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Lanka urged US to drop charges against LTTE supporter

Among them was Suresh, also known as Waterloo Suresh, an engineer and former head of the University of Waterloo Tamil Students Association. U.S. prosecutors alleged he helped launder $13,000 in rebel funds through U.S. bank accounts.He was also accused of working with a Canadian co-conspirator, Ramanan Mylvaganam, to buy night-vision goggles, electronic equipment and submarine design software for the rebels. Mylvaganam pleaded guilty last year.The Sri Lankan civil war ended in 2009 with the defeat of the rebels. Since then, Sri Lanka has been under mounting pressure over the conduct of its forces, who have been accused of killing tens of thousands of civilians during the final stage of the conflict. In 2006, three Canadians of Sri Lankan descent were arrested in New York after trying to buy rifles and missiles from an undercover police informant. They have all since pleaded guilty. Three more suspects were arrested in the Toronto area. The letter, which surfaced at Mr. Suresh’s bail hearing last month, urged the U.S. to drop the charges against Mr. Suresh “in light of his publicly recognized efforts to secure a lasting, peaceful reconciliation for the Tamil people,” wrote Judge Raymond Dearie of the U.S. District Court. However the National Post reported that U.S. prosecutors are proceeding with the case, and the judge ruled the letter was not relevant to the bail proceedings, ordering Suresh to be held in custody for the duration of the trial.The judge also denied bail to a second Canadian, Piratheepan Nadarajah, 36, who faces terrorism charges for his alleged role in a plot to buy $1-million worth of AK-47 assault rifles and surface-to-air missiles for the LTTE. Both men were arrested in Toronto following a joint RCMP-FBI investigation called Project O-Needle. They were extradited to the U.S. in late 2012 after the Supreme Court of Canada rejected their appeals.The U.S. court documents do not explain why Sri Lanka intervened in Suresh’s trial, but several sources said the government had been attempting to use those arrested in the O-Needle investigation to turn Tamil-Canadians against the Tigers.An island off the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka fought a 26-year civil war against the LTTE, who financed their fight for ethnic Tamil independence with millions raised by front organizations in Canada. “Given the history of Sri Lanka’s prolonged and bitter conflict, the request is indeed an extraordinary initiative that evidences Suresh’s legitimate and admirable work to secure a lasting and just resolution of the tragic conflict.” The Sri Lankan government has asked the United States to abandon the prosecution of a Canadian charged with buying equipment and laundering money for the LTTE, Canada’s National Post newspaper reported.The extraordinary request, in a letter sent to the U.S. State Department, concerns Suresh Sriskandarajah, 32, who was extradited to New York in December to stand trial on terrorism charges. read more

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US stocks slide Treasury yields spike after Bernanke says Fed could slow

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Steve Rothwell, The Associated Press Posted Jun 20, 2013 12:48 am MDT US stocks slide, Treasury yields spike after Bernanke says Fed could slow bond purchases NEW YORK, N.Y. – Financial markets in the U.S. shuddered after the Federal Reserve said it could start scaling back its huge economic stimulus program later this year and end it by the middle of next.The sharp reaction in markets, especially in the 10-year Treasury note, showed just how much investors have come to depend on the central bank’s easy money policies.The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.35 per cent, its highest in 15 months. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 200 points.“Any whiff there’s going to be reduction in the (Fed’s) ammunition is met with selling,” said James Camp, managing director of fixed income at Eagle Asset Management.The Fed has been buying $85 billion worth of bonds each month to keep long-term rates low, and stimulate the economy. On Wednesday, the Fed sketched a brighter outlook for the economy and Chairman Ben Bernanke said the bank’s purchases could slow.Rates have already risen significantly since May 3, when the yield on the 10-year hit its lowest point of the year, 1.63 per cent. Investors have been pushing up those rates in anticipation of the day when the central bank stops buying bonds.If rates rise too fast, investors can get spooked.“You want a nice, gradual rise,” said Talley Leger, a strategist at Macro Vision Research. “But when it’s furious and disorderly like today, it’s too fast. It can have a negative impact on stocks.”A brighter outlook for the U.S. economy normally would convince people to buy stocks, not sell them. But Leger said investors have become hooked on Fed stimulus and sold.“Markets are asking for expansion of already stimulative policies, and they’re not getting it,” he said. “It’s like a drug supplier and an addict.”The stock market drifted lower for most of the day, ahead of a scheduled statement from the Fed and a press conference by Bernanke.The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down about half a percentage point shortly after the Fed released its statement. Then Bernanke said at the news conference that the Fed could scale back its bond purchases later this year, and the selling accelerated. The index ended the day down 22.88 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 1,628.93.Bonds and stocks both slumped even though Bernanke said that the central bank would only cut back on its stimulus once the economy had improved sufficiently and was in no hurry to raise rates.“There is going to be some nervousness as we adjust to a more normal economic environment,” said Brad Sorensen, director of market and sector research at Charles Schwab. “Both the stock and bond markets are adjusting to a Federal Reserve that isn’t going to have the spigots wide open.”The yield on the five-year Treasury note also rose sharply. It jumped to 1.23 per cent from 1.06 per cent late Tuesday. The 5-year yield also hit its lowest level of the year, 0.65 per cent, on May 3.The yield on the 30-year bond rose to 3.42 per cent from 3.34 per cent Wednesday.An index measuring the dollar against six other currencies surged 1 per cent. The dollar rose against the Japanese yen, the euro and other currencies as traders anticipated higher U.S. rates.Declines were led by high-dividend stocks like telecommunications and utilities, which are more sensitive to rising interest rates. Investors had bought these stocks for their dividend income when bond yields were at record low levels.AT&T and Verizon, the stocks with the highest dividends in the Dow, fell the most in the index. Verizon slumped $1.50, or 2.9 per cent, to $50.05 and AT&T fell 92 cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $35.25.For weeks, investors have been trying to figure out when the central bank will start to ease back on its bond purchases. They overreacted Wednesday to the possibility of less stimulus, some analysts said.“I’m not really seeing a lot of reason for bonds to be selling off like they have or for the (stock) market to be down,” said Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors. “If the market sells off on this, you have to view it as an opportunity,” to buy.The Fed’s policy of low interest rates coupled with bond-buying has been a major factor driving stocks higher since the market bottomed out in March 2009. The S&P 500 has gained 14.2 per cent this year and has advanced 141 per cent since its recession low.In commodities trading, the price of crude oil fell 20 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to $98.24 a barrel. The price of gold rose $7.10, or 0.5 per cent, to $1,374 an ounce.In other U.S. stock trading, the Nasdaq composite fell 38.98 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 3,443.20.____Business Writer Bernard Condon contributed to this report in New York. read more

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Alberta passes bill banning political donations from corporations and unions

Alberta passes bill banning political donations from corporations and unions The Alberta legislature has passed a bill banning corporate and union donations to political parties. It is the flagship first bill of the new NDP government under Premier Rachel Notley. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley gives a thumbs up to the crowd before the speech from the throne in Edmonton, Alta., on June 15, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson EDMONTON – The flagship first bill of Alberta’s new NDP government that bans corporate and union donations to political parties has passed in the legislature.Opponents, however, say much work remains to be done to close the loopholes.Bill 1, An Act to Renew Democracy in Alberta, passed unanimously in third reading late Monday night, and when signed into law will ban donations retroactively to June 15.“It puts the power back in the hands of Alberta citizens rather than those with the deepest pockets in terms of determining the political future of this province,” Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said Tuesday.Ganley acknowledged there was criticism of the retroactive cutoff date, tied to when the bill was introduced in the house.But she said the NDP had signalled for months that it wanted to end the donations, and it was crucial to not give anyone unfair advantage through a last-minute rush of donations.“I think there was sufficient notice,” said Ganley. “I think it was the right way to put it through.”The bill received all-party support, including votes from the opposition Progressive Conservatives, who have traditionally received most of their donations from corporations.The NDP has accrued about 10 per cent of its contributions from unions.PC Leader Ric McIver said an amendment, proposed by the Wildrose and passed by the house, to block a loophole allowing unions and corporations to make loan payments to political parties, made the bill more palatable.A week ago, McIver denounced the bill during a news conference.At that time, he told reporters the bill would tilt the fundraising playing field in favour of the NDP.He also said the bill would not stop corporate donations but would simply see business people use loopholes to get around the rules.Wildrose party Leader Brian Jean said Tuesday the bill still allows unions and corporations to make loan guarantees to political parties and to donate their employees’ paid time.“We were pleased that the bill passed. It will strengthen the democratic process for all Albertans,” said Jean in a statement.“However, we are very concerned that the NDP government left two significant loopholes.”Government house leader Brian Mason said the bill is just the first step toward broader democratic reforms that will soon be examined by a new legislature committee.“There will be plenty of time on an all-party basis to examine all of those issues,” he said.The bill keeps individual donation limits at $15,000 a year.Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark tried to get that donation limit reduced to $5,000 a year, but the motion was defeated.There was also debate over who fostered the idea of political donation reform.Premier Rachel Notley told the house late Monday that Wildrose is wrong to claim the idea was theirs.Notley said it was NDP policy when she joined up in 2008.“I’m pretty sure the Wildrose didn’t exist then,” Notley told the Wildrose.“Unless you’ve entered a whole new space-time continuum, I think you really, truly have to rethink this notion that the idea was yours and we took it because, in fact, that is not the case.” by Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press Posted Jun 23, 2015 12:22 pm MDT Last Updated Jun 23, 2015 at 2:10 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more