OTTAWA — It’s an option for many people buying their first home, but when deciding whether to tap into RRSPs, investment advisers urge caution.“Whether or not it is a good idea to use the homebuyers withdrawal plan, I would say the answer is maybe,” says Kelly Gares, an adviser with BlueShore Financial in West Vancouver, B.C.“It does depend on your particular circumstances.”You kind of give up some of the potential growth that you have in the RRSP that actually funds your retirement.Under the homebuyers’ plan, people can withdraw up to $25,000 from an RRSP to help buy or build a first home. They need to repay the amount to their RRSP and generally have up to 15 years to put the money back in their account.In essence, people are borrowing money from themselves. And while they don’t have to pay themselves any interest on the money they take out, they are giving up any gains they might have made on the money had it remained invested in an RRSP.Mortgage payments aren’t the only cost to buying a new home. There are maintenance costs, property taxes and utility bills. People need to be sure they’ll also be able to repay their withdrawal within the allowed time as well as continue saving for retirement.Crystal Wong, senior regional manager for financial planning at TD Wealth, says when saving for a first home, she would encourage people to use a regular savings account or a tax-free savings account instead.New mortgage rules for homes over $500,000 take effect, as Liberals aim to limit risksWhy business owners shouldn’t bother with an RRSPWhat you should look for when picking stocks to hold in your RRSPWith a TFSA, people don’t pay any tax on the investment gains in the account and they don’t need to repay the money they withdraw.However, Wong said if people find themselves short, they can consider going into their RRSPs.“The pro to that is that you’ve got the money that you’ve saved, so it is your funds,” she said. “The con would be that you kind of give up some of the potential growth that you have in the RRSP that actually funds your retirement.”Gares says there are times when it does make sense to use retirement savings to help buy a home. He pointed to a situation where taking money from an RRSP might allow people to make a 20 per cent down payment and avoid the need for high-ratio mortgage insurance.“Avoiding those types of transactional costs, that is certainly a scenario where I think it is justifiable to use the homebuyers’ plan,” Gares said.However, he warned that if a person’s only real asset is in real estate and they don’t have any other savings or investments, they are not truly diversified.“That’s one thing I would caution against,” he said.“If you’re really utilizing all of your liquid assets for the purpose of making that purchase, then you might need to consider if that’s really an affordable expense for you.”The Canadian PressIllustration by Chloe Cushman, National Post read more


Reports from the area said that at least three people were injured when a landmine exploded and the injured were admitted to hospital.HALO is the world’s oldest and largest humanitarian landmine clearance organisation and it is involved in mine clearance in parts of the north. An explosion occurred at a demining site in Muhamalai, officials told the Colombo Gazette this afternoon.The explosion had occurred at a site where HALO Trust is involved in de-mining work, Halo Trust officials said but did not wish to provide further details.


“This species has enough significant differences to separate it from the other species,” said Peter Kirk, editor of the British Tarantula Society’s journal, which published a study describing the spider in December. But, Kirk notes, taxonomic determinations based on physical descriptions can provoke disagreement. “I absolutely would love to see DNA sampling done – on all the species ofPoecilotheria,” he said. A new type of tarantula about the size of your face has been found in northern Sri Lanka. Scientists found the spiders — with a leg span up to 8 inches (20cm) across — living in trees and the old doctor’s quarters of a hospital in Mankulam.Covered in beautiful, ornate markings, the spiders belong to the genus Poecilotheria, known as “Pokies” for short. These are the tiger spiders, an arboreal group indigenous to India and Sri Lanka that are known for being colourful, fast, and venomous. As a group, the spiders are related to a class of South American tarantula that includes the Goliath bird-eater, the world’s largest. The spider’s unique leg markings include geometric patterns with daffodil-yellow and grey inlays on the first and fourth legs. It was first seen during a Sri Lankan arachnid survey led by Ranil Nanayakkara, co-founder of Sri Lanka’s Biodiversity Education and Research. In October 2009, a local villager presented Nanayakkara and his team with a dead male specimen that didn’t resemble knownPoecilotheria in the area. Before the team could begin describing the presumptive new species, they needed more individuals. Scouring the semi-evergreen, forested area for females and juveniles required the help of police inspector Michael Rajakumar Purajah, who accompanied the team through areas just beginning to recover from a civil war. Eventually, the team found enough spiders – including the ones hiding in a hospital – to assemble a detailed description of the new arachnids.“They are quite rare,” Nanayakkara said. “They prefer well-established old trees, but due to deforestation the number have dwindled and due to lack of suitable habitat they enter old buildings.” “When it comes down to taxonomy, it’s not a hard and fast science,” Kirk said. “Until we get to things like DNA sampling.” (Courtesy Wired.com) Arachnologist Robert Raven, curator at the Queensland Museum in Australia, says the team has done a thorough job describing the spider, but isn’t entirely convinced the team has found a new species – yet.“The description and figures are excellent and will provide a good basis for establishing whether it is a good species,” he said, noting the possibility that the spiders are a local variant of a related species. Raven says not enough is known about the Poecilotheria genus in general, and that more detailed studies of each known species are needed before new ones can be reliably added. “The genusPoecilotheria has not been taxonomically revised,” he said. “Popping new species out in that situation is always going to be fraught with doubt and difficulty.”So far, about 15 species have been described within Poecilotheria. Several are endangered, due mostly to loss of habitat. P. metallica, a bright blue beauty, is considered critically endangered. So is P. hanumavilasumica — named after a temple on Rameshwaram Island –which lives among the trees in the island’s disappearing plantations. The spider which most closely resembles P. rajaei is called P. regalis, and so far has only been found on the Indian mainland. Nanayakkara hints that he’s got several more potential new tarantulas up his sleeve, awaiting review. The new spider, named Poecilotheria rajaei after a local police inspector who helped the team navigate post-civil war northern Sri Lanka, differs from similar species primarily in the markings on its legs and underside, which bears a pink abdominal band. read more


In a rare collaboration, two groups espousing the cause of separatism came together at a marriage hall in Cuddalore in northern Tamil Nadu.Striking a chord with pro-Tamil activists, Kashmir separatist leader Yasin Malik spoke about the ‘Eelam dream’ on the eve of the death anniversary of LTTE leader VelupillaiPrabhakaran. This is the first time that a Kashmiri separatist leader has been invited to Tamil Nadu to talk about the emotive Eelam (Tamil land) issue, the Times of India reported. Addressing the gathering, mostly members of Naam Tamilar, a pro-LTTE outfit, Malik said the Sri Lankan government might have wiped out the LTTE but not its dream of a separate Tamil Eelam. “Tamil Eelam is the goal of each and every Tamil person,” he said. He regretted that India failed to intervene and stop the genocide in the island nation. Malik came down heavily on the Sri Lankan government for foiling the international community’s mediation efforts with the LTTE and its attempts to restore peace during the final stages of the ethnic war. He urged the people to join the protest against countries indulging in racial discrimination and genocide. Police also denied permission to Naam Tamilar to take out a rally to mark the LTTE leader’s death anniversary, observed as ‘remembrance day’. Prabhakaran was killed in the final phase of the Eelam war in Mullivaikal in northern Sri Lanka on May 19, 2009. Malik said he spent several years in jails in Rajasthan, Kashmir and Delhi for helping the victims of atrocities unleashed by the Indian Army. He regretted that none of the Indian states expressed solidarity with the people of Kashmir, who have been struggling and suffering for several years, he said. Earlier, police removed the posters and banners of Naam Tamilar at the Manjakuppam grounds after permission to hold the public meeting was withdrawn. A heavy posse of policemen was deployed at the grounds and at the wedding hall where the organisers hosted ‘remembrance meeting’ to mark Prabhakaran’s death anniversary.High drama preceded the visit of Malik, who is the chairman of one of the two factions of the separatist group Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. A wary district police, just recovering from arson and violence unleashed by PMK cadres across the state until a week ago, withdrew the permission granted to Naam Tamilar to organise the public meeting at Manjakuppam grounds at the last minute. But the organisation, launched started by film director-turned-activist Seeman, quickly shifted the venue of the meeting to a marriage hall in the town. Later, addressing the gathering, Malik slammed the Tamil Nadu government for withdrawing permission for the public meeting at the eleventh hour. read more


Instead, he said the domestic mechanism will be setup by next month and the local laws will deal with those accused of human rights abuses. “We need to brief the Human Rights Council in September on the domestic mechanism. So the mechanism will be in place by June. We will ensure our sovereignty is protected in the human rights investigation,” Sirisena said. (Colombo Gazette) “We have had talks with the UN on the investigations. As a government we have told them we will not agree foreign investigators coming into Sri Lanka. However we will take advice from the UN and conduct a domestic investigation,” the President said.The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is expected to submit a report on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council at its September session. The domestic mechanism to investigate allegations over the war will be in place by June, President Maithripala Sirisena said.Speaking to media heads today, the President said that international investigators will not be allowed into Sri Lanka to investigate the war. read more


Two policemen were injured following an attack in Weligama today, the police media unit said.According to the police, the two policemen were injured when they had attempted to control a clash between two groups. The police said that a sergeant and a sub inspector were injured in the attack and were taken to hospital.According to the police, sharp objects had been used during the clash resulting in the injuries suffered by the two policemen. (Colombo Gazette)


The former Crimes Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Narahenpita police Sumith Perera was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) today in connection to the case over the murder of former Sri Lanka National rugger player Wasim Thajudeen.The police said that Sumith Perera was arrested for allegedly concealing evidence related to the murder. Thajudeen was found dead inside his car in Kirulapone on May 17, 2012. (Colombo Gazette)


On the orders of the President and Prime Minister, a coordination committee to manage the situation was established this morning.Present were Ministers Sagala Ratnayake, Susil Premjayanth, Patali Champika Ranawaka, A H M Fowzie, Mohan Lal Grero and MPs S M Marikar and Mujibur Rahman. Commander of the Army and IGP and all relevant government officials were also present.Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe was put in charge of search and rescue where an area of about 150m by 75m is being carefully cleaned up. The military is using its trained men and equipment and is doing a thorough job to look for those who might be still trapped. The utility lines have been shutoff and safety concerns addressed for the personnel on the job. The Deputy Minister also said that it was unfortunate that even though payments had been made for those families under risk of land slides to move out some had not done so. They had even been advised to leave as recently as two days ago.“Anyway, 13 of our 1990 ‘Suvaseriya’ units were allocated to deal with the search and rescue and our guys performed a stellar job taking the rescued to hospital. We have now recalled the units to their regular areas,” he said. “Anyway, no more garbage will be dumped at this site and two temporary sites were identified this morning for which law enforcement officers will provide access to unblock protesters driven by petty political issues,” he said. The Government says there will be no more dumping of garbage at Meethotamulla following the tragedy which struck the area yesterday.Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said that a problem running for decades, perhaps as long as 20 years came to a head yesterday with the collapse of a part of the garbage mountain. He said it was ironic that it was only a few weeks back that agreements were signed to begin waste to energy projects to finally deal with this perennial issue. SDIG Nandana Munasinghe is in charge of public order. The District Secretary of Colombo is overall in charge of all administrative coordination matters. read more


If security is a selling feature, the proliferation of devices has the potential to be a significant revenue source for BlackBerry, which has tried to diversify its revenue streams since it decided to stop making smartphones in 2016.There could be security implications if bad actors decide to hijack anything from smart meters to lightbulbs, said Alex Thurber, BlackBerry senior vice-president and general manager of mobility solutions.“The reality is, any IoT device can be seen as a threat vector,” Thurber said. Rising fears over security gives BlackBerry an advantage: CEO BlackBerry profit beat signals its reinvention as a software company is taking hold Cybersecurity firm acquired by BlackBerry focuses on the ‘unknown unknowns’ If a device isn’t secure, he said, it could be used to gain access to an entire network. On a more personal scale, hackers could acquire health data or private images.BlackBerry is betting its reputation for security will make its software appealing to manufacturers, although Thurber would not reveal any revenue targets or how many devices BlackBerry aims to secure.“We think this whole opportunity is a large one,” Thurber said.The pursuit of the consumer device market is the culmination of BlackBerry’s strategy to transition out of hardware and focus on its security software, he said.At first, it stayed in the smartphone market by licensing its software to other mobile manufacturers. But as it worked to become an “ingredient brand” (much as Intel places “Intel inside” stickers on laptops, Thurber said), executives realized there was a huge world of devices outside phones.To address this new market, it split its security services into separate products, and will license those to manufacturers as needed, Thurber said.One of the new products secures hardware at the point of manufacturing by injecting a cryptographic key into the device as it’s being built. The second secures the operating system with a service that detects whether someone is trying to hack a device or implement malware, while the third helps enterprises secure a variety of devices.BlackBerry has tested the technology with a few customers, one related to devices powered by Amazon.com’s virtual assistant Alexa and the other an industrial product, but now aims to sell it on a larger scale.BlackBerry’s high-margin licensing business was a bright spot in its latest quarter, earning $68 million in the three months ended Nov. 30 up from $50 million a year prior. BlackBerry Ltd.’s retreat from making smartphones doesn’t mean it is giving up on the consumer device market, where it’s aiming to get its security software into such things as fitness trackers and smart speakers.The Waterloo, Ont., company is expected to kick off the year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday with a sales pitch to manufacturers who the company hopes will license its software to secure their Internet of Things devices.The market for such devices is expected to explode to more than 20 billion units in 2020 from about eight billion in 2017, according to research firm Gartner Inc., growth that is coinciding with increasing concerns about privacy.The reality is, any IoT device can be seen as a threat vectorAlex Thurber, Sr. V-P, BlackBerry read more


The city of Hamilton is considering the sale of the downtown property that Jackson Square sits on. City staff are hoping to get permission to negotiate with the mall’s owner, Yale Properties, about a potential sale at today’s meeting of the general issues committee.Yale Properties currently has 56 years left on its lease for the downtown property and is looking to add additional 50 years to the deal, but says they are open to talks about buying the property entirely. The mall’s owner says it needs to extend its lease to justify the recent and future renovations for Jackson Square.The city and Yale have been in talks for several months. According to a report last fall, Yale cited numerous problems with the building that required a complete overhaul, which in turn was an chance to redesign parts of the mall.The nearly 400,000 square foot mall spans two blocks along King St W between James and Bay street. In recent years Jackson Square has added the Anchor Bar and Nations Fresh Foods.Yale Properties says the renovations are long-term investments and need a longer lease term to spread the cost over a longer period.The GIC meeting will be held at 9:30 this morning.Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the meeting start time as 9 o’clock. This has been corrected. read more