New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday said he takes “100 per cent” responsibility for the defeat in Lok Sabha polls and congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP on their spectacular victory, but asserted his party will continue to fight the ideological battle with the saffron party.Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Gandhi said the Congress Working Committee will meet soon and decide whether he should resign as the party chief following the electoral debacle. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps & 20 launch pads along LoC”I congratulate Narendra Modiji and BJP for their electoral victory. People of India have decided that Narendra Modi will be the PM again and I fully respect that,” Gandhi said. He said he accepts the people’s verdict and congratulated the winners. “I take 100 per cent responsibility for this defeat,” he told reporters. “Our candidates fought with whole of heart and courage. I want to thank them from my heart. Our fight is that of an ideology. There are two different set of thinkings: one is that of Narendra Modi and BJP, and the other one is Congress… We would have to accept that in this election, BJP and Narendra Modi have won,” he added. Also Read – Two squadrons which participated in Balakot airstrike awarded citationsThe Congress could manage to add only a few seats to its 2014 tally of 44 seats. Gandhi has conceded defeat in Amethi, a traditional bastion of his family, to BJP’s Smriti Irani but won from the second seat he contested in Kerala’s Wayanad. “I accept the verdict of the people of India. Congratulations to the winners, Mr Modi and the NDA. Thank you to the people of Wayanad for electing me as your MP. Thank you also to the people of Amethi. Thank you Congress workers and leaders for your hard work in this campaign,” Gandhi tweeted later. Asked if he would step down as the Congress president, Gandhi said, “We will have a meeting of the Working Committee. And they will decide that there.” Asked again whether he would offer to resign, he replied, “That you can leave between me and the Working Committee.” “Frankly today, with all due respect, is the day of the mandate and I don’t want to colour the decision of the people of India by getting into a long conversation with you about what I think, went wrong. “Frankly today, it doesn’t matter what I think went wrong, what matter is that the people of India have decided that Shri Narendra Modi is going to be prime minister and as an Indian, I fully respect people’s verdict,” he said. “I want to say that today is not the day for me to go into the details of this mandate. Today is the day that a new prime minister has been elected and today is the day to wish him all the best and, hopefully, he will look after the interests of this country,” he said. Gandhi said Congress will continue to fight the ideological battle with BJP and asked his party workers and leaders to not be afraid. Gandhi also congratulated Irani, his rival in Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh, on her victory. The Congress president had won three consecutive terms since 2004. “On Amethi results, I would like to say that Smriti Irani has won… Amethi’s people have taken a decision and I respect it. This is democracy. I would like that Smriti Iraniji would take care of Amethi with love and I hope that she will reward the trust that Amethi’s people have placed in her,” he said. Gandhi said there are a lot of people who believe in Congress’s ideology and he would like to assure them there is nothing to worry. “I had said during the campaign that whatever you say to me or whatever you say to abuse me, I will be responding with love. And I would like to say that whatever may happen now, I will be responding with love only. This is my philosophy,” he added.
Kolkata: Academicians and writers in West Bengal on Sunday opposed the draft National Education Policy that recommends making teaching of Hindi compulsory up to class 8, saying efforts to impose any language would meet with all-round protests. Former Rabindra Bharati University Vice-chancellor and renowned linguist Pabitra Sarkar said the K. Kasturirangan Committee’s suggestion with regard to mandatory teaching of Hindi would “put more pressure” on the students of primary classes. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess Durga He said while students of class 6, 7 and 8 could be taught Hindi, it was not be proper to make the language compulsory from class 1. “The present education system already puts too much burden on the students. Let us not increase it,” Sarkar told IANS. He said it was wrong to “impose anything from above”, and pointed out that the southern states had already protested against any such move. Instead, Sarkar suggested that in non-Hindi speaking states, the Hindi speaking people should also learn the main regional language. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellers “For instance, in Bengal, the Hindi speaking population should learn Bangla. This will help in the spread of regional languages as well as in national integration by upholding India’s core philosophy of unity in diversity,” he said. Legendary Bengali author Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay took heart from the Central government’s assurance that there would be no imposition. “This is only a draft. I think if there are protests, they won’t impose this on us. South India is already protesting. There will hopefully be protests in Bengal too. “Imposing anything is not right. What language an individual should learn must be a voluntary decision,” Mukhopadhyay told IANS. The Sahitya Akademi awardee also refused to say if the NEP draft was part of the Centre’s efforts to “saffronise education”. “Efforts to impose Hindi on the country’s non-Hindi speaking people have been going on for a long time. Some sections in the Hindi belt have been doing this. So I don’t think this is saffronisation of education,” said the octogenarian, who has penned nearly 100 books of short stories and novels for the adult readers, and 34 for teenagers — most of them bestsellers. Jadavpur University vice-chancellor Suranjan Das refused to comment, saying he was yet to go through the complete draft. Famed poet and academician Subodh Sarkar had a different take on the controversy. “If they want to make Hindi compulsory upto class 8, I’ll ask why not Bangla? With 25 crore speakers, it is a more international language. In the world ranking of languages, Bangla mostly figures above Hindi,” Sarkar told IANS. Sarkar said any imposition of Hindi would not be acceptable in a country like India. “There are so many other languages like Marathi, Urdu, Malayalam and so on. Why just Hindi? These languages must be given their due importance,” he said. Dividing states into Hindi speaking and non-Hindi speaking, the Kasturirangan Committee recommends teaching of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states in addition to the regional language and English. In the case of Hindi speaking states, the Committee suggests teaching of Hindi, English and one of the modern Indian languages from other parts of India. However, it has not specified what the modern Indian language would be. Tamil has been accorded a classical language status by the Central government.
Pune: Generations of school students have grown up with textbooks having the image of a mother cutting vegetables in the kitchen, while the father reads a newspaper, but this will now change in Maharashtra.Keeping up with the changing social structure, Balbharati, the state curriculum board, has changed many of its illustrations and texts to uphold gender equality and portray women in a more progressive light, officials said. The revised textbooks aim to do away with gender stereotypes, they said. Also Read – Cong may promise farm loan waiver in HaryanaThe Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research, popularly known as Blabharati, wants to break the stereotypes and has incorporated illustrations and stories of men and women sharing household chores in the revised textbooks of Class II, a board official said. In one of the illustrations, a man and a woman are seen cleaning vegetables while sitting next to each other.In an illustration, a woman is shown as a doctor, while another is shown as a traffic cop managing road traffic. Also Read – Modi formed OBC commission which earlier govts didn’t do: ShahOn the same page, a male chef is shown and students are tasked to look at the picture and say a few lines about it. In another illustration, a man is shown ironing clothes. Through several suggestions at the start of the textbook, teachers and students have been asked to take note of stories and pictures of persons such as a woman pilot, male chef and policewoman and to talk about them and these “social changes”. Sunil Magar, Director at Balbharati, told PTI that the rationale behind the changes is to inculcate a thinking among students that men and women are equal and both can do any work. “We here at Balbharati give emphasis on experiments. While drafting the new textbooks, especially for the young ones, we need to see that the content in the textbooks is abreast with structures and changes in the society,” he said. The teachers’ fraternity has welcomed the changes in the textbooks which stress on gender equality. “As a teacher, we have been inculcating the thinking about gender equality among students. With revised textbooks, students from urban as well as rural areas will have a clear understanding that men and women are equal and capable of doing any work,” said a teacher.
New Delhi: The government will not allow foreign companies to operate in multi-brand segment and necessary action will be taken against people indulging in predatory pricing, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said Wednesday. The minister said this in a meeting with representatives of associations of kirana stores, traders and retailers here. He “reiterated that India will not allow multi-brand retail by foreign companies and on the pretext of B2B (business-to-business) no entry will be allowed for multi-brand retail,” the ministry said in a statement. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepGoyal also “asserted that predatory pricing will not be allowed and necessary action will be taken against defaulters,” the statement said. He asked all the participants to send their suggestions on the draft e-commerce policy in the next five days. The policy will be finalised only after taking into account every suggestion received by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the minister said. Goyal also asked the traders to use government e-marketplace and MUDRA scheme to promote their business. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsRepresentatives of the associations of kirana stores, traders and retailers discussed the need for a level playing field and the impact of anti-competitive practices like predatory pricing and other discriminatory methods that are being faced by them from foreign competition. In a separate statement, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which attended the meeting, demanded early formulation of e-commerce policy. “A regulatory authority should be constituted to regulate and monitor the e-commerce business with adequate powers to penalise or take action against entity which violates the policy,” it said. CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal also said that it needs to be be ensured that all kinds of malpractices, including predatory pricing and deep discounts by e-retailers should be stopped. According to FDI policy, India permits foreign direct investment in the multi-brand retail sector with a cap of 51 per cent ownership by overseas players.
New Delhi: Indian entities that will supply US-origin technology components to Chinese telecom major Huawei may face penal action under American regulations, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Parliament Wednesday. “Any Indian company which will act as a supplier of US-origin equipment, software, technology to Huawei and its affiliates in entity list could be subject to penal action/sanction under US regulations,” Telecom Minister Prasad said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepHe said that as per the information available till now, the Department of Commerce, USA, has added Huawei Technologies to the entity list on May 16, 2019, by amending the US Export Administration Regulations. “Huawei’s inclusion in the entity list implies that US companies require prior export licence for sale of any equipment/software/technology to Huawei,” Prasad said. The US government has directed its companies, including Google, not to supply software and hardware to Huawei, alleging security risk from the company. Huawei has teamed up with Vodafone Idea to conduct 5G trials in India. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs”So far six proposals have been received which include proposals from China’s ZTE and Huawei. Any field trial in respect of 5G is to be carried out only through licensed Telecom Service Providers in a restrictive, limited geographical area and for specific use case,” Prasad said. He said a committee under Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) has been constituted to give recommendations on various issues, including security, relating to 5G and technology trials in India.
Telangana’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Thursday arrested a woman official after Rs 93 lakh cash was recovered from her house. V. Lavanya, a Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) of Keshampet in Ranga Reddy district, was taken into custody and produced before a magistrate. The woman officer was found in possession of disproportionate assets worth Rs 1.07 crore. Wads of cash, in the denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 and 40 tola gold were recovered during ACB raid on her house in Hayatnagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Also Read – Squadrons which participated in Balakot air strike awarded citations on IAF Day This is said to be the first incident in the state in which such huge cash was seized from a government employee. Her husband Venkatesh Nayak works in municipal administration department. The ACB raid followed the arrest of Village Revenue Officer (VRO) Anantaya for taking bribe from a farmer, who had approached him for some work relating to official record of his 9 acre land. The VRO had demanded Rs 8 lakh bribe to do the work. The farmer, who had given Rs 30,000 as advance, complained to the ACB, which caught Anantaya red-handed by sending Rs 4 lakh to MRO office through the complainant. Also Read – SC declines Oil Min request to stay sharing of documents on Reliance penalty During interrogation, Anantaya told ACB officials that Rs 3 lakh of the bribe was to go to Lavanya. The agency raided the MRO’s house and recovered cash and gold. ACB officials said they were investigating the record of Lavanya and her assets. (This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)(Inputs from hindustan times)
Kaziranga/Guwahati: With over 150 anti-poaching camps in the Kaziranga National Park affected by the Assam floods, the authorities are working round-the-clock to check poaching at the UNESCO World Heritage site, officials said. The staff and security personnel are performing their duties using mechanised and country boats to deal with any kind of eventualities, they said. Ninety per cent of the Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat and Nagaon districts of the state was still submerged, a statement from the Assam Ministry of Forest and Environment said. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity! Besides forest guards, a State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) team was engaged alongside Assam Police personnel in vulnerable spots of the park, Divisional Forest Officer, Kaziranga National Park (KNP), Rohini Ballab Saikia said The press communique said 155 of the 199 anti-poaching camps at the KNP are affected by floodwaters. The Kaziranga National Park is home to the world’s largest population of Indian one-horned rhinoceroses. Other animals such as tigers, elephants, sloth bears, monkeys and musk deer are also found in the forest. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killed Some of the animals have taken shelter in highlands within the park and many are migrating to the southern highlands of Karbi Anglong, crossing National Highway 37, the statement said. Though 90 per cent of the KNP is submerged, water level inside the park and the adjoining NH-37 has receded to some extent, restoring the movement of heavy vehicles on the highway on Tuesday. However, passenger buses were not being allowed to drive through the park, Saikia said. Till now, six accidents have been reported on the national highway, causing the death of five Hog Deer and a Sambar, the communique said. Five other animals in the park are reported to have succumbed to injuries “for various reasons due to flood”, it said. “Teams for rescue operation of distressed animal, as per necessity, are kept in readiness. The Special Rhino Protection Force is also deployed in vulnerable locations of the park,” the communique said. Meanwhile, on the directions of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Naba Kumar Doley has rushed to the park to oversee measures being taken to ensure the safety of wild animals, it said. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force A M Singh visited several areas of the park to take stock of the situation. Another Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Ranjana Gupta, is camping in the park to supervise the operations. Flood and rescue operation management is being monitored by the chief minister and the forest minister, the release said. Both of them are in constant touch with the park authority for real-time analysis and support, it added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Monday spoken to Chief Minister Sonowal to take stock of the flood situation, including the condition of the KNP, and assured all possible help and support.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court is likely to peruse on Thursday a report on the “progress of mediation” in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya.A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, had on July 11 sought a report on the issue and said that a day-to-day hearing may commence from July 25 if the court decides to conclude the mediation proceedings. The bench had requested former apex court judge Justice (Retd) F M I Kalifulla,chairperson of the three-member mediation panel, to apprise it by July 18 the progress of mediation till date and its present stage. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity!”It will be convenient to have the said report latest by July 18, on which date further orders will be passed by this court,” the bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, had said on July 11. It passed the order while hearing an application filed by a legal heir of one of the original litigants, Gopal Singh Visharad, seeking a judicial decision on the dispute and conclusion of the mediation process, alleging that nothing much was happening there. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killedIt had said that the court would pass appropriate orders on July 18 after perusing the report filed by the mediation committee. The panel, also comprising spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate and renowned mediator Sriram Panchu, was earlier granted time till August 15 by the apex court for completion of mediation after its earlier report had said that the mediators were “optimistic” about an amicable solution. The top court had fixed the seat for the mediation process in Faizabad of Uttar Pradesh, around 7 km from Ayodhya, and said adequate arrangements, including those related to the venue of the mediation, place of stay of the mediators, their security and travel, should be arranged forthwith by the state government so that the proceedings could commence immediately. The bench was earlier told by Hindu bodies, except the Nirmohi Akhara, and the Uttar Pradesh government that they were not in favour of the court’s suggestion for mediation. The Muslim bodies had supported the proposal. Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished.
Kolkata: Sanjiv Goenka, chairman of Phillips Carbon Black Limited, unveiled the company’s state of the art Sushila Goenka Research and Development Centre located at Paleji Gujarat on Thursday.After digitally unveiling the Research and Development Centre, Goenka told the media that research and innovation are amongst the most crucial factors in strengthening a carbon black manufacturer’s technical and qualitative superiority. “Our research and innovation are more than just a business strategy, it defines our DNA and highlights our roadmap for future growth,” he said. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersThe new Sushila Goenka Research and Development Centre includes several laboratories like carbon and Carbon nano structure laboratory, carbon functionalization laboratory, carbon feedstock research laboratory among others. The new centre will serve as a seeding ground for new products and process development, as well as for partnering with customers and vendors for customizing products and processes. The new research and development centre with 27,000 built up area has come up on a sprawling land area covering 8 lakh square feet. The initial investment amounts to Rs 20 crore. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe research centre focuses on the development of new carbon black grades, primarily in specialty business including ink, coatings and plastics, masterbatch segments as well as customized rubber grade products through developing all new carbon black grades and improving the performance of existing grades. Other focus areas include modifications and improvement in process design and carbon black feedback research among others. With a legacy of nearly 60 years, Philips Carbon Black Limited is the largest carbon black producer in India and the 7th largest in the world with its products being used in more than thirty countries.
New York: Posting on social media, texting or calling while high on drugs is prevalent among young people, and many say that they regret this behaviour later, researchers said. “Risky social media posts, including those showing people high on drugs, have the potential to cause embarrassment, stress and conflict for users and those in their social networks,” said study lead author Joseph Palamar, Associate Professor at New York University. “It can also have adverse implications for one’s career, since the majority of employers now use social media platforms to screen job candidates and may search for evidence of substance use,” he added. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year Published in the journal Substance Abuse, the study points to the potential social harm associated with substance use which are likely overlooked and go beyond well-established health risks. For the study, the researchers examined data from 872 adults surveyed while entering electronic dance music (EDM) parties in New York City who reported current or previous drug use. The researchers estimate that more than a third of EDM attendees (34.3 per cent) posted on social media while high, with 21.4 per cent regretting it. In addition, more than half (55.9 per cent) had texted or called someone while high, with 30.5 per cent regretting making a call or sending a text. Nearly half (47.6 per cent) had been in a photo while high, with 32.7 per cent regretting it. Also Read – New HP Pavilion x360 notebook with in-built Alexa in India “At least one in five experienced regret after engaging in these behaviours while high, suggesting that some situations may have resulted in socially harmful or embarrassing scenarios,” Palamar said. Females and young adults (aged 18-24) were particularly at an elevated risk for posting on social media while high and were also more likely to text, make calls, and take photos while high. Although young adults are a known high-risk demographic for substance use, females are typically at lower risk than males. However, research shows that females are more likely to use social media. EDM attendees who identified as neither heterosexual, nor gay, nor bisexual were also at a higher risk for social media posting and related behaviours while high. Separately, black participants were at a much lower risk for these activities. Compared to users of other drugs, current marijuana users were at the highest risk for engaging in these risky behaviours while high, followed by current cocaine users.
Indore: Ten persons complained of blurred vision following a cataract surgery conducted on them at a private hospital here last week, prompting the government to order a probe into it. The operation theatre of the Indore Eye Hospital, where the surgery was conducted on August 8, has been sealed following the complaints, officials said on Saturday. They said the patients suffered from blurred vision possibly a result of some infection after the surgery. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ “Total 13 patients underwent cataract surgery on August 8 under the National Programme for Control of Blindness at Indore Eye Hospital. Of them, 10 people complained of blurred vision, while three others were discharged,” Chief Medical and Health Officer Praveen Jadiya told PTI. “It appears that an infection has harmed the eyesight of these 10 people. The reason behind this infection is being probed and we are mulling to revoke the licence of the hospital,” Jadiya said. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K The victims are in the age group of 45 and 85, the officer said. Rami Bai (50), one of the patients who suffered blurred vision, said in a choked voice, “I can’t see anything.” District Collector Lokesh Kumar Jatav said the operation theatre of the private hospital has been sealed following the complaints. He said the victims have been sent to another private hospital for further treatment and the Red Cross Society was helping them. Calling the incident as “unfortunate”, Health Minister Tulsiram Silawat said a seven-member committee headed by Indore Divisional Commissioner will probe it. Those found guilty will be punished as per the law, he added.
Teenage girls who used oral contraceptives during adolescence are three times more likely to be clinically depressed in later life, a new study warns. According to the findings of the study, researchers found teenage birth control pill users were 1.7 times to three times more likely to be clinically depressed in adulthood, compared to women who started taking birth control pills as adults and to women who had never taken birth control pills. “Our findings suggest that the use of oral contraceptives during adolescence may have an enduring effect on a woman’s risk for depression – even years after she stops using them,” said the study’s first author Christine Anderl from the University of British Columbia. For the study, the researchers analysed data from a population-representative survey of 1,236 women in the US and controlled for several factors that have previously been proposed to explain the relationship between oral contraceptive use and depression risk. These include age at onset of menstruation, age of first sexual intercourse and current oral contraceptive use. While the data clearly shows a relationship between birth control use during adolescence and increased depression risk in adulthood, the researchers noted that it does not prove one causes the other. “Millions of women worldwide use oral contraceptives and they are particularly popular among teenagers. “We hope that our findings will promote more research on this topic, as well as more informed dialogue and decision-making about the prescription of hormonal birth control to adolescents,” said the study’s senior author Frances Chen.
Rome: Vincent Kompany says the “disgraceful” racist abuse suffered by his Belgium teammate Romelu Lukaku shows more diversity is needed in football’s governing bodies. Inter Milan striker Lukaku was subjected to monkey chants from Cagliari fans as he prepared to take a penalty in a Serie A match on Sunday. After scoring the penalty, Lukaku made a post-match plea for football authorities to unite against the blight of racism. Former Manchester City defender Kompany, who is now player-manager at Anderlecht, was shocked by the incident but said the sport did not have enough diversity in the corridors of power. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh”I always take it much further. Romelu is obviously a victim of something disgraceful that happened but not just in a football stadium, also in society,” Kompany told Sky Sports News on Wednesday. “So if you go back to who he is now expecting a decision from — the institutions — that’s where the problem lies. “Real racism lies in the fact that none of these institutions have representatives that can actually understand what Romelu is going through.
New Delhi: The CBDT directed the income tax authorities on Friday to pursue the cases of “organised tax evasion” through long-term capital gains (LTCG) or short-term capital loss (STCL) in courts as it set aside the condition of sticking to the established monetary limits for filing appeals. A Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) order accessed by PTI said the decision was being taken after “several references” were received by the board, where a large number of cases of organised tax evasion through LTCG and STCL on penny stocks were noticed. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalThe Income-Tax (I-T) department had informed the CBDT that it was “unable” to pursue these cases in the higher judicial forums on account of the recently-enhanced monetary limits. “It has been reported that in a large number of cases, the income tax appellate tribunals (ITATs) and high courts have recognised the unique modus operandi (LTCG and STCL) involved in such scams and passed judgments in favour of the revenue. “However, in cases where some appellate forums have not given due consideration to the position of law or facts investigated by the department, there is no remedy available with the department for filing a further appeal in view of the prescribed monetary limits,” the department had complained to the CBDT. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostHence, the CBDT directed in the order that appeals might be filed “on merits” as an exception to the recent order enhancing the monetary limits for the same. The order said the board, by way of a special order, could direct filing of appeals in these instances of organised tax evasion activity even if they were below the threshold. The CBDT frames policies for the I-T department. It has recently enhanced the monetary limit for filing an appeal before the ITATs to Rs 50 lakh from Rs 20 lakh. In case of the high courts, the limit has been doubled to Rs 1 crore and in case of the Supreme Court, the limit for filing appeal has been increased from Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore. This was done to “effectively reduce taxpayers’ grievances and litigation and help the department focus on litigation involving complex legal issues and high tax effect”.
FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s environment minister has given a new sense of scale to the province’s record-setting floods, saying as many as 10,000 homes and businesses were within flood zones.Andrew Harvey said Thursday that precise figures have yet to come in on the extent of the damage those structures suffered, as citizens are still filing their claims for disaster relief.“There have been close to 10,000 for residential or commercial properties that could be affected,” he said during a news conference.“Some of these numbers are moving as we get new information as to how many actual applications we have for disaster financial assistance.”The minister said the figure was based on Service New Brunswick’s property identification numbers located within the flooded areas.Provincial officials also said that as of Thursday morning, there were 2,200 people who had registered for the disaster relief program, which covers some of the uninsurable damages in an effort to get homeowners back on their feet.Meanwhile, the province has estimated there are also about 2,000 recreational properties that have suffered damage.The rivers — swollen by heavy rains and snow melt — swamped homes throughout the region and caused some cottages to collapse, with some even floating off their foundations.Harvey also told reporters the province will have to consider changing the rules governing what can be built in the flood plains of the Saint John River and other waterways.The province had announced that it will require property owners to start considering flood mitigation measures before they’re given a permit to rebuild or renovate in areas within 30 metres of the water.However, Harvey conceded that this is merely a starting point, as wider changes to municipal bylaws and zoning rules have to be considered in the wake of the second major flood in a decade in his province.“As time goes on those are decisions that are going to have to be made about zoning and about where people are building,” he said.“These are some tough decisions that will have to be made … and we as a government at some point in the future will have to look at the issue about zoning.”Craig Stewart, vice president of federal affairs for Insurance Bureau of Canada, said in an interview that there is no time to lose in getting fresh rules in place — and suggests modeling them on zoning created in High River, Alta., which suffered devastating river flooding in 2013.“This should have been done yesterday,” he said.“Given lessons learned from flood events over the past few years, absolute priority should be given to changing zoning laws so that we stop putting people in harm’s way.”After the 2013 floods, High River brought in bylaws that turned the highest risk areas into parkland and prohibited rebuilding in those areas.Harvey said he’s hoping the most recent events are heightening awareness that flooding isn’t going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.“I mean hopefully the message to the people of New Brunswick today is, these are not one in every 100 years. These are 2008 and in 2018, who knows when the next flood could be? Nobody knows,” he said.Harvey said one bright spot was the announcement on Thursday that the government of Nova Scotia would be making a $100,000 donation to the Canadian Red Cross to help residents.Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced the funding, saying the province wants to “support our neighbours in their time of need.”McNeil said about six provincial staff have also been sent to assist in the flood’s aftermath, to help process claims and inspect highway infrastructure.McNeil said the help isn’t unusual.“We support them as we had for the fires in Alberta,” said McNeil.— Story by Michael Tutton in Halifax
VANCOUVER – A timeline of some of the key events in British Columbia’s election campaign:April 10: On the eve of the election, the Liberals release an campaign platform containing $157 million in new spending over three years and promising a personal income tax freeze, as well as new tax credits for seniors and family members who care for them. The Liberals projected a surplus of $295 million in the 2017-18 budget released before the election.April 11: The election begins. Linda Kayfish, the sister of a health researcher who was fired by the province in 2012 and later killed himself, accused Liberal Leader Christy Clark of being “callous and cynical” in her government’s response to a recent report by British Columbia’s Office of the Ombudsperson about the firings. Clark offers to repeat government apologies if it would give Kayfish some closure.April 13: The NDP releases its platform, which includes $717 million in new spending for this fiscal year but forecasts a $108 million surplus for 2017-18 by generating new revenue and finding savings in government spending. The party’s promises include increasing the corporate tax rate by one point to 12 per cent, a speculation tax on out-of-province property owners, $10-a-day childcare and an annual $400 rebate for renters.April 17: The Green party promises to overhaul the tax system to pay for spending on childcare, education, public health and the environment in its platform. Green Leader Andrew Weaver forecasts operating deficits in the second and third years of a four-year mandate with a $216-million surplus in the final fiscal year.April 19: Michael de Jong, the finance minister in Clark’s government, says a Liberal analysis of the NDP platform reveals $6.5 billion in costs that have not been accounted for. Carole James, the NDP’s finance critic, calls the Liberal accusations “fearmongering.”April 20: Clark touches NDP Leader John Horgan on the arm during a radio debate and tells him to calm down. “Don’t touch me again, please,” Horgan replies.April 24: Facing questions about donations to her party from forestry company Weyerhaeuser, Clark says she isn’t compromised because she doesn’t defend American demands for tariffs on Canadian softwood. She accuses Horgan of “cozying up” to the United Steelworkers Union because it’s paying the salaries of some NDP campaign staff.April 25: If he’s elected premier, Horgan says he would travel to Washington, D.C., within 30 days to meet U.S. representatives on a new softwood deal after the Americans announce duties on Canadian exports.April 26: The moderator in the TV debate asks Horgan if he has anger-management issues, which he denies, adding he gets angry when he sees government inaction on a range of issues from underfunding of schools to a lack of support for children in care that has resulted in suicide. Clark is asked about a stipend she once collected from the Liberal party on top of her salary as premier and political donations that have led to a police investigation of B.C.’s political parties. She deflects the question on trust, partly by discussing her economic record.April 26: Clark reacts to the softwood duties by calling on Ottawa to ban the shipment of thermal coal through British Columbia, a move that would hurt producers south of the border.April 28: Clark ratchets up the pressure in the trade dispute over softwood, saying if Ottawa doesn’t ban thermal coal she will act on her own. Horgan says Clark has not addressed thermal coal as premier, but now there’s an election campaign she’s making “provocative” statements.May 2: Clark promises a hefty $70-per-tonne carbon tax on U.S. thermal coal to make it uncompetitive in the global market.May 3: The Liberals say they “stand corrected” on claims the NDP planted a woman at a campaign event to confront Clark. The encounter days earlier generates a buzz on social media as the hashtag #IamLinda became a rallying point on Twitter for those opposed the Liberal government.
COOKS BROOK, N.S. – After two major thefts within two months at his free-range animal farm, Melvin Burns is hoping people’s taste for bacon can help solve the crimes.In an appeal posted on Facebook, the owner of Moo Nay Farms in Cooks Brook, N.S., is offering a reward of just over two kilograms of bacon for tips leading to the culprit who recently took about $1,000 worth of power tools.In an interview, Burns said the farm, located about an hour northeast of Halifax, was also hit in June when someone stole a number of pigs and hens from his property.He said he really doesn’t know what made him come up with such an unorthodox appeal.“I don’t really know what made me think of it, just that’s what we have to offer and that (bacon) is one of the most beloved products from our farm,” Burns said.The stolen tools include an 18 volt driver and charger, a 20 volt driver, a grinder, two 20 volt chargers, and a 20 volt drill, all made by DeWalt. Also pilfered was a Mastercraft socket set.“We work hard to keep our animals alive and safe, these tools help us do that … please consider our animals, their fences, shelters and all the things we need these tools for,” Burns’s post reads.He is also holding up the offer of some work around the farm or training for anyone who owns up to the thefts.“It’s just the offer of some skills so they can actually get a job and do some work, as opposed to feeling that they need to steal to survive.”Burns said while there have been no takers for his offer so far, there is also a broader message about “looking out for one another” that he hopes to convey to the surrounding community.“Get to know your neighbours,” he said. “Offer to stop by and keep an eye out on your neighbour’s property.”Burns said that has actually happened since he posted to Facebook — neighbours did let him know that they checked in on his property during a short period where he was recently away.Burns said he doesn’t believe his farm is being targeted because he’s learned of a rash of recent thefts in the area.In the earlier theft, Burns lost six Berkshire pigs and 40 chickens. He also found the remains of a butchered pig on a plastic sheet at the edge of the 60-acre farm.“I don’t feel anger towards people,” said Burns. “I just want it (thievery) to stop for the community and I want it to stop for me.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Moo Nay Farms was located in Crooks Brook.
KAMLOOPS, B.C. – China shops, beware — a bull is on the loose in British Columbia’s southern Interior.RCMP say the 635 kilogram bull escaped last week from the BC Livestock Yard in Kamloops, about 350 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.It was spotted on the weekend, just east of Kamloops, but a news release from Cpl. Jodi Shelkie says it could have travelled some distance since then.The tan-coloured bull does not have any markings or brands, but it’s unlikely to be confused with other livestock.In addition to large horns, Shelkie says it has an unpredictable and potentially nasty temperament.She says anyone spotting the bull should definitely not approach it and should call police immediately.
MONCTON, N.B. – The RCMP’s Labour Code trial stemming from a New Brunswick shooting rampage has laid bare the tensions and “toxic culture” within Canada’s national police force, observers said ahead of a verdict expected Friday.The RCMP pleaded not guilty of failing to provide officers with the appropriate equipment and training after Justin Bourque’s June 4, 2014, shooting spree that left three officers dead and two injured.The trial provided an unprecedented glimpse into how police policy is developed, and has shone a spotlight on clashes within the force, according to Greg Marquis, a professor at the University of New Brunswick who wrote a book on Canadian policing history.“It’s a chance to see history unfolding,” said Marquis, who teaches history and politics and has been attending the proceedings in Moncton as part of a new book he is writing about police use of force.“The rank and file were saying we need to have patrol carbines for officer and public safety… and leadership were worried about the public seeing it as militarization. So there’s some internal politics of the RCMP at play here. It reveals those tensions within the RCMP.”Judge Leslie Jackson is expected to hand down his ruling Friday morning.Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, Dave Ross and Doug Larche were killed, and constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were wounded, when a heavily armed Bourque targeted police officers in hopes of sparking an anti-government rebellion.The C8 carbine rifles — a version of an assault rifle similar to an M16 — were not available to general duty officers during the rampage, and numerous witnesses have testified they could have made a difference.The weapons were approved for use in 2011, but their rollout was delayed on several occasions.Mounties were called to testify on both sides of the case. A constable who crouched behind his cruiser wounded and bleeding declared front-line officers in Moncton were outgunned by Bourque, while retired commissioner Bob Paulson told the court the C8 carbine had to be rolled out responsibly.Paulson’s court appearance even prompted an RCMP corporal to write an open letter condemning the then-commissioner’s testimony as a clear failure of leadership.Terry McKee of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada said the RCMP was “feeding peanuts to an army that requires meat and potatoes.”The retired Mountie said the trial has exposed to the public a “toxic culture” within the RCMP that goes back decades, saying management has been more concerned with the force’s image than officer safety.He hopes the Moncton provincial court judge finds the force guilty.“I am hopeful. From everything I heard and saw in testimony would tell me that they’re going to be found guilty,” said McKee. “If they are found guilty, we must find more accountability other than just a fine being paid from one federal institution to another.”McKee said once the Labour Code trial concludes, the association may explore civil or criminal litigation against “the individuals that are guilty of not provided the proper equipment and training.”In his closing argument in July, Crown prosecutor Paul Adams called Paulson “contrived” in his testimony at the trial, saying he contradicted himself in categorically refusing to acknowledge that officers were not properly trained or equipped to respond to the fatal shooting — despite overwhelming evidence that said the opposite.Paulson had testified he was involved in initial discussions about the introduction of the C8 carbine, and said officers were reasonably trained and the carbine rollout was reasonable.“It’s disappointing. It’s evasive, contrived, self-serving evidence,” Adams said at the time. “There was an entrenched unwillingness on the part of senior management … to admit anything that would have reflected badly on the RCMP’s position.”Meanwhile, RCMP lawyers argued the national police force exercised due diligence. Defence lawyer Ian Carter said bureaucracy dictates how governments work and adopting patrol carbines for the RCMP took time for a number of reasons, including finances and federal procurement regulations.“The issue was complex and serious,” Carter said. “You just don’t go out and buy guns as a potential solution to every problem.”Adams argued the RCMP pushed the patrol carbine issue to the back burner for at least two years when it was dealing with the public backlash from the 2007 Tasering death of Robert Dziekanski, and that cannot be considered excising due diligence.Bourque was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 75 years after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.The rampage set off a 30-hour manhunt that drew in officers from around the region.Follow (at)AlyThomson on Twitter.
TORONTO – A jury is deliberating the case of two men accused of killing a Toronto woman and burning her body in an animal incinerator. Dellen Millard and Mark Smich pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the presumed death of Laura Babcock, whose body has not been found. Here are 10 things jurors didn’t hear.TIM BOSMA — Millard and Smich were both convicted of first-degree murder last year in the death of Tim Bosma, an Ancaster, Ont., man who took the pair on a test drive while trying to sell his truck. The jury never heard Bosma’s name, nor did they hear that the accused burned his remains in an animal incinerator also suspected of being used to dispose of Babcock’s body.WAYNE MILLARD — The jury didn’t know that Millard also faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of his father, Wayne Millard, who died on Nov. 29, 2012 — about five months after Babcock’s presumed death. His death was initially deemed a suicide, but police re-opened the investigation after arresting Dellen Millard for Bosma’s death. The trial for Wayne Millard’s death is scheduled to begin on March 20, 2018.“THRILL-SEEKING” MOTIVE — The Crown, who alleged Babcock was killed for being the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend, wanted to introduce a second motivation for Babcock’s killing — a “thrill seeking” motive that detailed Millard and Smich’s lengthy criminal behaviour leading up to the young woman’s disappearance and after. Prosecutors wanted to bring up alleged incidents over a two-and-a-half year period, dubbed “missions” by Millard, that included stealing plants, trailers, trafficking drugs and smuggling drugs into the country. Justice Michael Code, who presided over the trial, deemed it too prejudicial to the accused and ruled out anything referring to the pair’s “broader criminal conspiracy” that the two discussed at length in text messages.JUDGE-ALONE APPLICATION — Smich’s lawyers asked the province’s Attorney General for a judge-alone trial arguing the 30-year-old believed he could not receive a fair trial due to the intense publicity from the Bosma case. After the Attorney General refused, Smich’s counsel brought a motion arguing that the decision violated his charter rights since proceeding with a jury would result in what he alleged would be an unfair trial. The judge dismissed the motion because it assumed the court could not find 12 fair and impartial jurors. Seven of 14 people selected to serve on the jury — 12 jurors and two alternates — had heard about Millard and Smich beforehand, but said they could set that information aside.MILLARD’S EX-GIRLFRIEND — Jurors never heard directly from Millard’s ex-girlfriend, a key party in his alleged motive to kill Babcock. The Crown cancelled a plane ticket purchased to bring Christina Noudga from Europe, where she now lives, to testify at the trial. Instead, the Crown showed the jury letters Millard had sent to Noudga advising her on what to tell authorities when they questioned her about Babcock’s death. The jury did not hear that Millard wrote the letters from jail — where he was held for Bosma’s killing — nor did it hear that Millard was not allowed to contact Noudga. Millard, who represented himself, also decided not to call Noudga to the witness stand.SEVERANCE — In June, both Millard and Smich wanted to be tried separately. Millard wanted the case severed because he worried about a “cut-throat” defence where Smich would take the stand and blame him for Babcock’s death. Smich’s lawyers told the court they didn’t intend to go this route, yet it remained a possibility. Smich wanted to sever the case for a few reasons, one being that Millard had caused what he said was an unreasonable delay in trial proceedings. The judge dismissed the severance application.UNREASONABLE DELAY — Smich filed what’s known as a Jordan application, citing unreasonable delay. He alleged Millard and the Crown in both the Babcock and Bosma matters caused unreasonable delays and his murder charge against Babcock should be stayed. The judge dismissed Smich’s application, having determined the net delay was 29 months when the Bosma case was factored in. The Supreme Court has deemed that cases in Superior Court should be heard within 30 months.CROSS EXAMINATIONS — Crown prosecutors argued to have an appointed lawyer cross-examine three witnesses close to Babcock rather than having Millard question them. Those three witnesses, Babcock’s father, her ex-boyfriend and Smich’s ex-girlfriend, had expressed concern about being grilled on the stand by Millard. The judge denied the request, citing Millard’s right to conduct his own defence personally, but recognized it would be difficult for all three.GUNS — The jury heard from Matthew Ward-Jackson, who said he sold Millard a gun days before Babcock disappeared. Jurors didn’t hear that Millard bought a different handgun — used to kill Bosma — from Ward-Jackson on Feb. 10, 2012, and then bought another handgun from him in September 2012. The Crown wanted the February gun deal as evidence to provide context that Millard knew Ward-Jackson could get him a gun because the man had sold him a gun already. It proved planning and deliberation, the Crown said. The jury eventually heard Ward-Jackson confirm Millard’s previous “interest” in firearms but no specifics.SHACKLES — The judge allowed both accused to sit at counsel’s tables, rather than in the prisoner boxes, largely because Millard was representing himself. The judge had court staff set up black curtains on the outside of the tables in order to shield the jury from seeing Millard and Smich’s leg shackles.