Istanbul: Ankara and Moscow are again facing an escalation of violence in Syria’s last rebel-held territory, a development that puts their cooperation to the test even as they support opposing sides in the eight-year war that has devastated Syria. An all-out offensive by Syrian government forces to capture Idlib in northwestern Syria from insurgents could unleash an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, for the area is home to 3 million people. Turkey, which is already hosting more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, is facing strong pressure from Syria, Iran and Russia to deliver on its pledge to control the armed rebel factions in Idlib. Also Read – ‘Hong Kong won’t rule out Chinese help over protests’But Turkey also needs Russia to rein in Syrian President Bashar Assad to prevent a massive outflow of refugees and to keep Turkish soldiers on the ground safe. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin “have an incentive to cooperate and ensure that nobody’s interests are totally trampled,” says Aaron Stein, the director of the Middle East program in American think-tank Foreign Policy Research Institute. In September, the two leaders brokered a cease-fire for Idlib in the Russian resort of Sochi, preventing a bloody onslaught, despite the fact that Russia has firmly backed Assad and Turkey supports opposition forces. Nine months later, the truce has failed. Also Read – Pak Army chief accompanies Imran at key meetings in ChinaThe agreement called for a 15-to-20 kilometer (9-to-12 mile) demilitarized zone free of insurgents and heavy weaponry and for two key highways crossing through Idlib to be reopened. The demilitarized zone has been breached and the highways are at the center of the current government offensive. Syrian ground forces have been advancing from the south of the rebel stronghold under the cover of Syrian and Russian airstrikes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 291 civilians and 369 fighters have been killed since April 30 in the rebel stronghold. In the same period, 269 government troops and 22 civilians were killed in government areas by rebel fire. The U.N.’s children’s agency said more than 130 children have reportedly been killed. Already, more than 200,000 people from the stronghold have been displaced, according to the UN, with some seeking safety near the border with Turkey while others crammed into already crowded camps in Syria. Turkey has accused the Syrian government of violating the cease-fire and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the country has told Russia “the regime must be controlled.”
Switching to cleaner fuels has been identified as one of the viable options to curb vehicular emissions that profusely contribute to the poor air quality of cities like New Delhi. Infamous for having a significant number of poor air quality days, New Delhi must spearhead the transition to cleaner/alternative fuel. Having announced the addition of 1000 electric buses to its public transport fleet, and proposed a draft electric vehicle policy, Delhi is set to undergo various changes to remedy its poor air quality. With an enormous number of vehicles registered, Delhi, at this pace, will choke in a matter of years. Winters have reminded us that we cannot afford such poor air quality days. Summers, too, have not been great. Afforestation is a great move but hardly counters the grave damage to air caused by persistent vehicular emissions. Banning diesel gen sets and cars, to some extent, is also not a full-proof viable option due to an absurdly large number of diesel vehicles in the city. Construction of eastern peripheral highway as no doubt reduced heavy cargo footfall within the city area but is hardly a remedy. In such cases, electrification of transport remains a likely alternative. The Draft Delhi Electric Policy 2018 is the first step. This has to be followed by the construction of charging stations which are again preceded by India’s plan to come up with indigenous standards for charging stations for its emerging electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem. It cannot be overruled that a lack of charging stations is proving to be the biggest hurdle to adoption of electric mobility and hence, development of indigenous standards will give impetus to the transition besides reducing the cost of developing related infrastructure. Defining electric mobility down to the grassroots for Delhi will be highly beneficial in the long run. It also augurs well for the plans Delhi is looking forward to implementing in the interest of reducing air pollution. Delhi government’s scheme to promote EV use by delivery services is a step that will provide a sizeable impact on advancing green mobility and curbing air pollution. And, delivery services have become an integral part of the consumer market today. From food to groceries to even services, Delhi has everything been delivered at door-step and hence, green delivery service has the potential to be a game-changer. Setting EV targets for car manufacturers is also one of the decisions which India will have to take in the near future but for now, the country look set to order cab companies to go electric. It certainly cannot be an overnight transition. Cab companies such as Ola, Uber, etc., will have to set targets for slow but effective transition into electric mobility of their fleet. India, to this end, must profusely develop infrastructure supporting electric mobility in order to facilitate the transition and ensure sustainable development.
Kolkata: The Environment department of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) will carry out awareness programmes regarding environmental issues through out the year. There will be programmes at each of the 16 boroughs and awareness activities will be carried out in schools and market places.The observance kicked off with a programme in front of KMC headquarters to mark the occasion of World Environment Day on June 5 in presence of Mayor Firhad Hakim and other senior officials of the civic body and a number of school students. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaThe programme was not held on June 5 as there was a national holiday due to Eid which fell on the same day. “There will be awareness activities at the borough level to make people aware of the evil effects of air pollution, plastic pollution, pollution from construction materials etc. The borough with the best awareness programme will be awarded by the civic body,” said Swapan Samaddar, MemberMayor in Council (Environment ) said. Sammadar added that the civic body will reach out to schools in the city and market places too. “We are stressing upon awareness campaigns in schools as we feel that it is the students who can deliver the message of environment issues in the best possible way. Students will tell their parents about the need of planting more trees and preserve greenery,” the Mayor said. Plantation programmes were held across the city on Friday and school students were roped in large numbers. Immediately after taking oath as the city’s Mayor in December 2018 Hakim had announced that the civic body will be waiving property tax upto 90 percent if somebody takes to urban forestry by planting big trees on his/ her land. The tax deduction will be on the basis of the land where he takes up the plantation programme.
Mumbai: The State Bank of India on Friday revealed the names of 10 new big ticket firms and their top officials and declared them as “wilful defaulters”. The firms, include players from pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery, power, infrastructure and other sectors, according to public notices issued by the Stressed Assets Management Branch 1 (SAM-1), Cuffe Parade. Mostly based in Mumbai, the defaulters have been served repeated reminders to clear their outstanding that are pegged at nearly Rs 1,500 crore. The SBI has warned the borrowers of legal action if they fail to repay their dues with interest and other charges within the next 15 days.
New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha Tuesday witnessed uproar over the Karnataka crisis with opposition Congress members storming the well of the House and raising slogans, leading to adjournment of proceedings for the day. The Upper House witnessed protests by members of Congress, TMC, CPI and CPIM as soon as it reconvened at 2 pm following two adjournments earlier in the day. The House was adjourned within three minutes as ruckus prevailed. Deputy Chairman Harivansh, who was chairing the proceedings, made repeated appeals to protesting members to return to their seats, observing that the House has to discuss the Union Budget 2019-20 and Congress leader P Chidambaram was slated to speak on the issue. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity! However, as protests continued, he adjourned the House for the day. The Congress has been accusing the ruling BJP at the Centre of instigating a rebellion within the Congress-JD-S government in Karnataka. The year-old Congress-Janata Dal (S) coalition government in Karnataka is on the brink of collapse after a spate of resignations by MLAs. The Karnataka Assembly has 225 members, including one nominated MLA. The halfway mark in the 225-member Assembly is 113. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killed Earlier in the day, the House was adjourned till 2 PM after protests by Congress members continued. Within minutes of assembly of the House, Congress members stormed into the well shouting slogans that implied that democracy was being killed in reference to developments in Karnataka. TMC members too trooped into the well against privatisation of public sector units, forcing Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to adjourn proceedings till 1200 hours. When the House re-assembled at noon to take up the Question Hour, there were almost similar scenes with slogan shouting Congress and TMC members trooping in the Well. Harivansh, who was chairing the proceedings at the time, made repeated efforts to persuade protesting members to return to their seats so that the Question Hour could be conducted. However, his appeals went unheeded and the House was adjourned till 2 pm. Before adjourning the House till 2 pm, he told protesting Congress members that the Chairman had allowed them to raise the Karnataka issue during the Zero Hour, but it was not availed. Earlier during the Zero Hour, Naidu said he has received a notice under rule 267 from Congress member B K Hariprasad, seeking suspension of the listed business to take up the Karnataka issue. “I am not allowing it,” he said, prompting Congress members to rush to the well shouting slogans. Naidu also said he has received a notice under rule 267 from Dola Singh of TMC but it cannot be allowed as the same had been raised through a Zero Hour mention on June 21, the first day of the session. TMC members trooped into the well but the issue they were raising could not be heard. On June 21, one of the issues raised during the Zero Hour was delay by the Centre in according ST status to 11 communities recommended by the West Bengal government. “As per rules, you cannot discuss the same issues twice in the same session,” Naidu said, adding the House had functioned without disruption for 13 days but now it seems members were determined to disrupt. “If you have decided to disrupt, I adjourn proceedings till 1200 hrs,” he said. Earlier, BJP leader Lokhandwala Jugalsinh Mathurji, who was elected to the Upper House from Gujarat in the by-polls last week, took oath as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
New Delhi: The CBI on Thursday morning raided former Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising’s residence in Delhi, in connection with an FCRA violation case it registered against NGO, Lawyers Collective and its founder Anand Grover. Grover is married to Jaising.Speaking to the press a few hours after the raids began, Jaising said, “I and Mr Grover are being targetted because of the human rights work that we have been doing.” CBI sleuths raided a total of five locations in Mumbai and Delhi in connection with the case. Two offices of Lawyers Collective and one residence of Grover were searched in Mumbai. In the Capital, Jaising and Grover’s house in Nizammudin East was searched in addition to Jaising’s office at C-65 Nizamuddin East. Also Read – Squadrons which participated in Balakot air strike awarded citations on IAF DayWhen the probe agency had registered the case, LC, Jaising, and Grover had come out with a joint statement expressing shock and outrage over the CBI’s action, which was based on an MHA investigation into alleged FCRA violations by LC. Jaising is not an accused in CBI’s FIR. At least 50 opposition MPs in the Rajya Sabha also issued a joint statement condemning the raids at Jaising and Grover’s premises and called it a “brute show of intimidation” and a “gross abuse of power”.
NEW DELHI: A bill proposing to give Centre the power to set the tenure and salaries of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday amid strong objection from the opposition.The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was cleared after the division of votes with 178 members voting in favour of the bill and 79 against it. Slamming the government over the provisions of the bill, the opposition alleged that the bill has been brought to undermine the law and make the transparency panel a “toothless tiger” like the National Human Rights Commission. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsRejecting the criticism that the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is intended to weaken the Act, the government said the opposition is misguiding the people as the proposed changes are only aimed at streamlining functioning. Leading the opposition charge during the debate on the Bill, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that under the proposed changes the government can hire and fire independent information commissioners. “It is not an Amendment bill but an elimination bill,” he said. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday”The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is a deliberate attempt to undermine the Act and make it toothless tiger like National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),” Tharoor alleged. Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh said that the opposition is “misguiding” the people by saying that the government wants to weaken the RTI Act by bringing the bill. “From the beginning of its first term in 2014, the Modi government has brought transparency in governance for greater public participation,” Singh said. “I urge the opposition to support the amendment so that we can streamline the functioning of the Act and remove anomalies,” he added. A Raja (DMK) said due to the proposed amendments, the Information Commissioner is going to be a “house maid” (of the government). The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to give the government powers to fix salaries, tenures and other terms and conditions of employment of information commissioners. Wajahat Habibullah, the country’s first chief information commissioner, also disapproved of the central government’s move to amend the RTI Act. “If the people who bring information to you are scared, to tell the truth, how will the information reach you?
Transitioning from high school to college can be stressful for some students and to maintain connections with pre-college friends and form new relationships, Facebook can still be your best friend. A new research led by Indian-origin researchers reveals that Facebook can help college students maintain relationships with high-school friends and assist them in creating new friendships. The study, published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, shows that when it comes to making new friends, those with higher confidence in their social skills have less to gain from relying on Facebook, while people with lower confidence in their social skills have more to gain from the social media platform. “Transitioning from high school to college can be stressful for many students. To help them adjust to life in college, it is critical for them to maintain connections with pre-college friends and to form new relationships,” said the Associate Professor at Binghamton University in the US. For the study, the researchers focused on first semester college students by asking undergraduate college students, mostly sophomores, about their experiences with different channels used to maintain and grow relationships. Accounting for Facebook’s effect on relationships versus the impact of more traditional media face-to-face interaction, phone calls, etc., researchers also incorporated how each student’s social self-efficacy like confidence in their social skills affected the use of both Facebook and traditional media to build and maintain relationships. In terms of how “best” to use Facebook to maintain and build new relationships, some of the findings include; Facebook can compensate for the lower use of traditional media to maintain relationships with close friends from high school. According to researchers, Facebook works best when supplementing traditional media when it comes to making new college friends, students with high self-efficacy have more to gain from prioritising traditional media over Facebook when making new college friends. And students with low self-efficacy have more to gain from prioritising Facebook use over traditional media when making new college friends. “New college students often stress about trying to maintain their high school friendships while struggling to develop new ones.
NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday said that the judicial academies and other schools across the country can also have happiness classes like Delhi government schools.Speaking at the concluding ceremony of Delhi government’s 15-day long ‘happiness utsav’ to mark the first year of the implementation of happiness curriculum in its schools, the CJI said, “As the chief justice of the country, I was thinking yesterday, if I have a happy lot of people in this country, my problem of litigation will be over. There will be no cases because everyone will be happy.” Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder”I have seriously thought about it but I’ve not shared it yet with my colleagues. But perhaps we can have something like happiness classes in our judicial academies as well… At the end of the day if we are negative and we are not happy we won’t be able to contribute for the country,” Justice Gogoi said. He said that there is a serious problem of “unhappiness” among the younger generation. “It makes the curriculum even more important altogether. The concept is brilliant. Catch them when they are young and teach them how to be happy,” Gogoi said, adding the curriculum should be taught in the schools of other states as well. The “Happiness Curriculum” launched by the Delhi government focuses on holistic education by including meditation, value education and mental exercises in the conventional education curriculum. It has been introduced for the students of Nursery to Class 8 in government schools. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchings”It was a brilliant concept to have happiness classes. We can explore the same in our judicial academies as well. I am yet to consult my colleagues, but I am sure we can introduce it across judicial academies after hearing students from the audience share their learnings,” he said. “This is very important considering India’s ranking on the Happiness Index has dropped to 140, while last year it was at 133. Similar modules have been adopted in 12 other countries,” he added.
Kolkata: The couple murdered at Narendrapur in South 24-Parganas were strangulated to death.On Wednesday, the autopsy surgeon opined that the duo was hit on their heads with some heavy object and then strangled. During the investigation, police questioned the neighbours of the couple identified as Pradip Biswas (55) and Alpana Biswas (45) and the owners of the house and land where the couple used to live as caretakers. From sources police came to know that recently there were a plan to set up a factory in the vacant land. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaIt is suspected that there might be some conflict with the proposed factory owners and the deceased persons which resulted in killings. On Wednesday experts from Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) visited the murder spot and collected samples such as pieces of cloth, a pillow, scissors and blood stains inside the house. It is suspected that 4-5 persons are connected with the murders. Also on Wednesday police found an envelope of a mobile phone SIM card. The police are trying to find out the owner of the SIM card. Also, the lost mobile phones of Pradip and Alpana are yet to be traced. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayIt is suspected that the couple has been murdered by professional killers as the style of murder was gruesome. On Tuesday police, stated that only a TV was missing from the house which is suspected to be a trick by the murderers in order to make the situation complex for the investigators. On Tuesday, and bodies of Pradip and Alpana were found stuffed inside two suitcases in the washroom of the house where they were working as caretakers since 1997. One of the relatives of the couple went to the house as he was unable to contact the duo killed since Monday morning. It is suspected that Pradip and Alpana have been killed on Sunday night.
New Delhi: Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the National Medical Commission Bill for replacing the corruption- plagued MCI with a new body, in what was described by the government as one of the biggest reforms for medical education in the country. It was passed on a day when doctors are on a countrywide strike against the proposed legislation. The bill that seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act 1956 was approved by a voice vote in the Upper House, amid a walkout by AIADMK. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details The bill will now go to the Lok Sabha again as two amendments need to be approved by it. The Lower House had already passed the National Medical Commission Bill 2019. In his reply, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said “in no way the bill intends to promote quackery” as apprehended by a few members and added NEET is already an institutionalised body which is conducting examinations in 13 languages. He said quacks are not being promoted and the legislation has strong provisions against wrong practices that include one year imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh fine as against a nominal fine by the MCI. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “Once the NMC Bill is approved, exit examination will be implemented in the next three years,” the Minister said. He said 40,000 of the total 80,000 of MBBS seats are under government institutions and there will be a cap on fees too. “The 40,000 seats under government has nominal fee…MCI had no provision for regulating fee or cap for private sector but now 50 per cent of the 40,000 seats with private colleges will be regulated with cap,” he said. The Minister said state governments can regulate the remaining 50 per cent seats. He added: “MPs said the representation of states is less in the NMC. Of the 25 members of the council, 11 are state representatives. He said: “Syllabus takes into consideration the syllabus of various boards”, adding National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) Counselling is completely transperant. He also thanked senior Congress leader Ghulab Nabi Azad for his valuable suggestions and said that the good ideas of the previous govenrment have been implemented.” Harsh Vardhan said: “National Medical Commission Bill is a major reform and is scripting a new history for medical education.” The bill also has a provision for making national standards in medical education uniform by proposing that the final year MBBS exam be treated as an entrance test for PG and a screening test for students who graduate in medicine from foreign countries. This exam, called the National Exit Test (NEXT), would ensure that the proposed National Medical Commission (NMC) moves away from a system of repeated inspections of infrastructure and focuses on outcomes rather than processes, Vardhan said. Allaying doubts of MPs on the Bill, the Minister said that community health providers is a concept which has been adopted by even developed nations. “Twenty one of the 25 members of the NMC are doctors and they will decide what will be the minimum qualification required to be a community health providers. This is a WHO- approved practice,” he said. The bill was brought in the wake of allegations of corruption against the 63-year-old Medical Council of India (MCI) and shortcomings in the process by which it regulated medical colleges. Vardhan said by bringing the bill, the basic intention of the government is to ensure and restore utmost standard of integrity in medical education. Participating in the debate, D P Vats (BJP), who is a former director of Armed Forces Medical College, said that MCI inspections used to be a nightmare even for government colleges and had resulted in closure of good medical institutions. AIADMK’s Vijila Sathyananth said the medical entrance examination was a burning issue in her state Tamil Nadu. “Our children are forced to attempt the exam in the CBSE syllabus. Bring a common syllabus for whole India and then have a common entrance examination. So, we completely oppose, we reject the already institutionalised National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in our country,” she said. Sathyananth said NEET and NEXT (National Exit Test) should not be enforced in the country. Sasmit Patra of the BJD proposed setting up of a National Medical Education Scholarship Fund to be operated by the Centre and states in conjunction to ensure that meritorious students are not deprived of their rightful share of attaining medical education. In his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha, Santanu Sen from All India Trinamool Congress said the entire medical fraternity was on roads since last two weeks to oppose the “draconian” Bill. He said the provisions of the Bill are such that it will lead to complete corporatisation of the medical education in the country. He demanded that the Bill be sent to a Select Committee. Ram Nath Thakur of the JDU supported the Bill and said the number of medical colleges in the country should be increased so that more doctors can be produced. Manoj Kumar Jha of the JDU said lakhs of doctors are on strike against the Bill and their concerns should be looked into. He said the Bill will lead to brazen privatisation of medical education in the country. Tiruchi Siva of the DMK claimed that the government initially attempted to encroach upon the powers of the states, and now it was taking away the powers of the states. He demanded that every state have a representation in the Commission. He stated that after introduction of NEET, students belonging to backward communities were not able to get admission in medical colleges, saying they cannot afford to pay the high fee charged for enrolment in coaching centres. Nominated member Narendra Jadhav supported the Bill. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad also strongly opposed the provision in the bill that aims to provide license to 3.5 lakh unqualified non-medical persons to practise modern medicine. He said,”I strongly opposed this clause. You are replacing the earlier Cabinet decision of a three and a half year science course (for medical practitioners) by a mid level health professionals (like nurse, blood sample collector, compounder.” Criticising the government,he said: “Are we making 70 per cent of population Guinea pigs.” Earlier the Congress as well as Samajwadi Party on urged the government to withdraw a provision in the Bill which aims to provide license to 3.5 lakh unqualified non-medical persons to practise modern medicine, saying it will “institutionalise quackery.” On the exit test, Azad asked,”If a students qualifies the EXIT test but does not come on merit for post graduation course then what would he do? Whether he would again appear for the test to qualify the entrance for PG course.” He also expressed concerned over lower than expected rise in medical seats in the country despite some administrative decision taken by erstwhile UPA government. K K Ragesh CPI (M) said education is in the concurrent list and this bill will take away the right of states for fixing fee and registration of medical colleges. He said,”You are making the body as central government department…send it to select committee.” S K Gupta of AAP described it as undemocratic bill. A Navaneethakrshnan (AIADMK) also strongly opposed the bill. Sanjay Raut (SS), Ashok Siddharth (BSP), Gopal Narayan Singh (BJP) and K Keshava Rao (TRS) alsdo participated in the discussion on the bill.
Colombo: New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 65 runs in the second Test in Colombo on Monday to square the two-match series 1-1. Victory was achieved with an hour left on day five when Lasith Embuldeniya edged a short delivery from Trent Boult to Kane Williamson at gully. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 122 runs after New Zealand declared their second innings on 431 for six with a first innings lead of 185. Wicketkeeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella fought a lone battle for Sri Lankans but he was ninth man out after a three-hour vigil. He made 51. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh New Zealand squared the two match series having lost the opening Test match in Galle last week. Sri Lanka, who scored 244 in their first innings and were still 187 behind as they started their second, were tottering at 88 for seven at tea. New Zealand then cleaned up. Off-spinner William Somerville had Suranga Lakmal caught by Tom Latham — top-scorer of the match with 154 — before Dickwella was caught off Ajaz Patel. Patel, Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Somerville all finished with two wickets apiece.
Chandigarh: The prime minister has offered some well-directed medical advice to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for his sore throat: get it treated at one of the newly launched Ayush centres. “These days the Haryana chief minister is touring villages and he is working very hard. I am seeing that he was unable to speak, this is the professional hazard we face. During poll time, even I have to go through this,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while inaugurating 10 Ayush health and wellness centres in Haryana through video-conferencing. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”But I will tell you one secret, I do yoga, pranayam and bank upon Ayurveda, I make full use of these therefore I am able to manage. Now that Ayush and wellness centres have been inaugurated in Haryana, I will tell Khattarji to get his throat treated there,” Modi said jokingly as Khattar burst into laughter. The 10 Ayush centres inaugurated by Modi are in Panchkula, Ambala, Kaithal, Karnal, Jind, Hisar, Sonipat, Gurugram, Faridabad and Nuh. Khattar was listening to the speech in Panchkula, where the Haryana government had organised a function. Several BJP MLAs and other party leaders were in attendance. Khattar expressed his gratitude to the prime minister for inaugurating the centres. Polls in Haryana are due in October and Khattar is touring the state as part of his ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’, which was flagged off from Kalka on August 18 by Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The yatra will culminate on September 8 in Rohtak, where the Modi will address a rally.
Bhubaneswar: Udit Pratap Deo, former king of the erstwhile princely state of Kalahandi, has breathed his last at a private hospital here, family sources said. He was 71. Deo was a former lawmaker from Junagarh Assembly segment in Odisha from 1974 to 1977. He is survived by wife, a son and a daughter. Deo and his queen Padma Manjari Devi had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. BJP state president Basant Kumar Panda and party’s senior leader KV Singhdeo expressed grief over the demise of Deo on Monday.
Manchester: Hailing him as a genius, former Australia captain and batting great Ricky Ponting on Friday said Steve Smith can only be dismissed if he is bowled around the corridor of uncertainty, outside the off stump. On Thursday, Smith — who had to miss the third Ashes Test due to concussion — played an incredible knock of 211 to help Australia post a mammoth first inning total of 497/8 and take the driver’s seat at the Old Trafford. Smith re-wrote the history books with his 26th Test century and third Ashes double hundred as he batted for 513 minutes, and hit 24 fours and two sixes. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh “You hear all sorts of words, ‘genius’ is one that comes to mind,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “A remarkable innings again. It’s his application to what he does. He just doesn’t make any mistakes. His concentration levels are obviously unbelievably good,” said the World Cup winning skipper. Asked how he can be dismissed, Ponting said: “He’s only been out nine times lbw in his last 99 innings, so you know if you’re bowling straight you’re not going to get him out,” he said. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later “The one thing you have to do is try and challenge the outside of his bat. He doesn’t miss it on the inside.” World’s No. 1 batsman Smith is being compared to legendary countryman Sir Donald Bradman, regarded as the best batsman to have played the game. “Even what Smithy is doing now is remarkable, to think how good Bradman must have been to be a third again better than what Steve Smith’s doing at the moment is ridiculous,” Ponting said.
RED DEER, Alta. – Court documents suggest a father who was found dead on the weekend alongside his six-year-old daughter was embroiled in a contentious custody dispute with the girl’s mother.CTV News has identified the six-year-old girl as Callie Campbell and her father as Robert Lesslie Malcolm Campbell, 39.Both were found dead in a home in Red Deer, Alta., on Sunday.RCMP said Tuesday that the autopsies on the pair have been completed but the cause and manner of death had yet to be determined and officials were waiting for more tests results.The court documents include a sworn affidavit in which the mother, Debbie Hildebrandt, called Robert Campbell “a bully.”Records showed the relationship between the two parents during their separation appeared to be strained.Callie moved to Camrose, Alta., with her mother in June 2014 but her father had custody of her every other weekend.The Elk Island Catholic School district released a statement Tuesday saying a counsellor had been provided for students and staff at St. Patrick Catholic School, where the little girl was a student.(CTV Edmonton)
NORRISTOWN, Pa. – The jury at Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial heard from the comedian without him actually taking the stand Thursday as prosecutors read into the record his lurid, decade-old testimony about giving pills to Andrea Constand and then reaching into her pants.Jurors sat riveted and took notes as they heard the TV star say that as he touched her body at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004, “I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection.”“I am not stopped,” he said.Cosby testified as part of a lawsuit brought against him by Constand in 2005. It was settled under confidential terms. The comedian’s lawyers had fought to keep jurors from hearing the testimony, but a judge ruled that prosecutors could introduce it.A portion of the deposition was read by a detective Thursday afternoon, with more expected to come Friday, including Cosby talking about giving quaaludes and alcohol to women he wanted to have sex with.Cosby, 79, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of drugging and molesting Constand, a former employee of Temple University’s women’s basketball program. He has said the 2004 sexual encounter was consensual.Constand, 44, testified this week that Cosby penetrated her with his fingers against her will after giving her pills that left her so limp that she was unable to push him away or tell him to stop.She denied they had a romantic relationship and said she had rebuffed his previous sexual advances.Cosby said in a recent interview that he did not intend to testify at his trial.In the deposition, Cosby said he gave her three half-tablets of Benadryl before initiating a consensual “petting” session.In 2015, a judge unsealed portions of the deposition in response to a request from The Associated Press. That immediately spurred Pennsylvania prosecutors to reopen their Cosby investigation and unleashed a barrage of similar allegations from dozens of other women that all but destroyed Cosby’s nice-guy image as America’s Dad.Earlier Thursday, a detective testified that the district attorney who decided more than a decade ago not to bring charges against Cosby shut the investigation down while police were still working the case.District Attorney Bruce Castor abruptly closed the probe in 2005 hours after police met to review their next steps, Cheltenham police Sgt. Richard Schaffer told jurors in testimony that could blunt efforts by Cosby’s lawyers to argue that Castor, long out of office, saw no case.Castor is on the list of potential witnesses at the trial.“We had been discussing investigative leads and where they were going,” Schaffer, a witness for the prosecution, said on Day 4 of Cosby’s trial.Cosby acknowledged in a 2005 police interview that he fondled Constand after giving her what he said were cold-and-allergy pills to help her relax, according to a statement also introduced in court on Thursday. But he said that they had a romantic relationship and that she did not object to his advances.Castor ended the investigation after four weeks, announcing that Cosby would not be charged because the evidence had shown both parties “could be held in less than a flattering light.” He said he was concerned that Constand had stayed in touch with Cosby and waited a year to call police.It was new set of prosecutors that brought charges against Cosby in 2015.Cosby’s lawyers have argued all along the charges should never have been brought because of Castor’s initial decision not to prosecute the TV star.Some 60 women have come forward to say Cosby sexually violated them, but the statute of limitations for prosecution had run out in nearly every case. Constand’s case is the only one in which Cosby has been charged.The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.___For more on Cosby, including trial updates, historical photos, videos and an audio series exploring the case, visit: http://www.apnews.com/tag/CosbyonTrial
OTTAWA – The debate around the future of the planned TransMountain pipeline expansion in British Columbia could intensify today when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets new B.C. Premier John Horgan for the first time.Horgan was sworn into office last week after an unprecedented photo-finish election that saw former premier Christy Clark’s short-lived minority Liberal government defeated and Horgan’s NDP take over with the backing of the Green party.Trudeau’s government approved the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion project last fall but Horgan campaigned against it and has pledged to fight the project with every tool at his disposal.The two leaders have sidestepped the issue in official communications thus far, including a news release from Horgan on Monday where he said he intends to discuss the opioid crisis, B.C.’s wildfire emergency and the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S.But there is little time for Horgan to waste if he wants to stop the project as pipeline-builder Kinder Morgan said just last week construction is on schedule to begin in September.Following Horgan’s Ottawa trip, he will fly on to Washington, D.C., for meetings with U.S. lawmakers and officials about the softwood lumber dispute.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Horgan was sworn in last month instead of last week.
RED DEER, Alta. – A central Alberta man accused of killing his family told an RCMP informant about a spirit who had information about the deaths and by a visit he had from a mysterious black woman.Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus four years ago.On Wednesday, Justice Eric Macklin began listening to evidence gathered in an RCMP sting operation to determine if it will be admissible at the trial that he is hearing without a jury.One of the undercover operatives was Brady Flett, president of Stettler-based Vortex Production Services, where Monica Klaus worked prior to her death.Flett testified that Klaus asked him if he believed in spirits or visits from the deceased.Flett said he thought most of it was bogus, but that he did believe people have the ability to talk to their loved ones.He said Klaus began telling him how Monica’s spirit visited him to explain how she, Gordon and Sandra were killed and who was responsible.Flett said he begged Klaus to take the information to police, but he refused.All Klaus would say was that the killer was a man from Castor who was capable of doing “real bad stuff.”After the chilling conversation Flett wrote down what happened and called RCMP. On Jan. 9, 2014, he signed a letter of agreement to become an informant for their investigation.Flett said he wore a recording device for a Jan. 15 conversation in which Klaus repeated stories he had told others about visits from Monica’s spirit.Court has already been told that the farmhouse near Castor, Alta., was engulfed in flames by the time fire crews arrived on Dec. 8, 2013.The trial has also heard that Klaus told police that Frank shot the victims and set the house on fire.Klaus told Flett of a visit to the ruined farmhouse by a fire investigator, an insurance representative and a mysterious black lady resembling Aunt Jemima of pancake and syrup fame.Klaus said this mystery woman gave a detailed description of where the gun used in the murders could be found.“Wow, she knows a lot,” Flett said to Klaus, who in turn said the woman said she would never be seen or heard from again.The trial is to continue Thursday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.
TORONTO – A coroner’s inquest into the death of a drum technician killed in a stage collapse at a Radiohead concert in Toronto five years ago was welcomed Thursday by the British man’s family and the band he worked for, but both said the development still doesn’t bring justice.Scott Johnson, 33, was killed on June 16, 2012, when part of a massive stage structure crashed down just hours before the British rock band was due to perform at Downsview Park in Toronto’s north end. Three others were injured.Charges laid in the case were stayed earlier this year after a judge ruled the matter took too long to get to trial.Johnson’s father said the inquest — announced Thursday by the office of Ontario’s chief coroner — is the “second-best” thing, adding that “it would have been much better to see the court case through properly, even if the case had to be heard again.”“We thank the coroner for bringing it forward and giving us the comfort that there will be an inquest,” Ken Johnson said in a phone interview from the United Kingdom. “It does give us the opportunity to come back across and talk to people involved to create solutions to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”He added, however, that the family is still disappointed that no one will be held responsible for his son’s death.A coroner’s inquest is an independent investigation designed to focus public attention on the circumstances of a death, not to assign blame.Radiohead also welcomed the inquest but said “it provides no justice for Scott and his family.”“We urge the Canadian authorities to look more closely into their treatment of the Downsview stage collapse and indeed all workplace deaths to ensure that accidents such as this can be prevented in the future,” the band said in a statement.The stage collapse, which the prosecution blamed on inadequate safety measures, prompted Radiohead to put off part of its 2012 European tour.Entertainment company Live Nation, engineer Domenic Cugliari and contractor Optex Staging were charged a year later with a total of 13 offences under provincial health and safety laws.The subsequent trial was derailed when the presiding judge declared he had lost jurisdiction over the case given his appointment to a higher court. That decision led to a senior justice declaring a mistrial in May and a new hearing was planned.In September, the charges in the case were stayed when a judge ruled the justice system had failed in allowing the case to take far too long to come to trial. The ruling was decried by the Johnson family, Radiohead and the Ontario Federation of Labour, which represents 54 unions in the province.The office of Ontario’s chief coroner said in a statement that a jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths.The inquiry date and location will be released at a later date, the statement said.