Pradhan talks strategy road map to rev up steel industry

first_imgNew Delhi: Dharmendra Pradhan, who took over the charge of the steel ministry on Friday, held a review meeting with senior officials and discussed key challenges being faced by the steel sector. “Met with the officials of @SteelMinIndia (Ministry of Steel) and discussed strategic roadmap and key initiatives in the sector. Steel has been a major contributor in India’s economy, we shall work to further strengthen Steel industry in India,” Pradhan said in a tweet. Also Read – SC declines Oil Min request to stay sharing of documentsSeveral key points regarding the working of the ministry and various sectoral functions were discussed at length by the both Union Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Minister of State for State Faggansingh Kulaste, Ministry of Steel said in a separate tweet. Steel Secretary Binoy Kumar along with other senior officials were present in the meeting. Besides Steel Minister, Pradhan, 50, is also the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas in the NDA-II government. Also Read – World suffering ‘synchronized slowdown’, says new IMF chiefThe Indian steel industry is claiming that they are facing imminent threat from increasing imports especially from Iran. Apex industry body Indian Steel Association (ISA) has said imports are rising in India due to the ongoing tariff war between the US and China. In trade parlance, tariff war refers to significant increase in import duties. It said Iran is exporting steel into India in contravention of the US’ sanction via UAE. In a letter to Steel Secratary Binoy Kumar, it has said, “These imports which are coming in at a predatory prices have become a serious concern for ISA. It is alarming that the UAE is a net importing country but the exports from UAE has suddenly surged by 390 per cent in 2018-19 from 2016-17.” According to data from the steel ministry, imports of finished steel jumped 46 per cent to 0.70 million tonne in March.last_img read more

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An32 still missing villagers saw thick black smoke

first_imgItanagar: Tribal villagers had witnessed “thick black smoke” originating from a mountain towards Molo village in Arunachal Pradesh on Monday after an An-32 aircraft of the IAF lost contact with the ground staff on Monday afternoon. “… three persons of Tumbin village stated that on that day and time they saw thick black smoke which was originating from a mountain about 7-8 km towards Molo village,” Chief Minister Pema Khandu said on Thursday. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist He said the statements of the villagers were being verified. Three search parties – including one from Shi-Yomi district and one from the Army, were trekking to various possible locations to look for the aircraft. Meanwhile, a joint effort by police, Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) was in force to search the crashed location in an area of about 2,500 sq km in Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. Khandu has asked the district administrations of Siang, West Siang, Lower Siang and Shi-Yomi to intensify the search and rescue operation Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France The IAF resumed their search and rescue operations with Mi-17s and ALH helicopters were pressed into service to trace the Russian-origin An-32 transporter along the thickly forested routes between Assam’s Jorhat and Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh. Khandu said the Deputy Commissioners of Siang and West Siang apprised Khandu about the steps initiated by them to trace the missing aircraft and said they were working in close coordination with each other. “They arranged three teams consisting of 3/4 locals in each team to trace the missing aircraft and the people onboard… All the ranges being searched are in the line of aircraft route,” the Chief Minister said. On Monday, the An-32 took off from Assam’s Jorhat at 12.27 p.m. with 13 people on board for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh’s Shi-Yomi district bordering China. The aircraft lost contact with the ground staff at 1.30 p.m. On Tuesday, the Indian Navy’s Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft P8i conducted an aerial survey to locate the partly upgraded An-32 plane. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) satellites CARTOSAT and RISAT are also taking images of the area. Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal R.D. Mathur, is monitoring the search and rescue operations. He has met the families of the missing IAF personnel.last_img read more

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EACPM rejects Subramanians claim on overestimation of GDP

first_imgNew Delhi: The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) on Wednesday rejected the claims of former CEA Arvind Subramanian regarding over-estimation of GDP growth after 2011, saying his analysis ignores data on services and agriculture and shows blind trust in a private firm CMIE. In a paper released by EAC-PM, India’s GDP estimation methodology stands at par with its global standing as a major and responsible economy. Primary contributors of the paper are economists Bibek Debroy, Rathin Roy, Surjit Bhalla, Charan Singh, Arvind Virmani. Also Read – IAF receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France Last week, the advisory body had said it would issue a point-to-point rebuttal of the Subramanian’s research paper. In a research paper, Subramanian, who stepped down last year, said India’s economic growth rate has been overestimated by around 2.5 percentage points between 2011-12 and 2016-17 due to a change in methodology for calculating GDP. Subramanian’s paper titled ‘India’s GDP Mis-estimation: Likelihood, Magnitudes, Mechanisms, and Implications’, published at Harvard University, also comes at a time when concerns have been raised in various quarters about the official economic growth numbers. Also Read – Cosmology trio win Nobel Physics Prize Subramanian was the CEA in the finance ministry for nearly four years from October 2014. Observing that Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Subramanian seems to have made a “hurried attempt to draw conclusions” about India’s complex economy and its evolution, the paper said he has used 17 high frequency indicators, but ignores the representation of ‘services sector (60 per cent in GDP) and ‘agriculture sector’ (18 per cent of GDP) in the analysis. The paper notes that Subramanian used 17 indicators to express his skepticism about the growth rates after 2011-12. Majority of the 17 indicators have been taken directly from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a private agency that is not a primary source of information but collects it from different sources, it said. “For anyone who reads Dr Subramanian’s paper, it is evident that he trusts CMIE but distrusts CSO (Central Statistics Office)… This blind trust in a private agency (CMIE) and blind distrust in a government institution that has served India (CSO) appears unwarranted for a neutral academic,” it said. The paper further said the former CEA has overlooked the tax data. The EAC-PM paper said Subramanian chooses to overlook tax data arguing that “we do not use tax indicators because of the major changes in direct and indirect taxes in the post-2011 period which render the tax-to-GDP relationship different and unstable, and hence make the indicators unreliable proxies for GDP growth”. Unlike many indicators, it said tax data is not collected through surveys or by agencies through arcane techniques, these are hard numbers and should be an important indicator of growth. “Further, there have been no major changes in tax laws until the end period in the author’s analysis (March 31, 2017). GST was introduced on July 1, 2017. “The author’s logic of not using tax data appears to be a convenient argument meant to avoid inconvenient conclusions based on hard facts,” it said. The EAC-PM paper also noted that India’s GDP estimation is by no means a perfect exercise. “Is it better than before? Yes. “Is the process to further improve it in place? Yes,” it added. It further said Subramanian, in the capacity of CEA in the Ministry of Finance, has presided over the army of government economists and statisticians and is aware of the enormous magnitude and complexity of the exercise to compute GDP of the continent-size highly diverse emerging economy of India. “To consider attempting to approximate GDP (gross domestic product) of such a country on the basis of some correlations and four variables using simplistic econometric techniques and challenging the existing edifice of data collection is not only demoralising to those dedicated personnel but also technically inappropriate,” it added. The government had earlier said the base year of the GDP series was revised from 2004-05 to 2011-12 and released on January 30, 2015, after adaptation of the sources and methods in line with the System of National Accounts 2008.last_img read more

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Infant girl dies as man gags her after rape bid

first_imgWarangal (T’gana): A nine-month-old girl died after a man apparently gagged her following an alleged rape bid here on Wednesday, police said.The accused, aged around 28, took the baby in the wee hours while she was asleep alongside her parents on the terrace of their house and sexually assaulted her, a senior police officer said. The man, who stays in the same neighbourhood as that of the victim, seems to have gagged her when she started crying, resulting in her death, the officer said. In the meanwhile, the parents of the girl informed the police that their daughter was missing. The police traced the accused, a labourer, and found the baby with him. She was rushed to a nearby hospital, but was declared “brought dead”, the officer said. A case under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 376 (rape), 302 (murder) and the relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was registered against the accused, who was taken into custody and was being questioned, a police official involved in the investigation said. The body of the victim was shifted to a state-run hospital and the exact cause of her death and whether she was sexually assaulted or not would be known after an autopsy, he added.last_img read more

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A historic task

first_imgJuly 7 is a historic day when the UN General Assembly passed Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons in 2017. The treaty is an opportunity which the global community must utilise to make the world free of nuclear weapons. An opportunity lost may never be regained. The world has never been in such an uncertain situation in the last several decades as it is now. The ongoing conflicts in several hot spots in the world if not cooled down urgently, may escalate into larger wars. A last-minute decision by the US President Trump to not attack Iran has only saved time. The tension still persists. The situation in Syria has been one of the worst scenarios in recent times. Iraq and Afghanistan are not yet stabilised. Internal strife in Somalia, Rwanda, and Yemen are other grave scenarios. Our own region, South Asia is equally volatile. The events following Pulwama terrorist violence which killed 49 CRPF personnel had almost pushed India and Pakistan to the brink of war. The threat of use of nuclear weapons gave dreadful shivers to the people on both sides. The jingoists on either side of the border took no time calling for destruction of the other. Any use of nuclear weapons would have been catastrophic not only for India and Pakistan, but the whole world. Also Read – A special kind of bondIra Helfand, Co-President International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and Allan Robock & colleagues from Department of Environmental Sciences School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA conducted a study on the Climatic Consequences of limited Nuclear Conflict between India and Pakistan using 100 Hiroshima size nuclear bombs. The study proved with evidence that over 2 billion people would be put to risk globally as an aftermath of nuclear famine which would ensue under such situation. Any nuclear conflict between the major nuclear powers could be the end of modern civilisation. We have already seen unprecedented damage after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where over 200,000 people were killed. The after effects of radiations are seen even today. Also Read – Insider threat managementSouth Asia is one of the poorest regions in the world. The human development ranking for India and Pakistan is at 130 and 150 respectively. Hunger index of India is at 103 and Pakistan at 106 out of 119 countries. About 40 per cent of the world’s stunted children and 53 per cent of all wasted children live in South Asia. Around 34 per cent of the population has no access to sanitation. Investments in health and education remain less than 4 per cent and 3 per cent of respective GDPs. Yet successive governments and military establishments have escalated military spending in India and Pakistan to US$ 64 billion and US$ 11 billion annually in 2017, respectively. India’s defense expenditure is 1.62 per cent of its GDP, while its Central health budget is 0.26 of GDP, six times less than its arms budget. Pakistan’s spending on arms is equivalent with budgetary allocation 8.9 billion USD. With Pakistan worth 300 billion USD economy its defense expenditure comes to 2.9 per cent of the GDP. As per the latest report of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) the annual global defense expenditure is US$ 1699 billion (2.2 per cent of the global GDP). The US tops the defense spending at 611 billion USD. China’s defense expenditure is 215 billion USD, while India is the 5th largest military spender with an outlay of 55.9 billion USD (Rs.363350 crore). Increase in spending on arms race causes serious resource crunch on health, education and development. The developing countries and poor in these countries are worst affected. It is time, steps are taken for complete nuclear disarmament and end to arms race. On July 7, 2017, the historic Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) passed by the UN General Assembly with 122 votes in favour and only one against. This is a moral victory for the peace movement globally. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opened for signature at United Nations headquarters in New York on September 20, 2017, and will remain open indefinitely. Once 50 nations have ratified or acceded to it, it will enter into force. Already, 70 countries have signed it and 23 have ratified. It is a big opportunity for complete nuclear disarmament and to save the world from nuclear catastrophe. It is time the nuclear armed states realise this and join the treaty without any ifs and buts. India should take the lead. (Dr. Arun Mitra is an ENT surgeon. Views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

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Premier League Aubameyang gives Arsenal winning start at Newcastle

first_imgNewcastle: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired Arsenal to a 1-0 win at Newcastle in their Premier League opener on Sunday, providing hope of an improved run this season for Unai Emery’s side. The Gunners finished last season in turmoil after blowing their bid for a top-four place with a disastrous spell in the final weeks. Adding to Emery’s woes, Arsenal were crushed by Chelsea in the Europa League final to shatter their dreams of Champions League qualification. But Arsenal have enjoyed a profitable close-season, with a host of new signings raising morale around the Emirates Stadium. And Aubameyang gave Arsenal fans renewed belief they can get back in the top four this term with a typically predatory second-half finish to give the north Londoners a winning start. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhArsenal had a wretched away record last season, keeping just one clean sheet on their travels, so taking three points without conceding was the perfect way to turn over a new leaf. Their often-criticised defence held firm, with centre-backs Calum Chambers and Sokratis keeping Newcastle at bay. Aubameyang’s strike ruined Newcastle manager Steve Bruce’s first match in charge of the club he supported as a boy. Bruce left second-tier Sheffield Wednesday to join Newcastle in the close-season following the departure of fan favourite Rafael Benitez, who had grown tired of a lack of backing from controversial owner Mike Ashley. Bruce’s appointment was hardly greeted with widespread joy on Tyneside and the season started with Newcastle fans staging a protest against Ashley in the streets and then boycotting the match in large enough numbers to leave numerous empty seats around St James’ Park. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterEmery’s decision to leave new signings David Luiz, Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe on the bench was rewarded by a determined, if only sporadically cohesive, display from his team. There were starts for 19-year-old academy graduates Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock, but Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac were absent after two men were arrested following a fresh incident after the pair were the victims of an attempted car-jacking in July.last_img read more

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Katy to perform in Mumbai on November 16

first_imgMumbai: Grammy-nominated singer Katy Perry is set to return to India, this time to headline the a music festival in her first-ever performance in Mumbai on November 16. “I am so happy to be returning to India and excited to headline my first-ever performance in Mumbai. I am looking forward to seeing and singing with all of my Indian KatyCats at the festival,” said Katy, who had married comedian-actor Russell Brand in Rajasthan in 2010. The couple later parted ways. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: PriyankaSpeaking about her performance, one of the organisers said, “We are super excited that Katy Perry will be starring in our Music Festival in India. We decided to host this festival to share our passion for music with our community, which is at the heart of everything we do. With Katy on board, this is sure to be a one-of-a-kind experience.” Devraj Sanyal, Managing Director and CEO, Universal Music Group, India and South Asia, added: “Katy is a not only a massive global pop superstar with a big Indian fan base, but is someone who has been relevant for some time now, starting with ‘Teenage dream’ to ‘Prism’ and ‘Witness’, and now her newest singles ‘Never really over’ and ‘Small talk’. “Her songs have been legends for her Indian fans and they can’t wait to see her perform in Mumbai.” According to a source, singer Dua Lipa will also be performing at the event on November 16.last_img read more

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Another example of vendetta politics Rahul on Shivakumar arrest

first_imgNew Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday alleged that D K Shivakumar’s arrest was another example of “vendetta politics” and the BJP government was using probe agencies and a “pliant” media to selectively target individuals. After a long session of grilling, Shivakumar was placed under arrest by the Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday in a money laundering case. “The arrest of DK Shivakumar is another example of the vendetta politics unleashed by the government, using agencies like the ED/CBI & a pliant media to selectively target individuals,” Gandhi tweeted. The Congress has hit out at the BJP-led Centre over Shivakumar’s arrest, asserting the opposition party will not be intimidated by the “politics of persecution” and continue to pose “hard questions” to the government.last_img read more

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IDBI Bank repolinked retail loans effective from Oct 1

first_imgMumbai: State-run IDBI Bank on Monday said the introduction of repo-linked retail loans would be effective from October 1. IDBI Bank had earlier said that it would introduce repo rate-linked home and auto loans with effect from September 10. However, in view of the RBI directive last week, to link all new floating rate retail loans (personal segments) to external benchmark with effect from October 1, the introduction had been deferred, it said. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal “IDBI Bank on August 30, 2019 had announced that it would introduce repo rate-linked home and auto loan with effect from September 10, 2019. However, in view of RBI directive issued on September 4, 2019, to link all new floating rate retail loans (personal segments) to external benchmark with effect from October 1, 2019, the introduction of repo-linked home loan and auto loan has been deferred,” it said in a statement. On September 4, RBI mandated banks to link fresh retail loans to external benchmark. The move is aimed at including fresh retail and MSME loans from October 1 where home, and auto loans will get cheaper. RBI’s repo rate is one such external benchmark.last_img read more

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Cant fly like an eagle Injured raptor saved from the slush on

first_imgLYNN LAKE, Man. – The eagle wasn’t soaring the way a raptor should when rescuers discovered the bird stuck in the slush on Lynn Lake in northwestern Manitoba earlier this week.Somehow they got the injured bird into their van and then called the RCMP to ask what they should do now?Officers came out with a dog kennel and donned snowmobile mitts to transfer the big bird from the van to the kennel without further injuring the eagle or themselves.Mounties say in a release it’s not clear how the eagle was hurt.Arrangements have been made for “Slushie” — as the eagle has been dubbed — to be transported to a wildlife rehabilitation centre for examination.last_img read more

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Metrolinx appealing latest court loss over 770M contract with Bombardier

first_imgTORONTO – Metrolinx has filed an appeal questioning the decision of an Ontario judge last month that preserved the transit agency’s contract with Bombardier Transportation.The notice of appeal deepens the legal dispute between the Ontario transit agency and Bombardier over the company’s ability to fulfil train orders in Toronto, where gridlock has become an increasing frustration for hundreds of thousands of commuters.In April, a judge ruled that Metrolinx can’t cancel a $770-million contract with Bombardier without first going through dispute resolution.Metrolinx earlier this month also turned to a French manufacturer for light-rail vehicles as a backup plan if Bombardier fails to deliver the contracted transit projects in Toronto.Ontario has reached a $528-million agreement to buy 61 light-rail vehicles from Alstom in case Bombardier is found to be in default at the end of a court-ordered dispute resolution process.In an email to The Canadian Press on Wednesday, a Metrolinx spokeswoman confirmed the transit agency filed the notice of appeal before the Friday deadline.The point of the appeal is to seek court clarification over the amount of time Bombardier has to fix — or “cure,” as stated in the contract — problems with its vehicles.“Metrolinx is preserving our right to seek clarification of the decision principally as it relates to the permitted cure periods,” spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said in a statement. “At the same time, we will continue with the dispute resolution process with Bombardier.”Metrolinx alleges that Bombardier has repeatedly failed to deliver a prototype vehicle on time for the scheduled 2021 opening of the $5.3-billion Eglinton Crosstown line.Bombardier has rejected Metrolinx’s allegations, saying it will deliver the vehicles on time by November 2018, well before the Eglinton Crosstown tracks are even built.In a statement Wednesday, Bombardier said it is “deeply concerned” about the effect Metrolinx’s legal actions will have on transit users and taxpayers.“By choosing to pursue a lengthy court battle, at the public’s expense, it is clear that Metrolinx continues using every recourse to prevent us from delivering on our commitments,” Bombardier spokesman Marc-Andre Lefebvre said. “Metrolinx is only creating further delays in this project.”last_img read more

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Quebec town reaches deal with woman sexually assaulted by mayor

first_imgQUEBEC – A Quebec town whose mayor was found guilty of sexually assaulting an ex-employee has reached a deal with the woman.Under terms of the agreement, Caroline Lamarre will be compensated in exchange for agreeing to abandon her efforts to get her job back with the community of Baie-Trinite.Lamarre has not worked since 2013, while Denis Lejeune is still mayor of the town about 500 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.He was found guilty in July 2015 but is still mayor because a Quebec law on municipal elections and referendums allows for an elected official convicted of such a crime to stay on if the sentence is less than 30 days in prison.Lejeune was sentenced to 120 hours of community work and two years’ probation and was fined $4,000.The Canadian Press does not generally identify victims of sexual assault but Lamarre has gone public with her situation and held a news conference two months ago to discuss it.Quebec passed a law last year tightening the ethics rules for municipal officials.last_img read more

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Not a presidentialstyle campaign no platform from leadership hopeful Kenney

first_imgCALGARY – Former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney says he won’t have a policy platform as he seeks the leadership of Alberta’s new United Conservative Party.Kenney announced what he called a “grassroots guarantee” in Calgary Tuesday saying he would consult members of the new party and other Albertans before determining what promises he would campaign on as leader in the next provincial election.“I will not be running a presidential-style campaign where I improvise some detailed platform for an election two years from now, for a brand new party before its members can even be consulted,” Kenney said.Kenney said he will continue to express his opinions on a number of issues, but nothing will be written in stone.“I want to repeal the carbon tax. We need to reduce the tax burden to restart our economy. We need to balance our budget. We need to fight for school choice,” said Kenney.“My convictions have been clear. I will continue to speak about them, but I will not say to members that this will be the policy imposed by me.”Kenney, who was the leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party, is seeking the leadership along with former Wildrose leader Brian Jean and conservative strategist Doug Schweitzer.Both Jean and Schweitzer have already unveiled some of their policy plans for UCP if they are successful.“I think they’re making a mistake. In a certain sense they’re repeating the top-down style leadership that got us into this trouble in the first place,” said Kenney.“It’s not even credible. People who are doing that right now — they don’t know how deep the debt hole is going to be in 2019 or 2020. How can you plan the budget for three years from now without the facts in front of you?”A political scientist from Calgary’s Mount Royal University said a lack of policy could be a risky move by Kenney.“It remains to be seen whether this is going to pay off or not because the two opponents are being very clear about some of their policy initiatives and so voters will have a sense of what they are voting for,” said Lori Williams.“I think he’s trying to avoid controversy by doing this — basically avoid losing votes by standing for anything and leadership is about standing for things.”Schweitzer said any policies he has announced so far would still go to party members for debate.“It is critical that Albertans know where their leadership candidates stand on important policy issues,” said Schweitzer. “Jason’s new grassroots guarantee is simply a sad attempt to turn this leadership race into a campaign of rhetoric over substance.”In a statement, Jean said Alberta voters are tired of “personality-based politics.”“I applaud Mr. Kenney’s commitment to grassroots principles, but the members need to know what the leadership candidates’ positions are,” he said. “I used the policies developed by the members as the foundation for my announcements and I will continue to do so.”The new leader of the UCP will chosen Oct. 28.— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitterlast_img read more

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Not a lot left Ranch near Waterton ravaged by southern Alberta wildfire

first_imgWATERTON, Alta. – Members of a southern Alberta ranching family are leaning on each other for support after a wildfire swept through the property just outside Waterton Lakes National Park.Sierra Garner, 20, was awoken Monday night when she got a phone call saying her grandparents had been ordered to leave their home on the Rocking Heart Ranch. She was told everyone was safe, but that there had been a fire.On Tuesday morning, she drove from her home in Lethbridge to take stock of the damage.“There was not a lot left,” she said Wednesday.Garner’s grandpa and nana, Jim and Angel, would regularly get help from their three children and seven grandchildren on the ranch. Garner says she would go every weekend.When she drove onto the property, she would see a beautiful red log house. Now it’s gone, along with the feed yard, arena and barn.The only thing left standing was a shop housing farm equipment and supplies that happened to be surrounded by gravel. Treasured family keepsakes inside the house were destroyed.“We have this old cowboy hat that was my great-great grandpa’s. That’s burned down,” she said. “Everything that they own and our stuff as well was in there, everything.”Garner said her family is grateful everyone got out safely and none of the 100 or so horses on the ranch was hurt.“Materials can be replaced. We’ll get a new house, we’ll get a new barn, arena,” she said. “We’ll rebuild everything. But if we would have lost any lives, that would have been a different story, and thank gosh we didn’t.”She said her grandparents are holding up well, considering.“I’ve got very strong grandparents,” she said. “They’re doing OK. Without our family here, we wouldn’t be as calm and collected as we are because we all support each other.”The Alberta government says around 500 people are under evacuation order in the Waterton Lakes National Park townsite and parts of Cardston County, the Municipal District of Pincher Creek and the Blood Reserve, a First Nations community southwest of Lethbridge.The wildfire, estimated at 330 square kilometres, has not spread into the national park’s townsite, but has destroyed its visitor centre and other buildings.The Municipal District of Pincher Creek said Wednesday that the fire has destroyed five homes, five outbuildings, two large sheds and one bridge on private property. As well, fence lines, hay and power lines burned.It said the weather looks favourable, with a forecast of rain and little wind.— By Lauren Krugel in Calgarylast_img read more

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University of Calgary conflict report a vindication departed academic

first_imgA professor who left the University of Calgary over how the school handled a corporate-funded sustainability institute says he sees his concerned echoed in a report that found major problems with the centre.“What the report describes is factually accurate,” said Joe Arvai, who now teaches at the University of Michigan. “In that regard, it feels like a bit of a vindication of what I had said.”The head of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, which did the investigation, said problems with the university’s plans to create the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability should be a warning for institutions across Canada.On Wednesday, the association released a document that said the university president was in a conflict of interest, since she took part in planning the centre while holding a paid position on one of the Calgary-based energy company’s boards. The investigation also found the project was poorly administered and subject to influence by its donor.The university has rejected those findings and has referred to a 2015 report that cleared the school of wrongdoing. It declined to provide anyone for an interview.Arvai, who was the original choice to lead the centre, strongly supports the association’s conclusion that faculty and staff have been intimidated from expressing their concerns. He referred to a fellow professor who was dismissed as director of a research centre after opposing university administration on energy and environmental issues.“To me, (that is) telling of how I certainly felt when I was there — to go up against the University of Calgary would be to invite reprisals.”At least two other academics have expressed similar concerns in media reports.Arvai said that the wider academic community is starting to notice.“Absolutely, yes. I’ve heard from people who have been shortlisted for jobs there, and have been interviewed, who have declined an opportunity to pursue employment at the University of Calgary because these concerns were raised.”David Robinson, head of the teachers association, said Canadian universities are increasingly dependent on corporate support.Such collaborations can benefit all parties, including the public, he said. But they must be carefully structured.In 2013, his group surveyed 12 corporate/academic research and program collaborations from institutions across the country.It found only two of those agreements had public documents. Seven held no specific guarantees of academic freedom and only six had language ensuring academic matters remained under the university’s control.Just two forbade a financial interest by participating faculty in the corporate partner and one agreement required disclosure of conflicts of interest.“At the end of the day, it’s incumbent on universities to have effective self-policing mechanisms,” said Robinson. “These kinds of situations shouldn’t be allowed to happen in the first place.“We have to ensure that any corporate sponsorship puts academic values ahead of any public relations exercise.“The mission of the university is not to present good PR for companies. It is to pursue knowledge. It is to preserve knowledge. It is to disseminate knowledge.”— Follow @row1960 on Twitter.last_img read more

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Man pulled from collapsed house in Hamilton taken to hospital officials

first_imgHAMILTON – Emergency crews rescued a man from the wreckage of a house that exploded in Hamilton on Tuesday, rushing him to hospital after the blast that scattered debris around the residential neighbourhood.The man, whose name has not been released, was taken to hospital with unknown injuries, police said.David Nevin said he was on the sidewalk in front of his home when he heard a bang and saw “parts of a house flying onto the road.”“And of course I looked toward the bang,” he said, adding his first concern was for the homeowner, who is elderly and blind, but neighbours called out and could hear him respond, so they knew he was alive.The man uses a service dog, Nevin said, which was his next concern.“We found the dog. He wouldn’t move. Traumatized quite a bit,” he said.Next, Nevin said, he worried about the house itself.“I went and got my wrench to try and shut off the gas, but the meter’s inside and the meter on the sidewalk was covered with house, so I had to let the fire department know and get out of the way,” he said.Police said gas had been shut down in the area, with about 200 homes affected. Several nearby homes were evacuated, but the Red Cross said the residents returned after a couple of hours.The street was cordonned off with police tape, but photos of the house posted online show its bottom half destroyed, the roof intact but tilted forward and nearly touching the ground, and a car half-buried under the rubble.Karen Young, another neighbour, said she lives three doors down from the house and was so close she could feel the explosion.“I was at home watching TV, and we just felt the house shake and came out, and the house was on the ground,” she said.“It was a dust cloud, and debris, and that was it. And of course a lot of panicking people.”It was not immediately known what caused the explosion.last_img read more

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Trumps reported shithole comment insulting Michaelle Jean says

first_imgFormer governor general Michaelle Jean was among those Canadians who sharply criticized U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday for reportedly using vulgar language to describe Haiti and countries in Africa.Jean, who was born in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and is currently secretary general of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, called Trump’s reported remarks “insulting.”“It was so disturbing this morning to hear President Trump’s comments reported all over the news calling my poor native land and African countries ‘shithole’ nations,” Jean said in a statement to The Canadian Press. “It is such an insult before humanity.”Trump was widely reported on Thursday to have questioned in a meeting with lawmakers why the United States should accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa rather than from places such as Norway.On Friday morning, Trump tweeted that he used “tough” language at the meeting, but not the reported vulgarity. Still, Jean, 60, who was Canada’s governor general from 2005 to 2010, made no bones about her feelings.“For the first representative of the United States of America to speak in such a manner is quite troubling and offensive,” Jean said in the statement.Jean, a refugee from Haiti who came to Canada in 1968 and was raised in Thetford Mines, Que., also noted that Friday was the eighth anniversary of a devastating earthquake that struck her native country, one of 57 member French-language countries — many from Africa — that form La Francophonie.Speaking in London, Ont., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would not “opine on what the president may or may not have said” but called Canada a country of openness and respect.Trump’s reported comments were also taken personally by Dr. Andrew Furey, an orthopedic surgeon in St. John’s, N.L., and founder of Team Broken Earth, a group of medical professionals who responded to the Haitian earthquake in 2010 and has since returned to the country several times.“In addition to being insulting to us, more importantly it’s quite disrespectful and insulting to the people that we’re trying to help and the friends and colleagues that we’ve made there over the last eight years,” Furey said in an interview. “It’s profoundly disappointing to hear someone in that office use that language.”While Trump’s various statements have frequently been deemed offensive, Furey said that’s no reason to accept them. It’s incumbent on everyone as global citizens, he said, to challenge the president’s views on countries outside the U.S., especially those that are poor and in need.Some have defended Trump’s pronouncements as straight talk.“Trump is absolutely right,” said Mamady Traore, 30, a sociologist in Guinea. “When you have heads of state who mess with the constitutions to perpetuate their power. When you have rebel factions that kill children, disembowel women as saints, who mutilate innocent civilians.”Others, like former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell, denounced the president’s “abominable and ignorant” views and statements.“(I) have known many fine Haitians — including a former governor general of Canada,” Campbell said in a tweet. “Trump is unworthy to speak of them!”In Montreal, Marjorie Villefranche, director of La Maison d’Haiti, a prominent cultural and community centre, called the president’s views “ridiculous.”“I don’t know what kind of brain he has because he just forgets the history of the world,” Villefranche said. “He forgets the U.S. is an immigrant country.”The African Union said it was “frankly alarmed” by Trump’s comments.“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice,” union spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said. Botswana’s government called Trump’s comment “reprehensible and racist,” while Senegal’s President Macky Sall said he was shocked.– with files from Associated Press.last_img read more

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Margaret Atwood takes to Twitter to defend herself after MeToo oped

first_imgMargaret Atwood has taken to Twitter to defend herself after writing a controversial op-ed in which she wondered if she was a “bad feminist” for questioning the tactics of the #MeToo movement.In a piece published Saturday in The Globe and Mail, Atwood called #MeToo “a symptom of a broken legal system”.The op-ed drew sharp criticism from some observers, who were angered by what they saw as a betrayal of feminist values by an author who has long been interested in examining and questioning power structures that subjugate women.She wrote in the piece that women are increasingly using online channels to make accusations of sexual misconduct because the legal system is often ineffective.But she expressed misgivings about the movement going too far, writing of the dangers of “vigilante justice” which she said can turn into “a culturally solidified lynch-mob habit.”The 78-year-old author of “The Handmaid’s Tale”, who is famously active on Twitter, sent out more than 30 tweets on Sunday morning defending the positions she made in the piece.She also tweeted links to two other pieces that questioned #MeToo.One of them, “It’s Time to Resist the Excesses of #MeToo” by Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine, compares an anonymous crowd-sourced list started by a woman working in media to warn other women about potentially dangerous men to the destructive, career-ending paranoia of the McCarthy era.Some of Atwood’s fans said they were upset by her characterization of #MeToo as a dangerous “witch hunt”, which her piece connects to movements that arose to deal with issues that weren’t being addressed by the legal system and evolved into politically-sanctioned violence, like the early days of the Cosa Nostra mafia and the beheadings during the French Revolution.Many fans were particularly rankled by her linking to the New York article, but Atwood insisted it was an attempt to understand opposing points of view and not an endorsement.Bestselling author Roxane Gay, who published a high-profile essay collection called “Bad Feminist” in 2104 about the nuances of feminist ideology, tweeted about Atwood’s piece, writing “Actually, Margaret…. with all due respect, this isn’t what I meant by Bad Feminist.”Several of Gay’s fans expressed disappointment that Atwood used the term without mentioning Gay, which some characterized as a dismissal of black women’s contributions to feminist discourse.This is not the first time Atwood’s feminist credentials have been questioned, a fact she draws into the argument of her op-ed.In the fall of 2016, she was one of many major Canadian authors who signed an open letter to the University of British Columbia in protest of the university’s handling of complaints of sexual misconduct against creative writing chair Stephen Galloway. The letter characterized the school’s investigation as secretive and unfair. Many of Galloway’s alleged victims and their supporters took issue with the letter’s signatories, who they said took Galloway’s side over that of his accusers.“A fair-minded person would now withhold judgment as to guilt until the report and the evidence are available for us to see,” she writes of the ongoing grievance Galloway’s union has filed against his dismissal from UBC. “My critics … have already made up their minds.”At the end of her piece, Atwood writes that patriarchy depends on keeping women divided against one another, and that women should resist those divisions.“If @MargaretAtwood would like to stop warring amongst women, she should stop declaring war against younger, less powerful women and start listening,” one user responded.Atwood could not immediately be reached for comment.last_img read more

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Father of Quebec entertainer Gregory Charles dies after being hit by snow

first_imgMONTREAL – The 77-year-old father of Quebec singer and performer Gregory Charles has died after he was struck by a snow-removal vehicle on Tuesday night.Charles wrote on Facebook his father, Lennox, died early Thursday, surrounded by family.He was returning from the daily trip he took to church since his wife died a year ago, when he was hit trying to cross the street in Montreal’s central Ville-Marie borough.“I cannot find the words to explain the feeling of peace, of light, of love that I felt at the moment of his death,” Charles wrote. “It was as if, in this terrible ordeal, my father found what he so desperately wanted in the moment … to be reunited with the love of his life.”Lennox Charles had been in hospital in critical condition and his son described the accident as “brutal.”Charles is a well-known pianist who has performed around the world and was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 2017.Investigators have met with the 69-year-old driver of the snow-removal tractor.Charles paid tribute to his father Thursday as a resolute, strong and tender man.last_img read more

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Students spend summer digging up preserving 300yearold human remains

first_imgLOUISBOURG, N.S. – Young researchers are working against the clock to dig up 300-year-old human remains before they’re washed away by the sea — and the project lead says what they found so far could give us a new perspective on what life was like in the 18th century.Experts have said there could be as many as a thousand bodies buried at Rochefort Point, the main burial site at Cape Breton’s Fortress of Louisbourg, once a popular seaport and the site of two sieges between the French and the British in the 1700s.The narrow peninsula extending into the ocean just beyond the fortress’s east gate is now under a siege of its own: rising sea levels and coastal erosion pose a distant threat to the centuries of history buried beneath its surface, said Parks Canada spokesman David Ebert.“As we face climate change and we have bigger storms that have gotten more energy, that can accelerate the erosion problem,” he said in a phone interview.“But we think that doing this type of work before it’s an imminent threat, while it’s still a lower level threat, we can do this in a respectful manner.”According to historical maps, it’s estimated Rochefort Point has shrunk to only about half of its original size thanks to coastal erosion, Ebert said.Parks Canada, which owns and operates the partially reconstructed Fortress of Louisbourg, teamed up with the University of New Brunswick last year to create a yearly summer program for students across the continent to help excavate and study the remains.Once the remains are analyzed, they will be moved and reburied at another burial site.“It’s important to treat these remains with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Ebert said.University of New Brunswick bioarcheologist Amy Scott is the project lead for the excavation group, which consists of 15 students from different universities throughout Canada and the United States.Most are from bioanthropology programs, but Scott said their degrees span a number of anthropological and archeological fields.This year, the students unearthed the remains of 31 people, and Scott said most of the remains were male, as men — many of them soldiers — greatly outnumbered women at the site in the 1700s. The average age of death was 24.Last year, the group only found adult remains, but this year they uncovered six child burials, which suggests they may have found a new section of the centuries-old graveyard.Scott explained the French primarily used the graveyard for their soldiers, but the New Englanders used it for both soldiers and civilians — including children.She added that child mortality in those times was quite high.“Life was tough at Louisbourg for the adults, and even more so for the children,” she said.Many of the remains show signs of blunt force trauma and fractures on their faces and hands, suggesting quite a bit of brawling went on at the fortress during the tumultuous time in Canadian history.Scott said unearthing and studying these remains can help us make connections to a time period that seems almost alien in the 21st century.“Sometimes there’s this misconception that people in the past were vastly different than what we are today in terms of their daily experiences. And yes, of course, during that time period, things would’ve been different; they would’ve been eating different things and wearing different things,” she said.“But at the end of the day, we’re all still just people.”During analysis, she’s found bodies with signs of fractured limbs and cavities in their teeth: afflictions that people in the present day can relate to.Seeing these connections with her own eyes has been a humbling experience for Scott, who said wanting to know who we are and where we came from is a near-universal question.While the main goal of the project is to rescue the bodies from the vulnerable peninsula and give them a proper burial, she said the experience of analyzing the remains has been a reminder of the resilience and strength of mankind.“We think about how challenging life would’ve been for these folks, and the fact that they were able to carry on and live their lives without a lot of medical intervention in most cases makes us think about what our lives are like, and how we’ve benefitted from these medical interventions that can help us,” she said.Haylee Meloche, who is going into her fifth year of forensic science and criminology at the University of Windsor in Ontario, said the on-site experience and historical aspect is what drew her to the project.While experts are hesitant to predict how long Rochefort Point has left before it’s swallowed by the sea, Meloche stressed that time is of the essence.“Preserving the history, especially in a place like Louisburg where there is such rich history … losing that all to the coast would be such a loss to our heritage as people here,” she said.“Even though I’m not from this area, just the fact that there is a set of history that we can still discover, it just can’t be lost.”Another group of students will be back to continue their work next summer.— By Alex Cooke in Halifaxlast_img read more

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