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The Weeknd donates 50000 to the University of Toronto to kickstart an

first_imgGrammy award-winning R&B star and Toronto native Abel Tesfaye — alias The Weeknd — has donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto in support of establishing an Ethiopic Studies program.The Scarborough native, whose parents emigrated from Ethiopia, “immediately” answered the call from the Bikila Awards organization who said they weren’t even sure he’d respond to their request, but was surprised by his immediate generosity. (The Star could not reach Tesfaye for comment on Saturday.)“It’s unbelievable,” Tam Gebeyehu, board member of the Bikila Award told the Star. “He grew up in Toronto as an Ethiopian-Canadian, and now he’s giving back to the community.” Login/Register With: The Bikila Award, named after Ethiopian Olympic hero Abebe Bikila who won gold twice running barefoot in the marathon in the 1960s, is an organization created to foster academic, professional and business excellence and promote volunteerism among Ethiopian-Canadians. Facebook Twitter Advertisement Advertisement Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment last_img read more

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James Cameron compares Avatar sequels to The Godfather

first_img Facebook Advertisement Login/Register With: James Cameron Hopes Everyone Will Be As Tired Of ‘Avengers’ As He Is: ‘There Are Other Stories To Tell’Enough is enough, says legendary director James Cameron. The “Avatar” and “Titanic” filmmaker turned his famously critical gaze to Marvel’s upcoming superhero epic “Avengers: Infinity War”.Cameron, 63, told reporters on Saturday he respects what Marvel Studios has done for the superhero genre, but that he is burnt out by the sheer number of movies. READ MOREJames Cameron Hopes for ‘Avengers’ Fatigue: ‘There Are Other Stories To Tell’ In Sci-FiAs it appears that this chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming to an end with “Avengers: Infinity War,” sci-fi aficionado James Cameron says that’s probably for the best.The man behind legendary sci-fi franchises such as “Terminator” and “Avatar” told reporters on Saturday that he’s a fan of the “Avengers” movies, but he fears that they have dominated too much of the genre as of late. READ MORE Advertisement James Cameron compares Avatar sequels to The GodfatherJames Cameron told journalists Saturday that his four planned Avatar sequels are at heart a “generational family saga” and compared the films to The Godfather. The writer-director was speaking at his production company in Manhattan Beach, California in the course of a press event to promote the filmmaker’s new AMC documentary show, AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, which premieres April 30. READ MOREJames Cameron Speaks Out On New AMC Sci Fi Series, Oscar Snubs, A Return To ‘Terminator’, And The Effect Of Fox/Disney Merger On ‘Avatar’ SequelsDuring a press opportunity this morning for his new six-part TV series, AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story Of Science Fiction (4/30) director James Cameron let loose on the current “politicizing of science”, his commitment to four Avatar sequels and the effect of the Fox/Disney proposed merger on them, the need for rethinking the themes in his upcoming return to Terminator, and why Oscar may have a prejudice against sci-fi films. READ MOREJames Cameron Is Tired of Avengers MoviesWhile promoting his new documentary series AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction on Saturday morning, James Cameron expressed that he hopes people will finally get tired of Avengers movies so they can start getting tired of Avatar sequels. “I’m hoping we’re going to start getting Avenger fatigue,” the Academy Award winning director said. “Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, come on, guys, there are other stories to tell besides, you know, hypogonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process.” Yikes, I kind of think he might actually not love the movies. READ MORE LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Twitter Advertisementlast_img read more

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Unifor calls for strong local multiethnic TV news

first_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Login/Register With: The third language programming licence comes with a rare, mandatory 12 cent monthly fee paid by all subscribers. The fee is likely to rise to meet the CRTC’s expectations of reaching more third language communities including Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog and Italian. Rogers is just one of eight applicants vying for the multi-ethnic television news service.“Local news is essential to local democracy and that’s what matters to the nearly four million Canadians who potentially will be watching these newscasts,” said Moore.Unifor is calling on the CRTC to impose a fair wage policy as a condition of licence. The current collective agreements between Unifor and the Rogers-owned OMNI stations in Vancouver and Toronto contain fair pay and working conditions. Unifor is also asking the CRTC to bar the winning applicant from contracting out to cheaper labour providers, as Rogers has done with Fairchild Media and its current Chinese language newscasts, creating an editorial monopoly in Chinese language news in Canada.“If Rogers doesn’t retain the licence, the new broadcaster can’t be allowed to receive public money with a blank cheque to exploit media workers,” said Howard Law, Unifor’s Media Director.The CRTC deadline for public interventions is May 17 and members of the public are encouraged to submit their views through the CRTC website.Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future. TORONTO, May 2, 2018 – The union representing journalists and media workers at Rogers OMNI TV stations in Vancouver and Toronto is demanding the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) impose stringent conditions on any new multi-language news licencee.“This special licencee must deliver great local news, and lots of it,” said Jake Moore, President, Unifor Local 79M and chair of Unifor’s Media Council.  “The next licence holder must earn its monthly cable fees.”center_img Facebook Advertisement Advertisement Twitterlast_img read more

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TORONTO DESIGNER HILARY MACMILLAN IS LAUNCHING EXTENDED SIZING

first_imgHilary MacMillan (Photographer Ted Belton) Advertisement Facebook LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Login/Register With:center_img Canadian womenswear designer Hilary MacMillan is the latest to join the growing number of labels offering extended sizing. For the first time, the Toronto-based clothing line is making select pieces from their spring-summer 2020 collection available up to 4X and dress size 22.The label’s popular feminism-themed capsule of sloganed varsity jackets became available in extended sizing last year after customer demand, but they were also receiving requests to extend the seasonal collections. While the costs and risks to expand sizes are higher for smaller, independent brands like Hilary MacMillan, the team felt that it could be done now. Advertisement Twitterlast_img read more

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Families of Sisters in Spirit raising hope

first_imgAPTN National NewsThe families of missing or murdered Aboriginal women are taking action to support each other, to end violence and raise awareness.They held their first “Families of Sisters in Spirit” fundraiser in Ottawa.The event began with a vigil on Victoria Island to mark the eight anniversary of the unsolved murder of Terrie Ann Dauphinais.Dauphinais was a young Aboriginal mother who was murdered in her home outside Calgary.It was a small gathering to honour and remember other victims of violence across Canada.last_img

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TRC gathers residential school memories from inmates

first_imgAPTN National NewsCanada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is gathering statements from prisoners in Canada’s jails.The TRC is visiting two prisons in Saskatchewan later this week.And they just wrapped up a week-long visit the Northwest Territories. It was the first time that the TRC spoke with inmates there about their residential school experiences.But as APTN National News reporter Cullen Crozier finds out, opening up about the past is sometimes easier said than done.last_img

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Connie Oakes case Crowns star witness told prisoners advocate Oakes wasnt at

first_imgJorge Barrera APTN National NewsAfter she testified as the Crown’s star witness in Connie Oakes’ murder trial, Wendy Scott phoned a prisoners advocate to say the Cree woman was not at the scene of the crime, according to documents filed with the Court of Appeal of Alberta.With no murder weapon, DNA or fingerprint evidence, the murder case against Oakes rested solely on Scott’s testimony.Scott’s testimony during the trial was riddled with contradictions and some of her claims did not match the physical evidence gathered as part of the murder investigation of Oakes, a Cree woman from Nekaneet Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Scott, however, maintained throughout the trial that she was there with Oakes when Medicine Hat, Alta., resident Casey Armstrong was murdered in the bathroom of his trailer during the May 2011 Victoria Day long-weekend.It has now emerged that after she testified at the trial, Scott contacted Kim Pate, who is head of the Elizabeth Fry Society, seeking help because she didn’t believe Oakes was in Armstrong’s trailer at the time of the murder, according documents filed by the Alberta Crown fighting Oakes appeal of the murder conviction.“She called Kim Pate after she testified in Oakes’ trial because she did not believe Oakes was at Armstrong’s trailer,” said the Crown document.Oakes is currently serving a 14-year sentence after a Medicine Hat jury found her guilty of second degree murder. Armstrong was killed by a vicious knife wound to his neck that nearly decapitated him.Oakes says she is innocent of the crime.APTN National News has been investigating the case for over a year and interviewed Oakes in prison. Click here for full coverage.Scott, who pleaded guilty to her involvement in the crime, is also before the Court of Appeal of Alberta trying to have her guilty plea quashed.Scott has been assessed by a psychiatrist as having an IQ of 50.The Crown filed the documents on Sept. 23 in response to Oakes’ appeal filing. Oakes is fighting her murder conviction based fresh evidence contained in an affidavit from Scott that is currently sealed. The appeal hearing is set for November.The Crown’s filing, however, summarizes the main points in Scott’s affidavit.Scott’s affidavit states she cooperated with the police and later the Crown to support their theory Oakes killed Armstrong because she was “very scared” and wanted “to be safe,” according to the Crown’s summary.Scott’s affidavit claims investigators suggested details about the case to her and at one point identified the photograph of the vehicle police believed was used in the murder, according to the Crown summary.Scott also states she was questioned weekly by police about the Armstrong murder between June 2011 and January 2012, but those interrogations were never mentioned in the disclosure to Oakes’ defence, according to the summary.The Crown is arguing that the affidavit should not be used as fresh evidence in Oakes’ appeal case because it doesn’t meet the standard set out in case law. The Crown argues that Scott does not explain why she claimed during trial that she saw Oakes kill Armstrong.“Oakes has characterized what Scott has done in this affidavit as a recantation, but it is not. It is the publication of vague assertions of belief without supporting information,” said the Crown’s submission. “While it would have been very simple for Scott to set out that she lied when she testified to seeing Oakes attacking Armstrong she has not done this.”The Crown also states the three officers named by Scott as being involved in previously undisclosed interrogations have each filed affidavits contradicting the claim she was interrogated throughout the summer and fall of 2011.Medicine Hat officers Sgt. Mike Fisher, Sgt. Jeff Klick and Sgt. Jason Graham all claim in an affidavit they only came into contact with Scott between December 2011 and January 2012. The officers state in the sworn affidavits that they only learned of Scott’s possible involvement in the murder in December 2011.Medicine Hat police switched lead investigators on the Armstrong murder case after they failed to turn up any solid leads following seven months of investigation.The officers’ affidavits also reveal that Scott repeatedly changed her story during interrogations, even claiming at one point that everything she said about Oakes was a lie, that the real killer was named “Ginger” and that she was covering for her.At another point, Scott claimed that the killer was a man who had shown up one day around the time Armstrong was killed with bloodstains and asked that she sell some pills he obtained.Scott later told police she had lied about the man’s involvement.It emerged during Oakes’ trial that the man’s claim he was away working in Saskatchewan the weekend Armstrong was killed was corroborated by a cousin.APTN has also learned that the red Grand-Am police believe was used in the murder was sold to a drug dealer named Ginger before the murder. Ginger, whose real name is known to APTN, has red hair.An eye-witness who testified during trial said she saw two women, one with red hair and the other with long dark hair, in Armstrong’s drive-way putting a black duffle bag or garbage bag in the back of an old, red car.The affidavits also show investigators at one point concluded Scott had nothing to do with the murder. This occurred after they asked her to take the police to Armstrong’s trailer, but she got lost before finally finding Armstrong’s trailer.“On Dec. 7, 2011, it was decided to release her as it did not appear as though she participated in the homicide in any way and also did not help destroy evidence or have prior knowledge of what was planned,” stated Fischer, in his affidavit.The police’s interest in Scott resumed a little less than a month later after she went to the station to deal with a warrant on a separate matter, according to Fischer’s affidavit. During the Jan. 5, 2012, police interview with Scott, she stated she had cancer and claimed a man was involved in the murder.She then texted Fischer the next day saying she needed to speak with him and then over the phone stated she had to get “something off her chest.”Scott then went through another police interview the next day and accused the man along with Oakes of the murder, stated Fischer’s affidavit.It appears that a Jan. 10, 2012, interview with Scott formed the foundation of the case against Oakes. Scott was brought in after Staff-Sgt. Brent Secondiak, who was tasked with reanimating the murder investigation, ordered her arrest on a count of obstruction.After her arrest, she went with the officers to Armstrong’s trailer once more and then to the home she had shared with Oakes around the time of the murder. (Oakes claims Scott moved in with her after the murder occurred).Then police continued to interrogate Scott who repeatedly changed her story, claiming she wasn’t at the scene, that she was camping that weekend, that it was Ginger who was involved and that she was covering for her.According to Graham’s affidavit, the officers continued to interrogate Scott until finally she admitted she was involved and provided details on Oakes’ involvement in the murder.The next day she performed a re-enactment of the murder.In her own appeal application, Scott alleges Medicine Hat police told her during the interrogations that Oakes issued a statement implicating her and that she faced 25 years in prison if she didn’t confessed.No such statement from Oakes existed.Graham states in his affidavit that he did mention an Oakes statement during the Jan. 10 interrogation, but in a round-about way.“I also said that if I had spoken to Oakes, why would she say that Scott went into the house with her?” stated Graham, in the affidavit. “Scott vehemently denied that she had ever been in Armstrong’s house. I also said that if Oakes was trying to paint a picture of Scott that was wrong she needed to say so and Scott said that Oakes was doing that.”jbarrera@aptn.ca@JorgeBarreralast_img read more

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Up close and personal with Indigenous woman living with HIV

first_imgAPTN National NewsDoris Peltier has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS since she was diagnosed 15 years ago.Her latest battle has been to decolonize how research is conducted on Indigenous patients, especially women.For Aboriginal AIDS Awareness week, APTN’s Tom Fennario caught up with Peltier to talk about her life and activism.last_img

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Tobique blues artists calls the New Brunswick governments decision to get rid

first_img(Blues guitarist Gary Sappier says he’ll try to keep art NB independent from government)Trina Roache APTN National NewsTOBIQUE FIRST NATION – A blues guitarist from the Tobique First Nation says the New Brunswick government’s decision to end the work of a program that funds artists “heartbreaking.”Gary Sappier said he worked with Arts NB to help up and coming artists find money and opportunities vital to an arts career.The Liberal Government in New Brunswick will take over the work of the board, cutting $400,000 in administration costs by laying off staff.Arts NB found out about the move Feb. 3.The board came into existence in 1989 so the province would have an arms length, non-political entity to hand out taxpayer dollars to artists in the province.“I’m more concerned about the governance side,” said Sappier. “What we were advocating for 25 years, and it was a national model, was to work at arm’s length from government, from bureaucrats who can give whoever they want the money. We’re judged by our own peers. We’re not bound by bureaucrats who nothing about the arts.”Sappier said aboriginal artists have been served well by Arts NB.“They hired an aboriginal outreach worker, an artist herself, doing outreach work to artists in Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities,” said Sappier. She engaged the communities. Helped with everything, from forms to what programs artists are eligible for. It will be sad to see it all go.”Sappier has worn many hats in the music industry, from music producer to performing in his own Gary Sappier Blues Band.He said establishing a career in the arts is a hard road. His main focus with Arts NB is to help artists find cash, navigate complicated grant forms, and career development.Sappier points to successful New Brunswick bands like the award-winning City Natives as an example of how far aboriginal artists have come.“In 2014, we had four ECMA artists right here from Tobique. Four groups from New Brunswick. City Natives, won big at the East Coast Music Awards,” said Sappier. “The headlines read; Tobique First Nation shines at ECMA’s. These guys are working very, very hard at their craft. They’ve stepped up to the challenge.”But Aboriginal artists need support and Sappier said he is worried that will disappear if government takes over the arts board.“It’s pretty hard, it’s an endless self-promotion. And you’re always doing it every day,” said Sappier. “Networking is one of the most important things you can do outside the province. The Arts board? We were doing that. That’s one of the things we’re going to miss.”It’s not over yet.New Brunswick Tourism, Culture and Heritage Minister, along with the Premier Brian Gallant, are expected to meet with the arts board next week.Sappier plans to plead his case of why having a board at arm’s length from government is so important.Phone calls to the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage were not returned.A press release issued earlier this month said the decision wouldn’t mean less money for artists.Minister Bill Fraser said, “This will result in a more focused, streamlined approach to ensure that the maximum amount of funding reaches the artists in a cost-effective way while ensuring that the arm’s-length, peer assessment model remains intact.”But in a post to the Arts NB site, the board chair wrote that he disagrees with the decision.“The actions Minister Fraser is taking right now will wreck something that has been working for over 25 years through successive Liberal and Conservative governments,” said Pierre McGraw. “Does this government really want to be the regime that re-politicizes arts funding?”troache@aptn.calast_img read more

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Senator Murray Sinclair appointed investigator to look into Thunder Bay police board

first_imgWillow FiddlerAPTN National NewsSitting Senator Murray Sinclair was appointed as an investigator and tasked to look into the administration of the Thunder Bay police board.Sinclair, who also chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was named to the job Monday by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC).The OCPC investigation will look into “serious concerns” the OCPC has regarding the board, specifically their ability to address matters related to the deaths of Indigenous youth, public statements from the board that there is no basis for public concerns of systemic racism within the service, and the recent criminal charges laid against the police chief.The OCPC is a provincial tribunal with a mandate that includes ensuring police service boards are providing efficient oversight of police services.Sinclair was the first lndigenous Judge in Manitoba, working in the justice system for 25 years before chairing the TRC and then being appointed as an independent Senator in 2016.In May, First Nations leadership including Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Grand Council Treaty #3 called on the OCPC to intervene in what they were calling a policing crisis after the bodies of two First Nations youth were found in Thunder Bay rivers.Tammy Keeash, 17 years and Josiah Begg, 14 years, were both reported missing the same night on May 6. Keeash’s body was found on May 7 and Begg’s on May 18.The families of both Keeash and Begg are looking for answers as to how their children ended up dead in the river.Under the direction of the Chief Coroner of Ontario, the York Regional Police are now working on both death investigations.There has been heavy criticism and concern over the city’s death investigations of First Nations people, particularly young First Nations. It was a focus of the student inquest that examined the deaths of seven First Nations students attending high school in the city between 2000 and 2011. Five of those students were found dead in city rivers. In that inquest, a jury could not conclude how they ended up in the rivers, just that they had drowned.The troubles for the police service haven’t stopped. Last November, the province’s police watchdog, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director started its investigation of the service for systemic racism and how it deals with Indigenous people in the city.This was sparked by a complaint filed by the family of Stacey Debungee over the way the police handled the death investigation after the man’s body was found in the river in 2015. Police ruled out any suspicion of foul play within hours of his death, prompting concerns over the quality of police work when investigating Indigenous deaths.Hours before Begg’s body was found, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director Gerry McNeilly said the city’s police service was “in a bit of a crisis”.It’s a claim that has been shared by First Nations leaders and families but adamantly refused by the city’s police service and its administrating board.As if the deaths of two First Nations teens wasn’t harrowing enough for a city already in the national spotlight for crime and racism, the Chief of Police J.P. Levesque was then charged with breach of trust and obstructing justice for allegations he disclosed confidential information about the city’s mayor Keith Hobbs. Just last week, Hobbs and his wife Marisa were charged with obstructing justice and extortion in what the city called a “personal matter” not related to city business or issues.In June, the board and service held a joint press conference to say they believed they were going through “challenging times”, but not a crisis. Acting Chief Sylvie Hauth said despite the troubling list of concerns which include the OIPRD investigation, criminal charges against the police chief and concerns over death investigations, it was “business as usual” for the service.According to a tbnewswatch report in May, Board co-chair and city councillor Brian McKinnon said there is no evidence or facts to back up accusations against the police service in the OIPRD investigation.Five days after that news report was published, the OCPC advised the police board of its investigation.Last week, a First Nations man died after being locked up in a Thunder Bay police jail cell. The province’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) is investigating.OCPC said its investigation is not punitive but in the public interest of ensuring the board is meeting its obligations.Both the board chair and acting chief have said they will cooperate with both investigations and implement any recommendations it receives.On Friday, Mayor Keith Hobbs, and two others were charged with extortion. Hobbs is a former police officer in the city. And in May, JP Levesque, the city’s police chief was charged with obstruction of justice.The OCPC says an interim report will be completed by the end of October 2017 and a final report of their investigation will be completed by March 31, 2018.The OIPRD final report is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.Contact Willow here: wfiddler@aptn.calast_img read more

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A day after election Bennett addresses accusation of interfering with process

first_imgTina HouseAPTN NewsCrown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett’s visit to the Alberta caucus at the Assembly of First Nations election gathering in Vancouver almost brought the process to a halt.Candidates Russ Diabo, Sheila North, and Miles Richardson stood on the main stage and demanded that something be done to fix what they saw as interference in the electoral process by the federal government.The AFN’s election monitor refused to get involved – and Perry Bellegarde went on to capture his second term as national chief.On Thursday, Bennett addressed the assembly and the accusations.thouse@aptn.ca@inthehouse7last_img

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Mans pilgrimage to Ottawa to talk about vote buying sparks a reaction

first_imgTodd LamirandeAPTN NewsIt failed to be a week of high level meetings for a Manitoba First Nations man.He has been in the Ottawa region for a week trying to talk to politicians and bureaucrats over allegations of vote buying in his community.His message mostly fell on deaf ears – except back home.Read More: Manitoba man drives to Ottawa with allegations of vote buying in Manitoba communitytlamirande@aptn.ca@toddlamirandelast_img

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Burnaby to take Trans Mountain pipeline fight to Supreme Court

first_imgBURNABY, B.C. – The City of Burnaby is turning to Canada’s highest court in the dispute over construction of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.Mayor Derek Corrigan says the city intends to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to consider a lower court decision that denied Burnaby leave to appeal a ruling by the National Energy Board.That ruling allowed Kinder Morgan to bypass local bylaws during construction of the pipeline expansion, which will triple the amount of diluted bitumen and other oil products moving between the Edmonton-area and port facilities in Burnaby.Corrigan says the city has asked its legal counsel to file the appeal application within 60 days.He says in a news release that the Federal Court of Appeal did not give consideration to arguments made by Burnaby and the provincial government.The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed Burnaby’s application without reasons, but Corrigan says the judges should have explained why the provincial government was not being allowed to protectB.C.’s environmental interests.last_img read more

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Royal Dutch Shell to sell its stake in Canadian Natural Resources

first_imgTORONTO – Royal Dutch Shell is selling its stake in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. for about $4.3 billion.The sale of more than 97 million shares represents Shell’s entire interest in Canadian Natural, a roughly eight per cent stake in the company.Shell said in a statement Monday night that proceeds from the sale will contribute to reducing net debt.The sale, which is being underwritten by Goldman Sachs, RBC Capital Markets, Scotiabank and TD Securities, is expected to complete on Wednesday.The energy sector on the Toronto Stock Exchange has gained strength in recent weeks as the price of oil has also climbed.Canadian Natural shares were down $1.45 at $43.85 in late-morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday.Shell acquired the shares last year when it sold most of its Alberta oilsands assets to Canadian Natural for $11.1 billion in cash and stock.The company said at the time that the deal would allow the company to focus on assets such as deepwater oil and gas that offer higher returns on capital. It said that oilsands mining and in-situ operations were no longer a strategic fit for Shell.In Canada, the company remains focused on its shale oil and gas properties in B.C. and Alberta, along with its refining and chemical businesses near Edmonton.Other foreign companies that have reduced exposure to the oilsands include Norway’s Statoil, Arkansas-based Murphy Oil and France-based Total SA.Cenovus Energy bought most of the Canadian assets of Houston-based ConocoPhillips last year.Companies in this story: (TSX:CNQ) (TSX:CVE)last_img read more

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Tesla others help Puerto Ricans go solar amid power turmoil

first_imgADJUNTAS, Puerto Rico – Ten months after Hurricane Maria, Adjuntas still loses power any time a heavy rain or wind pounds the rickety power lines feeding this town high in the central mountains of Puerto Rico.That leaves its 20,000 people once again in the dark, without light, fresh water or air conditioning — except for a handful of homes and businesses glowing in the night thanks to solar energy.The people of Adjuntas call those places “cucubanos,” an indigenous Puerto Rican firefly. They’re part of a small but growing movement to provide the U.S. territory with sustainable, renewable energy independent of the decrepit power grid.A scattering of hardware stores, barbershops and corner stores across the island are embracing solar energy, trying to wean themselves off a state-owned power company that remains heavily dependent on imported petroleum. The numbers remain small — a few dozen or hundreds out of millions of power users — but power industry officials and environmentalists are closely watching this as a test of whether Puerto Rico can make a large-scale switch to renewable, off-grid energy.Currently, renewables represent 4 per cent of generation at Puerto Rico’s power company, against a U.S. national average of 15 per cent, so it likely will be years before solar could account for a significant share of Puerto Rico power.Even so, “Puerto Rico can be an experimental workshop for solar and wind,” Rep. Darren Soto, a Florida Democrat, said at a congressional hearing Wednesday.While Adjuntas is dotted with solar-powered islands, a community of 12 homes in the mountain town of Las Piedras still lacks central power and is operating exclusively on solar energy provided by Tesla, the high-tech maker of electric cars and other power products. It installed 160 solar panels on a plot of land owned by resident Jose Santana.Santana, an electronics technician, said he loves the smartphone app that lets him monitor the solar-charged Tesla batteries. He said the government should consider going solar and dumping the current “archaic” power grid.“This can pull us out of the mess we’re in,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with having a vision of the future. It’s time to start making changes.”As in Las Piedras, some solar users are relying on corporations and non-profit groups to donate the expensive equipment. Others have become so exasperated with continuing outages that they are taking it upon themselves to install their own systems.“I’m a musician. I have a salsa orchestra. I know nothing about electricity,” said Felix Torres, who recently installed nine solar panels on the roof of his home, perched on a mountain in the eastern city of Caguas. “I was afraid of getting electrocuted and damaging equipment worth thousands of dollars. … But we should not depend so much on the government. They already have their hands full.”Torres recently joined nearly two dozen other people at a three-day workshop to learn about the costs and lifespans of solar systems, the equipment required and precautions they need to consider. The clip-clop of horses interrupted their chatter as the sun set on hills where electricity returned several months ago.Many at the workshop pulled out their power bills along with pens and notebooks as they made comparisons and shared their frustrations. Among them was Jose Barreto, who set up a makeshift solar system at his house in the mountain town of Guavate.“It hasn’t collapsed because God is merciful,” he said, grumbling that his wife insists on washing and ironing at night, sucking up precious battery life. “I tell her, look, this is a lifestyle that runs on daytime hours.”A few hundred Puerto Ricans still haven’t recovered electricity service since Hurricane Maria hit Sept. 20, and millions suffer periodic outages. Crews are trying to fortify the unstable grid in the middle of this year’s hurricane season. When the remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl passed through in early July, up to 47,000 customers were left without lights, although most of the power was restored the same day.In Las Piedras, Blanca Martinez, a retired school bus driver who is married to Santana, started to weep as she described the happiness of having a solar-powered home.“It’s sometimes hard to explain,” she said. “When you’re a person who is in need, who is suffering, this comes along and you have light without having to worry whether a wire fell.”Another corporation, German-based sonnen, helped donate and install at least 15 solar microgrids across the island to help power laundromats, schools, community centres and medical clinics.Adam Gentner, the company’s director of business development and Latin American expansion, said the aim is to create a resilient system that can operate regardless of weather conditions.This week, Siemens published a report in which it envisions the construction of 10 mini-grids across Puerto Rico that would depend on renewable energy. Unlike microgrids, officials said, mini-grids are bigger and can use the current distribution infrastructure.In Adjuntas, the non-profit environmental group Casa Pueblo has installed solar systems at two hardware stores, a barber shop and several small stores that activists hope will serve as power oases where people can charge their phones and store medications during a storm if needed. In upcoming months, some 30 homes also will be fitted with the system.Wilfredo Perez said he can now open his barbershop 11 hours a day, six days a week thanks to the new system.“Since it was installed, it hasn’t failed me,” he said, adding that he hasn’t had to switch over to the power company’s system. “The electricity in Puerto Rico doesn’t work.”Federal officials are growing more worried about the turmoil at Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority, which has seen five directors since Hurricane Maria. A U.S. House committee held a hearing Wednesday on the company’s troubles.Officials have stressed the need to depoliticize the company, create an independent regulator and resolve its $9 billion public debt as it prepares to privatize power generation and award concession for transmission and distribution.None of this worries Arturo Massol, associate director of Casa Pueblo in Adjuntas.“Let them do what they want over there,” he said. “We’re taking control of our energy destiny.”last_img read more

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Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the

first_imgTORONTO – Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week:The House is backThe House of Commons resumes sitting on Monday. The Trudeau government is expected to face pointed questions from the opposition on a number of fronts including its purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the ongoing trade talks with the United States and Mexico.Communications reformThe Senate’s transport and communications committee hears from experts on Tuesday about how federal legislation can be modernized to account for the evolution of the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors in the last decades. The CRTC recently reversed a decision that would have decreased the amount private-sector television groups are required to spend on Canadian programming.Back to school for Bay streetRestaurant Brands International Inc. presents at Scotiabank Back to School conference on Tuesday. The Toronto conference will also feature speakers from other retail and consumer-oriented companies such as Canadian Tire, Empire Co., Saputo, Loblaw and Hudson’s Bay.National real estate updateThe Canadian Real Estate Association releases its monthly numbers for August and quarterly outlook on the housing market on Monday. CREA’s report for July found that the Canadian housing market was finding its footing after a prolonged stumble in the first half of the year, shaking off the impact of stricter mortgage rules and rising interest rates.InflationStatistics Canada reports the consumer price index data for August on Friday as well as the retail sales data for July. The annual rate of inflation hit 3.0 per cent in July, the highest level since September 2011 and the top end of the Bank of Canada’s target range of one to three per cent.last_img read more

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German posts Q3 GDP drop first decrease since 2015

first_imgBERLIN — Germany’s gross domestic product shrank in the third quarter of 2018, the first quarter-on-quarter decline since early 2015, which analysts said should be a wake-up call for Europe’s largest economy.The Federal Statistical Office reported Wednesday that GDP shrank by 0.2 per cent in the third quarter, in figures adjusted for price, seasonal and calendar variations, largely due to foreign trade developments.The office said exports were down and imports were up in the third quarter, while there were mixed signals from domestic demand.The drop followed increases of 0.5 per cent in the second quarter and 0.4 per cent in the first.ING economist Carsten Brzeski says signs point to a rebound, but that the data is “another wake-up call that political stability and strong growth are by no means a given.”The Associated Presslast_img read more

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Brazils Petrobras to be led by privatization advocate

first_imgRIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s president-elect is appointing a pro-market reformer to lead the state oil company Petrobras.The government’s Agencia Brasil on Monday confirmed the appointment of Roberto Castello Branco, a former director of mining company Vale.Castello Branco has advocated privatizing Petrobras, which would be unpopular in sectors that depend on subsidized pricing.Fuel prices set by Petrobras were at the centre of a major trucking strike earlier this year that brought Latin America’s largest nation to a halt.Castello Branco was a board member of Petrobras in 2015 and 2016. He is currently a professor at Fundacao Getulio Vargas, a university and business-focused think-tank .Castello Branco is a long-time friend of Paulo Guedes, expected to oversee widespread privatizations as the next finance minister.Bolsonaro’s administration takes over Jan. 1.Associated Press, The Associated Presslast_img read more

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Climate talks pause as battle over key science report looms

first_imgKATOWICE, Poland — Negotiators at the U.N. climate summit are resting after the first week of talks ended on a sour note Saturday when the U.S. sided with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in blocking endorsement of a key scientific report on global warming.Scientists and campaigners expressed frustration Sunday at diplomats’ inability to welcome the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change laying out the consequences of a 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) rise in average global temperatures.A leading author of the study, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, asked in a tweet Sunday: “What is so disturbing in our (report) that four governments cannot even ‘welcome’ its findings?”Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists said high-level talks next week will likely see “more contentious discussions like we saw last night.”The Associated Presslast_img read more

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