New Delhi: Delhi poll panel official said all arrangements have been made for smooth counting of votes on Thursday for seven Lok Sabha constituencies and security personal have been deployed in the large numbers in three tiers.”Every assembly segment has 200 polling stations out of which five will be selected randomly. This will delay the formal results but trends will be already out. Formal declaration of results will be five to six hours delayed,” said, Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh. Also Read – Cylinder blast kills mother and daughter in Karawal NagarDelhi has seven parliamentary constituencies and there is one counting centre in each of them. Counting centres will have one counting hall for each of the 10 assembly segment, officials said. In each counting hall, a maximum of 14 tables can be put and machines that would come in the first round, their results will be compiled and uploaded on the ‘Suvidha’ app. The counting at 8 am will also commence with postal ballot counting. In the end, when two rounds of EVM counting will remain, the officials will have to ensure that the postal ballot counting is over. Also Read – Two persons arrested for killing manager of Muthoot FinanceFor the First time Delhi CEO has also arranged display screens at various location for faster dissemination of results on wide scale. The digital display are arranged at New Delhi Municipal Council Building, Khan Market Connought place, Main gate of Civic Centre and at reception of East MCD . “These screens will display Delhi Specific results of Lok Sabha Elections 2019, also a scroll will run at the bottom of the screen which will display the results at National Level,” said CEO official. It is also informed that the Lok Sabha Election 2019 results can also be accessed through the link https://results.eci.gov.in. It is requested that wide publicity may be given of the link, so that the public can also have access to the updates related to the results. The Results of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 can also be accessed through ECI’s mobile application “Voter Helpline”. This can be downloaded from the Google Play Store/Apple Play Store (available both on Android & IoS). On the other hand, the ECI has decided to set up a control room to deal with complaints related to Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) round the clock. “The 24-hour EVM Control Room will be made functional from tonight at Nirvachan Sadan to monitor complaints relating to polled EVMs,” EC Spokesperson said on Twitter. Complaints related to storage issues at strongrooms, security of strongrooms, permissions to candidates to post their agents at strongrooms, CCTV monitoring, movement of EVMs and any complaints during counting related to the EVMs can be informed at control room number 011-23052123 (five lines).
Braving the barrier of age and ailment, the first CD containing folk songs by 83-year-old Anubha Ganguly will be released on June 7, in Kolkata by Governor KN Tripathi.At the age when most people complaint of ill health and loneliness, Ganguly’s amazing energy and undaunted courage stand as a source of great inspiration to the singers and musicians, who are much junior to her in age. The CD contains 10 popular folk songs including ‘Longor Chariya Naoer’, ‘Ki Ajob Karigor’, ‘Prem Janena Roshik Kalachand’, ‘Hosti Konya Hosti Konya’, ‘Kanai oo Kanai’, ‘Kunchboron shundor konya’, ‘O amar dorodi’, ‘Loke Bole Bolbe’, ‘Emon Premer Nodite Soigo’, ‘Ore Ore sundoira naoer majhi’. Also Read – Pollution makes you more aggressiveGanguly joined Gananatya Sangha, where she came in contact with the king of folk songs – Nirmalendu Chowdhury and became his first student. Her husband Gokulchand and brother –in- law also joined the choir. She took part in many shows and enthralled the audience. Undoubtedly, music was Anubha’s, first love. Though born in a well-settled family, Anubha being daughter of a cook, took her intial lessons in music from Krishna Chandra Dey – popularly known as KC Dey – who happened to be the uncle of Manna Dey. Dey had a baritone voice was a great exponent of Kirtan. Later, she learned music under the mentorship of renowned music teacher Yamini Gangopadhyay. Also Read – Physical therapy better for low back painAnubha’s son actor-singer Arindam Ganguly said that despite being the mother of three children, which kept her busy looking after the day to day duties, she kept pursuing music and balancing her personal and professional life quite well. “This CD is my tribute to her,” he said. It was Biswa Roy, Head of Bhavna Cassettes and Records, who mooted the idea of making a CD of folk songs by an octogenarian vocalist, that will stand as an inspiration to the present day folk artists. Ganguly did not turn down Roy’s proposal, and yet has presented to us a unique CD with the inimitable style of singing.
Jammu: A 10-year-old girl was mauled to death by a leopard in a remote village in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said on Friday. The girl, Ruksana Bano, was feeding cattle near her ‘dhok’ (mud-house) at Neeram village in Mahore area when she was attacked and taken away by the wild beast Thursday evening, a police official said. He said the body of the girl was later recovered by a joint search party of police, wildlife employees and locals from the nearby forest area and handed over to her family for last rites after completion of legal formalities. Efforts are on to track down the leopard which had caused panic among the local residents by frequently venturing into human habitat from the nearby forest, the official said.
Kolkata: State Urban Development minister Firhad Hakim inaugurated the toll-free New Town helpline number at a programme in Salt Lake Sector V on Tuesday evening.The residents of New Town can now call up the toll-free number 1800-103-7652 for any information on New Town, as well as for registering complaints. Hakim, who has decided to talk to the residents of the city every Wednesday on a toll-free number, said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wants the civic authorities to provide better service to the people. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersHe said intense campaign on garbage segregation is required. It may be mentioned that the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) had organised a day-long seminar on garbage segregation to create awareness among the residents. Later, the residents of New Town took part in a rally and agreed to segregate garbage at source. Hakim also inaugurated a 350 m stretch of road connecting the parking plaza and Ring Road in Sector V, on Tuesday. The road falls under the jurisdiction of Nabadiganta Industrial Township Authority (NDITA). Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaHe said Sector V has become saturated and IT companies are moving out to New Town, where the country’s biggest IT hub is coming up. Some companies have also moved to Bantala in South 24-Parganas. Hakim thanked Debashis Sen, chairman of HIDCO, NDITA and New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA), who is also the additional chief secretary of the IT department, for his personal efforts to bring several IT firms to Bengal. The New Town IT hub will follow the model of Silicon Valley and the roads will join the IT hubs in New Town, Sector V and Bantala, he maintained.
New Delhi: Stating that Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit is “not keeping well”, AICC incharge PC Chacko on Wednesday authorised the three working presidents to hold meetings of district and block committee heads and take decisions, seen as an attempt to dilute her powers amid a deepening turf war between the two.Chacko wrote to Dikshit apprising her of his decision following which she issued an “action note” of her own assigning different set of responsibilities to the working presidents. Also Read – Gurdwara Bangla Sahib bans single use plasticDikshit’s aides said that she was in hospital for a routine check up and was discharged on Monday, and alleged that “rumours” were being spread about her health. In his letter, Chacko expressed displeasure that his earlier directions were not implemented and some “so-called spokespersons” of the party were issuing “irresponsible” statements and questioning the decisions of All India Congress Committee (AICC) incharge. He said that Assembly elections in Delhi are a few months away and the working of Delhi Congress Committee has to be streamlined as early as possible. “As you are not keeping well and hospitalised and I did not receive any reply to my letters, in the interest of the party, I am authorising the working presidents to hold meetings of district and block presidents in their respective areas and take appropriate decisions to activate the party and report to you the decisions taken,” Chacko wrote to Dikshit.
New Delhi: There was no discussion on Kashmir in the meeting between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Japan recently and there is no question of any mediation on the issue, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.Amid a walkout of proceedings by the opposition which has been demanding a statement from the prime minister since Tuesday, Singh said in the House that mediation on the Kashmir issue is also ruled out as it is a question of national pride for India. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”There was no discussion on Kashmir during the meeting between the Prime Minister and US President Trump in June. There is no question of any mediation on Kashmir issue,” he said. Singh also asserted that when India talks to Pakistan, it will not be limited to the issue of Kashmir, but also include Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). US President Trump had on Monday claimed that Prime Minister Modi had asked him to play the role of a mediator on Kashmir. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KThe defence minister said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was present at the Trump-Modi meeting held on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Osaka and his statement is the “most authentic” on the issue. The external affairs minister had already made a statement in both houses of Parliament on Tuesday, making it clear that the prime minister had made no such request to the US President. Earlier, during Question Hour, the Congress, DMK and a few other parties came to the well demanding presence of Modi in the House and a statement from him. They were continuously engaged in sloganeering, trying to disrupt the proceeding of the House. When the Zero Hour began, Speaker Om Birla allowed Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to speak and also asked him to stay put in the House when the government will reply to his statement. Chowdhury said the entire country was confused following the statement of President Trump and it would be appropriate to hear from the “horse’s mouth”, the prime minister, to make the issue clear as it was a matter between him (Modi) and Trump. “What is wrong if we are seeking a statement from the horse’s mouth. The prime minister must come to the House and make a statement,” he said. However, when deputy leader of Lok Sabha and the defence minister rose to make a statement, the Congress, DMK and other members staged a walk out in protest. Singh said the opposition had promised to listen to the government, but by walking out, they have “broken their promise”. Earlier during Question Hour, as the uproar continued, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said that while no doubt about the issue is left since the External Affairs Minister has already given a statement, the defence minister would respond during Zero Hour as the Opposition has again raised the matter. However, protesting members were not convinced and continued with their sloganeering. They were heard shouting slogans like ‘Prime Minister jawab do jawab do’ (Prime Minister should answer). On Tuesday also, the Opposition had sought a response from the prime minister on the issue.
New Delhi: A large number of discoms are making a beeline for the power supplied by NTPC under the SCED system which facilitates supply of cheaper electricity on priority, industry sources said. Under SCED (Security Constrained Economic Dispatch), implemented over a year ago, power generating companies raise capacity utilisation of more efficient plants or of those units which are located closer to coal mines and thus have lower freight cost. As a result, the cost of power production goes down, which benefits both the distribution companies (discoms) and end consumers. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalThe mechanism then pools supply from selected stations on a national-level ‘merit order’, under which power is first dispatched from lower fuel cost units whenever any state seeks electricity from the central pool. “A large number of discoms are availing benefit under the SCED system to get cheaper power supplies,” a source said. “Power purchase cost of cash strapped power distribution companies has started to come down under the new SCED programme,” the source added. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostAccording to an estimate, discoms are expected to save as much as Rs 2.5 crore per day due to this mechanism that allows states to access cheaper power first. There are currently 49 thermal power plants as part of the SCED pilot project with a total installed capacity of 56 GW. All stations of NTPC are contributing to the central pool. This optimisation scheme has a cost saving potential of around Rs 3,000 crore per year if all coal stations of the IPPs (independent power producers) and state generation companies are brought under its ambit. The arrangement where POSOCO (Power System Operation Corporation) has been given the flexibility to reschedule power from lower fuel cost units first means that even after adding transmission charges, the final tariff is still lower than most of the contracts signed by these entities. NTPC is best equipped to offer power at lower cost to the central pool since a number of its units have lower fuel costs and have been operational for decades now, which translates into lower fixed cost as well, another source said. The gross power generation of the the NTPC Group for 2018-19 was 305.90 billion units (BUs) as against 294.27 BUs during the previous year. The average power tariff of the firm was Rs 3.38 per unit in 2018-19.
MUMBAI: India’s rice exports in April-June dived 28.2 per cent from a year ago to 2.35 million tonnes, a government body said on Monday, as demand for non-basmati rice was subdued from African buyers. The country’s non-basmati rice exports plunged 43 per cent during the period to 1.2 million tonnes, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) said in a statement. India’s rice exports in 2019/20 are likely to fall to their lowest level in seven years, industry officials said last month, as weak demand from African countries weighs and shippers absorb the absence of government incentives that supported previous sales. New Delhi is the world’s biggest exporter of rice, buffalo meat and guar gum. The country’s buffalo meat exports during the period eased to 275,398 tonnes from 276,450 tonnes a year ago, it said. India’s guar gum exports dropped 5.5 per cent to 127,700 tonnes on lower demand from the United States, while pulses exports more than halved to 45,344 tonnes, the APEDA said.
Kolkata: An undertrial prisoner, identified as Raju Mondal alias Golam Hussain Mondal, escaped from R G Kar Medical College and Hospital on Monday night.Later on wee hours of Tuesday, police nabbed him from under the Western slope of Belgachia flyover. According to sources, Mondal, an accused of a rape case, was lodged at Ashokenagar police station. He was in judicial custody at Dum Dum Correctional Home since last one year. Due to some health problems, he was recently admitted to R G Kar Hospital. Two guard Jail Warders were posted at the hospital to keep an eye on Mondal. On Monday night around 11pm, Mondal went to bathroom. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaAfter several minutes when he did not come out, Jail Warders broke open the door and found that Mondal has escaped through the broken window.An alarm was sounded and Tala police station was also informed. After chief controller, Dum Dum Correctional Home lodged a complaint, police started search operation in and around the hospital. Around 3:50 am, on Tuesday, police and staff of Dum Dum Correctional Home spotted Mondal under the Belgachia flyover. Seeing the police he tried to flee but failed to escape from the police.
Los Angeles: Actors Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are returning for the fourth installment of the Matrix franchise, which will be helmed by Lana Wachowski. Wachowski is set to write and direct a fourth science fiction film set in the world of The Matrix, with Reeves and Moss reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity, respectively, reports variety.com. Production company Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures will produce and globally distribute the film. Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich made the announcement recently. According to sources, the film is expected to begin production in the beginning of 2020.
Panaji/New Delhi: A case of rape and criminal intimidation was registered against a swimming coach by the Goa police on Thursday and a search was on to arrest him, officials said. Surajit Ganguly, a coach once employed by the Goa Swimming Association (GSA), is accused of molesting a 15- year-old girl who was training under him. “We have launched a search operation to track down the accused. Last we know is that he had left for Bhopal,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Gajanan Prabhudesai told PTI. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ He said police have formed multiple teams to arrest the coach. A video of the alleged molestation incident had gone viral on social media earlier, prompting Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju to promise a stringent action. A case under IPC sections 376 (rape), 354 (molestation) and 506 (criminal intimidation), as well as under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Goa Children’s Act was registered against Ganguly, said inspector Kapil Nayak of the Mapusa police station in Goa. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K The Goa Swimming Association sacked Ganguly after the the video surfaced. “…we terminated Surajit’s contract immediately after watching the video. Both the girl and coach are from (West) Bengal,” GSA secretary Syed Abdul Majid told PTI. Ganguly was appointed by the GSA about two-and-a-half years ago at its Mapusa indoor swimming training facility. “We appointed him because he had a good track record as a coach. There were no prior complaints (of misbehaviour) against him,” Majid added. In 2017, the Goa Legislative Assembly had passed a resolution congratulating him and other coaches for bringing “pride and glory to swimming and diving sports and to the state” in the 63rd National Games. On Wednesday, based on the girl’s statement, the Kolkata police lodged a complaint against Ganguly, and transferred it to their counterparts in Goa. Rijiju said he had asked the Swimming Federation of India to ensure that Ganguly was not employed anywhere in the country. “I’ve taken a strong view of the incident. The Goa Swimming Association has terminated the contract of coach Surajit Ganguly. “I’m asking the Swimming Federation of India to ensure that this coach is not employed anywhere in India. This applies to all Federations & disciplines,” he tweeted.
Washington DC: A US Congressional committee is investigating President Donald Trump in connection with a potential conflict of interest over military spending at a Scottish airport near his golf resort. The House Oversight and Reform Committee said that expenditure at the Prestwick airport has “increased substantially” since Trump came into office, the BBC reported on Saturday. The debt-ridden airport, south of Glasgow and approximately 30 km north of Trump Turnberry, has been fighting off closure. It is said to be integral to the Trump business, which is also loss-making. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe Scottish government bought the airport in 2013, when it was facing closure. In June, it was put up for sale with no buyer announced till date. The Committee’s accusations were detailed in a letter, signed by the Democratic committee chairman Elijah Cummings, to the Pentagon — which is dated to June but was only revealed on the Politico news website on Friday. It requests access to all communications between the US Department of Defence and Trump Turnberry, as well as any related financial records. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsCiting Defence Logistics Agency (DLA) records, it said the US military had made 629 fuel purchase orders at the airport, totalling $11 million since October 2017. It also alleges that certain military personnel have been offered “cut-price rooms” and free rounds of golf at the Trump Turnberry resort. “Given the President’s continued financial stake in his Scotland golf courses, these reports raise questions about the president’s potential receipt of US or foreign government emoluments in violation of the US Constitution and raise other serious conflict of interest concerns.”
Gijon (Spain): Rodrigo and Paco Alcacer both scored twice as Spain eased to a 4-0 victory over the Faroe Islands in Gijon on Sunday to make it six wins from as many Euro 2020 qualifiers and inch closer to next year’s tournament. Captain Sergio Ramos equalled Iker Casillas’ national appearances record with his 167th cap, but otherwise it was a low-key affair at El Molinon. Spain now sit seven points clear in Group F after preserving their 100 percent record as second-placed Sweden were held to a 1-1 draw by Norway. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh”Yes, it’s almost done, but not yet mathematically,” said Spain coach Robert Moreno when asked if his team had all but qualified with four games to spare. “We must grow as a team by winning all our matches. Of course, the final goal is qualification, but what matters is that the team has the feeling of doing things well.” There was a minute’s silence before the game in tribute to former coach Luis Enrique’s daughter Xana who died of bone cancer aged nine last week. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterMoreno, who took over as boss from Enrique when the ex-Barcelona coach stepped down in June, made 10 changes to the starting XI which won 2-1 in Romania on Thursday, with only Ramos keeping his place. The hosts wasted little time in taking the lead as the Faroes buckled under intense pressure in the 13th minute, missing several chances to clear the ball before Mikel Oyarzabal set up Rodrigo for a simple tap-in despite suspicions of offside. Spain struggled to break down their stubborn opponents for the rest of the first half, though, despite away goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen being forced into an excellent save to keep out Thiago Alcantara’s spectacular long-range volley. But Valencia striker Rodrigo put the game to bed five minutes into the second half, cutting inside from the right and drilling a vicious left-footed strike into the top corner with the aid of a deflection. Despite having failed to score for his club so far this season and only managing eight goals in La Liga last term, the 28-year-old has netted five times in nine competitive internationals since the 2018 World Cup. Joannes Bjartalid gave Spain a scare with quarter-of-an-hour to play, but David de Gea denied him a famous goal with an excellent save.
CALGARY – Alberta’s highest court has ruled that a class-action lawsuit against the Western Hockey League can proceed with the players involved.The suit contends that players have been paid less than the minimum wage — as little as $35 per week for between 40 to 65 hours of work.It is asking for back wages, overtime and vacation pay.The Court of Appeal dismissed various appeals calling for changes to the suit.It says in its decision that the judge who granted certification last June was right to exclude players from the league’s teams in the United States.It also agreed owners and former owners of teams in British Columbia can be named in the suit.“Absent a material change of circumstances, or reversal on appeal, the order stands,” said the ruling released Tuesday in Calgary.“Certification does not forbid evolution of the action.”The allegations contained in the suit have not been proven in court.The WHL is arguing that its players are “amateur student-athletes” and it can’t afford to pay them minimum wage on top of benefits they receive, including post-secondary scholarships.It also alleges several teams would fold if forced to pay players minimum wage.It’s the second such court case against a major junior league in Canada. The Ontario Supreme Court approved an action against the Ontario Hockey League last April.A similar suit against the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is also pending.The three major junior hockey leagues, featuring a combined 60 teams of players between the ages of 16 and 20, fall under the umbrella of the Canadian Hockey League.
BRENTWOOD BAY, B.C. – Donna Otto hasn’t decided on wearing a fascinator or a new hat on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding day, but she knows where she’ll be at 4 a.m. on Saturday when the royal couple say their ‘I dos.’Otto, like most Canadians is thousands of kilometres and many time zones away from the ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, but she says she’ll be up early in Victoria to toast the newlyweds.Theatres, cathedrals, libraries, hotels and banquet halls across Canada are booked for morning wedding celebration parties, with the hearty souls on the West Coast rising before dawn for the noon-hour ceremony in Great Britain.“I’m going to enjoy every bit of it,” says Otto, a member of the Royal Commonwealth Society’s Vancouver Island branch. “Embrace it. My dress is a work in progress. I’m sure I’ll have either a fascinator or I’m seriously thinking of getting a brand new hat.”The Royal Commonwealth Society and the Victoria chapter of the Monarchist League of Canada have teamed up to host a royal wedding breakfast buffet bash a the city’s 139-year-old Union Club.Guests are invited to arrive at 3 a.m. They should be dressed in appropriate wedding attire, where they’ll watch a live television broadcast of the wedding.“I call it fun, frivolous and foolish,” says Otto. “Why not? Sometimes life is too serious and we just need to … interject something that’s really fun to do. It’s an opportunity to focus on something very positive and that part of it is wonderful because there is such negative news in the world all the time.”Wendy Hart says she’s excited about the wedding, but staging a viewing party at 6 a.m. in Winnipeg wasn’t generating much buzz.Instead, the Manitoba wings of the Monarchist League, United Empire Loyalists and Royal Commonwealth Society will gather at noon Central time for a champagne luncheon to view the wedding on tape delay at the castle-like University of Winnipeg Club, she says.“People were not that keen to get up that early in the morning,” says Hart. “It’s going to be so pleasant to watch it at a reasonable time of day.”She says Prince Harry and Meghan have captivated millions around the world with their love story and the bonds they created.“It’s not just a royal wedding,” Hart says. “It’s a union involving North America and the United Kingdom. We’re crossing the ocean on this one.”In Toronto, where Harry and Meghan’s romance blossomed, a 7 a.m. viewing party is being held at the Duke of Cornwall pub, which has room for about 160 people. Participants will watch the ceremony on television, feast on English-style breakfasts and participate in a royal trivia quiz.U.K. expat Paulo Antunes, who operates the Toronto online site Typically British, says he expects long-time royal enthusiasts and younger Harry and Meghan fans to gather for the celebration.“Our event is a mixed bag,” he says. “We’re getting older people who have been following all the major royal events for years and there’s these young people who are excited for Harry and they’re excited for Meghan who lived 20 minutes down the street.”Markle resided in Toronto for several years while filming the television series “Suits.”Antunes says the pub will serve royal-flavoured non-alcoholic drinks, including Ginger and Tonic, Long Island High Tea, Harry Wallbanger and Bloody Meghan.David Spence, a retired United Church minister, says he’s going to be wearing his McDuff tartan kilt to the breakfast wedding ceremony at Victoria’s Union Club.At his Brentwood Bay home, just 20 kilometres northwest of Victoria, Spence, who performed the wedding ceremony for Paralympian and activist Rick Hansen and Amanda Reid, says he’s become enamoured with Harry and Meghan and what they represent to the world.“People are infatuated with a young couple who reflects the diversity of what the modern Commonwealth is all about,” says Spence, who is the Vancouver Island president of the Royal Commonwealth Society.“They have an energy level they are sharing with the world. They’ve gone through some difficult parts of their lives in order to reach this level of identity with people.”—With files from Cassandra Szklarski
An Ontario woman serving a life sentence for the murder of an eight-year-old boy has once again been denied full parole after authorities found she continued to deflect responsibility for her actions.Amina Chaudhary, 55, who married another inmate and had three children while behind bars, has been on day parole and living in a halfway house for a year.The Parole Board of Canada last week rejected her application for full parole, saying she consistently blames others for her fate.Chaudhary was convicted in 1984 of killing her former lover’s nephew but maintains her innocence and is seeking a ministerial review of her case, having already exhausted other legal options.She met her husband, Anees Chaudhary — also a convicted murderer — while in pre-trial custody, eventually giving birth to three now-adult children who were raised by friends or the state.Documents show Chaudhary sought release to go live with her husband, who is already on parole and recently suffered a stroke, leaving him in need of care and unable to run his limousine business.But in its decision, the board raised concerns about Chaudhary’s enduring belief in her own innocence and her general evasiveness when confronted about her behaviour.The two-member panel also noted Chaudhary, who faces deportation, had requested a transfer to another halfway house on pretense of wanting to be closer to her family when in fact she sought to distance herself from a parole officer who was challenging her immigration case.“While you have not been problematic on release, and have utilized your brief period on day parole to predominantly care for your husband, the board continues to have serious concerns regarding your lack of insight in your offence cycle, your shifting evasive and vague answers that occur with some regularity and your documented attempts at manipulation which you simply deny,” the decision reads.“As noted the board has no confidence that your risk factors have been identified and mitigated given your persistent denial of the index offence.”Chaudhary was previously granted day parole and her husband full parole but both were taken back into custody in 2010 over concerns about financial irregularities, though no charges were laid.Chaudhary was also released on day parole for six months in 2012 but spent that time in custody on a deportation order, which immigration officials have not been able to enforce because neither India nor the U.K. will issue her travel documents.Her last attempt at obtaining full parole led to her release on day parole last year. In November, the Correctional Service of Canada recommended that be upgraded to full parole, but the board instead extended her day parole for another six months and scheduled a hearing to weigh a possible change.At her hearing last week, she again denied committing the murder but would not say who she believes the killer to be.“Given your protestations of innocence and your decades-long fight to clear your name it seems somewhat implausible that you would not share this information,” the board said.Prosecutors argued a vengeful rage prompted Chaudhary to slay eight-year-old Rajesh Gupta, who was left in her care while his uncle, her ex-lover, travelled to India for an arranged marriage to another woman.Gupta was strangled in February 1982 with the drawstring cord of his ski jacket hood, packed in a cardboard box and dumped in a remote section of east Toronto where the former couple used to meet.Chaudhary has said that she was pregnant and recovering from an arm wound at the time and would not have been able to kill a struggling boy.At her trial, however, now-disgraced pathologist Charles Smith testified that autopsy photos showed damage to Gupta’s skull indicating the boy had been knocked out before he was murdered.Attempts to find the photos and have them re-examined were unsuccessful, and eventually her file with the Innocence Project was closed.
OTTAWA – Just as Canada’s government prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of its national climate change action plan, comes a heart-wrenching video that could not drive home the consequences of a warming planet any harder.The video taken by Canadian photographer Paul Nicklen shows an emaciated polar bear in clear distress, struggling to make his way over snow-free ground on Baffin Island in a desperate search for food.Every step looks like it hurts, at times the bear plunges forward as if he can no longer go on, at others, one of his legs drags behind him. He reaches an abandoned Inuit camp and reaches into a barrel in search of food.Nicklen, a photographer with National Geographic, posted the video to his Instagram account on Dec. 5, where it was viewed more than one million times in three days.He says in the post “this is what starvation looks like” and says he expected the bear had just hours to live.“My entire Sea Legacy team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear,” Nicklen wrote. “It’s a soul-crushing scene that still haunts me.”He posted it hoping to draw attention to the devastation already resulting from a warming planet.It is illegal to feed wild polar bears in Canada and even if the team had fed him it would have only put off the inevitable because the bear was at death’s door.Sea Legacy is a British Columbia-based conservation organization which Nicklen accompanied on the Baffin Island trip.The video was taken a few months ago, at a time of year when polar bears would normally have been able to return to the Arctic sea ice to hunt seals. With ice gone for longer periods in the year, the bears have less time to hunt and more time without food.It’s killing them.There are about 25,000 bears left and many researchers believe the entire population will be gone within a century. Nicklen urges people to think of all those animals sharing the agonizing death of the bear in the video.He says everyone needs to consider what they can do slow the rate of climate change.On Saturday, Canada marks one year since eight provinces and the three territories signed the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. The plan aims to put a price on carbon, eliminate coal-fired electricity and work on energy efficiencies for buildings to help Canada cut emissions.Environmental advocates say some progress was made on the carbon price, but 2018 is going to have to be a banner year for environmental legislation, regulation and strategies or the plan will end up on the scrap heap of climate promises past.At least six major environment policies, bills or strategies to implement parts of the framework are expected in 2018. That includes legislation to allow the federal government to impose a carbon price on provinces that don’t meet the federal standard on their own, a zero-emissions vehicle strategy, an overhaul of the environmental review and regulatory process, changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, regulations to force the phase out of coal-fired electricity by 2030 and a clean fuels strategy.Plans to move forward on a national electricity grid are also possible in 2018, allowing provinces with an abundance of clean power to help out those that are trying to cut back on coal as a source of electricity.“We have made some good progress, but we see potential risks into the new year,” said Erin Flanagan, director of federal policy for the Pembina Institute.Environment Minister Catherine McKenna told The Canadian Press this week she feels “really good” about where the framework is at the one year mark.“We still have a lot of work to do to implement it but I think we’ve come a long way,” she said.Flanagan wants Canada to further commit to raising the carbon price to $130 a tonne by 2030.All countries, including Canada, are expected to raise their targets to cut emissions beyond current promises. The United Nations says existing commitments only get the world one-third of the way to keeping the planet from warming up so much that the impacts of climate change become uncontrollable.—follow @mrabson on Twitter.
OTTAWA – The majority of political staffers who told The Canadian Press they had personally experienced sexual misconduct on the job chose not to report it, with many saying they worried doing so would mean negative consequences for their careers.The Canadian Press distributed a questionnaire to those working in offices of MPs, senators and cabinet ministers in Ottawa last month, asking them to share their opinions and experiences with sexual assault and sexual harassment on Parliament Hill.Sixty-five of the 266 survey respondents said they had personally experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment.Twenty said they had been the target of at least one incident of sexual assault.Only six of the respondents who said they had been the target of sexual harassment in their role as a political staffer said they reported the incident that had the biggest impact on them.Of the 57 people who said they did not report the sexual harassment, 61 per cent of them listed not thinking it was serious enough to merit a complaint as one of the reasons.About 47 per cent, meanwhile, said they were afraid it would have a negative impact on their career; the same percentage said they did not believe reporting the incident would make a difference.Thirty-five per cent said they were worried they would be disbelieved or not taken seriously, while one-third said they did not know where to report it.There were a couple of respondents, however, who said not reporting it was the right thing to do.“(I am) of the view that you deal directly with the individual to let them know you feel it is inappropriate,” one wrote.Only two respondents said they reported their experience of sexual assault that made the biggest impact.Neither woman said she was satisfied with how their complaints were handled: one said her story was ignored and the other said she was not believed.— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter
OTTAWA – Former prime minister Stephen Harper raised eyebrows Monday when he publicly offered his congratulations to Viktor Orban, after the controversial leader was re-elected as prime minister of Hungary.In a tweet late Monday, Harper congratulated Orban — whose election platform openly demonized migrants and asylum seekers in Europe as a security threat — for winning “a decisive fourth term” for his Fidesz party, which now holds a two-thirds majority in Hungary’s national legislature.In February, Harper was unanimously elected chairman of the International Democratic Union (IDU), a centre-right organization made up of more than 80 conservative political parties worldwide, including Orban’s Fidesz.“Congratulations to Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Hungary’s Fidesz for winning a decisive fourth term! The IDU and I are looking forward to working with you,” Harper tweeted.The post prompted a number of Twitter users to point out Orban’s right-wing, populist political ideology and controversial political policies.Pollster Frank Graves, president of Ekos Research Associates, said he was so surprised by the former Conservative prime minister’s tweet, he thought Harper’s account had been hacked.“Mr. Harper is a pretty shrewd character and I thought it, frankly, showed a lack of judgment on his part,” Graves said Tuesday in an interview.“There’s a lot of deep skepticism about Mr. Orban and particularly his policies such that I would have thought this would be an area where you would want to give a pass.”The former prime minister did not respond directly to requests for comment, but Rachel Curran, a senior associate at Harper’s consulting company, Harper & Associates, said the tweet was simply a standard communication about the activity of a member party.“He’s not pronouncing on the merits of Mr. Orban’s government or his political campaign, he’s simply congratulating him as a successful member of the IDU who recently received a massive democratic mandate from Hungarians,” Curran said.Some people have been using the tweet to “get a shot at Mr. Harper,” she added.Curran stressed that it would be inappropriate for Harper to comment or interfere in the domestic politics of any member of the IDU. But she added Harper is interested in looking at ways to make the organization more active and effective.“That’s just who Mr. Harper is. He’ll try and put his own stamp on the organization and get it doing something useful and productive.”Canada’s Liberals wasted little time in seeking to capitalize politically on the tweet.Marco Mendicino, parliamentary secretary for justice, called on Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Conservative MP Tony Clement to denounce Harper’s congratulatory message to Orban, or risk being tied to it.Clement is vice-chairman of the IDU and Scheer has close personal ties with Harper, Mendicino said.“It’s time for Mr. Scheer and Mr. Clement and others in the party to and say, ‘We don’t support the kind of heavy-handedness that we see in Mr. Orban’.”International observers of the Hungarian election from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe issued a statement saying “intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric” from state-run media and “opaque campaign financing” limited the opportunity for genuine political debate during the campaign.Regardless of his roles and responsibilities with the IDU, Harper’s tweet could be interpreted as a him being happy about Orban’s electoral success, Graves said.“It’s very controversial whether this is a good or bad thing and what kind of forces are at play here,” he said of Oban’s electoral victory.“I just think this is not a good area to be saying, ‘I’m really happy Mr. Orban won this,’ because there certainly going to be a lot of people in the advanced, western societies who would not share that view.”
TORONTO – A survey for the Nature Conservancy of Canada indicates Canadians feel happier when they are connected to nature, but fewer are making the effort to get out of the house.The online survey of 2,000 Canadians found 87 per cent of respondents felt happier, healthier and more productive when connected to nature.But 74 per cent of respondents say that it is simply easier to spend time indoors and 66 per cent say they spend less time in nature than they used to.It also found more than 80 per cent of respondents are concerned that accessible natural areas will not be there for future generations and that 94 per cent of Canadians are aware of the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature.The Nature Conservancy released the survey results Thursday to highlight its Landmark Campaign — an effort to double the land and water conserved by the NCC to more than 2.4 million hectares.To inspire Canadians to contribute to the campaign, the NCC has curated a pop-up art exhibit called Nature and Me, featuring nature photography and reflections from notable Canadians, that will travel across the country.Jim Cuddy, Ed Burtynsky, Rick Mercer, Clara Hughes and Adam van Koeverden are among those sharing their stories in the Nature and Me exhibit to highlight the importance of nature as an inspiration in their lives.The survey, conducted by Ipsos Research, also indicated that Canadians spend an average of 1.3 hours per day in nature during the week and two hours on the weekend.Eighty-eight per cent of those surveyed said that reducing stress was a benefit of nature, while 57 per cent listed lowering blood pressure as a benefit.Among the reasons cited for spending time indoors were busy personal lives and environmental factors such as rain, snow, bugs and insects.The Landmark Campaign has already raised $551-million towards its $750-million goal and completed 390 of 500 planned projects, which include restoring rare habitats, supporting species at risk, and improving the quality of air and water.“We are at a turning point,” Nature Conservancy president John Lounds said in a release. “It’s time to talk boldly about the tangible benefits nature provides, and the urgency and importance of protecting it.”