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Anti-carbon tax sticker law unconstitutional, Ontario court finds


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The stickers show the federal carbon tax adding 4.4 cents per litre to the price of gas now, rising to 11 cents a litre in 2022. They do not include information about rebates available to residents.

Morgan said in the decision that the message was “blatantly advantage-seeking by a political party and a misuse of a governing party’s legislative power.”

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He pointed to a statement Energy Minister Greg Rickford made in April 2019 in which he said the province would “stick it to the Liberals and remind the people of Ontario how much this job-killing, regressive carbon tax costs.” That, said Morgan, shows the true purpose of the sticker was partisan.

Rickford said he respects the court decision, “but our government will always stand up for the people of Ontario when it comes to matters that make everyday life more expensive for hardworking families.”

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which brought the challenge, is thrilled, according to the director of its fundamental freedoms program.

“CCLA is very pleased that the Court recognized these stickers for what they are, an attempt to compel private entities to convey a government’s partisan political message,” Cara Zwibel said in a statement.

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A spokesman for the Ministry of the Attorney General declined to comment, saying the department is reviewing the decision.

“As this matter is still in the appeal period, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further,” Brian Gray said.

But the Official Opposition urged the government not to appeal.

“He has already wasted enough of people’s money on his anti-carbon price stickers that don’t stick — a partisan and dishonest propaganda campaign,” NDP Energy and Climate Crisis Critic Peter Tabuns said in a written statement.

Ontario has challenged Ottawa’s right to impose a carbon tax, and the Supreme Court is set to hear that case in September.

— With files by Shawn Jeffords.



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Tanzanian miner finds third rare tanzanite gem worth millions after record haul


A small-scale miner from Tanzania made another record discovery of one of the world’s rarest gemstone this month, hauling in a precious, 14-pound stone valued at $2 million, according to a report.

Saniniu Laizer, 52, became an overnight millionaire in June after he sold two violet-blue tanzanite gemstones said to be the largest ever found in the country. Weighing a total of 33 pounds, he sold them for 7.74 billion Tanzanian shillings ($3.4 million U.S. dollars).

Laizer announced he would slaughter one of his 2,000 cows, have a big party, and invest in the local community after finding the two record stones earlier this summer, according to the BBC.

TANZANIAN MINER FINDS RECORD TANZANITE GEMS, BECOMES OVERNIGHT MILLIONAIRE

“There will be a big party tomorrow,” said Laizer, from the Manyara region. “I want to build a shopping mall and a school. I want to build this school near my home. There are many poor people around here who can’t afford to take their children to school.”

“I am not educated but I like things run in a professional way. So I would like my children to run the business professionally,” he continued.

The BBC reported that he has four wives and more than 30 children.

Saniniu Laizer poses with two rough Tanzanite stones back in June, said to be the largest ever found in the country.

Saniniu Laizer poses with two rough Tanzanite stones back in June, said to be the largest ever found in the country.
(TANZANIA MINISTRY OF MINERALS)

While a party isn’t on his schedule this time around, Laizer said on Monday he would continue with his dream in using the money to build a school, as well as a health facility in his community — located in the northern Manyara region.

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Tanzanite is said to be a gemstone found only in the northern region of the country. It’s reportedly used to make ornaments — with its rarity defined by how clear or well defined the color is.

Tanzania President John Magufuli had ordered the military to build a wall surrounding a Manyara mining site in 2017 — believed to be the world’s only source of tanzanite — with its supply estimated to be depleted within 20 years, a geologist told the news organization.

Last year, Tanzania set up trading centers to allow artisanal miners, like Laizer, to sell their gems and gold to the government. Many reportedly mine by hand without any affiliation to mining companies. Following his recent discovery, Laizer encouraged other small scale miners to work for the government.

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“Selling to the government means there are no shortcuts,” he said during a ceremony celebrating his find in the northern Mirerani mine, according to the BBC. “They are transparent.”



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Postmortem finds Noah Donohoe died from drowning


A postmortem has found that 14-year-old Noah Donohoe died as a result of drowning, it was reported on Friday.

The teenager went missing on Sunday, June 21st after he cycled from his home in south Belfast across the city to north Belfast.

After a major search involving the police and rescue services and hundreds of volunteers, his body was found on Saturday, June 27th in a storm drain in north Belfast.

His death prompted a huge upsurge of sympathy for Noah and for his family.



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OLAF finds MEPs broke EP rules by financing national party through their salaries



An OLAF investigation published on April 30 revealed that MEPs from two member-states breached the European Parliament’s rules by transferring part of their salaries to their national parties.

The investigation by Europe’s anti-fraud office also found that MEPs from one member state also increased the salaries of their assistants so that the latter could make additional contributions.

The first investigation that was launched in 2017 found that for the period between 2014 and 2019, MEPs and staff members of the parliament’s party delegation paid contributions of over €640,000 to the national headquarters. It was also found that the illegal move was not spontaneous, but part of an already agreed obligation, that was set out in a financial charter that the party had specifically approved for the delegation at the European Parliament. Such an arrangement is contrary to the EP rules.

OLAF concluded that sanctions should be put in place by the European Parliament for the illegal actions and for the recovery of due amounts established by the investigation.

The second investigation that was conducted a year later found that for the particular time period, the financial contributions made by MEPs exceeded €540,000, as each was requested to contribute €3,000-4,000 to the national delegation. OLAF’s investigative team also revealed that their assistants were classified as of higher grade and thus, with a higher salary, so that they are able to transfer part of their salary to the national party.

Although no evidence of MEPs coercing the assistants was found, the EP members knew this was happening and had arranged the assistants’ hierarchy upgrade.

OLAF issued recommendations to the European Parliament proposing disciplinary action to ensure that amounts transferred by the Parliamentary Assistants to the national party are recovered. The anti-fraud office also recommended that the assistants face disciplinary action for following the instructions of their party, even though these instructions put them in conflict with their statutory obligations to the European Parliament.

 

 



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More than half of women in Zimbabwe have faced sextortion, finds survey | Global development


Zimbabwe has recorded an unprecedented number of women reporting being forced to exchange sex for employment or business favours.

More than 57% of women surveyed by Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) said they had been forced to offer sexual favours in exchange for jobs, medical care and even when seeking placements at schools for their children.

The report, seen by the Guardian, found women in the informal sector experienced sextortion as the main form of non-monetary bribes by various officials.

About 45% of women said they had received requests for sexual favours to access a service and 15% had used sex to get employment. The report, entitled Gender and Corruption, found women were increasingly vulnerable to sexual abuse amid the deteriorating Zimbabwean economy.

“57.5% of these respondents noted that sexual favours are the form of non-monetary bribe they had experienced. Sextortion is thus a part of the bribery culture in Zimbabwe. Women who do not have money to pay for bribes are thus forced to use sex as a form of payment. 15% used employment favours as a form of bribery,” reads the report.

Women in business were also found to have faced sexual harassment when seeking government tenders.

“At times you get asked for sexual favours in return for tenders or business. What makes the situation difficult, especially for state contracts, is how women in business are perceived by men in control of these processes. When they see a woman, for most of them sex is the first thing that comes to their mind. Hence women are sexualised and seen as sex-preneurs rather than entrepreneurs,” TIZ reports.

Studies carried out by TIZ in 2019 showed women are vulnerable to sexual abuse when seeking land for residential, business or agricultural use.

Sextortion is a global phenomenon that causes serious harm, robbing women of dignity and opportunity, and undermining confidence in public institutions, according to rights groups.

Zimbabwe ranks 158 out of 180 countries included in the Transparency International corruption perceptions index.

“Sex is a currency in many corrupt deals in Zimbabwe. Sexual harassment is institutionalised, and women have been suffering for a long time. There is need to actively deal with all forms of sexual harassment in all sectors,” says the report.

The study shows women are being coerced into corruption, while many fear reporting sextortionists as some police are thought to be part of the corruption chain.

“For some respondents it was fear of reprisal that stopped them from reporting whilst others indicated that there was no reward for reporting corruption. Regarding sextortion, respondents cited the justice system as too masculine, hence they opted not to report.

“All the key informants who took part in the research indicated that Zimbabwe lacks a robust corruption reporting system. They also highlighted the need for a system to promote and protect whistleblowers,” TIZ reported.

“Even the police officers require some form of payment to help you. They may ask for transport or fuel to enable them to investigate. In the end they also get bribed by the perpetrators.”

Globally, the poor suffer most from extortion, paying the highest percentage of their income in bribes, according to the World Bank. Zimbabwe loses close to $2bn (£1.5bn) to corruption annually.

Although Zimbabwe has made progress in advancing gender equality through the establishment of various institutional, legal and policy frameworks, the country still ranks low on the UN gender inequality index. Sexual extortion is rarely recognised as a form of corruption, yet gender activists say it reduces women’s access to land and markets and reinforces social and economic marginalisation.

Lack of political will to deal with corruption has frustrated the efforts of the Zimbabwe anti-corruption commission, which has a mandate to investigate corruption cases in the country.



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The Crown reportedly finds its next Queen



Imelda Staunton will reportedly replace Olivia Colman as the Queen in Netflix’s regal drama The Crown (Ian West/PA)
Imelda Staunton will reportedly replace Olivia Colman as the Queen in Netflix’s regal drama The Crown (Ian West/PA)

Imelda Staunton will reportedly replace Olivia Colman as the Queen in Netflix’s regal drama The Crown.

The 63-year-old actress will take the role for seasons five and six of the critically acclaimed show, according to the Daily Mail.

Colman made her debut as the Queen on Sunday, when all 10 episodes of The Crown season three were made available on Netflix.

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Imelda Staunton has reportedly been cast to play the Queen in later seasons of The Crown (Isabel Infantes/PA)

She will reprise the role when the fourth instalment arrives next year. Claire Foy played the Queen in the first two seasons of The Crown.

Staunton received a best actress Oscar nomination for her lead role in the 2004 drama Vera Drake, and is also known for playing Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films.

If she is cast as the Queen, it is likely her spell on The Crown would feature several royal crises, including the Prince of Wales’s split from Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Crown, created by Peter Morgan, first aired in 2016. It originally starred Foy in the lead role, Matt Smith as the Duke of Edinburgh and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret.

Producers opted to refresh the cast when dealing with a later time period in season three, rather than using technology to digitally age the actors.

Tobias Menzies and Helena Bonham Carter are currently playing Philip and Princess Margaret, respectively.

The Crown is streaming on Netflix now.

PA Media






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