TORONTO — For many consumers wondering whether to buy Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, there’s really only one question to be answered: is it an iPhone killer? Or, perhaps more fairly, does it stack up against Apple’s popular iPhone 4S?Well, aside from the most faithful Apple fanatics who really wouldn’t consider anything other than an iPhone anyway, there’s no question that Samsung’s latest and greatest — out Wednesday — would satisfy most consumers in the market for a top-of-the-line phone.For those who have already bought into the Apple ecosystem, it’ll be difficult to get them to strayOne of the biggest differentiators between iPhones and Samsung’s latest smartphone models is screen size. While not quite as oversized as the 13.5-centimetre screen of Samsung’s Note smartphone/tablet hybrid, the Galaxy S III’s 12.2-centimetre display is dramatically larger than the iPhone’s 8.9-centimetre screen. Apple’s smartphone seems a little tiny when lined up side by side with the Galaxy S III.While Apple has done an incredible job bringing the mobile web to the masses, the extra few centimetres of screen real estate is very much welcomed when browsing the web, particularly when navigating full-scale versions of websites and not just the scaled-down mobile versions. It’s similarly satisfying to have the extra screen space when watching video, playing a game or using an app. And the trade off, having a larger phone to stick in your pocket or tuck inside a purse, really isn’t much of a negative. It doesn’t slip covertly into a shirt pocket but will fit comfortably in all but the tightest of jeans. And when comparing the resolution of the Galaxy S III versus the iPhone’s much vaunted Retina display technology, it’s a wash. Both can output razor sharp text — even when zoomed in unnecessarily close — and vividly colourful photos and video.[np-related]While the Galaxy S III, which runs on the latest version of Google’s Android mobile operating system, competes strongly against any other phone on the market when it comes to technical specifications, it’s not something Samsung is boasting about or even highlighting much. Visit the website promoting the phone and you can’t even find a comprehensive list of its specs, which include a dual-core processor, two gigabytes of RAM, an eight-megapixel camera and the ability to handle near field communication to wirelessly connect with other devices. But during a product briefing, Paul Brannen, a vice president with Samsung Canada, noted one of the Galaxy S III’s tag lines is “designed for humans,” meaning the company is trying to emphasize user experience over technical strengths.“As consumers we always knew what the processor was in our computers and today, I couldn’t tell you,” Brannen said.“I think the phone industry is going to go down that path where the technology will become irrelevant to the device, it’s how we utilize the device and how that becomes integrated in our day-to-day life.”Among those “designed for humans” features is a recognition tool that learns the faces of friends and family and automatically shares photos you take with them. If you’re writing a message and decide you’d rather talk to the person instead, raising the phone to your ear will start dialling their phone (assuming you have their number in your contacts). The front-facing camera can identify your eyes and sense when you’re looking at the phone. When you look away, it shuts down to save power (or at least it’s supposed to, it didn’t always work for me). And placing the phone face down on a table silences it if it starts to ring at an awkward time. There’s also a Siri-like app that takes voice commands to control the phone, although it’s not quite as well executed as Apple’s version. Overall, the features are clever but require some work to find in the settings, turn on, and learn. And while potentially useful, they’re probably not quite cool enough to sway Apple fans.For those who have already bought into the Apple ecosystem, it’ll be difficult to get them to stray. As good of a job that Samsung has done in creating a smartphone that will appeal to many, the Galaxy S III likely won’t strike much fear in Apple. read more
TORONTO — Quebec and Ontario will sign an agreement today to curb greenhouse gas emissions ahead of this week’s premiers conference on climate change.Premiers Kathleen Wynne and Philippe Couillard will unveil a cap-and-trade deal to put a price on carbon and let polluters buy credits from companies that cap their greenhouse gas emissions.Wynne will announce the details at an early morning news conference in Toronto before going to Quebec City to meet with Couillard.The premiers and territorial leaders will meet in Quebec City on Tuesday for a climate change summit.The provincial attention on climate change comes as the federal government is pushing the provinces to finalize their emission plans.Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq sent a letter to the provinces last week asking for updated numbers.Canada missed a March 31 deadline to submit greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to the United Nations in advance of a global climate change conference in Paris in December.The federal government has said it will present Canada’s targets to the UN well before the summit. read more
TORONTO — The 1.3 million Ontario residents who live in condominiums will get a new, less expensive way to resolve disputes under proposed legislation to be introduced Wednesday.The province will create a Condominium Authority to provide a range of services including dispute resolution, so condo owners won’t have to go to court to clear up a disagreement with a neighbour or their condo board.[np_storybar title=”Is Canada the New Switzerland? Safe reputation abroad seen driving Toronto’s condo boom” link=”https://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/mortgages-real-estate/is-canada-the-new-switzerland-safe-reputation-abroad-seen-driving-torontos-condo-boom”%5DCanada’s reputation as a safe country to live and bank is luring buyers from abroad and far from creating a bubble, it may mean there isn’t enough housing to go around. Keep reading. [/np_storybar]Consumer Services Minister David Orazietti told The Canadian Press that the Authority will be funded by fees paid by condo developers and by a $1 a month levy on individual condo owners.It will provide advice for condo owners along with mediation services to resolve disputes such as noise complaints, bylaw infractions or an inability to get financial documents from the condo board of directors.Orazietti says the costs of settling condo disputes should be reduced to hundreds of dollars instead of thousands of dollars, and will not need to involve expensive court time.The province will also create the Condo Manager Licensing Authority to provide training and regulate the 2,500 people who manage the 10,000 condominium developments in Ontario, which have about 700,000 individual units.Condo investors in Toronto and Vancouver here to stay, CMHC survey saysVancouver housing prices will drive out high-demand occupations: reportOrazietti says right now there are no qualifications to become a condo manager, so a new licensing system will be introduced for individuals and for management firms, along with a new code of ethics.About half of all new home sales in Ontario are condominiums, but the average buyer will find it difficult to digest all the legal documents surrounding one of the most complex — and often the largest — financial transaction in their life.“For the average person, it’s not a level playing field right now and our legislation will significantly strengthen consumer protection for condo owners,” said Orazietti.The changes to the Condominium Act will also tighten the rules to avoid surprise hikes in condo fees. Some developers put clauses in contracts that allowed them to own common areas such as the lobby, and would lease those areas back to the board in the second year, triggering a big increase in monthly fees for owners.“It’s about clear language contracts that are transparent,” said Orazietti. “The condo buyer will get a guide through the Condo Authority so they understand and know their rights, they ask the right questions.”There will also be new rules on how condo boards are run to make them more transparent and accountable, with new qualification requirements for directors that will require some basic training.The changes will make it easier for individual owners to call for a vote of the condo board on an issue, and will require boards to issue reports to owners on a regular basis on topics such as insurance or any legal proceedings.Regulations will be clarified to spell out the amount of an adequate reserve fund for each condo development, which should also help eliminate surprise hikes in fees or special assessments levied against each owner.Existing buildings that are converted to condos, which were not covered by the Tarion new home warranty program, will now be eligible for limited coverage. read more
TORONTO — The Toronto stock market suffered another session of declines as oil closed below $50 for the first time in several months and the loonie tumbled to its lowest level in more than a decade.The S&P/TSX composite index lost 69.12 points at 14,307.12, dragged down by weakness in both the energy and resource sectors.Oil prices settled at the lowest level since April, dropping $1.67 to US$49.19 for the September contract. The latest weekly figures from the U.S. government showed that oil supply inventories unexpectedly rose last week.The August natural gas contract rose 1.5 cents at US$2.897 while August gold lost US$12 at $1,091.50.Meanwhile, the Canadian dollar lost 0.53 of a cent to 76.70 cents US, closing at a level it hasn’t reached since Sept. 1, 2004.In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 68.25 points at 17,851.04, while the Nasdaq fell 36.35 points to 5,171.77. The S&P 500 dipped 5.06 points to 2,114.15. read more
These are indicative wholesale rates for foreign currency provided by the Bank of Canada on Monday. Quotations in Canadian funds.Australia dollar 0.9754Brazil real 0.3916China renminbi 0.1862Euro 1.4621Hong Kong dollar 0.156573India rupee 0.01908Indonesia rupiah 0.0000920Japan yen 0.01098Malaysia ringgit 0.2922Mexico peso 0.06899N.Z. dollar 0.8893Norway krone 0.1564Peruvian new sol 0.3768Russia rouble 0.02112Saudi riyal 0.3263Singapore dollar 0.9081South Africa rand 0.09218South Korean won 0.001084Sweden krona 0.1537Switzerland franc 1.2734Taiwanese dollar 0.04061Thailand baht 0.03698Turkey lira 0.3516U.K. pound 1.6540U.S. dollar 1.2238Vietnam dong 0.000054
TORONTO — Licensed producer Aurora Cannabis has signed a deal to supply medical marijuana to Shoppers Drug Mart.The agreement is subject to Health Canada’s approval of the pharmacy chain’s application to dispense medical cannabis.Aurora’s products are expected to be sold online, as current Canadian regulations prohibit the sale of medical marijuana in pharmacy locations.Canada’s booming weed industry plots next wave of cannabis-based medicinesSun Life Financial to add medical marijuana option to group benefits plansQuebec inks deals with marijuana growers, the first large province to line up supply as legalization loomsShoppers Drug Mart’s deal with Aurora comes after it recently signed similar deals with licensed medical marijuana producers Aphria, MedReleaf and Tilray.The pharmacy chain’s parent company Loblaw Companies Ltd. applied in October 2016 for a license to dispense medical marijuana.Other pharmacies have also lined up similar supply agreements, such as deals between Maricann Group. and Lovell Drugs and CanniMed Therapeutics and PharmaChoice. read more
Sarath Fonseka was escorted to the court under tight police protection at the time the demonstration was underway.Earlier a Magistrate had issued an order preventing the protestors from disrupting traffic or inciting violence during the demonstration. Hundreds of people turned up for the demonstration held near the Hulftsdorp complex in support of Sarath Fonseka.UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and deputy leader Sajith Premadasa were among those who attended the protest organized by the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).
A group linked with the criminal had attacked the mob resulting in a clash between both groups.The police had gone to the area to bring the situation under control. However the group which was supporting the criminal attacked the police.The injured people were admitted to hospital for treatment. A clash at Moragahahena last night injured 12 people including three policemen.The clash had taken place after a mob caught a wanted criminal and handed him over to the police.
The United States has praised Sri Lanka’s new government for speeding up efforts towards reconciliation with ethnic minority Tamils after a separatist civil war which lasted nearly three decades and killed tens of thousands of people.Steps such as the return of land, efforts to find the missing and the lifting of bans on Tamil groups will help heal wounds that linger six years after conflict ended, said Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Over the weekend, Colombo lifted a ban imposed by Rajapaksa on eight Tamil organisations and 267 individuals who were accused of being a threat to national security for demanding a separate nation for Tamils. The Foreign Ministry said the ban was removed after many groups and people, based in countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada, made public statements expressing their commitment to a united, undivided country.The lifting of the ban means they can freely enter Sri Lanka and transfer money in and out of the country. Eight other groups and 157 people, however, remain blacklisted and their assets frozen.Sirisena has taken other steps towards reconciliation. Earlier this month, he allowed 30 suspected former Tamil rebels, who have been in prison for years accused of abetting terrorism, to be released on bail. “The government has laid down a list of commitments and … (is) making their way through those commitments, in terms of giving back lands, in terms of Prevention of Terrorism Act, in terms of missing people, implementation of the accountability mechanism.” The government has also returned thousands of acres of land confiscated during the war by the military in the island’s east and north and has made public all government reports on war abuses to ensure transparency and accountability.The United Nations says much more needs to be done. An expert panel which visited Sri Lanka last week urged authorities to investigate the thousands of reports of people who went missing during the civil war.Some Tamil groups have also complained about the slow pace of reconciliation, including the failure to withdraw significant numbers of military from the Tamil-dominated former war zone. He rejected international calls for an independent investigation into alleged war crimes and refused to cooperate with U.N. officials appointed to probe claims of human rights abuses including abduction, rape and torture.In October, Sirisena’s government said it planned to find a middle way by establishing a credible judicial process involving foreign judges and prosecutors to investigate alleged abuses.Sirisena has also taken other steps for peace and reconciliation in the multi-ethnic island nation of 21 million. Since President Maithripala Sirisena was elected in January, he has tried to mend relations with the United States and other Western nations, strained under his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa who was criticised for not doing enough to promote reconciliation between Tamils and the majority Sinhalese.Rajapaksa won the 26-year war by crushing separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, but the United Nations accused his military of killing thousands of civilians, mostly Tamil, during the final weeks of the conflict. “A lot has been done in a short period of time,” Power told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. read more
Ambassador Margue is from Luxembourg and has been a European Commission (EC) official since 1979. His work has covered EU Delegations in the African, Middle Eastern and Asian regions. He has represented the EU as lead negotiator in several fora, including at the UN, the G8 and the Kimberley Process.In his most recent position prior to taking up his post as Ambassador, Mr Margue was responsible for the Foreign Policy Instruments Service, under the authority of EU High Representative Federica Mogherini. (Colombo Gazette) Ambassador Margue assumed duties as Head of Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives on 11 September 2016. Following his accreditation Ambassador Margue said, “It is my privilege to assume duties as Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Sri Lanka and the EU have strengthened ties, particularly over the last year, through a number of constructive engagements at a bilateral level and at multilateral fora.” The European Union (EU) says it remains committed to supporting the Government’s reform agenda and the new Ambassador said he looks forward to increasing cooperation with Sri Lanka.The new EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka Tung-Laï Margue presented his credentials to President Maithripala Sirisena today. read more
President Maithripala Sirisena today demanded that a judicial process be launched into the Central Bank bond scam.The President, speaking at a rally in Maharagama today, said that an independent investigation must be held on the allegations. The President said that he will obtain legal advise on the report on the Central Bank bond controversy by the Parliament Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE). “I have never spoken on the bond scam before but now I am saying it must be investigated independently,” he said. He said that later he will call for an independent judicial process to investigate the scam and take appropriate action. (Colombo Gazette)
Pakistan is leaving no stone unturned in its attempt to somehow palm off the technically inferior fighter aircraft JF-17 to a hapless Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF), the ANI news service reported.Efforts have been made by Islamabad for the last one year to convince the Sri Lankan government to purchase the aircraft that is jointly developed by Pakistan and China. Sri Lanka, aware of the technical shortcomings and design flaws in the aircraft had earlier decided not to consider the deal as earlier reported by the Sri Lankan news site ‘The Sunday Leader’. Pakistan has maintained incessant pressure, both on the political leadership and the SLAF to confirm the deal. In this process, not only has Pakistan offered sops to the SLAF like ‘buy one JF-17 and get one F-7 free’, gratis post-sale maintenance and training to SLAF pilots etc., but it is alleged to be also using the ‘kickbacks route’ and which has been reported by the Sri Lankan media. Therefore, taking a leaf out of China’s modus operandi during the former President Mahinda Rajapakse’s regime where big ticket projects like the Colombo Port City Project were bagged by the Chinese by paying off huge bribes, Pakistan is alleged to have paid kickbacks to some senior bureaucrats in the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry and the SLAF, apart from targeting family members of top political leaders. How far Pakistan has been successful in compromising the Sri Lankans is not known and could not be independently verified.According to sources, Pakistan has attempted to reach out to the key political leaders and officials through two separate entities that have been assigned for this task. One is a front company of the Pakistan Air Force, with links and a base in Colombo. This team is being assisted by a former Pakistan High Commissioner in Colombo. Separately, the Pakistani side has approached a Singapore-based consultancy group specialising in dubious arms deals to follow-up on the sale of the aircraft. The Pakistani government’s strong arm tactics with Sri Lanka by playing up its role in the war against the LTTE and now the offer for ‘kickbacks’ as reported earlier by ‘The Sunday Leader’ in Sri Lanka has compelled the country to revisit its earlier decision to dump the deal.It is to be seen whether Pakistan will be successful in inking this deal with the Sri Lankans, for the sale of an aircraft whose quality and operational capability has been in question. All indications, however, are as per informed sources that Sri Lanka will not compromise on its national interest despite the reported buildup of new pressure by Islamabad since the issue was first reported by ‘The Sunday Leader’ last year. read more
The Minister said that with the bus fare hike the minimum fare of Rs. 9 will be increased by Rs. 1 and the new fares will be applicable to private and Government buses. (Colombo Gazette) A bus fare hike has been given cabinet approval, Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said today.He said the approval for a 6.28% bus fare hike was given when cabinet met today and the fare hike will take effect from July 1 this year.
He said that if the relevant authorities are unable to meet the deadline then he will speak with President Maithripala Sirisena and appoint others to do the job. (Colombo Gazette) Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today warned officials over the delay to provide relief to flood and landslide victims in Galle, Matara and Ratnapura.The Prime Minister said that he wants a deadline set for the relief items to be provided.
All three were pronounced dead. (Colombo Gazette) A father jumped in front of a moving train with his two sons in Welikanda, Polonnaruwa today.The Police said that the father was aged 40 and the sons were aged 11 and 4.