The legislative business

first_imgWith two crucial bills passing their respective hurdles in the Houses of Parliament in tandem, one must take into consideration the lack of scrutiny that the opposition has actively decried about. When on Thursday, Rajya Sabha passed the contentious RTI Amendment Bill, 2019, amidst expected opposition protests and a potential violation of voting procedure, the pending requests of opposition leaders backed by activists and former CICs pressing for scrutiny by Standing or Select Committee were clearly extinguished. The trend was also visible in the Lok Sabha which passed the heavily debated Triple Talaq Bill–though there was not much that opposition could have done in here due to an overwhelming majority enjoyed by the government. Both bills, in lieu of their proposals, had grasped the attention of legislators who wanted an additional round of scrutiny before passing those. The persistent tension in the Lok Sabha revolved around the fact that the government’s privilege of enjoying a vast majority diminishes the scope of reviewing any bill beyond mild but inconsequential discussions held in the House. It is for this reason that the passing of RTI Amendment bill was condemned with opposing legislators pressing for a Select Committee intervention to ensure the due scrutiny that the bill deserved. In fact, the ruckus caused by the passing of the bill in Lok Sabha had actually prevented the government from tabling it in the Rajya Sabha the next day (Wednesday)–despite the Budget session edging towards its closure. It was, however, tabled on Thursday and consequently passed. The opposition motion was defeated 75 to 117 in favour of the government in what was a rare occasion in the Upper House of an opposition motion getting defeated. While the sacrosanct authority prevails over legislative procedures, the scope of scrutiny by a Standing or Select Committee is also in the purview of the same legislative procedures. It is to this end that the dispensation could have opted for another round of legislative scrutiny, especially when the Modi government’s focus is drawn towards grabbing everyone’s trust (Sabka Vishwas). There is a constant underlying apprehension that the opposition and government, in their efforts to curtail the others’ free hand, often end up bringing the legislative machinery down. While the passing of these two bills was not at all in favour of the opposition, this sort of dissent is not uncommon. The very purpose of Houses and voting is to ensure that everyone’s say is there. The legislative machinery was designed in a manner that will allow scrutiny to its crux. Sadly, here, the government seemed in a tearing hurry to get the bills passed. A standing testament of this fact is the extension granted to the Budget Session which was due to terminate yesterday. In numbers, the government gets the upper hand but the legislative business is not about numbers in the first place. It is about making laws and laws, owing to their sacrosanct nature, cannot be unilaterally made. They need reviews and critiques as essential features of this democratic Parliament to ensure sanctity. The reason bills are subject to scrutiny–both in house and sometimes to Select Committees–is for the reason that they cannot be simply drafted and implemented in the country without taking cognisance of the possible ramifications and loopholes which may be detrimental. Extending the Parliament’s Budget Session is more than welcome but only when due scrutiny takes place and not with the intention to fast-track the passing of bills. Having dissenting MPs is not surprising but making these dissenting MPs realise that their dissent is for nothing only makes the environment of the Parliament more hostile. The government of the day should not forget that the overwhelming mandate that they received in the Lok Sabha elections was not to utilise the consequent majority against the opposition. Also Read – A compounding difficultyWriting a letter to Chairman and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu seemed like the last resort for few of the dissenting MPs who saw the RTI Amendment Bill pass without any hiccups in the Upper House. As many as 17 opposition parties, through the letter, conveyed their concern over the hurried passage of bills in Parliament. It also notified the Chairman that in the 14th and 15th Lok Sabha, 60 and 71 per cent of bills were sent for scrutiny to the parliamentary committees but the 16th Lok Sabha had only 26 per cent bills reviewed under those. Parliamentary Committees are not necessarily disapproving which is why the government’s approach is not understandable. These parliamentary committees only ensure the quality of legislations to an extent where they may not have any kind of gaps and negative impact once they are framed as laws of the land. In their rush to pass the pending bills, the government must not lose focus on quality. It does not matter if Parliament passes fewer bills in a particular session but it makes a sizeable difference if those are passed without appropriate scrutiny.last_img read more

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Modi anguished by demise of Meghalaya Assembly speaker

first_imgNew Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday expressed anguish over the demise of Meghalaya Assembly speaker Donkupar Roy, saying he “transformed many lives”. “Anguished by the demise of Dr Donkupar Roy, Speaker of the Meghalaya Assembly and former CM of the state. Passionate about Meghalaya’s progress, he served the state with great diligence and helped transform many lives,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted quoting Modi. The prime minister expressed condolences to Roy’s family and supporters.last_img read more

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PKL Dabang Delhi continue winning run beat Haryana

first_imgMumbai: Dabang Delhi continued their winning run in the seventh season of the Pro Kabaddi League after defeating Haryana Steelers 41-21 in a lop-sided game here on Sunday. This is Delhi’s third win of the season and Chandran Ranjit (11 points) and Naveen Kumar (10 points) starred for them. Naveen grabbed his second ‘Super 10’ of the season after grabbing the first against Telugu Titans in Hyderabad. Successful raids by Chandran and Naveen took Delhi 7-3 ahead after first five minutes. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhBut Haryana reduced the deficit to 6-8 and a successful tackle by them ensured that Chandran, Delhi’s star raider, was sent out. However, Delhi, with a ‘Super Tackle’ by Joginder Narwal, followed by a successful raid by Naveen, surged 12-8 ahead. Then Naveen, who was in a spectacular form, in his ‘do or die’ raid collected two points to take Delhi 14-9 ahead. Delhi had a five-point lead going into the break as the score-line read 15-10. After the break, Delhi continued the good show by their strong defence and successful raids as they went 18-10 ahead. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterDelhi then inflicted an ‘all-out’, the first of the match, to go 22-12 ahead with 15 minutes remaining for the game to finish. There was no stopping Delhi as they inflicted another ‘all out’ on their opponents and extended their lead to 33-16. Delhi did not give their opponents a chance to make a comeback and won the encounter quite comfortably. This was Haryana’s first defeat of the season, as they had won their lone game in the Hyderabad leg, which was held before the Mumbai leg. Naveen later said that his main goal was to contribute in the team’s win. In the second match of the day, hosts U Mumba suffered a 30-26 defeat against Bengaluru Bulls. This was Mumba’s first defeat in their home leg, after they had beaten Puneri Paltan in their first home game. For Bengaluru, Pawan Sherawat starred, clinching 11 points.last_img read more

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Delhi Boy Suryaveers new friendship day anthem is here to make you

first_imgNew Delhi: Delhi-based rising singing-sensation Suryaveer has already fascinated his nationwide fans with his magical voice and unique style of singing. Suryaveer belongs to the rare category of singers who receive immense love from the audience for recreating golden hits, which he releases mostly on his own youtube channel. Now, after the huge response from the audience for the friendship day anthems for the last four consecutive years, Suryaveer is bringing another friendship day anthem this year too as promised earlier. In 2015, Suryaveer recreated ‘Yaara Teri Yaari’ which eventually became the friendship anthem of the entire country, followed by ‘Yeh Dosti’ in 2016, a soulful version of ‘Puraani Jeans’ in 2017 and then an energetic version of ‘Papa Kehte Hain’ in 2018. Suryaveer is planning to launch the song on 1st August just prior to Friendship Day. However, to know more about this upcoming song that this emerging music-star is going to gift his fans this year, we’ll have to wait a few more days. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: PriyankaIn Suryaveer’s own words, “Friendship day is a very special day for me as I started my career on friendship day, with my first live show ever being on the same day. My first song that went viral was on friendship (Yaara teri yaari), which we released on friendship day. Since then we’ve been releasing a friendship day song every year and this year we’ve decided to come out with an original song, a very fun loving song with fresh beats and a new sound. Because friendship is not seasonal, it’s for All Seasons!” Suryaveer’s unique voice texture and singing style have always been a real treat for his fans. Looking at Suryaveer’s huge fan following and the immense love that his recreated songs have received, this time too, this Delhi guy isn’t going to disappoint his audience for sure!last_img read more

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Rain fury unabated in Ker toll rises to 42 nearly 125 lakh

first_imgThiruvananthapuram: : As the rain fury remains unabated in most parts of Kerala, rocked by 80 landslides and floods in the last three days, the death toll climbed to 42 on Saturday and nearly 1.25 lakh people have been displaced from their homes, officials said. A year after Kerala was devastated by the deadliest monsoon that led to the worst deluge in a century, the southern state has been at the receiving end of nature’s fury again. One of the four shutters of the Banasurasagar dam, located about 21 km from Kalpetta in Wayanad, one of the worst affected districts, was opened at 3 p.m to discharge excess water and people on the banks of the Kabini river have been asked to be cautious. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details One of the largest earth dams in India and the second largest of its kind in Asia, Banasurasagar, impounds the Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini River. A red alert for rainfall has been issued in eight districts of Ernakulam, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod. Across the state, 1,24,464 people have been shifted to 1,111 relief camps, including 25,0028 in Kozhikode and 24,990 in Wayanad, officials said. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday Many people are still feared trapped under debris following major landslides that hit Kavalappara in Malappuram and Puthumala in Meppadi in Wayanad. As rescue operations were on in Kavalappara, another landslide occurred in the region on Saturday due to which search operations have been halted. The continuous rains have triggered multiple landslides and overflowing rivers have caused flooding in several parts of Malappuram, Kannur, Idukki, Palakkad, Chalakudy in Thrissur and Kasaragod districts. Several trains have been cancelled and flight operations from the Kochi international airport, which had been suspended following inundation, will resume at noon on Sunday, an airport official said. “Airport is ready. Flight operations will resume at noon tomorrow. That is ahead of the deadline. Airlines are instructed to facilitate services accordingly,” a Cochin International Airport Limited Spokesperson told reporters in Kochi on Saturday. Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, who took stock of the flood situation, said on Saturday around 80 landslides had occurred in 8 districts in the last three days and allayed fears of opening dams, saying all the major dams have enough storage capacity. He also warned that strong action would be taken against those spreading false news about floods. “While we are engaged in rescue operations, some are spreading false news across the social media. Will take strict action against such people. Some people were spreading news that there will be power cuts or shortage of petrol and all that. “Not all dams are full. We have enough storage capacity in all major dams of the state. As of now only 30 per cent of water is there in Idukki dam. Last year it was nearly 98 per cent,” he added. Various agencies including the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, NDRF, police force, volunteers, including fishermen are working together in the rescue mission at various places. “Most of the people, specially youngsters have come forward to volunteer for the rescue and rehabilitation missions. Their act builds confidence among us,” Vijayan said. Rains have subsided in Ernakulam district but Pathanamthitta district was receiving heavy rainfall and the water level in Pamba river was rising. The government has opened 15 relief camps in Thiruvalla. The Chief Minister also praised a KSEB assistant engineer who lost his life while on duty. “Officials are putting their lives in danger, risking their lives during rescue operations. They doing selfless service. One such official, an Assistant Engineer of KSEB, Baiju lost his life while performing his duty. Such dedicated officials are on the field for rescue operations,” Vijayan said. The deluge continues in Kerala even as the state grapples to fully recover from the extensive damage caused by the floods of August, 2018 that claimed over 400 lives and left lakhs of people homeless.last_img read more

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Nigerian national arrested for siphoning of Rs 160cr from NRI

first_imgKolkata: A Nigerian national was arrested from New Delhi on Sunday for allegedly siphoning of Rs 1.60 crore from a Non Resident Indian (NRI) identified as Utpal Sengupta of New Jersey in USA, who has a home at Mandevilla Gardens in Kolkata.According to the police, Sengupta has an bank account with the State Bank Of India (SBI)’s NRI branch at Chowringhee. On December 15, 2017, Sengupta lodged a complaint at Shakespeare Sarani police station alleging that some miscreants have siphoned of Rs 1.60 crore from his bank account to some other bank accounts in India. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaAfter preliminary investigation by Shakespeare Sarani police station, the case was taken up by the Detective Department (DD) of Kolkata Police. During the probe, the police nabbed 11 persons from Kolkata and its adjacent areas, who were found involved in the racket. After interrogating them, the name of a Nigerian national, identified as Okafar Paul Chukwunweike alias Austinn George, cropped up. Later, the police came to know that Chukwunweike somehow managed to hack Sengupta’s e-mail address and sent instructions to the bank from it to transfer money to four bank accounts within India. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayHe had hired several people but none of them know where Chukwunweike stays. Recently, police managed obtain his address by tracking his Internet Protocol (IP) address and a team from DD was sent to New Delhi. On Sunday, Chukwunweike was arrested from Mehrouli area in New Delhi. During the search of the premises where he lived, the police found several documents, including an Aadhar Card on his name, which he obtained by generating fake documents. It was also found that he was staying in India for a longtime without any valid visa or travel documents. To avoid police action, he used to frequently change his place of stay. Chukwunweike was brought to Kolkata on transit remand and was produced at the Bankshall Court on Wednesday. He has been remanded to police custody till August 20.last_img read more

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Turning a blind eye

first_imgA unique feature of all environmental reports is that they are never received by the governments, for which these are essentially meant, in the same earnestness with which those reports are prepared. There is a complete disconnect between the two sides. But the very context of the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report makes it different. The report has coincided with unprecedented devastation in many parts of the country, particularly states like Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam, Odissa and the North East, ravaged by floods. Also Read – A special kind of bondIn fact, the report points out that Climate Change is exacerbating land degradation processes through increases in rainfall intensity, flooding, drought frequency and severity, heat stress, dry spells, wind, sea-level rise, wave action, and other problems that will put a question mark on our survival. In fact, India has been identified as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to global warming and is set to face the brunt of Climate Change devastation in the days to come. All that the reports of IPCC and other agencies predicted are becoming a reality in the country: intense heat waves, floods and droughts and water stress, further exposing an already vulnerable population. Also Read – Insider threat managementAn earlier report in the same series had said India is already losing about 1.5 per cent of its GDP every year due to Climate Change-related risks. The agriculture sector has witnessed 4-9 per cent dip in yield every year as a result of the current 1 degree C rise in global temperature. Allowing the temperature to rise beyond 1.5°C would render India uninhabitable and even poorer, it said. The report saw higher risks from heavy precipitation events, including flooding and severe tropical cyclones over the Indian Ocean near the Arabian Sea, increased heatwave conditions and coastal flooding. Large parts of the country suffered intense heat waves in this year’s summer, with the problem extending to places like Kolkata. The report also spoke about the increased vulnerability of communities around the Ganga-Brahmaputra and Mahanadi delta. The impact of all this could be felt in a dip in crop production and decreased the nutritional quality of rice and wheat. The rising temperatures, according to the report, could create a severe negative impact on livestock due to changes in feed quality, the spread of diseases and lack of availability of water resources, coupled by an increased risk of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue. It was most ominous that the release of the latest report coincided with a recurrence of the devastating floods and landslides in Kerala, a state whose successive governments have given scant respect for the adverse impact of the prodigal ways of its communities. Kerala has, in fact, been one state where the interests of land mafias and encroachment and construction lobbies have been made subservient to everything else with the help of governments that go out of their way to please these vested interests, which have got themselves deeply entrenched in the political power structure. These lobbies take positions that are diametrically opposed to causes of ecological protection and include even powerful sections of the Church, whose constituents have a vital stake in the continued degradation of land and its resources. In fact, the stand of the Church had come into direct conflict with corrective measures recommended by important reports such as the one by the Gadgil Committee, which proposed a total ban on commercial activities in the fragile eco-system of Western Ghats, bearing the brunt of the devastation in the heavy landslides and flash floods during this as well as last year’s deluge. The Pinarayi Vijayan government has been particularly insensitive to the demands of environmental protection as it introduced several relaxations in the norms so as to help the building lobby. These include dilution of the law dealing with the conversion of paddy fields for building residences and other commercial purposes, relaxation of norms for the issue of quarrying licences, which is the biggest threat to the fragile ecosystem and succumbing to the pressure of lobbies. The erstwhile UDF government of Oommen Chandy cannot escape blame as it allowed the powerful plantation lobby to use 5 per cent area of their estates for the development of tourism, which meant large-scale felling of trees and build-up of commercial facilities. Most of the landslides in this year’s flood have occurred in and around these areas, which points to the disregard of the authorities towards the need for environmental protection. Former chief minister V S Achuthanandan, who is the chairman of the Administrative Reforms Committee, an outfit formed to accommodate the veteran communist when Pinarayi was chosen to lead the new government, has come out openly against some policies of the government, saying that ignoring recommendations of experts such as the Gadgil Committee is to blame for the increasing frequency of natural disasters in the state. Madhav Gadgil, ecologist and founder of the Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, who headed the Gadgil Committee, has himself attributed the devastation to the failure of the state government to implement the safeguards recommended for the area. The recommendations had become such a sensitive political issue that the UDF government had set up committee after committee to modify the report until the one committee could come up with a set of suggestions that would be acceptable to the pressure groups. And the results of all these are there for everyone to see. (The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

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CG Power hits lower circuit limit Yes Bank tumbles over 4 pc

first_imgNew Delhi: Shares of CG Power and Industrial Solutions on Wednesday slumped 20 per cent to touch their lowest trading permissible limit for the second consecutive day amid alleged financial irregularities in the company. On the BSE, the scrip tumbled 20 per cent to touch its 52-week low of Rs 11.80. On the NSE, the shares plunged 19.93 per cent to reach their lower price brand at Rs 11.85. Meanwhile, shares of Yes Bank, which has 12.79 per cent stake in CG Power as on June 30, 2019, also fell over 4 per cent to Rs 68.10 apiece on the BSE. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal Gautam Thapar-promoted CG Power and Industrial Solutions on Tuesday said an investigation by its board found major governance and financial lapses, including advances to related and unrelated parties as well as liabilities of the company and the group potentially being understated by hundreds of crores of rupees. After 13 hours of discussions lasting till 4 am, the board came to the conclusion that there were some unauthorised transactions carried out by ‘certain employees’, which led to a potential understatement of not only the company’s liabilities but also advances to related and unrelated parties of the company and the group. Advances to related and unrelated parties of the company and the group may have been potentially understated by Rs 1,990.36 crore and Rs 2,806.63 crore, respectively, as on March 31, 2018, and by Rs 1,479.34 crore and Rs 1,331.47 crore, respectively, as on April 1, 2017, the company said in the regulatory filing to exchanges.last_img read more

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Asking Romila Thapar for CV politically motivated

first_imgNew Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association on Sunday called “politically motivated” the JNU administration’s decision to ask historian Romila Thapar to submit her CV for assessment for her continuation as professor emerita.Soon after JNUTA statement, the university said it is following its ordinance “in letter and spirit” in the appointment of professor emeritus at JNU. “As per the ordinance, the university is required to write to all those who have attained the age of 75 years to know their availability and their willingness to continue their association with the university. Letters have been written only to those emeritus professors who fall in this category,” it said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsIt explained writing these letters is not for discontinuation but for an informed review by the executive council, the highest statutory body of the university, and it is consistent with the practices at other reputed universities such as MIT and Princeton University. When contacted, Thapar confirmed receiving the letter in July and replying to it saying “it is a lifelong honour”. She did not elaborate. However, JNUTA called it a “deliberate attempt to try and dishonour those who have been critical of the current administration”. It demanded a formal retraction of the move and said a personal apology be issued to Thapar. The association “expressed its outrage” at the efforts by the administration to “denigrate” the teaching and learning traditions of JNU via its “tasteless communications” to Thapar. It accused the association of having an “agenda” to allegedly destroy the legacies and the promise of the university.last_img read more

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Greek police detain 38 migrants 2 alleged traffickers

first_imgThessaloniki (Greece): Police in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki say they have arrested the driver of a van carrying 26 migrants 23 of them from Pakistan and three from Bangladesh. Police say the driver was an Albanian who tried to escape on foot after officers stopped the van early Sunday but was caught. Authorities say police then arrested a Greek man in charge of a warehouse where officers found 12 more Pakistanis being held while the traffickers asked for money. Police say the 26 migrants in the van were being driven to the warehouse. Officials say the 26 paid 2,000 euros (USD 2,200) each to be taken by boat across the river dividing Turkey and Greece and then by road to Thessaloniki.last_img read more

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3 dengue cases reported in Ggn

first_imgGurugram: Authorities in Gurugram have confirmed the first three cases of dengue in the district amid incessant rains causing a spurt in monsoon diseases and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, malaria and chikungunya in parts of India.Blood tests of a 42-year-old man in DLF Phase 2, a 25-year-old woman in Sector 23 and a 40-year-old man from DLF Phase-3 confirmed that they had contracted dengue haemorrhagic fever The trio is being treated at private hospitals in the city for high fever, difficulty in breathing and other symptoms of dengue. Health officials stated their condition to be stable. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder70 suspected cases of dengue have been reported from across the district this year, as per official data. Last year, eight confirmed dengue cases had been reported from Gurugram till August 31. Health department officials have said that the decrease in number of dengue cases this year could be attributed to slew of measures taken this year by authorities to keep vector-borne diseases under check. “The number of fogging machines, this year, was increased to 26 from 14. Two vehicle-mounted fogging machines were brought. The number of health workers was also increased,” Dr Brahmdeep Sandhu, chief medical officer of the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram, told Hindustan Times. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsAround 2.8 lakh houses were surveyed and breeding spots found in around 5,000. Besides, 1,242 houses were issued notices. The number of malaria cases in the district this season is also down at 15, compared to the 30 cases reported during the same period last year. In 2015, 451 cases of dengue were registered in the district, 86 in 2016, 66 in 2017 and 93 in 2018. In August, the Haryana government made vector-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria, chikungunya and Japanese encephalitis notifiable for the next three years, under the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, which empowers local authorities to implement epidemic-control measures. Under the Act, government or private hospitals, laboratories or clinics are liable to face action by the state government, if they fail to report a notifiable disease. Last Wednesday, the Municipal Corporation Gurugram had urged all stakeholders to contribute to the dengue-free campaign in the district. Several government schools were also given a list of dos and don’ts to put an end to the mosquito-borne disease, and told to hold awareness campaigns on their premises for students and parents.last_img read more

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Saskatchewan seeks intervener status in BC Trans Mountain pipeline case

first_imgREGINA – Saskatchewan is seeking intervener status in British Columbia’s reference case over the flow of heavy oil through that province.Attorney General Don Morgan says Saskatchewan is dismayed that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion continues to be held up by unreasonable delays.The case before the B.C. Court of Appeal asks whether amendments the B.C. government is proposing to the Environmental Management Act are valid.The case also asks whether B.C. has the authority to control shipment of heavy oils based on any impact spills could have on the environment, human health or communities.B.C. is also asking the court whether the amendments would be overridden by federal law.The $7.4-billion Kinder Morgan project would double an existing pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., in an effort to sell more fuel to Asian markets.“We know that these pipelines are necessary for our energy companies to get their products to tide water to ensure a competitive price, and that the increased capacity this pipeline represents stands to benefit all Canadians,” Morgan said in a statement Wednesday.B.C. Premier John Horgan said in late April when the reference case was filed that the aim is to protect the province’s coastline and economy from the harms of an oil spill.Saskatchewan has voiced its support for Alberta in a dispute with B.C. over the Trans Mountain line.The Saskatchewan government introduced a bill in April that would allow the province to control its oil and gas exports. It’s similar to one introduced in the Alberta legislature as well.The law, once passed, would establish a permitting process for people or corporations looking to export energy products outside the province.(Companies in this story: TSX:KML)last_img read more

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Medical student panicked and incoherent after shooting Halifax trial told

first_imgHALIFAX – Medical student William Sandeson was panicked and incoherent as he tried to clean up around a man’s blood-covered body in his apartment, a Halifax jury heard Thursday.Justin Blades said he was a track-and-field teammate of Sandeson’s who was visiting a mutual friend across the hall when he heard a gunshot on Aug. 15, 2015.He and Sandeson’s neighbour, Pookiel McCabe, were having drinks and smoking marijuana in McCabe’s apartment.Sandeson had been with them but left the apartment shortly before they heard a loud noise, Blades said.“We heard a loud bang, real loud,” said Blades.“(I) froze for a second, jumped up, ran to the door, locked it,” Blades said.Sandeson came over about a minute later and knocked on the door but said nothing to the two men, said Blades.“He just turned around and went back into his apartment,” he said.He told the Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury that he looked into Sandeson’s apartment and saw a pool of blood, bloody cash, drugs, and a slumped-over body in a chair, bleeding from the head.“Pints and pints of blood all over the floor,” Blades said, his voice trembling.Blades said he left and returned to McCabe’s apartment.He looked in again minutes later and saw the body had been moved, and streaks of blood going toward the bathroom.“(Sandeson) asked me to bring the car around and I said no (expletive) way,” Blades said.Sandeson, 24, is accused of murdering Taylor Samson, 22, a fellow Dalhousie University student, during a deal to buy 20 pounds of marijuana.Blades told jurors Sandeson was running around the apartment “in panic mode … picking up bloody money.”Besides asking him to get the car, all Sandeson was saying was, “I gotta clean up,” but was mostly incoherent, said Blades.Blades said blood covered half the floor in Sandeson’s kitchen.“It’s an abundance of blood. All over the floor,” he said.“I didn’t even know what to say to Will,” said Blades, who said he didn’t call police right away because he was “in shock.”“You don’t expect the nicest, most educated, one of the better people out of the group to do something like that,” he said.That night he didn’t sleep, and said his life was never the same again.Because of the high profile nature of the killing, coworkers and others gossiped about the case and “I had to leave my career,” he said.He said he carried the memory of that night like “the plague,” and “didn’t know what to do after so long.”He was scared Sandeson was involved with organized crime because of stories he had told Blades in the past, he said.“I went off the map, no one knew where I was,” he said.Blades gave two statements to police in August, 2015, but didn’t reveal what he had seen until October the following year.He said Thursday he was too scared: “I felt like my life was in danger.”Defence lawyer Eugene Tan questioned Blades about the Oct. 20, 2016, statement, in which he told police he didn’t believe Sandeson was the shooter.“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Blades told Tan Thursday. “I don’t know what happened.”He told Tan he remembered everything from the night in question.“When you see a horrific scene like that, it’s burned into your head,” he said.last_img read more

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On life support Research shows common pesticides starve disorient birds

first_imgSASKATOON – Newly published research says two of Canada’s most commonly used pesticides cause migrating songbirds to lose weight and their sense of direction.“This is very good evidence that even a little dose — incidental, you might call it — in their feeding could be enough to have serious impacts,” said University of Saskatchewan biologist Christy Morrissey, whose paper was published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.Morrissey studied the effect of two widely used pesticide types — neonicotinoids and organophosphates. Both are used on more than 100 different crops, including wheat and canola, and are found in dozens of commercial products.The so-called neonics are often applied to seeds before they’re planted in the ground. Organophosphates are applied in tiny granules.Both are known to be lethal to birds in large doses, but Morrissey wanted to study the impact of smaller amounts.She and her colleagues took three groups of white-crowned sparrows, a common migratory songbird found throughout North America, and exposed them to a small dose, a somewhat larger dose, or no dose at all.All doses were kept deliberately small. The low neonic dose was the equivalent of four treated canola seeds per day for three days — about one per cent of the bird’s diet.The results were dramatic.After three days, the low-dose birds lost 17 per cent of their weight. The high-dose birds lost 25 per cent.“That’s a lot,” said Morrissey. “At that point, those birds were on life support.”The birds exposed to organophosphates kept their weight, but they lost something else — their ability to find north. Both the high-dose and low-dose group lost all orientation and didn’t get it back after the tests ended.The neonics also disoriented the sparrows, but the effect faded when the exposure stopped.A 2016 survey suggested that migratory songbird populations have fallen by 1.5 billion since 1970. Morrissey suggests that pesticides might be one reason why.“In the real world, any bird that experiences these effects is pretty much a dead bird,” she said.Morrissey points out that pesticides are often applied just as birds are increasing their food intake to get ready to migrate.Pierre Petelle, head of the agricultural chemical industry association CropLife Canada, said the paper is being considered.“We’ll be looking closely at the study, including how realistic the exposure scenarios were, among other elements,” he said.“Like any new study on pesticides, this one will be thoroughly reviewed by both industry and regulators and it will need to be looked at in the context of other extensive studies.”Neonics have already been blamed for steep drops in bee populations.Health Canada is considering a ban on the neonic used in Morrissey’s study. The European Union strictly regulates its use.Morrissey said her study has been made available to Health Canada.There may be ways to keep the popular pesticide on the market and reduce its environmental impact, she suggested. Instead of being applied universally to seeds, it may be wiser to use neonics only when they’re needed.“That’s where we have to consider how we’re doing agriculture, whether we should be applying very toxic pesticides when they may or may not need to be used.”— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow him on Twitter at @row1960Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version called one of the pesticides organochlorines.last_img read more

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Scheer says Tories will recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital if elected

first_imgOTTAWA – Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says if his party forms government in 2019, it will follow Donald Trump’s lead and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.Scheer’s declaration comes in the form of a pledge posted to the Conservative party website designed to gather signatures from members of the public.“Canada’s Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital when we form government in 2019,” the pledge says, describing the party as “a strong voice for Israel and the Canadian Jewish community.”It marks Scheer’s first definitive statement on the issue since it became a renewed matter of public debate late last year.That debate was prompted by the U.S. president’s decision in December to not just recognize Jerusalem as the capital, but to promise to move the American embassy there as well.It’s a contentious move. While Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, so do the Palestinians; the status of the city is part of ongoing peace negotiations. The U.S. decision was seen as taking sides in the debate and upending years of American diplomacy.In the aftermath of Trump’s announcement, the federal Liberal government said the issue must be resolved through negotiation.The pledge from Scheer sides squarely with Israel. “Canada’s Conservatives recognize the obvious fact that Israel, like every other sovereign nation, has a right to determine where its capital is located,” it says.It makes no mention, however, of whether or not a government led by the Conservatives would move the Canadian embassy from Tel Aviv. Jake Enwright, a spokesman for Scheer, said that would be discussed when the party forms government.“We’re focused on this policy and this recognition and we’ll consider that at a later date,” Enwright said.In the aftermath of Trump’s announcement, the Tories had found themselves scrambling to define their policy on Jerusalem, as neither Scheer nor the party had taken a public position on the issue. At the time, the party said it would discuss the issue as a caucus and make a decision.That debate was settled weeks ago — earlier this month, foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole referred to the party’s support for Jerusalem as the capital during a conservative conference in Ottawa.On Monday, O’Toole said recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital doesn’t mean the Palestinians must be entirely shut out.“East Jerusalem could also one day be the centre or capital of some eventual Palestinian state within a two-state solution, but to suggest at present that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel kind of conflicts with common sense,” he said.Canada should have some kind of consular presence in Jerusalem, but a decision on an embassy is a separate discussion, he added.The party’s efforts to use the issue to recruit new supporters signals the latest Conservative effort to position the party as distinct from the governing Liberals by rolling out specific policy planks.“If Canadians want a government who will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we want their support to recognize that,” Enwright said.The New Democrats oppose recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and passed a motion condemning Trump’s decision at their recent convention.On Monday, they accused the Tories of being close to Trump.“It’s a dangerous thing to say,” foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere said of Scheer’s pledge. “It does look like wedge politics again and also a complete disregard for the international community.”last_img read more

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Some of the victims of the Humboldt tragedy identified

first_imgNIPAWIN, Sask. – Fifteen people were killed and 14 others injured in a horrific crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. Here is some information about some of those who died:———Tyler Bieber:Bieber worked for Humboldt radio station CHBO and often traveled with the team as its play-by-play radio announcer. Steven Wilson, a co-worker in Weyburn, Sask., said it was Bieber’s first season announcing for the team. He also covered morning news.“He definitely had a natural talent,” said Wilson. “He was just passionate about sports.”Wilson said he filled in a few times for Bieber because he was also busy coaching the Humbolt high school’s basketball and football teams.———Glen Doerksen:Doerksen is described by his employer, Charlie’s Charters, in a Facebook post as an “outstanding friend, husband, and father.”“In talking to him, he spoke at length of his time in rinks with his own family and now how much he enjoyed being able to take and watch other teams from minor, to senior to SJHL to their hockey games,” the Kinistino Tigers wrote of Doersken, who drove their team to and from playoff games.“We will never forget the smile on your face as we left Allan after winning the Championship and got you to give ‘two honks for the Cup.’ Tonight Glen, we give two honks for you. Rest easy Sir.”———Darcy Haugan:The head coach of the Humboldt Broncos was described in online tributes as a “great man” and amazing mentor to young players.“He will always be a great man in our hearts,” his sister posted on Twitter under the name Debbie Jayne. “The tears just keep coming.”Before becoming a coach, he played junior hockey in the league in the 1990s.Steven Wilson, a radio play-by-play announcer in Weyburn, Sask., called Haugan “the classiest guy” in the league who always had time to chat.He said the last time he saw Haugan, the coach was playing video games in his office with one of his two young sons.“He was very dedicated to his family and at the same time he was a hockey guy.”Wilson said Haugan’s wife, Christina George-Haugan, worked as the team’s office manager.___Adam Herold:The youngest member of the team, Herold would have turned 17 this week.He was also a new member of the team — up until a few weeks ago, Herold was captain of the Regina Pat Canadians, manager John Smith said. But when the Regina team’s season wrapped up, Herold was sent to join the Broncos for their playoff round.“He was a wonderful young man. Never afraid to help his teammates. Always there for them. Good, typical Saskatchewan farm boy. Always load the bus, unload the bus, never afraid to roll up his sleeves and get work done,” Smith said.Smith said Herold is survived by his mom, dad and an older sister.___Brody Hinz:The 18-year-old Hinz had recently started tallying the Broncos’ numbers for Humboldt radio station CHBO.“Brody had recently joined our Golden West family, mentored by Tyler and the Bolt FM team,” Lydon Frieson, president of Golden West Radio, said in a statement posted on the station’s website.“Tragedy has hit our community and it reaches into every corner of life in Humboldt.”Another company statement described Hinz as an intern still in high school.The night of the crash marked a double tragedy for the family. A relative said on Facebook that another family member lost a baby boy in Humboldt hospital shortly after he was born.___Logan Hunter:Hunter’s death was confirmed by his former team, the St. Albert Raiders in his Alberta hometown.The organization’s president, Kevin Porter, said he heard the news from Hunter’s mother.“He always had a smile on his face,” said Porter, who described Hunter as a “smart kid and a great hockey player” with a “great sense of humour.”___Jaxon Joseph:The Edmonton native’s death was confirmed by the Surrey Eagles, his former team in the British Columbia Hockey League.The Broncos website says Joseph, who was 20 years old, was among the leading scorers in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs, playing on a line with Logan Schatz, another player who lost his life in the crash.In a profile published on the team’s website in January, Schatz paid tribute to Joseph and fellow linemate Conner Lukan.“I’ve really clicked with Joseph and Lukan. I can’t say enough good things about them,” Schatz said.___Xavier Labelle:Isaac Labelle eulogized his 18-year-old brother in an Instagram post Saturday.“I have no words to describe what I’m feeling. Best friends, teammates, allies, brothers,” he wrote. “We’ve been through so much together. We had a special bond from the day you were born.”“I’m going to miss you bro. I’ll always remember you and who you were will influence me for the rest of my life.”A defenceman, Xavier Labelle was a native of Saskatoon.___Logan Schatz:The team captain had played for the Broncos for just over four years and had served as team captain for the past 2 1/2 years, his father Kelly Schatz said.The native of Allan, Sask., played centre and was named the league’s player of the month in February after earning points in eight of nine games. He was 20 years old.Kelly Schatz said his family is seeking solace in one another.“It’s hard,” Kelly Schatz said. “I’ve got four other kids and they’re here, which is nice.”___Stephen Wack:The 21-year-old defenceman was one of the victims of the crash, his cousin Alicia Wack confirmed. He had played with the Broncos for two seasons.Wack said her cousin made the best gingerbread houses and “absolutely lived and breathed hockey.”“Stephen has always been an amazing person, son, big brother, and cousin. He is one of the most adventurous, ambitious, and loving people that I have ever been blessed to know,” she said in a Facebook post.___Information compiled by CP reporters Nicole Thompson, Michelle McQuigge, Morgan Lowrie and Chris Purdy.last_img read more

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Heres a quick glance at unemployment rates for May by Canadian city

first_imgOTTAWA – The national unemployment rate was 5.8 per cent in May. Statistics Canada also released seasonally adjusted, three-month moving average unemployment rates for major cities. It cautions, however, that the figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples. Here are the jobless rates last month by city (previous month in brackets):— St. John’s, N.L. 8.7 per cent (8.6)— Halifax 5.7 (5.6)— Moncton, N.B. 6.0 (5.7)— Saint John, N.B. 6.6 (6.5)— Saguenay, Que. 6.1 (5.8)— Quebec 3.9 (3.7)— Sherbrooke, Que. 5.0 (5.5)— Trois-Rivieres, Que. 5.2 (5.5)— Montreal 6.0 (6.1)— Gatineau, Que. 5.1 (4.8)— Ottawa 4.1 (4.2)— Kingston, Ont. 5.2 (4.9)— Peterborough, Ont. 2.7 (3.8)— Oshawa, Ont. 4.5 (4.4)— Toronto 6.2 (5.9)— Hamilton, Ont. 4.8 (5.3)— St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont. 6.3 (5.8)— Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ont. 5.7 (5.4)— Brantford, Ont. 7.5 (7.2)— Guelph, Ont. 4.1 (4.8)— London, Ont. 5.3 (5.7)— Windsor, Ont. 5.9 (5.5)— Barrie, Ont. 7.4 (8.4)— Sudbury, Ont. 7.0 (7.2)— Thunder Bay, Ont. 5.0 (5.1)— Winnipeg 6.7 (6.5)— Regina 6.3 (5.7)— Saskatoon 6.8 (6.7)— Calgary 7.7 (8.0)— Edmonton 6.5 (6.6)— Kelowna, B.C. 5.0 (4.8)— Abbotsford, B.C. 4.6 (4.4)— Vancouver 4.1 (4.1)— Victoria 3.9 (4.2)last_img read more

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Voters give Winnipeg mayor second term say no to Portage and Main

first_imgWINNIPEG – Winnipeg residents have voted to retain their mayor and keep the city’s landmark intersection closed to pedestrians.Brian Bowman was elected to a second term Wednesday night, handily beating second-place Jenny Motkaluk, a business consultant who made her first attempt at the mayor’s chair.Voters also cast ballots in a non-binding plebiscite on whether to re-open the intersection of Portage Ave. and Main St. to foot traffic, and rejected the idea by nearly a two-to-one margin.Bowman said he voted to open the corner — a windy gateway to the West which has been featured in song and postage — but will respect the outcome of the plebiscite.“I’m not going to apologize for listening to Winnipegers and they spoke today pretty clearly,” Bowman said after his victory speech.Bowman campaigned in 2014 on a promise to open the intersection. But the idea ran into opposition from residents who said the move would cost millions of dollars and add to traffic tie-ups. He backtracked on his promise and backed a councillor who wanted the matter put to a plebiscite.Concrete barriers have kept the downtown corner off-limits to crossings on foot for 39 years. Some residents said opening it would make the area more vibrant, boost business and be more accommodating to people with mobility issues.Currently, people who want to cross the streets must walk a long block in either direction or navigate an underground circle that can confuse visitors. Access via elevators after business hours can be touch-and-go, and some people have expressed fear for their safety in the dark stairwells and walkways.Vote Open Winnipeg, a group formed in the summer to push for the opening of the intersection, was disappointed with the result.“We hope that future city councils will see the light and see the benefits of pedestrian traffic in the heart of our city,” spokesman Adam Dooley said.Across Manitoba, eight rural communities, including Winkler and Steinbach, were holding plebiscites on whether to allow cannabis stores to open within their boundaries.Some mayoral offices remained unchanged.In Brandon, the province’s second-largest city, Rick Chrest was acclaimed for another term because no one ran against him. Winkler Mayor Martin Harder was unopposed as well.In Portage la Prairie, incumbent mayor Irvine Ferris was re-elected over Erik Lee, a former construction company owner who jumped into the race days before the deadline.last_img read more

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Federal Court of Appeal narrows release of Senatescandal documents

first_imgOTTAWA — The Federal Court of Appeal says the government does not have to release parts of a government memo about the Senate’s expense scandals in 2013 because it constituted legal advice for then prime minister Stephen Harper.In a ruling dated April 24, a three-judge panel says the document from the clerk of the Privy Council is subject to solicitor-client privilege even though the clerk at the time wasn’t a lawyer, because Privy Council lawyers helped write it.The court ruling says some emails, letters and details in the July 2013 package must be released, including the decision Harper made based on the advice he got.That’s less information than a lower-court judge said had to come out.The decision is the latest twist in a nearly four-year legal battle between the Prime Minister’s Office and the federal information commissioner stemming from an access-to-information request from The Canadian Press.The information commissioner’s office says it is still deciding whether to appeal.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Naomi Judd To Attend K9 Battle Buddies Luncheon

first_imgPhilanthropist Lois Pope and American Humane Association, the country’s first national humane organization, are honored to welcome country music legend Naomi Judd to the special “K-9 Battle Buddies” luncheon on Tuesday, March 17 at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.The special event will pay tribute to brave military dogs and their heroic human handlers. Ms. Judd was awarded American Humane Association’s “Humane Legacy Award” at Mrs. Pope’s 2013 Lady in Red Gala for her lifetime dedication to making the world a better place for the infirm and our most vulnerable.She was first known to the world as half of country music’s mother-daughter duo, The Judds. Reaching unprecedented success throughout the 80’s and 90’s, The Judds sold 20 million records, scored fifteen number-one hits, and received over 60 industry awards, including six Grammys, seven consecutive CMA Vocal Group of the Year awards, and the ACM’s Top Vocal Duet award.Her rise to the top of the country music charts was sadly cut short when she was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, a chronic liver disease, having contracted the disease from an infected needle during her previous career as a registered nurse. Though The Judds retired from the music industry, Ms. Judd did not retreat from the public spotlight, instead becoming the first national spokesperson for the American Liver Foundation. Utilizing her fame and passion to help people, she spread awareness of this potentially fatal disease, helping save untold numbers of lives. In 2004, she published “Naomi’s Breakthrough Guide: 20 Choices to Transform Your Life,” which remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than eight weeks. In 2008 “Naomi’s Guide to Aging Gratefully: Facts, Myths, and Good News for Boomers” hit shelves and impressed critics, medical professionals, and fans. In 2012, she hosted a six-week SiriusXM radio series entitled, “Think Twice.”Ms. Judd’s charity work is far-reaching, and includes River Cities Harvest, the Saint Louis University Liver Center, M.A.D.D., Parents Television Council, Make-A-Difference Day, Women’s World Peace Initiative, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and her own July 4th Judd’s Annual Food Drive to benefit families of Appalachia.Over the past few years she has worked extensively with American Humane Association. Last May she went to Capitol Hill to speak at the organization’s congressional briefing on its “Canines and Childhood Cancer” study, which is seeking to quantify the powerful, soothing touch of animal-assisted therapy for children with cancer and their families. Before her rise to the top of the country music charts, Ms. Judd was a nurse and saw first-hand the bond between children and therapy animals. She spoke to a packed room about why this study is so important. She has also served as a celebrity judge and presenter at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards, the annual celebration of the extraordinary things done by mankind’s best friend.“Naomi is the living embodiment of a humanitarian, and we are so honored that she is able to join us in Palm Beach on March 17 for the ‘K-9 Battle Buddies’ luncheon,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association’s president and CEO. “She has dedicated her life to making the world a better place for so many. Her appreciation for our military heroes knows no bounds, and we know that the heroic military dog teams at the luncheon will cherish their time with her.”“I’m honored to be able to call Naomi Judd my friend,” said Mrs. Pope. “She is a living legend, not just because of her considerable achievements in country music, but through her advocacy, philanthropy, and support of so many wonderful causes. Thank you, Naomi, for joining us at the Mar-a-Lago Club for this special luncheon.”Information about the March 17th “K-9 Battle Buddies” gala luncheon can be provided by Jill Nizan at jilln@americanhumane.org or by calling 1-800-227-4645. Jet Paws and Military Freedom sponsorship opportunities are also available.last_img read more

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