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Monthly Archives: November 2018

Investigation hampered after security cameras damaged in Bangkok bombing – National

BANGKOK – Thailand’s police chief said Monday the investigation into last week’s bomb blast has been hampered by broken security cameras in central Bangkok along the main suspect’s getaway route.

Police are trying to “put pieces of the puzzle together” but have had to use their imagination to fill holes where street side security cameras were broken and unable to record his movements, said national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung.

One week after last Monday’s bombing at the capital’s revered Erawan Shrine, which left 20 people dead and scores injured, police appeared no closer to tracking down suspects or determining a motive for the attack.

The attack has raised concerns about safety in the capital, which attracts millions of tourists, and has left the city on edge. Police have responded to several calls about unattended bags, which turned out to be false alarms, and have tried to reassure the public and international community that Bangkok is safe.

VIDEO: Thai authorities look for “yellow shirt” man suspected in Bangkok bombing

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On Monday, police said that a worker digging at a construction site found a grenade buried in the ground and a police explosives squad was sent to defuse it. Police Lt. Sakon Rungkiatpaisarn said the grenade appeared to have been buried for a while and authorities “do not think it has anything to do with (last Monday’s) bombing.” The grenade was found in a residential area far from the city centre.

Police have released an artist sketch of the prime suspect from last week’s blast, who is seen in security camera footage from the open-air shrine leaving a backpack at a bench and walking away. The explosion takes place 15 minutes later.

But the images are blurry and after the suspect leaves the scene, the security cameras were broken at key spots along his suspected path, Somyot said.

“Sometimes there are 20 cameras on the street but only five work,” Somyot said, openly frustrated as he spoke to reporters. “We have to waste time putting the dots together.”

“The footage jumps around from one camera to another, and for the missing parts police have to use their imagination,” he said, adding that the Thai police lack the sophisticated equipment seen in popular TV crime shows, like CSI.

“Have you seen CSI?” Somyot asked reporters. “We don’t have that,” he said, referring to high-tech equipment that can render blurry footage clear.

He said that Thailand has “asked for co-operation from countries with better equipment and technology.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said that he had received offers of assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok and had assigned his deputy “to co-operate on borrowing equipment that includes facial-recognition technology.

However, Prayuth ruled out working with U.S. investigators, insisting Thais can do the job.

On Sunday, Somyot said that investigators will “need some luck” to catch the perpetrators whom are suspected to have already left the country.

Toronto Blue Jays cap sweep of Los Angeles Angels with 12-5 win

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Edwin Encarnacion went 4 for 4 with a homer and four RBIs, and the Toronto Blue Jays completed a thunderous three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday with a 12-5 victory that vaulted them back into first place in the AL East.

The Jays’ 16th victory in 19 games, coupled with the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to Cleveland, put Toronto atop the division for the first time since Aug. 13.

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The Blue Jays, who lead the majors by far with 670 runs, set a franchise record for a three-game series with 36. They totalled 48 hits against a vanquished Angels pitching staff that has surrendered 44 runs, 60 hits and 15 walks over their last four games following Jered Weaver’s 1-0 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday.

R.A. Dickey (8-10) won his fifth straight decision over seven starts, despite allowing five runs and 11 hits in six innings. The knuckleballing right-hander overcame a 39-pitch first inning in which he gave up all five runs.

In Friday night’s series opener, Angels lefty Hector Santiago made 48 pitches in the first inning and gave up three runs en route to a 9-2 loss.

Dickey’s catcher was Josh Thole, who was recalled Sunday from Triple-A Buffalo to catch his knuckleball. They were batterymates numerous times the past two seasons with the Blue Jays, and during the previous three years with the New York Mets.

Garrett Richards (12-10) was charged with nine runs and 10 hits in five-plus innings.

Toronto closed to 5-3 in the second inning when a hard grounder to third base by Troy Tulowitzki with one out and the bases loaded got past rookie Kaleb Cowart for an error that allowed two runs to score.

Richards minimized the damage by getting major league RBI leader Josh Donaldson to ground into a double play on the next pitch, but the Blue Jays grabbed a 6-5 lead in the third.

Encarnacion hit an RBI single that extended his career-best hitting streak to 19 games, Ben Revere had a run-scoring infield hit, and Kevin Pillar scored the go-ahead run when shortstop Erick Aybar misplayed Ryan Goins’ grounder toward the middle for the Angels’ fifth error of the series.

Toronto increased its lead to 8-5 in the fourth with back-to-back homers by Jose Bautista (his 29th) and Encarnacion (his 24th). The Blue Jays have homered in 14 straight road games.

NEEDS MORE SEASONING

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said there were no plans to promote C Taylor Ward, their No.1 pick in the June draft, from Triple-A when the rosters are expanded on Sept. 1. Only two players in franchise history made their big league debuts the same summer they were selected in the opening round — 1B Danny Goodwin in 1975 (first overall pick) and LHP Brian Anderson in 1993 (third overall).

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: C Russell Martin sat out his second straight game because of a sore left hamstring.

UP NEXT:

Blue Jays: LHP Mark Buehrle (13-6) gets the assignment Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series at Texas.

Angels: Weaver (5-9) will try for his first road win in over three months when he faces Detroit on Tuesday night in the opener of a nine-game trip. He is 0-4 with a 6.12 ERA in his last four starts away from the “Big A” since beating the Blue Jays 4-3 on May 20.

©2015The Canadian Press

China’s stock market suffers biggest one-day fall since 2007 – National

BEIJING – China’s stock market fell Monday by its biggest margin in eight years, defying the government’s multibillion-dollar attempt to stop a slide that has wiped out all of the gains of this year’s price boom.

The decline threatened to weigh anew on global markets after last week’s Chinese losses triggered a worldwide selloff.

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The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 8.5 per cent to close at 3,209.91 points, its biggest one-day loss since an 8.8 per cent decline on Feb. 27, 2007. The index is down 38 per cent from its June 12 peak and just under 1 per cent below its closing on Dec. 31, last year’s final trading day.

The slump has inflicted heavy losses on small investors, souring many on stock ownership and threatening to disrupt Communist Party plans to use the market to raise money for reforms of state industry.

“It feels like the end of the world,” said Pan Chong, a social media specialist. He said he invested 50,000 yuan ($7,900) in April, made 40 per cent and then saw the market wipe out those gains.

“The so-called correction will finally become a long-term bear market,” said Pan, 25. “So I’m considering selling all my shares as soon as possible.”

The Chinese benchmark soared more than 150 per cent starting in late 2014 after state media said shares were inexpensive, which led investors to believe Beijing would shore up prices if needed. Urged on by state media, millions of novice investors rushed into the market.

Prices faltered and then plunged after an unrelated change in banking regulations in June led investors to question whether Beijing’s support might be weakening. The market index fell 30 per cent, prompting Beijing to intervene by barring big shareholders from selling and promising state-owned brokerages and pension funds would buy.

Beijing’s initiatives helped to calm markets. But after the state-owned company charged with buying shares to prop up prices announced it would not intervene every day, the Shanghai index fell 11.5 per cent last week.

The declines come at a time when exports, manufacturing and other Chinese industries are weakening, leaving little economic foundation for higher share prices.

The latest fall probably was triggered by poor performance at publicly traded companies, said Guo Tianyong, a professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing.

The government reported last week that profits at state-owned companies contracted by 2.3 per cent in July from a year ago, compared with a 0.1 per cent contraction through June.

“We shouldn’t doubt the government’s ability to rescue the market. If they want, they could push up the stock index to 5,000, but it is not necessary for the government to play an excessive role,” said Guo. “It still would be better for the market itself to play its role.”

Beijing’s surprise Aug. 11 devaluation of its yuan added to investor jitters. They worry the change will lead to money flowing out of China, reducing credit available for trading. The central bank has responded by pumping extra money into credit markets.

The ruling party wants to use the markets to raise money for state companies to reduce debt loads and modernize. The party also wants to encourage stock ownership as a way for families to save for retirement, reducing demand for social spending. But small investors whose holdings have plunged in value say they will no longer buy shares.

Lu Zhen, 29, an employee at a financial firm, said the value of his shares rose by 250,000 yuan ($40,000) over the first half of the year. But he said since the June downturn, he has lost that and an additional 150,000 yuan ($24,000).

“This is definitely the end of a bull market,” Lu said.

AP researchers Dong Tongjian and Yu Bing contributed to this report.

Kitsilano residents worry about water levels in Jericho Beach ponds

Low water levels in two ponds at Jericho Beach Park is prompting concern among residents, worried about wildlife who rely on the ponds.

For decades, Tanya Hockley has been coming to Jericho Beach Park, but says she’s never seen water levels so low.

“It’s quite concerning. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the animals. Apparently, some of them are dying already,” she said, adding that animals she used to see in the pond are nowhere to be found.

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“I don’t see the turtles so much anymore. I used to always see the turtles, so I don’t know where they’re going. And I haven’t seen any otters. There’s a lot of things I haven’t seen anymore,” she said.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver moving to Stage 3 water restrictions

Adelle Bernadette, who lives near the park, has also been keeping an eye on the dwindling water levels.

“It’s hard to walk through here and see it worsening by the day,” she said.

Bernadette has been in touch with the Vancouver Park Board and Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services – who confirm an offer has been made to the Park Board to pump water into the pond.

No one from the Board was available for an interview today. However, in an email, they point to this summer’s dry conditions as a big part of the problem, adding the ponds are “slowly infilling with vegetation and sediment which also reduces open water.”

They also say an application for federal funding last fall to excavate some areas to enhance open water was denied.

Late Sunday afternoon, a spokesperson with the city confirmed a Park Board biologist would visit the ponds on Monday to check the situation.

Both Bernadette and Hockley hope more action is taken soon.

“If they can bring in water, that would really help a lot, but they’d have to bring a fair amount I imagine…and I don’t know where they’d bring it from,” said Hockley.

Boaters return from expedition aiming to map ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’

SAN FRANCISCO – Scientists and volunteers who have spent the last month gathering data on how much plastic garbage is floating in the Pacific Ocean returned to San Francisco on Sunday and said most of the trash they found is medium to large-sized pieces, as opposed to tiny ones.

Volunteer crews on 30 boats have been measuring the size and mapping the location of tons of plastic waste floating between the West Coast and Hawaii.

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“It was a good illustration of why it is such an urgent thing to clean up because if we don’t clean it up soon then we’ll give the big plastic time to break into smaller and smaller pieces,” said Boyan Slat, who has developed a technology that he says can start removing the garbage by 2020.

READ MORE: Vancouver Aquarium study sounds the alarm about the effects of microplastics in local waters

A ship carrying fishing nets, buckets, buoys and bottles, among other items, and two sailing boats with volunteers who helped collect the garbage samples arrived in San Francisco’s Piers 30-32. The boats went on a 30-day voyage as part of the “Mega Expedition,” a major step in an effort to eventually clean up what’s known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The expedition was sponsored by The Ocean Cleanup, an organization founded by Slat, a 21-year-old innovator from the Netherlands.

Slat said the group will publish a report of its findings by mid-2016 and after that they hope to test out a 1-mile (1.6 kilometre) barrier to collect garbage near Japan. The ultimate goal is construction of a 60-mile (100 kilometre) barrier in the middle of the Pacific.

READ MORE: Loblaw’s ban of microbeads, chemicals puts pressure on feds

He first became passionate about cleaning the oceans of plastic while diving in the Mediterranean Sea five years ago. “I was diving in Greece and realized that there were more plastic bags than fish, and I wondered why can’t we clean this up,” Slat said.

After dropping out of university after his first six months, Slat dedicated his life to developing the technology the group will start testing next year.

He has envisioned using long-distance floating barriers that will attach to the seabed and will target swirling ocean currents full of waste and skim garbage from the surface while aquatic life and the currents themselves pass underneath.

After a 2012 Ted Talk about his idea was viewed more than 2 million times, Slat decided to launch a kick starter campaign and raised $2 million euros (about $ 2.27 million) that helped to start his organization. Soon, his innovative solution got the attention of major philanthropists in Europe and Silicon Valley, including Salesforce杭州夜网 CEO Marc Benioff, who are helping pay for the data-gathering efforts and the technology’s development.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was discovered by Charles J. Moore in 1997 as he returned home from the Transpacific Yacht Race, which starts in Los Angeles and ends in Honolulu.

©2015The Canadian Press

Greek coast guard search for missing after migrant boat capsizes – National

ATHENS, Greece – Greece’s coast guard was searching Monday for at least six people missing at sea after the dinghy they were using to enter Greece clandestinely from Turkey overturned off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos.

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The coast guard said it had rescued six people and recovered the body of one man, and was searching the area for the missing. It was alerted after a fishing boat picked up one person off the island’s eastern coast Monday morning, and a second managed to swim to the island. The two told authorities they had been in a boat carrying about 15 people when it overturned.

Separately, the coast guard said it had picked up 877 people in 30 search and rescue operations from Friday morning to Monday morning off the coasts of the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Kos. The figures do not include the hundreds to manage to make it to the islands themselves, mostly in inflatable dinghies.

Greece has been overwhelmed by an influx of mainly refugees from Syria and Afghanistan reaching its islands from Turkey, with more than 160,000 entering the country so far this year.

The vast majority, if not all, do not want to remain in Greece, a financially broken country where unemployment runs at more than 26 per cent. Instead, the migrants seek to make their way north toward more prosperous European countries such as Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

The Greek government has chartered a ferry to transport migrants and refugees from the Greek islands to the country’s main port of Piraeus near Athens, as tickets on regular ferries are hard to obtain during the peak tourist and holiday season.

The ferry arrived in Piraeus Monday morning with 2,500 mostly Syrian refugees transported from Lesbos. Thousands more remain on the islands.

Members of Canadian Forces get help launching businesses – Regina

REGINA – After serving in the Canadian Forces for years, some people opt to chase a different dream.

The transition to civilian life can be challenging, but a group in Regina aims to help military members launch their own businesses.

Erin Copeland got into the Canadian Air Force to become a pilot. She signed a 13-year contract to serve our country. In the end, she chose to become a logistics officer, working in human resources.

“I wanted something that I could transition to the civilian life easily,” she said.

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Copeland values the time she spent with the Canadian Forces, but now she’s switching gears and looking to open a bakery with her husband in Squamish, British Columbia.

“I don’t regret any of the 13 years that I’ve done. It’s all prepared me for this.”

However, she is nervous about taking on so much responsibility.

“It’s always risky. You’re coddled in the Canadian Forces. You’re given everything. Things like healthcare and benefits and stuff you don’t need to think about,” she said. “In the military you’re used to going to work, having people tell you what to do.”

Now, it will all be up to her. That’s where The Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur Program comes in. Held each year at the Paul J. Hill Business School, the one-week crash course gives military personnel advice on their business ventures.

More than 50 per cent of people at the boot camp have been medically released by the Canadian Forces, including 25-year Navy veteran, Rob Froher.

“What we have to contribute to society is more than just warfare. It’s more about what people are looking for in business,” he said.

Froher wants to become a personal trainer: “These people know something more than I do about business. I just came with an open mind to learn.”

Getting into the program isn’t easy. For every person accepted, two are rejected.

The information being given over the week of lectures and discussions has a wide focus.

“They’re going to get some accounting understanding, They’re going to get some marketing understanding. They’re going to understand how to position their business when they’re seeking financing,” said Brian Schumacher, associate dean at the business school.

The goal of the boot camp is simple: Help people succeed.

“We are a program about getting people to have revenues and hire people and really create economic benefits in their community,” said program manager, Janet McCausland.

Instructors know these individuals are up to the task.

“Starting up your own business and making it profitable for the long-term is a very formidable challenge,” said Schumacher. “We know that these folks are up to that. They’ve proven it in the past.”

There are four other Canadian universities offering the program: Laval, Dalhousie, Memorial and for the first time in 2016, Queen’s.

Typhoon Goni lashes Japan after leaving 19 dead, 16 missing in northern Philippines – National

ABOVE: Typhoon Goni lashed the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa with heavy rains and winds on Monday.

TOKYO – Typhoon Goni lashed the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa with heavy rains and winds on Monday, as the death toll rose to 19 in the northern Philippines. The latest victims include a 9-month-old boy and his 2-year-old sister who drowned in flash floods.

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  • Typhoon Goni leaves 15 dead, 12 missing in northern Philippines

Wind-gusts of 256 kph (159 mph), a local record, flipped over cars and toppled utility poles overnight on the remote Japanese island of Ishigaki, near Taiwan, Japanese media reported. A few people were cut by broken windows. The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 180 kph (112 mph), was heading north toward Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu.

Sixteen people were missing in the Philippines in addition to the 19 dead.

Landslides killed at least 13 people in the mountain province of Benguet, including four gold miners who were pulled out of a huge mudslide that buried three work camps. A dozen miners were missing and more than 100 policemen and fellow miners dug through the mud amid fading hope that survivors would be found, officials said.

Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan said days of pounding rain and a swollen creek saturated a mountain slope, which cascaded down the gold-mining area at dawn Saturday. “They were sleeping when a huge chunk of the mountain came down and buried their work sites,” he said by phone.

Six people died elsewhere in the north, and four others were missing, according to the Office of Civil Defence.

The 9-month old boy and his sister drowned after floods swept away their riverside shanty in Subic town in northwestern Zambales province early Monday. Their 5-year-old brother remains missing.

The typhoon damaged more than 1,000 houses, said Alexander Pama, head of the government’s disaster-response agency.

Goni is the ninth of about 20 storms and typhoons that are expected to batter the Philippines this year. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most ferocious storms on record to hit land, devastated large areas of the central Philippines in November 2013, leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing.

Associated Press writers Jim Gomez and Teresa Cerojano in Manila and Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo contributed to this story.

Majority of post-secondary students run out of money before school year ends: poll

TORONTO – If past practice is any indication, the majority of post-secondary school students will likely run out of money before the school year ends – and end up turning to the Bank of Mom and Dad for help.

A new poll from CIBC has found that 51 per cent of post-secondary students tapped their parents for additional financial support last year because they ran out of money.

And according to the bank, there wasn’t much difference between students from higher- and lower-income families.

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CIBC said some 48 per cent of students from families with household incomes of more than $125,000 tapped their parents for extra cash, compared with 52 per cent from families with household incomes of less than $75,000.

Sarah Widmeyer, managing director and head of Wealth Advisory Services, at the bank, said that even though 86 per cent of parents surveyed considered themselves good role models for financial planning, some students were treating their parents like personal ATMs.

Widmeyer said young people need to understand that their parents may not always be willing or able to dispense extra cash and that being taught basic financial and budgeting skills before they go off to college or university is essential.

“Clearly, being a good financial role model doesn’t mean your children will understand how to manage their own finances,” she said.

“That’s why it is so important to teach them the importance of balancing a budget in their early teens because it’s a much a tougher lesson to learn when they are off living on their own for the first time in their lives.”

The online survey was conducted Aug. 13-17 among 1,001 Canadian parents who are Angus Reid Forum panellists.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

Judges dismisses claim of paraplegic former DND staffer from 1990s Arctic ordeal

OTTAWA – The case of a former civilian defence employee, left as a paraplegic by a horrific military transport crash in the Arctic, has been dismissed by a Federal Court judge.

Bob Thomson, whose 1991 ordeal was made into a movie over 20 years ago, had pleaded with Veterans Affairs and its appeal body to be treated on par with those in uniform.

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Justice Denis Gascon, in a written decision last week, said the former manager made some valid, compelling points, but until Parliament changes the law, Thomson remains ineligible for the same benefits as military survivors of the same crash.

“For the reasons that follow, while I sympathize with Mr. Thomson and his dramatic circumstances, I must dismiss the application,” Gascon wrote in an Aug. 18 decision, released online Friday.

“I acknowledge that Mr. Thomson raises numerous valid concerns regarding the treatment of his claim for compensation when compared to the treatment received by members of the Canadian Forces in similar situations. However, this is something that only Parliament and the legislature, not this Court, can ultimately address.”

Thomson survived the Oct. 30, 1991 crash of C-130 Hercules in the Northwest Territories, but was left paralysed and after spending 30 hours exposed to the elements before rescue, he suffered multiple amputations because of frostbite.

The transport was on a resupply mission to Canadian Forces Station Alert when the aircraft struck a rocky outcrop on Ellsmere Island. The pilot was apparently flying by sight rather than instruments when the crash happened 16 kilometres short of the runway.

Four of the 18 people on board were killed.

READ MORE: Veterans launch ‘Anyone But Conservatives’ campaign during Harper stop

The tragedy was made into a television movie two years later, titled Ordeal in the Arctic, based on the book Death and Deliverance. The film starred television actor Richard Chamberlain as the pilot, Capt. John Couch.

Carl Gannon, the national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Union of Veterans Affairs Employees, said it’s not only instance where the military is treated better than their civilian counterparts.

He pointed to the ongoing fight of RCMP members to have access to the veterans independence program, which provides housekeeping and other support to elderly and disabled ex-soldiers.

“It’s shameful,” said Gannon. “It is not the federal court or even VRAB (Veterans Review Appeal Board) that are at fault, it is Parliament. They must recognize the sacrifices Canadians make and adjust legislation accordingly but until this happens, we will continue to see these types of injustices.”

In the years after the crash, Thomson was compensated for his injuries under the Flying Accidents Compensation Regulations and awarded a pension by Veterans Affairs, but he denied entitlement to a stipend known as the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance, which is given to military members.

He represented himself before the Federal Court and argued that the veterans review board made a mistake in denying him the benefit and a clothing allowance because of the high degree of his disability.

Thomson, who managed retail outlets for the military, argued that civilians such as himself faced discrimination by not being on the same footing as military members involved in the same accident.

Gascon, in his ruling, noted that special allowances are not included under the flying accident guidelines and that as such there was no basis for discrimination.

The judge went out of his way to suggest it was something the government needed to address.

“Once again, I acknowledge that Mr. Thomson raises numerous valid concerns regarding the treatment of his claim for compensation when compared to the treatment received by members of the Canadian Forces in a similar situation,” Gascon concluded. “However, this is something that should be raised with Parliament and the legislature, as only them, and not this Court, can ultimately address those.”

©2015The Canadian Press