Thousands of students, environmental activists and residents of Mauritius were working around the clock Sunday, trying to reduce the damage to the Indian Ocean island from an oil spill after a tanker ran aground on a coral reef. Nearly 1,000 tonnes of oil from the Japanese ship’s cargo of 4,000 tonnes has already escaped into the sea, officials said. Workers were seeking to stop more oil from leaking, but with high winds and rough seas on Sunday, there were reports of new cracks in the ship’s hull.Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has declared a state of emergency and appealed for international help. He said the spill “represents a danger” for the country of 1.3 million people that relies heavily on tourism and has been hurt by travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Satellite images show a dark slick spreading in the turquoise waters near wetlands that the government called “very sensitive.” Wildlife workers and volunteers, meanwhile, ferried dozens of baby tortoises and rare plants from an island near the spill, Ile aux Aigrettes, to the mainland. ‘Full-blown ecological disaster’ “This is no longer a threat to our environment, it is a full-blown ecological disaster that has affected one of the most environmentally important parts of Mauritius, the Mahebourg Lagoon,” said Sunil Dowarkasing, an environmental consultant and former member of parliament. “The people of Mauritius, thousands and thousands, have come out to try to prevent as much damage as possible,” said Dowarkasing, who spoke from the relief efforts at Bois des Amourettes by the lagoon. He said people have created long floating oil booms to try to slow the spread into the lagoon and onto the coast. The hastily made fabric booms are stuffed with sugar cane leaves and straw and kept afloat with plastic bottles, he said. People are also using empty oil drums to scoop up as much oil as possible from shallower waters. A man collects leaked oil on Saturday from the MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged. The vessel ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of southeast Mauritius on July 25. (Jean Aurelio/L’Express Maurice/AFP via Getty ) University students and members of the local Lions and Rotary clubs are among the volunteers, he said. “We are working flat out. It’s a major challenge, because the oil is not only floating in the lagoon, it’s already washing up on the shore,” Dowarkasing said. “The booms are really working in many spots.” He said the steady winds and waves have spread the fuel across the eastern side of the island. “We’ve never seen anything like this in Mauritius,” he said. The lagoon is a protected area, created several years ago to preserve an area in Mauritius as it was 200 years ago. Lagoon’s coral gardens were returning “The coral reefs had begun to regenerate and the lagoon was getting back its coral gardens,” Dowarkasing said. “Now this might all be killed again by the oil spill.” A French military transport aircraft was carrying pollution control equipment to Mauritius, and a navy vessel with additional material planned to sail from the nearby French island of Reunion. Residents and environmentalists alike asked why authorities didn’t act more quickly after the ship, the MV Wakashio, ran aground on a coral reef on July 25. “That’s the big question,” Jean Hugues Gardenne with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation told The Associated Press. “Why that ship has been sitting for long on that coral reef and nothing being done.” For days, residents peered out at the precariously tilted ship as a salvage team arrived and began to work, but ocean waves kept battering the vessel. Cracks in the hull were detected a few days ago, and the salvage team was quickly evacuated. Some 400 sea booms were deployed to contain the spill, but they were not enough, he said. Japanese company apologizes In Japan, officials of the company that owns the ship, Nagashiki Shipping, and the ship’s operator, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, apologized on Sunday for the oil leak. At their first news conference since the ship ran aground two weeks ago, the officials said they have sent experts to Mauritius to join in the cleanup effort. They are trying to do so in an environmentally safe way, without using emulsifiers and other environmentally harmful chemicals, said Kiyoaki Nagashiki, president of the shipowner Nagashiki Shipping. “First of all, we are doing the utmost to prevent further oil spill and to remove it from the sea,” said Akihiko Ono, vice-president of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines. “We are aware of a potential major impact on the tourism in the area and we take it very seriously.” A cleanup crew prepares to battle the spill at Rivière des Créoles in Mauritius on Saturday. (Rueben Pillay/Reubsvisions.mu, virtual tour of Mauritius via Reuters) The officials said the Wakashio left China on July 14 and was on its way to Brazil. The ship was about 1.5 kilometres off the southeast coast of Mauritius when it went aground, even though it was supposed to be 16 to 32 kilometres away from the island, Mitsui executive Masanori Kato said. Mitsui is investigating why the ship went off course. The officials said the companies were continuing to remove fuel from the ship using a vessel small enough to safely operate in the shallow waters. They said the operation is time-consuming because of rough waves. The shipowner and operator are working with a salvage ship to lift the tanker while trying to prevent any further oil leaks. The ship’s engine room and ballast tank were damaged and had water seeping inside, but its 20 crew members have been safely evacuated, officials said.
COVID-19 may delay Liberal pledge to end long-term boil water advisories on First Nations | CBC News
The pandemic has put some of the Liberal government’s key deadlines of its reconciliation agenda in jeopardy, including a promise to end all long-term boil-water advisories on First Nations by next March. Last week’s throne speech indicated a shift in language around the commitment to eliminate the long-term advisories. It dropped mention of the 2021…
The pandemic has put some of the Liberal government’s key deadlines of its reconciliation agenda in jeopardy, including a promise to end all long-term boil-water advisories on First Nations by next March. Last week’s throne speech indicated a shift in language around the commitment to eliminate the long-term advisories. It dropped mention of the 2021 deadline, which was clearly stated in the previous throne speech in 2019.A senior government source told CBC News the Liberals are not as comfortable with the March 2021 target date they set, as they were before COVID-19 hit. The virus has added an extra layer of complications for the government to fulfil the promise first made during the 2015 election. Ottawa was already dealing with short construction seasons in communities that rely on ice road transport for heavy equipment and resupply. Now, some communities are not letting outside contractors in to protect themselves from COVID-19, which may push construction deadlines back even further. Currently, there are 61 long-term water advisories in effect on Indigenous reserves. Eighty-eight have been lifted since November 2015. Despite the challenges, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller told CBC News he is still hopeful the government can meet its spring 2021 target, and will be spending more funds this fall to make it happen. “That deadline is very much one that we are working aggressively to meet,” Miller said. “This isn’t a question of funds, this is a question of planning.” Keeping people safe from second wave But the opposition is skeptical. “All of a sudden, they’ve taken out time frames — it’s a real problem,” said Cathy McLeod, the Conservative critic for Crown-Indigenous relations. “I can understand the disappointment of communities, of Indigenous communities across this country.” Robert Houle is an Indigenous advocate from Wapsewsipi (Swan River) First Nation in Alberta and research fellow at Yellowhead Institute. (Supplied/Yellowhead Institute) Rob Houle, an Indigenous advocate from Wapsewsipi (Swan River) First Nation in Alberta and research fellow at Toronto-based Yellowhead Institute, said the latest speech from the throne is a repetition of old Liberal promises, indicating goals are largely aspirational. “For the government to continue to pushback these timelines shows that either the investments are inadequate or the approach is faulty,” Houle said. “It should not take that long to solve some of these things and improve people’s lives on reserve and in communities when they [government] can do much, much more for regular Canadians at the drop of a hat when something like COVID-19 hits.” Priority number one for Miller remains keeping people safe in the face of a second wave of the pandemic. The minister said he is extremely concerned with the number of COVID-19 cases in Indigenous communities. The department recorded 116 active COVID-19 cases, as of Thursday, for a total of 639 since the pandemic began. Eleven people have died from the coronavirus on-reserve so far. However, Miller insisted the pandemic is not preventing him from moving to close some of the socio-economic disparities that COVID-19 laid bare. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said Ottawa is spending $6 million per year over the next five years to do work on the national action plan on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press) For example, Indigenous Services Canada is seeing the need for mental health services rise. The government announced $82.5 million last month for Indigenous mental health support during COVID-19 and it is expected to announce more money in the months ahead. The government is working toward new Indigenous health legislation, and a mental health and wellness strategy. A senior government source said the Liberals are still on track to close the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities by 2030, which will bring broadband internet access and new housing. MMIWG action plan, UNDRIP legislation to come Last week’s throne speech also mentioned the government will accelerate work on an action plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls after the pandemic scuttled plans to have a document ready by last June. Crown-Indigenous Minister Carolyn Bennett said the plan is being put together from pieces developed by governments and Indigenous groups. The advocate for Indigenous youth discusses the Speech from the Throne and a new movie coming out about Spirit Bear, her creation for speaking to kids about reconciliation. 7:56 Bennett said the government earmarked $6 million per year for the next five years for the action plan to make sure it can be refreshed. “All of those pieces are coming together,” Bennett said. “It will be a living document that will continue to reflect the views of families and survivors as to whether it’s working or not and then each of the provinces and territories that are doing the same thing.” The Liberals are also planning to introduce new legislation on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) this fall. The Liberals originally said the legislation would pass by the end of the year. NDP MP for Nunavut, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, said the federal government still hasn’t met basic human needs in the territories. (Sara Frizzell/CBC) Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, NDP MP for Nunavut, calls the Liberal promises “lipwork” and said the government still has yet to meet basic human needs in the territories, such as adequate housing. Qaqqaq said the pandemic shouldn’t be used as an excuse to postpone promises. “I think it’s one of the tactics they know how to use best,” Qaqqaq said. “They are great at making excuses. They are great at finding loopholes. They are great at making it possible to see those excuses as acceptable.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan clash over disputed region
The neighboring former Soviet republics have long been at odds over the territory — which is situated within the borders of Azerbaijan — and fought a war over it that finished in 1994.Despite the conflict ending with a Russian-brokered ceasefire, military skirmishes between the two sides are not uncommon. While Armenia said it was responding…
The neighboring former Soviet republics have long been at odds over the territory — which is situated within the borders of Azerbaijan — and fought a war over it that finished in 1994.Despite the conflict ending with a Russian-brokered ceasefire, military skirmishes between the two sides are not uncommon. While Armenia said it was responding to missile attacks launched by its neighbor Sunday, Azerbaijan blamed Armenia for the clashes. In response to the alleged firing of projectiles by Azerbaijan, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan tweeted that his country had “shot down 2 helicopters & 3 UAVs, destroyed 3 tanks.”Arayik Harutyunyan, leader of the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, a de facto independent Armenian state not recognized internationally which controls Nagorno-Karabakh, said the region had lost positions to Azerbaijan. “We have lost some positions. Mostly in the direction of Talysh and in the southern parts,” Harutyunyan said during a press conference Sunday.As a result of the escalating tensions, the Armenian government has decided to impose martial law and to order “general mobilization,” Pashinyan said in a later tweet. Azerbaijan’s parliament on Sunday voted to impose martial law, effective as of midnight (4 p.m. ET), and President Ilham Aliyev approved the decision. Armenia earlier claimed that its neighbor had targeted civilians in peaceful areas, including in Stepanakert, the region’s capital. Artak Beglaryan, an Artsakh official Artsakh, said in a tweet that a mother and child had been killed. Beglaryan also said dozens of people had been wounded and large infrastructural damage had been caused, adding: “Azerbaijan is intentionally targeting civilian objects.”However, Azerbaijan suggested Armenia was accountable for the latest flare-up between the two countries.Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the presidential administration, tweeted Sunday: “There are reports of dead and wounded among civilians and military servicemen. Extensive damage has been inflicted on many homes and civilian infrastructure.”Accusing Armenia of “an act of aggression and use of force,” Hajiyev added that the “political-military leadership of Armenia bears full responsibility.”At least five people in one family were killed as a result of artillery shelling by Armenian armed forces on Sunday, according to Azerbaijan’s state news agency APA, which cited the Azerbaijani prosecutor general’s office. So far, 19 civilians have been injured and hospitalized following the clashes, APA reported. At least 14 civilians were injured in villages along the border due to artillery and tank fire from the breakaway Armenian enclave, according to state media Azertac. CNN has been unable to independently verify claims by either side.”Currently, the Azerbaijan Army is taking retaliatory actions and our troops fully control the operational situation,” Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement Sunday.But Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement: “We strongly condemn the aggression of the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan.” “The military political leadership of Azerbaijan bears full responsibility for the consequences of their aggression,” the statement added. Fighting between the two sides has been increasing in recent months.In 2016, dozens of soldiers from both countries died during clashes. Two years earlier, then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to “commit themselves to immediate de-escalation and continuing dialogue” after reports of violence and casualties along the border. The Nagorno-Karabakh region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is governed by a majority group of ethnic Armenians. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced support for Azerbaijan on Sunday, claiming that Armenia is “the biggest threat to peace and security in the region.” “The Turkish nation continues to stand by its Azerbaijani brothers and sisters with all its means, as it has always done,” Erdogan said on Twitter.Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the escalation in a phone call with Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, according to statements from the Kremlin and from the Armenian Prime Minister’s Office. The Kremlin statement said Putin expressed concern at the clashes, saying, “It was noted that it is important now to take all necessary efforts to prevent a military escalation of the confrontation, and most importantly, to stop military operations.”The United States said it was “alarmed” by reports of military action between Armenia and Azerbaijan and urged both sides to cease hostilities immediately, according to a statement from US State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.CNN’s Joshua Berlinger, Arzu Geybulla, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Gul Tuysuz, Holly Yan, Hira Humayun and Dana Ford contributed to this report.
Members fighting sale of MEC say planned COO hire clashes with Canadian company’s values | CBC News
Members of Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) fighting its takeover by an American investment firm say the hiring of an executive from a U.S. company that makes footwear for the military and police clashes with the company’s values. Jay Taylor, who is currently listed as the CEO of LALO Tactical on its web page, is in line to be MEC’s president and…
Members of Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) fighting its takeover by an American investment firm say the hiring of an executive from a U.S. company that makes footwear for the military and police clashes with the company’s values. Jay Taylor, who is currently listed as the CEO of LALO Tactical on its web page, is in line to be MEC’s president and chief operating officer if the sale goes through to Kingswood Capital Management, the Los Angeles-based firm confirmed to CBC News in an email.So far, 2,400 MEC supporters have raised more than $100,000 for a legal fund to fight the takeover, but the deal could be approved as soon as Monday at a court hearing in Vancouver. Word of the potential hire was buzzing on social media over the weekend, infuriating members of Save MEC, a group trying to stop the sale of the Vancouver-based retailer and organize a counter-offer. “It’s shocking to me,” said Jackie Pierre, an MEC customer from Vancouver for 10 years and a Save MEC member. “This is so far from what [MEC] is known for originally.” Jackie Pierre of Vancouver is an MEC customer and member of the group Save MEC. She’s shocked by the idea of an executive from a company with ties to the military and police coming to MEC. (Submitted by Jackie Pierre) MEC’s values include democratic collaboration, social and environmental accountability, stewardship and more recently, diversity and inclusion. Those who want to stop the sale of MEC — the largest co-operative in Canada — are concerned that bringing in a leader with military roots is a bad match for the brand and could endanger the company’s culture. LALO Tactical, based in San Diego, was set up in 2009 “to serve the needs of Special Operations Forces.” It makes specialized boots with names like “Intruder,” sold in colours like Black Ops and Ranger Green. Though it also makes athletic shoes, LALO’s Instagram marketing leans heavily toward the military and police. In an open letter last week, Kingswood assured MEC customers that the brand’s values would be protected. But Pierre and other Save MEC members, including Kevin Harding, say the potential hiring of Taylor sends a different message. “If this is how Kingswood plans to honour MEC’s values, I’m deeply disappointed,” Harding, of Vancouver, said. An old social media post by Taylor is also being cited as proof of the mismatch. Save MEC members aren’t the only ones concerned that the company’s values are in jeopardy. An advertising expert is warning Kingswood that it could be doing damage to the iconic company it wants to buy. A culture clash seen through the lens of social media Kingswood confirmed to CBC on Saturday that Taylor attended meetings in Vancouver last week as part of “introductory discussions” with “key suppliers and incoming MEC leadership.” Taylor’s history with LALO is alarming to some MEC members. Jay Taylor has been with LALO Tactical since 2013. The company’s social media postings strongly feature the military and police, displaying not only its shoes but guns. (LALO Tactical/YouTube) The company, which counts a former U.S. soldier among its founders, says LALO is an acronym for “Light Assault Lo-Vis Operator, a nimble, quick, tactical Special Forces Operator.” Many company Instagram posts show its boots being worn by heavily armed men in combat-like settings, or by men in police uniforms with guns drawn. Captions in some posts include: “I have a very strict gun control policy; if there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it,” and “Locked, cocked, and ready to rock.” Another featuring police officers says “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Reactions on Save MEC’s Facebook page were strong. One member described LALO’s instagram feed as “particularly jarring for those familiar with MEC’s ethos.” Another, who claimed to be part of the hunting and gun community, called Taylor a name and said the executive and LALO were “totally the wrong fit.” This posting (blurred by CBC) came from a group member concerned about the recruitment of Jay Taylor to MEC’s management team. It was featured on the Save MEC Facebook page over the weekend. (Save MEC/Facebook) There’s also a strong reaction to a post coming from Taylor’s own little-used Instagram account in 2016. In it, Taylor responds to the killing of a group of police officers known as the “Dallas 5.” The shooter was an army veteran who said he wanted to kill white officers to demonstrate his anger over police shootings of Black men. Taylor’s message suggests people should buy a T-shirt to support the families of the officers who died. The post includes the hashtags #livesmatter, #policelivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter. This post was made on Jay Taylor’s Instagram account in July 2016. Members of the Save MEC group say it shows his values do not align with the MEC brand and culture. (Jay Taylor/Instagram) While it mentions a more inclusive hashtag, #oneteamonefight, it does not mention #blacklivesmatter. At the time, the Black Lives Matter movement was already three years old, and police shootings of Black people were a growing part of public discourse. For Jackie Pierre, it’s an upsetting picture. “You know, this guy to me resonates guns, All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter,” she said. “Whoever’s making these decisions is obviously not in solidarity with people of colour.” MEC supporters pressuring creditors Pierre said if the Kingswood offer goes through and Taylor is hired, not only will she stop shopping at MEC, but she’ll quit banking with RBC, which is one of MEC’s leading creditors. MEC lost $11 million in its last fiscal year of operation. COVID-19 has further weakened the company this year, and its management agreed to the sale. The Save MEC movement is pressuring the company’s creditors, especially RBC, to extend loans to MEC long enough for the group to present a counter-offer. WATCH | Why MEC might perish, regardless of sale to U.S. investment firm: Members of Canada’s largest consumer co-operative say the deal goes against its businesses principles. 5:26 The group’s hope is that drawing attention to the legacy values of the brand and the direction the company would be taken under new owners will encourage RBC to include public perception as part of its evaluation. Almost 50 years old, MEC has 5.4 million members and 22 stores in Canada. More than 135,000 people have signed an online petition to stop its privatization. An accomplished executive In response to the concerns of Pierre and other Save MEC members, Kingswood said in an email to CBC that it has a “deep appreciation for what MEC stands for” and will operate within MEC values. It also said that Taylor is a “longtime Vancouver resident and MEC member” and an “accomplished executive in the outdoor industry.” In addition to expertise in “product innovation, development and manufacturing, as well as sales and marketing,” the statement noted his past experience as an owner of ski shops in British Columbia. Taylor’s LinkedIn profile also describes his leadership role at the running shoe company Hoka One One over nearly three years. It says he was responsible for launching Hoka in North America and the Asia Pacific region before negotiating the sale of the brand to another company. Taylor did not respond to a request from CBC for comment or an interview. Risking the brand Toronto-based advertising executive Denise Cole has worked with iconic Canadian companies like Roots and Lululemon, as well as the international mega brand Coca-Cola. Co-founder of the ad agency Juliet Creative, she said she believes Kingswood should be worried about the reaction to its bid for MEC. “A brand is certainly only as valuable as people’s belief in it, in what it stands for,” Cole said. Denise Cole of the Toronto ad agency Juliet Creative says MEC is built on a ‘foundation of community,’ and upsetting that community could do major damage to its value. (Submitted by Denise Cole) MEC is built on a “foundation of community,” she said, and upsetting that community could do major damage to sales and what the company is worth in the future. Cole said she thinks MEC’s most loyal customers would accept an American owner so long as they felt the owner was listening to them. “And I think that the outcry that we’re seeing from the most active consumers and the most active members of their base, it does put them in jeopardy.”