup to help children learn, play and be healthy. The money raised will support UNICEF’s work for children in cricket playing nations across the world. #OneDay4Children ambassador Nasser Hussain and England all-rounder Chris Woakes launched the tournament-wide campaign last week. There will be activities for children throughout all 48 matches of the world cup, peaking with a day of celebration during the England vs India game on June 30 at Edgbaston. “Cricket is a great unifying factor and it gives you a lot of lessons. You develop your personality, life skills, learn about stress management, leadership, communication and team work,” said Srikkanth. “Sports itself is an education. You can’t be just a bookworm nowadays. Children have to play sports and be healthy. Sports is an important part of school curricula because if you want to shine in life as a human being, you need to be good in sports. Cricket teaches you all these things,” he added. “Our most ambitious charity project to date and we know that cricket’s one billion fans will come together to help build a better world for every child,” ICC Chief Executive, David Richardson, said in a statement. “It is a shared belief that cricket has an incredible power to raise vital funds and inspire and empower millions of children,” Executive Director Unicef UK, Mike Penrose said.
Ghaziabad: In a tragic road mishap, a six-year-old boy was killed while his father was critically injured after a Uttar Pradesh roadways bus hit their scooter in Muradnagar area of Ghaziabad on Tuesday afternoon. Cops said that the father and son duo were going to their relative’s house in Muradnagar.According to police, the incident occurred around 12 pm at Delhi-Meerut highway. The victims were identified as six years old Sandik Raghav and his father Sumit, natives of Govindpuram area in Ghaziabad. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehicles”A passerby conveyed information to police and a team rushed to the spot. The victims were taken to a nearby private hospital where doctors declared Sandik dead while his father is in ICU and doctors have stated him as critical,” said Umesh Bahadur Singh, Station House Officer (SHO) of Muradnagar police station. The officer further said that the bus driver had fled the spot after incident but was later arrested in evening. “The bus driver, identified as Mobin, a native of Meerut fled the spot after the incident. Police seized the bus and began searching the accused driver. Later in the evening he was arrested from a hide out in Muradnagar area and he will be produced before the court and will be sent to jail,” added Singh. Also Read – More good air days in Delhi due to Centre’s steps: Javadekar”Following the incident, an FIR under IPC sections 279 (punishment for rash driving or riding on a public way) and 304A (Causing death by negligence) has been registered against the accused bus driver,” Singh said. An eyewitness said that the bus which was being driven rashly hit victim’s scooter while the boy was crushed under the wheel. Cops said that the passengers in the bus sustained minor injuries and they were given first aid.
Fujairah (UAE): Saudi Arabia said Monday two of its oil tankers were damaged in mysterious “sabotage attacks” in the Gulf as tensions soared in a region already shaken by a standoff between the United States and Iran. It came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped a planned visit to Moscow to head to Brussels instead for talks with European officials on Iran. Tehran called for an investigation into the “alarming” attacks and warned of “adventurism” by foreign players to disrupt maritime security. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: ReportBritain warned of the danger of conflict erupting “by accident” in the Gulf. The US has already strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic B-52 bombers in response to alleged Iranian threats. Saudi Arabia, the Islamic republic’s regional arch-rival, condemned “the acts of sabotage which targeted commercial and civilian vessels near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates”, a foreign ministry source said. Also Read – Iraq military admits ‘excessive force’ used in deadly protests”This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation and adversely impacts regional and international peace and security,” the source added. The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels of various nationalities had been targeted by acts of sabotage off the emirate of Fujairah. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the two tankers suffered “significant damage” but there were no casualties or any oil spill. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE gave details on the nature of the attacks. The UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the Emirates will probe the “deliberate sabotage” of the ships. “The investigation will be conducted in a professional manner, the facts will be made clear, and we have our own readings and conclusions,” he tweeted. Fujairah port is the only Emirati terminal located on the Arabian Sea coast, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, through which most Gulf oil exports pass. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of a military confrontation with the United States. One of the two tankers that was attacked was on its way to be loaded with crude oil from a Saudi terminal for customers in the United States, Falih said. Oil prices rose on world markets on Monday with benchmark Brent North Sea crude up 1.8 percent at 71.90 a barrel in London. Gulf stock markets suffered losses with the Saudi bourse down 2.7 per cent. The UAE did not accuse anyone of responsibility but warned that “carrying out acts of sabotage on commercial and civilian vessels and threatening the safety and lives of those on board is a serious development”. No one was hurt and Abu Dhabi called on world powers to help keep maritime traffic safe. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi expressed concern over the incident and its possible consequences. “The incidents in the Sea of Oman are alarming and regrettable,” Mousavi said in a statement. He “warned against plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security” and “called for the vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements”, it added. Almost all the oil exports of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Iran itself, at least 15 million barrels per day, are shipped through the Strait of Hormuz. The Saudi minister denounced the attack on the vessels, saying it “aims to undermine the freedom of maritime navigation and the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world.” The UAE had earlier categorically denied reports on social media of massive explosions in oil tankers off the coast of Fujairah, whose port on Monday was calm with no signs of damage. The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — which includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE — as well as the Arab League condemned Sunday’s incident. “This is a dangerous escalation representing evil intentions by those that planned and executed this operation,” GCC secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani said in a statement. Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the “criminal acts were a dangerous violation of the freedom and safety of trade”.
New Delhi: In a scene straight out of a gangster flick, two criminals were shot dead in firing in the busy streets under Dwarka Mor metro station on Sunday afternoon.The investigating agency said that one of the criminals was killed by the rival whereas the other gangster was shot dead by alert PCR personnel. Police sources said the whole incident was the result of a gang rivalry. Accessed by Millennium Post, the 12 seconds CCTV footage of the alleged incident shows that, two men including one of them wearing helmet fired indiscriminately in a white Ritz car. Also Read – More good air days in Delhi due to Centre’s steps: Javadekar”One of the assailants was shooting from the front of the car and another one at the driver’s gate,” CCTV shows. Further, one of the criminals take out his helmet and went inside the Swift car. The commuters, who were earlier seeing the horrific, started leaving the spot. Another video shot inside the bus shows that people were talking about the firing and the policeman rushing to the spot. A black car left the spot driving rashly. The sound of gunshots alerted a PCR officer, who reached the spot and opened fire at one of the armed assailants killing one of them. The others fled from the spot. Police identified the deceased gangsters as Praveen Gehlot and Vikas Dalal. Reports were coming that Gehlot was earlier arrested by crime branch in a murder case of a property dealer. Also Read – Union min Hardeep Singh Puri, Delhi L-G lay foundation stones for various projects in DwarkaJoint Commissioner of Police (western range) Madhup Tiwari said that at around 3.40-4 pm on Sunday, they were alerted about the incident. “The PCR personnel, who was standing nearby, reached the spot. The accused fired at the policeman and in retaliation, the PCR staff, identified as constable Naresh, fired three rounds killing one of the gangsters (who was one of the assailants). It is the rivalry between two criminals,” added Joint CP. Gehlot was killed by rival whereas another person was killed in the retaliation with police. The place where the incident took place is surrounded with shops, fruit vendors. Everyday heavy traffic moves through the area. It is as an intersection to Dwarka and Uttam Nagar areas. The criminals fire more than 11 rounds into the windshield of the white car. The eyewitnesses requesting anonymity stated, that the criminals started firing indiscriminately and they were frightened. Police is also probing whether some assailants also came in a bike without any number plates. Investigator told that they were from the same gang but there was fall out between them leading to further rivalry. Gehlot was 38-year-old and has studied up to the 12th standard. He has more than nine criminal cases registered against him. Names of several other gangs have also been cropped up behind the incident. The police said that it is a matter of investigation. “We are also investigating whether other criminals were there at the spot and fled the spot after police intervention. Probe is also underway to know whether any gangster was injured in the incident,” said an investigator. When the incident was happening, many people hide their children inside the bus. The senior officers applauded the brave effort of the PCR personnel Naresh, who, without caring his life fought with the criminals and shot one of them dead.
Rabat – Government Chief, Abdelillah Benkirane, praised, here Thursday, the serious work and the positive results achieved within the framework of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) program and the choice of Morocco to participate in the 2nd Millennium Challenge Account (MCA).Benkirane, who chaired a cabinet meeting, hailed the study carried out with the support of the MCC and the African Development Bank (AfDB) on the development constraints and the involvement of MCC in funding critical sectors, such as the development of human capital, good governance and business climate, Delegate Minister for Budget said at a press briefing following the cabinet meeting.The Government Chief noted that the various stakeholders, at the meeting of the National Committee on business environment, held last week with the participation of the representatives of public and private sectors and the institutions concerned, have expressed their total satisfaction with the progress made with regard to the adoption of a range of important measures to facilitate entrepreneurship and the approval of the annual program of the committee.
Rabat – A innovative project that will hire informal trash collectors to work officially is likely to play a significant role in enabling Morocco to meeting its ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, set at 13% by 2020.In Morocco, thousands of trash collectors, locally known as “Mikhala” in Moroccan Darija, are helping in the fight against global warming, through picking and collecting loads of plastic bottles and digging landfills to collect paper, glass, cans and any other recyclable materials.The rubbish pickers are often looked down on as they push their carts loaded with bottles and other materials through the streets of the big cities of Morocco. But, with this new ambitious project, their image and that of the country will change. At their core, “Mikhala” sort and recycle waste in a country where this practice is absent at the consumers’ level.According to a report presented at the European Union last year, “Morocco only recycles about eight percent of its municipal waste, but has targeted to increase the amount to 20 percent by 2020.”“Informal waste processing is generally done by poor social groups with a low level of education as a daily means of survival,” Mustapha Azaaitraoui, a researcher specialized in environmental issues, was quoted by AFP as saying.The initiative to organize the work of the “Mikhala” came from Attawafoq cooperative, which was set up in 2011 with support from the World Bank. It started to work in Oum Azza industrial landfill south of Rabat.Headed by Yassin Mazout, 31, a history graduate who used to collect trash to pay for his studies, the cooperative now has about 150 workers — mainly ex-pickers — to sort trash for recycling on-site instead of on the streets. “We are all equal, we all have the same monthly salary of 2,500 dirhams (US$260),” Mazout told AFP,. “Before, at the old dumpsite, the strong would crush the weak,” he added.The 51-year-old Najat, who spent 18 years as an informal trash picker, is happier now that she is working in a formal and organized way. “We’re much better off,” she said, adding that “We have social security and our earnings help us support our families.”The job of “Mikhala” trash picker, usually looked down in the society, is contributing to the fight against global warming and reducing greenhouse gas, a challenge still facing Morocco.