(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
(CNN) Will Canada be known for another kind of leaf — other than its iconic maple?
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
(CNN) Will Canada be known for another kind of leaf — other than its iconic maple?
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)
(TORONTO) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced legislation Thursday to let adults possess 30 grams of marijuana in public — a measure that would make Canada the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition on recreational marijuana.
Trudeau has long promised to legalize recreational pot use and sales. U.S voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada voted last year to approve the use of recreational marijuana, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.
The South American nation of Uruguay is the only nation to legalize recreational pot.
The proposed law allows four plants to be grown at home. Those under 18 found with less than five grams of marijuana would not face criminal charges but those who sell it or give to youth could face up to 14 years in jail.
“It’s too easy for our kids to get marijuana. We’re going to change that,” Trudeau said.
Officials said Canadians should be able to smoke marijuana legally by July 1, 2018. The federal government set the age at 18, but is allowing each of Canada’s provinces to determine if it should be higher. The provinces will also decide how the drug will be distributed and sold. The law also defines the amount of THC in a driver’s blood, as detected by a roadside saliva test, that would be illegal. Marijuana taxes will be announced at a later date.
The Canadian government closely followed the advice of a marijuana task force headed by former Liberal Health Minister Anne McLellan. That panel’s report noted public health experts tend to favor a minimum age of 21 as the brain continues to develop to about 25, but said setting the minimum age too high would preserve the illicit market.
Canadian youth have higher rates of cannabis use than their peers worldwide.
“If your objective is to protect public health and safety and keep cannabis out of the hands of minors, and stop the flow of profits to organized crime, then the law as it stands today has been an abject failure,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told a news conference. “Police forces spend between $2 billion and $3 billion every year trying to deal with cannabis, and yet Canadian teenagers are among the heaviest users in the western world … We simply have to do better.”
Goodale said they’ve been close touch with the U.S. government on the proposed law and noted exporting and importing marijuana will continue to be illegal.
“The regime we are setting up in Canada will protect our kids better and stop the flow of illegal dollars to organized crime. Our system will actually be the better one,” Goodale said.
But Christina Grant, a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Ontario, worries the government is conveying the message that marijuana is not harmful. She fears usage will go up because concerns about its safety will dissipate.
“One in seven youths who have used cannabis will develop an addiction to cannabis and that impacts your life, schooling, job prospects, social and emotional relationships,” she said. “And there is the risk of developing psychosis if you start using cannabis as a teenager. The more you use and the younger you start, you have up to four times the risk of developing some kind of psychotic illness.”
Former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who is the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, said officials learned from the experiences from other jurisdictions like Colorado and Washington state.
While the government moves to legalize marijuana, retail outlets selling pot for recreational use have already been set up. Trudeau has emphasized current laws should be respected. Police in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities raided stores earlier last month and made arrests.
The news that Canada was soon going to announce the law was noticed online last month by Snoop Dogg , who tweeted “Oh Canada!” Canadian folk singer Pat Robitaille released a “Weed song” to coincide with the government’s announcement.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF INDIA)
PTI | Updated: Apr 5, 2017, 05.15 PM IST
File photo used for representation.
NEW DELHI: There are no plans to demonetise the new Rs 2,000 currency notes, the government said on Wednesday, scotching “rumours” to this effect.
He was responding to a question by Congress member Madhusudan Mistry during Question Hour seeking to know if the government will demonetise Rs 2,000 currency notes as there were “strong rumours” in the market.
The minister said fake currency has mostly been seized from Gujarat and West Bengal. “But it is not correct that fake currencies cannot be identified. It is not true,” he said.
Counterfeit currency that came into the market after demonetisation were made of low quality paper which was easy to make out. But later fake currency notes with better quality paper started coming in, Rijiju said.
To have full effect, they should remove the 2000 Rs note. Crooks and hoarders have taken it directly from the bank during demonetization.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) has seized 22,677 new Rs 2,000 notes worth Rs 4.53 crore from Gujarat and West Bengal.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)
Germany has no plans to introduce an ‘Islam law’ codifying the rights and obligations of Muslims, a government spokesman said on Monday, dismissing an idea floated by allies of Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of federal elections in September.
Merkel, who will seek a fourth term in what is expected to be a close-fought ballot, has come under fire for opening Germany’s doors to refugees, more than one million of whom – mostly Muslims – have entered the country over the past two years.
Seeking to boost support for the chancellor’s conservatives, senior Merkel ally Julia Kloeckner stoked the integration debate at the weekend by calling for stricter rules for Islamic preachers and a ban on foreign funding of mosques.
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert dismissed the idea, which Kloeckner – who is deputy leader of the chancellor’s Christian Democrats (CDU) – and other senior party members want to enshrine in an Islam law.
“Such a law is now not an issue for government business,” Seibert told a news conference, stressing the high regard Merkel’s ruling coalition has for religious freedom in Germany.
While stopping short of calling for an Islam law, Merkel said in her weekly podcast on Saturday that refugees in Germany must respect tolerance, openness and freedom of religion.
The message backed up a less compromising tone on integrating migrants that Merkel set at a CDU party conference in December, when she called for a ban on full-face Muslim veils “wherever legally possible”.
By talking tougher on integration, Merkel is also seeking to reclaim support her party lost last year over her refugee policy to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which punished the CDU in regional elections in 2016.
The AfD has lost voter support this year, hurt by infighting that has sent its ratings down to around 8 percent from a high of 15.5 percent at the end of 2016.
In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte used a similar tactic to win re-election this year, seizing back the initiative from anti-Islam populist rivals by matching some of their tough rhetoric on immigration.
He told the country’s half-million ethnic Turks that they should integrate and accept Dutch views on freedom of speech or “get lost” after some had been filmed behaving aggressively toward a reporter during a demonstration.
“Our norms and values are all or nothing: you can’t pick and choose,” he said in response to the footage in an interview last September.
(Additional reporting by Thomas Escritt in Amsterdam; editing by John Stonestreet)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)
(TORONTO) — Canadians should be able to smoke marijuana legally by July 1, 2018, a senior government official said Monday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government will introduce legislation to legalize recreational marijuana the week of April 10th and it should become law by July next year, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to lack of authorization to discuss the upcoming legislation.
Trudeau has long promised to legalize recreational pot use and sales. Canada would be the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition of recreational marijuana. In the U.S, voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada voted last year to approve the use of recreational marijuana, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Uruguay in South America is the only nation to legalize recreational pot.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould declined to confirm the dates provided by the official, but said in a statement the government is committed to introducing legislation this spring that would “legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis.”
“This will be done in a careful way to keep it out of the hands of children and youth, and to stop criminals from profiting,” the statement said. “In order to meet our commitment to legalize, the legislation will need to pass through the parliamentary process in a timely fashion.”
The news was noticed online by Snoop Dogg , who tweeted “Oh Canada!”
The Canadian government is expected to follow the advice of a marijuana task force headed by former Liberal Health Minister Anne McLellan as well as the advice of former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who is the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister. Blair has been visiting police departments across the country.
The task force recommended adults be allowed to carry up to 30 grams of pot for recreational purpose and grow up to four plants. It also recommended that higher-potency pot be taxed at a higher rate than weaker strains. It also said recreational marijuana should not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco. Under the task force proposals, alcohol-free cannabis lounges would be allowed.
The panel’s report noted public health experts tend to favor a minimum age of 21 as the brain continues to develop to about 25, but said setting the minimum age too high would preserve the illicit market.
Canadian youth have higher rates of cannabis use than their peers worldwide.
While the government moves to legalize marijuana retail outlets selling pot for recreational use have already been set up. Trudeau has emphasized current laws should be respected. Police in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities raided stores earlier this month and made arrests.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)
FBI director James Comey has confirmed for the first time that the FBI is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
However, Mr Comey said his agency had seen no evidence to back up President Trump’s claim that his phones had been tapped by the Obama administration.
He was giving evidence to the congressional intelligence committee.
The Trump administration said nothing had changed and there was “no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion”.
Russia has always denied attempting to influence the US presidential election.
The FBI investigation would examine possible links between individuals in the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was co-ordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, Mr Comey said.
The FBI would also assess whether crimes were committed, he said.
Mr Comey said the investigation was “very complex” and he could not give a timetable for its completion.
“We will follow the facts wherever they lead,” he said.
National Security Agency (NSA) chief Admiral Mike Rogers also appeared before the committee.
He said the NSA stood by an intelligence community report published in January, which said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a campaign to harm the campaign of Mr Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.
Mr Comey said he had no information on unsubstantiated claims tweeted by Mr Trump earlier this month that former president Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower.
This was despite looking carefully for such evidence, he said. The Department of Justice also had no information, he said.
What FBI Director James Comey didn’t say during intelligence hearings today on possible Russian meddling in the 2016 US election was as important as what he did say.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who had ties to pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians? No comment. Long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone, who reportedly had communications with individuals who hacked the Democratic National Committee emails? No comment. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign after leaked evidence surfaced that he had communicated with a Russian ambassador about US sanctions? No comment.
“I don’t want to answer any questions about a US person,” Mr Comey said.
All of this is evidence that the investigation isn’t just ongoing, it’s substantive and far-reaching.
While Democrats will likely be encouraged by this, it was telling that Republicans pursued the White House line that the topic of greatest concern was the intelligence leaks that put this story in the headlines.
If Mr Trump can consolidate his party’s support, it will go a long way towards insulating the president against any fallout from this investigation.
Meanwhile, Admiral Rogers strongly denied that the NSA had asked Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency to spy on Mr Trump – a claim that had been repeated by Mr Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer.
The allegation “clearly frustrates a key ally of ours”, he added.
GCHQ has described the claim as “utterly ridiculous”.
Mr Trump’s recent joke about how Mr Obama had wiretapped both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and him “complicates things” with an ally, Admiral Rogers added.
However, Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said it was still possible that other surveillance activities had been used against Mr Trump and his associates.
In January, US intelligence agencies said Kremlin-backed hackers had broken into the email accounts of senior Democrats and released embarrassing messages in order to help Mr Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.
“That was a fairly easy judgement for the community,” Mr Comey said. “Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flipside of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.”
However, late last summer the Russians concluded that Mr Trump had no chance of winning, based on polls at the time, and so focused on undermining Mrs Clinton, Mr Comey said.
Both intelligence chiefs said that Russia had made its intervention in last year’s election campaign unusually obvious, perhaps to further its aim of undermining US democracy.
Mr Comey said Russia had succeeded in this goal, by sowing chaos, division and discord.
Mr Trump has since faced allegations that his campaign team had links to Russian officials.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said he saw no evidence of any collusion, up until the time he left his post in January.
Two senior officials in the Trump administration have been caught up in the allegations – former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Attorney-General Jeff Sessions.
Mr Flynn was fired last month after he misled the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador before he was appointed national security adviser.
He allegedly discussed US sanctions with ambassador Sergei Kislyak. It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy.
Meanwhile, Mr Sessions was accused by Democrats of lying under oath during his confirmation hearing in January.
He said he had “no communications with the Russians”, but it later emerged that he had met Mr Kislyak during the campaign.
Mr Sessions denied any wrongdoing, but removed himself from an FBI inquiry into Russia’s alleged interference in the election.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)
Washington –President Donald Trump said on Saturday that Germany owed “vast sums of money” to NATO and the US, and that Berlin “should pay.”
Trump’s statements come following his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington.
Trump took it to twitter where he said: “Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”
The two leaders did not show any signs of agreement on several pending issues, including NATO and defense expenditures.
During a joint press conference with Merkel, Trump complained that other NATO members have not paid their dues for years. He insisted they pay for “their fair share of the defense they receive.”
NATO countries are asked to contribute 2 percent of their GDP to the alliance’s defense spending.
Merkel said that Germany agreed on the need for “increasing expenditure” to meet the 2 percent goal.
Trump then criticized the way the media had dealt with the meeting saying on Twitter also: “Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”
Expenditure was not the only point of disagreement between the two. A German journalist brought up the case of wiretapping and Trump’s accusations that British Intelligence was working with Obama to spy on him.
Despite constant negations and absence of evidence, the US President continued with his allegations and even joked that Merkel had also been a victim of wiretapping.
Since his arrival at the White House, the Republican billionaire had written several controversial tweets, none of which had damaged his credibility as much as the one he wrote on March 4.
He tweeted: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism.”
Media reports reveal each day new findings on Trump’s or his close personnel’s contacts with Russia.
Trump had repeatedly denied any affiliations to the Kremlin, but he could not control the flow of information and therefore decided to attack his predecessor.
Since then, Obama, former intelligence director James Clapper and many democratic and republican officials have denied those allegations.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to apologize to the UK for press secretary Sean Spicer’s allegation that the GCHQ had spied on Trump Tower for Obama. Spicer almost caused a diplomatic crisis by defending the president.
On Thursday, Spicer quoted a series of articles that discussed surveillance. He referenced comments made earlier this week on Fox News TV by Andrew Napolitano in relation to Trump’s controversial claim that wiretaps had been installed at his New York residence.
“Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ,” Spicer said in the press conference.
British officials were quick to comment on Napolitano’s claims, saying they were “rubbish”.
A government source reportedly said the claim was “totally untrue and quite frankly absurd”.
It told Reuters that under British law, GCHQ “can only gather intelligence for national security purposes” and noted that a US election “clearly doesn’t meet that criteria”.
“As for as wiretapping, I guess by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,” Trump said during his press conference with Chancellor Merkel, referring to reports that the National Security Agency had tapped Merkel in 2010.
Such incidents do not reassure US Congressmen, including those in Trump’s camp. Trump promised to reveal next week new evidences that prove his allegations.
Chairman of the House intelligence committee, Devin Nunes confirmed Friday that the Justice Department had “fully complied” with the committee’s request.
He did not provide any further details.
FBI Director James Comey is set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday.
The public hearing is the first of several that the intelligence committees are expected to hold on alleged Russia’s interference in the presidential election.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF QUARTZ INDIA)
It’s been a great week for the Indian rupee.
On March 16, at Rs65.41 per US dollar, the currency hit a one-year high against the greenback.
Much of the strengthening has to do with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) recent electoral wins in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhandand solid performances in two other states. The strong showing reflects just how well the party is positioned to sweep the next general elections in 2019 and hand Narendra Modi a second term as prime minister. Some of that magic is rubbing off on the markets.
“Since the start of the week, equity markets and the Indian rupee have rallied sharply in response to the strong performance of the main ruling party in recent state elections,” DBS Bank said in a March 16 report.
So far, the Indian currency has been the third-best performing in Asia in 2017. The rupee has gained 3.4% this year against the US dollar, only trailing the South Korean won and the Taiwanese Dollar.
Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike on March 15—only the third since the economic crisis of 2008—hit the dollar. When the US dollar falls, capital outflows from emerging markets are restricted, thus strengthening local currencies like the Indian rupee.
The rupee’s strengthening comes after a free fall triggered by Modi’s move to demonetise 86% of the currency notes (by value) in November 2016. Initially it had been estimated that the currency ban would dent the GDP and take a toll on the economy.
In January, a Reuters poll of some 30 foreign exchange strategists had estimated that the Indian currency could see a record fall this year because of the currency ban. But India’s Central Statistical Office’s estimates show that the economy grew at 7% during the October-December 2016 quarter, and the rupee is holding strong.
One reason for the rupee’s surge is also that the macro-economic factors that influence a currency—inflation and current account deficit (CAD)—are looking good for India at the moment. While inflation is being restricted in its safe zone of sub 6%, India’s CAD (the excess of imports over exports) has also been falling.
A strong rupee is good news for corporate India. Many firms hold debt in foreign currencies, so a fall in the exchange rate means their interest outgo will reduce. “Many Indian entities including short-term trade finance people remain unhedged for their offshore liability. They (companies) are likely to have gained from the rupee’s sharp rise in the last few days. At least, interest liability has reduced, adding to balance sheet gains,” Jayesh Mehta, country treasurer at Bank of America told the Economic Times.
However, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) could soon step in to stabilise the rupee’s movement. Some reports suggest that the central bank already is buying dollars through public sector banks.
“The rupee appreciation, we feel is not sustainable and would revert to the range of Rs66-66.5 range, to begin with as the fundamentals do not warrant such unbridled enthusiasm,” a report by CARE Ratings said. “The outcome of the elections has been the main driving force. A strong rupee may not be good for our exports and the RBI is cognizant of the same.”
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)
“[British Ambassador to the U.S.] Kim Darroch and [National Security Advisor] Sir Mark Lyall expressed their concerns to Sean Spicer and General McMaster,” a White House official said Friday. “Mr. Spicer and General McMaster explained that Mr. Spicer was simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story.”
Several British outlets reported Friday that the White House apologized to the U.K. government, but the White House would not confirm those accounts.
The row began Thursday, as Spicer repeated the claim of Fox News personality Andrew Napolitano, who suggested that former President Obama had ordered GCHQ, the U.K.’s equivalent of the National Security Agency, to spy on his successor. For nearly two weeks the White House has been struggling to justify Trump’s assertion in a March 4 tweet that Obama had him “wire tapped.”
On Thursday, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee jointly stated they’ve seen no evidence of any surveillance of Trump Tower. Even Trump allies in Congress are staying away from the claim, though Trump maintained Wednesday in an interview with Fox News that he would be vindicated by new information “very soon.” The White House has argued that Trump’s use of quotation marks around the phrase wires tapped implied he meant all manners of surveillance against him, but hasn’t offered any official proof of the claim, beyond reports in the press.
Reading a long list of media reports that mentioned alleged signals intelligence about Trump and his ties to Russia, Spicer quoted comments.
“Last, on Fox News on March 14th, Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement,” Spicer said during the daily White House briefing. “‘Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI, and he didn’t use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ, what is that? It’s the initials for the British Intelligence Spying Agency. So simply, by having two people saying to them, “The President needs transcripts of conversations involved in candidate Trump’s conversations involving President-elect Trump,” he was able to get it and there’s no American fingerprints on this.'”
Within hours GCHQ responded in a rare statement calling the claim “utterly ridiculous.
“Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then President Elect are nonsense,” a GCHQ spokesperson said. “They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”
Asked by a reporter whether the subject of GCHQ’s alleged involvement had raised between the two governments and whether it would affect the so-called “special relationship” between the U.S. and the U.K., Spicer backtracked.
“No, no, it has not been raised,” Spicer said. “But I do think that, again, we’re not — all we’re doing is literally reading off what other stations and people have reported, and I think that casts into concern some of the activities that may have occurred during the ’16 election. We’re not casting judgment on that. I think the idea is to say that if these organizations, these individuals came to these conclusions, they merit looking into.”
The claim is all the more incendiary given the close intelligence-sharing relationship between the two countries. The U.S. and the U.K., along with Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, form the Five Eyes — a decades-old intelligence cooperative in which the countries share much of their signals intelligence and pledge not to spy on each another.
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May told The Independent that the White House would not float the claims again. “We’ve made clear to the Administration that these claims are ridiculous and they should be ignored and we’ve received assurances they won’t be repeated.”
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
Jerusalem (CNN) In the most serious clash between Israeli and Syrian forces since the start of the Syrian conflict six-years ago, Israeli aircraft struck several targets in Syria overnight, the Israeli military said Friday.
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