World and Canada News

In the World…

Russian helicopters accidentally fire on spectators during war games

By Staff The Associated Press/Sept. 19, 2017

A Russian news website says two people were wounded when a helicopter gunship accidentally fired on spectators during military drills in western Russia.
The video on the online 66.ru news portal shows a pair of helicopter gunships buzzing low, with one of them firing a rocket that explodes next to a spectator.
It said Tuesday two people were wounded and two vehicles destroyed in the incident during the Zapad 2017 manoeuvres. It said it happened Sunday or Monday at the Luzhsky range, about 100 kilometres east of the border with Estonia.
The Russian military acknowledged Tuesday the video was genuine but denied it happened Monday. It did not specify when or where the incident in the video took place but said no one was hurt.

Toys 'R' Us files for bankruptcy protection in US

BBC News/Sept. 19, 2017

Toys 'R' Us has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada as it attempts to restructure its debts.
The firm was once a dominant player in the US toy market, but has struggled against larger rivals such as Amazon.
The move casts a shadow over the future of the company's nearly 1,600 stores and 64,000 employees.
However, a US bankruptcy judge approved a loan of more than $2bn to help stabilise the toy chain.
The aim is to give Toys 'R' Us money and time to prepare for the upcoming Christmas shopping season.
The firm's European operations are not part of the bankruptcy proceedings and Toys R Us says it does not expect any immediate impact on its UK stores.
Toys R Us's operations in Australia, about 255 licensed stores and a joint venture partnership in Asia are also not included in the bankruptcy move.
Not child's play
The bankruptcy filing is more evidence that traditional retailers are struggling in the US, as online retailers continue to capture market share.
Toys 'R' Us said the majority of its stores around the world remained profitable, and would continue to operate as normal through the holiday period, which is when they do most of their business.
But the company is also looking to online sales to secure its future, with recently launched web stores for its products.
Global Data Retail estimates that in 2016 about 13.7% of all toy sales were made online, up from 6.5% five years ago.
"The past decade has seen a dramatic change in the domestic toy market with new channels, increased competition, and new technology all having a deleterious impact on the sector and traditional toy stores. Unfortunately, Toys 'R' Us has not responded effectively to these challenges," said Neil Saunders, managing director of Global Data Retail.
Gary Grant, founder of UK toyshop chain The Entertainer, said people's buying habits were changing.
"We're seeing it even in the supermarkets, where the big sheds aren't being visited as frequently as more convenient in-town locations," he told the BBC.
"So we're seeing in grocery the convenience stores are much more successful now than some of the over-spaced units that the grocers have."
Toys 'R' Us timeline
1948: Charles Lazarus opens a baby furniture store in Washington, but quickly expands into toys
1957: Inspired by early supermarkets, Mr Lazarus opens first Toys 'R' Us
1966: Toys 'R' Us bought by Interstate Department Stores
1974: Interstate Stores files for bankruptcy, Mr Lazarus returns
1978: Toys 'R' Us sells shares on the stock exchange for first time
1980s: Period of rapid expansion in the US and overseas
1992: President Bush opens first Toys 'R' Us in Japan
1994: Mr Lazarus steps down as chairman and chief executive
2001: Flagship store in New York's Times Square opened
2005: Toys 'R' Us bought by private equity investors for $6.6bn
2012: Sales peak at $13.9bn
'Toxic mix'
Toys 'R' Us wants to use the bankruptcy process to restructure and make the company viable over the long term.
Enormous debt levels are its most immediate problem.
Various lenders, including a JPMorgan-led bank syndicate and some of the company's existing lenders, have committed more than $3bn in new financing to turn the company around.
"A combination of high debt and severe structural changes in the industry created a toxic mix against which Toys 'R' Us had little choice but to restructure and try to put itself on a firmer footing," said Mr Saunders.
However, the company says the new financing will improve the company's financial health and support its operations during the court-supervised bankruptcy process.
"Our objective is to work with our debt holders and other creditors to restructure the $5bn of long-term debt on our balance sheet, which will provide us with greater financial flexibility to invest in our business," said chief executive Dave Brandon.
Troubled times for US retailers
Toys 'R' Us is one of a number of traditional US retailers to have run into trouble recently.
Department store chain Sears has been struggling with falling sales and heavy losses. In January, it announced the closure of more than 100 stores.
Other department stores - including Macy's, which also owns Bloomingdales - have also seen sales slide.
US clothing chains The Limited and Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year, as did discount shoe retailer Payless.


And in Canada…

 

RCMP launch 20 investigations involving Chinese vendors delivering fentanyl to Canada

By Jon Azpiri/Online News Producer/Global News/Sept. 18, 2017

RCMP have launched at least 20 investigations involving 70 vendors shipping fentanyl directly from China to Canada.
Mounties are working with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to seize packages of the deadly opioid, make arrests and lay charges.
The Mounties and CBSA, along with Canada Post, have worked together to identify the best way to flag parcels arriving from China at three international mail-sorting centres - Montreal, Mississauga, Ont., and Vancouver, which gets most of the mail going to destinations across the country.
The CBSA says 156 fentanyl seizures have been made across the country between June 2016 and Sept. 6 of this year, 83 of them in the Pacific region.
“While most fentanyl seizures are made at the Vancouver International Mail Centre in the Pacific region, it is important to note that fentanyl has been seized at Pacific region’s air cargo operations and in other modes and regions,” the CBSA said in an email.
Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer said Monday that fentanyl is “a huge concern and we’re working closely with all our partners to combat it.”
“This is a national issue, and quite frankly, an international issue. We’re seeing it come through the airport. Vancouver has become a bit of a hub. Traditionally, we are a big heroin city so we do have a lot of heroin users in this city.
“Vancouver started out as the epicentre. Now we’re seeing it creeping out across the country, it’s heading east. Interestingly, in the United States, the experience is a bit different where it started on the east coast and it’s heading west.”
Officers have met with Chinese officials twice so far about the issue.
Pressure on China over fentanyl shipments, mostly from Canada and the United States, mounted to a point that in March, it banned the manufacture and sale of four variations of the synthetic drug.
“In order for them to keep their status with different organizations … they need to show the world that they are actually doing the best they can to tackle organized crime and illegal narcotics trafficking,” Sgt. Yves Goupil, RCMP’s director of serious organized crime, said.
As of the end of July, 876 people in B.C. have died of drug overdoses this year, 81 per cent of those deaths involved fentanyl.
With files from The Canadian Press

Correctional officers increasingly at risk of exposure to fentanyl: AUPE

By Jill Croteau/Reporter/Global News/Sept. 18, 2017

Alberta’s largest union says there is an elevated concern about the safety of correctional officers after an incident at a Calgary jail sent five people to hospital.
An inmate serving weekends at the Calgary Correctional Centre, two guards and two nurses were exposed to a mysterious substance believed to be fentanyl laced with arsenic, according to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
On Monday, AUPE President Guy Smith said the correctional officers are now recovering.
“This was on a weekender unit so there’s a lot more traffic in that part of the jail,” Smith said. “Fentanyl is so potent. So even a small trace amount can cause serious damage and that’s harder to find.
Smith said it appears the inmate managed to smuggle the illicit drug into the facility. He was found unconscious in his cell when the guards tried to help, which exposed them to the toxic substance. The union representing the guards said not enough is being done to protect the workers. Smith told Global News he has been meeting with provincial government officials to push for better training.
“We’re seeing an increase in these incidents and [it’s] something the government has to get a handle on,” he said. “There is no clear provincial-wide policy on how to deal or train staff appropriately to deal with situations arising from fentanyl coming into the correctional facilities.”
Union representatives said fentanyl is nearly impossible to detect.
“We’ve been pushing for full body scans that only picks up sizable amounts,” Smith said. “There’s sniffer dogs, but again, the trace amount is hard to detect.”
Correctional officers can potentially come into contact with the lethal opioid during searches, sorting mail and when performing CPR.
A spokesperson with Alberta Justice says an internal review is underway.
“There are several measures in place to prevent drugs from entering provincial correctional facilities and to protect staff and inmates,” Jason van Rassel said in a written statement. “In terms of security measures to identify narcotics and stop them from entering facilities, drug dogs are employed, along with searches and intelligence gathering by staff. There are also regular scheduled rounds and counts completed by correctional staff for all inmates.”