Table Tennis Jamaica (TTJ) President Godfrey Lothian has made a call for greater support from corporate entities, following the country’s third-place finish in Division Three at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Perfect World Team Champion-ships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, recently, which also saw the Jamaicans jumping from Division Five to their current status in three years.In 2014, in Japan, the Jamaica team of Michael Hyatt, Kane Watson, Simon Tomlinson and Chris Marsh swept all before them to take the Division Five crown.Starting out at Division Four this time around, the Jamaicans won all their four group matches, before moving on to the quarter-finals where they defeated the United Arab Emirates 3-0.In the semi-finals, the Jamaicans lost to Pakistan.TOO HOT FORPANAMAHowever, the Caribbean team was too much for Panama in the bronze-medal match, as they beat the Central Americans 3-0 to claim third spot and a place in Division Three for the next championship.”In three years, we have moved up two divisions. We have moved from fifth to fourth to third [division], and that is unprecedented. So things are happening in table tennis, and we should be rewarded with some strong support,” Lothian commented.”We see that we can have success in the sport. This [sport] is not just for Asian and European countries. Countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular, Jamaica, can have success, but we need corporate Jamaica to see table tennis as a sport they can invest in.”They (corporate community) need to see it as a sport that can draw large support as it can be played any and everywhere. We also have a lot of new activities coming on board that we just want support for,” he continued.Lothian was also full of praise for the country’s representatives – Hyatt, Watson and Mark Phillips – who won the bronze at the championship, and noted that there were many more youngsters on the rise.”I am elated! This is great because success has been achieved, so we are overwhelmed,” beamed Lothian.”They (players) really did Jamaica proud. We have other youngsters coming up, so we have a face now of five, six players, so things are looking good for table tennis,” he added.
Li Bingbing, Lily Tomlin and Loree Rodkin join a powerful cast of celebrity supporters and artists amassing to save the Asian elephant during Elephant Parade: Welcome to America.After stops in London, Milan, Amsterdam and Singapore, The Resorts of Dana Point will now host the US debut of the international open-air art exhibition featuring dozens of colorfully decorated life-sized baby elephant sculptures.From international film stars and Hollywood legends, to jewelry designers and fashion icons, this grassroots movement turned global crusade has corporate and celebrity supporters focused on the future of the endangered Asian elephant.“We are thrilled to welcome Li Bingbing, Lily Tomlin and Loree Rodkin onboard for the American debut of Elephant Parade,” said Mike Spits, co-founder of Elephant Parade. “Their passion for conservation is inspiring and we look forward to unveiling their elephants in Dana Point.”Once the ten-week exhibition in Dana Point is complete, the custom artworks will be auctioned with proceeds benefitting The Asian Elephant Foundation and supporting a variety of preservation programs across Asia. International Film Star Li Bingbing is well known for role in her achievements both on and off the screen. Throughout her life, Bingbing has been involved in charitable efforts through her work as an UNEP Goodwill Ambassador and WWF Earth Hour Global Ambassador. Bingbing, who has starred in a number of high-profile English-language films including Resident Evil, The Forbidden Kingdom, and the upcoming Transformers sequel, joins Elephant Parade to raise international awareness about the plight of the Asian elephant. Lily Tomlin, an Oscar nominee and one of America’s iconic comediennes, continues to venture across an ever-widening range of media, starring in television, theater, motion pictures, animation and video. In 2013, Tomlin narrated the HBO documentary An Apology to Elephants, a film that explores the abusive and inhumane treatment of captive elephants. The film also demonstrates the elephants’ importance to ecosystems and the dangers facing wild elephants worldwide, including habitat destruction and tusk poaching. Loree Rodkin blurs the lines between modern and medieval with her visionary approach to jewelry design. Her old-world artisans have handcrafted specialty pieces for countless Hollywood stars including Cher, Lady Gaga and Madonna. Rodkin made history when she designed First Lady Michelle Obama’s inaugural jewelry, pieces set for permanent display in the Smithsonian.Previous top-tier supporters include Katy Perry, Isaac Mizrahi, Tommy Hilfiger, Goldie Hawn, Diane von Furstenberg, and Joss Stone, among many others. The exhibition is also launching two other events this summer in Trier-Luxembourg and another touring over 14 major cities across the United Kingdom.Elephant Parade was founded in 2006 by father and son team, Marc and Mike Spits. While on holiday in Thailand, Marc was introduced to a baby elephant named Mosha, who became the world’s first elephant to be fitted with a prosthetic limb after stepping on a landmine. Her inspired journey helped build the foundation for the socially-conscious business enterprise, Elephant Parade.“We’ve created a social enterprise built on a successful model of art, business and charity resulting in very tangible, timely preservation efforts,” commented Mike Spits, co-founder of Elephant Parade. “If we don’t take action now, the Asian elephant could become extinct in just a few short decades.”Proceeds from Elephant Parade full size exposition statue sales and an additional 20% of the Elephant Parade net profits are donated to The Asian Elephant Foundation, which financially supports and actively monitors projects for the welfare of the Asian elephant.To date, Elephant Parade has raised more than $6 million for Asian elephant conservation and approximately 8 million people worldwide have experienced the expositions.Source:PR Newswire
Clayton Thomas-Muller (left) at a protest in Paris. (APTN file)APTN NewsThe Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) routinely welcomed reports from the energy industry about perceived threats, and kept such information in its files in case it might prove useful later, newly disclosed documents reveal.Canada’s spy agency is supposed to retain only information that is “strictly necessary” to do its job, and the spy agency is now facing questions about whether it collected and hung on to material about groups or people who posed no real threat.Details of the CSIS practices are emerging in a case mounted by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) in the Federal Court of Canada.Clayton Thomas-Müller of Pukatawagan Cree Nation in Manitoba is a regular campaigner at demonstrations and protests at home and abroad.He said the abuses alleged by the BCCLA occurred under former prime minister Stephen Harper and could be continuing under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.“Of course, CSIS says that they’re not guilty of anything,” he said from Winnipeg Monday.“The fact of the matter is we have no reason to think anything’s changed from the Harper era to the Trudeau era.”In a February 2014 complaint to the CSIS watchdog, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the BCCLA alleged the spy service overstepped its legal authority by monitoring environmentalists opposed to Enbridge’s now-abandoned Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.It also accused CSIS of sharing information about the opponents with the National Energy Board and petroleum industry companies, effectively deterring people from voicing their opinions and associating with environmental groups.The review committee dismissed the civil liberties association’s complaint in 2017, prompting the association to ask the Federal Court to revisit the outcome.In the process, more than 8,000 pages of once-secret material, including heavily redacted transcripts of closed-door hearings, have become public, providing a glimpse into the review committee’s deliberations.During one hearing, a CSIS official whose identity is confidential told the committee that information volunteered by energy companies was put in a spy service database.“It is not actionable. It just sits there,” the CSIS official said. “But should something happen, should violence erupt, then we will go back to this and be able to see that we had the information? It is just information that was given to us, and we need to log it.“Should something happen after and we hadn’t logged it, then we are at fault for not keeping the information.”Civil libertiesThe review committee heard from several witnesses and examined hundreds of documents in weighing the civil liberties association’s complaint.The watchdog concluded CSIS collected some information about peaceful anti-petroleum groups, but only incidentally in the process of investigating legitimate threats to projects such as oil pipelines.Advocacy and environmental groups Leadnow, the Dogwood Initiative, and the Council of Canadians are mentioned in the thousands of pages of CSIS operational reports scrutinized by the review committee.But the committee’s report said that CSIS’s activities did not stray into surveillance of organizations engaged in lawful advocacy, protest or dissent.A CSIS witness testified the spy service “is not in the business of investigating environmentalists because they are advocating for an environmental cause, period.”Still, the review committee urged CSIS to ensure it was keeping only “strictly necessary” information, as spelled out in the law governing the spy service.And Thomas-Müller offered this advice – albeit sarcastically.“I know that when I’m not spying on people I’m not generating thousands of redacted pages of documents,” he cracked.Chilling effectThe civil liberties association told the committee of a chilling effect for civil society groups from the spy service’s information-gathering as well as comments by then-natural resources minister Joe Oliver denouncing “environmental and other radical groups.”One CSIS witness told the committee that Oliver’s statement did not flow from information provided by the spy agency.“As a service, we never found out where he was coming from, where he got this information or who had briefed him,” the unnamed CSIS official said. “So we’re not sure where he got it. But it wasn’t from us.”The review committee found CSIS did not share information about the environmental groups in question with the National Energy Board or the petroleum industry.The association wants the Federal Court to take a second look, given that CSIS created more than 500 operational reports relevant to the committee’s inquiry.“The main impression one draws from the (committee) report is ‘nothing to see here, look away,’ when in fact there is a lot to see here,” said Paul Champ, a lawyer for the association.Dozens of censored CSIS records say the reporting was further to “the Service’s efforts in assessing the threat environment and the potential for threat-related violence stemming from (redacted) protests/demonstrations.”Spy serviceSome of the documents reveal that CSIS itself is questioning whether it is going too far, noting that the spy service is “pressing on the limitations of our mandate.”The notion that information on some groups or individuals was gathered incidentally is “cold comfort to people whose names might end up in the databanks of Canada’s intelligence service simply because they expressed a political opinion on Facebook, signed a petition, or attended a protest,” Champ said.One document refers to the Dogwood Initiative as a “non-profit, Canadian environmental organization that was established in 1999 ‘to help communities and First Nations gain more control of the land and resources around them so they can be managed in a way that does not rob future generations for short-term corporate gain.”’The passages before and after the description are blacked out.“This court case will take some time to play out,” Champ said. “Right now, we are focused on getting access to as much information as possible so we can properly make our main arguments about how these CSIS activities violate the law.”– With files from Kathleen Martens and the Canadian Press