Mayawati sacks office bearers over election debacle

first_imgLucknow: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) President Mayawati has removed the election coordinators of six states and state Presidents of two states, ostensibly for the poor showing in the Lok Sabha battle. The BSP chief has removed the coordinators of Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Odisha. She has also removed the state Presidents of Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. The BSP did not win any seat in these states. Mayawati, who is said to be ‘very upset’ with her party’s performance in the Lok Sabha elections, has convened a meeting of office bearers from Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh in Delhi on Monday. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps & 20 launch pads along LoC The meeting with office bearers from Uttar Pradesh will take place after the meetings with other state leaders are over. She will take feedback from party leaders about the reasons for the party’s poor show in elections. Mayawati, who is staying in Delhi these days, is unable to fathom the reason for the party’s performance is said to be upset. In Uttar Pradesh, she had forged an alliance with the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal and won 10 Lok Sabha seats. The BSP did not win any seat in other states. Informed sources claim that more changes in the party organization are possible after the series of meetings.last_img read more

India planning to launch own space station by 2030 says ISRO chairman

first_imgNEW DELHI: In one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by India, the country is planning to launch its own space station, Indian space agency ISRO chief K Sivan said on Thursday. India is targeting 2030 as the date to launch a 20-tonne space station, which will most likely be used to conduct microgravity experiments. The preliminary plan for the space station is to accommodate astronauts for up to 15-20 days in space, but specific details will emerge after the maiden manned mission, Gaganyaan, is complete. Also Read – IAF receives its first Rafale fighter jet from FranceISRO says there will be no collaboration with any other country for this project. The only countries that have had space stations so far are the US, Russia, China and a consortium of nations that own the International Space Station. The space station project will be an extension of the Gangayaan mission. “We have to sustain the Gaganyaan programme after the launch of (the) human space mission. In this context, India is planning to have its own space station,” Sivan told reporters in New Delhi. Also Read – Cosmology trio win Nobel Physics PrizeThe government has already cleared a budget of Rs. 10,000 crore for the Gaganyaan mission. There would be two flights from Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota without the crew before the maiden flight with crew sometime in 2022. Currently, ISRO’s focus is on India’s second mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2, that will take off on July 15, and will attempt to land near the South Pole of the Moon, an uncharted territory so far. Chandrayaan-2 is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission, which was launched about 10 years ago. A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting crewmembers, designed to remain in space for an extended period of time and for other spacecraft to dock, the most commonly known being the International Space Station. The International Space Station is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. It is the largest human-made body in low Earth orbit and can often be seen with the naked eye from Earth.with agency inputslast_img read more

The wealth of modern nations

first_imgThe wealth of nations today—as of individuals—is a direct function of human resource. Wealthy nations are wealthy because they have developed their human resources. Individuals are wealthy because they have developed their human resource. And how do modern nations develop their human resource? Very simple: by sending all their children to quality schools and educating them. Countries that have paid attention to educating their children are the richest countries in the world today. And vice-versa. Countries that have paid poor attention to educating children are today the poorest countries of the world. Also Read – A special kind of bondThere is a direct correlation between children’s education and the wealth of a modern nation. For education is the only sure path today to growth, development, and wealth. But there is something very unique about the way education can be imparted. Educating someone, anyone for that matter must always follow a linear path. No one can enter a University unless she or he has gone through high school. No one can get into a high school unless she or he has completed middle school. No one can get into middle school unless they first get into a primary school. Also Read – Insider threat managementAnd there lies India’s problem. We build IITs and IIMs and Medical, and Engineering Colleges (these days lavish private universities that could be mistaken for resorts) and provide fee subsidies and positive discrimination quotas for our poor and socially marginalised in these institutions of higher learning. Which is all very good. But we continue to ignore our schools, especially our primary schools, especially schools for the poor. The catch is that these subsidies and quotas for the poor in Universities, IITs, IIMs, Engineering and Medical Colleges are useless unless you can get into them. And you cannot get into them unless you get into a good primary school first, at the age of five or six. And to get admission into a decent primary school, a child’s parent must pay a huge fee, which poor parents just cannot afford. The poor have, therefore, to depend on government schools, which provides education of the poorest possible quality. Poor children do not stay in such schools long. They drop-out soon, far before they complete those 10 (let alone 12) years in school. Or more correctly, they are pushed out. The children of the poor are pushed out of such government schools through weak pedagogy, bad teachers and poor classrooms. Meanwhile, there is also a strong pull factor working drawing poor children out of schools. Unmindful of its harm, society, including the child’s own parents and their middle-class and lower-middle class and even upper crust employers and most social, political and administrative leaders do not discourage children of the poor from working. Indeed, they often actively encourage child labour. While diligently sending our own children to private schools paying high fees, we in India, the middle classes, and our social aristocrats and political and administrative leaders, actively discourage the children of the poor from going to schools, often rhetorically asking parents of deprived children, what use would they get through educating their children. The unstated answer being: nothing. Child labour prevents the education of children and depresses human capital of individuals and nations. Since education and human resource are linked indirectly to poverty and directly to wealth, an uneducated individual is also an individual in poverty, while an educated individual is usually a person above poverty. A simple experiment will prove this. Stand at any busy roadside junction anywhere and identify any 10 graduates. Nine out of the 10 would not be poor. Identify any 10 uneducated people. Nine out of the 10, would be poor. Try out a contrary survey. Survey 10 people who are poor. Nine of the 10 are likely to be uneducated. Finally, locate 10 people who are not poor. Nine of the 10 would be educated. This is a universal truth today! What is thus true of individuals is also true of nations. Rich nations of the world today are those that developed their human resource through quality school education, particularly primary education. Such wealthy nations would congruently also have severe laws against drop-out, truancy, and child labour. Poor nations of the world, on the contrary, are nations that pay no heed to school education. These nations have little focus on primary and school education and thus are unable to raise their human resource. They continue to be poor as the small percentage of their educated elite are unable to create enough wealth to keep the huge numbers of their uneducated out of poverty. Although changing slowly, India, unfortunately, still suffers from the same syndrome. There is a strongly held but unarticulated belief amongst us that good primary and school education is necessary only for us and our ilk; that scarce resources need not be spent on educating children of the poor; that educating such poor is a poor use of resources. There can be no more foolish thinking than that. In a country like India where we have a Peace Laureate who won the Nobel Prize for his fight against child labour, such thinking only makes for a sad and contradictory situation. So long as we do not educate all our children in the highest quality schools, making at least 10 or even 12 years of school education compulsory, and enact and implement strong truancy laws, and laws against erring employers, our potential as a 135-crore strong country cannot be achieved. Our uneducated will continue to be poor and keep the country poor. And imagine if we did. The country would be a storehouse of human resource and our economy would be booming. If China has a thriving economy today, it is because over three decades ago they decided to send all their children to schools and keep them there. China with a population of nearly 140 crores of mostly educated young people, the result 30 years later is there for all to see. Its growing human resource will soon enable it to overtake the US –with a much smaller 25-crore population, albeit educated and even though importing the best human resource from across the world–as the number one economy in the world. More proof is staring before our eyes. Small countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, et al not to speak of the countries of Europe became economic giants by focusing on educating their children. And yet we do not see. It is time our Union Budget and our State Budgets exponentially increase our spending on good quality free compulsory school education, starting with primary schools and going up to high schools. Else, our demographic dividend of 135 crores will soon become a demographic demon. Indeed, poverty today is the handmaid of the uneducated, and wealth is the handmaid of the educated; whether of individuals or of nations. (The author is a former Indian and UN Civil Servant. He belongs to the 1978 batch of the IAS and worked with the ILO in India and abroad for 20 years. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

Hike in gold price would encourage smuggling black marketing Mitra

first_imgKolkata: State Finance minister Amit Mitra reacted sharply to the Union Budget on Wednesday, saying that the increase in the price of gold would encourage more gold smuggling and black marketing in the country.While speaking in the Assembly, Mitra said that the Centre increasing the price of gold is a ‘dangerous’ trend. He also said that he apprehends that it would have an adverse impact on the economy of the country. “The Centre’s decision to hike the price of gold is mysterious. Many people buy gold for different reasons. Some of them use the gold during their daughters’ marriages. What message is the Centre sending across by hiking the price of gold? Are they trying to allow more smuggling, hawala and black marketing to take place in the country?” Mitra questioned. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersDuring his speech, Mitra has given a detailed account how the Centre has reduced budgetary allocation in different schemes in the current financial budget. He said that allotment in MGNREGA has been reduced by 1.8 percent in the Union Budget. Even the Swachh Bharat Mission, which is so dear to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has received a cut in the budgetary allotment by 25.5 percent. He also said that since the introduction of GST, Centre has been getting the revenues from cess, leaving nothing for the state government. “This undermines the federal system,” he added. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaTearing apart the Prime Minister’s tall claim that the country is moving forward when it comes to employment generation, Mitra presented facts on how the unemployment rate in the country is on the rise. “Unemployment rate of the country is at 6.1 percent, whereas the figure in Bengal stands at 4.6 percent, which is much lower than the national average. What is more shocking is that the Centre has slashed the budgetary allocation for umbrella schemes for the Scheduled Castes by 28.4 percent,” Mitra added. It may be mentioned that the Narendra Modi government often claims that it is carrying out development projects for the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes category. However, many have raised questions on the implementation of the schemes. The Finance minister also pointed out that the food security scheme and health did not even find a mention in the budget and took a dig at the Centre by saying that farmers’ income in the last three years has been pitifully low in the country. He also said that fresh investments in the country have dipped by 19 percent, which the Centre has been trying to manage through foreign borrowing. Meanwhile, the West Bengal Appropriation (No 2) Bill, 2019 was passed in the Assembly on Wednesday, through which the state government will maintain parity between income and expenditure. How the funds would be utilised against which head on the basis of priority, would also be determined following the promulgation of the Bill. Mitra also mentioned in his address that the next edition of Bengal Global Business Summit will be held from December 15-16, 2020.last_img read more

Strides in eradicating poverty

first_imgThe Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report released by the United Nations on Thursday augurs well for India citing upliftment of a staggering 271 million people out of poverty in ten years. Published by the UN Development Programme, the report shows that across 101 countries, as many as 1.3 billion people–equivalent to India’s population–are “multi-dimensionally poor”. Including a variety of indicators such as poor health, poor quality of work, the threat of violence, education, and standard of living; multidimensional poverty goes beyond income to track poverty and deprivation faced by people in their daily lives. India registered the fastest absolute reduction in MPI value among ten countries with Jharkhand among the poorest regions in the world, improving the fastest. As per the report, significant reductions in deprivations were recorded in several indicators, especially assets, cooking fuel, sanitation, and nutrition–which happen to be the targetted segments for several schemes flagged by the government in rural India. The report asserted, “among the selected countries with a significant reduction in MPI value, India demonstrates the clearest pro-poor pattern at the subnational level: the poorest regions reduced multidimensional poverty the fastest in absolute terms”. It lauds Jharkhand, which reduced multidimensional poverty from 74.9 per cent to 46.5 per cent in ten years between 2005-06 and 2015-16 as a prominent example of the poorest region improving the fastest. Following Jharkhand and not far behind were Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Nagaland, though Bihar continued to be the poorest state in 2015-16 with more than half of its population living in poverty. In fact, in 2015-16, the four poor states of India, viz. Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and MP constituted more than 196 multidimensionally poor people which is more than half of all multidimensional poor residing in India. MPI aids us in outlining crucial facts as to where poverty plagues the most, who are deprived and how are they deprived. This is an important input for the Indian dispensation to target these states in particular regarding pro-poor schemes and programmes which will focus on bringing them out of poverty. The report highlights India as one of the three nations where poverty reduction in rural areas outpaced those in urban areas which is indicative of pro-poor development. MPI also cuts across religions and castes to identify exactly which ones are reeling under poverty. To this extent, the poorest groups–Muslims and Scheduled Tribes–reduced poverty the most over the ten years, however, they continue to be the poorest in the lot. The report also shows how the least poor states have also registered a reduction in poverty with Kerala–one of the least poor regions in 2006– cutting its MPI by an impressive 92 per cent. MPI will be helpful in forming an indigenous report that can direct policymakers to target the segments and offer insight on how to uplift more and more out of poverty. Several schemes that involved sanitation, hygiene, cooking gas, health et al, have fared well since it is due to those very schemes that we see ourselves faring well in the MPI. Moving forward, as much as it is a pride for us to note a positive shift visible in our country, it should serve as a motivation in a bid to achieve more. In line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN viz. No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-Being, Clean Water and Sanitation, etc., this UN report shows that India is progressing in the right direction. With the current objective of resolving the water crisis that the country is facing, India, step by step, is targeting all those goals in a concerted effort to achieve sustainable development as it eyes a $5 trillion economy by 2025. Also Read – A compounding difficultyMPI is one of the several indicators that put India on a fast-progressing developmental trajectory in line with SDGs. The UNDP report also mapped Indian districts for collecting data on poverty. The mapping cites deep pockets of poverty present but impressive progress as well. District mapping revealed Alirajpur in Madhya Pradesh as the poorest district in India having 76.5 percent of poor people which resembles Sierra Leone in West Africa. Data mapping is also beneficial for India since, again, targeting the poorest of the poor would then take precedence. The goal is to not stop till everyone is lifted out of poverty and MPI report is an appreciation of a work-in-progress effort being carried out by the Indian government in the interest of its people.last_img read more

Four dead in rebel attack on Thai army base

first_imgPattani(Thailand): Four people were killed in a late-night attack by suspected Muslim insurgents on a military outpost in Thailand’s violence-wracked south, authorities said Wednesday. The attack comes as anger snowballs over the case of a Muslim rebel suspect who was left in a critical condition after spending several hours in a notorious army interrogation unit. The 15-year conflict in the Malay-Muslim majority ‘Deep South’ has left over 7,000 people dead, but garners little global attention. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US Rebels seeking autonomy for the culturally distinct ‘Deep South’ have been fighting the Buddhist-majority Thai state, which colonised the area over a century ago. Late on Tuesday militants struck the remote base in Pattani province, throwing grenades and laying down nearly an hour of automatic fire, an army spokesman told AFP. “Four people were killed including an army sergeant-major, two defence volunteers and a villager,” said Colonel Thanawee Suwannarat. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls The rebels stole five machine guns, burnt tyres and scattered spikes on the road as they fled to hamper any chase, he added. Confirming the death toll, a Pattani police officer said two other people were in hospital in a critical condition, in one of the deadliest single incidents to hit the region in months. The attack comes four days after rebel suspect Abdulloh Esormusor was left unconscious after being arrested under martial law and taken to a notorious military camp in Pattani. Thailand’s army is investigating how the 34-year-old came to be hospitalised with brain swelling hours after arriving at the Inkayuth camp. An army statement said the camp doctor recorded the suspect arriving in good health, but said he was later found unconscious after being held in the “interrogation centre”. Inkayuth is the Thai army’s biggest detention centre in the south, where rebel suspects are taken for questioning and held under the emergency laws governing the conflict-scarred region. The army has vowed to punish anyone found guilty of abuse. But critics say impunity reigns in the security straitjacket of the south — no military personnel have ever been successfully prosecuted for abuses over the conflict. Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch speculated Tuesday’s attack “was in retaliation” for the treatment of Abdulloh. An umbrella group representing some of the shadowy rebel groups said they suspected “foul play” in Abdulloh’s case and called for an international probe. Insurgents operating in small, secretive village-level cells carry out near-daily bomb attacks and shootings in the south — including the murder of Buddhist civilians and Muslims perceived to be collaborating with the state. Attacks are often a swift and targeted kickback against arrests or deaths of suspected rebels or Muslim civilians.last_img read more

Feeling the heat Belgian drug suspects call cops

first_imgBrussels: It really wasn’t the day to get trapped in a shipping container full of cocaine in the port of Antwerp. Wednesday was the hottest ever recorded in Belgium, and somehow two suspects got stuck in the metal box. As the heat rose, they feared they would suffocate and made a desperate call to the police emergency line, Antwerp prosecutors said. It took officers two hours to find the container in the huge port, western Europe’s main gateway for smuggled drugs. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USGuns drawn, police opened the door and the exhausted pair, stripped to the waist gratefully gave themselves up. A social media video of the arrests shows port employees pouring water on the suspects to cool them as afternoon temperatures skirted 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). According to a statement from Antwerp prosecutors they had entered the container “to remove drugs”. Much else about the incident remains unclear, but the suspects will appear in court Thursday, prosecution spokesman Kristof Aerts said. Officials have not confirmed the size of the cocaine haul found in the container, but local Antwerp newspaper the Gazet said it could have been hundreds of kilos.last_img read more

FPI outflow crosses 3700 crore in July

first_imgNew Delhi: Reversing their five-month buying trend, overseas investors have pressed the exit button in July and pulled out a net Rs 3,758 crore from the Indian capital markets on account of multiple headwinds, including the super-rich tax announced in Budget 2019-20. As per the latest depositories data, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) pulled out a net sum of Rs 14,382.59 from equities during July 1-26, but invested Rs 10,624.15 crore in the debt segment, taking the total net outflow to Rs 3,758.44 crore. Prior to this, FPIs infused a net Rs 10,384.54 crore in June, Rs 9,031.15 crore in May, Rs 16,093 crore in April, Rs 45,981 crore in March and Rs 11,182 crore in February into the Indian capital markets (both equity and debt). Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalIn the equity segment, “FPIs have been on a selling spree since the announcement of super-rich tax … in the Union Budget for 2019-20,” said Himanshu Srivastava, senior analyst manager research at Morningstar. Expressing similar views, V K Vijayakumar, chief investment strategist at Geojit Financial Services, said “The sentiments have been impacted by the higher tax on FPIs registered as trusts and association of persons. However, the main reason for the selling is the sharp slowdown in the economy particularly in segments like autos. Besides, the second quarter results from corporates have not been reassuring.” In addition, sub-par monsoon in key areas, lacklustre earnings season, slowing domestic growth and weak rupee added to the concerns of FPIs, he added.last_img read more

Man Utd held by Wolves after Pogbas penalty woe

first_imgWolverhampton (UK): Manchester United were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw against Wolves after Paul Pogba’s penalty was saved by Rui Patricio at Molineux. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side took the lead through Anthony Martial’s second Premier League goal of the season in the first half. Ruben Neves hit a brilliant equaliser for Wolves after the interval before France star Pogba was denied by Patricio. It was a curious decision for Pogba to take the spot-kick as Marcus Rashford had scored a penalty in last weekend’s 4-0 victory over Chelsea and also memorably netted the Champions League last-16 winner from the spot against Paris Saint Germain last term. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhPogba has now missed four Premier League penalties since the start of last season. United would have gone top of the table with a win, but instead they were left to reflect on an inconsistent performance that underlined why Solskjaer still has a lot of work to do to turn his team into title contenders. While there were moments of promise in attack and defence, United didn’t take their chances and crumbled too easily when they came under pressure in their second game of the season. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterAt an average of 24 years and 173 days, Solskjaer had picked United’s youngest Premier League starting line-up since the final day of the 2016-17 campaign. Daniel James made his maiden start for United after the close-season signing from Swansea scored his first goal as a substitute against Chelsea. There was no place in the matchday squad for Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, who has been linked with Inter Milan. Solskjaer has described James as United’s ‘x-factor’, but the 21-year-old didn’t win any friends when he was booked for diving in a failed attempt to win a free-kick from referee Jon Moss. United threatened for the first time when another of their young guns Rashford spun past Ryan Bennett on the left side of the Wolves area and crossed towards Martial, who did not make enough contact as the ball flashed past him. It was a warning Wolves failed to heed as United took the lead with an incisive raid in the 27th minute.last_img read more

Govt to soon consider proposal to relax local souring norms for FDI

first_imgNew Delhi: The government will soon consider a proposal of relaxing rules for complying with the mandatory 30 per cent local sourcing norms by foreign single brand retailers, official sources said.As per the proposal, single-brand retail firms would also be permitted to open online stores before setting up brick-and-mortar shops.Currently, online sale by a single-brand retail player is allowed only after opening of physical outlet.Relaxations are expected in a provision where foreign retail traders are presently allowed to adjust procurement of goods from India for their global operations for meeting the mandatory local sourcing requirement. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalHowever, this is allowed only for five years and “incremental” sourcing of goods from India is only taken into account presently.”Amendments and easing are also likely in this provision,” the sources said.The move comes in the backdrop of announcements made by the government in the Budget.Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech had said that local sourcing norms will be eased for FDI in single brand retail sector.In January 2018, the government allowed 100 per cent FDI in the sector, permitting foreign players in single-brand retail trade to set up own shops in India without government approval.In February 2006, the government for the first time opened the sector for foreign players by allowing 51 per cent FDI.In January 2012, the cap was raised to 100 per cent – up to 49 per cent through automatic route and beyond that with the government approval.During April-September 2018-19, FDI in India declined by 11 per cent to USD 22.66 billion.last_img read more

Its never too late to start working out

first_imgOlder people who have never taken part in exercise programmes have the same ability to build muscle mass as highly trained master athletes of a similar age, researchers have found. “Our study clearly shows that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t been a regular exerciser throughout your life, you can still derive benefit from exercise whenever you start.” “Obviously a long term commitment to good health and exercise is the best approach to achieve whole-body health, but even starting later on in life will help delay age-related frailty and muscle weakness,” study lead researcher said. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainThe study, published in Frontiers in Physiology, compared muscle-building ability in two groups of older men. The first group was classed as ‘master athletes’ with seven people in their 70s and 80s who are lifelong exercisers and still competing at top levels in their sport. In the second group, eight were healthy individuals of a similar age, who had never participated in structured exercise programmes. Each participant was given an isotope tracer, in the form of a drink of ‘heavy’ water and then took part in a single bout of exercise, involving weight training on an exercise machine. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardThe researchers took muscle biopsies from participants in the 48 hour periods just before and just after the exercise and examined these to look for signs of how the muscles were responding to the exercise. The isotope tracer showed how proteins were developing within the muscle. The researchers had expected that the master athletes would have an increased ability to build muscle due to their superior levels of fitness over a prolonged time, but the results showed that both groups had an equal capacity to build muscle in response to exercise.last_img read more

SDMC launches 6weeklong drive to fight plastic usage

first_imgNew Delhi: The South Delhi Municipal Corporation on Wednesday launched the Plastic Waste Shramdan Campaign in all four SDMC Zones under the Swachhata hi Sewa initiative in a bid to encourage care for the environment. The municipality said in a statement that this campaign will try to maximise citizen participation as part of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.The Swachhata hi Sewa initiative is a six-week-long campaign that will see large-scale citizens engagement activities for awareness and community mobilisation through Shramdan, clean and green drives swachhata rallies and other programmes aimed at mass scale plastic waste collection and disposal of single-use plastic. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderKeeping with the initiative, SDMC Commissioner Gyanesh Bharti on Wednesday addressed a meeting where he instructed all heads of departments to make the week-long plastic waste shramdan from October 21, a result-oriented effort. He added that single-use plastic is not only detrimental to the environment but also harmful to the health of citizens. “It is essential to conserve natural resources for the next generation; for this, we will have to raise together a forceful voice against plastic,” Bharti said. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsHe also asked officers of SDMC to seriously work on enforcing the ban on single-use plastic, adding that they must everyday visit field for two hours to ensure quantitative contribution in the plastic ban. The Commissioner asked the officers to submit a weekly report on action taken with respect to the plastic ban. He further stated that it must be ensured that none of the items made from the harmful plastic be used in SDMC offices. The SDMC also launched a public awareness programme on the ban of plastic items in all the four Zones, with all HoDs and zonal staff taking a pledge to abandon the use of plastic. Meetings were organised with over 50 Resident Welfare Associations and Market Association to discuss these issues.last_img read more

Ottawa imposes new measures on fishermen in effort to protect endangered whales

first_imgFREDERICTON – Ottawa is imposing strict new measures on the lobster fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in an effort to protect North Atlantic right whales.A total of 18 North Atlantic right whales were killed in Canadian and U.S. waters last year — mainly due to vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.There are only about 450 of the whales left, and many spend their summers feeding in the Gulf.Moira Brown, senior research scientist with the Canadian Whale Institute, said unless the numbers change, the North Atlantic right whale could become functionally extinct in less than 25 years.The new measures announced by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on Tuesday include restrictions on the amount of rope used.“No rope attaching a lobster trap to a primary buoy shall remain floating on the surface of the water after the lobster trap has been set,” the new rules state.It will be mandatory to report any lost gear.“The new management measure will help quantify the amount of gear lost annually and identify the need to increase efforts to retrieve gear that has been lost, which would reduce the risks of whale entanglements.”Lobster fishermen are also required to report all whale sightings and document any interactions such as collisions or entanglements.When whales are spotted, an area around them will be temporarily closed to fishing.“Closures will be in force for a minimum period of 15 days and will be extended by 15 days from the last North Atlantic right whale sighting.”The department is also imposing a static closure in an area where 90 per cent of the whale observations occurred in 2017 to provide a large gear-free area for the whales.Similar measures had already been imposed on the Gulf-region crab fishery.On Monday, New Brunswick Liberal MP Karen Ludwig put forward a private member’s motion in the House of Commons, in an effort to have the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans do a study on all endangered species of whales in Canada.last_img read more

Jet was within 100 feet of hitting 2 planes in San Francisco

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO – An Air Canada plane with 140 people on board came within 30 metres of crashing onto two of four planes lined up to take off at San Francisco International Airport last week, according to a preliminary report Canadian air safety regulators released Thursday.The finding provided the first official accounting of how close the Air Canada plane came to causing what could have been one of the worst disasters in commercial aviation history.Instead of lining up to land on the runway, the pilot of the flight from Toronto mistakenly descended toward a parallel taxiway just to the right of where four other airliners were idling in the darkness. Taxiways are the aviation equivalent of feeder roads that planes use to roll between runways and terminals, and have different lights than runways.Canada’s Transportation Safety Board released a short summary of the July 7 incident, which U.S. authorities are still investigating. The summary said Air Canada Flight 759 had already travelled one-quarter of a mile over the taxiway before aborting the landing.As the Airbus 320 pulled up sharply it flew 30 metres over the first two jets, about 60 metres above the third and about 90 metres over the fourth, the summary said. It then circled and landed safely.“This was very close to a catastrophic event,” said John Cox, a safety consultant and retired airline pilot.The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which is heading the investigation, has not released any information and spokesman Keith Holloway said he could not comment on another agency’s data.Transportation Safety Board of Canada spokesman Chris Krepski said he could not confirm the source of the data in the document, which was released as part of a “daily notification log” of safety incidents that Canadian air operators are obliged to report to regulators.The most likely source was Air Canada, but company spokeswoman Angela Mah would only say in an email that the airline is “investigating the circumstances and co-operating with authorities.” She said because of the investigation, she could provide no more information.Collisions on the ground are particularly dangerous because planes waiting to take off are loaded with fuel. The deadliest crash in aviation history occurred in 1977 when a KLM Boeing 747 taking off in the Canary Islands plowed into a Pan Am 747 that was waiting to take off; 583 people died in the crash and fires.There are several cases in the United States when landing planes either hit another aircraft on the ground or barely cleared one. In the instances that safety consultant Cox recalled, including several at Los Angeles International Airport, the pilots of the landing plane could not see the other airplane.“What is so unusual about this one is the airplanes could see each other and they still got this close,” Cox said. “These guys really did intend to land on this taxiway.”In audio posted on liveatc.net, which records flight communications, the pilot said he sees “some lights on the runway,” apparently alluding to planes on the taxiway.According to the report released Thursday, the plane at that point was less than a mile from the taxiway. It would have been flying well over 160 kilometres per hour.“That’s awful to let it go that far,” said Chris Manno, an American Airlines pilot for 32 years who regularly lands in San Francisco. “Pretty egregious.”The controller assured the pilot there is no one on the runway. Seconds later, another voice — apparently one of the pilots on the taxiway — interjects, “Where’s this guy going? He’s on the taxiway.”Only at that point did the controller order the Air Canada jet to pull up.___Pritchard reported from Los Angeles. Contact him at https://twitter.com/lalanewsmanlast_img read more

BC government to bring back human rights commission after 15 years

first_imgVANCOUVER – British Columbia’s NDP government is bringing back the province’s human rights commission, which was scuttled by the previous Liberal regime in 2002 in favour of a complaint-driven tribunal.Premier John Horgan said B.C. is the only province without a commission that can take proactive steps to address systemic inequalities and prevent discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.“We have to ensure that if we allow intolerance to rear its head, we together have to stand and push it back down again,” Horgan said Friday, speaking in Vancouver’s gay-friendly West End neighbourhood two days before the city’s Pride parade.“One critical element to make sure we do that is establishing again in British Columbia, like every other province in the country, a human rights commission.”Asked whether he thought intolerance was on the rise in B.C., Horgan said incidents have been brought to his attention over the past two years of systemic hate and racism toward ethnic and religious groups. He declined to elaborate.Attorney General David Eby said the current human rights tribunal has done a good job of making sure there is a place where people can have their disputes heard and resolved.“However, that model relies on people taking the initiative and having the ability to go file a claim and wait the long period of time it takes to have a decision rendered and then to enforce it,” he said.“We need a commission with the power to do more — to educate about human rights, to prevent discrimination from taking place and to support people in addressing systemic discrimination.”Eby said he has asked parliamentary secretary Ravi Kahlon to lead a public consultation process that will include both online and face-to-face meetings with B.C. residents, stakeholders and human rights experts.The consultation process will start in September, with legislation for the creation of the commission expected next year.Human rights commissions are typically arms-length agencies of the government that promote and enforce human rights and engage in education, policy development, public inquiries, litigation and research.For example, the Ontario Human Rights Commission published a policy position last March on sexualized dress codes in the workplace that advises both employers and employees of their obligations and rights.Morgane Oger, a transgender-rights advocate who ran for the provincial NDP in a Vancouver-area riding, said she’s currently involved in three human-rights cases, including one challenging the requirement for gender to be specified on birth certificates.“That’s a daunting task. It’s extremely intimidating. I’ve helped people who have gone to the human rights tribunal by themselves and they’re terrified and they have no idea what they’re getting into,” she said.Oger said she advises people to expect that they will spend about $15,000 a day on lawyer’s fees and tribunal hearings can last three to five days. Preventing discrimination before it happens is far less expensive, she said.“If you have to recall all of the cars after they’ve been on the road, it’s way (more costly) than putting up your hand and fixing the drawing at design time.”Josh Paterson, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said that in the past, complainants could only have their case heard by the tribunal if the commission decided to take it on. He said he didn’t expect the government to return to that model.In Ontario, complainants can go directly to a tribunal, and there is also a commission to do the proactive work, he said.Paterson said he hoped the commission would have a strong educational function, which would be helpful for the general public as well as businesses and landlords.“It’s been a huge gap that B.C. hasn’t had a human rights commission all this time. There’s been no government agency tasked with education or promoting anti-discrimination, and that’s really vital.”— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.last_img read more

Partnership hopes to make progress on pancreatic cancer with research network

first_imgTORONTO – Kevin Rabishaw had the classic signs — persistent back and abdominal pain, sudden onset of diabetes and pronounced weight loss — but as too often happens with pancreatic cancer, his symptoms weren’t diagnosed early enough to make a difference.Despite having surgery to remove a large tumour on his pancreas, followed by rounds of chemotherapy, Rabishaw died last month at age 57, just nine months after his diagnosis.It is an all too familiar story for health professionals and cancer advocacy groups who deal with this malignancy, the fourth deadliest cancer affecting Canadians, which accounts for six per cent of all cancer deaths in the country.Yet despite having such a lethal profile — only seven per cent of patients live five years from diagnosis — pancreatic cancer is among the most poorly funded when it comes to research dollars, with only about two per cent of all monies raised for cancer going to this type of tumour.“It has become almost a forgotten cancer, and yet it’s so devastating to the people who get it,” said Michelle Capobianco, executive director of the Pancreatic Cancer Canada Foundation (PCCF), an organization that raises funds for research, awareness and education.“The reality is that there have been very few advances in the last 40 years,” she said. “So basically what you would be told 40 years ago is what you’re told today.”The advocacy group is hoping to change that with a partnership to boost research into pancreatic cancer. Along with the Cancer Research Society, PCCF is launching the Pancreatic Oncology Network, or PancOne, a two-year joint project to raise $2 million for research committed solely to the fight against this cancer.To be announced Thursday, the partnership follows a bold multimedia awareness-raising campaign called “Assumptions Can Be Deadly.”This year, an estimated 5,500 Canadians will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and about 4,800 will die from the disease, Canadian Cancer Society statistics indicate.The pancreas is a finger-like organ that releases enzymes into the small intestine to aid digestion and insulin into the bloodstream to control how the body uses food for energy.But because it is buried deep within the abdomen, symptoms of pancreatic cancer typically don’t become evident until the disease is quite advanced, leading to its description as a silent killer. More than 60 per cent of tumours are diagnosed at a late stage, usually having spread, or metastasized to other parts of the body, thereby limiting chances for successful treatment.“In many cases, it’s silent until its already metastatic,” said Dr. Steven Gallinger, a surgical oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto.“Only about 20 per cent of patients are eligible for surgery because the other 80 per cent have metastatic disease when we meet them for the first time,” he said, adding that this cancer also tends to be highly resistant to chemotherapy.Although cancer of the pancreas can strike adults at any age, about 90 per cent of those who develop the disease are over 55, with an average age of about 70.While the cause isn’t yet known, Gallinger said genetics and lifestyle factors such as excess alcohol consumption and eating a western diet high in red meat and low in fibre seem to be risk factors for the disease.“Then the convincing factor that’s definitely associated is smoking,” he said, noting that tobacco use raises the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by two to three times.Despite what may seem a grim outlook, Gallinger said the PancOne partnership offers hope that increased dedicated funding will lead to research breakthroughs in the next few years.The $2-million target could attract matching or even higher grants from other funding institutions and government, boosting overall research dollars, he said.“For a long time, we were kind of the orphan, unnoticed, unloved research group around the world,” Gallinger said of scientists probing the mysteries of pancreatic cancer, “meaning advocacy was minimal, so governments didn’t respond well to the need for more work.“There’s also been frustrations in attracting young people to try to delve into this challenge … (but) in the last 10 to 20 years, there’s been significant improvement in awareness, which gradually trickles out to funding agencies.”For Kevin Rabishaw, the need for greater awareness of pancreatic cancer and its symptoms — as well as increased research funding — was close to his heart, said Bryna Rabishaw, his wife of 31 years.Before his death, he took part in a video made by PCCF “to help so the next patient has more time with their family,” she recalled her husband saying.Rabishaw, an avid outdoorsman who included making maple syrup among his many hobbies, also left a legacy to his family and friends in the form of a sugar shack on the couple’s property in Sharon, Ont., just north of Toronto, which he designed and had built by a carpenter in the weeks leading up to his death.“The maple syrup season for 2017 became a really, really big deal for us,” Bryna Rabishaw said tearfully, adding that their adult son and daughter helped him tap maple trees near their property and their dad taught them how to boil it off and bottle the resulting syrup.It was a hobby he relished, and his family and friends plan to continue it next year in his memory.While she doesn’t blame doctors for missing the red flags of her husband’s cancer — PCCF says many health professionals can be unaware of the signs — Rabishaw hopes his story will encourage others with suspicious symptoms to get them investigated quickly.“If they could have put the pieces together earlier,” she said, “I truly believe that he would have still been here.”—Online:www.assumptionscanbedeadly.ca– Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.last_img read more

More work needed to ensure timely justice departing Beverley McLachlin says

first_imgOTTAWA – Canada’s retiring top judge says more must be done to ensure the justice system is accessible to everyone in a timely way — and Beverley McLachlin hopes she will continue to play a part in the reform process.McLachlin steps away from the Supreme Court after 28 years — including almost 18 as chief justice — and more than 2,000 cases on everything from assisted dying to interprovincial trade.She reflected Friday on the work of the court in the post-Charter of Rights and Freedoms era and her belief that the justice system belongs to the public.“I hope that I’ve tried to make it more open and reassure Canadians that the courts are their courts and that we the judges who serve on those courts are all dedicated to providing better justice for Canadians,” she said during a news conference.A landmark 2016 ruling from the high court defined time limits for completing criminal trials, but McLachlin says more must be done to address delays and costs that pose barriers.“I believe that access to justice, being able to use the justice system, is something that every Canadian is entitled to.”The federal justice minister, attorneys general from across the country and judges are focusing on the problem and making changes, she said. McLachlin is impressed with smaller efforts, such as more readily available information on the legal process and discounted legal services to help people navigate the system.“There is much being done, and there’s much more we can do. And I’m hoping that when I retire I can continue in some way to push this project of access to justice, and making justice more accessible to all women, men and children in Canada.”At a gala sendoff Thursday night, McLachlin was toasted by former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, former prime minister Brian Mulroney — who appointed her to the high court — and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Notably, but perhaps not surprisingly, absent was Stephen Harper, who publicly tangled with the court during his time as prime minister.In a statement, Trudeau said McLachlin, the eldest of five siblings raised in rural Alberta, remained grounded and down-to-earth despite a meteoric rise through the judiciary.“She understood that the law had to be meaningful and accessible to Canadians and demonstrated this through judicial decisions written in clear, understandable language.”McLachlin demurred Friday when asked about her legacy, but said she tried to uphold the law in a responsible, pragmatic way for the people whose lives it touched.Her impact could be felt for a while yet.Though McLachlin officially retired Friday, she will have a say on judgments in cases she has heard, as long as they are released by June 15. If any come out after that date, the judgment will note that she had no input into the decision.McLachlin said she is proud of the work the court has done on First Nations files and in the development of a legal structure into which Indigenous rights can function, as well as her “small role” in the development of jurisprudence under the charter.She singled out the federal reference to the court on Quebec secession as one of her more difficult cases.“It was very challenging because it was at the edge, at that fine line between constitutional law and political matters. We had to be very careful what we said and what we did.”The justice system has come a long way over the years in recognizing the special needs of people with mental illness who have committed crimes, for instance by diverting them into streams that make medical care available, she said.“There’s an increasing recognition that we have to find other ways to deal with this considerable problem of mental health in the justice system.”While she wants to continue fostering more universal access to justice, McLachlin seems confident that Canada’s highest court is in good hands.“What have I left undone? No doubt a great deal,” she said. “There’s much left to do out there, but it will be for someone else.”— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitterlast_img read more

NS system for people with disabilities had dark roots expert tells inquiry

first_imgHALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s system to support people with intellectual disabilities has dark roots in a poorhouse system that led to attitudes they should remain segregated and controlled, a human rights inquiry was told Tuesday.The inquiry is looking at whether two Nova Scotians with disabilities have the right to live in supported housing — meaning, in the community, rather than institutions and psychiatric facilities.Michael Bach, a researcher and advocate for inclusion, was called to testify by the Disability Rights Coalition, an advocacy group for people with disabilities that is a complainant in the proceeding.Bach was hired in 2012 by the former NDP government to help transform its system for people with disabilities, and to help close its remaining institutions.After outlining the repeated reports and studies calling for the changes over several decades, Bach told lawyer Claire McNeil about the history of poorhouses, where people lived in crowded settings away from the main community.He said that approach changed for most poor people at the beginning of the 20th century, as they were allowed to move into the community with income supports.But the same shift didn’t occur as quickly for people with disabilities, as large facilities with municipal boards of directors continued operating around the province.“Who gets left is those who had more significant needs and don’t have the income to purchase the supports they needed to live in communities on their own,” Bach said.He said the notion of a person having little control over their own lives lies in this history.An independent report on an incident at the former Braemore facility in Sydney, N.S., was also a big factor in the desire for change, he said.The Canadian Press had reported on a 2010 case in which an adult man with autism was locked alone in a constantly lit room at the adult residential centre for 15 days with occasional breaks. A provincial investigation said videos constantly monitored him, and on several occasions, he urinated in a corner when he was unable to get a staff member’s attention.As a “people-centred approach” became more common around the world, Bach said Nova Scotia started to realize change was necessary.He said the view of provincial officials who hired him was that a “transformation” had to occur.“There wasn’t a notion of ‘Let’s do some tinkering with the system, let’s do some incremental changes,’” he said during testimony before inquiry chairperson J. Walter Thompson.“There was a recognition it needed to be transformed,” he said.However, the inquiry has heard opening arguments from the lawyers representing people with intellectual disabilities that this transformation is incomplete, particularly in the case of their clients.Forty-five-year-old Joseph Delaney and 46-year-old Beth MacLean say they should be permitted to move from the hospital-like settings into small homes where assistance is provided in areas such as meals and personal care.A third complainant, Sheila Livingstone, died as the case wound its way through various delays, but her story will be told by family members and the complainants’ lawyer.There were 504 people awaiting some form of support from the Department of Community Services as of last Thursday, and 1,024 people awaiting a transfer to a different housing option or location.A Justice Department lawyer at the hearing has said the province may agree with the principle of providing supports, but it’s not necessarily a human rights violation for the province to refuse funding or eliminate waiting lists.The province also says it is working to improve its Disability Support Program and to create more small-options homes.The province’s lawyer is expected to cross examine Bach on Wednesday, while the lawyer for the two complainants with intellectual disabilities is expected to call his first witnesses.Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.last_img read more

Canadian facing child exploitation charges arrested near US border

first_imgHOULTON, Maine – U.S. border patrol officers have charged three Canadians with unlawful entry after they were seen walking in northern Maine, including one man facing child exploitation charges in Nova Scotia.According to court documents filed June 1 with the U.S. District Court in Bangor, Maine, the three were apprehended May 31 near Houlton, Maine, which is not far from the border crossing at Woodstock, N.B.The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency alleges that Jesse Christopher Leblanc, Chelsey Ann Fitch of Fredericton and Aaron Byron Cumberland of Nova Scotia crossed the border at a spot that is not designated as a port of entry.In an affidavit submitted to the court, border patrol agent Matthew McLellan said the three were seen carrying backpacks on the Canadian side of the border on a road parallel to the international boundary before they were spotted on a road in Maine that leads away from the border.The agent said a fingerprint check later determined Cumberland is facing charges in Nova Scotia, including luring a child and invitation to sexual touching, though he had been released on conditions.McLellan’s affidavit says those conditions include an order that he remain in Nova Scotia and refrain from possessing any electronic device that can access the internet. The affidavit says Cumberland had a cellphone and a laptop with him when he was arrested.McLellan said all three initially offered false identities, saying they had “no claimed countries of citizenship.”The agent said none of them was carrying proper identification.“They also initially claimed to not believe in or recognize international borders or boundaries but believe that travel between countries should be free and uninhibited.”last_img read more

Aldo footwear chain erroneously caught up in CanadianUS trade dispute

first_imgMONTREAL – Quebec footwear retailer Aldo found itself temporaily at the heart of the current Canadian-U.S. trade dispute after being linked to President Donald Trump.The company was included in a Maclean’s magazine list of retailers that are either owned by Trump and his family or sell Trump goods.The objective of the list first published Sunday is to inform consumers where they can hurt Trump in the pocketbook.Aldo then went online to state it is a private family-run company that has no connection to any Trump businesses.Maclean’s acknowledged the error and withdrew Aldo from the list, which includes Hudson’s Bay and Walmart.Aldo was founded in 1972.last_img