New Delhi: A day before the swearing-in ceremony of the new government, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he does not want to be a minister in his new government due to health reasons. Ending days of speculations over his role in the new government owing to his ill health, he posted on Twitter the letter he wrote to Modi requesting recusal from being a part of the new government on health grounds. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist Jaitley said soon after BJP won a massive majority in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections, he informed Modi orally about his intentions of taking time out for treatment of an undisclosed illness. Without disclosing the ailment he is being treated for, Jaitley said he would continue to informally support the government and the party in any form that is required. “I am writing to you to formally request you that I should be allowed a reasonable time for myself, my treatment and my health and therefore, not be a part of any responsibility, for the present, in the new government,” Jaitley wrote. Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France Jaitley, 66, was admitted to AIIMS last week to undergo tests and treatment for an undisclosed illness and was discharged on Thursday – the day results of Lok Sabha elections were announced. He however did not attend celebrations at BJP headquarters that evening after the party’s emphatic victory. BJP won a landslide 303 seats, of the 542, in the general elections. In the letter, Jaitley said during the last 18 months, he has had “some serious” health challenges. “My doctors have enabled me to emerge out of most of them. After the campaign had concluded and you were leaving for Kedarnath, I had orally informed you that even though I was able to discharge the responsibilities assigned to me during the campaign, I would in future, for sometime, like to keep away from any responsibility. This will enable me to concentrate on my treatment and health,” he wrote. Stating it was a matter of “great honour and learning experience” to have been a part of the Modi government for the last five years, Jaitley said even earlier the party had bestowed responsibility on him in the first NDA government, as also when the BJP was in the opposition. Jaitley was the leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha from 2009 to 2014. “I could not have asked for more,” Jaitley wrote. A lawyer by profession, he has been the most important leader in Modi’s Cabinet and has often acted as the chief troubleshooter for the government. While as a finance minister he steered through Parliament major economic legislations such as GST– which had languished for nearly two decades. He has also played key role in getting through several other laws such as the bill to ban the Muslim instant divorce practice known as ‘triple talaq’ and also articulately defended the Rafale fighter jet deal. One of the most prolific voices in the Modi government and a key strategist, Jaitley did not contest the recent Lok Sabha elections presumably because of his ill health. He lost his first parliamentary election from Amritsar in 2014. Suave and articulate, he has been the party’s spokesperson for many years. He entered Parliament at the age of 47 when he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat, where Modi was the chief minister. Jaitley was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and when Modi swept to power in 2014, he was made the finance minister and also handled briefly the additional charge of defence and information and broadcasting ministries. He underwent a surgery in the US on January 22 for a reported soft tissue cancer in his left leg, an illness that deprived him from presenting the Modi government’s sixth and final budget of its current term. Railway and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal was the stand-in finance minister who presented the interim budget for 2019-20. Jaitley returned to India on February 9 after undergoing skin grafting. He is believed to have undergone some kind of medical procedure again when he visited the US last month to attend the IMF-World Bank Group Spring Meetings. Jaitley had a renal transplant on May 14 last year at AIIMS, New Delhi, with Goyal filling in for him at that time too. Jaitley, who had stopped attending office since early April 2018, was back in the finance ministry on August 23, 2018. Earlier in September 2014, he underwent bariatric surgery to correct the weight he had gained because of a long-standing diabetic condition.
Month: October 2019
Mumbai: MS Bitta and bombs are friends. He’s an Indian above being a Sikh. He’s not just a die hard patriot but is the only man in India whose body has been bombed over a 15 times protecting the sovereignty of his country India. He fell in love with India from the age of six and was first bombed when he hoisted the Indian flag at the Golden temple in 1983 taking on terrorist Bindrawale’s threat of challenging him to not put up the Indian flag failing which he would be bombed. He joined and left politics and made it his life’s mission to get terrorists punished, get families of martyrs their rights and fight the big war on ‘Political Terrorism’. It’s well known that there has been intense interest from several Bollywood Producers and Directors to acquire his life rights. But finally, well known Entertainment passionate duo of Shailendra Singh & Priya Gupta will be producing the film titled ‘Zinda Shaheed’ that will go on floors first half of 2020. They are currently in advanced talks with Celebrated Directors and Actors and the same is likely to be announced soon. Also Read – ‘Will be acting till I die’ Talking about the film Producer, Shailendra Singh said, ‘M.S. Bitta is a living legend. A true patriot. His story deserves to be told, to inspire us all in these very divisive times. His story will inspire the 600 million youth of our country. I thank MS Bitta for trusting us to tell his story. It will be a game-changer for Bollywood.’ Talking about the film Producer Priya Gupta said, ‘MS Bitta’s life is a living example of how you can serve your country without a ‘Kursi’ or a ‘Wardi. Unlike our great leaders like Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose whom we have not seen but only know through their stories, MS Bitta is a Zinda Shaheed. His life is truly inspiring and we are very proud & excited to be making this film’. Also Read – ‘Always looking for that one great love’ Shailendra Singh is a highly respected storyteller and is an award-winning producer of 72 feature films, has conceptualized over a 2000 ad campaigns, is a bestselling author, writer, and director of feature films and award winning short films, and the father of Sunburn. India’s Entertainment Maverick has also recently acquired the rights for the life story of global dance champions Kings United. Priya Gupta is a reputed Marketing and Entertainment Professional and has worked as the National Managing Editor for the Times of India’s Entertainment supplement Bombay Times, launched India’s biggest Marketing campaigns like Lead India, Teach India and Aman Ki Asha and headed the films division of T-Series where she Co-Produced several Hindi feature films. MS Bitta, Shailendra Singh and Priya Gupta are all Ganpati Bhakts. They will seek blessings at the Sidhivinayak Temple today to kick start the making of the film.
New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra on Tuesday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering case involving assets allegedly held abroad. Vadra arrived at the ED office in central Delhi. Vadra had skipped the agency’s questioning on Friday citing health conditions. He was questioned by the ED for over seven hours on Thursday. He was asked about the money received by his company as alleged kickbacks in petroleum deals in Gujarat. The agency said the money was used to buy properties in London. The case relates to the ownership of 1.9 million pounds of overseas assets and undisclosed entities set up to evade tax. On Monday, a Delhi court allowed Vadra to travel abroad for six weeks for medical treatment after he was diagnosed with a tumour in his intestine.
New Delhi: A 35-year-old man was shot dead allegedly by unidentified assailants in west Delhi’s Vikaspuri area, police said Friday. The deceased has been identified as Amit Kochar, they said. “The incident took place on Thursday night at around 10.50 pm when Kochar, along with four of his friends, was at his house,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Monika Bhardwaj said. According to the complaint, someone rang the doorbell and Kochar went to answer the door. Ten minutes later, his friends heard multiple gunshots and ran outside to find the victim’s body inside his car, the DCP said. They rushed him to a nearby hospital, where he was declared brought dead, she said. A case under relevant sections has been registered and police are analysing footage from nearby CCTV cameras, officials said, adding that further details are awaited.
Mumbai: Superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who completed 27 years of his Bollywood debut on Tuesday, expressed gratitude to his fans with a bike stunt — a la his entry scene in his maiden film “Deewana”. Khan’s “Deewana” released on June 25, 1992. To mark the “awesome” occasion, the actor shared on his Twitter page a video in which he recreated his debut scene with the song “Koi na koi chahiye” playing in the background. In a message in the video, he said: “Hi guys, I want to say a big thank you for 27 years in Indian cinema, which is exactly half my life time on Earth. I have been trying to entertain you for over 20 years, and some times I have succeeded, and many times I have failed. So I want to thank you for bearing with me for so many years since I came on a motorcycle in a film called ‘Deewana’ singing ‘Koi na koi chahiye’ and rode right into your hearts. Also Read – Rihanna to release 500-page ‘visual’ autobiography “And you not only allowed me right into your hearts, but also allowed me to stay there for so many years. Thank you very much.” The actor also had a message for his fans to ride safely. “It’s a coincidence that my friends from a motorcycle company have sent me two motorcycles to try out the stunts I did in ‘Deewana’ 27 years ago. I am going to give it a shot, but this time there’s a difference. I will make sure I am wearing a helmet. Always wear a helmet while riding a bike,” the actor said.
New Delhi: A fun track titled “Bhaari” for plus-size people is in the works. Rhapsody Band, an Indian multi-genre band that participated in “India’s Got Talent”, will be unveiling the track in July. “We have a lot of plus-size friends who talk about how their families and friends keep shaming them or making fun of them about the way they look and we hear them ranting about this a lot,” band member Ashish Palanna, who is a singer, dancer, musician, music teacher and an entrepreneur, told IANS. Also Read – Rihanna to release 500-page ‘visual’ autobiography “One day, we sat together to work on something new and this idea of making a song for plus-size people suddenly came to our minds. Since it’s a very touchy topic that can go both ways, we came up with a fun and funky way to portray a character who is talking about all the comments that people make on her on a daily basis,” he added. But the song isn’t just about her talking about her problems. “It is about her lovingly embracing what she is and she puts out a message saying that she knows she is beautiful and amazing and she loves her body for what it is, no matter what people say about her. She is also getting back at the people picking on her,” said Ashish. Also Read – Hilarie Burton, Jeffery Dean Morgan tie the knot Ria D’Souza, voice of the band that also consists of Antony Lobo, Varun Rao, Karan Chitra Deshmukh and Aditya Ahir, shared that the song also consists of Rajasthani rap by Lalit Bohra, who has also penned the lyrics. “It was so much fun making this song. We had one of our childhood friends, Sumanth Shetty, on board who produced this fun track. His thinking is so out of the box which made our recording process less like work and only fun,” said Ria.
A recent proposal by the government of India to install nuclear power plants in Punjab has once again generated debate on whether nuclear energy is a viable option for electricity generation? According to Global Energy Statistical Yearbook 2018 India is 3rd largest energy consumer. This accounts for about 6 per cent of global energy for 130 crore people which is roughly 17 per cent of total global population. The sources of electricity production include Thermal (Coal, Diesel, Gas), Hydro Electric, Renewables (Solar, wind) Residual Biomass etc. Also Read – A special kind of bondDespite a lot of hype, the contribution of nuclear energy in total electricity generation in our country remains 1.9 per cent only out of the total installed capacity of 356818MW. So far, thermal plants have been the major source of power generation. But now they are considered to be highly polluting source and contribute to global warming. Therefore there is a need to produce electricity from alternative eco-friendly resources. Points to be considered for any project to be sustainable are impact on human health, environmental effects, installation cost, running cost and management of waste products generated by them. Nuclear plants have been projected to meet these requirements. A study on the various aspects, however, reveals facts to the contrary. Also Read – Insider threat managementThe process of nuclear power plant begins from the mining of radioactive material. India has a major uranium mine in Jadugoda in Jharkhand. A study conducted by the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD), has revealed that people living around 30 kms radius of the mine have statistically significant health problems compared to the control population beyond 30 kms. Dr. Shakeel Ur Rahman who with his team conducted this study points out that the population suffers from congenital deformities, primary sterility, cancer, and poor life expectancy. Management of the waste produced by the mine is highly questionable. The safety standards maintained by Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) authorities can be gauged by the fact that the tailings (waste material) are lying in the open in which children of the area play and are put to high risk. It is also reported that an incident had happened on December 24, 2006, when thousands of liters of radioactive waste spilled in a creek because of a pipe burst at a Uranium Corporation of India Limited facility at Jadugoda. It is disquieting that UCIL did not have its own alarm mechanism to alert the company in cases of such a disaster. But for the vigilance of the villagers who had arrived at the scene of the accident soon after the pipe burst the UCIL would not have come to know about the toxic spill. UCIL took nine hours before the flow of the radioactive waste was shut off that had spewed into a creek. Consequently, a thick layer of toxic sludge on the surface of the creek killed scores of fish, frogs, and other riparian life. The waste from the leak also reached a creek that feeds into the Subarnarekha river, seriously contaminating the water resources of the communities living hundreds of kilometers along the way. This is not the first such accident. In 1986, a tailing dam had burst open and radioactive water flowed directly into the villages. It is important to carry out epidemiological survey of the health of the people living around nuclear facilities before installing them and then regularly monitored yearly. This should be made transparent in the public domain. It is also important to ensure that there is no population living around nuclear facilities. But there are few such areas in the densely populated country of ours. Nuclear plants across the world have poor safety record which is coupled with lack of transparency. Track record of nuclear facilities in India, too, is unsatisfactory. According to reports, an estimated 300 incidents of serious nature have occurred causing radiation leaks and physical damage to the workers. But these have remained official secrets so far. Major accidents in the nuclear plants in the world include the 3 Mile Island accident on March 28, 1979 (USA), Chernobyl (Ukraine) on April 26, 1986, and Fukushima (Japan) on March 11, 2011. Chernobyl Nuclear disaster has been the worst ever disaster. The Belarus national academy of sciences estimates 93,000 deaths so far and 270,000 cancers, and the Ukrainian national commission for radiation protection calculates 500,000 deaths so far as a result of this accident. According to the Union Chernobyl, the main organisation of liquidators (clean-up workers), 10 per cent of the 800,000 liquidators are now dead and 165,000 disabled. Between 12,000 and 83,000 Children Born with Congenital Deformations and 10,000 people developed Thyroid Cancer in Belarus alone. The cost of installing Indian designed and built nuclear power unit is about Rs. 16.5 crores/MW. For the Russian reactors, the cost is about Rs. 22 crores/MW. Since the fuelling cost of the Russian reactors is lower than those of the Indian reactors, both of them produce power at about Rs. 5/kwh. This cost, when escalated to the time horizon of 2023-24, will come to about Rs. 6.5 per kwh. Coal-based power in regions far away from coalfields would cost more in the same time horizon. Solar power for recent projects costs about Rs. 2.5/kwh, but an expenditure of Rs. 2 /kwh is needed to connect the solar units to the grid system, taking the total cost to Rs. 4.5/kwh. A joint study by Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) and US-based think tank Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) has revealed that with new technologies boosting efficiency levels, cost of Solar power will fall to Rs 1.9 per unit in India by 2030. Similarly, for wind, with mast heights increasing from the current level of 80 meters to 100 and even 120 meters, the baseline projection for 2030 for the levelised costs of wind at Rs 2.58 per kWh could be as low as Rs 2.26 for projects with higher capacity utilization factors. Nuclear issues in India are the sacrosanct holy cow. It has been kept out of the purview of the ordinary citizen. A nuclear India has been made to be the symbol of national pride by the successive Indian governments. Anybody raising the issue of nuclear safety is either ridiculed or branded as anti-national. As per the Nuclear Liability Bill Clause 6, the maximum financial liability in case a nuclear accident is $458 million (Rs. 3,138 crore). It is less than the compensation awarded in Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The amount is considered meager in comparison to the destruction caused by a nuclear accident. It is time the decision makers and the public at large be informed about that the nuclear power plants not only unviable option but also a potential health hazard. The health of indigenous people working in the uranium mines and those living around cannot be ignored. IPA (Dr. Arun Mitra is an ENT surgeon. Views expressed are strictly personal)
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver on Thursday his sixth straight Independence Day speech and is expected to touch on a host of issues, ranging from his government’s landmark decision on Jammu and Kashmir to the state of economy.This will also be his first August 15 address after coming back to power with a huge mandate. Modi has used the annual event to announce his government’s showpiece programmes like ‘Swachh Bharat’, ‘Ayushman Bharat’ and India’s first manned space mission, and also to present a report card on its performance to highlight how the country has grown on his watch. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The BJP’s remarkable win in the recent general election followed by its success in getting Parliament’s nod to its contentious but core agenda of revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370, has already set the tempo of his speech, party leaders believe. In his address to the nation last week, he had assured people of the Valley development and peace, as he sought to assuage concerns following his government’s decision to scrap the state’s special status and splitting it into two Union territories. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KOn the Independence Day eve, Jammu and Kashmir Additional Director General Munir Khan said the situation in the state is under control. “Restrictions imposed in Jammu have been completely removed, while they will continue in some places of Kashmir for some time,” he said. This will be Modi’s sixth August 15 speech, a number equal to the addresses from the ramparts of the Red Fort by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the first and only other prime minister from the BJP. Vajpayee had given six straight speeches between 1998-2003. With a dispirited opposition unable to pose any serious challenge to the BJP’s hegemony and Modi’s return to power with a majority even bigger than his landslide win in 2014, many believe he may use the occasion to announce reforms or make concessions for different sections of the society. There is also a view that Modi may seek to address concerns over the economic slowdown. He has often invoked India’s rich cultural and spiritual traditions to rally people’s support for some of his pet projects — from cleanliness to ending female foeticide, but this time it may be the turn of water conservation, an issue he has prioritised in his second term. Some BJP leaders noted that an element of surprise has often marked the prime minister’s addresses and his speech at the 72nd anniversary of India’s Independence may not be different. Different themes have stood out in Modi’s speeches on the occasion. In 2014, he gave a call for ‘Swachh Bharat’ and appealed for shunning communalism and casteism to focus on development. He made a strong pro-poor and pro-farmer and pro-youth pitch the next year. In 2016, he created waves by mentioning Balochistan, a Pakistani region where Baloch nationalists have been fighting the government forces. He gave a call for embracing people of Kashmir in 2017. The defence ministry said on Wednesday that 3,500 girl students from 41 government schools in Delhi, 5,000 boy spectators and 700 NCC cadets of 17 schools will display ‘strength in unity’ by the formation of words “Naya Bharat” at the venue of Modi’s speech. The guard of honour contingent for the Prime Minister will consist of one officer and 24 men each from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Delhi Police. It will be positioned directly in front of the National Flag across the moat below the ramparts, it added. After inspecting the guard of honour, Modi will proceed to the ramparts of the Red Fort where Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, his deputy Shripad Naik, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa and Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh will greet him. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) Delhi area will conduct the prime minister to the dais to unfurl the national flag, the ministry said.
I recently returned from a trip Down Under to Australia and New Zealand. Initially hesitant, my brother’s insistence, encouragement and diligent efforts convinced me to hop on the tour. My nephew, his wife and son, who now live in Australia, were more than eager to host us. My children and grandchildren were also overjoyed at my decision to go. I am an avid sports lover. In my youth, I had spent significant time watching and playing various forms of sports. Though I primarily played Table Tennis and Badminton, I did enjoy cricket as well. Now, I enjoy watching cricket the most, no matter its format – one day, T20 or test match. Also Read – Oman – Beauty with an addressWhen we landed in Sydney, the first thought that crossed my mind was that I have now reached the land of Sir Don Bradman! And, naturally, my first enquiry to our cabbie and my nephew was – “Where is the Sydney Cricket Ground!” My nephew reminded us that we will be staying in Sydney primarily but we will take a trip to Melbourne in the following week. I immediately thought, “Ah MCG – I shall step on the ground where history has been made.” Australia is a land of opulence and magnitude. The country is spotless and the Darling Harbour indeed transcends description, buzzing with activity while standing captivating in its grandeur. The road sides have an abundance of bars and eateries in this land of plenty. There was a sharp chill in the air at this time of the year but the warmth of being with loved ones and having our little grandson as our tour guide along the Parramatta river, was indeed enough to counter the cold. Also Read – CANADA: A traveller’s delightWe visited Melbourne in the coming week and stayed in a service apartment. It was indeed gratifying to see the four light posts of the legendary Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – to my delight, MCG was visible from where we stayed beside the Yarra river. On the next day, we took a conducted tour to MCG. The chills that I felt when I stepped on the emerald green grass of MCG is tough to depict in language. It was a strange kind of thrill! It was overwhelming to touch the annals of cricket history made there. I was now a part of all the unforgettable moments that have played out on this ground. It was a sublime experience of looking back on the visuals of unforgettable moments crafted by legendary players that are etched in my mind forever, alongside the present that is proudly carrying that history forward. MCG is spectacular indeed. I was inadvertently looking for memories of Sir Don Bradman. However, there wasn’t much except a stand dedicated to him, a bat used by him, some pictures and mementos. This absence, I realised, could be because Melbourne is under the state of Victoria and Sydney is under New South Wales. And, I guess, in Melbourne, players hailing from Victoria would gain more prominence. Sir Don, of course, in my mind, is an exception that transcends all boundaries. MCG is a magnificent well organised structure. It was also pleasant to see the multitude of well-stocked bars in the ground; I have not seen such a set-up in any cricket ground in India. I saw just two statues of cricketers on the ground; one belonged to Dennis Lillee and the other was of Shane Warne. I saw no other statue though there were several photographs and memorabilia. There was the legendary picture of Sir Don meeting our own cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin had gone to meet Sir Don to fulfill his desire of meeting him. On a wall, exceptional feats performed by some cricketers were engraved – such as 300 runs by Bob Cowper, 250 runs by Alastair Cook of England, 9 or 10 wickets taken by Sarfaraz Nawaz of Pakistan and so on. The craftsmanship of the statues was also a marvel! It seemed that the players were frozen in their bowling action. In fact, Dennis Lillee seemed to be balanced on his toe ready to pitch the ball in his signature style with his left foot forward. What was disappointing was the lack of awareness about some greats. The person who was conducting the tour was oblivious about Richie Benaud’s contribution as a player and dismissed him as just a commentator! The tour guide then took us right up to the boundary line of the cricket ground. This was a thrilling experience indeed to stand on the field at the boundary which has witnessed such uncountable marvelous knocks. The tour was quite strenuous but the excitement kept me going. We were then taken up to the fourth tier of the stadium using escalators and elevators. We visited the players’ changing rooms, gym etc., which are all maintained with precision and care. When we were returning to our apartment, the cab driver asked us where we had been. On hearing that we had been to MCG, he was overjoyed and said that someone from India or Pakistan had told him that MCG is the Mecca of cricket. I don’t agree with this; for me, Lords remains the Mecca of cricket. Nevertheless, visiting MCG was an exhilarating experience. Two weeks after this, we went to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). It has around 40 per cent less capacity than MCG and is much smaller – but the ground is magnificent in its own right. Also, SCG seemed more compact, better organised and evoked more nostalgia as the structure was deeply reminiscent of colonial architecture and Victorian style left behind by the British in Calcutta; this was particularly noticeable in the members’ stand which brings an old world charm. The facilities in SCG seemed even better planned, especially the changing rooms, gym and other amenities. We were taken for a conducted tour right from the ground boundary line to the upper tiers of the structure. Here, it was somewhat salvaging to see a huge statue of Richie Benaud with his shirt unbuttoned halfway in his usual style while bowling leg break deliveries. There was also a statue of Steve Waugh. However, even here, there was no statue of Bradman. Maybe there is one in Adelaide, I told myself. In fact I told myself that even if his statue isn’t there, his aura, reverence for him, and his legend pervades every cricket lovers’ mind. He played for New South Wales and had scored 400 plus runs against Victoria. There is a chair dedicated to Sir Don. There was his gloves and bat as memorabilia. There were also objects used by cricketers from India. There were gloves used by Ravi Shastri, a bat signed by Sunil Gavaskar. Overall, the experience of touring SCG was more memorable as it lent more historical evocations. This is not to belittle MCG is any way. Both were life time experiences to cherish forever. During the conducted tours of both grounds, a few names of famous Australian cricketers came to my mind like Lindwall, Miller who I have not seen playing and others like Davidson, Harvey, O’Neil and the like, who I have seen in action. I don’t recall seeing any mementos of these greats either. I wish to sign off with an indelible memory created in SCG. I met with an accident during the SCG tour, falling straight on my face – it could have been hazardous but I got away with some bruises and a broken front tooth. Every time I watch a match at SCG, I will now remember the tiny bit of me I have left behind there on the grounds.
Jaipur: Thirteen out of the total 33 districts in Rajasthan recorded excess rainfall this season, according to the Water Resources Department. Only four districts are under the deficit rainfall category while there is no district with scanty rainfall. The state as a whole recorded 546.84 mm rains, which is 44.8 per cent more than the normal rainfall of 377.52 mm from June 1 to August 19. Baran, Chittorgarh, Churu, Dausa, Dungarpur, Jaipur, Jhalawar, Jodhpur, Kota, Pratapgarh, Sawaimadhopur, Tonk and Udaipur are under the category of excess rainfall (20-59 per cent) while Ajmer, Bhilwara, Bundi, Jhunjhunu, Nagaur, Pali, Rajsamand and Sikar recorded abnormal (60 per cent or more) rainfall. The districts with normal rainfall (19 per cent to-19 per cent) are Alwar, Banswara, Barmer, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Dholpur, Jalore and Sirohi. Deficit rainfall (-20 to -59 per cent) was recorded in Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Jaisalmer and Karauli. 253 of the total 810 dams in the state are filled, while 359 are partially filled and 198 are empty.
New Delhi: A Delhi court Monday extended by four days the ED’s custodial interrogation of Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in the money laundering case related to a bank loan fraud.Special Judge Sanjay Garg, who accepted the ED’s demand for custodial interrogation of Puri. The Enforcement Directorate had arrested Puri on August 20 in a money laundering case arising out of the bank loan fraud case. It had sought eight more days of Ratul’s custody, saying that the trail of money was yet to be found and the proceeds of crime needed to be identified. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’There is another money laundering case connected with VVIP chopper (AugustaWestland) scam in which the Delhi High Court last Tuesday dismissed his anticipatory bail plea, saying his custodial interrogation was “required for an effective investigation”. Puri was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the bank fraud related case last Monday night after he appeared before the central probe agency here in the chopper scam case after it slapped a fresh criminal case against him and others, taking cognisance of a CBI FIR. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KThe latest PMLA case emerged from a CBI FIR of August 17, where Ratul Puri, his father Deepak Puri, mother Nita (Nath’s sister) and others were booked in connection with a Rs 354 crore bank fraud case filed by the Central Bank of India. The CBI had carried out multiple searches in pursuance of this FIR on last Sunday. The Puri family, other individuals like Sanjay Jain and Vineet Sharma were booked by the CBI for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and corruption. Ratul Puri was booked in this case in his capacity as executive director of Moser Baer India Limited (MBIL), a firm promoted by his father Deepak Puri. The company is involved in the manufacture of optical storage media like compact discs, DVDs, solid state storage devices. Ratul Puri had resigned from the post of executive director in 2012, while his parents continue to be on the board, the bank had said in a statement and compliant to the CBI. Moser Baer was taking loans from various banks since 2009 and went for debt restructuring a number of times, the bank had alleged in the complaint.
Santa Barbara (US): A middle-of-the-night fire swept a boat carrying recreational scuba divers anchored near an island off the Southern California coast early Monday, leaving at least 25 dead and nine others missing. Five of six crew members on the Conception escaped by jumping into an inflatable boat they steered to a nearby vessel. Rescuers recovered four bodies about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles just off Santa Cruz Island. The Coast Guard says five others have been found but not recovered due to unsafe conditions under the boat, which sank about 20 yards (18 meters) from shore. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Authorities will search for the nine people still unaccounted for through the night. “We should all be prepared to move into the worst outcome,” Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester said at a news conference. The four bodies recovered initially had injuries consistent with drowning, said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll. It wasn’t immediately clear when the bodies on the ocean floor might be retrieved or when divers could search the boat for others. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “It’s upside down in relatively shallow water with receding tides that are moving it around,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. Investigators have not yet determined a cause for the fire. The 75-foot (23 meters) Conception was on a three-day excursion to the chain of rugged, wind-swept isles that form Channel Islands National Park in the Pacific Ocean. The fire broke out around 3 a.m. in Platt’s Harbor off Santa Cruz Island. The five crew members who escaped took refuge on a boat called The Grape Escape, anchored nearby. Two had minor injuries, Coast Guard Petty Officer Mark Barney said. The Grape Escape’s owners, Bob and Shirley Hansen, told The New York Times they were asleep when they heard pounding on the side of their 60-foot (18-meter) fishing vessel about 3:30 a.m. and discovered the frightened crew members. They told the couple they fled when the fire grew out of control. “When we looked out, the other boat was totally engulfed in flames, from stem to stern,” Hansen said, estimating it was no more than 100 yards (91 meters) from his craft. “I could see the fire coming through holes on the side of the boat. There were these explosions every few beats. You can’t prepare yourself for that. It was horrendous. “The fire was too big, there was absolutely nothing we could do,” he added. Hansen said two of the crew members went back toward the Conception looking for survivors but found no one. Asked at a news conference if the crew tried to help others aboard, Rochester told reporters, “I don’t have any additional information.” The Conception, based in Santa Barbara Harbor on the mainland, was owned by Truth Aquatics, a Santa Barbara-based company founded in 1974. Dave Reid, who runs an underwater camera manufacturing business with his wife, Terry Schuller, and has traveled on the Conception and two other boats in Truth Aquatics’ fleet, said he considered all three among the best and safest. “When you see the boats they are always immaculate,” he said. “I wouldn’t hesitate at all to go on one again. Of all the boat companies, that would be one of the ones I wouldn’t think this would happen to.” His wife said Truth Aquatics crews have always been meticulous in going over safety instructions at the beginning of every trip she’s been on. “They tell you where the life jackets are, how to put them on, the points of egress, the exits, where the fire extinguishers are, on every single trip,” said Schuller, who goes on diving expeditions often with her husband. “They are the best, the absolute best.” Both said the sleeping area is comfortable but tight, however, with bunk beds stacked next to one another on the lowest deck. Coming to the top deck to get off requires navigating a narrow stairway with only one exit. If the fire was fast-moving, Reid said, it’s very likely divers couldn’t escape and the crew couldn’t get to them. “If there was an explosion in the engine area that could have gone right into the sleeping area,” Reid said. The Conception was on the final day of a Labor Day weekend cruise when the fire erupted and a mayday call was made. Rochester said that call indicated the boat was already fully ablaze. After hearing the call, Capt. Paul Amaral of the vessel assistance company TowBoatUS said a boat sped from Ventura Harbor some 30 miles (48 kilometers) to the island. “We launched that boat knowing that the vessel was on fire, lots of people aboard,” he told The Associated Press. A Coast Guard helicopter and a fireboat were on scene when he arrived around 5 a.m. He first searched the water and shoreline, then turned back to the Conception, which was going aground. Amaral said he attached a line and pulled it into deeper water where fireboats could reach. Brown said the elements of the tragedy were daunting for rescuers: The boat was in a remote location with limited firefighting capabilities, passengers were sleeping below deck in the middle of the night and there was a quick-moving fire. “You couldn’t ask for a worse situation,” the sheriff said. The Conception was chartered by Worldwide Diving Adventures, which says on its website that it has been taking divers on such expeditions since the 1970s. Coast Guard records show inspections of the Conception conducted last February and in August 2018 found no deficiencies. Earlier inspections found some safety violations related to fire safety.
NEW DELHI: Chief selector MSK Prasad addressed questions regarding the future of wicket-keeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni during the announcement of Indian Test squad for their upcoming series against South Africa. India are scheduled to play three T20Is and as many Tests against the Proteas, starting September 15. Prasad was asked regarding Dhoni’s future during the press-conference and he replied: ”No update on MS Dhoni’s retirement, the news is incorrect.” Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhPrasad was referring to Dhoni retirement rumours which started to do the rounds on social media after skipper Virat Kohli posted a memory with former India captain on his Twitter handle. Kohli shared a picture of a Super 10 match against Australia during WT20 2016 and his post read: “A game I can never forget. Special night. This man, made me run like in a fitness test.”@msdhoni.” After missing the tour of West Indies, Dhoni won’t take part in the T20I series against South Africa as he wasn’t included in the 15-man T20I squad which was announced last month. Later, Prasad clarified that Dhoni had made himself unavailable for the T20I series and he wasn’t dropped. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later”Yes he was unavailable for selection,” MSK Prasad said on being asked about Dhoni’s availability. In the 15-man squad announced for the T20I series against South Africa starting on September 15, India went ahead of Rishabh Pant as the designated wicket-keeper. The only change in the side that blanked West Indies 3-0 a month ago was the return of all-rounder Hardik Pandya in place of Bhuvneswar Kumar. Dhoni, who had taken a two-month sabbatical from the sport, is currently vacationing in the United States, having served the Territorial Army for 15 days.
TORONTO – No winning ticket was sold for the $5 million jackpot in Saturday night’s Lotto 649 draw.However, the guaranteed $1 million prize went to a ticket holder in Quebec.The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on July 5 will be approximately $7 million.
OTTAWA – NDP leadership contenders vying for the same job found some common ground Tuesday night in their vociferous opposition to Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister on carbon pricing.Their fifth leadership debate, held in Saskatoon, marks the beginning of the last half of the race for a party hoping to rebuild and grow following the painful results of the 2015 election including in western Canada.Candidates Manitoba MP Niki Ashton, Quebec MP Guy Caron, Ontario MP Charlie Angus and Ontario legislator Jagmeet Singh all took aim at Wall for his strident opposition of Ottawa’s plan to put a price on carbon emissions.The premier has vowed to go to court if the province is forced to adopt it.Angus said Tuesday the Saskatchewan premier fails to acknowledge the 20th century is over, noting that as NDP leader he would personally favour adopting a legislated carbon budget to reduce emissions.“The guy, no offence, but he is like the man violently defending the future of the typewriter when everyone else has moved to cell phones,” Angus said, adding he will work with any government on the Prairies willing to diversify its economy.“We have an enormous renewable potential in Saskatchewan and Alberta.”For her part, Ashton came out swinging against the conservative in the province next door — Pallister.“Coming from Manitoba, I can say my premier, Brian Pallister, doesn’t speak for me and I’m venturing to guess a lot of people here in this room don’t feel that Brad Wall speaks for them,” she said.Pricing carbon is necessary to fight climate change but a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work when it comes to implementing a carbon plan, Singh said.“We need to also know that every province is different so we have to approach that,” he said.Singh said a proposal outlined in his climate change plan includes working with each province to explore solutions. He has also vowed to reduce carbon emissions to 30 per cent of 2005 levels by 2025 — five years ahead of the current Liberal target.“My plan also proposes if we are going to bring in a carbon tax, it has to be twinned with rebates to low and middle income families so they are not disproportionately impacted which we know will happen otherwise,” Singh said.Pallister and Wall are wrong, Caron added, noting it says something when the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Mining Association of Canada are open to carbon pricing.“This is the type of thinking that left us behind and lagging behind most of the European countries on this,” Caron said.Ashton and Caron have both forcefully opposed the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal to carry oil from Alberta to British Columbia, but have yet to unveil their full climate plans.At the beginning of Tuesday’s debate — the only event of its kind in the Prairies during the course of the race — the leadership candidates acknowledged the province is the birthplace of the NDP.It currently holds three seats in the province including Regina New Democrat MP Erin Weir.Prior to the debate, Weir called on candidates to explain how they would help make carbon pricing work for Saskatchewan’s resource-based economy.The next NDP leadership debates is slated for August in Victoria and Montreal as well as in Vancouver in September.Online voting in the leadership race will begin on Sept. 18, with results to be announced in October after each round of balloting.—Follow @kkirkup on Twitter
TORONTO – An experienced appeal court judge will head a sweeping public inquiry into systemic issues at Ontario’s long-term care homes that may have contributed to the murders of eight seniors at the hands of a longtime nurse.The province announced Tuesday that Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Eileen Gillese will have a broad mandate to review policies, procedures and oversight of long-term care homes and will file a report to the Attorney General by July 31, 2019.The inquiry was triggered by the case of Elizabeth Wettlaufer, who pleaded guilty in early June to eight counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault.Her crimes, which took place over the course of nearly a decade in three Ontario long term-care facilities and a private home, have made Wettlaufer one of Canada’s most prolific serial killers.In all those cases, Wettlaufer — who is currently serving a life sentence with no chance for parole for 25 years — deliberately overdosed her patients with insulin.The judge who presided over her criminal case said the 50-year-old never would have been caught if she didn’t confess to the killings while at a psychiatric hospital in Toronto last September. Court heard she had access to insulin and covered her tracks when using the medication to harm her patients.“My team and I will do our utmost to determine how these events could occur and to make recommendations so that the tragedies of the past are not repeated in the future,” Gillese said in a statement.The inquiry was announced by Ontario’s Attorney General and the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care on the same day Wettlaufer pleaded guilty.On Tuesday, the province provided more details on the probe.Gillese’s appointment as the inquiry’s commissioner takes effect immediately, the province said. Gillese has been an appeal court judge since 2002 and is a former dean of Western University’s law school.The inquiry’s final report will include recommendations that will improve the safety and well being of senior residents, the province said.The government has launched a website for the inquiry which states that investigative work has already begun and public hearings will be held in 2018.Doris Grinspun, the CEO of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, applauded the broad range given to the inquiry’s commissioner.“My colleagues are crying for an in-depth look at nursing homes to ensure that resources are put in place so that they can deliver the care that they want to deliver,” she said.The Ontario Health Coalition, a public health advocacy group, is concerned about the duration of the inquiry.“The government’s mandate for the inquiry gives it two years to conduct its work, pushing the final report and recommendations until well after the next election and media interest has died down,” Natalie Mehra, executive director of the coalition, said in a statement.“This is too long. It means that recommendations will not be forged and acted upon for years.”One of the areas likely to be scrutinized by the public inquiry is the role Ontario’s nursing regulator played in the Wettlaufer case.Some details of the College of Nurses of Ontario’s involvement came under the spotlight at a disciplinary hearing last week, where the regulator found Wettlaufer guilty of professional misconduct and revoked her certification.The college knew Wettlaufer was fired from the Caressant Care nursing home in Woodstock, Ont., for a medication error in 2014, but she continued to work — and harm patients — until she resigned as a nurse in September 2016.Caressant Care told the college about the firing, but the college said it decided not to conduct a formal investigation after interviewing the facility’s nursing director, who the college said identified no underlying issues with Wettlaufer.Caressant Care, however, said in a statement a day after the disciplinary hearing that it had no records indicating its leadership told the college Wettlaufer didn’t have any underlying issues.The home said it filed a 20-page report outlining its concerns to the college about Wettlaufer and never heard back from the regulator until Wettlaufer resigned as a nurse more than two years later. It said Wettlaufer was fired after making ten workplace violations over two-and-a-half years, with three violations that led to suspensions.A lawyer representing the college said the regulatory body was satisfied at the time that Wettlaufer had owned up to the errors at Caressant Care and that there was no evidence of intent to harm her patients.Mark Sandler also said that documentation that supports the college’s position will be provided to the public inquiry.By not doing an official investigation, the Caressant Care firing remained private, which meant the public, and other nursing employers, didn’t know about the termination.
VANCOUVER – First Nations, environmental groups and local governments appeared in the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver today continuing their fight against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish First Nation says the federal government failed to consult or gain consent of First Nations for expansion of the oil pipeline, so they have little choice but to try to protect their land and water in the courts.Campbell told a news conference the government didn’t adequately study the impacts that a spill of diluted bitumen could have in the band’s waters, which isn’t good governance.First Nations, the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver, and two environmental groups are asking the court to overturn the federal government’s decision to approve the expansion of the $7.4-billion pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.Both the B.C. and Alberta governments are interveners in the court action, on opposing sides of the argument.The trial is expected to last about two weeks.
ANTIGONISH, N.S. – Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court has dismissed a bid to continue an appeal of a sexual assault conviction by a taxi driver who has since died.William Roger MacLellan was convicted last year after a university student accused him of molesting her in his vehicle.The young woman alleged MacLellan put his hands down her pants after she got into his taxi on the early morning of Oct. 19, 2014.He was convicted of one count of sexual assault but had filed an appeal before his death last April.His lawyer applied to have MacLellan’s sister continue the appeal, arguing the case raised identification issues because MacLellan was of African descent.He was alternately described by witnesses as Latin, Filipino or Mexican. A police officer who knew MacLellan identified his slightly accented voice in the background of a recorded 911 call made by the victim just after the assault.The court dismissed the application to continue the appeal, saying the trial judge recognized and properly dealt with those issues.“The court must be extremely vigilant when dealing with this type of evidence because of the danger that it may lead to a wrongful conviction,” wrote Judge Timothy Gabriel for the Supreme Court.But he said the trial judge “was alive to the dangers inherent in identification evidence, particularly with respect to the recognition of Mr. MacLellan’s voice in the 911 call.”Moreover, the case did not solely depend on such factors, Gabriel noted.Video evidence confirmed that about 30 minutes prior to the victim’s 911 call, MacLellan was at a gas station near where she was picked up. He was seen in the footage with a dark coloured van and wearing a dark shirt that matched descriptions later provided by witnesses.On the whole, Gabriel said he was not convinced that continuing the appeal would likely lead to an acquittal.
Six stories in the news for Thursday, Dec. 7———TRUDEAU DEPARTS CHINA WITHOUT TRADE DEALPrime Minister Justin Trudeau departed China on Thursday without securing the start of free trade talks with the world’s second-largest economy, but said Canadians need to lower their expectations about just how quick that will happen. Trudeau said differences need to be addressed on how Canada deals with China’s state-owned enterprises. He also said he is committed to standing up for Canadian values in a “respectful way,” including protecting the interests of Canadians behind bars. “Canadians should be under no illusions that a free trade deal with China will be easy,” Trudeau told reporters before returning to Canada after a four-day visit.———LIBERALS AIM TO DEMYSTIFY G7 SUMMITThe Liberal government wants to lift the mystery surrounding the G7 summit as it prepares to host the gathering next year, in hopes that Canadians will feel more included and less inclined to protest on the periphery. The efforts to open up the process includes Peter Boehm, the Canadian G7 summit sherpa, speaking at a public event tonight at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Heavy — and armed — security presence is a common sight on the edges of G7 summits, where the need to protect the leaders of powerful countries takes on added urgency due to crowds gathered for demonstrations, which have sometimes turned into violent clashes with police.———JUDGE GIVES LEGAL INSTRUCTIONS TO JURY IN BABCOCK TRIALThe judge presiding over the trial of two men charged in the slaying of a Toronto woman begins giving his legal instructions to the jury today. Dellen Millard and Mark Smich have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the presumed death of Laura Babcock. The 23-year-old woman’s body has never been found.———ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE MAY PROVIDE NEW WEAPON AGAINST HACKERSArtificial intelligence is giving companies a new tool in the fight to keep hackers at bay. Previous to cybercrimes often looked for known hacking methods long after they occurred, but artificial intelligence techniques using machine learning can scan huge volumes of data to detect patterns of abnormal behaviour that are imperceptible to humans. Experts predict that machines will become so sophisticated that they’ll develop answers to questions that humans won’t clearly understand.———TORIES AND LIBERALS BATTLE IN B.C. BYELECTIONA federal byelection in a booming Vancouver suburb next week is expected to be a close race between the Conservatives and Liberals. Conservative MP Dianne Watts won in South Surrey-White Rock by just 1,400 votes over the Liberal candidate in 2015, while the NDP placed a distant third. The riding became vacant after Watts stepped down to run for the B.C. Liberals, an informal coalition of federal Conservatives and Liberals. The Liberal candidate is Gordie Hogg, a former White Rock mayor and member of B-C’s legislature. The Conservatives have put forward Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the former National Revenue Minister and Delta Richmond East MP.———NASTY FLU SEASON MAY BE IN THE OFFINGThe influenza season in Canada could be shaping up to be a potentially nasty one, with a mixed bag of viruses already circulating in much of the country, say infectious diseases experts. There are also concerns that this year’s flu shot may not be all that effective in preventing the respiratory illness. “There’s all kinds of speculation going on because of the experience in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Dr. Danuta Skowronski of the BC Centre for Disease Control, referring in particular to Australia. “They had quite a substantial epidemic due to H3N2, so there’s a lot of speculation that that’s foreboding a severe season for us also.”
FREDERICTON – Veterinarians say they’re seeing an increasing number of dogs sickened after ingesting marijuana, and are warning pet owners to take care as Canada prepares for cannabis legalization this year.Dr. Jeff Goodall, a veterinarian who runs the Sunnyview Animal Centre in Bedford, N.S., said he’s seeing a growing number of dogs with marijuana toxicity.“It profoundly affects the neurological system. It can progress to tremors and seizures, and they can go into a coma,” he said Tuesday.Goodall said his Halifax-area clinic saw five cases in 2017, three in 2016, and none the year before that.He said the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in marijuana doesn’t make dogs high. Rather, it makes them very sick.“The THCs are very toxic to pets in the sense that they cause profound levels of confusion, then the dogs start to cry or vocalize and become hyperactive. They get through that period fairly quickly and then they begin to drool and become unable to walk properly,” Goodall said.“By the time they’re in the clinic it’s very clear that they have marijuana toxicity because the poor dogs have excessive or uncontrolled urination.”In rare cases it can lead to death.Goodall said in four of the five cases he saw last year, the owners were upfront about the cause of their dog’s illness and they were able to proceed quickly with treatment.However he said the owner in the fifth case was in denial.“She was accusing us of accusing her children of using recreational medication, when that wasn’t what we were saying at all. We were just saying, this is what the dog has,” he said.Goodall said cannabis edibles are also harmful to dogs.“One of our cases this year was cannabis-containing brownies. We also had another dog who ate a bag of suckers. The problem there wasn’t the cannabis, it was the xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often used in sugar-free gum, and it is extremely concerning to pets,” he said.Goodall said he’d like to see warnings and greater public education on what marijuana can do to pets.In Colorado, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012, there was a four-fold increase in reported cases of toxicity in dogs between 2010 and 2015.An article posted on the website of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association says dogs are proportionally more sensitive to the active compounds in marijuana than people, and in small dogs, excessive intake can easily result in signs of toxicity.It also says that cats are not immune to the toxic side effects but are more selective in what they eat. They also lack the sweet tooth that would make cannabis edibles as attractive as they are to dogs.Goodall said there are other components in cannabis that may eventually prove useful in treating some symptoms and illnesses in pets, but more research needs to be done.The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association says for now, marijuana is not approved for medicinal use in animals.“Giving products to your pet may have unknown side effects and unproven effectiveness. Especially exposing them to THC-rich recreational marijuana could put them in a life-threatening medical crisis,” its article states.