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Hariri urges end to Lebanon impasse, as Hezbollah voices optimism | News

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The Lebanese Shia movement, Hezbollah, believes a solution to the country’s political impasse is “very close”, a senior official in the organisation said.

“We believe the solution is very close,” said Mahmoud Qamati, deputy head of the group’s political council, and suggested it could happen in time to be considered “a holiday gift”.

“The intentions held by everybody are positive and for the benefit of the country,” Qamati, added.

Legislators have been unable to agree on a new cabinet since a general election in May. They remain at odds over how to parcel out cabinet positions among rival groups according to its confessional political system that allocates government positions according to sect.

Meanwhile, the country continues to face economic malaise after months of political deadlock.

Hezbollah, a Shia political group with its own armed wing, began taking part in electoral politics during the 1990s, and is the most powerful group in the country.






Hariri accuses Hezbollah of blocking Lebanon government formation

Earlier Tuesday, Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri warned that a national unity government needed to be formed as soon as possible.

“We have fallen behind. We must form the government,” Hariri told reporters at the presidential palace on Tuesday, after a long meeting with President Michel Aoun.

“The president and I are determined to meet again and end this issue, because the country cannot continue without a government,” he said.

Heavily indebted and with a stagnant economy, Lebanon desperately needs a new government to implement economic reforms to put its public finances on a more sustainable footing and unlock foreign aid.

“The economic situation is difficult, but this is not to say it is impossible,” Hariri reiterated on Tuesday.
Hariri called for political factions in the multi-confessional country to cooperate on reviving the political process.

The final obstacle to a deal has been the Sunni representation, with six Sunni legislators aligned with Hezbollah, demanding a cabinet seat to reflect their gains in the election.

Hariri, whose family has long dominated Lebanese Sunni politics, has ruled out giving up one of his cabinet seats for them.

In November, he accused Hezbollah, his main political rival of obstructing the formation of a new cabinet.

A month later, he promised that Lebanon would have a government “by the end of the year”.

Last week, the Lebanese took to the streets to demonstrate against the many problems crippling the country from moving forward. Civil society groups organised protests in Tripoli and Nabatieh, as well as the capital, Beirut.

The protests were focused on the economic crisis, which has led to falling living standards.

The international community pledged up to $11.5bn in aid and loans for Lebanon at a conference in Paris in April.

But the promised funding is largely destined for infrastructure projects, which cannot be actioned without a new cabinet.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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