Saskatoon civic services open and closed for Remembrance Day long weekend

Sunday, Nov. 11 is Remembrance Day.

Here is a list of what Saskatoon civic facilities and services are open, closed or otherwise operating on modified hours for Sunday, Nov. 11, and the statutory holiday Monday, Nov. 12.

City Hall: Closed.


Installation at Western Development Museum commemorates end of First World War

New West children place poppies on veteran graves for No Stone Left Alone

Pay parking stations: No payment required on Nov. 12, however vehicles must be moved within the posted time limits.

Municipal impound lot: No vehicles will be released to the public.

Saskatoon Public Library: All branches closed on Nov. 11. Open with regular hours Nov. 12.

Remai Modern: Open Nov. 11 and 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT.

Landfill: Open between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Garbage and recycling collection: Collection takes place as scheduled on Nov. 12.

East and west compost depots: Closed for the season as of Nov. 10.

Civic Conservatory: Closed for renovations.

Saskatoon Transit: Will operate with weekend service on Nov. 11 and regular service on Nov. 12.

Access Transit: Operating with weekend service on Nov. 11 and holiday service on Nov. 12. Trips must be booked in advance as per normal procedures and customers are reminded that subscriptions do not apply on statutory holidays.

Saskatoon Transit, including Access Transit, will provide free bus transportation to and from the 2018 Remembrance Day ceremonies at SaskTel Centre on Nov. 11.

Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo: Open regular hours – zoo from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the park from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

ACT, Archibald, Cosmo, Gordie Howe Kinsmen and Lions arenas: Ice rental begins at noon on Nov. 11. Regular hours of operation for public skating as well as parent and tot skating on Nov. 11 and 12.

Cosmo Civic Centre: Closed on Nov. 11. Regular hours of operation on Nov. 12.

Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre: Open 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 11 – all fitness classes and child minding cancelled. Regular hours of operation on Nov. 12.

Lakewood Civic Centre: Open 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 11 – all fitness classes cancelled. Regular hours of operation on Nov. 12.

Lawson Civic Centre: Open 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Nov. 11 – all fitness classes cancelled. Regular hours of operation on Nov. 12.

Saskatoon Field House: Closed on Nov. 11 for a planned power outage. Regular hours of operation on Nov. 12.

Shaw Centre: Open 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 11 – all fitness classes and child minding cancelled. Regular hours of operation on Nov. 12.

Terry Fox Track: Closed on Nov. 11 and 12.

For more information on operating hours and programs, contact leisure services.

Source: Read Full Article

Marking the WWI Centenary

100 years after the end of the first world war, many leaders will gather in Paris to remember the lives that were lost over the course of the four-year war.

    Final preparations are underway in Paris to mark 100 years since the end of the first world war.

    On Sunday French President Emmanuel Macron will host world leaders, marking the armistice that officially ended the conflict. More than 16 million people were killed over four years.

    Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan looks at how the US got involved.

    Source: Read Full Article

    Scoot flight to Berlin delayed 10 hours due to technical defect, replacement aircraft assigned

    SINGAPORE – Passengers on a Scoot flight departing Singapore for Berlin were stranded for more than 10 hours on Friday morning (Nov 9) as technical difficulties prevented the plane from taking off.

    Flight TR734 was scheduled to depart Changi Airport at 1.10am on Friday morning, but only took off at 11.55am.

    The flight is scheduled to land at Berlin Tegel Airport at 5.24pm (Berlin time), according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

    When contacted by The Straits Times, Scoot said that a technical issue was detected from the aircraft’s spoilers.

    “Due to operational restrictions imposed by the technical defect, a replacement aircraft was assigned,” Scoot said in a statement.

    A new set of crew was activated for the delayed flight to ensure flight time limits were observed, Scoot added.

    One passenger, Facebook user Vedran Capro P, wrote that passengers had to board and disembark the plane twice, first due to technical problems and second due to the crew changeover.

    “Communication of the incident was not straightforward and we were mostly kept in the dark,” the Facebook user said.

    Scoot said that passengers were provided with meals and refreshments during the delay, and apologised for the inconvenience caused to passengers.

    “Safety is critical and Scoot will always ensure that this is utmost in our considerations,” the airline added.

    The first Singapore-Berlin flight was launched on June 20 this year and is operated four times a week. The route takes 12 hours 30 minutes from Singapore to Berlin, and 13 hours for the return.

    Source: Read Full Article

    China airshow of military strength

    At the biannual Chinese airshow and weapons expo, there’s a display of military might, ally unity and some American companies taking a long view on the ongoing trade war.

      China is showing off its military might at an air and weapons expo in the country’s southern Guangdong province.

      The International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition has attracted around 700 exhibitors from more than 40 countries.

      Among them, some American companies who are taking a long-term view on the ongoing trade war.

      Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler reports from Zhuhai.

      Source: Read Full Article

      Truck full of gas cylinders set on fire, three stabbed in Australia terror attack

      SYDNEY/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A man set fire to a pickup truck laden with gas cylinders in the center of the Australian city of Melbourne on Friday and stabbed three people, killing one, before he was shot by police in what they called a terrorist attack.

      The utility truck carrying barbecue gas cylinders was on fire on crowded Bourke Street as the Somali-born driver stabbed bystanders and attacked police officers.

      The cylinders did not explode and the fire was put out in 10 minutes, by which point the rampage was over.

      “We are still trying to piece together whether the vehicle was lit then he got out the car or whether he got out the car and then the vehicle took flame,” Victoria Police Commissioner Graham Ashton told reporters.

      Video posted to Twitter and broadcast on television showed the man swinging a knife at two police officers, while his truck burned in the background.

      One of the officers then shot the man and he collapsed to the ground clutching his chest, the video showed. Other footage showed two stab victims lying on the ground nearby and bleeding.

      The attacker died in hospital, as did one of the victims, Ashton said. “From what we know of that individual, we are treating this as a terrorism incident,” he said of the attacker.

      Police gave no information identifying the attacker but Ashton said the man was known to police and intelligence authorities because of family associations.

      All of the victims were men, Ashton said. He declined to release their names because police were still in the process of contacting families.

      Related Coverage

      • Melbourne stabber drove car loaded with gas cylinders: policeMelbourne stabber drove car loaded with gas cylinders: police

      Asked if the man had recently traveled to Syria he said: “That is something we might be able to talk more about tomorrow.”

      A staunch U.S. ally, Australia has been on alert for such violence after a Sydney cafe siege in 2014, and its intelligence agencies have stepped up scrutiny, though there was no warning of the latest attack.

      Ashton said there was no longer a threat to the public, but that security would be boosted at horse races and Remembrance Day memorials planned over the weekend.

      Video posted to social media showed chaotic scenes as bystanders scattered while the attacker fought with police.

      One man charged at the tall man, wearing a long black shirt, with a shopping trolley just before police drew their weapons.

      A witness who gave his name as Markel told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio: “Bystanders were yelling out ‘just shoot him, just shoot him’.” They did.

      Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the attack was “an evil, terrifying thing that’s happened in our city”.

      Warning text messages were sent after the attack and police sealed off the downtown area, usually busy with shoppers and diners on a Friday evening. Some cordons were lifted later, though the immediate crime scene would be sealed until Saturday, police said.

      The street where the car caught fire was the scene in January 2017 of a fatal but not terror-related incident in which a man drove his car at pedestrians at high speed, killing six people and wounding about 30.

      Authorities say Australia’s vigilance has helped to foil at least a dozen plots, including a plan to attack downtown Melbourne at Christmas in 2016.

      In December 2014, two hostages were killed during a 17-hour siege by a “lone wolf” gunman, inspired by Islamic State militants, in a cafe in Sydney.

      Source: Read Full Article

      Michelle Obama attacks Donald Trump in her new book

      Former US first lady Michelle Obama has attacked President Donald Trump in her new book, revealing her shock reaction on the night she learned he would replace her husband in the White House.

      In her memoir, Becoming, Barack Obama’s wife also denounces Mr Trump’s “birther” campaign, which questioned her husband’s citizenship, calling it bigoted, dangerous and “deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks”.

      Mrs Obama writes openly about everything from growing up in Chicago to confronting racism in public life to her amazement at becoming America’s first black first lady.

      In the book, due to be published on Tuesday, she also reflects on early struggles in her marriage to Barack Obama as he began his political career and was often away.

      Mrs Obama writes that they met with a counsellor “a handful of times”, and she came to realise that she was more “in charge” of her happiness than she had realised. “This was my pivot point,” Mrs Obama explains. “My moment of self-arrest”.

      The former first lady writes that she assumed Mr Trump was “grandstanding” when he announced his presidential run in 2015.

      She expresses disbelief over how so many American women would choose a “misogynist” over Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton, “an exceptionally qualified female candidate”.

      She remembers how her body “buzzed with fury” after seeing the infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which Mr Trump brags about sexually assaulting women.

      Mrs Obama also accuses Mr Trump of using body language to “stalk” Mrs Clinton during a presidential election debate. She writes about Mr Trump following Mrs Clinton around the stage, standing nearby and “trying to diminish her presence”.

      Mr Trump’s message, according to Mrs Obama, in words which appear in the book in bold print: “I can hurt you and get away with it.”

      The book is keenly anticipated, with Mrs Obama being admired worldwide. Memoirs by former first ladies, including Mrs Clinton and Laura Bush, are usually best-sellers.

      Mrs Obama launches her promotional tour on Tuesday not at a book shop, but at Chicago’s United Centre, where tens of thousands of people have purchased tickets – priced from just under 30 dollars (€26) to thousands of dollars – to attend the event moderated by Oprah Winfrey.

      Other stops on a tour scaled to rock star dimensions are planned at large arenas from New York City’s Barclays Centre to the Los Angeles Forum, with guests including Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Jessica Parker.

      While some fans have criticised ticket price, 10% of ticket sales at each event are being donated to local charities, schools and community groups.

      In Becoming, Mrs Obama shares both pain and joy. She writes lovingly of her family and gives a detailed account of her courtship with her future husband, whom she met when both were at the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin LLP. She was initially his adviser.

      Secretaries claimed Mr Obama was both brilliant and “cute” – although Michelle Obama was sceptical, writing that white people went “bonkers” any time you “put a suit” on a “half-intelligent black man”.

      She also thought his picture had a “whiff of geekiness”.

      But she was more than impressed after meeting him, by his “rich, even sexy baritone” and by his “strange, stirring combination” of serenity and power.

      She writes that when she finally allowed him to kiss her, “this strange mix-of-everything-man” set off a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfilment, wonder”.

      Throughout her husband’s life in politics, she fought to balance public and private needs, and to maintain her self-esteem. She agonised over what she feared was a cartoonish, racist image. She remembered being labelled “angry” and – by the Fox network – “Obama’s Baby Mama”.

      At times, she feared she was damaging her husband’s 2008 presidential campaign, especially after conservatives seized on a line from one of her speeches – taken out of context – that for the first time as an adult she was “really proud” of her country.

      The remarks faded from the news, but Mrs Obama sensed lasting damage, a perception that she was “disgruntled and vaguely hostile”.

      Source: Read Full Article

      Thousand Oaks, Midterm Elections, Electronic Cigarettes: Your Friday Briefing

      (Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)

      Good morning.

      Here’s what you need to know:

      A disdain for the courts

      The acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, said in 2014 that the courts “are supposed to be the inferior branch” of government, and he criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and to declare them unconstitutional.

      Mr. Whitaker’s record has been under scrutiny since President Trump forced out Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week. The acting chief has disparaged the special counsel investigation of Russian election interference, which he now oversees.

      Business ties: Mr. Whitaker served on the board of a company that used his position as a former federal prosecutor to threaten consumers who tried to get their money back.

      A final act: Before he was fired, Mr. Sessions ordered drastic limits on the ability of federal law enforcement to overhaul local police departments accused of abuses and civil rights violations.

      Second brush with a mass shooting

      The Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where a gunman killed 12 people, was a popular hangout for country music fans, some of whom survived last year’s massacre at a festival in Las Vegas.

      The gunman, Ian Long, 28, was found dead at the scene. He was a Marine Corps veteran who had served in Afghanistan, and mental health specialists had suspected he had post-traumatic stress disorder.

      The victims: A longtime sheriff’s deputy was among those killed at the bar.

      The laws: California has some of the strictest gun control measures in the country. The assailant used a .45-caliber handgun that had been purchased legally.

      The industry: The Country Music Association Awards next week will be the second in a row to closely follow a mass shooting. While many entertainers have taken political stands in the last two years, the world of country music is more cautious.

      Trump asserts power to block asylum claims

      President Trump is expected to announce today which countries will fall under new national security rules that give him broad authority to deny asylum to virtually any migrant.

      They are widely expected to affect people from Central America.

      With the caravan: Our correspondent is traveling with migrants making their way through Mexico and toward the U.S. border.

      The “Dreamers”: A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a nationwide injunction against the Trump administration’s attempt to revoke deportation protections for some 700,000 people brought into the U.S. illegally as children.

      Wondering who won

      Georgia and Florida still can’t say for sure who won three top contests on Tuesday.

      Officials are still counting absentee, provisional and overseas ballots in the two states’ races for governor as well as in Florida’s Senate contest.

      The situation has unleashed hordes of lawyers, talk of recounts and runoffs, and the kind of bickering that brought back memories of the 2000 presidential election.

      Turnout: Americans cast ballots on Tuesday at rates not seen in a midterm election in half a century. Here’s what the data tells us (and doesn’t yet).

      A changing Congress: A record 34 women were newly elected to the House on Tuesday, beating a previous high set in 1992.

      Listen to ‘The Daily’: How the Democrats Flipped the House

      Warning of nationalism’s dangers

      Dozens of world leaders, including President Trump, will be in France this weekend to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

      The French president, Emmanuel Macron, wants to use the occasion to reinforce European unity and highlight the dangers of nationalism. But the event may highlight his increasing isolation.


      A federal judge in Montana blocked construction of the Keystone XL pipeline while the State Department provides a fuller explanation of how the 1,184-mile project would affect the environment.

      The Food and Drug Administration plans to ban sales of most flavored e-cigarettes in retail stores and gas stations.

      Google said it would end its practice of forced arbitration for claims of sexual harassment or assault.

      We’re introducing a Sunday newsletter, “With Interest,” to bring you essential business insights to prep you for the week ahead. Sign up here.

      U.S. stocks were mixed on Thursday. Here’s a snapshot of global markets today.

      Smarter Living

      Tips for a more fulfilling life.

      The holiday season is almost here. Be a good gift-giver.

      One thing to help the environment: Get active in your community. (And share your ideas here.)

      Recipe of the day: End the week with a delicious pasta tossed in a broccoli-walnut pesto.


      Another (ancient) wave of migrants

      New DNA findings lend astonishing detail to a story once lost to prehistory: how and when humans spread across the Western Hemisphere.

      The week in good news

      With the end of daylight saving time in the U.S., we talked to Marvin Schneider, who takes care of some of New York’s grandest public clocks. It’s one of seven stories that inspired us.

      Quiz time!

      Did you keep up with this week’s news? Test yourself.

      Ready for the weekend

      At the movies, we review “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” directed by Joel and Ethan Coen; the second installment in J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts” series; and “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” (a.k.a. the one with the dragon tattoo). You can find all of this week’s film reviews here.

      On TV, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the showrunner of “Riverdale” and “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” He’s also “a John Hughes for a darker, more cynical, way more libidinous age.” Read our profile.

      An Andy Warhol exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art is the artist’s first full American retrospective in 31 years. Our critic loved it.

      A $35 million musical version of “King Kong” that opened on Thursday didn’t go down so well, though. “Aaaaaaaaargh” was one reviewer’s reaction.

      We suggest 12 new books and, if you’re in New York City, a slate of cultural events.

      Keeping a fluffy, fragile beast alive

      A veterinarian said that rabbits, under stress, tended to die quickly. A couple hoped their rabbit — and their new love — would prove more resilient. Read this week’s Modern Love column.

      Best of late-night TV

      Stephen Colbert criticized Sarah Huckabee Sanders for circulating a misleadingly edited video of Jim Acosta of CNN: “That the White House press secretary is promoting this doctored video is reprehensible, and grounds for dismissal. Or as they call it in the Trump administration, Thursday.”

      Quotation of the day

      “He knew what he was doing. He had perfect form.”

      Teylor Whittler, a survivor of the mass shooting at a California bar, describing the gunman.

      The Times, in other words

      Here’s an image of today’s front page, and links to our Opinion content and crossword puzzles.

      What we’re reading

      Randy Archibold, an editor in sports, recommends this piece from Sports Illustrated: “Lady Leadfoot had an affair with Steve McQueen. Lady Leadfoot hung out with Miles Davis. Lady Leadfoot wrote about sports in the 1950s at a time few women did. But more than anything, Lady Leadfoot raced cars, and raced them to victory. The journalist Amy Wallace captures the fascinating, pioneering life of Denise McCluggage.”

      Back Story

      Recently, a visitor has been paddling around a lake in New York’s Central Park: a brightly colored duck.

      The duck, which quickly became a star on social media, is known as a yuānyang (鸳鸯) in China. In English, it’s a Mandarin duck. Why?

      The fowl’s vibrant plumage recalls the dress of government bureaucrats centuries ago, called mandarins in the West. The same connection applied to the dialect those officials used. Even mandarin oranges got the linguistic overlay.

      But mandarin is not a Chinese word. Its etymology is disputed.

      Some say that during the Qing dynasty, visiting Westerners heard people calling government officials of the ruling class “mǎn dàrén” (满大人): Manchu for “big man” or “boss.”

      Others say the term comes from “menteri,” Malay for “court councilor” or “minister,” and that the 16th-century Portuguese who used Malaysia as a steppingstone to China wrote it as “mandarin.”

      The duck in Central Park has been solo, but in China, its cousins are believed to be lifelong couples. There is a saying: A pair of Mandarin ducks is more enviable than an immortal.

      Amy Chang Chien wrote today’s back story. It was first published in our new Chinese-language Morning Briefing. (Sign-up for that here.)


      Your Morning Briefing is published weekdays and updated all morning. Browse past briefings here.

      Sign up here to get it by email in the Australian, Asian, European or American morning. To receive an Evening Briefing on U.S. weeknights, sign up here.

      Check out our full range of free newsletters here.

      What would you like to see here? Contact us at [email protected].

      Follow Chris Stanford on Twitter: @stanfordc.

      Source: Read Full Article

      New York Today: We Like Big. Are Google and Amazon Too Big?

      Living and working in New York have ingrained in most of us a certain laissez-faire attitude to things big and grand. The transit system with more stations than anywhere else in the world … yet not enough. The most populated school system … yet we don’t always have enough seats for every student. The most celebrated pizza in the country … and yet we continue to try new styles.

      This week, New York appeared on the verge of landing a few more big things. Two of the tech industry’s giants signaled an interest in expanding here, potentially bringing a combined 45,000 employees to Manhattan, where Google already has an office, and Queens, where Amazon is considering locating a headquarters.

      First, a caveat: No deals have been completed, so we don’t know how many people these companies will employ in New York. Google has 7,000 employees in Chelsea, and that number could double if it moves into 1.3 million square feet of office space in the West Village. Amazon could bring up to 25,000 employees to Long Island City.

      Tom Angotti, professor emeritus of urban planning at Hunter College, said he could not recall a period when New York planned to absorb so many workers from a single employer, let alone two.

      “Expansions tend to occur incrementally,” he said.

      These tech giants will undoubtedly help reshape the city. New York can handle big. But is this too big? Probably not. New York will be fine. If that seems a little nonchalant, it’s a well-earned attitude.

      “It’s a lot, but it’s not a lot for New York’s overall economy,” Nicole Gelinas, an analyst at the Manhattan Institute, said.

      New York City gained 71,900 jobs from September 2016 to September 2017, according to the New York State Department of Labor. Many cities wouldn’t be able to absorb that many jobs. But New York can.

      And remember, we’re talking about a possible maximum of 45,000 jobs. “We shouldn’t be dismissive of this number,” Gelinas said. “But it’s not going to save us or break us either way.”

      Here’s what else is happening:


      Leave the suede shoes at home and take an umbrella to work. Showers are possible after 4 p.m. Expect a high of 52.

      🎶The sun will come out tomorrow. 🎶Eventually.

      In the News

      The Nassau County district attorney, Madeline Singas, announced that criminal charges would not be filed against former Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who was accused of assaulting and abusing four women. [New York Times]

      Mayor Bill de Blasio is having a rejuvenation after Democrats took both houses in Albany, prompting him to press for agendas that were stymied in the past. [New York Times]

      A sweeping retrospective shows the personal side of Andy Warhol — his hopes, fears, faith — at the Whitney Museum in a reassertion of his power for a new generation. [New York Times]

      Attention passengers: Subway conductors will have new and informative lines to announce to riders that will appeal to your attention. [New York Times]

      Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey signed legislation to outlaw homemade and 3-D-printed guns after the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif. []

      You may have seen the fliers around the city. Now, the people behind the #WhyIDidntReport campaign have opened up a gallery-style pop-up. [am New York]

      The duck saga continues. It has returned. [New York Post]

      Coming Up Today

      An evening of jazz at the Lighthouse at Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. 7 p.m. [$42]

      A screening of the film “Infinite Football,” about a Romanian soccer player’s quest to make the sport safer, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. 7:30 p.m. [$15]

      See a performance of “The Education of Al Capone as if Told by Jimmy Durante,” at Coney Island U.S.A. in Coney Island, Brooklyn. 8 p.m. [$30]

      An evening of Korean percussion music at Flushing Town Hall in Queens. 8 p.m. [$16]

      Devils at Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. (MSG+). Rangers at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. (MSG).

      Alternate-side parking remains in effect until Monday.

      Weekend travel hassles: Check subway disruptions and a list of street closings.


      GingerBread Lane is back. Take a look at the homemade houses at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. [$16]

      Ahead of Veterans Day, take a military history tour of the Battle of Brooklyn and visit the grave sites of fallen soldiers beginning at the Evergreens Cemetery in Bushwick, Brooklyn. 11 a.m. [Free] …

      … Or take a tour focused on the gentrification and development of Downtown Brooklyn beginning at Jay Street and Myrtle Avenue. Noon. [$10]

      Visit the exhibition “Transfer Queen,” a collection of poems and illustrations about men on the subway, at Wayfarers in Bushwick, Brooklyn. 1 to 5 p.m. [Free]

      Rangers at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. (MSG). Islanders at Panthers, (MSG+).


      Bring your pumpkins and jack-o'-lanterns and smash them into compost at the Pumpkin Smash at Corlears Hook Park in Lower Manhattan. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. [Free]

      Firecrackers, sweets, dancing and clay light painting are part of the Diwali celebration at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens. 1 to 4 p.m. [$8]

      A discussion with the author of “To Honor Fallen Heroes: How a Small, German-American Village in New York City Experienced the Great War,” about the more than 650 men from College Point, Queens, who served in World War I, at the Queens Historical Society in Flushing. 2:30 p.m. [$5]

      Get a look inside artists’ studios at Red Hook Open Studios. At various locations. 1 to 6 p.m. [Free]

      Devils at Jets, 7 p.m. (MSG+).

      For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.

      Metropolitan Diary

      My First Dead Body

      Dear Diary:

      It was 1979, and I was driving a Checker cab. I picked up a fare at La Guardia Airport. He was a heavyset man who appeared to be in his 50s.

      He was flushed and smelled of alcohol. In an angry voice, he gave me detailed directions to his apartment in Manhattan.

      Halfway there, bouncing along on the B.Q.E., I noticed that he was slumped over in the back seat. Ten minutes later, I pulled up to his building. He didn’t move.

      “We’re here,” I said, loudly.


      I got out of the cab, opened the door and tapped the man. No response. Then I shook him. Nothing.

      I quickly drove to a hospital, parked and ran in. A few people were hanging around, and for a moment I wondered if there was a line. Then I yelled that I had a dead passenger in my cab.

      Within seconds, he was on a gurney, and from there into the emergency room, where a doctor ripped his shirt open.

      A police officer arrived, asked me some questions and walked away.

      When he came back, he said the guy hadn’t made it, and that I could go. He handed me a $10 bill. He said the guy had it in his hand. The fare was $8.25. I thanked him.

      An orderly asked if I was doing O.K. I said I was. Then he asked me out. I declined, but thanked him as well.

      I drove the cab back to the garage in Long Island City, noting the death on my trip sheet.

      The dispatcher, sitting in the office behind bulletproof glass, bored and tired, looked at my note.

      He shrugged, said, “O.K.” and counted my cash. It was 4 a.m.

      — Eric Smith

      And Finally …

      Hi everyone, it’s Alexandra and Jonathan.

      Almost three years ago, when we took the helm of New York Today, we told you of our resolutions to walk every city street from east to west and to trek every avenue from top to bottom.

      More than 700 columns later, thanks to you — with your ideas, loyalty, feedback and encouragement — we’ve seen New York City through the most special lens there is.

      (Infinite lenses, actually.)

      We’ve reported on happenings at City Hall, corruption in Albany and how the chaos in Washington very deeply affects our home. We’ve covered the transit turmoil, the cases in our courts and the breaking news that drives each day.

      But we’ve realized that the stories that resonate just as much as policy and politics are those about the resilience and kindness of people in our community.

      Through our annual New Yorkers of the Year columns, we’ve met hundreds of neighbors — teachers, violinists, actors, firefighters, survivors, refugees, immigrants and citizens — who have made a difference here, in ways big and small. We’ve learned from New Yorkers over the age of 100, some who are no longer with us, about what it means to be engaged in this city, and how to do it.

      And we’ve also come to understand, in a place as intense as this one, the importance of stories that make you smile, laugh or feel something. (Like “hair forecasts” on rainy days. Or disputes over what makes a New York bagel. Or reviews of public restrooms. Or why New Yorkers do, indeed, wear so much black. Or why the best place to be for the holidays is alone in our great city.)

      So thank you for reading us as you rolled out of bed, for letting us join you for your morning cup of joe, for using us as a distraction when you were stuck on the subway, and above all, for believing in the power and beauty of local journalism.

      We hope you’ll continue to do the same with our talented new columnist, Azi Paybarah, who officially takes over this column on Monday.

      We’ll miss you, but we’re not saying goodbye: You can follow us on Twitter at @jonathan_wolfe and @Ali_Lev, and on Instagram, @alexandra.levine.

      All our best,

      Alexandra and Jonathan

      New York Today is a morning roundup that is published weekdays at 6 a.m. If you don’t get it in your inbox already, you can sign up to receive it by email here.

      What would you like to see here to start your day? Post a comment, email us at [email protected], or reach us via Twitter using #NYToday.

      You can find the latest New York Today at

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      We’re experimenting with the format of New York Today. What would you like to see more (or less) of? Post a comment or email us: [email protected].

      Alexandra S. Levine, a Metro reporter, writes the New York Today column. She joined The Times in 2015. @Ali_Lev

      Source: Read Full Article

      Exclusive: Mystery company named by murdered Maltese journalist is linked to power station developer

      VALLETTA/DUBAI, (Reuters) – In February 2017, the Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia wrote in her blog about a mystery company in Dubai called 17 Black Limited. She alleged it was connected to Maltese politicians, but offered no evidence.

      She was unable to discover who owned the company, and it remained unclear whether 17 Black had any significance.

      Eight months later Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb, prompting an international outcry. No evidence has emerged that connects her death to any of her journalism. But her killing did renew interest in her many different claims, leading to media reports about such subjects as banking regulation and Malta’s sale of passports. Now Reuters and other media have begun to unravel another mystery, that of 17 Black.

      Two people familiar with the subject in Malta said a report by Malta’s anti-money laundering watchdog had identified Yorgen Fenech, the chief executive of a Maltese property developer, as the owner of 17 Black. A third person familiar with the subject in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said account records at a bank in Dubai identified Fenech as the owner of 17 Black. Reuters last month reviewed UAE banking correspondence that described Fenech as the owner and signatory of a 17 Black account at Noor Bank in Dubai.

      Fenech is a director and co-owner of a business group that won a large energy concession from the Maltese state. In 2013, that group was granted the right by the Maltese government to build a 450 million euro ($517 million) gas power station on the island.

      When asked to comment, Fenech declined to say whether he owns 17 Black.

      The ownership of the company is significant because of another document, an email written in December 2015 by accountants for two senior figures in Malta’s government. That email was discovered by Maltese financial regulators among documents obtained from the accountants’ firm, according to a person briefed on the investigation. Its existence has been reported before and its authenticity has not been challenged.

      The two senior political figures concerned are Konrad Mizzi, who was Malta’s energy minister from 2013 to 2016, and Keith Schembri, the prime minister’s chief of staff. Mizzi conceived and promoted the idea of offering the power station concession.

      According to the December 2015 email, Panama companies owned by Mizzi and Schembri stood to receive payments from 17 Black for services that were unspecified. The email said the Panama companies expected 17 Black to be a “main target client,” with payments of up to $2 million expected within a year. The email made no reference to the gas power station energy scheme and there is no evidence the payments went ahead.

      It remains unclear why the Panama companies owned by two senior political figures expected to receive money from 17 Black.

      The December 2015 email was first published in April by the Daphne Project, a collaboration of news organizations, including Reuters, that has been carrying on the work of the murdered journalist. In a response at the time, Schembri said that firms he owned had a business plan to earn money from 17 Black but that those plans did not go ahead. He did not elaborate. Mizzi denied all knowledge of 17 Black.

      Schembri and Mizzi both told Reuters in October they had no knowledge of any connection between 17 Black and Fenech, or of any plan to receive payments connected to Fenech or the energy project. Fenech denied making any plans to pay any politician or any person or entity connected to them.

      The Maltese firm of accountants that sent the December 2015 email, NexiaBT, said it could not comment because of client confidentiality.

      There is no suggestion that anyone connected with 17 Black was involved in Caruana Galizia’s death. Three people have been charged with planting the bomb that killed her; they deny the charges. No evidence has emerged publicly about who ordered the assassination.

      Mizzi, who is now Malta’s tourism minister, issued a statement through a spokesman saying he “reiterates that there is no connection, direct or otherwise, between him, the company or trust he held, and any entity called 17 Black. Furthermore, he has no information relating to 17 Black.”

      In a statement to Reuters, Schembri said he had not heard that Fenech owned 17 Black. He said he was not involved in the power station project and, asked if he had intended to profit from the project, said: “The answer is a categorical ‘No’.”

      Fenech said he and his companies “never had (or intended to have) any untoward business relation” with any politicians or politically affiliated individuals or entities. “We have always and consistently run our operations in compliant, transparent and above-board fashion,” he said.

      Financial records identifying the owner of 17 Black were first discovered earlier this year by Malta’s anti-money laundering watchdog, the Financial Intelligence and Analysis Unit (FIAU), according to two sources briefed on its findings.

      Reuters reviewed UAE banking correspondence that summarized 17 Black’s banking activity in Dubai. The documents stated that when 17 Black opened an account in June 2015 at Noor Bank in Dubai, the company declared it was 100 percent owned by a Maltese citizen called Yorgen Fenech. The correspondence also said Fenech is the account’s sole signatory.

      The only “Yorgen Fenech” listed on Malta’s electoral roll and company register is the power station developer.

      In the spring of this year, the FIAU passed Fenech’s name to Malta Police’s Economic Crime Unit as part of a wider examination of energy deals conducted by the government.

      Malta Police said it was prevented by law from confirming whether it had received any information from the FIAU and whether any investigation was under way. In a statement, the FIAU declined to comment on 17 Black because of “secrecy obligations” under Maltese law.

      A UAE government official, who was unwilling to be named, said UAE financial and law enforcement authorities were examining 17 Black’s activities after a request for assistance from Maltese authorities. The official declined to elaborate.

      In July 2017, more than a year after Caruana Galizia had mentioned the Panama companies owned by Mizzi and Schembri in her blog, a Malta magistrate ordered a judicial inquiry into whether the companies involved any illicit activity. Opposition politicians in Malta and members of the European Parliament called for Mizzi and Schembri to be suspended from office while that inquiry was conducted. The island’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, declined to do so.

      In May this year, another magistrate ordered that 17 Black’s activities should also be examined as part of the same probe. The inquiry is currently stalled, pending a legal challenge made on procedural grounds by Mizzi, Schembri and others. Both Mizzi and Schembri have said they would welcome testifying and disproving any allegations made against them before any inquiry.

      In a statement to Reuters this month, referring to the judicial probes, Kurt Farrugia, the prime minister’s spokesman, said that as the activities of 17 Black were under investigation, Muscat would “await the conclusion of this process and act accordingly. He has been consistent on this point.” The prime minister, Farrugia said, did not know who owned 17 Black.


      Before he became a government minister, Mizzi worked as a management consultant. In September 2012, he became energy spokesman for Muscat’s Labour Party. In January 2013, at the start of a general election campaign, Mizzi proposed an ambitious plan to reform Malta’s energy sector.

      Mizzi said the proposals, which counted on private investment to build a gas power station, would cut the country’s bill for energy generation by 187 million euros a year. Muscat said he would implement the plan.

      Labour won the March 2013 election. Muscat became prime minister and appointed Mizzi energy minister.

      Mizzi and the government proceeded with the energy plan, and several deals were struck by October that year. One deal granted a concession to a private business group, selected from several bidders, to build and run the new gas power station. Under the selection procedure, Mizzi played no direct role in choosing the winner.

      The winning group – which included Maltese investors, Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR, and the German company Siemens – was set up in 2013 and called Electrogas Malta. Fenech, the Maltese property developer, was a director and an investor. The 450-million-euro Delimara power station was completed in 2017.

      Siemens declined to comment on whether Fenech owned 17 Black, or about Mizzi and Schembri’s potential business connection, saying “Siemens is not in a business relationship with the company.” SOCAR Trading, the subsidiary of SOCAR involved in the power station project, said it “has no knowledge of the company 17 Black.”

      In July 2015, Mizzi bought a shell company in Panama called Hearnville Inc, registering his ownership via an anonymous trust in New Zealand, according to corporate records and public statements later made by Mizzi. At the same time, Schembri acquired a Panama company, called Tillgate, also via a New Zealand trust.

      Schembri, a businessman, had known Muscat, Malta’s prime minister, since they were at school together in the 1990s. Schembri became Muscat’s chief of staff in 2013. When he did so, he resigned his directorships of his Maltese printing and stationery business, but remained the owner. Schembri said his position in the prime minister’s office gave him “no involvement” in the power station project.

      When Hearnville and Tillgate, the two Panama companies, sought to open bank accounts, they were asked to list their likely sources of revenue. Accountants acting for Mizzi and Schembri sent an email on Dec. 17, 2015, to a Panamanian law firm that was assisting the search for a suitable bank. The email named 17 Black Limited and another company, Macbridge Limited, as the “main target clients” from whom banks could expect payments to Hearnville and Tillgate.

      Mizzi and Schembri were asked this month by Reuters if they had knowledge of the email before it was sent. Schembri replied “No”, without elaborating either about the email or what he knew of 17 Black. Mizzi replied that he “did not see the alleged email you are referring to prior to its publication.”

      Asked about Hearnville and Tillgate, Fenech told Reuters that “neither I, nor any company/entity of which I am or have been involved in, have ever had (or had the intention to have) any relation whatsoever with the entities you mention.” Asked to clarify whether he owned or had any relation to 17 Black, Fenech did not respond.

      Brian Tonna, head of NexiaBT, the accountancy firm that sent the email, said he was prevented by client confidentiality from commenting. He added that the firm was cooperating fully with the authorities.

      The December 2015 email said both 17 Black and Macbridge were registered in Dubai. Reuters found no trace of Macbridge. The banking correspondence reviewed by Reuters indicated 17 Black was registered in the nearby emirate of Ajman and opened an account at Noor Bank in Dubai in June 2015.

      The person familiar with 17 Black’s arrangements in the UAE said 17 Black was a “flexi-desk company,” a business that could be created without a physical presence in the country. Around 9 million to 10 million euros went through 17 Black’s account at Noor in 2015, the person said, after which the account became dormant. Reuters could not confirm those figures.

      The source said that most of the money paid into the 17 Black account had swiftly moved on to other entities, though it had retained a balance of about 2 million euros. Based on the absence of evidence for the business purpose of these in-out transactions, Noor Bank froze the account in September, the source said.

      In a statement, Noor Bank declined to confirm any details of the bank account or its actions, saying it was “legally precluded from any unauthorized disclosure of confidential customer information” but always complied with any formal requests for information from authorities.

      Maltese financial investigators have traced two payments to 17 Black, according to a source briefed on the investigation and a draft FIAU report from 2017 seen by Reuters. One was $200,000 sent to 17 Black on July 10, 2015, from Orion Engineering Group Limited, marked as provision of “manpower” in Qatar. Orion is a Maltese company owned by Maltese businessman Mario Pullicino, according to the report and public corporate records. Pullicino was also a company secretary of Armada Floating Gas Services Malta Limited. Armada was set up in June 2015. It provided a gas storage tanker for the new power station commissioned by Mizzi.

      Pullicino confirmed to Reuters making the $200,000 payment and said it was for work unrelated to the Malta gas project. Speaking by telephone, he declined to provide further details of the transaction, 17 Black or its owners. He said his company “has never paid any money to any politically exposed people.”

      Pullicino did not respond to further questions about whether he knew 17 Black was owned by Fenech.

      Another payment to 17 Black consisted of $1.5 million sent in November 2015 by Mayor Trans Limited, a Seychelles company with a bank account in Latvia, marked as for “financial advisory services.”

      Mayor Trans, according to public U.S. regulatory filings relating to that start-up, is ultimately owned by an Azeri citizen named Rufat Baratzada. The address given for Baratzada in U.S. regulatory filings is a modest apartment in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Neighbors there described 51-year-old Baratzada as a former subway worker.

      His family, contacted at Baratzada’s new one-storey home at end of an unpaved road on the outskirts of Baku, said he was now working as a security guard on a construction site in Baku. Reached by telephone and asked whether he owned Mayor Trans, Baratzada said: “If it’s me, it’s me.” He declined to talk further.


      Through the autumn of 2015, the Panama companies acquired by Mizzi and Schembri applied to open bank accounts in Panama, Miami, Dubai, St. Lucia and the Bahamas, according to evidence assembled by Malta’s financial investigators from emails, obtained directly from the offices of Maltese accountants for Mizzi and Schembri, and detailed in the draft FIAU report. Copies of the emails were also contained in the Panama Papers and shared with Reuters by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which first obtained the Panama Papers.

      According to those emails, opening bank accounts proved tough. The biggest obstacle, the emails indicated, was that the ultimate owners were politicians.

      Financial institutions are obliged to take special care in handling customers designated as “politically exposed persons,” or PEPs – people entrusted with a prominent public function or their families. Banks shy away from handling the money of PEPs if they are unsure about the source of it.

      The emails show that efforts to open accounts for the Panama companies of Mizzi and Schembri continued until February 2016. That month Caruana Galizia and other Maltese media reported the existence of the Panama companies. Mizzi and Schembri then commissioned audits of the New Zealand trusts they had set up to hold the shares of their Panamanian companies. Both audits were conducted in October 2016 by an office of Crowe Horwarth accountants in Wellington, New Zealand.

      The firm declined to comment on questions from Reuters. In notes attached to the audits published by Mizzi and Schembri, the accountants said that the audits were based on “sufficient and appropriate evidence.” The audits stated the Panama companies had carried out no trading activities and that neither had a bank account.

      In March last year, 17 Black changed its name to Wings Development, according to the person familiar with 17 Black’s arrangements in UAE. An official at Ajman Free Zone said Wings Development was still registered there but provided no evidence. Reuters could locate no company of that name for comment.

      Additional reporting by Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi, Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow and Jacob Borg of the Times of Malta in Valletta; Editing By Richard Woods.

      This story is part of the Daphne Project, coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based group that continues the work of journalists silenced through murder or imprisonment.

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      U.S. OPIC signs $100 million loan deal with Africell

      JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – African telecoms firm Africell on Friday signed a $100 million loan agreement to fund an expansion of its communications infrastructure with U.S. development financier the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

      The deal was signed on the sidelines of the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, and forms part of the OPIC’s $1 billion investment in African infrastructure and technology launched earlier in 2018.

      Africell’s chief investment officer Ian Paterson told journalists at the signing of the deal that the financing would be used in the markets where the company is already operating rather than expansion into new markets.

      “We will be looking to invest the proceeds to expand our networks, develop new products and services, really using the platform of customers we have today and trying to layer on more value added services to them,” he said.

      Africell boasts 12 million customers in Sierra Leone, Gambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

      Mobile network access, and particularly increasing data penetration, has had a huge impact in underdeveloped African countries where services like mobile money and microlending have boosted financial inclusion among the unbanked.

      “The developmental impacts that having data connectivity and data access does for communities is transformational,” said Worku Gachou, OPIC’s managing director for Africa.

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