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Taliban’s return clouds long-delayed plans for Afghanistan’s resources

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China is warily eyeing the resumption of some Afghan resource projects but it will take years before the infrastructure is ready while security issues threaten to once again stall projects, according to state media and industry sources.

Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth – including large reserves of lithium, which is key to the burgeoning electric-vehicle sector – has been trumpeted as a path to economic independence for the country but instability has repeatedly hampered past projects, dousing most foreign investor interest.

“I wouldn’t and couldn’t invest in Afghanistan with the Taliban running the country. It’s lawless,” said Ben Cleary, the chief executive of Tribeca Investment Partners, which runs a global natural resources fund and finances mining projects.

He added that he couldn’t see any companies listed in Australia, Canada or the United States having a mandate to buy assets there.

“China would be the only potential buyer.”

China could contribute to post-war reconstruction in Afghanistan and resume major stalled projects, state-owned tabloid Global Times, said on Aug. 17, while noting security concerns.

A consortium of Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC) and Jiangxi Copper took on a 30-year lease for Afghanistan’s largest copper project, the Mes Aynak mine, in 2008 but it remains undeveloped.

One MCC source told Reuters this week it could take five to six years to build infrastructure for mining at Mes Aynak but the project could not go anywhere while safety concerns linger.

Eight security force members were killed in a Taliban attack https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-attacks-idUSKCN2242L0 on a checkpoint at the mine last year.

“It is impossible to push forward the project without a safe environment,” the source said.

MCC and Jiangxi Copper did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Global Times cited an unnamed MCC source as saying the company would consider reopening the mine once the situation is stabilised, and international recognition of the Taliban regime, including by the Chinese government, takes place.

CHINA, TALIBAN MEETING

There has been no official recognition, although China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted Mullah Baradar, chief of the Taliban’s political office, in Tianjin last month and said the Taliban is expected to play an important role in Afghanistan’s peace and reconstruction process.

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it already had raised the issue of developing Afghanistan’s resources with the Taliban.

These resources also include gold, natural gas, uranium, bauxite, coal, iron ore and rare earths but concerns about potential human rights abuses under a Taliban regime will likely prevent investment.

“I think most of the world’s financial system is applying some fairly stringent ESG (environment social and governance) lenses now over investments in that sector,” said ANZ Senior Commodity Strategist Daniel Hynes in Sydney. “It would be a pretty difficult project to get underway considering all the hurdles.”

At least one Chinese project and one Indian project in Afghanistan will not be going forward.

State-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is in the process of exiting its oil project in the Amu Darya Basin in northern Afghanistan, a company official told Reuters this week.

“It’s not a big investment. CNPC sees the investment as a failure,” said the official, without further elaboration.

The state energy major began producing oil there in 2012 under a 25-year contract but stopped work the following year as plans to refine the oil in Turkmenistan hit a snag.

The project, which could have been a key income source for the war-torn state, had also come under attack https://www.reuters.com/article/afghanistan-china-idUSL4N0GJ05G20130818 from local militants.

CNPC declined to comment.

A consortium of Indian companies led by Steel Authority of India (SAIL) were awarded rights to build a steel mill and develop iron ore mines in Afghanistan w https://www.reuters.com/article/sail-afghanistan-idUSL4E7MU12O20111130ith a total investment of $11 billion in 2011.

“SAIL’s inroads into Afghanistan were purely a political commitment and they were promised a steel plant,” an official at SAIL with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

The project had been shelved due to poor iron-ore quality, lack of security and a threat to employees safety, the official, who declined to be named, said.

SAIL and the Indian government did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines and Petroleum did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

(Reporting by Tom Daly, Shivani Singh in Beijing, Aizhu Chen in Singapore, Melanie Burton in Sydney and Neha Arora in New Delhi; Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom, Min Zhang and Muyu Xu in Beijing; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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BENANTHONY LAVOZ AND DELON OM GET RAW WITH “The Gentleman and Scholar”

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Toronto, ON – Canadian Latin Pop sensations BenAnthony Lavoz and Delon Omdropped their new EP “The Gentleman & Scholar.”  Coming off the success of their summer hit single “One More Time” the pop sensations went dark for their new project. The multi-talented artists wanted the lyrics of their new EP to describe the struggles we keep to ourselves, the ones that lead us to walk in the darkness.  Lavoz and Om brought in some heavy hitters to produce “The Gentleman and Scholar.  The EP was produced by David Neale (Karl Wolf, Danny Fernandes, Peter Jackson) and multi-platinum Grammy award winning producer, Sensei Musica (Fat Joe, Pitbull, and Shakira).  The project serves as an emotional outlet for Lavoz and Om, who bring to the table a genuine connect and passion.  The Gentleman and Scholar” reminds us that there are many parts that make up who we are, but at the heart of it all … is our truth.  Do we own it, or do we hide?   One of the singles on the EP, Follow the Leader” features Canadas own Danny Fernandes.  The three artists connected over their dark pasts to create the song about vulnerability, redemption and finding a new and forgiving path to walk. 

 

BenAnthony Lavoz, a Toronto native and Latin Grammy award winner has performed with Prince Royce, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny and Ozuna. Delon Om, is a former Canadian Idol contestant, song writer and music producer signed to Ultra Records. Oms single, Someone Special To Me” was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary This is for Toronto.”  Together they produced an EP that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit, in hopes that lessons learned, and paths walked will give others hope and encouragement to step out of the dark and into the light.   

 

The Gentleman and Scholar” is raw and ready.  Step into the light on all music platforms today…

https://open.spotify.com/album/3UVffFHFUTktYpTCGN1Ba7?si=OsBEakH7Si2mb_Y1HseJoA&dl_branch=1

 

FOLLOW Delon OM: 

INSTAGRAM: @delon_om 

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5rQzEmQuzhHIyn1N1g12s6?autoplay=true 

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5DcyrsEUpnb2r3X786nKyQ/featured 

 

FOLLOW BENANTHONY LAVOZ: 

INSTAGRAM: @benanthonylavoz 

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3PSLZvxcutlF9L42d4Y9YJ?autoplay=true 

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIXjnthAd2L7d7NImU6atBA 

 

 

  

Media Inquiries:  

Sasha Stoltz Publicity & Management:
Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804

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Front-line workers shoulder burden of vaccine mandates – CBC.ca

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This story features an audience member, like you, who got in touch with us. Send us your questions. We are listening: ask@cbc.ca.

Service industry workers in Canada say they’re bearing the brunt of anger, frustration and general confusion from clients over new vaccine mandates that they had nothing to do with creating, but are now responsible for enforcing.

At the entrance to Wienstein & Gavino’s, an Italian restaurant in downtown Montreal, hostess Abigail Trevino is standing at the ready to greet clients and ask them for their proof of vaccination.

“I try to defuse the situation usually with a joke, saying that I feel more like a bouncer than a hostess these days,” said Trevino. “Usually people laugh at that and it’s enough to break the tension.”

For the most part, she said, people have been understanding of Quebec’s vaccine passport system, which came into effect on Sept. 1. Occasionally she’s had customers who were annoyed or frustrated, but no one who was outright aggressive.

“I had someone get quite visibly annoyed with me, but he did actually come back and apologize afterwards and say, ‘I realize that you don’t make the rules; I’m sorry I lost my temper.'”

‘Doubled the workload’

The challenge, more than anything, has been the extra work. “It’s basically doubled the workload,” Trevino said. 

From troubleshooting technical issues with smartphone QR codes and apps, to answering phone calls from people asking what kind of proof is accepted, Trevino said her responsibilities as a hostess have suddenly expanded.

While she agrees with the vaccine passport in principle, she’d like to see more recognition from the government about the added burden it places on businesses and their employees, when they’re already dealing with staff shortages.

“We’re doing a lot of extra work for no extra money, and it eats into the time it takes to seat people. It slows everything down,” said Trevino.

“It would be nice if people could be a little bit nicer to restaurant workers, because I understand that it’s frustrating for people to have to pull out their ID and they’re not always expecting it.… [But] if people could just be patient and understanding, and realize that we don’t make the rules.”

At the Hearty Hooligan, a vegan restaurant in Hamilton, management said their top concern is to make sure front-line staff feel safe. (Submitted by the Hearty Hooligan)

Across the border in Ontario, people have had less time to get used to vaccine certificate requirements, which came into effect on Wednesday.

The rules apply to venues including indoor areas at restaurants and bars, gyms and recreational facilities, and entertainment venues.

The Hearty Hooligan, a vegan restaurant in Hamilton, warned customers of the changes last week through a post on its Instagram account.

“Providing proof of vaccination when you are looking to dine in is the law,” the post states. “Front-line workers have taken a lot of abuse throughout this pandemic and we will not tolerate any harassment over these policies.”

The Hearty Hooligan warned its customers that vaccine requirements would be coming into effect with this Instagram post. (The Hearty Hooligan/Instagram)

But in response to that, head chef Matthew Miles said they’ve faced an onslaught of angry comments from people accusing them of everything from discrimination to supporting tyranny.

When the mask mandate first came into effect, Miles said they had customers enter the restaurant without masks, arguing about their rights. They’re bracing for more of that type of attitude.

To help protect staff, the restaurant installed a bell near the front till that rings directly to the kitchen, so that employees can call for extra help if there’s a conflict.

“Our issue right now is mainly the safety of our front-line staff. We want them to feel supported and we want them to feel safe in their workspace,” Miles said.

Inspections and fines

In response to those concerns, a spokesperson for the Ontario health minister said bylaw officers are responsible for enforcing the new requirements and inspectors will be visiting establishments to offer help and support to staff. 

Workers in Ontario are being asked to call 911 if they feel threatened for denying entry to someone who refuses to comply. 

In Quebec, people who try to get into places requiring a vaccination passport without one risk receiving fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. Businesses that don’t enforce vaccine passport rules can also face fines between $1,000 to $6,000.

Alberta’s new proof-of-vaccination program is not mandatory, but some of the businesses that have chosen to adopt it say they’re ready to call police if people refuse to co-operate.

Quebec’s vaccine-passport system went into effect Sept. 1, followed by a two-week education period. People are required to show digital or printed proof of vaccination for many non-essential activities and businesses. Other provinces are just beginning to roll out their systems. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Outside the restaurant and bar industry, workers in a range of sectors are now adding enforcement of public health restrictions to their list of tasks.

Nadia Ali, a 19-year-old Carleton University student who works part time as a lifeguard, recently learned she would have to screen swimmers for proof of vaccination.

The pool where she works is in an Ottawa condo building, and Ali said some residents have been angry about the changes.

“One lady came in and she told me this was unjust and discrimination, and that she wouldn’t be coming here again,”  Ali said. “I just told her, ‘I’m sorry but I just enforce the rules, I didn’t make them.'” 

Her management has been supportive, she said, and if a resident was ever aggressive, she would ask for help from the front desk. So far, it hasn’t come to that. 

More than anything, Ali said, it’s a lot of hassle and extra work. She hopes the process will get smoother with time.

Extra anxiety

It all comes down to employees being put in an unfair position that they never signed up for, according to Toronto-based employment lawyer Muneeza Sheikh.

“What we are doing, essentially, is we’re placing employees in a combative scenario when that isn’t part of their job duty,” she said.

Sheikh said some of her clients have hired new staff altogether — if they can afford it — to enforce vaccine mandates. But for establishments that don’t have or can’t afford security, she said the vaccine requirements put them in a difficult position.

“There are Canadian employees who have a significant amount of anxiety around going to work now around this vaccination passport and how it’s going to be implemented,” she said.

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Britain offers Canadian military help to defend the Arctic – CBC.ca

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Britain is signalling its interest in working with the Canadian military in the Arctic by offering to take part in cold-weather exercises and bring in some of its more advanced capabilities — such as nuclear-powered submarines — to help with surveillance and defence in the Far North.

In a recent exclusive interview with CBC News, the United Kingdom’s top military commander said his country is “keen to cooperate” and learn more about how to survive and fight in a cold, remote setting.

Gen. Sir Nick Carter said Britain would also like to “cooperate in terms of helping Canada do what Canada needs to do as an Arctic country.”

The offer was quietly floated months ago in government circles. Experts say, however, that successive Canadian governments have been reluctant to allow anyone — even close allies — to become too deeply embedded in the region. 

WATCH: Gen. Sir Nick Carter discusses the prospect of military cooperation with Canada in the Arctic

U.K. is keen for closer cooperation with Canada in the Arctic

16 hours ago

Gen. Sir Nick Carter, Britain’s chief of the defence staff, says the U.K. is keen for closer cooperation with Canada in the Arctic. He said the British military wants to learn from Canada’s experience and can bring capabilities to help better defend the region. 0:28

Much of that reluctance has to do with contested claims to Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic. Concern over Canada’s exclusion from the recent security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia may lend fresh urgency to the U.K.’s proposal, however.

CBC’s interview with Gen. Carter was conducted before the AUKUS pact was announced.

As members of NATO, both Britain and Canada have taken part in winter warfare exercises in Norway. Gen. Carter said he believes that cooperation could be expanded to the benefit of both countries. The British Army has for many years conducted armoured and combined warfare training at Suffield, Alta.

Keeping a closer eye on the Arctic

The Arctic is becoming more of a focus for NATO and Canada’s closest allies. The potential threat posed by the reactivation of Russia’s northern Cold War-era bases, as well as the interest of possible adversaries such as China, figured promptly in speeches and panel discussions at the recent NATO leaders summit last June.

Canada’s former Conservative government placed a premium on increasing Canada’s military presence in the Far North; it built a naval refuelling station and set in motion the construction of Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, which are just being delivered.

Then-prime minister Stephen Harper looks down the shoreline in the Arctic port of Nanisivik, Nunavut on August 10, 2007. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Those measures offer Canada’s military limited capabilities, however. Underwater and satellite surveillance of the region is still in the planning and early implementation phases.

Carter said the U.K. has capabilities that could help keep closer tabs on the Arctic’s rapidly melting seas and inlets, but it would be up to the Canadian government to decide.

“We would absolutely defer to Canada’s expertise in this,” Carter told CBC News.

“I think we have military capabilities, certainly in the maritime domain and in terms of our science that would be useful to Canada and I think operating alongside Canada in that regard is going to be clearly good for both countries.”

Going nuclear

What Britain has — and Canada lacks — is a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, which can operate under ice for extended periods of time.

When Canada bought its current diesel-electric submarines from Britain in the late 1990s it embarked on a project to retrofit them with fuel cells that would have delivered better, longer under-ice performance. The plan fell through and was quietly shelved.

In the late 1980s, the Conservative government of former prime minister Brian Mulroney proposed buying 12 nuclear-powered submarines with the goal of using them for Arctic defence. The end of the Cold War and subsequent defence cuts caused the plan to be shelved.

The University of Calgary’s Rob Huebert, one of the country’s leading experts on Arctic defence, said that after a hiatus of almost a dozen years, the British rejoined the biennial American high Arctic military exercise in 2018 with their nuclear-powered submarines.

Back in March, the Russians deployed three ultra-quiet nuclear subs to simultaneously punch through the Arctic ice in the same location — a demonstration that set the defence community buzzing.

Three nuclear submarines owned by Russia maneuvered to break through several feet of Arctic ice at the same time in March 2021. (Russian Defence Ministry)

“We do not have the capability of engaging Russian submarines or Chinese submarines, if and when that ever becomes a reality,” said Huebert, speaking about the Canadian navy’s Arctic inventory. “That’s the No. 1 capability that the British bring to the Arctic.”

CBC News asked Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office to comment on the notion of closer cooperation with the British in Canada’s Far North. The query went unanswered.

Huebert said successive Canadian governments have been reluctant to let the allies become more deeply involved in the region, beyond the Operation Nanook exercise held each summer.

“We’re fearful any type of involvement with NATO would undermine our sovereignty,” said Huebert, noting that both the United States and Britain do not recognize Canada’s claim to the Northwest Passage.

Canada needs to show the flag: defence expert

The British offer of cooperation and assistance is a wake-up call for the Liberal government on several different fronts, said Dave Perry, a vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

It is, he said, a reminder that Canada needs to be more present in the region.

“There have been [Canadian] commitments to increase the situational awareness there, but that has a long way to go and the thing for Canadians to remember is that it is our actual territory and our backyard,” he said. 

“I think it is great to work with other people, but we should be doing what we can to make sure we have a home field advantage.”

With Australia planning to acquire nuclear submarines — which conceivably could operate in the Arctic as well — Perry was asked if Canada will have to rely more on its allies to monitor and defend its territory.

“I think the AUKUS deal is an indicator that there are some countries with whom we have been intimately familiar and intimately allied with. Some of our best friends on the planet are firming even tighter, smaller clubs,” he said.

“The United States under successive administrations is being far less benign about allies that they look at as pulling — or not pulling — their weight … The United States is looking for people who will pull their weight.”

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