Washington DC: Nearly all applicants of US visas will have to provide information on their use of social media under the new rules adopted to enhance vetting of foreign nationals and to screen out terrorists and other dangerous individuals seeking entry into America. The State Department adopted a new policy on Saturday under which most visa applicants, including temporary visitors, will be required to list their social media identifiers in a drop down menu along with other personal information. Also Read – ‘Hong Kong won’t rule out Chinese help over protests’Applicants will have the option to say that they do not use social media if that is the case. If a visa applicant lies about social media use, they could face “serious immigration consequences” as a result, a US Department of State official told Hill.TV. For now, the drop down menu only includes major social media websites, but the applicants soon will be able to list all sites that they use. “This is a critical step forward in establishing enhanced vetting of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States,” the official said.
New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Friday met UPA Chairperson and senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi to seek her party’s cooperation in the upcoming session of Parliament, which will commence from June 17. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, along with the Minister of State in his Ministry – Arjun Ram Meghwal, and Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar met Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence in Delhi. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist After the meeting, which lasted for over 20 minutes, Tomar told the media: “We are meeting all the opposition leaders to request for their party’s cooperation and smooth functioning of the Parliament.” On June 5, Joshi, along with the two ministers of state in his ministry – Meghwal and V. Muraleedharan – met Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, at his residence. According to Congress sources, the government has convened an all-party meeting in the Parliament on June 16, a day ahead of the start of the Lok Sabha session, where it will seek the cooperation of all political parties to ensure a smooth session. The first session of the newly-elected Lok Sabha will be convened from June 17 to July 26 and the new government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will present its first Budget on July 5. The 40-day session will have 30 sittings.
Etah (Uttar Pradesh) The mortal remains of Uttar Pradesh Bar Council President Darwesh Yadav, who was shot dead on Wednesday, were consigned to flames in her native Chandpur village in Etah district. Uttar Pradesh Minister Brijesh Pathak was among the thousands who turned up to pay tribute to the deceased. A large number of lawyers were also present on the occasion. Family members of Darwesh Yadav, meanwhile, demanded a CBI inquiry into the murder and alleged that Manish Sharma (who shot Darwesh Yadav) had embezzled funds which apparently led to her murder. Also Read – Telangana bus strike enters fourth day Manish Sharma had shot himself after killing Darwesh Yadav and is admitted to Medanta hospital in Gurugram in a critical condition. Lawyers have also demanded security for the family of the slain Bar Council chief while the Bar Council of India has sought a compensation of Rs 50 lakhs for the family. Darwesh Yadav had been elected as Uttar Pradesh Bar Council president on Sunday and had attended her felicitation ceremony in the court on Wednesday. Shortly after the felicitation ceremony, Yadav was sitting in a lawyer’s chamber when Manish Sharma came in and shot her dead. He pumped three bullets into Darwesh Yadav’s head and chest and then shot himself in the head, too. Following the incident, the state government has upgraded security arrangements in all courts.
Hong Kong: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Saturday the “suspension” of her controversial proposed extradition law, which has generated massive opposition in the streets. Lam told a press conference that the project, which could allow China to extradite fugitives from Hong Kong, is temporarily “suspended” to defuse the crisis it has unleashed, Efe news reported. She added that the goal of the law was to avoid Hong Kong becoming a “safe haven for criminals”. The decision comes after meeting with members of her Executive Council and calls from several supporters of the regulation on Friday for the suspension of the project. Opponents of the bill have planned another demonstration on Sunday.
New Delhi: A day after Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit dissolved all 280 block-level committees of the party, AICC in-charge of the national capital PC Chacko overturned the decision, a move that hinted differences between the two leaders. Chacko, All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of Delhi unit, “stayed” dissolution of block committees and forwarded copies of his order to Congress president Rahul Gandhi as well as Dikshit, party sources said. Delhi Congress leaders, including Dikshit and Chacko met Gandhi on Friday, who advised them to work unitedly in the wake of Assembly polls in Delhi scheduled to be held early next year. Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic itemsHowever, Dikshit taking cognizance of a report by a committee formed by her to probe party’s debacle in recent Lok Sabha polls, dissolved all the block committees hours after meeting Gandhi. A group of Congress leaders on Saturday met Congress general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal and Chacko and protested the move to dissolve the block committees. “We told the two leaders that the block committees and their presidents were elected and they can not be dissolved all of a sudden before Assembly elections since it takes a lot of time to form them,” said Chatar Singh, who was present in the meeting.
Dubai: The Indian Rupee will now be accepted for transaction at all airports in Dubai, according to a media report, in a good news for tourists from India who form the highest number of international overnight visitors in the emirate. According to a report in the Gulf News, the Indian currency is now acceptable at all three terminals of the Dubai International Airport and at Al Maktoum Airport. “Yes, we have started accepting the Indian rupee,” a Dubai duty free staff was quoted as saying by the paper. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepThe acceptance of Indian currency is good news for Indian tourists as earlier they lost a sizeable amount due to exchange rates, sources said. Out of the nearly 90 million passengers passed through Dubai aiports last year, 12.2 million were Indians, the report said. Indian travellers had to earlier convert the Rupee into Dollar, Dirham or Euro before they could shop at Dubai’s duty free shops. The Indian rupee is the 16th currency to be accepted fo r transaction at Dubai Duty-Free since its opening in December 1983, said the report. In 2018, Dubai Duty Free recorded an annual sales of $2.015 billion with Indian passengers accounting for 18 per cent of its business.
Gurugram: Facing heavy criticism over the matter, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) has terminated the services of all six consultants who were retired public officials.The consultants were working under a contractual agreement with the MCG since 2017. Councillors had repeatedly asked officials during house meetings to terminate the services of the consultants citing that there was no real requirement of their services and it was only draining the resources of the civic body. Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic itemsThe six consultants were engaged for use of plastic waste and decentralised composting, taxation, land revenue, structural engineering, engineering, and Swachh Bharat mission. According to sources in MCG, each consultant was drawing a monthly salary in excess of Rs 1 lakh. “During the MCG house meetings, various councillors had repeatedly raised the issue of terminating the services of consultants. Taking cognisance of this, MCG commissioner Amit Khatri terminated the services of six consultants with immediate effect,” said SS Rohilla, spokesperson MCG. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderLast year in April Former MCG commissioner Yashpal Yadav had also removed four consultants after realising that there was no requirement of their services in the civic body. “The six consultants were drawing a cumulative annual salary of nearly Rs 1 crore. Councillors had observed that they were not contributing to the MCG in a significant manner, and the officials within the MCG were competent enough. Hence, instead of draining public resources the issue of terminating their services were raised repeatedly,” said RS Rathee, councillor of Ward 34. The development comes just four days after MCG had terminated the services of a consultant tehsildar for allegedly impersonating an employee of the enforcement wing and extorting money from residents. For long the councillors, as well as activists, have raised accountability issues on the public body. In May MCG has found irregularities in the sanctioning of 35 bills of private contractors by the engineering wing, leading to an inquiry in the matter. An official document was submitted on the recommendation to the state government for filing a charge sheet against two executive engineers for laxity in services.
New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday lashed out at the BJP led Central government over its “complete insensitivity” and “apathy” towards the child rape cases. “Complete insensitivity and apathy by the BJP Govt at the Centre forced the Supreme Court to take ‘suo motu’ notice of more than 24,000 child rape cases in the past six months,” Congress party Communications In-Charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a statement. He also claimed such cases have a dismal disposal rate. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity!”As per the data collated by the Court, 24,212 FIRs have been registered from January 1, 2019, to June 30, 2019, regarding Child Rape. Out of the same only, 911 cases have been disposed of. This is 4 per cent of the total. BJP ruled Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of FIRs registered at 3457 and it has only disposed of 22 FIRs which is a minuscule 3 per cent of the total FIRs registered,” Surjewala said in his statement. The Congress spokesperson said that “distressing figure” of 24,000 child rape cases in six months raises a “multitude of questions” and the BJP government cannot “shed and run away from its responsibility” of answering them. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killed”Is it not true that the BJP Govt only spends 5 paise per girl child for ‘Beti Bachao’ Campaign? Is it not true that the BJP Govt has deliberately concealed the NCRB Data since 2016 and has not published any ‘Crime Against Women’ data in the past 3 years? The last NCRB Data i.e of the year 2016 on Child Rapes [POSCO Cases] records an astounding figure of 90,000 pending cases of sexual crimes against children,” he said. Surjewala questioned as to why the BJP government is hiding this data. He also alleged that the Central and the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh remained mute spectators even as the incidents of women and children being raped took place. “Is it not true that that the BJP government at Centre and in Uttar Pradesh remained mute spectators, even as growing incidents of women and children being raped and/or killed on the streets, even dragged from their homes in the middle of night, gang-raped and burnt alive took place in Aligarh, Pratapgarh, Gorakhpur, Barabanki, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Kushinagar, Muzaffarnagar and many other towns?” he asked.
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will inaugurate a series of events on July 18 at Calcutta Leather Complex in Bantala near Cognizant. According to sources, the state government is expecting investment of over Rs 5,000 crore in the restructured Calcutta Leather Complex in the next five years, which is expected to generate employment for three lakh people. State Finance, Industry and Commerce and Information Technology and e-Governance minister Amit Mitra will also grace the occasion. He had earlier announced that the state government was planning to spend Rs 540 crore for infrastructural development in order to turn the leather hub into the world’s largest. There are plans to add 200 more tanneries and 230 more leather units and footwear parks to the existing ones.
Shanghai: Goalkeeper Rui Patricio was the hero for Wolves, saving three spot-kicks after their Asia Trophy final against Manchester City went to penalties on Saturday in Shanghai. Wolves won the exhibition tournament 3-2 on penalties after the game against the Premier League champions ended 0-0 after 90 minutes. It was a story of missed penalties for Pep Guardiola’s City. Raheem Sterling missed a first-half penalty for City, who dominated at a full Hongkou Stadium but were blunt in attack without Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. Also Read – Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian OpenPre-season games are notoriously poor barometers for the season to come, especially when played in stifling heat like in Shanghai. But both sides fielded close to their full-strength sides and Guardiola and counterpart Nuno Espirito Santo will be glad to escape without any serious injuries to their squads. Leroy Sane, the German winger wanted by Bayern Munich, started for City and won the Sterling penalty, but otherwise had a quiet game before being substituted on the hour. Also Read – Fast bowler Behrendorff to undergo spinal surgeryKevin De Bruyne was Guardiola’s captain for the night — the City armband is up for grabs following the departure of talisman Vincent Kompany. Sterling should have put City in the lead but instead blasted his 20th minute penalty over the bar to let Chinese-owned Wolves off the hook. The England international forward, playing through the middle, then fluffed a golden chance from close range with only goalkeeper Patricio to beat. In the third-fourth playoff, Newcastle United beat West Ham United 1-0 to give Steve Bruce victory in his first match as head coach. The Premier League proper begins on August 9.
More than a year after American comedian/actor Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct at the height of #MeToo movement that rocked Hollywood and eventually the entire globe, he has returned with his newest stand-up special on Netflix – ‘Right Now’ – and unlike many others, the first thing he does is address the incident and apologise.While Ansari has been on a hiatus after the allegations surfaced and he issued a statement, this is the first show he has put out since then. The special, directed by Spike Jonze, was filmed shortly after one of his tours. Also Read – An income drop can harm brain In the beginning of the act, Ansari says, “I just hope I have become a better person…” Interestingly, he also mentions that the incident made his friends “think about every single date they’ve had and that’s a good thing”. ‘Right Now’ is more than just Ansari’s apology; it is about how people grow, learn and try to be better every single day. The Indian-American comic tackles everything from white people trying to explain why they liked ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ to what he calls a race to outwoke each other at every step. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardTalking about the incident, when a white teenager in Utah wore a Chinese-style dress to her prom last year and was instantly attacked on social media with “My culture is not your prom dress” quips, calling it cultural appropriation, Ansari makes a significant point about how the culture of social media shaming has somehow eliminated the element of having a conversation about difficult topics. On the opposite side, he also addresses how white people or privileged people have a tendency of going on and on about their awareness of injustices faced by minority communities. Ansari jokes that it’s almost as if they are trying to earn brownie points by recognising their position of privilege. “Things don’t just become racist when white people figure it out,” he says. Moreover, given the current state of affairs across the globe, where close friends and family members end up having political differences leading towards an impasse in their relationships, Ansari’s ‘Right Now’ manages to remain very relevant. Further, Ansari’s writing is so fresh in comparison to his work in shows like the Golden Globe-winner ‘Master of None’; showing his growth and maturity as a comic and a person. In fact, there is a section where he talks about what happens when people start judging actions retrospectively and seamlessly brings up his own works from the past. He refers to ‘Parks and Rec’ – the sitcom that first brought him fame, and says that if people watched it in 2019, they would have wildly different opinions about it, all the while maintaining that growth is about recognising the past and then growing from it. And of course, Jonze’s direction adds a special charm to the show. Shot in a way that makes viewers feel like Ansari is in their living room, telling them stories from his life, Jonze has made sure that the American comic’s comeback leaves a mark.
Mumbai: JSW Steel chairman Sajjan Jindal Thursday said the company will not withdraw from or reduce the bid amount for Bhushan Power & Steel (BPSL), but reiterated the call for immunity from future litigations against the scam-tainted firm. JSW Steel, which has submitted a successful Rs 19,300 -crore bid to take over Bhushan Power & Steel, has approached the NCLT for relief following two fraud cases filed by Punjab National Bank and Allahabad Bank against the company. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”The process of acquiring BPSL has taken an unduly long time but there is no plan to withdraw our bid. We are only asking that since inquiries are going on against the company and its ex-promoters, we want complete security from that. The court has to take a decision on that,” Jindal told reporters on the sidelines of the 25th AGM. JSW Steel had put in a Rs 19,300-crore bid to take over BPSL. Tata Steel and Liberty House were also in the fray for the company which owes lenders over Rs 40,000 crore. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostJSW Steel joint managing director and group chief financial officer Seshagiri Rao said the latest IBC amendments are mainly towards protecting lenders. “But what about the resolution applicants, who have to face litigations from many corners, be it the creditors or the tax department or the government? We also need to look at the rights of resolution applicants. In many cases, there is a lot of litigation coming in after control has changed hands. But the applicant often has to face future litigation that can come from anyone. “There is also a disturbing judgement from the Delhi High Court saying the Prevention of Money Laundering Act gets precedence over the IBC,” he averred. Rao further said, “we expect a clean company. In case of BPSL, we approached the NCLT for protection that the assets after change in control will not be accessed through any litigation. We are hopeful we will get the relief.” On the bid to acquire Asian Colour Coated Ispat, Jindal said, the matter is with the authority concerned and they are awaiting their approval, adding the lenders have already accepted their bid. On the fund raising plans, Jindal said the company will continue to borrow to fund its expansion plans. “Steel industry is cyclical. But we take investment decisions looking at the long-term. We are increasing our manufacturing capacities and at this moment there will be no debt reduction,” he said. The company also got shareholders’ approval to raise Rs 10,000 crore during the year to fund its expansion plans. JSW Steel has already plans to spend Rs 48,700 crore between FY18 and FY22 to expand capacity from 18 mt to 24 mt and also to modernise and expand downstream capacities. To strengthen its raw material sourcing, the company secured six iron ore mines recently and acquired facilities in the US and Italy and bought out Monnet Ispat & Energy jointly with Aion Capital.
New Delhi: State Bank of India and other public sector lenders on Sunday completed the first round of bottom-up ideation exercise for further streamlining the banking sector to help the nation become a USD 5-trillion economy in five years. Banks embarked on a month-long campaign beginning Saturday on the direction of Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance with the aim to generate suggestions and ideas from the branch level for preparing a road map for the future growth of the banking sector. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal The move by the Finance Ministry is aimed at re-invigorating sagging economy in which banking sector has important role to play especially in boosting consumption through higher credit flow to the productive sectors. SBI conducted meetings at 502 regional Business Offices spread across 17 circles in which over 15,000 officers participated over the past two days, the bank’s managing director P K Gupta said here. “Lots of suggestions have come. Some of them relate to improving processes, introduction of new products and making the bank more customer friendly among others,” he said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost Some suggestion were with regard to government and regulators which will be taken up at later stage of the exercise, he said, adding, all these suggestions will be collated over the next week and will be placed at the state-level meeting. Gupta further said, the primary objective of this meeting was to identify and finalise ways and means to increase credit to various sectors of the economy, enhance the use of technology to bring about innovation. Speaking at the occasion, Chief General Manager of SBI Delhi circle Vijuy Ronjan said, the presence of top management during the consultative process has resulted in a renewed sense of involvement and purpose down to the branch level and the bank is geared towards implementing the road map for the future. Many ideas were made on making branches more responsive to customers and enhancing digital access. “I strongly believe that this bottom-up consultative process will provide a platform for field personnel to represent and bring forward the grass-root level challenges in their respective areas. This campaign is unique in a way that it will make them drivers of the policy making/reforms to address the involvement and motivation among field functionaries” Union Bank of India MD Rajkiran Rai G said. All other leading state-owned lenders including Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, Andhra Bank, Syndicate Bank and Indian Overseas Bank held the meeting across the country. Many suggestions have come with regard to making banking citizen-centric as well as more responsive to the needs and aspirations of Senior citizens, farmers, small industries, entrepreneurs, youth, students and women, Indian Overseas Bank said in a statement. According to Andhra Bank, theme of the campaign was also focussed on raising credit offtake for supporting economic growth, credit support to infrastructure and role of the banking sector in doubling farmers’ income and water conservation. Besides, supporting green economy, improving education loan and other sectors such as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and exports were also part of discussion. In addition, there was focus on pushing digital economy and financial inclusion. The campaign comes at a time when the economy is facing headwind and has slowed to a 5-year low of 6.8 per cent during the last fiscal. There are ominous signs showing that slowdown may be deep. The automobile sector is facing its worst crisis in two decades and reports suggest thousands of job losses in the auto and ancillary industry. In the real estate sector, the number of unsold homes has increased, while fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies have reported a decline in volume growth in the first quarter.
Howrah: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reiterated on Monday that no project or recruitment in government ranks should be carried out without the consent of the Finance department and warned of strong legal action against anybody undertaking such procedure keeping the government in the dark.”There is a system in the government and everybody has to follow the same. Even I in my government do not carry out anything without the approval of the Finance department. If any college flouts norms and appoints teachers on their own or a civic body recruits persons without the nod of the Finance department, we will initiate strong action and may even start criminal proceedings,” Banerjee said at the administrative review meeting held in Howrah Sarat Sadan. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaShe instructed state Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim to check up with every single civic body in the state to ascertain whether they have been involved in such activities. The Chief Minister pulled up former Mayor of Howrah Municipal Corporation Rathin Chakraborty for recruitment in the HMC and taking up construction of a pumping station with underground reservoir without the nod of the Finance department. The construction work of the pumping station involving Rs 22 crore has been stalled due to lack of funds and the state Municipal Affairs department is now providing support to complete the project. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayHMC is presently under an administrator appointed by the state, with the former board led by Chakraborty ending its term. Chakraborty claimed that he had thought of completing the project with HMC’s own fund but it was disrupted with the municipal board getting dissolved. “No urban local body in the state is financially independent and is dependent on state government funds. So all should follow normal financial rules,” Chief Secretary Malay De said. Banerjee warned Chakraborty and all other concerned officials to abstain from similar practices in future. “You recruit people without proper approval and then the entire burden of paying them comes upon the government. The erstwhile Left Front government had recruited teachers in various categories with very low pay and we are now turning almost lunatic to tackle this problem,” she added. Banerjee also expressed her displeasure over poor drinking water facilities, drainage facilities and improper hygiene at some places in Howrah. “I am coming here after visiting a slum located at 2 no Round Tank Lane. There are 400 people in the slum but the number of toilets is only 2. There is provision for work in slum development and funds are also being allocated, but still work is being delayed,” Banerjee said, demanding an explanation from Bijin Krishna who has been appointed as administrator of HMC. She instructed Krishna to visit the slum and take action within a week and create facilities for at least 6 more toilets. According to Banerjee, some parts in both Howrah urban and rural areas have problems related to sanitation, sewerage, drinking water and solid waste management. “A task force will be constituted with the District Magistrate, local MLAs (including ministers) and other public representatives and government officials to address these issues with utmost priority and solve them in a time-bound matter,” Banerjee said. Trinamool Congress MLA from Shibpur Jatu Lahiri pulled up the issue of people facing problems with ration cards in some areas of Howrah. “I am against any sort of harassment of people who have problems with their ration cards. Organise camps on a regular basis and use microphones to spread awareness among people so that they turn up at the camps and sort out their issues regarding ration cards,” Banerjee instructed Manoj Agarwal, Principal Secretary of the state Food & Supplies department.
Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Saturday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Airports Authority of India for the development, operation and maintenance of Kalaburagi airport. The signing of the agreement would open the doors of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region in terms of aviation connectivity to Bengaluru and also to the entire country, the government said in a release. It would facilitate overall economic development of backward Hyderabad-Karnataka region, that has been provided special status under article 371 J of the Constitution. The MoU was signed between Karnataka Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (KSIIDC) on behalf of Government of Karnataka and Airports Authority of India (AAI) in the presence of Kalaburagi MP Umesh Jadhav, Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar among others. The state government had accorded its administrative approval for the development of Kalaburagi Airport on March 27, 2007. Till now, a total expenditure of Rs 230 crore has been incurred on development and construction of Kalaburagi airport, the release said adding about Rs 22 crore has been spent on acquisition of 742 acres of land and Rs 208 crore for the construction work. The development works of the airport have been undertaken by the Public Works department along with the technical guidance from M/s RITESIndia Pvt Ltd. The works were nearing completion and the first trial run of flights has been conducted during August 2018. Kalaburagi Airport has been qualified for operations during the third round of bidding/selection under the Regional Connectivity Scheme-UDAN (RCS-3.0), the release said. Alliance Air and Godhavath Air Pvt. Ltd. have been qualified as “Selected Airline Operator (SAO)” for Kalaburagi-Bangalore-Kalaburagi, Kalaburagi-Hindan-Kalaburagi, Kalaburagi-Tirupati-Kalaburagi routes. The development of Kalaburagi Airport had commenced in 2007 on PPP mode by Gulbarga Airport Developers Limited [GADL a consortium of Maytas Infra Ltd, NCC Infra Holdings & VIE India] and had invested Rs 25 crore, a top official said. As GADL could not complete the works and accordingly and the contract was terminated, following which the state government took up the task. Recently, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa during his Delhi visit had submitted a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his date in September for the inaugural of the airport. He had also met the Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri and requested him to complete the MoU formalities for AAI take over of the airport at the earliest.
MONTREAL – New charges have been laid against a Montreal man already accused of first-degree murder in the death of a newborn baby whose pregnant mother was stabbed.Sofiane Ghazi was charged last month with murder as well as attempted murder after he allegedly stabbed his partner, who was eight months pregnant.The baby died in hospital shortly after being delivered by emergency C-section following the attack.The Crown says Ghazi was charged Friday with assault and criminal harassment stemming from incidents that allegedly involved the pregnant woman.The 37-year-old Ghazi has been in custody since July 24 and has been ordered to not contact his spouse, his mother-in-law or his children.He also faces various other charges including vehicle theft, uttering threats, armed robbery and breaking his conditions.
TEHRAN, Iran – The death of an Iranian-Canadian professor in Iran points to a pattern of the country’s judicial authorities targeting dual nationals, according to the head of a non-profit agency that promotes human rights in Iran.Kavous Seyed-Emami, a professor of sociology at Tehran’s Imam Sadiq University, was detained last month, according to Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran.He died in custody less than three weeks later, according a social media post from his son, who goes by the stage name King Raam.“The news of my father’s passing is impossible to fathom,” Raam wrote in a post on Twitter and Instagram Saturday morning. “I still can’t believe this.”In an email to The Canadian Press, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said the department is aware of reports of Seyed-Emami’s death, and staff in Turkey are in contact with the family of a Canadian citizen.“Consular officials in Ankara are working to gather additional information and are providing assistance to the family,” Natasha Nystrom wrote.“Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, further details on this case cannot be released.”Canada has not had an embassy in Iran since 2012, and the two countries have no formal diplomatic ties.Raam wrote in his social media post that his mother had been told his father took his own life in prison, but Ghaemi said the family is pushing for an independent autopsy.“The claim of a suicide is highly questionable,” Ghaemi said in a telephone interview, while admitting he had “no idea” how the professor may have really died.“I do know the interrogation tactics and psychological pressures are very extreme on the detainees — especially in the first few weeks,” said Ghaemi.“They’re isolated, they’re incommunicado. Their food intake is manipulated, and they are kept in psychological conditions that even a young, healthy person would find very difficult,” he added.“So given Kavous was 63 years old, I am very concerned.”Ghaemi said Seyed-Emami’s detention is part of a two-year trend of Iranian authorities accusing prominent dual nationals of espionage, but he noted the charges are “rarely backed up by any evidence.”The case recalls that of Homa Hoodfar, a 65-year-old retired anthropology professor from Montreal, who was detained in Iran in for several months in 2016 and indicted on unknown charges.In media interviews after her release, Hoodfar said she was threatened and psychologically tortured over dozens of interrogations.In addition to his role at the university, Seyed-Emami was the managing director of the environmental group the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation.According to a post on its website, the group “strives to ease the heavy strain on rare wildlife of Iran.”Ghaemi said Seyed-Emami was a founder of the group, which he called “the leading environmental NGO in Iran,” and he was detained along with nearly a dozen other members.
WINNIPEG – Nearly half of all youth who end up in custody across Canada are Indigenous, a statistic that a Manitoba activist says shows unacceptable and systemic racism.Data released by Statistics Canada shows Aboriginal youth made up 46 per cent of admissions to correctional services in 2016-17 while making up only eight per cent of the youth population.“It’s not actually surprising to me to hear those numbers,” said Michael Redhead Champagne.“As a member of the Indigenous community, with First Nation, Metis and Inuit people around me, I see the overrepresentation of Indigenous people going into the justice system,” he said.Champagne founded Aboriginal Youth Opportunities in Winnipeg’s North End neighbourhood in 2010 to support Indigenous youth. Working with kids in the inner city area, he has seen how “Indigenous people often get the short end of the stick.”“I see Indigenous and non-Indigenous people literally doing the exact same crime and not experiencing the same amount of jail time, probation, etc.”Incarceration of youth generally across Canada has declined slightly each year since 2012. But the Statistics Canada data from 10 reporting provinces and territories also showed the proportion of Aboriginal youth in custody has steadily increased.It was 21 per cent in 2006-07, but 10 years later Aboriginal boys made up 47 per cent and Aboriginal girls accounted for 60 per cent of correctional admissions.In the provinces, the numbers of Indigenous youth in custody were highest in Saskatchewan (92 per cent for boys; 98 per cent for girls) and Manitoba (81 per cent for boys; 82 per cent for girls).Howard Sapers, an independent adviser to the government of Ontario on corrections reform, said the increasing numbers, particularly for girls, carries through to adulthood.“We are getting so dangerously close to half of all adult women in custody being Indigenous,” he said in a phone interview from his Ottawa office.Aboriginal men accounted for 28 per cent of admissions, while Aboriginal women accounted for 43 per cent. At the same time, they represented about five per cent of the Canadian adult population.“There is little way to escape the conclusion that there are some systemic biases built into the system that are contributing to this overrepresentation,” Sapers said.Policy decisions, such as mandatory minimum sentences, have had a disproportionate impact on Indigenous communities, he said.But there is also movement in the other direction, said Sapers, pointing to bail reform, restorative justice efforts and culturally appropriate initiatives.The justice system cannot stand alone in curbing the trend of incarcerating Indigenous youth, he suggested. Tackling poverty, unemployment or underemployment, poor housing, addictions and mental illness would make a large difference, he said.Change is needed immediately, Champagne agreed, because right now there is a cycle of institutionalizing Indigenous kids.It starts with children being taken into care where they are assigned a worker, curfews and strict rules, he said. When they become older, they graduate to the criminal justice system.“When I see this kind of stuff I get frustrated with all the rhetoric around reconciliation.”Champagne has worked with youth who have experienced adversity, violence, addictions, homelessness and who are often in conflict with the justice system, but he sees their unique gifts and how much they can contribute to the community.“We as a society have to get better at recognizing those good things when they are happening, celebrating them ,and telling those stories, so that our young people can see themselves reflected as successful, as helpers and as leaders, because that’s exactly what they are.“And that’s why they give me such hope.”
TORONTO – A Toronto judge says she will deliver a decision in late September at the trial of a man accused of killing his father, whose death was initially deemed a suicide.Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of 71-year-old Wayne Millard.The judge-alone trial heard that Wayne Millard was found dead in his bed with a bullet in his brain on Nov. 29, 2012.The Crown alleges the younger Millard killed his father because millions in potential inheritance money was being squandered on a new aviation business for the family company, Millardair.The defence says Wayne Millard’s death was a suicide.Justice Maureen Forestell says she will rule on the case on Sept. 24.The murder trial is the third for Dellen Millard, who has been convicted of first-degree murder for the deaths of Toronto woman Laura Babcock and Hamilton man Tim Bosma.
COMOX, B.C. – A lone killer whale that moved into a Comox, B.C., harbour more than a week ago is thrilling crowds on the local waterfront with a swimming and leaping spectacle as it patrols its new hunting territory.Comox Valley Harbour Authority spokesman Robert Clarke said Tuesday hundreds of people stood on the community promenade along the shoreline and watched the orca breach and swim around the harbour.“I’m looking out here right now and there’s probably 300 people on it looking over the side watching the whale swim around in the bay,” he said. “It’s a non-stop nature show.”Clarke, a former whale-watching guide, said killer whales do appear in the harbour but it is not a common event and they rarely stay for long.He said there have been reports of the whale swimming up the Courtenay River, part of which flows through the Vancouver Island community and the same animal has been seen at Union Bay, about 20 kilometres south.He said the harbour is busy with commercial, sport and recreational vessels, which prompted the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard officials to arrive in the area to enforce the 200-metre whale viewing limits for boats.“I wouldn’t say (the whale) is interfering with vessel traffic,” said Clarke. “I would say more the vessels are interfering with whatever it wants to do. We’re a commercial fishing harbour and we deal with a lot of recreational (boaters) throughout the summer and when they come in most of them are pretty darn excited to see the whale.”Josh McInnes, a whale researcher at the University of Victoria, said he has encountered the same whale, known as T73B, in waters off Alaska.McInnes, who is currently doing whale research in Monterey, Calif., said in a telephone interview that the full grown killer whale is what’s known as a transient, which is a mammal-eating orca.The resident killer whales found in the waters off Vancouver Island and Washington state are fish eaters.McInnes said the male in Comox Harbour is a known loner from Alaska with a reputation for scouting out its own hunting grounds.“All of the times I’ve bumped into him have been in southeast Alaska,” said McInnes, who last saw the whale in June 2017, hunting alone in waters near Endicott Arm, Alaska.He said transient killer whales spend much of their time in groups of about three to five but they also hunt alone. The transients hunt by stealth, sneaking up on their prey as opposed to the resident orcas who hunt in a pack, said McInnes.Despite the natural solitary tendencies of transient orcas, the Comox whale appears to be a unique animal, he said.“He’s a bit of a weird whale. He is really odd,” McInnes said. “He took these really long dives and the way he surfaced was a bit weird.”McInnes said he expects the whale to leave the Comox area any day now, continuing its travels along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California.— By Dirk Meissner in Victoria.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the whale had been spotted in the Comox River.