Beijing: India should cut interest rates further and adopt consistent policies for the export of agricultural produce to enable Indian exporters to take advantage of the current US-China trade war, industry body Ficci’s President Sandip Somany said Saturday. Currently on a business trip to China, Somany also said the NDA government in its second term should focus on getting big ticket investments from China, specially in the capital goods sector, and motivate Chinese machinery manufacturers to set up plants in India. Also Read – SC declines Oil Min request to stay sharing of documentsThe bruising US-China trade war, under which both countries have slapped billions of dollars worth of tariffs on each other’s exports, offers a big opportunity for some category of Indian exports to make a dent in both the US and Chinese markets, Somany said. Somany, who is the vice chairman and managing director of HSIL Limited, the second largest glass manufacturer India, also met the Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri and the Secretary of China’s Boao Forum for Asia, Li Baodong. Also Read – World suffering ‘synchronized slowdown’, says new IMF chiefIf the US-China trade war continues, it offers good opportunities for Indian exports in certain areas, he said. “If you are competitive, we can replace China in those areas. But the government has to be supportive because production costs are high which makes our goods not competitive. “Our interest rates are at life time highs, which makes our goods not competitive. That is an issue. Our inflation rate is low, running around 3 per cent. What is the need for banks to lend at 10, 11 per cent? It is uncalled for,” he said. The interest rates need to come down by another 100 or 150 basis points, he said. He also said the NDA government in its second term should make agricultural exports more competitive by adopting a consistent policy. China has a huge potential for agricultural produce as it is a net importer. Now that the trade war is going on, India could step up its exports of soybean to China, replacing to an extent US shipments, he said. Since last year’s Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, China began importing some agricultural produce like rice and sugar. India is also trying to step up soybean exports to China. The trade deficit in 2018, according to Chinese official data, climbed to USD 57.86 billion from USD 51.72 billion in 2017 in about USD 95.54 total bilateral trade. India’s exports to China went up to USD 18.84 billion in 2018, an increase of 15.2 per cent compared to 2017. “Unfortunately, the Indian agriculture policy is not consistent. When the prices go up, the government bans exports. We should become large exporter of agri products with consistent policy. When the prices go up, the government should import instead of curtailing exports. “Because the government interferes with exports and raises duties at the drop of the hat, agricultural exports in India have not done well,” Somany said. Now that the US-China trade war is going on, one of the things the government should do is to step up exports of soybeans to China. “We don’t have a great agricultural export policy and don’t give it a priority, that is the problem,” he said. About India-China trade, he said Chinese machinery manufacturers should be invited to set up plants in India. “We have huge trade deficit with China. Chinese companies should be motivated to set up investments in India, like the Chinese mobile phones being manufactured in India. The same should done for electronics and other categories,” he said.
Lille: French police said Monday they had identified the body of an Indian national found in a sack by the side of a road in northern France, thanks to a cigarette lighter found in the dead man’s pocket. Police said the clue had proved distinctive enough to help lead to the detention in Belgium of another Indian national suspected of murder. Last October a machine operator was clearing out a pit at Bourbourg when he found a sack containing a decomposed body, without any documents or cellphone to help determine the sex, nationality or circumstances of the death. Also Read – ‘Hong Kong won’t rule out Chinese help over protests’The DNA and fingerprints also failed to reveal the identity, according to a statement from investigators in Lille who led the inquiry. But it was a cigarette lighter stamped “Kroeg Cafe” that was found in the pocket of the victim’s trousers that finally led to a breakthrough, when Belgian federal police saw a picture of the evidence. Police had been searching for 42-year-old Darshan Singh, an Indian national resident in Belgium, since last June. Also Read – Pak Army chief accompanies Imran at key meetings in ChinaThe cafe on the lighter, though a common name in Belgium and the Netherlands meaning “the pub,” was located near the victim’s home in Ravels close to the Dutch border. Investigators confirmed the victim’s DNA from a toothbrush. The discovery of the missing man’s remains relaunched an inquiry by Belgian authorities, who in late March questioned another man of Indian nationality suspected of having killed Singh. A source close to the case declined to give further details on the motive for the suspected murder.
Kolkata: An unyielding mentality of junior doctors to resume health services at various government-run medical colleges and hospitals continues to claim the lives of patients in the state complicating the situation further.The cease-work by the junior doctors at various hospitals, including the NRS Medical College and Hospital, entered the fifth day on Saturday with no logical conclusion of the impasse in sight despite all assurances by the state government on security revamp in all the hospitals. The rising death toll in the hospitals due to the unavailability of treatment is certainly not a good endorsement for the doctors whose job is to save lives. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaTwo patients, including a three-day-old infant, died in two separate incidents in the state on Saturday taking the toll to five so far. The family members of the deceased alleged that the patients died due to want of treatment caused by the prolonged strike of the junior doctors. The first incident occurred at Midnapore Medical College and Hospital on Saturday morning when a newborn baby boy died. It was learnt that one Monowara Begum, a resident of Midnpaore town, was taken to the hospital last Thursday after she had labour pain. On the same day, the woman gave birth to a boy child. The family members of the victim alleged that the health condition of the baby deteriorated fast and he was put under ventilation. The infant died at the hospital on Saturday morning. The family members alleged that the baby died as there was no treatment available due to the cease-work by the junior doctors. The mother along with other family members sat in a demonstration with the dead child outside the Emergency ward just opposite the place where the junior doctors have been conducting a sit-in. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersBegum broke down in tears and asked the junior doctors to return her baby. She also held the striking doctors responsible for the baby’s death. Another family member of the deceased infant alleged: “The baby had been denied adequate treatment for the past three days. The doctors are on strike. Are they not ashamed to call themselves doctors.” The demonstration was later lifted by the family members following police intervention. In a similar incident, the family members of a 42-year-old woman who died at NRS Medical College and Hospital alleged that the strike has led to the death of the patient. The victim, Sulata Biswas, was admitted to the hospital a week ago. A resident of Basirhat in North 24-Parganas, Biswas had been suffering from cancer in her food pipe. She needed an emergency operation. The family members alleged that the operation could not be performed due to the ongoing strike of the junior doctors. “When we urged the doctors to treat the patient, some of the agitating junior doctors accused us of beating them up. We clarified that we were not involved in any incident of assault on doctors. We came here only for treatment. We were again told that the patient would not be treated as the junior doctors had been assaulted,” a relative of the victim said. Many other patients were also inconvenienced at NRS. One Shipra Biswas brought her three-year-old son to the hospital for removing plaster on his hand. The victim had suffered a fracture after falling from a tree. There was no doctor at the hospital to attend to him. It may be mentioned that three patients earlier died in different hospitals due to the cease-work of junior doctors.
Monsoon 2019 completed a quarter of its four-month season with a deficit of 33 per cent. But the most critical month of this season is July, accounting for the highest rainfall — a third of the total — in the season. A deficit in July rainfall has historically been associated with an overall deficit monsoon and severe droughts. India Meteorological Department (IMD) already indicated a below-normal July rainfall. It is usual for a monsoon break in either mid-July or sometimes in August. Also Read – A special kind of bondA deficit July monsoon, however, has been a cause of worry in both agricultural and meteorological terms. First, in India’s cropping cycle — especially for paddy — this month’s rainfall is crucial. In July, farmers transplant paddy crops that need regular showers. This year, there is another worry for farmers: sensing the late onset and tardy progress in monsoon, states advised farmers to delay sowing. Paddy was sown on about 27 lakh hectares by June 28 — 8.45 lakh Ha short of last year. Almost all crops have reported a drop in area under sowing. Also Read – Insider threat managementThis means farmers would begin sowing almost a month after what is normal. In July they would have to take up transplanting as well. Their dependence on July-rain will be much more desperate. If in case of erratic rainfall or extreme events, crops will be damaged before they mature. Deficits in monsoon in July have caused six of India’s worst droughts between 1877 and 2005, according to an analysis of IMD rainfall data by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune. IITM scientists studied overall monsoon outcomes for rainfall above or below normal for June, July as well as both, using data since 1871, in 2013. If there was a deficit in July, chances of overall deficiency soared to more than 90 per cent, they found. Let’s look at two of the country’s worst droughts. 1987 – July rainfall deficit was 26 per cent; overall monsoon was 18 per cent below normal. 1972 –July deficit at about 30 per cent; overall monsoon ended 25 per cent below average. The study also found that with deficit rainfall in June, chances of a deficit in overall monsoon was at around 77 per cent. By June 28, 2019, the monsoon was at a 36 per cent deficit. IMD’s map of monsoon progress and actual rainfall, issued June 27, was scary — only five hydromet subdivisions of a total 36 reported normal or above rainfall. Private forecaster Skymet Weather Services predicted a 33 per cent deficit by June 30 as rains picked up across India. By June 27, 2019, the actual rainfall was 86.3 mm, compared with a normal 135.6 mm. If it remained below 100 mm even after June 30, this would have been only the fourth such June in the last 118 years; and third since 1901 — 1905 (88.7 mm), 1926 (97.6 mm) and 2009 (85.7 mm). Those were also among India’s worst drought years. Whenever the deficit in June rainfall exceeded 30 per cent in the past 146 years, it either led to a below-normal monsoon or drought, except in 1923, 1924 and 1926, according to IMD. The June deficit comes at a time when more than 44 per cent of India’s areas were under various degrees of drought conditions (abnormally dry to exceptionally dry) as of June 10, 2019 — that is nearly 11 percentage point more than a year ago, according to the Drought Early Warning System (DEWS). If the deficit continues in July, most districts experiencing a drought in June would stare a multi-year drought — drought conditions over 24 months. Multi-year droughts have increased in frequency in recent decades, according to an analysis of droughts that hit India between 1901 and 2010 by the Earth System Science Organisation of the Ministry of Earth Sciences showed. Twelve multi-year droughts were recorded during 1951-2010 while there were only three such droughts during 1901-1950. The analysis also showed an increase in drought frequency during 1977-2010. This increase was more pronounced over central and peninsular India. The recent spells of droughts were also reported in these areas. There was also an increase in areas hit by moderate droughts. (The author is Managing Editor, Down To Earth. The views expressed are strictly personal)
New Delhi: It’s finally official! Rahul Gandhi will no longer be Congress president. The Gandhi scion on Wednesday said in a letter that it had been an honour to serve the party whose values and ideals have served as the “lifeblood of this beautiful nation”.As president of the Congress, he held himself responsible for the loss of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. “Accountability is critical for the future growth of our party. It is for this reason that I have resigned as Congress president,” he said in an open letter shared on Twitter. Also Read – Balakot strikes show major shift in govt’s handling of terror attacks: IAF chiefMeanwhile, there is a buzz that Congress may choose either Sushil Kumar Shinde or Mallikarjun Kharge as new party president. The names emerged after Gandhi posted an open letter on his decision to resign from the top post. Gandhi, who suggested that the Congress Working Committee be entrusted with the task of finding a new party president and it would not be correct for him to select his successor, also said that he owes the country and his organisation a debt of tremendous gratitude and love. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps, 20 launch pads along LoCGandhi said that at times he felt “alone” in his fight against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the RSS but is proud of it. “Rebuilding the party requires hard decisions and numerous people will have to be made accountable for the failure of 2019. It would be unjust to hold others accountable but ignore my own responsibility as president of the party,” he said. One must shed power to defeat opponents, Gandhi, who has been firm on his decision to quit as party president, said. “We will not defeat our opponents without sacrificing our desire for power,” he said, adding that Congress must radically transform itself as it’s the party’s duty to defend people’s voices that BJP is crushing. “I was born a Congressman, this party has always been with me and is my life’s blood and forever that way it shall remain,” he said in his letter. Many of his colleagues suggested he should nominate the next Congress president, “While it is important for someone new to lead our party, it would not be correct for me to select that person,” he noted.
Washington: America’s defence partnership with India is strong and is looking to make it ever stronger, the Pentagon has said as it warned nations against purchasing military hardware from other countries that are designed to counter it’s sophisticated fifth-generation aircraft. The comments come a day after President Donald Trump has announced that the US would not sell the F-35 fighter jets to Turkey after Ankara purchased the S-400 missile defense system from sanctions-hit Russia. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity!”Our defense partnership with India I think is strong and we’re looking to make it ever stronger,” David J Trachtenberg, the deputy under secretary of defence for policy, told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. Trachtenberg was responding to a question on the impact on bilateral defence ties as India goes ahead with its decision to purchase S-400 missile defense system from Russia. “Can you have a major defence partnership with India, which is going ahead with a decision to buy S-400?” he was asked. “I think the message we are sending is that we want to make sure that other countries are not purchasing equipment that is designed to counter our sophisticated fifth-generation aircraft,” Trachtenberg said. “The other message we’re sending is that we are consistent in our approach on this.” Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killedIndia inked an agreement with Russia last October to procure a batch of the S-400 missile systems at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore. Trachtenberg said America’s decision to unwind Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program was no surprise as its concerns had repeatedly been communicated to the Turkish government. “Our reaction today is a specific response to a specific event. It is separate and distinct from the broader range of security interests where the United States and Turkey work together against common threats,” he said.
Bhopal: The Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh has run into fresh trouble over its alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The husband of one of the two BSP legislators who prop the minority government is wanted in murder case of a senior Congress leader. Furor over his presence in the Assembly on Friday has embarrassed the ruling party. Govind Singh Thakur, the husband of BSP legislator Rambai Thakur, was seen sauntering in the Assembly premises though there is an arrest warrant against him for the past four months. An award of Rs 25,000 was announced for his arrest. The government quietly dropped the award last month triggering an outcry within the party and the opposition. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killed Devendra Chaurasia, a former senior leader of the BSP who had joined the Congress just before the elections, was murdered in March before the Lok Sabha elections. His son Somesh Chaurasia has now accused the Kamal Nath government of protecting his father’s “killer” in a bid to remain in power. The Congress, which has 114 seats in the state Assembly, enjoys only a slim lead over the BJP’s 108 in the state Assembly. Four independents, two BSP and one Samajwadi Party MLA are backing it. Also Read – 14-yr-old girl raped, strangled to death in UP’s Shamli “I’m an eyewitness to my father’s murder and had recorded before the magistrate that Govind Singh Thakur was among those who killed my father. Now I feel that my father made a mistake by joining the Congress,” said Somesh. Damoh district police who declared Rs 25,000 reward on Thakur’s arrest dropped it after he submitted several applications saying he was not involved in the murder case. Govind Singh Thakur is also convicted in a 1998 murder case of Congress leader Rajendra Pathak by district court. He is currently out on bail granted by the state High Court. Former Minister Vishwas Sarang slammed the government saying: “A murder accused was roaming freely in the Vidhan Sabha despite the heavy security. I could not have happened without the connivance of the police at the behest of the Congress which is at the mercy of the BSP leader.” Home Minister Bala Bachchan pleaded ignorance even while the television channels had shown Thakur moving about in the Vidhan Sabha. His stock reply was, “We’ll look into the matter.” Devendra Chaurasia was murdered on March 15, 2019 in Hatta town of Damoh district. Thakur and his aides are accused in the case. Govind Singh Thakur had earlier claimed before newspersons he was not present at the spot of murder. Rambai had also had raised the issue many times in the Vidhan Sabha saying her husband and close relatives were being falsely implicated in the murder case.
Eating mostly plant-based and fewer animal-based foods may be linked to better heart health and a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases, a study claims. “While you don’t have to give up foods derived from animals completely, our study does suggest that eating a larger proportion of plant-based foods and a smaller proportion of animal-based foods may help reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other type of cardiovascular disease,” said Casey M Rebholz, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainThe study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, reviewed a database of food intake information from over 10,000 middle-aged US adults who were monitored from 1987 through 2016 and did not have cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. The researchers then categorised the participants’ eating patterns by the proportion of plant-based foods they ate versus animal-based foods. People who ate the most plant-based foods overall had a 16 per cent lower risk of having a cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks, stroke, heart failure and other conditions, 32 per cent lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease and 25 per cent lower risk of dying from any cause compared to those who ate the least amount of plant-based foods. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma Award”Our findings underscore the importance of focusing on your diet. There might be some variability in terms of individual foods, but to reduce cardiovascular disease risk people should eat more vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruits, legumes and fewer animal-based foods. “These findings are pretty consistent with previous findings about other dietary patterns, including the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, which emphasise the same food items,” Rebholz said. This is one of the first studies to examine the proportion of plant-based versus animal-based dietary patterns in the general population, noted Rebholz. Prior studies have shown heart-health benefits from plant-based diets but only in specific populations of people, such as vegetarians or Seventh Day Adventists who eat a mostly vegan diet. The study was observational, which means did not prove cause and effect.
Kolkata: Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) is preparing a detailed project report (DPR) to conserve the rich biodiversity of the Rabindra Sarovar Lake in south Kolkata.A butterfly park, a nature interpretation centre , naming of the variety of trees on the bank of the Lake and concerted efforts in maintaining the water quality of the sprawling waterbody will be prioritised. Altogether, 379 species of animals have been found in the survey of the fauna and this has been classified into 15 categories. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe highest number has been bagged by the birds with 107 varieties being found. The number of butterflies are also reasonably rich with 57 types while 29 variety of ants have been found. The number of fishes in Rabindra Sarobar that has often been the talking point of the visitors is also on the higher side with 40 species being found. “There are a handful species among the fauna that feature in the IUCN Red List of Nearly Threatened but we are very serious about conserving the rich biodiversity. We will be conducting programme on awareness and education from time to time involving school students and common people, ” a senior KMDA official said. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThe urban biodiversity report comprising the flora and fauna in and around the waterbody was officially released in the last month by state Urban Development minister Firhad Hakim. The study has been conducted by a team from various state and Central agencies with A.K. Sanyal of the West Bengal Biodiversity Board being the chairman of the team. We are preparing the DPR on the basis of recommendations by the team and will submit it before the eastern bench of National Green Tribunal in due course. The NGT has imposed ban on littering in or around the lake, bathing in its water, using excessive bright lights around it, washing clothes or utensils, emitting sounds that disturb the birds in the area and entering the lake premises with any kind of plastic bag is forbidden. It may be mentioned that the team has found 131 variety of trees and 34 types of terrestrial macrofungi in and around the waterbody. ” We have already started putting boards with names of the trees along with a short description of them,” the official added. KMDA is also giving special emphasis on desilting of the Lake to improve the water quality of the waterbody. ‘ We will start work soon after the monsoon season which will contribute in keeping the water quality to its best and at the same tome conservation of the species living in the water,” he maintained.
Kolkata: In order to help the senior citizens,who cannot go for shopping due to ill health, a three-day pre puja fair will be organised at Swapno Bhor in New Town.The three-day fair from August 15 to 18 will be inaugurated by Debashis Sen, chairman of Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco), while the Chief Guest will be poet Subodh Sarkar. Prasanta Maji, head of Swapno Bhor, said there would 30 kiosks, which will be put up on the first floor of Swapno Bhor building. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThere will be stalls selling saris, kurtas, kurtis, costume jewellery, bed sheets and pillow covers, handcrafts, jute bags and room decorations. There will be two stalls selling books and some food stalls. This is the third edition of the fair. Hidco officials said the fair has become very popular among the senior citizens who are members of Swapno Bhor and they buy the items that are on display. Swapno Bhor is the only state-run organization for the senior citizens. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThere is huge lush green field covering an areas of three acres of land. The two-storeyed building houses an auditorium, lounge, library and a coffee shop. Indoor games for the members are held every year. Cultural programmes are held in the auditorium throughout the year and the members are taken out on annual tours. The senior citizens do gardening with the help of an NGO where organic vegetables are grown. Snehodiya, a state of the art housing facility for the senior citizens, has come up near Swapno Bhor.
New Delhi: Former finance minister Arun Jaitley continued to be life support system on Sunday even as a bevvy of politicians, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Union ministers Smriti Irani and Ram Vilas Paswan, visited AIIMS to enquire about his health condition. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is also scheduled to visit Jaitley later tonight.Jaitley, 66, was admitted to AIIMS August 9 after he complained of breathlessness and restlessness. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has not issued any bulletin on Jaitley’s health condition since August 10. A multidisciplinary team of doctors at AIIMS is monitoring his condition. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said on Friday, “Doctors at AIIMS are doing the best they can.” Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Among those who visited the cardio-neuro centre at AIIMS on Sunday were Himachal Pradesh Governor Kalraj Mishra, RSS Joint General Secretary Dr Krishna Gopal and former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh. “Visited Sh Arun Jaitley ji. I pray to God for his good health and fast recovery,” the Delhi CM later tweeted. On Saturday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Harsh Vardhan and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal visited AIIMS to enquire about Jaitley’s health. Among others who visited the hospital are J&K Governor Satyapal Malik, BSP chief Mayawati, BJP leader Satish Upadhyay, Congress leaders Abhishek Singhvi and Jyotiraditya Scindia, and Air Force chief Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K On Saturday evening, a major fire broke out on the second floor of the teaching block at AIIMS. While no casualties were reported, the Delhi Fire Services (DFS) dispatched at least 42 fire tenders and 200 firefighters to douse the flames. Earlier this year in May, Jaitley was admitted to AIIMS for treatment. Prior to that, he had undergone a renal transplant on May 14, 2018, when he was Union finance minister. Piyush Goyal had stepped in to take charge of the Finance Ministry at the time. In September 2014, he had undergone bariatric surgery because of a long-standing diabetic condition. Jaitley, a lawyer by profession, had been an important part of Modi’s Cabinet in the BJP government’s first term. He held the finance and defence portfolios, and often acted as the chief troubleshooter of the government. Jaitley, however, did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections citing his ill-health. After the Modi government returned to power, Jaitley wrote to the Prime Minister saying he would like to stay away from “any responsibility” on account of his ill health. (With inputs from Indian Express)
On the occasion of World Photography Day 2019, Maya Art Space organised the first solo exhibition of photographs and paintings titled ‘Blink’ by Suvomoy Mitra.The photographs which were showcased in the exhibition presented various fractions of life around us. The paintings on the other hand were originated from various attractions and denials. This exhibition was a perfect example that a photographer can even paint if he wants to. The artist’s collection proved to be an easy co-existent of instant visions through lens along with sustained impressions on canvas. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainThe art show, which started on August 19 and went on till August 28, from 2 pm to 8 pm daily. The photo-cum-paint exhibition was inaugurated by renowned photographers including Jayanta Saha, Soumitra Datta, and sculptors like Bimal Kundu, Niranjan Pradhan to name a few. On the same day, a fully illustrated guide book for photo enthusiasts, ‘Photographyr Noksha Jukti Golpo’, by the artist was also released at Maya Art Space on August 19. Written in simple Bengali for everyone, the book features innumerable images from renowned photographers across generations. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardPublished by Maya Art Space, Suvomoy’s book is a compact and fully illustrated book on contemporary technology, use, content importance and art of photography. Useful links and references that help the reader to know more are also added in the book. The author, who is an experienced professional photographer, author, workshop organiser based in Kolkata, wrote the book to take readers into a greater world of knowledge and understanding on photography. A week long programme featuring talks, presentations related to photography were also arranged at Maya Art Space.
Kolkata: Lalu Alam, a former CPI-M youth leader, was acquitted by a court here on Thursday in a case of attempting to murder West Bengal Chief Minister, who was then state youth Congress chief, Mamata Banerjee 29 years ago after the state government requested that the matter be closed. Banerjee had sustained severe head injuries after being hit multiple times on August 16, 1990, while leading a Congress rally at Hazra crossing in South Kolkata in support of a bandh called by her party. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja It was alleged Alam hit Banerjee repeatedly with a stick, leaving her with a fractured skull. Banerjee had to be hospitalised and the incident created a political storm that put the state’s then CPI-M-led Left Front government on the backfoot. During the day, government pleader Radhakanta Mukherjee argued before the Alipur Court that he saw no future in the case as none of the witnesses were alive. Also of the 12 people charge-sheeted, all except Alam were either dead or absconding. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway “The government has decided that by pursuing the case nothing can be achieved expect wastage of money and time. So the case should be closed,” the government lawyer argued. The defence counsel didn’t object to the government stand. The judge then acquitted Alam for want of witnesses and lack of proof that he had assaulted Banerjee. Banerjee had deposed in the case in 1994. After his acquittal, Alam was in tears. “I can’t express my feelings. A 30-year-old issue has been resolved,” he said flashing the V sign. Alam admitted he had panicked after Banerjee became the Chief Minister in 2011, ending the 34-year-long LF rule. “Of course, I was afraid that after becoming the Chief Minister she will punish me. But had she taken this decision eight-nine years ago, I could have concentrated more on expanding my business,” he said.
United Nations: Describing Pakistan as the “hub of terrorism”, India has strongly hit back at the country for raking up the Kashmir issue at the Security Council, saying Islamabad misused the UN forum to spread “baseless and deceitful” narratives about it. Pakistan’s envoy to the UN Maleeha Lodhi raised the Kashmir issue during a General Assembly session on Report of the Security Council for 2018 on Friday, and referred to India’s August 5 decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution which ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Lodhi said India’s action to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was “in flagrant violation of multiple Security Council resolutions”. She said the Security Council must press India to lift the curfew, end the communication blackout and release the detainees. “There has been yet another attempt by one delegation to misuse this forum to spread baseless and deceitful narratives about my country. Such attempts have not succeeded earlier and will not succeed now,” First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Sandeep Kumar Bayyapu said Thursday. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K”The truth is that the delegation represents a geographical space that is now widely known as the hub of terrorism that has jeopardised innocent lives in our region and beyond. We do not wish to dignify such baseless diatribes with a response,” he said. On the report of the Security Council, Bayyapu asserted that many of the flaws in the functioning of the Council were structural and its composition is demonstrably out of touch with the ground realities. “The Council neither reflects nor represents the aspirations and views of the larger membership. Like most others, we remain convinced that the only remedy is a comprehensive reform of the Security Council, involving expansion in its permanent and non-permanent categories,” he said. Bayyapu said that since performance assessment has become one of the focus areas at the United Nations, the Security Council too needs to prove its credibility and improve its performance. The annual report continues to be a statistical compilation of events, a bland summary and listing of meetings and outcome documents even though the membership of the General Assembly has repeatedly requested the Council that the annual report be more analytical and incisive rather than a mere narration of the meetings of the 15-nation organ of the UN, he said. “The debate on the annual report has become a ritual and a formality in a long list of formalities. There is a need to reinvigorate this interaction between the most representative organ of the United Nations and its most empowered brethren,” he said. He stressed that the annual report of the Security Council must inform, highlight and analyse the measures that it has decided upon or taken to maintain international peace and security during the reporting period. Bayyapu also voiced concern that the report was not only lacking in substance but is submitted late in the year, almost towards the last quarter of the next year due to which it does not generate the attention needed for a proper discussion. “This needs to be rectified. There should be definite timelines for completing the report, circulating to wider GA members and holding the debate earlier not towards the close of the session,” he said. The 74th session of the General Assembly will begin next week and the annual high-level session will begin soon thereafter. Bayyapu expressed disappointment that the annual report of the Security Council is short of analysis on the UN peacekeeping operations, the flagship tool for the maintenance of international peace and security. “There is little information on how peacekeeping operations are run, on the problems they face, on why certain mandates are set or changed, or on when and why they are strengthened, scaled down or ended,” he said.
MONTREAL – The president of Canadarm-builder MDA says setting up the company’s parent firm in the United States won’t have any impact on jobs in Canada.In October 2017, MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, based in Richmond, B.C., became Maxar Technologies Ltd. after it acquired DigitalGlobe, an American satellite imaging company.Maxar’s headquarters were in San Francisco before recently moving to Westminster, Colo.At the time, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates was also rebranded simply as “MDA”.The move came almost 10 years after the Conservative government moved in 2008 to halt the sale of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates’ space technology division to Alliant Techsystems, an American company.Then-industry minister Jim Prentice said he was not satisfied the sale would be a net benefit for Canada.Mike Greenley, the head of the new MDA, says the company has been “very transparent and talked openly” about shifting the head office south of the border.He oversees all of the MDA lines of business and its 1,900 employees in Canada.“Nothing has moved and nothing is moving,” Greenley told The Canadian Press in a recent interview.“My job is to run it and grow it bigger in Canada, for Canada, and exporting from Canada to the rest of the world.“You have to export and access foreign markets in order to grow to scale,” because “Canada’s economy is only so big.”MDA’s Canadian operations include its surveillance and intelligence facilities in Richmond, Ottawa and Halifax; its robotics and automation plants in Brampton, Ont; and its satellite subsystems in Montreal.In an email to The Canadian Press, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Department spokesman Hans Parmar said, “MDA has indicated for several years its desire to grow in the U.S. market, which is the largest market.”But NDP science critic Brian Masse is worried about what he calls “the hollowing-out of decision-making” in Canada.“This has happened to some degree in the auto industry as we don’t even have Canadian presidents in some sectors anymore,” the MP for the Ontario riding of Windsor West said in an interview.Conservative science critic Matt Jeneroux says he’s seen the story before.Jeneroux pointed to the 2016 takeover of COM DEV International, a Canadian satellite equipment provider, by New Jersey-based aerospace giant Honeywell.“The same promises are made by Honeywell when it bought out COM-DEV, (but) 35 per cent of their employees at their Cambridge plant lost their jobs,” he noted.“In the fall of 2017, they announced they were laying off COM DEV employees due to a downturn in the space and satellite industry.”Jeneroux does not appear to be comforted that Greenley has said no jobs would leave Canada.“The Liberals seem to take this at face value, but just you look at what’s happened in the past and we’ve been losing jobs to the States,” he said.Greenley also said in the interview that finding growth for MDA in Canada would be helped by a new space strategy.“For that to happen something would have to move . . . in terms of folks trying to get an updated, documented, discussable space strategy,” he said.But the email from the federal department gave no indication as to when the Canadian space sector could expect to see a new plan.“Space is a critical part of Canada’s infrastructure and a strategic sector of our economy, so it is important that we take the time necessary to get it right,” Parmar wrote, adding that “more work needs to be done.”Jeneroux says the Canadian space industry is frustrated waiting for Bains to unveil a national strategy.“He made an announcement in November 2016 that a space strategy would be forthcoming and said the strategy would be released in June 2017,” he noted.“They (the Liberals) make these promises, but then they end up disappointing an entire industry.”Note to readers: This is a corrected version; a previous story said Hans Parmar was a spokesman for the minister
WASHINGTON – The White House is downplaying talk of a U.S. trade war with Canada, with President Donald Trump’s spokesman brushing off the notion when asked about it Monday.”No,” Sean Spicer said when asked whether he sees a north-south trade war escalating.He said regular trade remedy procedures are simply doing their job. The U.S. has slapped tariffs as high as 24 per cent on Canadian lumber, as part of its long-standing view that Canadian logging companies get unfair subsidies.The Canadian government is now considering retaliation in two areas: one is a possible ban on exports of U.S. coal from B.C., and government sources say the other is a study of potential duties against products from Oregon.The targeting of Oregon is related to the fact that Canadian officials see that state’s Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden as a particularly obstinate opponent of a softwood lumber settlement.Sources tell The Canadian Press that federal officials are poring through examples from Oregon state of subsidies for businesses, and exploring grounds for an investigation that could result in duties on Oregon plywood, flooring, wood chips, packing and wine.U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said over the weekend that he won’t be pressured into making a lumber deal.The president’s spokesman said Monday that the U.S. is merely following its legal, legitimate trade-dispute practices. Domestic law allows U.S. lumber producers to seek an investigation and punitive duties if they feel unfairly undercut; the U.S. government agrees with them that Canadian rivals’ low-fee access to public land comprises a subsidy.”That’s why we have dispute-settlement mechanisms to do this in a responsible way,” Spicer said. ”Let’s let it play out. But I think secretary Ross took appropriate action to protect the U.S. industry and we’re going to let the process play out.”He was also asked when NAFTA renegotiations might start.The earliest it could happen is August, if the Trump administration immediately sent a 90-day notice to the U.S. Congress. But that letter has not been sent. Lawmakers have been slow to approve the contents of the letter and have not yet confirmed Trump’s trade czar.The confirmation of that trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, could happen soon. Yet negotiators could be pressed for time, if they want to get a deal before the Mexican election enters full swing next spring.Spicer said there would be updates, but not right away: ”Right now there’s nothing to share.”
Highlights from the news file for Friday, Dec. 29———CANADA 150 NEW YEAR’S SHOW CHANGED DUE TO COLD: Mother Nature drowned out Canada Day on Parliament Hill and now it’s frozen out part of the planned New Year’s Eve celebrations. Organizers were checking the forecast every hour Friday hoping to see some improvement but the polar vortex that has turned Ottawa into a living icicle shows no sign of lifting until at least Jan. 2. Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said while Canadians were able to manage all the snow that fell around last New Year’s Eve to ring in Canada 150, this year the cold was proving to be too much.———OTTAWA TO WORK WITH N.S. ON DESMOND INQUIRY: The federal government says it will work with Nova Scotia on the inquiry into the deaths of Lionel Desmond and his family. Last January, the retired corporal — diagnosed with PTSD and post-concussion disorder after completing two tours in Afghanistan in 2007 — shot his wife, daughter and mother before turning the gun on himself. Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan said Friday the federal government will work with the province on the inquiry to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.———BRAIN INJURY VICTIM COMMUNICATES WITH MOM: In what her mother calls a “Christmas miracle,” a Nova Scotia woman who suffered a catastrophic brain injury in a 1996 car accident communicated with family members for the first time in 21 years on Dec. 25. Louise Misner says her 37-year-old daughter Joellen Huntley used eye motion cameras and software on an iPad to respond to a question Misner asked her on Christmas Day. She says her daughter indicated through a screen icon that she was wearing a long-sleeved shirt.———ORDER OF CANADA LIST INCLUDES PHARMA GIANT: The Canadian pharmaceutical giant whose sudden death earlier this month is shrouded in mystery is among the latest inductees into the Order of Canada. Gov. Gen. Julie Payette released the latest round of appointments Friday, including 121 people new to the order and three who are being promoted within it. The list includes Bernard “Barry” Sherman, whose generic drug company Apotex made him and his wife, Honey, among the wealthiest people in Canada. The Shermans were found dead in their Toronto home on Dec. 15, and their deaths have been deemed “suspicious.”———MONTREAL CANADA’S MOST TRILINGUAL CITY: Census numbers from 2016 reveal Montreal is by far the country’s most trilingual city. The data were specially ordered by Montreal International, a business association, and provided today to The Canadian Press. The Statistics Canada figures indicate more than 21 per cent of Montrealers can speak at least three languages, compared with 11 per cent of Torontonians and 10 per cent of people in Vancouver. Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies helped obtain the data and says Montreal has many trilingual people due to immigrants and Quebec’s language law.———HEALTH CANADA MONITORING MAKEUP ASBESTOS TEST: Health Canada says it has requested to see testing data from Claire’s Stores Inc. following reports that asbestos has been found in certain cosmetic products sold by the international retailer of youth-oriented jewelry and accessories. Claire’s said it has retained an independent laboratory to test the cited products in order to determine whether the recent news reports are accurate. Canada’s federal health agency said Friday that it contacted Claire’s, which confirmed that the suspect cosmetics were sold in Canada but have been removed from stores since Dec. 22.———U.S. INDIGENOUS MAN HAS RIGHT TO HUNT IN CANADA: An American Indigenous man’s right to hunt in Canada has been upheld by a judge because his ancestors traditionally hunted in this country. Richard Desautel was charged with violations under British Columbia’s Wildlife Act after he shot and killed a cow elk near Castlegar in 2010. Desautel, a member of the Lakes Tribe in Washington state, argued he was exercising his constitutional right to hunt for ceremonial purposes and was acquitted of the charges in March. Justice Robert Sewell has dismissed an appeal, saying Desautel’s tribe traditionally lived on both sides of the border and it has deep connections to its territory in Canada.———TRADING OF CANADIAN POT COMPANIES HALTED ON TSX: Several Canadian cannabis companies had their stocks temporarily halted on the Toronto Stock Exchange early Friday afternoon due to volatile swings in trading. The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada halted trading on Canopy Growth Corp., Aphria Inc., Aurora Cannabis Inc. and MedReleaf Corp. between approximately 12:15 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. ET. Trading resumed for all shares within about 10 minutes. Shortly before the halts, shares of Canopy Growth dropped 14.78 per cent, Aphria 15.5 per cent, Aurora 14.7 per cent and MedReleaf dropped 19.2 per cent.———DIVERS FIND BODY OF B.C. BOY IN SUNKEN CAR: The RCMP is investigating a car crash in southeastern B.C. that resulted in the death of a 10-year-old boy. Police say the vehicle the boy was in veered off Highway 23 in snowy and icy conditions, and crashed into Arrow Lake and sank. The 37-year-old driver and an 11-year-old girl made it out of the car before it sank. The name of the deceased boy is not being released, and the Mounties and coroner continue to investigate the cause of the crash.———FORCILLO CASE BACK IN COURT IN JANUARY: The case of a Toronto police officer found guilty of attempted murder in the fatal shooting of a teen on a streetcar and now charged with attempting to obstruct justice and perjury will return to court next month. Const. James Forcillo appeared in court Friday and is set to appear by video link on Jan. 12 to schedule a bail hearing on the charges, which were laid last week. Even if he is granted bail on those charges, however, Forcillo would remain in custody to serve his sentence in the shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim.———
NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. – A prominent Nova Scotia mayor who came out as gay this week after someone allegedly threatened to out him has declared his intention to lead the provincial Tories.Cape Breton Mayor Cecil Clarke says the packed hall of supporters at a Saturday event kicking off his campaign to lead the Progressive Conservatives reassured him that he handled the matter the right way.After sharing details about his private life in a radio interview Thursday, Clarke said he felt great pride as he formally announced he was entering the race at the North Sydney Firefighters Club on Saturday afternoon.“I think it really puts out that for the wider public to know exactly who I am, and what I stand for, and what I represent as a person … I wasn’t going to do that under any basis of hate or attack,” Clarke said in a phone interview Saturday.“The outpouring of support from all of Nova Scotia told me that I dealt with it the right way, and I believe Nova Scotians have responded in the right way.”The 49-year-old politician first publicly spoke about his sexual orientation in an interview with the CBC on Thursday, saying he didn’t want anyone thinking they could shame him or hold something over him.Clarke told The Canadian Press that he is exploring legal options in responding to the alleged threat, which he described as originating from outside provincial politics or the media and being “specific” to the individual or individuals involved.His two declared opponents in the leadership race, members of the legislature Tim Houston and John Lohr, have both tweeted condemnations of personal attacks in the campaign.“It is something that is serious, and I’m not out there to do anything other than make sure that my rights as a person are respected, and the rights of anybody else,” Clarke said. “After this week, I want to make sure that no other person that I could possibly help should have to … feel ashamed, or be shamed or be a victim of someone else’s attack.”At Saturday’s campaign event, Clarke, who formerly served in the provincial legislature for a decade, cast himself as an experienced politician who could foster the kind of “grassroots” engagement it would take to win the leadership race and eventually oust the province’s Liberal government.He told the crowd that Nova Scotia already has the resources to lead prosperity, but it needs a new approach in order to revive its health-care system, improve infrastructure and work with teachers to educate the next generation.“Nova Scotians are looking for a government and a team who are ready to lead,” he told supporters. “Everything I’ve done in my life has prepared me for this moment. But it’s not my moment — let me be very clear — it’s Nova Scotia’s moment.”Jamie Baillie announced late last year that he planned to step down as PC leader and leave politics, but his departure came sooner than expected last month when he resigned following an allegation of inappropriate behaviour.Having served as a cabinet minister in the Progressive Conservative governments of former premiers John Hamm and Rodney MacDonald, Clarke said in an interview that he was “shocked” by the revelations about Baillie.He said the provincial legislature and individual parties should review their practices regarding allegations of sexual misconduct, and said he would push for a victim-centred approach in handling such claims.Details of the Tory’s leadership convention are expected to be announced later this month during the party’s annual general meeting.
TORONTO – Emergency crews are searching Lake Ontario for a Toronto DJ who fell overboard.Toronto police say they received a call at 9:44 p.m. Sunday from a friend of a man in his 20s who went overboard near Bluffer’s Park in the city’s east end.A man who says he is the victim’s uncle told reporters the missing boater is 27-year-old Partheepan Subramanium, an IT professional from Sri Lanka who also performs as DJ Brownsoul on the side.The uncle also said he helped raise the boy since he was 10 years old.Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook says their marine unit responded and remains on scene, but the man hasn’t been found.She says the Canadian Coast Guard is helping out with a search helicopter and boat.Douglas-Cook says it remains unclear how the man fell into the water.
LUNENBURG, N.S. – Not far off Nova Scotia’s rough-hewn shoreline, scientists on board an aging crab boat lay in wait for one of the marine world’s greatest — and most mysterious — predators.The researchers are busy “working the water” — dunking bits of fish in hopes of drawing a great white shark close enough to catch it and very carefully direct it onto their large boat.Once they get a shark on board, the Ocearch team plans to afix it with several satellite tags that can collect data identifying everything from water temperature and salinity levels to its movements and feeding behaviours.They’re hoping the information can help them answer a central question — whether Nova Scotia may be a second mating site for Atlantic white sharks, something scientists say could be key to protecting the endangered species.“We’re up here trying to solve the puzzle of the North Atlantic white shark population,” Dr. Bob Hueter, chief scientific adviser for the Ocearch expedition, said Thursday just outside the mouth of Lunenburg harbour on the first day of the team’s three-week expedition.“We’re just beginning to unravel the mysteries of the white shark in the North Atlantic — where they’re giving birth, their migratory patterns, where they mate, which is why we’re here, and what they feed on.”The team was drawn to the area after one of Ocearch’s tagged sharks — an adult male named Hilton, known for a wry Twitter feed that regularly tweets out his movements — ventured into the region last fall and then returned this year, suggesting he was here seeking out a mating partner.Chris Fischer, the founder of Ocearch and the expedition leader, said white sharks are known to mate around Nantucket, Mass., and give birth off the south shore of Long Island, N.Y. But, he said Hilton and a female tagged shark named Lydia didn’t go to those areas, indicating they may be spending their time mating in other areas.“We believe he’s showing us a second aggregation site and if we can find other mature males and other mature females, that might lead us to believe there’s some mating going on here,” he said on the Ocearch vessel, a former Bering Sea crab boat that now serves as the group’s main research boat.“Hilton knows where he is and what he’s doing. He’s not lost. These animals have an unbelievable capacity to navigate and a very accurate calendar. He’s here for a reason.”Last week, federal scientists on a separate mission successfully tagged a great white shark in Atlantic Canadian waters for the first time.The Ocearch team, which includes 26 researchers from 19 U.S. and Canadian universities and labs, hopes to catch a shark by hooking it onto a line held by crew on a smaller boat who will then try to lead the shark to the large Ocearch vessel.They will try to guide the shark onto a submerged platform with the help of a crew member who jumps from the small boat into the water with the shark to secure it on the platform.Lindsay Laughner, an education co-ordinator with Ocearch, explained that the platform is then raised so scientists can attach the tags and begin their sampling. They will place a wet towel over its eyes and a saltwater hose in its mouth to flush water through its gills while their work is being done.“We can do about 12 research projects in 15 minutes before that shark is tagged and released, so it’s really exciting,” she said in the tight confines of the boat’s tackle room, where researchers will handle the samples.They will also insert an acoustic transmitter in the shark that will provide data on its location for about 10 years. Hueter, who has studied sharks for more than four decades, said the whole process was akin to an “alien abduction,” but one that hasn’t appeared to cause the animals any stress.Laughner said about 10 institutions will also receive samples from animals that are caught so they can do their own research using the blood, mucus, muscle, parasite, genetic and other samples collected by Ocearch. She says it will provide much more sophisticated data than previously available.“We want to get as many people working on this as possible,” she said. “We’re losing 250,000 sharks a day to shark fin soup and bycatch and for their liver oil, so it’s very important that we get everybody together so we can collaborate and help see where our sharks are moving and why they’re going there.”Before 2007 when Ocearch was founded, scientists didn’t know much about the life history of the North Atlantic white shark. In 2013, the group started a project specifically on that species and tagged five sharks. The group, which receives about $1.7 million a year in public and corporate donations, has tagged 37 white sharks and hope to tag 60 in total.Fischer said learning about the sharks’ migratory patterns, nursery areas and mating habitats is critical to its survival and the overall health of the ecosystem, since the apex predators help manage other species.“Sharks are the lions of the oceans — they’re the balance keepers,” he said on deck, as light winds and rolling swells buffeted the boat. “They keep the second tier of the food chain from exploding and wiping out all of the food that we want to eat.”