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Canada Enforces Ban on Single-Use Plastics Despite Constitutional Debate

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Canadian restaurants and cafes are prohibited from providing customers with plastic straws, food containers, checkout bags, or cutlery, marking a significant step in the country’s commitment to achieving zero plastic waste by 2030. Despite a recent court ruling deeming such restrictions unconstitutional, the government proceeded with the ban, seeking a stay on the order pending an appeal. The regulation aims to tackle the staggering three million tonnes of plastic waste discarded annually by Canadians, with only nine percent currently being recycled.

Diners and eateries in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, near Montreal, faced the immediate challenge of depleting their remaining plastic inventory as the ban took effect. While some, like 29-year-old Charles Desgens, applaud the law for pushing store owners to make the switch, others, including restaurant owner Emile Doucet, acknowledge the ongoing struggle to find viable alternatives to plastic.

Canada’s move aligns with global efforts to combat plastic pollution, as echoed by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), which stressed the need to halve single-use plastics and significantly enhance recycling and reuse initiatives. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault emphasized the scientific evidence supporting the detrimental impact of plastic pollution on wildlife and the environment.

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US Advocates for Palestinian Access to Al-Aqsa

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On Wednesday, the United States called on Israel to permit Muslims to worship at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem during Ramadan. This plea comes in response to a proposal by a far-right minister suggesting the exclusion of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank from praying at the site.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller addressed reporters, stating, “As it pertains to Al-Aqsa, we continue to urge Israel to facilitate access to Temple Mount for peaceful worshippers during Ramadan consistent with past practice.” The statement emphasizes the importance of maintaining historical practices that have allowed peaceful worship during the holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, also known as the Temple Mount.

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Bangladesh Delegation Eyes WTO MC13 to Safeguard Developing Nations’ Interests

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The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is scheduled to take place from February 26 to 29, 2024, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ministers from around the world will gather to assess the performance of the multilateral trading system and address the future agenda of the WTO. A delegation from Bangladesh, led by State Minister for Commerce Ahsanul Islam Titu, comprising eight members, will participate in the conference.

This edition of the ministerial conference holds particular significance for Bangladesh as the country is set to transition from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a developing nation by 2026. Typically held every two years, the conference will focus on critical global issues, including subsidies in agriculture and fisheries, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, and global food security.

Senior Secretary of the Commerce Ministry, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, expressed Bangladesh’s commitment to safeguarding the interests of LDCs and other developing nations. While not highlighting specific issues for Bangladesh, he emphasized the country’s desire to maintain duty-free market access, intellectual property rights, and other trade facilities during the post-LDC graduation period.

Tapan highlighted Bangladesh’s advocacy for the continuation of technical facilities, such as training programs for officials and dispute settlement mechanisms, even beyond the LDC graduation. He affirmed that Bangladesh would play a robust role in these discussions. Additionally, he underscored Bangladesh’s priority on providing subsidies in the fisheries sector during the post-LDC graduation period.

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Saudi Imposes Tk15 lakh Fine for Unauthorized Hajj Performances

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The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia has declared a fine of SR50,000 (equivalent to Tk15 lakh) for individuals, whether tourists or local residents, who perform Hajj without official permission. According to Gulf News, the ministry emphasized the illegality of undertaking Hajj without the necessary approvals. Additionally, hefty fines of up to Tk15 lakh will be imposed on those found transporting Hajj pilgrims without the required documents.

Furthermore, the ministry outlined severe consequences for foreigners involved in such violations, including a six-month imprisonment and subsequent deportation from Saudi Arabia. Those deported will also face a 10-year ban on reentering the country. This stringent announcement aims to ensure the proper implementation of the Hajj process and deter any potential breaches of laws and regulations.

The penalties will be enforced through collaboration between the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports.

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