New Delhi: Two brothers were found hanging from ceiling fan at their residence in West Delhi’s Janakpuri area on Monday.Police said that suicide note also found on the table of the room wherein they had written that they are responsible for their suicide. Police said the deceased were identified as Kunal Aggarwal (27) and Gaurav Aggarwal (24). “Sushil Kumar, father of both deceased brother are paralysed for last 20 years and mother of deceased brothers expired on 23 March 2019 due to cancer,” police said. Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic itemsCity Police further added that both brothers were graduated from private Engineering colleges of Narela and Siraspur Delhi. “Father Sushil Kumar is a railway contractor and both used to work with him, but after the death of mother both were depressed and not helping their father. Both disappeared from the house about one and half month ago. They came yesterday night at about 9.30 pm,” police said. The investigating agency further added that inspection from mobile crime team west and FSL team conducted. Prima facie no foul play.
Kolkata: The West Bengal University of Health Sciences (WBUHS) on Friday issued a notification stating that people belonging to Economically Weaker Section (EWS) who are not covered under the existing scheme of reservations for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and other Backward Classes may avail the benefits of EWS reservation in undergraduate medical admission in the state.For availing the benefits candidates belonging to economically weaker section have to fulfill the criteria as prescribed in the memorandum of notification. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersThe economically-weaker section reservation is expected to be implemented from the second round of counseling. The first round of counseling for the medical students concluded on Friday. In the first round of counseling many medical aspirants have already secured medical admission in various colleges in the state. The general category candidates with financial constraints fall under the economically weaker section. The West Bengal University of Health Sciences has laid down the eligibility criteria for the admission under the category. Persons who are not covered under the scheme of reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs are entitled to enjoy the facility under the economically weaker section. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe health university has said that the family income of a candidate seeking admission under economically weaker section must not exceed Rs 8 lakh per annum. Income shall also include income from all sources i.e. salary, agriculture, business, profession etc for the financial year prior to the year of application. This is for the first time a category has been created for the economically weaker section so that the students belonging to the category may apply for the medical admission. It may be mentioned that around 450 medical seats were increased in the state recently, 10 per cent of which would be reserved for these students. The candidates will have to sit for the verification which will take place between July 22-25 tentatively.
New Delhi: In a significant move, the centre is set to sign an official MoU with state counterpart West Bengal state government on Friday over the formal allotment of the world’s second-largest coal block Deocha-Pachami-Harinsingha-Dewanganj, situated in Birbhum district.Trinamool MP and leader of the Lower House of the party Sudip Bandyopadhyay raised a question, of the prolonged issue between the state and centre on Wednesday. Moreover, a delegation of senior Trinamool members also met the coal minister Prahlad Joshi at his office in the Parliament on Tuesday. The minister confirmed the development both during the meeting and his speech on the Floor of the House. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity!The allocation letter of the DPHD coal block was issued to the state government, after a long wait of three years, the incumbent party of West Bengal stated. An approximate requirement of per day in the state is 55 thousand MT, whereas the average supply is 42 thousand MT per day. The project is not only fulfilling the coal demand of the state but other adjacent states also, the former power minister of WB Manish Gupta told media persons. This coal block is the largest in India, covering the area of 12.31 sq km a having a reserve of 2102 million tonnes of coal. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killedFurther, the Government of India also plans to auction more than 41 new coal blocks “very shortly”, the coal minister mentioned during his reply in Lok Sabha. “In 2018-19, all commodities loading by the Indian Railways was 1,223.29 million tonnes, out of which coal loading was 605.82 MT, which is almost 50 per cent. A committee, comprising coal and power secretaries, and Member (Traffic) of Railway Board reviews coal transportation and supply on a regular basis,” Joshi mentioned.
Kolkata: In a sincere effort to make cutting edge research on science and technology directly to benefit society and the masses, Calcutta University has decided to come up with a Centre for Innovation and Societal Applications (CenSISA). The University will also come up with a Centre for Public Humanities (CPH) to encourage research-related activities on humanities which are innovative, transparent and accessible to the public.”We have already prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR) on the activities to be taken up in these two centres. We are getting Rs 50 crore under the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) which will be utilised for setting up these Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Pujacentres,” said Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee, Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University.According to a senior official of Calcutta University, the CenSISA Centre is aimed at addressing a number of areas that includes development of hardware and software tools for supporting health and education, green technology for pollution control, renewable energy, smart grids, energy harvesting, energy storage, effect of technological development on human health, food security and water resource management, disaster prediction and management and mathematical and statistical modeling. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway”The universities usually use RUSA funds for individual research projects taken up by professors or research scholars. But we have arrived at a consensus to set up two permanent centres which will be an asset for the future generation,” the official added. According to the DPR prepared by the University, the objective of the centre for supporting health and education will concentrate on developing technical tools that will support rural health practitioners who provide vital support to the community at the primary level. It will also focus on the development of a standalone system that will provide health diagnosis, monitoring and support at remote and rural areas. The Green Technology Centre will lay emphasis on chemical and biological sensor development for the detection and monitoring of pollutants. “We need to have continuous upgrading of the systems that control earth, water and air pollution for sustainable development,” an official said. The Centre for Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, will make a comprehensive effort to address the looming problem of the consumption of fossil fuels with depletion of global reserves of oil and coal. In the sphere of Food Security, the university will do research in the areas of sustainable management of food waste and the monitoring and contamination control of water bodies. Water harvesting and developing novel methods of water purification will also be another focus area. The two centres have already received the approval of the RUSA director and Rs 15 crore has already been released. The convergence of a number of departments in science, bio science and technology will be involved in the research activities of CenSISA. “The domain of digital humanities, disaster studies, the study of new technology will bring close collaboration between the two centres,” Banerjee maintained.
Buenos Aires: The Argentine Football Association (AFA) has confirmed that national men’s head coach Lionel Scaloni will remain in the position until at least till the 2022 World Cup. Albiceleste team director Cesar Menotti told reporters earlier this month that a verbal agreement had been reached with Scaloni to extend the terms of his contract, which had been due to expire in December. But the former Deportivo La Coruna full-back’s new three and a half-year deal was only confirmed in a statement on the AFA’s official website on Tuesday, reports Xinhua news agency. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh “The AFA’s executive committee decided to continue with (Scaloni) for the upcoming qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar that will begin next year,” the entity said. Scaloni, 41, replaced Jorge Sampaoli after the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where the Albiceleste were eliminated in the last 16 by eventual champions France. He guided Argentina to third place at this year’s Copa America in Brazil. The two-time World Cup winners are due to face Chile in their next match in Los Angeles on September 5 followed by another friendly with Mexico in San Antonio five days later.
United Nations: UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa has expressed condolences at the demise of India’s former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, describing her as an “extraordinary” woman and leader who devoted her life to public service. Swaraj passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on Tuesday night after suffering a cardiac arrest. The senior BJP leader was 67. Saddened by the news of the passing of @SushmaSwaraj, an extraordinary woman & leader who devoted her life to public service. I had the honour of meeting her in my visits to #India, & will always remember her fondly, Espinosa tweeted. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details She added in her tweet that she sends her deepest condolences to all of her loved ones @IndiaUNNewYork,” tagging India’s Permanent Mission to the UN in her message. Before assuming her role as the President of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in September 2018, becoming only the fourth woman to lead the General Assembly in its 73-year history, Espinosa had visited India and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swaraj. In her meeting with Swaraj, the top UN official had discussed revitalisation of the UN, including reform of the Security Council, strengthening global counter terrorism legal framework and other global issues. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday Condolence messages poured from across India and the world at the demise of Swaraj, one of the most charismatic and dignified political leaders. Over the years, Swaraj had visited the UN on multiple occasions, addressing world leaders in Hindi at the annual high-level General Assembly sessions. She had headlined the commemoration of the first International Yoga Day at the UN in June 2015, launching the annual celebration of Yoga at the world body’s headquarters along side then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin tweeted a video montage of Swaraj’s powerful speeches at the UN, beginning from her address to the General Debate at the 70th General Assembly session in 2015 till her statement in 2018. “Leaving behind indelible memories. We @IndiaUNNewYork will always cherish memories of her @UN. Farewell Madam @SushmaSwaraj,” Akbaruddin said in an emotional message on Twitter. The Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) also conveyed its heartfelt condolences on the passing of Swaraj. As minister looking after the Overseas Indian Affairs, GOPIO has had a close working relation and cooperation on many of the NRI and PIO issues as well as on new initiatives from her ministry. The organisation said it has been working with Swaraj since she was the leader of BJP in the Rajya Sabha. In her passing away, we will miss a Statesman as well as a sincere and able political leader, GOPIO Chairman Thomas Abraham and President Sunny Kulathakal said in a statement.
New Delhi: A Delhi court on Friday ordered framing of charges against expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in the Unnao rape case. A bench presided by District and Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma charged Sengar with sections 376(1) (punishment for rape), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 363 (punishment for rape), 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage) and 109 (punishment for abetment) of the Indian Penal Code and 3 and 4 (penetrative sexual assault) of POCSO Act. The apex court earlier this month directed the transfer of all cases relating to the matter outside Uttar Pradesh. The case relates to the rape of a minor girl allegedly by Sengar at his residence in Unnao on June 4 two years ago when she had gone to meet him to seek a job. Sengar is currently lodged in Tihar Jail.
Lucknow: BSP president Mayawati on Wednesday alleged that the demolition of the Ravidas temple in Delhi’s Tughlaqabad area was a result of a collusion between the Centre and Delhi government and reflected a “casteist mentality”. She also demanded that the temple be reconstructed. In a tweet, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said, “the BSP strongly protests the demolition of Saint Ravidas temple in Delhi’s Tughlaqabad area which is a result of collusion between Centre and Delhi government. This shows the casteist and inferior mentality towards our saints even today.” Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ The BSP president also asked both the governments to find a middle path and get the temple reconstructed. “This is the demand of the BSP that both the governments find a middle path and get the temple reconstructed at their own cost,” she said. The Supreme Court had on Tuesday warned against politicising the demolition of the temple in Tughlaqabad forest area here on its order and threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against those provoking dharnas and demonstrations. Amid a row over demolition of the temple in a forest area in Tughlaqabad, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had on Tuesday said the Centre is determined to find a solution and possibly identify an alternative site to “relocate” it.
While the nation wishes to celebrate many recent achievements, there looms an unpleasant reality threatening to come down heavily on the Indian state and its people. It is coming to surface more worryingly how the economy needs to be retrieved from the shambles it has fallen into. India’s economic growth is seeing the slowest pace since 2014-15 with the slow down to 6.8 per cent in 2018-19. Estimates suggest that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of the current year will be less than the government’s estimate of seven per cent. A loud and clear tell-tale sign of the alarming state of the economy is the crisis in the auto sector which is the worst in 19 years, resulting in job losses in thousands; there has been a drastic plummet in sales right from passenger cars to mopeds. Real estate sector remains with sizable unsold inventory and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies have had a decline in volume growth, that is, the number of packs sold. An indicator of how bad the internal situation is can be assessed by the ripples it is creating in overseas economic association: two popular retail brands, IKEA and Miniso had opened their stores in India in recent times with much fanfare but they have missed their targets in India. Presumably, slower growth in the economy has impacted the overall business environment affecting demand across sectors. As per the 2019 Economic Survey tabled in Parliament, India must spend at least 7-8 per cent of its GDP on infrastructure, that is $200 billion (Rs 14 lakh crore approximately) if it wants to dream of becoming a $10 trillion economy by the year 2032. As matters stand, India has been able to do about half of it (close to $100 billion or Rs 7 lakh crore) annually, leaving a gap of $90 billion on a yearly. There is hardly any announcement of new investment projects and there has also been a huge drop in the projects meeting completion. Exports remain stagnant, the collection of taxes thus are nearly flat. The large-scale indicators of the economic slowdown have been continually under analysis by experts and thinkers but more a simplistic and commonplace reflection of this that people reportedly are now thinking twice before buying even a packet of ordinary biscuits. Also Read – A compounding difficultyPrivate consumption expenditure, investment, government expenditure, and net exports (which is exports minus imports) are the constituents of the GDP of an economy. For India, private consumption expenditure is about 60 per cent of the economy. In the past few years, the investment in the economy has not had much impetus and it is consumption which has been driving the economy. Now, even consumption is slowing down. Retail loan of the banks have been on the rise (between April 2014 and March 2019, the retail loans of banks went up by 120 per cent) and personal loans have gone up by 255 per cent. This indicates that borrowings financed a large part consumption over the last five years, primarily because income in the last five years has not gone up as much as it did in the period of five years before that. The per capita income between April 2014 and March 2019 went up by 59 per cent. It was up by 88 per cent between April 2009 and March 2014. With this fall in the rate of growth of income, people borrowed more to consume and spend more. Consequently, the overall financial liabilities of households increased by Rs 6.7 lakh crore in 2017-2018. A huge number indeed. Also Read – An askew democracyWith respect to the Prime Minister’s target and vision of a $5 trillion economy, Rs 20 lakh crore needs to be spent annually to realise the 100 lakh crore investment figure envisaged for the next five years. At present, matters are far beneath the threshold at about Rs 6-7 lakh crore spent in a year. This glaring gap between the target and the present status is a matter of serious concern, particularly when the government is in a tight spot managing revenue deficit and expenditure burden (on account of the absence of private investments) at the same time also when both commercial banks and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) are not prepared for the situation. Banks continue to grapple with non-performing assets and NBFCs are struck by a severe liquidity crunch coupled with an increasing trust deficit. RBI data informs that about 17 per cent of infrastructure loans are in the stressed category on banks’ books. Overall, the situation only indicates that our financial institutions are basically not up to the task. On the contrary, it is to the credit of Narendra Modi government that low food inflation has been maintained. The food inflation in 2018-2019 was only 0.14 per cent, indicating that on the whole, food prices were flat. But this was good news only for consumers, not for farmers. A significant reason behind flat food prices is that with regard to most agricultural commodities, India produces more than it consumes and the excess produce is not exported. Hence, the stagnant food prices which have meant flat incomes in large parts of rural India and is ultimately affecting consumption. Income is the necessary factor to keep consumption going. And income generation happens with economic activity for which investment and industry must progress. As of now, the clear conclusion is that there is a long way to go before India realises its dream of $5 trillion economy.
Bhopal: Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and senior BJP leader Babulal Gaur passed away on Wednesday morning at a private hospital here after prolonged illness. Gaur (89) passed away due to caridiac arrest, Narmada Hospital Director, Dr Rajesh Sharma, told PTI. He was suffering from various old-age related ailments and was hospitalised for quite some time. The veteran BJP leader served as Madhya Pradesh chief minister from 2004-2005 and represented his traditional Govindpura Vidhan Sabha seat 10 times. Born on June 2, 1930 at Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh, Gaur emerged as a powerful and popular leader in Madhya Pradesh initially as a trade union leader and later as MLA.
Sydney: Australia moved to counter foreign interference at its universities Wednesday, establishing a task force to help protect sensitive research, cyberdefences and free speech. With concern growing about China’s clout on campuses Down Under, education minister Dan Tehan announced more intensive consultation between schools and government officials — including spy agencies. The group will focus on bolstering cyberdefences, protecting sensitive intellectual property and making sure collaboration with foreign individuals or organisations does not hurt Australia’s national interests. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USTehan stressed the need to strike a balance between the “national interest” and universities’ “freedom to pursue research and collaboration that expands our knowledge and leads to life-improving innovations.” That balance has been called into question by a series of hacks, controversial donations and incidents of on-campus intimidation linked to Beijing. A data breach at the Australian National University last year exposed sensitive staff and student data going back two decades. Australian universities have taken tens of millions of dollars from Beijing to establish “Confucius Institutes” that steer clear of issues damaging to China’s ruling Communist Party. They have resisted calls to register the institutes under new foreign interference laws.
Read about an Indian lawyer who had the gumption to take on the might of Britain in an English court – at the height of the Raj; a poet and literary writer details the trauma of the migration and violence that followed the partition of the sub-continent in 1947, and the politics that allowed it; and finally, trace the fragile line between familial devotion and deception. let’s see what the bookshelf offers this week: ‘The Case that Shook the Empire – One Man’s Fight for the Truth about the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre’ by Raghu Palat & Pushpa Palat Also Read – An income drop can harm brainAn Indian taking on an Englishman in an English court, presided over by an English judge and before an entirely English jury, seemed destined for failure from the start. Added to this was the fact that most of the defendants’ witnesses were, being Indian, unable in court to testify. But, Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair (1857-1934), the President of the Indian National Congress (1897), Advocate General of the Madras Presidency and a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council – to mention only a few of his many hats, was made of sterner stuff. He resigned from the Council in protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of April 13, 1919 and published a book detailing the ‘atrocities’ committed by the Raj in the Punjab – and specifically the massacre. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardThat led to Michael O’Dwyer, then an Acting Brigadier General and the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, who ordered the firing, to file a defamation suit at London’s Royal Courts of Justice. A lesser man would have balked but not Sir Chettur who decided to take the issue head on. He might have lost but he “achieved his primary goal which was to expose the injustices and cruelties the British had meted out to the people of the Punjab. The Punjab atrocities could no longer be confined to the lanes of Amritsar. The trial had brought them to the notice of the entire world. This was an era when the written word – newspapers – was the main source of global information”, the book says. ‘The Sixth River – A Journal from the Partition of India’ by Fikr Tausnvi Born Ram Lal Bhatia in Taunsa Sharif town of undivided Punjab, Taunsvi left for the region’s cultural capital of Lahore in the 1930s, where he worked for various newspapers, wrote poetry and articles and became part of the intellectual circle. But when partition was announced, he was faced with a new reality – of being a Hindu in his beloved city – that was now in Pakistan. Tausnvi wrote “The Sixth River” (of blood in the Land of the Five Rivers) between August and November 1947 as Lahore disintegrated around him. Sample this penned on October 17: “Lahore’s garden of heaven lies devastated. The leaves are scattered, the flowers have wilted. Thus, the refugees find no shelter. No respite it to be found. The waves of song rise in the heart only to die a quick death. With the ominous emotions of petulance, despair and death, the refugees have started ceaselessly roaming the streets of Lahore. Large, lonely and helpless groups dressed in old rags, sit staring at the skies from under the trees on the footpaths…” Such is the angst partition evoked in Tausnvi, brought alive in English for the first time. It’s a timely reality check. ‘Girl In White Cotton’ by Avni Doshi “I would be lying if I said my mother’s misery has never given me pleasure. “I suffered at her hands as a child, and any pain she subsequently endured appeared to me to be a kind of redemption – a rebalancing of the universe, where the rational order of cause and effect aligned. “But now, I can’t even the tally between us.” Thus begins the tale of Antara, who has never understood her mother Tara’s decision – walking out of her marriage to follow a guru, living on the streets as a beggar, shacking up with an unknown artist, rebelling against society’s expectations. But, when Tara starts losing her memory, Antara searches for a way to make peace with their shared past – a past that haunts them both. Most definitely a book for the thinkers and the sensitive.
New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday launched an all-out attack on the Modi government alleging that there had been “no development” in the first 100 days of its second term, with Rahul Gandhi saying there was a “glaring lack” of leadership, direction and plans where it is needed the most — to turnaround a “ravaged economy”.Congress’ senior spokesperson Kapil Sibal, addressing a press conference, also alleged that the government’s 100 days in office have been characterised by “arrogance, uncertainty and vendetta politics”. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’He attacked the dispensation over issues such as the state of the economy, the situation in Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and action by probe agencies against opposition leaders. Taking a dig at the Modi government, Gandhi “congratulated” it on 100 days of “no development”. “Congratulations to the Modi govt on #100DaysNoVikas, the continued subversion of democracy, a firmer stranglehold on a submissive media to drown out criticism and a glaring lack of leadership, direction and plans where it’s needed the most — to turnaround our ravaged economy,” he tweeted. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KCongress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the Modi government is mum after “ruining the economy” and alleged it is trying to hide the grim situation in the country. “The government is mum after ruining the economy. The companies are in danger, while trade is in doldrums,” she said in a tweet in Hindi. “Through drama, deceit, lies, and propaganda, they are trying to hide the country’s grim situation,” she said, using the hashtag ‘100DaysNoVikas’ (100 days, no development). “Three words that describe the first 100 days of BJP 2.0 – tyranny, chaos and anarchy,” the Congress said earlier in a series of tweets. “Eight sectors have recorded a growth rate below two per cent and our finance minister still refuses to accept that our economy is in free fall. If the BJP continues this path of negligence & deceit, we are headed towards recession,” the party said. Sibal said the massive mandate to the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls had given it an opportunity to provide relief to the common man, but what happened was the opposite. “Common man’s problems are increasing, lapdog media is becoming even more biased, atrocities against women increasing, there is no strategy on education and health, small trader is in distress, and there is vendetta politics against political opponents,” he alleged. He claimed that the Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax Department and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are being misused. “Where there is evidence against their own people, they are sheltering them, and action is being taken against opposition leaders against whom there is no evidence,” Sibal said. The government’s arrogance reflects in legislations being passed without parliamentary scrutiny as well as in decisions such as abrogation of Article 370, dilution of the Right to Information Act, criminalisation of triple talaq, merger of banks and the RBI made to transfer 1.76 lakh crore record surplus to the government, he said. Accusing the government of practising vendetta politics, Sibal, in a statement, said in the cases of P Chidambaram, D K Shivakumar’s arrest, MNS’s Raj Thackeray, NCP’s Ajit Pawar , TMC’s Partha Chatterjee and Kamal Nath’s nephew, probe agencies haven’t charge-sheeted the leaders for particular crimes. “The agencies apply the law selectively on opposition leaders while those belonging to the BJP are given an easy escape route,” he said, listing cases such as those of Kuldeep Sengar (Unnao rape accused), Mukul Roy (Saradha chit fund scam), Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa (land and mining scam) and Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Vyapam scam). Uncertainty prevailed in the Modi government 2.0’s first 100 days and with the abrogation of Article 370, Kashmir braces for an “uncertain future”, Sibal said. “Tourism, trade and horticulture industries are registering huge losses. At least 2,500 hotels are empty. 15,000 salesmen working in major markets have lost their jobs…While the government has directed schools to open, parents prefer not to send their children to school owing to the prevailing situation,” he said. The former Union minister said he was surprised over the government’s assertion that easing of curbs in J-K depends on “Pakistan’s behaviour”. “I didn’t understand what this statement means? If Pakistan continues terror activities, then you will not bring any improvement in the condition of your citizens,” he asked. On the NRC, Sibal said many of the 1.9 million people, who are genuine citizens have been left out which has created chaos and they brace an uncertain future. He alleged there was a lot of “anguish” prevailing in the country over the slump in the auto industry and highlighted the problems being faced by textile, gold and real estate sectors. Citing figures from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), he said the overall unemployment has now touched 8.2 per cent, with urban unemployment as high as 9.4 per cent. As there is suspense over whether scientists would be able to make contact with Chandrayaan-2’s lander, there is also deep suspense over whether the economy will recover in the near future, Sibal said. The Congress, in a short video on its official Twitter handle, hit out at the BJP over issues such as “unemployment, dilution of RTI, UAPA, GDP, bank frauds, lynchings, falling of rupee, J&K bifurcation, and mishandling of NRC”. On lynchings in the country, it said, “The term ‘mob lynching’ in the BJP government has greatly damaged India’s fraternity. Involvement of people associated with the ruling ideology in promoting mobilized violence is a big threat to the unity, the integrity of the country.
ERIN, Ont. – Ontario Provincial Police say they’re investigating after two dozen portable outhouses were destroyed by a fire in a storage yard.Investigators in Erin, Ont., say the fire is suspicious.They say 24 Porta Potties were destroyed in the blaze, and several others were “affected by the heat.”Police say they believe the toilets were clean at the time of the fire.Damage is being pegged at $40,000.
WINNIPEG – A man accused of murdering an Indigenous teenager in Winnipeg was recorded by police saying he’d bet the girl was killed because he found out she was only 15 years old.“I drew the line and that’s why she got killed,” Raymond Cormier said in tapes played in court Wednesday.Cormier, 55, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of Tina Fontaine, whose body was found wrapped in a duvet filled with rocks in the Red River in August 2014.Experts have testified that they don’t know how Fontaine died. And no DNA has been found linking Cormier to the killing.Crown prosecutors closed their case by playing tapes from a six-month undercover operation into Tina’s death called Project Styx, which saw police bug Cormier’s apartment from June to December 2015.Cormier was placed in the apartment for free as part of the police operation and an undercover officer moved into a suite on the same floor. The officer testified that police planned 62 different “scenarios” to get a reaction from Cormier, including one which made it seem like a female undercover officer was a victim of domestic assault.In conversations with the undercover officer played in court, Cormier said there are “three rules to crime: deny, deny deny.”In the first tape, Cormier speaks with an unidentified woman about the first time he met Tina while riding his bike. Tina and a friend ask him to stop and he responds, “There’s only one reason why I’ll stop.”He tells the woman that Tina looks young and alludes to having sex with the teen.He also speaks about going to a mutual friend’s house after Tina’s boyfriend has left town. He thinks they’re going to have sex, then they get into an argument. The trial has already heard from witnesses who say they saw Cormier arguing with Tina the night of Aug. 6, 2014.Also on tape, Cormier tells a woman that when he last talked to Tina, he told her to go jump off a bridge.Before she died, Tina travelled to Winnipeg to try to reconnect with her mother but became a sexually exploited youth, running away from shelters and hotels where she was housed by Manitoba Child and Family Services.As many of the tapes were being played in court, Thelma Favel, Tina’s great-aunt who raised her for most of her life on the Sagkeeng First Nation, left the courtroom.The audio captured Cormier, often mumbling and stuttering, telling numerous people that he was attracted to Tina or they’d had a sexual relationship. In one conversation, Cormier says he had sex with the teen but she had found a knife, got angry and told him to get away.Speaking to one woman, Cormier asks if she has ever been “haunted by something” before he starts to talk about Tina and boast that he beat two murders.During a later recording from, Cormier argues with a woman about a nude photo on Facebook, saying there’s a little girl in a “grave someplace screaming at the top of her lungs for me to finish the job. And guess what? I finished the job.”Court also heard Cormier in a recording warning people in his apartment not to overdose or they would end up wrapped in a carpet, thrown in the river.Defence lawyer Andrew Synyshyn told court the audio on the tapes could have been misheard and the transcripts could have errors.
HALIFAX – An Indigenous professor at Saint Mary’s University is resigning in protest over what she calls the Halifax university’s failure to “indigenize the academy” and confront the legacy of colonialism.Sandra Muse Isaacs says she’s quitting her job as an Indigenous literature professor over the lack of progress on the recommendations outlined in a report by a task force on Aboriginal students struck in the wake of a student’s murder.Loretta Saunders, a 26-year-old Inuk student researching missing and murdered Indigenous women, was killed in 2014.Her murder appeared to serve as a catalyst for change at the small university. The task force recommended hiring Indigenous faculty and expanding Indigenous curriculum to “enhance the indigenization of the academy.”“It was part of the reason I came here,” said Muse Isaacs, a Cherokee woman originally from the U.S. “I read it and I felt like, ‘This institution gets it now.’”But she said the university has been reluctant to change, and she felt like the “token” Indigenous professor.Out of the 17 recommendations, Muse Isaacs said Saint Mary’s has only implemented the first two — creating an Aboriginal Student Centre and hiring an Aboriginal student adviser — “only with a lot of pushing.”“Once I began showing resistance and telling them this needs to be done,” she said, “I was labelled a trouble maker.”Margaret Murphy, associate vice-president of external affairs at Saint Mary’s, said the university is committed to the recommendations in the task force report.“We recognize there is still more to be done, so we’re continuing to implement those recommendations and continuing to commit more resources to support both the Indigenous students on campus and to support a greater role — and a greater number — of Indigenous faculty,” she said.Murphy said the university has made progress in recent years yet acknowledges there’s still “a long way to go.”In addition to a new space for Indigenous students and a student adviser, Saint Mary’s is creating curriculum on the history and culture of Indigenous Peoples and incorporating territorial land acknowledgments and First Nations recognition in the school’s ceremonial practices.The university also has a Mi’kmaw chief on its board of governors, raises the Mi’kmaw flag in partnership with elders and has awarded honorary degrees to members of the Mi’kmaw community.Muse Isaacs said many of the university’s actions amount to “window dressing” and are “not what indigenizing the academy is all about.”“It’s nice but it doesn’t change the education students are getting,” she said.Murphy admitted that some of the changes have been slow to come about, and said Muse Isaacs is “right to hold us to task, to hold us accountable.”Other recommendations from the task force, including an Aboriginal Advisory Council and a university chair in Indigenous Studies, are works in progress, she said.While Saint Mary’s is committed to hiring more Indigenous faculty, Murphy was unable to provide a specific commitment about when or how many new Indigenous professors would be hired.In its report, the task force admitted that “implementing these changes will take time.”But it said that “Saint Mary’s is woefully behind other post-secondary institutions in the region and nationally when it comes to meeting the needs of Aboriginal students.”The report added: “There is, simply, a need for immediate and effective action, even in a climate of restraint.”Tyler Sack, a Saint Mary’s alumnus and former Aboriginal student adviser, said while some progress has been achieved the university has not made Aboriginal students a priority as promised.“Other universities in the region have done more in less time and not in response to a student murder,” he said, pointing to Cape Breton University’s Unama’ki College.Another Halifax university recently found itself embroiled in controversy after assigning a course about Canada’s residential schools to a non-Indigenous professor.Mount Saint Vincent University called a meeting with history department leaders, faculty, school administration and the senior adviser to the president on Aboriginal affairs. After the meeting, the university said Professor Martha Walls had the support of Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty and administration to teach the course.Muse Isaacs has been hired by the University of Windsor in Ontario, which has committed to hiring five new full-time, tenure-track Indigenous professors.
OTTAWA – Staring at a potential strike or lockout as early as next week, top officials at Canada Post and the union representing 50,000 of the Crown agency’s employees are to meet over the weekend.The Canadian Union of Postal Workers says its national president, Mike Palecek, and Canada Post interim president Jessica Mcdonald, along with members of their negotiating teams, hope to “unblock negotiations.”A spokesman for the agency confirmed the meeting, but could not provide a timetable or location.The union issued wide-ranging contract proposals to the Crown corporation nearly two weeks ago, but said Thursday it had not yet received a response.The two sides have been bargaining separate contracts for the carrier’s urban and rural employees for nine months, with no success.CUPW members voted in late August and early this month to back a strike. An original early Wednesday deadline for job action passed with the union saying it would not issue a mandatory 72-hour strike notice if there was progress at the bargaining table.The union has warned its members to be prepared for job action, which could initially include rotating walkouts.The main sticking points in the talks have been wages and working conditions.
A man is facing charges including vehicle theft and impaired driving after an intercity bus loaded with passengers made an unscheduled departure from Trois-Rivieres, Que., Wednesday night.Police say people waiting to travel to Montreal were unaware their bus had been stolen as it pulled out of the downtown terminal. But they did remark on the poor driving as the bus jumped the sidewalk several times during the brief ride.A 39-year-old Quebec City man was arrested and was scheduled to appear in court Thursday on charges of vehicle theft, impaired driving, dangerous driving and refusing to stop for police. Trois-Rivieres police said the suspect had been arrested the previous night for impaired driving.Police said a driver with the Orleans bus line was outside waiting to leave for Montreal when he saw his vehicle back out of its parking spot and leave the lot at around 10:15 p.m. He immediately called police to report the theft.Patrollers quickly located the stolen bus, which was driving the wrong way on a one-way street. The driver did not stop, and officers followed as he drove several blocks through downtown Trois-Rivieres.After hitting a city bus that was blocking its path and jumping the sidewalk, the bus ended up back at the terminal and the driver was arrested when he pulled into the parking lot.According to a police spokesman, the arresting officers detected “obvious symptoms of impairment from drugs.”As police boarded the bus to check on the passengers, they discovered that they had been unaware of the drama.“When the officers asked if they had noticed anything unusual, some of them said they thought the driver drove badly — he jumped the sidewalk two or three times — but they didn’t think much of it,” Sgt. Luc Mongrain said.“They just thought they were leaving. They saw the bus was moving but not who was at the wheel. They took it for granted it was the bus driver.”Police said the suspect is a truck driver with a Class 1 license, which in theory would qualify him for driving a passenger bus.Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — A British Columbia court is set to rule Friday whether the province can restrict shipments of diluted bitumen through its borders, in what will be a crucial decision for the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.The province filed a reference question to the B.C. Court of Appeal that asked whether it had the constitutional authority to create a permitting regime for companies that want to increase their flow of oilsands crude.B.C. argued the law is aimed at protecting its lands, rivers and lakes from hazardous substances, but Alberta and the federal government have said the goal is to delay or block the pipeline expansion.“It’s a little bit strange to argue that diluted bitumen is such a dangerous product that it needs to be regulated, but it’s only (an) entity that wants to increase its flow that falls under this particular scheme,” said Eric Adams, a University of Alberta law professor.“Guess what that entity is? It’s the Trans Mountain pipeline.”The Trudeau government has purchased the pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion. Alberta sees it as an essential development to get more oilsands product to overseas markets, but B.C. opposes a three-fold increase of diluted bitumen through its territories.If B.C. is given the green light to enact amendments to its Environmental Management Act, it would be able to require Trans Mountain Corp. to obtain a so-called “hazardous substance permit” for its expansion.An application for a permit would have to detail the health and environmental risks of a spill, the measures in place to minimize those risks and financial measures, including insurance, to ensure capacity to respond.The corporation would also have to establish a fund for local governments and First Nations, giving them capacity to respond to a spill and agree to compensate anyone involved in responding.A provincial public servant would also be empowered to add conditions to the hazardous substance permit, as long as they were necessary to protect the environment and human health.If Trans Mountain fails to comply, the public servant could, with notice, suspend or cancel the permit.Adams, an expert in constitutional law, said federal and provincial governments have overlapping powers over environmental issues. However, he said everyone concedes that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines.The question before the Appeal Court is how that power relates to B.C.’s authority to regulate what it says is a toxic substance within its borders, he said.“They’re not actually regulating the pipeline at all, (B.C.) would say. They’re regulating a dangerous product,” he said. “Even if it happens to be in B.C. by virtue of a pipeline, that doesn’t take away B.C.’s jurisdiction.”But Adams noted that Premier John Horgan said on the campaign trail that he would use “every tool in the toolbox” to stop Trans Mountain. Once in power, Horgan softened his language to say he would use every tool to protect B.C.“It’s not very difficult to connect the dots between this proposed legislation and a political attempt to stop a pipeline that falls within federal jurisdiction,” Adams said.Canadian courts look at the full context when they’re evaluating the dominant purpose of a law, he added. So even though those who drafted the B.C. legislation worked carefully to try to write it constitutionally, the public comments of government officials still matter.B.C. announced it would enact the legislative amendments in January 2018, sparking a trade war with then-Alberta premier Rachel Notley, who retaliated by banning B.C. wine from her province.Horgan eased the tension by promising to file a reference case that examined the constitutionality of the law, prompting Notley to end the wine ban in February 2018.The Appeal Court heard the case in March. Saskatchewan, Trans Mountain Corp. and Enbridge Inc. were among those who argued against B.C.’s proposed permitting regime, while First Nations, cities and environmental groups supported it.It might appear contradictory that B.C. recently filed a court challenge of Alberta’s “turn off the taps” law that would give Premier Jason Kenney’s government the ability to restrict gas shipments to B.C., said Adams.However, he said the B.C. government is on solid legal footing there because of a section in the constitution that prevents provinces from discriminating on supply or pricing to other areas of Canada.The story might not end with the ruling on Friday, Adams said. Either side could take the reference case to the Supreme Court of Canada, which must automatically agree to hear it.— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.Laura Kane, The Canadian Press
Celebrities from across the globe are responding to a charity’s SOS call to support critically endangered orangutans in Sumatra.Support for the Sumatran Orangutan Society’s (SOS) second Jungle VIP online auction, which starts on 1st March, is flooding in from internationally recognised names including Coldplay, Dominic Monaghan, Sebastian Vettel, Natalie Portman, Ellen DeGeneres, Seth Green, Graham Norton and Gillian Anderson. Last year the auction raised over £10,000 for vital conservation programmes, and it is hoped that similar success will be had this year.Among the supporters is British actor and celebrity Joanna Lumley, donating an exclusive script page from 2002’s Ella Enchanted, signed by stars including Minnie Driver, Anne Hathaway and Joanna herself, and Coldplay have donated a limited edition lithograph of their Viva La Vida album artwork, signed by all the band members. Other auction lots include Lord of the Rings photos and a blu-ray signed by Dominic ‘Merry’ Monaghan and Billy ‘Pippin’ Boyd, and a signed racing top worn by Formula 1 three-times World Champion Sebastian Vettel.Says Joanna Lumley: “I really love orangutans and met many of these majestic animals when filming in Indonesia. What struck me forcibly was how incredibly alike we are as species: they have truculent teenagers, enchanting babies, naughty toddlers, grand old uncles and resigned hard-working mothers. The most thrilling thing in my life was looking into the eyes of a mother orangutan with a baby on her back: I knew her and she knew me. They are not called the People of the Jungle for nothing. It is our duty to do all we can to save them and their way of life.”Says Dominic Monaghan: “The orangutan as one of our closest cousins clearly feels the stress and anguish that WE might if our homes were destroyed and our families killed. If we are part of the generation that allows this majestic animal to become extinct, future generations will ask us ‘why didn’t you do more?’ SOS DO more.”Helen Buckland, Director of SOS, says: “Sumatran orangutans share 96.4% of our DNA, but they stand to be the first Great Ape to go extinct if we don’t act now to save their forest home. Sumatra is the only place in the world where orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos coexist – and all are critically endangered. The Jungle VIP Auction will help us raise vital funds to protect orangutans, their forests and their future.”The Jungle VIP online auction will take place between 1st-10th March at ebay.co.uk/JungleVIP.The first Jungle VIP Auction took place in March 2012, raising over £10,000, with items donated by Nicole Kidman, Jane Asher, Tim Minchin, Radiohead, Chris Evans, Nicola Roberts, Geri Halliwell, Newton Faulkner and many more. Members of the public are also being asked to join the Jungle VIPs and sell their own items via ebay, with proceeds benefiting SOS.Sharing 96.4 per cent of our DNA orangutans are among our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom and are the only red ape.The number of Sumatran orangutans is estimated to have fallen by more than 90 per cent since 1900. With just 6,600 left in the wild, the Sumatran orangutan is Critically Endangered, and could be the first Great Ape species to go extinct.Orangutans are the ultimate ‘Jungle VIPs’ – they play a key role in rainforest regeneration and are a fantastic flagship species. By helping them we help countless other species including critically endangered tigers, elephants and rhinos.The Sumatran Orangutan Society is dedicated to protecting orangutans and their habitat through rainforest restoration, community-led conservation, education and campaigning.For more information please see www.orangutans-sos.org.