Tina HouseAPTN NewsThe fight between Alberta and British Columbia over the Trans Mountain pipeline has gone from a war of words to a full-blown trade war.Alberta wants the $7.4 billion Kinder Morgan project built.But the minority NDP government in B.C., backed by the Green Party does not.Now gas prices in B.C., already the highest in the country, could go even higher very firstname.lastname@example.org
InFocusToday’s InFocus was the last in a three-part series putting the child welfare system under the microscope.Natasha Reimer spent her entire life bounced from foster home to foster home when she was apprehended as a young girl from an unsafe home.While the system kept her separated from a mother who couldn’t parent, it also robbed her of a relationship with her seven younger siblings, who were also raised in care.“It’s very lonely,” Reimer told InFocus Host Melissa Ridgen. “You have no sense of stability, you have no foundation.“You learn to not get attached to places, people, things, schools, environments – anything.”Reimer, a fourth-year criminal justice student who plans to go to law school, helped create Foster Up, a support group at the University of Winnipeg.Its goal is to create a community for aged-out foster kids who are trying to find their feet as young adult university students.Katelyn Roberts is the executive director of Sanctum 1.5, a four-month-old facility that aims to help high-risk pregnant moms avoid losing their babies to birth apprehensions in the hospital.So far seven babies and their moms were spared that trauma and are ready to transition back out on their own, thanks to the programming at Sanctum 1.5.“It’s demonstrated in a very short period of time that working preventatively with people who have the co-occurrence of trauma and addictions and mental illness, that with the right supports in place we can keep children out of care,” Roberts said.She said the program could be used as a template in any community.Since APTN News did a story about the facility, people in other jurisdictions have contact Sanctum 1.5, interested in creating their own.And rounding out the guests on Wednesday’s InFocus was Warren Vandall, who was a social worker for five years in Manitoba and said he was fired for going against rules, and helping children and families stay together or be reunited.“A lot of times the apprehensions don’t need to happen,” Vandall said. “They could be placing the child with the immediate family until we figure things out.” He said there’s too much emphasis on seizing kids and keeping them in care for as long as possible by foot-dragging case workers or using courts to prolong delays.If you missed any of the three-part series you can download as a podcast here.
Chris StewartAPTN NewsA soup kitchen in Edmonton is being forced to close forcing hundreds of people to find another place to get a warm breakfast and lunch.The Gathering Place on Fort Road, also known as Mawachihitowin Otah, has been operating out of a closed downtown hotel since Nov. 2017.The operators had a restaurant license, but the Fort Road Business and Community Association appealed their permit saying it wasn’t a restaurant.Carola Cunningham is the CEO of Niginan Housing Service who operated the Gathering Place.She said she feels for those who relied on their services.“We had 80 people lined up and six of them were children, ready for breakfast. So very disheartening for us to have to turn people away,” she said.(Carola Cunningham is the CEO of Niginan Housing Service says the kitchen was an essential part of the community.” Photo: Chris Stewart/APTN)People like James Phaneuf, and Amanda Veinot say the kitchen did a lot for the neighbourhood.”We wish it wasn’t closing down, trust me. They did a lot of help for us feeding us everyday. Making us feel at home,” said Phaneuf.Veinot says it wasn’t just a place to get a meal.“It’s just a good place for people who didn’t have anywhere to go. And just to communicate, which is a big thing too. So now the communication is gone,” says Vienot.“It’s sad.”(James Phaneuf, and Amanda Veinot say they are disappointed the kitchen is being forced to close. Photo: Chris Stewart/APTN)The Fort Road Business and Community Association says the problem is not having the right permit.Robert Noce, the lawyer for the association, says the area is zoned for commercial businesses.“We conceded the good work they were doing and we know the people they are reaching out to need help, we get that,” says Noce.“The problem of course is the planning documents that the city of Edmonton has adopted for this area did not support this kind of activity.”Cunningham says having this space, which also offers internet access helped the community.“I don’t know how many of the business owners actually live in the area but it would be interesting for them to talk to the active community members and find out,” she said.“You know that services like ours are almost essential. It will reduce crime. It will keep the people housed. And it will keep people from desperation.”Cunningham says she’s hoping a local business can offer a new location for the kitchen to email@example.com@aptnchris
Helen Upperton was eight years old when Calgary held the Olympics in 1988 and her daughter with fellow Olympian Jesse Lumsden will be the same age in 2026 when the Games may return to the city.But that prospect is in serious jeopardy as Calgary city council will hold a vote to reaffirm support next week on a bid, before exploring the possibility any further.“Not necessarily yes for a bid, but yes to properly investigate whether or not we should bid as a city,” she said. “Unless we see the big picture and the whole picture, I don’t think it’s fair to stop the conversation so prematurely.”The two-time Olympian was joined by athletes from the past, present and future at WinSport in Calgary Friday morning, presenting a united front to keep the Olympic possibility going.Among the group was Mark Tewksbury, Kyle Shewfelt, Denny Morrison, Gilmore Junio, Seyi Smith, Jessica Zelinka, Catrina Le May Doan, Brian McKeever and Jeff Christie.“We were really trying to be respectful of the process and not influence too much,” Tewksbury said. “When the news came out on Tuesday of just how much in jeopardy this is, the athlete community mobilized.”Council was originally scheduled to debate public engagement options – including a plebiscite – next week, but on Tuesday, councillor Druh Farrell brought forward a motion at a committee meeting to hold a vote to reaffirm support before going any further.It passed 9-1 and after bureaucratic hiccups, allegations of favouritism and bias, as well as the miscommunication with other orders of government, there’s a strong possibility enough councillors will change their mind and kill the process.“Within three days, we’ve had hundreds of athletes sending letters to the councillors, organizing a press conference,” Tewksbury said. “Please keep the conversation going.”On March 20, council voted 8-6 with one member absent to form the $30 million Olympic BidCo., which would develop the plan necessary to put in a formal bid to the International Olympic Committee for the 2026 Games.But recently, councillor Ward Sutherland – who voted in favour of forming the BidCo. – has stated publicly he will vote no next week, citing changes from the provincial government in municipal funding, as well as unclear information from city administration.Councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart has also indicated it may be time to end the process, among her reasons the Alberta Government imposing a condition on the city to hold a plebiscite should it want provincial support in hosting the Games.The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee originally came up with a figure of $4.6 billion to host, with roughly half having to come from multiple orders of government.That figure came under scrutiny from several economic reports commissioned by the city and didn’t take into account other costs, such as the assumption that a new hockey arena would be operational by 2026.Another alarm bell for councillors was how the reports were made public, which were obtained by media and not widely distributed to the politicians themselves.But council is scheduled to receive updated financial information in the summer, including a fully-costed budget, a more detailed breakdown of funding from the public and private sector and a more thorough analysis of the economic impact for the city.Along with a plebiscite that would be required to be done between the fall and winter, the Olympians believe those numbers should be developed before ending the bid.“I’m a business owner, I’m a parent, I pay taxes, I’ve lived in this city my whole life, if it doesn’t make sense, and it looks like this is not going to be a good thing for the city, then I’ll say no,” Shewfelt, a gold-medal winning gymnast from the 2000 Games, said. “But we don’t have that information yet.”The councillors in opposition to the Games have cited multiple reasons beyond the cost itself, which some believe will go well above the estimated $4.6 billion.Among the reasons is skepticism in trusting the International Olympic Committee, a lack of public consultation, miscommunication with the provincial government and a perceived bias within the city administration to host the Games.One of the staunchest councillors against the Games, Sean Chu, recently said at a council meeting to Mayor Naheed Nenshi, “we all know you want the Olympics.”The Olympians have echoed Nenshi’s message from earlier this week that council shouldn’t decide without getting the fully-costed numbers, although he agrees there have been missteps along the way.“I share the frustration of last-minute changes by other orders of government, I share the frustration of reports that are not clear enough,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say it’s a bit in the ditch. And the question is, is it worth pulling out of the ditch or not? And I think it is.”One of the key pluses among Olympic proponents is the new and updated infrastructure that would come as a result of bidding for the Games.As many have noted, the facilities from 1988 Games are still readily in use and are a major part of Calgary’s identity after putting the city ‘on the map’ 30 years ago.But those facilities are in need of being upgraded at the risk of eventually going out of service, and many of Calgary’s Olympic athletes train in the city and the province.Some of those facilities are also partially funded by legacy money from the 1988 Games.“That legacy is soon going to run out,” former Olympian Catrina Le May Doan said, who was part of the CBEC committee before it was disbanded. “I don’t want the Oval to close, I don’t want WinSport closed, I don’t want Canmore to close.“What happens after that, do myself and other taxpayers then fund that or do we have an opportunity as Mark Tewksbury said, to work with the federal government, work with the provincial government and continue to have a legacy for not just sport, but a legacy for facilities.”The athletes aren’t alone, as the Calgary Chamber of Commerce also voiced its support to continue the process a few hours after the athlete rally.Another concern is going into the business with the IOC amidst its recent scandals, a fact acknowledged by Tewksbury, a former Team Canada Chef de Mission, who has been highly critical of the organization.“I still have a healthy skepticism about the bidding process in all of this, but I do believe in my heart at that the moment with the IOC, there’s a lot of misinformation,” he said, noting more Canadians are involved with the committee. “I do believe there’s a genuine openness to do things differently.”
SOFIA, Bulgaria — Hundreds of Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers are protesting to demand government guarantees that their jobs will be preserved amid bids by the European Union to close mines and tackle climate change.Buses carried protesters from across Bulgaria for the march in downtown Sofia. Over 2,000 demonstrators chanted “victory” as they marched to the headquarters of the EU offices in Bulgaria and rallied there Thursday.Bulgarian miners say the EU’s timeframe for closing down coal mining and coal extraction is too short and argue it should not come at the expense of the bloc’s poorest and most carbon-dependent regions.Union leader Dimitar Manolov said 150,000 jobs are at risk should the biggest coal mines and energy plants in southeastern Bulgaria close down.The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau says Canada takes seriously comments made by U.S. President Donald Trump about withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement.But Morneau told a gathering in New York today he had no insight into when that might happen.And the finance minister said he has a “high level of confidence” that the new pact negotiated to replace NAFTA will be ratified by all three countries involved.Morneau made the comments at an event co-hosted by Politico and the Canadian consulate in New York.He said it’s clear U.S. lawmakers are in the first stages of negotiations toward ratifying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as USMCA.On Saturday, Trump told reporters he planned to give formal notice of his intentions to withdraw from NAFTA, which would give American lawmakers six months to approve the USMCA or have no free-trade pact with Canada and Mexico.“We take everything seriously,” Morneau said when asked whether he took the president’s comments at face value.“While we’ll have to watch and ensure we get through this next stage, we have a high level of confidence that’s achievable.”The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Home sales across the Greater Toronto Area fell nearly 15 per cent in November, compared with a year ago, as sale prices continued to see moderate growth, a suggestion that Canada’s largest city still remains a seller’s market.The Toronto Real Estate Board says there were 6,251 residential transactions recorded last month through its multiple listing service (MLS) system, down 14.7 per cent versus a year ago. On a seasonally adjusted basis, sales were down by 3.4 per cent compared with October 2018.The average sale price was up by 3.5 per cent year-over-year to $788,345. Adjusted seasonally, the average sale price was nearly flat, down by 0.8 per cent compared to October 2018.The MLS HPI composite benchmark price jumped by 2.7 per cent last month, compared with last year.TREB, which represents more than 52,000 real estate agents across the region, blamed the decline in sales to a “temporary upward shift in demand” in November 2017 prior to the new stress-test rules coming into effect.The board says the number of new listings hitting the market also fell in November, down 26.1 per cent to 10,534 from 14,260 when compared with the same month last year.“This suggests that, in many neighbourhoods, competition between buyers may have increased,” said TREB president Garry Bhaura in a release. “Relatively tight market conditions over the past few months have provided the foundation for renewed price growth.”Meanwhile, it says sale prices for lower-priced housing such as condos and semi-detached properties continued to show steady increases due to the stress tests and higher borrowing costs.Follow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter.Linda Nguyen , The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press Companies in this story: (TSX:RY) TORONTO — Royal Bank of Canada is denying a report that it was able to read, write and delete users’ messages on the social networking website Facebook.The New York Times has published a story claiming Facebook gave RBC, along with Spotify and Netflix, the ability to see private messages between its users.The claims were based on hundreds of internal Facebook documents obtained by the newspaper, that have not been verified by The Canadian Press.The Times story says more than 150 companies were given access to personal information from Facebook users, including entire friends’ lists and contact information without their permission or knowledge.RBC says it was given permission to send messages to Facebook users from 2013 to 2015 when it offered a mobile app service that enabled customers to send money to their friends through the social network. It says it did not have the ability to see users’ messages.The bank says it needed to be able to send the messages to confirm the identity of the Facebook user receiving the money and to send them a receipt of the transaction. The bank denied having access to private messages, or needing access to these messages.The service, which used the bank’s mobile app, was decommissioned in 2015 due to low usage.“RBC’s use of the Facebook platform was limited to the development of a service that enabled clients to facilitate payment transactions to their Facebook friends,” said RBC spokesman AJ Goodman in an email.“As part of our security and fraud protocols, we needed to uniquely identify the recipient of funds and payments to securely process the transaction and deliver the notification. We did not have the ability to see users’ messages.”
MONTREAL, Q.C. — Canada’s two largest railways vowed to improve their service levels over the coming months as they escape the grip of a tough winter that hampered their ability to transport goods.During separate presentations to a transportation conference, Canadian National Railway chief financial officer Ghislain Houle and Canadian Pacific Rail chief executive Keith Creel told investors that heavy snow in Western Canada and frigid temperatures had a big impact, especially compared to last year’s milder conditions.“We had more snowfall in the first 10 days of January than we had the entire month last year,” Creel told the Barclays Industrial Conference in Miami. Despite the headwinds, he said there’s nothing that causes him to lose sleep over about operations in the rest of the year. Creel said the strong North American economy should deliver opportunities this year as it did in 2017.Houle said CN’s operations were restricted during three quarters of its days of operation in the first quarter that reduced its capacity by cutting train lengths by more than half. That meant moving the same volume with more trains.Weather conditions have improved in the last six days and operating metrics like velocity and locomotive utilization are up so far in February by three- to 10-per cent, said Houle.“So now, if you look at it on a year-over-year, we’re still down versus last year, and we expect that. But sequentially, we’re going to get ourselves out of the hole.”Houle also said the Montreal-based railway is hiring 350 to 400 conductors this quarter and adding locomotives as part of its $3.2-billion infrastructure spending this year.“And so, you’ll see us humming,” he told analysts. “We’re doing what we can to get out of it as quickly as possible. And you can rest assured and investors should rest assured that we are focused on getting ourselves out of this bump ASAP. And we’re putting the money where our mouth is.” Analyst Walter Spracklin of RBC Capital Markets last week said service at CN Rail had deteriorated to the point where clients were switching their cargo to its Calgary-based rival. Recent complaints about CN service by the CEO of energy services firm Halliburton, along with service disruptions on CN lines in areas such as the Port of Prince Rupert terminal in British Columbia, have raised questions among CN investors and caused “irreparable damage” to shipper relationships, Spracklin charged in a report.He said CN’s train speeds were down 17 per cent in the week from a year ago, compared with nine per cent for the railway group. Dwell time – in which trains sit at a terminal – was up 43 per cent compared to the group’s nine per cent.Meanwhile, Creel said he continues to believe there will be railway consolidation in North America even though CP withdrew in 2016 its contentious effort to take over Norfolk Southern Corp.“So to me, inevitably, consolidation must occur to create capacity to continue to drive the North American economy,” he said. “I don’t think it’s imminent…but eventually I think within my career, whether it’s five years or 10 years, I think, it’s the next step.”
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Two accountants from the Peace Region have been named to the Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C.’s Board of Directors for this upcoming fiscal year.The CPABC held its third Annual General Meeting in Vancouver on June 27th, and announced that Gavin Still from Fort St. John and Ben Sander from Dawson Creek will be serving on the Association’s Board of Directors for fiscal year 2018/2019. Still was announced as the Board’s First Vice-Chair, while Still will be serving as a regular director.Barry Macdonald FCPA, FCA has been elected as Chair of the CPABC Board of Directors and is joined by Sander, Geoff Dodds, CPA, CA, and Stanley Chang, CPA, CGA on the Governance Committee. The pair are the only two Directors on the CPABC’s Board to hail from Northern B.C. Of the 17 members of the Board, only six hail from outside Vancouver. Two are from Vancouver Island, while the other two are from the Southern Interior.
NEW DELHI: Days after the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee expressed that there will be no alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, party chief Rahul Gandhi Monday urged booth level workers to win on all seven seats, indirectly confirming the move. Gandhi was addressing a meeting of booth-level workers of the Delhi Congress.Terming the upcoming Lok Sabha elections a contest between the Congress’ ideology of inclusivity and Narendra Modi and the RSS ideology of fear and hatred, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday promised a minimum income guarantee scheme for all the poor in the country if the party is voted to power. Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic itemsAddressing booth workers at the Indira Gandhi Stadium here, Gandhi ridiculed Modi for being a coward and said only the Congress can tackle the twin challenges of unemployment and the agrarian crisis. Exhorting party workers to reach out to the voters with theCongress’ message, Gandhi asked them to ensure that the party wins all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. “The choice is between India of Mahatma Gandhi and that of his assassin (Nathuram) Godse. The fight is between Modi and RSS’ ideology of fear and hatred on one side and the Congress’ ideology of love and inclusivity on the other. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder”The Congress will form the government in the coming elections as it is the only party that can change India,” Gandhi said while urging the party workers to spread the Congress’ message among the masses. Holding the Modi government responsible for two of the biggest challenges facing the country — unemployment and agrarian distress, Gandhi said the Congress will ensure a minimum income for all the poor as soon as it comes to power. “On the one hand you have Modi who waived loans worth Rs 3,50,000 crore of a handful of industrialists, and on the other you have the Congress which will implement the minimum income guarantee scheme immediately after coming to power,” said Gandhi. Explaining the scheme, he said the minimum income of the country will be calculated which will act as the standard and those below that level will be given the shortfall. “Nobody in the country will be below the minimum income level,” Gandhi claimed. “No country in the world has ever tried such a scheme, but we will implement it. In Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, we promised farm loan waiver and within two days of coming to power, we did that. Only the Congress can do it,” he asserted.
New Delhi: Former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala’s son Abhay Singh Chautala on Tuesday moved the Delhi High Court seeking transfer of the disproportionate assets (DA) case against him to some other judge.The petition is likely to be heard by Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal on Wednesday. In his plea, Abhay Chautala said the DA case be withdrawn from the special CBI judge hearing it presently and be assigned to someone else. The petition has also sought calling of the case records, claiming that it would allegedly reveal deliberate deletion of the deposition of one of the prosecution witnesses. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity!Chautala has claimed in the plea that he apprehends he would not get a fair trial if his case continues to be presided over by the special judge. The CBI had lodged the DA case against Abhay Chautala on a complaint of Congress leader Shamsher Singh Surjewala. Surjewala had alleged that Abhay Chautala had amassed wealth worth several times more than his income. According to the CBI, Abhay Chautala owned assets worth over five times his income of Rs 22.89 crore as per income tax records during the 2000-2005 period. It has claimed to have found Rs 119.69 crore worth of assets. The CBI had also alleged that Ajay Chautala possessed assets exceeding his legal income by 339.27 per cent. His legal income between May 1993 and May 2006 was Rs 8.17 crore, but had acquired assets worth Rs 27.7 crore, it had alleged before the trial court.
The idea of the motherland is a sacred notion for a majority of Indians. Indians are patriotic people, passionate about the security and safety of their motherland. They wish her to be great; expect her to be protected, to be strengthened and to see her leaders work hard to make her self-reliant, self-sufficient and sturdy. What has caught the imagination of people in the last five years is Narendra Modi’s unrelenting action in trying to achieve exactly that. As Arun Jaitley, one of those who has closely seen him since the early days recently argued that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has demonstrated during the last five years his indefatigability towards making of New India, a power to reckon with. Many India observers across the world have marvelled with India’s pace of decision making and implementation.” Modi’s mantra of making India great has once again caught the mass imagination. On Modi’s part, there has been no slackening of pace in his commitment and in the delivery of his promises. These promises were made across the spectrum from ameliorating and transforming lives at the grassroots to establishing India as a global power confident that she shall play a leading role in directing the agendas of the 21st century. The latest evidence of Modi’s cohesive and organised action to establish India on the world stage was evident when India succeeded in eliciting worldwide condemnation for Pakistan’s complicity in carrying out terror attacks on India. India also elicited support in the UN to blacklist and sanction terrorist Masood Azhar. In solidarity with India, the international community felt deeply disappointed at the fact that China once again blocked the move. The results of the friendships that Modi had globally forged in the last five years, the unprecedented outreach that he had initiated as part of India’s foreign policy – his trips abroad– and his creative, as well as tenacious, diplomacy has been most visible since the Pulwama terror attack. While Congress president Rahul Gandhi rejoices at China’s success in blocking Masood Azhar’s listing, and his minions see and interpret it as a snub to Modi, the people at large stand disappointed by the Chinese hold and continue to further close their ranks in solidarity with Modi, who they see as being uncompromising on terror, and bullish, dogged and unrelenting when it comes to India’s national security. The “original sin” of gifting away – bartering away India’s strategic advantages to China – was that of Nehru’s; in the last few days, that debate has been conclusively settled against Congress, especially its ruling dynasty. As BJP president Amit Shah points out in a scathing column, both the refusal to take up India’s seat in the UNSC and the referring of the Kashmir issue to the UN, were the original sins of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, sins which continue to prove costly to India. The tears shed at the Batla House encounter to eliminate terrorists, the push for inaction after 26/11 when Sonia Gandhi called the shots – Rahul Gandhi was tangoing in his Delhi farmhouse just after terrorists had carried out the massacre in Mumbai – the support to urban Naxals who set the agenda and create narratives for separatists and extortionists including plotting to assassinate Modi, the support for the “tukde tukde” network across India especially in select universities, the repeated attempts to stall an upgrade of India’s defence forces, the repeated questioning of any action that India has taken, in the last five years in response to terrorism, the habit of referring to Jaish terrorists in respectful terms, indicates that Congress under Sonia and Rahul Gandhi has dumped whatever little it possessed of its nationalist orientation and temperament. For Congress, the last two decades or so has been a trajectory towards subversion. A decade in power saw Congress turn India into a passive absorber of terrorism, it saw the ludicrous formulation by the then Congress Prime Minister that Pakistan too was a victim of terror and therefore had India’s sympathies. It saw India function as an appendage, a soft state with an unimaginative, halting and hesitant approach when it came to defending herself against aggression. The defanging of India’s national security was one of the most comprehensive contribution of the Congress mindset, apart from the debilitating insistence that India could only survive as an oligarchy of dynasties, that every national institution had to be compromised, that nepotism was normal and accepted public-behavioural trait, and that Indian democracy lives to serve the ‘Dynasty.’ The decade before Modi’s advent on the national scene was one long lightless phase in which such attempts were made, and often succeeded. A fall back to the mindset which defined that phase will only push back our collective march and weaken our collective will to see a new India. Modi continues to restore faith, continues to plug the leaks, to heal the cores, to erect new edifices for which he is attacked and abused. His triumph will prove the death of this mentality of subversion that has been allowed to go unchecked for decades. The social and political formations that stand against this emotion and conviction for the national good and have worked to dilute or weaken these have never succeeded in striking deep roots in India’s political soil. Congress, because of its enunciation of anti-Indianness, is now getting increasingly deracinated while the communist parties, who have been at forefront of trying to weaken the nationalist psyche of the Indian masses, continue to wither away. Each has found in the other the support in this destructive game. Congress resorts to politics of confusion while the shrinking communist parties, in the name of the proletariat, continue to peddle their false line of an India that is in perpetual conflict and clash, in which exploitation and communalism dominate. So thick is the partnership that the CPI(M) general secretary has given up all pretensions of being a Marxist ideologue and has degenerated into a loyal spokesperson of the Congress party. This degradation has consumed the habit of debate, of ideological adherence, and of cadre discipline and commitment in the party. Neither party has a leader nor a leadership which has a vision of India’s future. Can they ever hope to succeed in their negative anti-Modi alliance? They have no acceptance among people, they have no capacity to read new India’s mind and the summer of 2019 will only reinforce their irrelevance. (The author is Director, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre and the EC on a plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings for alleged violation of the apex court’s judgment directing all candidates to declare their criminal antecedents to the poll panel before contesting elections. A bench comprising Justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saran also sought response from the three deputy election commissioners, law secretary and the cabinet secretary for not complying with its judgment dated September 25, 2018. The court was hearing a plea filed by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay. In September last year, a five-judge Constitution bench had unanimously held that all candidates will have to declare their criminal antecedents to the Election Commission(EC) before contesting polls and had called for wider publicity, through print and electronic media about the antecedents of candidates.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court order quashing a Reserve Bank of India circular on resolving bad debt will provide relief to power companies and lenders as well as flexibility to restructure debts but will slowdown bankruptcy proceedings, experts said Tuesday. The Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed RBI’s February 12 circular, which prescribed rules for recognising one-day defaults by large corporates and initiating insolvency action as a remedy. Vishrov Mukerjee, Partner, J Sagar Associates said after the Supreme Court judgment, the RBI may have to issue revised guidelines/circulars for the restructuring of stressed assets. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”There is also a question mark over existing processes which may have been completed/nearing completion,” he said. “However, with the threat of IBC proceedings mitigated, it will give some breathing space to power companies and lenders as well as flexibility to restructure debts in a manner which ensures continuity and value maximization for lenders as well as power companies.” Cyril Shroff, Managing Partner, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, termed the ruling as a major development that shows how “proactive” the judiciary has been. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost”Whilst it’s too early to say but if banks voluntarily still invoke IBC – the practical impact will be minimal,” he said. ICRA senior vice president Sabyasachi Majumdar said the Supreme Court decision is likely to result in a further slowdown in the already tardy pace of resolution of stressed assets in the power sector. “This apart, the resolution process is in any case subjected to regulatory risks as exemplified in the case of the Prayagraj Power asset, where the regulator has given a recent directive for a discount in PPA tariff while allowing the shareholding change approval for the same,” he said. Srikanth Vadlamani, Vice President, Financial Institutions Group, Moody’s Investors Service, said voiding of the February 12 circular is credit negative for Indian banks. “The circular had significantly tightened stressed loan recognition and resolution for large borrowers. But, with the voiding, this may now have to be watered down,” he said. “The resolution of stressed loans impacted by the circular will be further delayed as the process may have to be started afresh”. The RBI had on February 12, 2018, issued a circular on the resolution of stressed assets revised framework — commonly known as February 12 circular. According to the circular, lenders had to classify a loan account as stressed if there was even a day of default. The bankers had to mandatorily refer all accounts with over Rs 2,000 crore loans to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) or the bankruptcy court if they failed to resolve the problem within 180 days of default. Lenders were supposed to file an insolvency application under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 within 15 days of the completion of the 180-day deadline. The circular also withdrew the loan resolution mechanisms the RBI had implemented, such as Corporate Debt Restructuring and Strategic Debt Restructuring. Power sector was the worst hit by the circular and so were companies in steel, textile, sugar and shipping sector. GMR Energy Ltd, RattanIndia Power Ltd, Association of Power Producers (APP), Independent Power Producers Association of India, Sugar Manufacturing Association from Tamil Nadu and a shipbuilding association from Gujarat moved different courts against the circular. The power sector argued that outstanding loans of Rs 5.65 lakh crore (as on March 2018) were a result of factors beyond their control such as unavailability of fuel and cancellation of coal blocks. The Supreme Court Tuesday held that the circular was ‘ultra vires’ — meaning it went beyond the scope of what the RBI can do when coming up with rules and regulations. Mukerjee said the Supreme Court verdict along with recent government decisions implementing the recommendations of the High-Level Empowered Committee will provide much needed respite and impetus to regulatory reform in the power sector.
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day on Tuesday, said that a world-class autism township will be set up soon to provide training to autistic children and adults.In a tweet, Banerjee said: “Today is #WorldAutismAwarenessDay. We must create more awareness about autism among the people. You will be happy to know that a world-class autism township will be coming up near Kolkata where autistic children and adults will receive training, treatment and boarding facilities.” Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThis comes as a significant announcement for autistic children in the city, as they would get various facilities at the proposed township. The township will be built as a one-of-its-kind initiative by the Bengal government in association with a private firm, on a 52 acre plot at Sirakol in South 24-Parganas at an estimated cost of Rs 500 crore. The project is expected to be completed by 2023. It can be mentioned that the project was first announced during the Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS) in 2018. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThe children and adults suffering from the developmental disorder can receive training, treatment and boarding facilities at this township. The township will also have provisions for training teachers who would be dealing with those suffering from the disorder. The main purpose of the township is to provide holistic development of those suffering from autism. World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognised day which falls on April 2 every year and aims to raise awareness about people with Autism Spectrum Disorder through various programmes. According to a senior state government official, the township will be the first of its kind, not only in the country but also in the world. There will be facilities for accommodating 350 residents, apart from a daycare centre having a capacity of accommodating over 200 children and adolescents. A guest house will also be set up, where parents of those receiving training can stay for a few days. It may be mentioned here that after coming to power, the Mamata Banerjee government has started introducing units for autistic children at various government-run hospitals. Among other medical colleges and hospitals in the state, the NRS Medical College and Hospital runs a unique autistic care centre, where a large number of patients from across the state visit.
BALURGHAT: Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to visit Balurghat on April 12 for poll campaigning, said the party’s Balurghat candidate Arpita Ghosh while talking to Millennium Post. Poll for the Balurghat Lok Sabha seat is scheduled on April 23, in the third of the seven phase polls in Bengal.Ghosh had earlier been elected from the Balurghat seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. She had won with a margin of over one lakh defeating the LF candidate, while BJP had placed third. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”It has been decided that Didi will take part in two public rallies on Friday-Balurghat and North Dinajpur’s Itahar. She will reach Itahar in helicopter at 11 am and address a rally there. She will directly go from there to Balurghat and take part in another public meeting. We are expecting around one lakh people in Balurghat,” Ghosh said. According to a party source, Banerjee’s meeting has been scheduled at Balurghat town club ground, located in the middle of the town. Thousands of party workers covering all eight blocks are expected to attend the programme. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayBanerjee has targeted to win all 42 LS seats in Bengal. She has been visiting North Bengal, addressing various public rallies in favour of the party candidates. In South Dinajpur, the Trinamool supremo has directed state ministers Purnendu Bose, Goutam Deb, Rajib Banerjee and Bachchu Hansda to give maximum stress on rural areas, highlighting the development projects that have been taken up by the state government. “The leaders are now concentrating on small party meetings and door-to-door campaigning,” said a Political Observer. According to a party source, Trinamool Youth Congress president Abhishek Banerjee will also address a public rally on April 11 at Kushmandi.
New Delhi: India’s exports rose to a five-month high of 11 per cent in March on account of higher growth mainly in pharma, chemicals and engineering sectors, marking the outbound shipments at $331 billion for FY 2018-19, official data showed Monday. Merchandise exports in March stood at $32.55 billion as against $29.32 billion in the same month last year. This is the best growth rate for exports since october 2018, when shipments grew by 17.86 per cent. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalImports rose by 1.44 per cent to $43.44 billion in March 2019. However, trade deficit — the difference between exports and imports — narrows to $10.89 billion during the month under review as compared to $13.51 billion in March 2018. Oil and gold imports rose by 5.55 per cent and 31.22 per cent to $11.75 billion and $3.27 billion, respectively in March 2019. For the full fiscal (2018-19), imports rose by 8.99 per cent to $507.44 billion, widening the trade deficit to $176.42 billion as against $162 billion in 2017-18. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost”Through secular growth over the last three financial years, following the major downturn in the face of the global slowdown, merchandise exports for 2018-19 are estimated at $331.02 billion, the highest ever, surpassing the earlier peak of $314.4 billion achieved in 2013-14. This has been achieved in a challenging global environment,” the commerce ministry said in a statement. During the full fiscal, the sectors which recorded healthy growth include petroleum (28 per cent), plastic (25.6 per cent), chemicals (22 per cent), pharmaceuticals (11 per cent) and engineering (6.36 per cent). Data showed that oil imports in April-March 2018-19 grew by 29.27 per cent to $140.47 billion, while non-oil imports were up by 2.82 per cent to $366.97 billion during that fiscal. Commenting on the data, Trade Promotion Council Of India (TPCI) Chairman Mohit Singla said that despite global challenges, exports registered best ever performance. “There is a need to further focus on new products like food commodity so that the growth is more resilient and sustainable. Also, it will cushion our exports from the global volatility and shocks in the long run,” Singla said. Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President Ganesh Kumar Gupta said exports grew despite major challenges including protectionism, tough global conditions and constraints on the domestic front. “We demand for immediate support like augmenting flow of credit, higher tax deduction for R&D, outright exemption from GST, interest equalization support to agri exports, benefits on sales to foreign tourists to further boost exports,” Gupta said. The ministry also said that total exports (goods and services combined) have been growing since 2016-17 and have surpassed the $500 billion mark in 2018-19 “for the first time”. The overall estimated exports (merchandise and services) have reached a new peak of $535.4 billion this year, attaining a growth of 7.97 per cent. However, as the data showed, services exports in February 2019 dipped by 6.54 per cent to $16.58 billion. Imports during the month too contracted by 11 per cent to $$9.81 billion.
London: Britain’s Prince Harry on Thursday settled for “substantial damages” and an apology from a news agency that hovered over his home in a helicopter, taking photos directly into his living room and bedroom earlier this year. Lawyers for the Duke of Sussex told the UK High Court that the photographs showed the Oxfordshire home’s interior and “very seriously undermined” his safety. The images, which were taken in January and published in UK newspapers and online, showed the living area, dining area and “directly into the bedroom”. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: ReportJustice Warby heard a statement in open court at the Royal Courts of Justice in London in relation to Harry’s privacy and data protection complaints and ruled in favour of the royal. “The syndication and publication of the photographs very seriously undermined the safety and security of the Duke and the home to the extent that they are no longer able to live at the property, Barrister Gerrard Tyrrell told the court. “The property had been chosen by the Duke for himself and his wife given the high level of privacy it afforded given its position in a secluded area surrounded by private farmland away from any areas to which photographers have access,” he said. Also Read – Iraq military admits ‘excessive force’ used in deadly protestsTyrrell, who read a statement in court on Prince Harry’s behalf, said the couple had subsequently felt unable to live at the home near the Cotswolds village of Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire. The news agency Splash News admitted an “error in judgment” and apologised to the 34-year-old royal. “We apologise to the Duke and Duchess for the distress we have caused,” it said in a statement. The agency has promised to “cease and desist from selling, issuing, publishing or making available the photographs. It also said it will not repeat its conduct by using any aerial means to take photographs or film footage of the Duke’s private home, which would infringe privacy or data rights or otherwise be unlawful activity. Buckingham Palace said Prince Harry “acknowledges and welcomes the formal apology from Splash News and Picture Agency”. Prince Harry and 37-year-old Meghan Markle, who recently became parents to new-born son Archie, have since moved into their family home at Frogmore Cottage on Queen Elizabeth II’s Windsor Castle estate.
Kathmandu: A South African business executive reached the top of Mount Everest on Thursday in what is believed to be the first summit of the world’s highest mountain by a black African woman. Saray Khumalo, 47, reached the top of the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) mountain after three previous bids were thwarted by bad weather, injury and tragedy. Khumalo’s Summits with a Purpose expedition organiser said she was the first black African woman to reach the top of Everest. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: ReportNepal’s Tourism Department confirmed that Khumalo had made the summit but had no record on whether she was the first black African woman. In 2017, strong winds and frostbite forced Khumalo to give up on Everest, just metres from the summit. In 2015, her expedition was cancelled after an earthquake hit Nepal. All Everest climbs were halted during her first attempt in 2014 when an avalanche killed 16 guides on the mountain. Khumalo is on a quest to conquer the highest peaks on each continent. Also Read – Iraq military admits ‘excessive force’ used in deadly protestsShe has already climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Aconcagua in Argentina and Mount Elbrus in Russia. In 2003, South African park ranger Sibusiso Vilane became the first black person to summit Mount Everest. Khumalo uses her expeditions to raise funds for libraries and support children’s educational activities. “My dream is to go higher and go further for as long as I breathe. To pave a way for my children and other ordinary people, so we may realise and accept that ordinary people like us can achieve extraordinary heights,” Khumalo says on her website. Many Himalayan mountains — including Everest, the world’s highest — are at peak climbing season with the window of good weather between late April and the end of May.