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Great news for craft brewers in Manitoba 

Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries has earmarked up to $5-million to help local craft brewery startups with expensive overhead costs such as fermenters, kettles, stills, and other types of needed equipment. “The industry is just starting to boom,” Culture and Tourism Minister Ron Lemieux said Monday in a CBC News article. “This is a piece that has been missing, Equipment like this is very expensive.” Loans of up to $250,000 will be available to small-scale, Manitoba-based producers, who are already producing but hoping to expand. Interested brewers will have to wait until spring or summer of this year to apply. [Source: CBC]

Children as young as 7 forced to work in cobalt mines: Amnesty investigation

According to an Amnesty International investigation, children as young as seven years old are being used to mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Cobalt is a product is used in smartphones, cars, and computers. Apple, Microsoft, and other familiar brands contain it, and it’s sold in millions of products. Amnesty traced the cobalt used in the lithium batteries of 16 major brands to a mine where children and adult labourers were getting $1 per day and subjected to violence. DRC is home to more than half of the world’s cobalt, and in 2012 Unicef estimated there were 40,000 children working in the region’s mines. Amnesty’s investigation has linked Chinese company Huayou Cobalt to the DRC cobalt mines. When asked, most of the large brands denied knowing about the unethical practices behind the cobalt they purchase. “What is very worrying is that none of the companies that we identified through our research and named in investor documents could trace the cobalt they use in their products back to the mines where it originated. Around half of all cobalt comes from the DRC, and no company can validly claim that they are unaware of the human rights and child labour abuses linked with mineral extraction in the region,” said Mark Dummett, business and human rights researcher at Amnesty International. “These are some of the biggest companies in the world, with combined profits of $125 billion and there is no excuse that companies aren’t investing some of that profit into ensuring that they can trace where the minerals they are using are coming from. Anyone with a smartphone would be appalled to think that children as young as seven carrying out back-breaking work for 12 hours a day could be involved at some point in the making of it.” [Source: Guardian]

Canada’s GDP remains steady despite lowered forecast for world economy: IMF

The international Monetary Fund (IMF) has downgraded its growth forecasts on Tuesday, citing tanking oil prices, a slowdown in China, and low commodity prices. It predicts the world economy will grow 3.4 per cent in 2016, down 0.2 per cent from an earlier forecast. Despite the global downgrade, Canada’s predicted GDP growth for 2016 was not lowered on this most recent forecast. In October, IMF estimated 1.7 per cent of economic growth for Canada, and that number hasn’t changed in this most recent report, keeping the country on pace with many of its Group of Seven counterparts. The Bank of Canada will release its forecast later today. [Source: Financial Post and Globe and Mail]

Islamic State keeping thousands of slaves: UN report

According to a report released by the UN, Islamic State militants are keeping about 3,500 slaves in Iraq alone, most of them women and children hailing from the Yazidi community. “This report lays bare the enduring suffering of civilians in Iraq and starkly illustrates what Iraqi refugees are attempting to escape when they flee to Europe and other regions,” Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, told the Guardian newspaper. “This is the horror they face in their homelands.” In the last two years, 18,802 people have died at the hand of IS in Iraq, and 3.2 million people have been displaced inside the country, according to the report, which reveals gruelling, heartbreaking accounts of killings by shooting, beheading, bulldozing, fire, and many other atrocious practices. The report goes on to suggest that approximately 800 to 900 children in Mosul have been enslaved for military and religious training. [Source: Guardian]

Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey dies of medical complications at 67

Glenn Frey, Eagles guitarist and co-writer of Hotel California, has died at the age of 67 from complicating surrounding rheumatoid arthritis, colitis and pneumonia, reports the BBC. The Eagles were one of the most popular bands in the ’70s, and have sold more than 150-million albums. They were formed in 1971 by Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Mesiner. Frey would become the band’s most prolific songwriter, penning such hits as “Take it Easy.” The band broke up following the unimaginable and unrepeatable success of “Hotel California,” but got back together in the ‘90s and have been a successful touring band since. “He was like a brother to me; we were family, and like most families, there was some dysfunction,” Henley said in a statement. “But, the bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the 14 years that the Eagles were dissolved.” [Source: BBC]


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