Five Questions for Closet Monster WriterDirector Stephen Dunn

first_imgAdvertisement Login/Register With: A surreal and entirely original coming-of-age tale, Closet Monster tells the story of Oscar, a gay, cinephilic high school senior who has been grappling with the implications of his parents’ divorce — and a witnessed act of gay bashing — by, among other things, conversing with his “spirit animal”: Buffy, a pet hamster voiced by Isabella Rossellini. The feature debut of Canadian writer/director Stephen Dunn, the film has drawn comparisons to the work of countrymen David Cronenberg and Xavier Dolan, but it pulses to its own unexpectedly sincere wavelength. Below, we asked Dunn about that Cronenberg connection, star Connor Jessup (one of Filmmaker‘s 2016 25 New Faces), and the impact today of ’80s New Queer Cinema.Closet Monster opens today at the IFC Center from Strand Releasing.Filmmaker: When we last wrote about you, you were bringing the Pop Up Porno series of shorts to Sundance. Tell us about the relationship between those shorts — if there is one — and Closet Monster? Do any stylistic elements carry over? Dunn: Stylistically, my approach to Closet Monster was completely different to the Pop-Up Porno series. The Pornos are a series about humiliating sexual encounters cheekily illustrated through raunchy pornographic pop-up books, while Closet Monster is a live-action feature. However, both projects share themes of sexuality and its relationship to shame. But I guess, in a way both stories playfully explore sexuality in an indirect way through visual metaphor and surrealist elements.Filmmaker: Your lead teenage character, Oscar, is an aspiring special effects makeup artist, and your film has drawn some comparisons to the work of your fellow Canadian, David Cronenberg, with regards to aspects of body horror. Tell us how an interest in special effects makeup plays into this feature? Are you yourself interested in special effects, and what special effects have made an impact on you? Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook Twitter Advertisementlast_img read more

Cineplex says it will waive fees for A Dogs Purpose screening cancellations

first_imgAdvertisement New Hope Dog Rescue in Saskatoon had booked a pre-screening of the movie and some supporters had called on the group to cancel the showing after the video surfaced. Facebook But organizers said the event would go on because they feared losing their $1,500 deposit with Cineplex. Login/Register With: Cineplex spokeswoman Sarah Van Lange says the group need not worry — the company will waive the cancellation fee. The film’s producer, Amblin Entertainment, and distributor, Universal Pictures, say they are confident that “great care and concern was shown” for the dog, which they say had rehearsed the stunt for several days. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Theatre giant Cineplex says it is waiving cancellation fees for any groups that had booked pre-screening of the film “A Dog’s Purpose.” Advertisement The move comes amid controversy over video of what looks like a distressed German shepherd being forced into turbulent water during shooting of the movie in Winnipeg. Twitterlast_img read more

Calling all creators – Exclusive opportunity to pitch Sesame Workshop – TIFF

first_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Login/Register With: Facebook Applications are completely free and will close on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.Those holding a TIFF Kids Industry or Forum Pass will have opportunity to sit in on the sessions! Advertisement Advertisementcenter_img APPLY HERE. 2017 TIFF Sesame Pitch WorkshopAs part of our ongoing commitment to creating economic opportunities for industry professionals, TIFF Industry will facilitate a unique pitch opportunity for Canadian filmmakers ….Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, is interested in meeting talented Canadian producers, directors, and writers. Ten successful applicants will have the opportunity to pitch for a shot at making a short film for the iconic television show.Selected candidates will be connected with a professional pitch coach who will provide feedback and guidance during a one-day training session in early April. Final pitches will take place during the TIFF Kids Industry Forum, April 19–20, in front of local industry and Sesame Workshop producers. Advertisement Twitterlast_img read more

Former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe brings boot camp to Vancouver

first_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Login/Register With: Advertisement “We were always trying to figure out how to bring health and fitness to a larger scale and to make it fun,” said Booth. “So we decided that we should tour the country — and even other countries now — and put on a large group workout and get as many people out there as possible and just have a good time and show people that fitness can be fun.”READ MORE A former Vancouver Bachelorette and her personal trainer fiancé are back in town this weekend with their popular cross-country boot camp tour.Kaitlyn Bristowe, 32, and Shawn Booth, 31, met during filming of season 11 of ABC’s reality dating show The Bachelorette in 2015. After a whirlwind season of international jet-setting and fantasy dates, Booth proposed to Bristowe in the finale which was filmed at the infamous Bachelor mansion in Agoura Hills, Calif. The bachelorette then uprooted her life from Vancouver, B.C. to be with Booth in Nashville, TN.Booth, a Nashville-based personal trainer, said he was cycling with friend and celebrity trainer Erin Oprea when the duo came up with the idea to host large-scale workouts in outdoor venues that showcase a city’s skyline and scenery. Advertisement Twitter Facebook Advertisementlast_img read more

LETS GO TO THE EX eBOSS Canada Has Arranged Discounted Ticket Prices

first_img Login/Register With: Advertisement Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment RIDE ALL DAY PASSRegular Ticket Price: $61.00eBOSS Discount Price: $40.00 (you save $21.00)Offer valid from today (Aug-25-17) to Sept. 4th, 2017CLICK HERE to download the instructionsPurchase your tickets online and save, save, save … then go have fun, fun, fun!(Feel free to share this with anyone/everyone who is going to The Ex) Thinking of going to The EX (The CNE)?eBOSS Canada has arranged discounted tickets and passes for you, your family and friends.GENERAL ADMISSIONRegular Ticket Price: $19.00eBOSS Discount Price: $15.00 (you save $4.00) Facebook Advertisement Twitterlast_img

THE SUPERHERO TV SHOW TITANS IS CURRENTLY FILMING ON TORONTOS STREETS

first_img Facebook Advertisement Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment SUPERHERO SHOW TITANS CURRENTLY FILMING ON TORONTO’S STREETSOne of the great things about summertime in Toronto is getting to see our regular old streets transform into something from another world.Usually, that world is just New York — but with our city’s film industry having experienced a major boom in recent years, locals are getting used to seeing more spectacular things around town.Fake helicopter crashes anyone? How about Kurt Russel riding a sleigh? Or Damien Lewis in a fat suit that consists only of Rob Ford’s head? READ MORE Advertisement DC’S TITANS SET PHOTOS REVEAL FIRST LOOK AT JASON TODDNewly surfaced photos from the set of Titans provide a first look of actor Curran Walters as Jason Todd in the upcoming DC Universe live-action drama.Filming in the Toronto area under the working title “Freebirds,” the series centers on the team of young superheroes — Starfire, Raven and Beast Boy — led by Dick Grayson as Robin. The first season will also feature DC heroes Hawk & Dove as well as the Doom Patrol, which is already tapped for a spinoff series.Jason Todd’s introduction on Titans was first rumored in March, with the apparent leak of the title for the seventh episode, but these photos are the first confirmation of his role. The second Robin, Jason succeeded Dick Grayson as Batman’s sidekick, only to be murdered in 1988 by The Joker (his fate was determined by readers who called 1-900 numbers to cast their votes). READ MORENEW ‘TITANS’ SET VIDEO SHOWS FIGHT BETWEEN HAWK AND DOVEThe DC Universe Titans TV series is being worked on as we speak, and a new scene featuring Hawk and Dove has emerged from the set.Titans is being shot in Toronto, and a new set video has popped up online. The video is set on the corner of a street and features Hawk (Alan Ritchson) fighting with Dove (Minka Kelly), though it seems they are just rehearsing. You can see Kelly’s distinctive blonde hair but it doesn’t seem like she’s wearing her costume, and Ritchson is just in plain clothes as well. READ MORE Login/Register With: Twitterlast_img read more

WHY MOST CANADIANS WONT SEE OSCARCONTENDER ROMA AT THEIR LOCAL CINEMA

first_imgThis image released by Netflix shows Yalitza Aparicio, center, in a scene from the film “Roma,” by filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron. (Carlos Somonte/Netflix via AP) Advertisement Login/Register With: LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Advertisementcenter_img Twitter Only Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are scheduled to play “Roma” at this point, with the possibility of other cities showing the film if it’s a hit.And just one theatre is actually screening it before the streamer does — Toronto’s downtown art house TIFF Bell Lightbox premieres “Roma” on Thursday. Montreal and Vancouver theatres don’t get it until Dec. 14, the same day “Roma” makes its global debut on Netflix.The smaller rollout wouldn’t be so unusual for a foreign-language film shot in black and white, if Oscar prognosticators hadn’t predicted nominations for Cuaron, newcomer actress Yalitza Aparicio and best picture.The strategy reflects big screen Oscar ambitions that don’t actually include a strong commitment to movie theatres.“For Netflix it all comes back to the monthly subscription,” says Katie Bailey, content director at film industry trade publication Playback.“They build their revenue $9.99 at a time.”Netflix acquired the rights for Cuaron’s semi-autobiographical tribute to his native Mexico with the purpose of putting it on the small screen.Reed Hastings, the company’s chief executive, has long accused movie exhibitors of being unable to think outside the multiplex boxes. He’s called for Hollywood to release more films for home viewing the same day they open in theatres.That position has put Netflix in a tough spot as exhibitors distance themselves and some within the film industry see the company as a competitive threat.Netflix has managed to pick up Oscars for both documentary feature and short in recent years, but failed to score gold in the major awards categories. Some have called the company’s Oscar campaigns as half-hearted at best.Theatrical runs for “Beasts of No Nation” and “Mudbound” — which are required to qualify for the Oscars — were limited at best. “Beasts” was criticized for playing the smallest theatres in Los Angeles and New York, making it tough for even the local audience to find, while the rollout for “Mudbound” was limited to a small number of screens at art house theatres in the United States.In Canada, many of Netflix’s films only screen at Toronto’s Lightbox, at least partly because Canada’s biggest exhibitor Cineplex isn’t interested in showing a film that will head to the small screen in mere weeks.“We are more than happy to play their films if they abide by the same rules as everybody else,” CEO Ellis Jacob says in a recent interview of Netflix.Cineplex has long held a 90-day window policy between a movie’s theatrical debut and its appearance for rental or streaming at home.It’s a niche, art house film that only a small audience will pay full price to see, suggests Bailey.“Two people — $30 easy. Plus popcorn,” she says.“You can get a lot of Netflix for that.”Time and Space constrain us, but they also define who we are, creating inexplicable bonds with the others that flow with us at the same time and through the same places. pic.twitter.com/hGvwgo3ZKa— ROMA (@ROMACuaron) August 16, 2018— With files from Tara Deschamps TORONTO — With director Alfonso Cuaron’s sweeping epic “Roma” floating on a cloud of positive buzz, the Netflix film seems destined to be a major awards contender.But unlike other best picture Oscar bets “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther,” and “Widows,” it’s angling to get there without playing theatres across the country.Despite a critically acclaimed premiere at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, Netflix is only screening the Spanish-language film by the Oscar-winning director of “Gravity” at a small number of theatres in Canada. Facebooklast_img read more

Youth for Lake walkers face highway hostility on trek to Ottawa

first_imgAPTN National NewsA group from Manitoba going by the title, Youth for Lakes, are walking across the country.They hope to raise awareness about corporate water pollution and the effects it may have on future generations.The group is relying on community support along the way, but they weren’t expecting some of the racism they’ve experienced.APTN National News reporter Shaneen Robinson met up with them on the Trans-Canada Highway, just past Kenora, Ont., and has this story.last_img

Is the federal government really funding Jordans Principle Cindy Blackstock doesnt think

first_img– With files from The Canadian Press APTN National NewsOTTAWA – Long after most people had gone home for the day Tuesday the federal government issued a press release saying it was going to provide $382 million in new funding to support a federal policy that’s supposed to ensure First Nations children get specialized medical care when they need it, otherwise known as Jordan’s Principle.On the surface it appeared to be good news.But not to the woman who has been fighting Ottawa for nearly a decade.Cindy Blackstock won a human rights complaint in January when the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled the federal government racially discriminated against First Nations children when it came to child welfare funding, compared to non-Indigenous children.The tribunal ordered the government to even the playing field, and properly fund Jordan’s Principle.Blackstock warned people to pump the brakes and look at the details of the announcement in an interview with APTN National News Wednesday night.Blackstock said the government appears to be narrowing the definition of Jordan’s Principle by saying the money is for health and social services.“That is not Jordan’s Principle,” said Blackstock, whose human rights complaint took nine years. “Jordan’s Principle is to ensure First Nations children can access government services across all public services.”She said the federal government appeared to further narrow the scope of Jordan’s Principle on Wednesday when it issued a compliance report to the human rights tribunal on how it was addressing the systemic funding shortfalls for First Nations children on-reserve.In that report, the government said the Jordan’s Principle money was for children with disabilities and short term medical needs.“The definition of Jordan’s Principle appears to be narrowing with every submission from the federal government,” said Blackstock.Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day agreed the scope should be larger.“It’s important that aspects of Jordan’s Principle are being implemented,” said Day. “But funds should also be put in place for all services, such as social, education and other investments – not just health dollars. As the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal pointed out earlier this year, there exists unequal levels of health care – and all social services – that Indigenous children in Canada receive compared to non-Indigenous children.”Jordan’s Principle holds that no First Nations child should suffer denials, delays or disruptions of health services available to other children due to jurisdictional disputes.In the past, provinces and the federal government couldn’t agree who should pay leaving First Nations children in limbo.It’s named after Jordan Anderson, a Cree boy from Norway House, Man., who died in hospital in 2005 after such disagreements kept him from spending his last years in home care.In the government’s submission to the human rights tribunal on Wednesday, Indigenous Affairs said it has begun working with First Nations child welfare agencies to reform child welfare and to eliminate any discrimination in levels of service. But, Blackstock said the feds are doing that with the $71 million in annual funding they announced in the last budget, which she said is closer to $60 million after the government takes into account its own “cost of business.”It’s not good enough and the number should be closer to $200 million a year said Blackstock.That’s above and beyond the $382-million over three years for implementing Jordan’s Principle. The debate over funding that ensued following the budget’s release was slap in the face, added Day. He leads his organization’s health portfolio. “It is a slap in the face to the tribunal,” he said. “It is a slap in the face to our First Nations and their families, and it is a slap in the face to the residential school survivors who were really the assault on our child welfare.”APTN asked Blackstock what difference she has noticed in dealing with new Liberal government compared to that of the former Conservative government that tried multiple times to have her human rights complaint dismissed.“The new government is talking to us, but they are not listening,” she said. “While the new money is welcomed we’re still not 100 per cent sure how that is actually going to benefit children, especially given the narrowing of it.”The tribunal is reviewing the government’s latest compliance report and may issue new orders if it feels the government continues to racially discriminate against First Nations children.In its six-year examination of the Canada’s residential school legacy, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission flagged the number of indigenous children in care as a key issue to be addressed. Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett has vowed to “overhaul” the system.last_img read more

Lululemon raising fourthquarter guidance following holiday season

first_imgVANCOUVER – Lululemon Athletica Inc. is raising its sales and earnings guidance for its fourth quarter.The retailer says it now expects net revenue will be in the range of $905 million to $915 million for the quarter based on a total comparable sales increase in the high single digits on a constant dollar basis.The revised forecast compares with its earlier guidance for net revenue in the range of $870 million to $885 million for the fourth quarter based on a total comparable sales increase in the mid-single digits on a constant dollar basis.Lululemon also says it now expects diluted earnings per share of $1.24 to $1.26 for the fourth quarter. Excluding the impact of the restructuring of its Ivivva operations, it expects adjusted diluted earnings per share in the range of $1.25 to $1.27.That is up from earlier guidance for diluted earnings per share of $1.18 to $1.21, or $1.19 to $1.22 excluding the Ivivva restructuring.The guidance did not include the impact of the U.S. tax reform which was enacted late last year. The company says it expects to recognize a significant income tax expense in the fourth quarter related to the one-time deemed repatriation tax on accumulated foreign earnings.“We are thrilled with our performance this holiday season that reflects an accelerating trend across all parts of our business, and we look forward to continued momentum in 2018 and beyond,” Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin said in a statement.last_img read more

Officials 5 missing fire out after Oklahoma rig explosion

first_imgQUINTON, Okla. – Five people are missing after a fiery explosion ripped through an eastern Oklahoma drilling rig on Monday, sending plumes of black smoke into the air and leaving a derrick crumpled on the ground, emergency officials said.More than 20 employees were at the natural gas well site when the blast was reported around 8:45 a.m., Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said. Aerial footage showed several fires were still burning by midday on the rig and other equipment; the derrick, a towering metal structure above the well, collapsed onto the ground.Emergency crews were pulled away after other explosions at the site, where several tanks are also located, Pittsburg County Emergency Management Director Kevin Enloe said during an afternoon news conference.“Pretty much everything that is on location is on fire,” Enloe said.A statement Monday night from emergency management said the fire was out.The explosion occurred west of the town of Quinton, about 100 miles (161 kilometres) southeast of Tulsa. Enloe said firefighters were letting the blaze burn and weren’t putting water on it to keep from spreading possible hazardous materials at the site.Enloe said about 17 workers were pulled from the site following the blast, including one who suffered minor burns and was treated at the scene. He said crews were searching the surrounding woods to see if anyone had fled into the area.“Most everybody was taken off the site and taken to a secure site here in Quinton,” said Morris, the sheriff. He said workers were “pretty shook up.”“It’s a pretty dramatic deal to go through,” he said.Confirmation of any fatalities wasn’t expected to be possible until the fire was extinguished and investigators could get to the scene of the explosion, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office.“I pray there’s not, but we just don’t know yet,” Elliott said.State environmental and regulatory officials were heading to the scene after being notified, according to Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain.The drilling site was being operated by Oklahoma City-based Red Mountain Operating, said Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates oil and gas operators in the state. Telephone and email messages left by The Associated Press with Red Mountain were not immediately returned.Houston-based Patterson-UTI Energy Inc., a drilling rig operator, confirmed in a statement Monday that some of its employees remain unaccounted for.“The cause of the fire is unknown at this time,” the company said.Skinner said a company that specializes in rig fires and other well control problems also responded to the blaze.___This story has been corrected to show the drilling site was operated by Red Mountain Operating, not Red Mountain Energy.last_img read more

Dog sent overseas by mistake returned to Kansas family

first_imgWICHITA, Kan. – A dog that United Airlines mistakenly flew to Japan is back with its family in Kansas.The 10-year-old German shepherd named Irgo arrived at a Wichita airport Thursday night after a flight on a private plane that United chartered from Japan.Kara Swindle and her two children took a United flight Tuesday from Oregon to Kansas City, Missouri, during a move to Wichita, Kansas.When they went to pick up Irgo, they were shown a Great Dane that was supposed to go to Japan.United said that the dogs were put on the wrong planes when being moved from connecting flights in Denver.The airline declined to say how much it spent on Irgo’s charter flight.“We chose the fastest option to reunite the dog with his family,” said United spokesman Jonathan Guerin.Irgo’s misadventure began a day after a French bulldog puppy died aboard a United flight after a flight attendant required a passenger to put her pet carrier in the overhead bin.Meanwhile, the airline said it diverted a flight to Akron, Ohio, Thursday after a dog was mistakenly loaded on the Newark, New Jersey, to St. Louis flight. The pet was delivered safely to its owners and all passengers on the flight were compensated, United said.last_img read more

Bombardier exec apologizes to TTC over delivery of 89 faulty streetcars

first_imgTORONTO – The president of Bombardier Transportation made his first appearance at Toronto’s transit commission board meeting on Tuesday and apologized for the latest problems with the streetcars his company delivered to the city.“We understand and share the disappointment of the mayor, the board and the TTC riders. We truly apologize,” said Benoit Brossoit.The transit authority said last week that the first 67 of 89 streetcars would be sent back for preventative repairs due to a welding issue.Although the majority of streetcars will be sent back to Bombardier’s Welding Centre of Excellence in La Pocatiere, Que., Brossoit said the issue poses no safety risk to riders and staff members taking the TTC streetcars.“Bombardier is Canadian and we are committed to Ontario,” said Brossoit, adding that all measures had been taken to fix this production issue.To minimize the effect on service, only three or four cars will be repaired at a time. The shipping and repairs of the cars should take 19 weeks to be completed.All 67 streetcars are scheduled to be fixed by 2022.The problem was identified by Bombardier 18 months ago and involves work completed in Mexico.Bombardier’s chief operating officer David Van der Wee told the board that the level of complexity of building the TTC streetcars was higher than expected. He assured the board that the root causes of the issue have been corrected and that the entire cost of the repairs will be covered by Bombardier.“When narrowing down the issue to 67 cars, I want to highlight that we work with very conservative assumptions, always to be on the safe side of things,” he said.Programs like this are complex and full of challenges, said Brossoit.“Our commitment is to deliver on our promises, but, also to make it right when situation like this occur,” he said.“Bombardier stands by its product. Always, no compromise,” he added.The delays and recent production issues in the $1-billion order has caused frustration on the part of the board members, the TTC riders and the mayor.TTC Chair Josh Colle said the streetcars were needed as soon as possible to serve passengers and replace the older ones.“I strongly recommend you take a ride on some of those crowded, leaky, beasts of streetcars that are serving our passengers right now,” he told them.TTC board member Rick Byers asked the president of Bombardier whether he should be trusted when telling the board that no more delays are expected.Byers said it had been an “unbelievably frustrating experience for the people in this commission, but more importantly for the riders.”“For us to have had to defend you, as I have had to do, it has been difficult,” he said.Brossoit reassured the board that despite the repeated delays and recent production problems, the streetcars were his main focus and have been so since he started on the job.He said the cars would be delivered on time.“We are fully committed to the overall delivery of the 204 cars by the end of 2019. This means 77 more cars next year,” said Brossoit.(Companies in this story: TSX:BBD.B)Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version misspelled Benoit Brossoit’s surname.last_img read more

Kingsway Financial Services sells nonstandard auto insurance business

first_imgTORONTO – Kingsway Financial Services Inc. has signed a deal to sell its non-standard auto insurance business to Premier Holdings, LLC.Chief executive Larry Swets Jr. says the sale will help the company focus on its extended warranty business.Under the agreement, Kingsway will sell Mendota Insurance Co., Mendakota Insurance Co. and Mendakota Casualty Co. for a purchase price equal to Mendota’s statutory surplus at June 30.The company says it expects to take a loss on the sale driven by a writedown of a $7.6 million indefinite lived intangible asset related to Mendota.Kingsway says it will use the proceeds from the sale to acquire limited liability investments and other investments owned by Mendota.The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter, subject to regulatory approvals.Companies in this story: (TSX:KFS)last_img read more

Mexico Lopez Obrador expands plan for Yucatan tourist train

first_imgMEXICO CITY – Mexico’s president-elect announced an even more ambitious proposal for a train on the Yucatan peninsula Monday that would link nearly all the region’s main tourist draws and cost double or more than the previously announced figure.Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had campaigned on building the tourist train from the beach resort city of Cancun down through Tulum and to the Mayan ruins of Palenque, 520 miles (830 kilometres) to the southwest.The new plan adds a western spur that could stop in the cities of Campeche, Merida and Valladolid — the latter near the famed ruins of Chichen Itza — and ultimately complete the circuit in Cancun.Lopez Obrador said the “Mayan train” would cost between $6 billion and $8 billion, compared with the previous figure of $3.2 billion. He said it would be financed over six years through both public and private investment, including tourism taxes that currently net about $370 million a year.What was to be 560 miles (900 kilometres) of track would rise to about 930 miles (1,500 kilometres), and would be completed in four years “at the latest,” he said. Most of the route lies on land already owned by the federal government.“This will greatly stimulate tourism and will create jobs in the southeast, which is the most neglected region of the country,” Lopez Obrador said.The announcement amounted to a doubling down on a campaign proposal that had left some scratching their heads, and perhaps improving its viability by extending it along a well-travelled tourist route.The region is dotted by low jungle, wildlife reserves, pre-Hispanic archaeological sites, wetlands and underground rivers that can suddenly cave in.Even the initial proposal would have taken years to build, and soaked up scarce money, to reach ruin sites like Calakmul, which now gets only about 35,000 visitors a year — the number better-known sites like Chichen Itza have in a week.The new plan would bring Chichen Itza into play, as well as Campeche and Merida, two gorgeous if sweltering cities known for their picturesque colonial buildings.For fans of Lopez Obrador’s initial plan, it’s all about getting people off the beaten track — the heavily travelled tourism route of Cancun-Riviera Maya-Chichen Itza-Xcaret visited by millions of tourists every year.“Tourists today prefer other types of tourism projects that are more in contact with nature. … They are showing less interest in the coast,” said Vicente Ferreyra, a Cancun-based consultant whose Sustentur company specializes in sustainable tourism. “They are turning more toward the jungle, and there is an opportunity to diversify for markets that don’t just want sun and sand.”So, imagine if you could hop on a train at the Cancun airport and step off two hours later in one of the communities at the edge of the Sian Ka’an nature reserve, south of Tulum, where the coast turns into lagoons and mangroves.Villages like Muyil are offering tours such as floating down fresh-water canals dug by the Mayas, visiting local pre-Hispanic ruins, seeing local craftsmen and sampling regional foods.Few doubt that the first stretch of proposed train on the Caribbean coast — from Cancun through the Riviera Maya to Tulum — would be heavily used. Almost 7 million international tourists visit this stretch of coast every year, many of them arriving at the Cancun airport and then taking buses or cars down the coast.While resorts have been popping up south of Cancun since the 1990s, most hotel workers still live in Cancun, which was founded in 1974. So huge numbers of tourism workers could also use the train to get to their jobs, a trip that can currently take them an hour and a half or more.But it’s not clear whether the train would have stops at Playa del Carmen or other busy resorts that would be destinations for the tourists and workers. The initial plan shows it making its only Maya Riviera stop in Tulum before heading farther south.It is the second, southern stretch from Tulum to the unpicturesque Maya town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, just southwest of the Sian Ka’an environmental reserve, then on to Bacalar, the state capital of Chetumal, Calakmul and Palenque that raises more questions. Some see it as an expensive folly. There is little developed tourism infrastructure until one gets around the Bacalar fresh-water lagoon. And the route from there west is practically undeveloped.“The biggest doubt (about the southern leg) is regarding the profitability of the project, based on tourism flows,” said Francisco Madrid Flores, director of the Tourism and Gastronomy Department at Mexico’s Anahuac University. “In southern Campeche, where Calakmul is, there are practically no hotel rooms.”That’s not to say that Mayan communities there don’t have something to offer tourists beyond sites such as Calakmul, a sprawling ancient Maya city-state almost completely covered in low jungle. Five communities in the low jungle around Calakmul already offer hiking, biking, bird watching, cave tours, kayaking and craft workshops.Historically, the largely Mayan southern half of the Yucatan has been locked out of the tourism boom that has enriched the northeast — around Cancun — that now is largely populated by non-indigenous Mexicans. But in part that is due to the logic of who has the white-sand beaches and turquoise waters loved by tourists. The south has them, too, but only on the Costa Maya, a narrow peninsula running from Mahahual to Xcalak, an area the train apparently wouldn’t go to, although cruise ships do.In 2012, current President Enrique Pena Nieto announced that he would build a rapid-train link connecting the Riviera Maya with Merida, passing by Valladolid and Chichen Itza. The $1.5 billion project would have connected already developed tourist destinations on a heavily travelled, well-known route.It was cancelled in 2015 due to a lack of funds, but the idea now would appear to be revived with Monday’s announcement by Lopez Obrador, who takes office Dec. 1.“Based on the sheer numbers of inhabitants, it would seem to me to make more sense to run it in the northern part” of the Yucatan peninsula to Merida, said Ferreyra.___Associated Press writer Maria Verza contributed to this report.last_img read more

BC maintained budget surplus for 201718 despite increased spending

first_imgVICTORIA – British Columbia maintained its budget surplus in the last fiscal year even though it boosted spending on government programs by almost $3 billion and covered significant expenses from disastrous wildfires in 2017.The 2017-18 public accounts released Tuesday by Finance Minister Carole James showed an operating surplus of $301 million for the year, which is $55 million higher than the surplus forecast in the budget update last fall.She said the government reduced its debt and achieved a balanced budget despite historic losses at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.“Our surplus is modest but also higher than anticipated in our last quarterly report,” she said. “We are maintaining reasonable surpluses throughout our fiscal plan despite the challenges that we have been left with.”After assuming power from the B.C. Liberals last summer, the minority New Democrat government promised to help families and improve services while building a long-term sustainable economy.“Unlike the previous government we’re not going to pretend that financial challenges don’t exist,” said James. “We don’t believe in passing problems on to future generations. We are tackling them.”The Liberals, meanwhile, said the public accounts show the NDP continues to ride on the previous government’s economic record.“It took 16 years of hard work to rebuild our province’s economy after the NDP’s disastrous term as government in the 1990s,” Liberal house leader Mary Polak said in a news release.“What today’s numbers don’t show are the impacts of a pile of taxes the B.C. NDP have recently imposed on British Columbians. The NDP are using public accounts as a smokescreen to avoid tough questions about massive tax increases that will have a profound impact on our economy.”James said overall, the province is seeing long-term economic growth.Revenue was $571 million higher than the previous year, mostly due to increased federal transfers resulting from revised population estimates and higher taxation revenue.She said the government is making an adjustment of $950 million in the public accounts to reduce BC Hydro’s deferral accounts. Through this adjustment and an ongoing review of the utility, she said the government is working on solutions that will keep rates affordable.“People won’t see a change on their existing Hydro bill,” James said.The government is also committed to addressing the housing crisis, she said. The government wants to see more affordability for families and individuals, and for the market to moderate, all of which are important for the economy to thrive.“We need a long-term stable growth in B.C., not a speculative real estate market.”Addressing the money spent on fighting wildfires, James said regardless of what it costs, there is money in the budget. The Wildfire Service says 2018 is the second-worst wildfire season on record, with 2017 listed as the worst.last_img read more

West Fraser announces temporary curtailments at three BC sawmills

first_imgVANCOUVER, B.C. – Temporary curtailments at three B.C. sawmills throughout the first quarter of 2019 will affect approx three weeks of production.Due to price declines in the lumber markets, high log costs and log supply constraints will see a temporary reduction in production at the mill in Chasm, 100 Mile House and Chetwynd. The Williams Lake sawmill will be shut down for approx a week to complete capital upgrades.In addition to previously announced measures, the first quarter of the year is expected to reduce SPF lumber production by approx 50 million board feet. West Fraser is a diversified wood products company producing lumber, LVL, MDF, plywood, pulp, newsprint, wood chips and energy with facilities in Western Canada and the Southern United States.last_img

Deal signed to host T10 league for five years in Abu Dhabi

first_imgDubai: The Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi will be the new home of T10 cricket for the next five years, starting with the 2019 season. Abu Dhabi Cricket (ADC), in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) and the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), has signed a five-year agreement with the organizers of the T10 Cricket League. The shortest form of the game will now be played exclusively at Zayed Cricket Stadium. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh To announce the arrival of the new partnership, a T10 match was organised on the seafront of Abu Dhabi’s iconic Corniche, with T10 aces Colin Ingram, Andre Fletcher and Luke Ronchi having a bat on the beach. Saif Saeed Ghobash, Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “Our city is a major global hub with a huge variety of attractions that cater to people of all ages and backgrounds, and the T10 tournament’s presence the city for the next five years represents an exciting opportunity to attract even more visitors from around the globe, especially those from India who represent one of DCT Abu Dhabi’s key markets.” Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later “T10 is fast, punchy, exciting cricket, making it perfect viewing for those of us living in the UAE,” said Aref Al-Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council. “The decision to host T10 in Abu Dhabi is a fitting demonstration of our strategic investments in sporting infrastructure, such as training facilities and match stadiums which we’ve been making over recent years. “Through bringing T10 to the capital of the nation, we hope cricket’s sporting potential can reach more audiences and introduce more players, young and old, to both cricket and to the wider forms of sport available in Abu Dhabi,” Al Awani said. T10 was first introduced to the UAE in 2017. With eight squads vying for victory in games with an explosive pace, players featured have included Chris Gayle, Shoaib Malik, Shane Watson and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed. Shaji Ul Mulk, Innovator and Chairman of the T10 League, said: “T10 has landed onto the global cricket scene, and this combined partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council, DCT Abu Dhabiand Abu Dhabi Cricket gives T10 a major boost in establishing itself as a credible international form of the game.” Australian Shane Watson, who captains the Karachians, said: “T10 is one of the fastest evolving forms of cricket, and fans obviously love it. The move of the league to Abu Dhabi is a great idea the pitches in Abu Dhabi are beautifully maintained, and as I’ve mentioned before, the conditions are the closest to those in Australia.” The first match of the T10 League 2019 will be held on October 23.last_img read more

Need to develop PPP to address societal challenges: BSDM chief

first_imgNew Delhi: In a major push to utilise CSR for sustainable development of skills, Bihar Skill Development Mission (BSDM) brainstormed with corporate honchos, heads of CSR wings of PSUs to promote sustainable development of skills.While addressing the conglomerate, BSDM Chief Executive Officer Deepak Kumar Singh said, “The concept of CSR is evolving. It’s no longer an act of few people carrying out philanthropic activities, but is being increasingly seen as a medium of active cooperation between people, government and corporations.” Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ “Skills development is a dynamic concept. We need to evolve the public-private partnerships to better address the challenges of current society in terms of unemployment, generation of livelihood opportunity, enhancement of skills in disadvantaged groups and develop the various model of upskilling and livelihood,” said Singh, who is also Principal Secretary of labour Department in Bihar government. The summit was a recent addition to the long list of initiatives being undertaken by Bihar’s premier skill development agency to equip Bihar youth to make them industry ready. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KIn reply to a question as why the government is focusing on conventional skill training activities which would become redundant in the years to come, Singh told Millennium Post that initiating the dialogue with industry experts is a move to understand the requirement of the latest skill trends in the country. “We want to create a force of trained manpower keeping in view the demand of the industry. The industry is the best platform to know about the kind of skill would be required in the coming years. Since artificial intelligence is emerging trend, so we have also moved in this direction and started training in artificial intelligence in the ITI centres of Jamui, Bhagalpur and Gaya,” Singh said.last_img read more