Month: October 2019

Students who were forced to opt for pvt varsities blame high DU

first_imgNew Delhi: Gone are the days when Delhi University entertained average students coming from the CBSE boards, now because of high cut-offs it will consider only those who have secured around 95 percent in their respective boards examination, forcing many students to go for private universities and bear the brunt of the hefty fee of institutions. Millennium Post reached out to few of the DU admission seakers, who had to resort to private varsities, thanks to the high cut-off that DU is infamous for. Also Read – Cylinder blast kills mother and daughter in Karawal NagarThough, a huge chunk of average students will not get the chance in DU and will be compelled to take admission in private institutions. Entrepreneur Rohit verma, a father of three, wanted his daughter to pursue English Hons at Delhi University. Now, when he sees the fee structure of the private varsity, he bemoans the high cut-offs in DU. “She scored 92 percent in her Class 12th board exams, but the cut-offs of all good colleges were much higher. “Ab humein Rs 12 lakh dene padhey. Socha tha usko post graduation ke liye abroad bhejunga, par ab toh mushkil lag raha hai,” says Aggarwal. Also Read – Two persons arrested for killing manager of Muthoot FinanceAnother student from a private university, Samita Goyal, a fashion and life style business management student said, “I couldn’t get admission in BA English (Hons) in DU because I had not scored enough. At the private university that I am in now, the fee was around Rs 10 lakh, and with taxes it totalled up to Rs 12 lakh. Had she been secured admission at the varsity, she would have not spend that much amount over her studies.” Ritu Arora, a homemaker, has a similar story to tell. “My son had his heart set on studying economics from DU. But the varsity has unreal expectations from students. Not everyone can score 96 percent or above. What about those guys, who did not manage to score equivalent marks to get enlisted in DU,” she rues. However, not all students and parents have given up hope. Archana Kashyap, a housewife, shares “We were really hoping that our daughter would get admission in DU. Though our dreams were dashed when the cut-offs were declared, we are still hopeful, as colleges are declaring their own merit lists and we are constantly praying to god that somehow she makes it. She has taken admission in a private university for now, but we are ready to withdraw that if she makes it to DU.”last_img read more

Visva Bharati to dissociate from Poush Mela Partha offers help

first_imgKolkata: State Education minister Partha Chatterjee on Saturday assured assistance from the state government to Visva Bharati authorities for hosting “Poush Mela” in Santiniketan. Visva Bharati has decided to dissociate themselves from holding the Mela putting a doubt over the mega fair that draws people not only from the state and the country but from abroad as well. Chatterjee will also take up the matter with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.”In the last few days, I have received several calls from students and people from the state who want that the annual event should continue. I have spoken to Vice-Chancellor of the university Bidyut Chakraborty and have asked him to inform the state government about the measures that need to be taken for continuation of the event. I have urged him to talk to the locals, educationists, students, alumni and the local administration and take their feedback on the matter,” Chatterjee said. According to him, Bengal’s sentiments are associated with this historical event and everybody wants that the Mela should be held. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaThe Visva Bharati authorities have pointed out that catering to the pollution norms and taking up the entire responsibility of organising the fair has become difficult on their part. “There are now several modern machines for addressing the issue of pollution which can be utilised. But if the “Poush Mela” stops, it will be distressing,” the minister added. He further added that a new statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar will be unveiled at the playground of Hare School on June 11. A walk will be held from the campus to Vidyasagar College and the entire programme will be presided over by the Chief Minister. A half bust of Vidyasagar will be installed at Vidyasagar College and another statue will also be unveiled in the college campus. A bust of Vidyasagar was vandalised allegedly by BJP supporters during an election rally in the city that was led by Amit Shah last month. Leading educationists have been invited to be present at the programme.last_img read more

Delhi Police probes fraudulent racket

first_imgNew Delhi: The Delhi Police Economic Offences Wing (EOW) has registered a case on the complaint of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India asking them to probe fraudulent racket.According to police, the case was registered on June 11 on the complaint from MHA. The complaint had come to police with the subject regarding cyber fraud received from Finance Secretary. “Sir I am directed to enclose a copy of note dated 31.10.2018 along with enclosures received from Finance Secretary addressed to Home Secretary relating to fraud racket operated by the culprits to dupe innocent people,” the complainant told the police. Also Read – Minor boy found hanging from tree in Jasola areaAn email received to the ministry there was an enquiry regarding a letter in which Revenue Secretary has been shown as the signatory of this letter. “It seems that fraudulent racket run by somebody to dupe people of their hard earned money,” the complainant wrote. A case under sections 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating),471 (Using as genuine a forged 1[document or electronic record]), 120 B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code has been registered and further investigation is going on to get clues in the case. In another case, the EOW has booked three-person including director of a company for cheating. The complainant in the case has also alleged that bank officials help the suspects in the case.last_img read more

A familiar outbreak

first_imgWith Muzaffarpur as the epicentre, the horrific outbreak of AES is wreaking havoc in several districts of northern Bihar. The death toll has reportedly hovered over the century mark and the government has sprung into action with desperate measures on the cards. Most casualties fall in the age bracket of 1-10 which makes it an alarming situation since children remain more prone to virus outbreaks of this sort. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), locally referred to as ‘Chamki’ fever, usually occurs at higher temperatures exceeding 42 degree Celsius—peak summers. While the medical fraternity is engrossed in identifying the reason behind the outbreak – why AES cases have spiked – the state is striving to contain the epidemic. Local health authorities cited that the blood sugar levels of AES patients are quite low and a toxin contained in litchi fruit has been detected in urine samples from two-thirds of them. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that ‘extreme rise in the heat with humidity and litchi fruit’ is the cause of the current AES outbreak and call for measures to address the grave adversity. Bihar Health minister Mangal Pandey and deputy health minister Ashwini Choubey accompanied him as the trio visited Shree Krishna Medical College and Hospital to take stock of the situation. Though Harsh Vardhan announced a slew of measures apart from ensuring the public that the Bihar government would open a high-quality research centre along with ICU with a 100-bed capacity by June 2020, his cavalcade was stopped by protesters, as he was returning from Muzaffarpur to Patna; black flags were waved at him. The agitated mood of the public may be pooled in as an expected response in times of crisis, it is not due to just this outbreak but rather a trend. In the past as well, similar outbreaks of AES have occurred and all that the government machinery has done since then is to take stock, initiate exigency measures and ensure expedited implementation in order to contain the outbreak—classic damage control. While exigency measures and restless hours spent by doctors around the clock to control the situation is appreciated, AES’s annual trend fuels apprehensions. AES is not new for Bihar. It has struck the state in summer months for years. Back in 2014, a similar AES outbreak had caused numerous deaths. Even then, Union Health Minister, which happens to be Harsh Vardhan only, had visited the affected area and called for measures to control the crisis. Five years on and the Centre is still calling for exigency measures with no prevention plan available to avoid succumbing to the outbreak. It is widely reported that AES causes death almost every year in regions of Bihar during the summer months of June-August. Japanese Encephalitis virus remains the most common cause of AES in the nation but it can be caused by several viruses – typhus, dengue, mumps, measles, Nipah, Zika. Children suffering from AES develop a high fever in extreme heat. As their body temperature shoots up, they may suffer from convulsions, weakness, nausea, disorientation, memory loss, seizures and a possible coma. So the extent of symptoms and effects of AES are known which is a crucial input in containing AES. However, the question of why AES remains a trend in Bihar occurring every summer remains unanswered. While the cause is clinically unidentified in several cases, this year, autopsy reports of deceased in Bihar cites low blood-sugar levels and the toxin from litchi fruit. Research is required to corroborate this possibility while on a general note it must be taken into account that AES is not a state-specific epidemic. But then why Bihar depicts such a dismal situation with an alarming number of casualties? It is understood through several accounts that malnutrition in children aggravated by severe heat, humidity and poor hygiene remain prime reasons for the increasingly compounding situation. Bihar has a high frequency of malnourished children and this can possibly explain the grim situation there. While Jharkhand and eastern UP remain alerted over any scope of AES widespread in the area, Bihar has the mammoth task of containing the outbreak while pursuing research to identify the cause and spread awareness regarding the same. Long-term planning is indeed desirable to prevent another AES outbreak. This calls for extensive research, preferably collaborated by WHO, to narrow down the cause and ensure survivability which remains a top priority. In all likelihood, AES outbreak will return and enough time has been poured down the stream with no concrete development to seize it upon its onset. Virology clinics and medical units to deal with AES must be opened in an expedited manner as Bihar undertakes emergency measures to contain the situation at hand. A tip or two from Kerala would work out right as far as containment is concerned while a joint effort to locate the prime cause and isolate it or prevent the onset of the outbreak remains the most important job right now.last_img read more

UP govt order on SC list not proper Thawar Chand Gehlot

first_imgNew Delhi: The Centre Tuesday said the BJP- led Uttar Pradesh government’s move to include 17 communities belonging to OBCs in the Scheduled Castes (SC) list was not in accordance with the Constitution as only Parliament has the right to do so. “This is not proper,” Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said in the Rajya Sabha after the matter was raised by BSP member Satish Chandra Misra during the Zero Hour. The Uttar Pradesh government had on June 24 directed district magistrates and commissioners to issue caste certificates to 17 OBCs – Kashyap, Rajbhar, Dhivar, Bind, Kumhar, Kahar, Kewat, Nishad, Bhar, Mallah, Prajapati, Dhimar, Batham, Turha, Godia, Manjhi and Machua. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity! Gehlot said if the UP government wants to go ahead with its proposal it should follow procedure and send a proposal to the Centre. “We would then consider it,” he said. Gehlot further said the order of the UP government was not in accordance with the Constitution. He asked the UP government not to issue certificates based on the order else the matter may go to court. The minister, who is also leader of the Rajya Sabha, said shifting of one category to another caste category is the right of Parliament. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killed In the past also three-four similar proposals were sent to Parliament, but not agreed upon, he noted. Gehlot further said the state government should have followed proper procedure. Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu asked Gehlot to advise the state governmnet to follow due process. Raising the issue through a Zero Hour mention, Misra said under Article 341 sub clause (2) of the Constitution, the power to make changes in the SC list lies only with Parliament. “Even President (of India) does not have the power to tinker, alter or make changes (in the list),” he said, adding these 17 castes will neither get benefits meant for OBCs nor SCs since a state government has no power to make any alteration to the SC list. He said the BSP was in favour of including 17 castes in SC but only after following prescribed procedure and increasing SC quota proportionately. “The power of Parliament cannot be upsurged by a state,” he said. The BSP leader wanted the Centre to issue an advisory to the Uttar Pradesh government to withdraw the “unconstitutional order” as it is harming castes. The BJP government in UP is not the first to move on the 17 most backward castes in the OBC list. In 2005, the SP government of Mulayam Singh Yadav passed the first order to include 11 of these castes but the order was stayed and the proposal sent to the Centre. Subsequently, the BSP government of Mayawati quashed the notification. The BSP later said these castes could be included in the SC list provided the SC quota is increased. The SP government of Akhilesh Yadav cleared the inclusion proposal ahead of the 2017 assembly elections but it was challenged and is in court. Misra said Article 341 provides that the President specify castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups to be Scheduled Castes after Parliament may by law include or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes. The move by the Adityanath government comes ahead of by- elections to 12 Assembly seats in the State.last_img read more

Lingering colonial hangover

first_imgLexically, any conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch amounts to sedition. This has to mean that criminalising sedition is a method of keeping secure an established authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not necessarily aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. The discussion digresses a little here: if there is any resistance to a law, the law must be considered afresh. The common people will make their resistance known–it is no secret that the affluent and the powerful will find ways to dodge the law if it is any kind of impediment in the way of their interest. It hereby concludes that the preventive application of sedition law cannot be for someone who can circumvent laws; meaning thereby that it is potentially an instrument of harassment for an ordinary citizen exercising their fundamental right to freedom of thought and expression. Essentially, sedition is a kind of state-endorsed censorship. The matter of sedition sprang back into light with Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai saying that the law is necessary to ‘effectively combat anti-national, secessionist, and terrorist elements’, when he was responding to a written question posed by TRS MP Banda Prakash who had asked if the government was mulling to scrap the sedition law which, he said, “is a colonial-era law applicable on free citizens of the Republic”. It turns out that the Centre has no plans to scrap this law, as of now. As per official data, 179 people have been arrested on the charge of sedition during 2014-2016 but only two were convicted. The Home Ministry had earlier written to the Ministry of Law and Justice to request the Law Commission of India to study the usage of the provisions of Section 124 A (Sedition) and suggest amendments. In August last year, the Commission published a consultation paper recommending that it is time to re-think or even repeal Section 124A from the IPC. Anti-national, secessionist, and terrorist elements cannot all be spoken of in the same breath. Indeed, it is time we get past this colonial hangover.last_img read more

ExBJP MP 6 others sentenced to life

first_imgAhmedabad: A special CBI court Thursday sentenced former BJP MP Dinu Bogha Solanki and six others to life imprisonment for killing RTI activist Amit Jethwa in 2010 after he tried to expose illegal mining activities in the Gir forest region.Special CBI Judge K M Dave also imposed a fine of Rs 15 lakh each on Solanki and his nephew, also an accused in the case. While pronouncing the verdict on Thursday, the court held Solanki, who was the Junagadh MP from 2009 to 2014, and his nephew, Shiva Solanki, guilty of murder and conspiracy.last_img read more

YouTube testing new interface with larger buttons

first_imgSan Francisco: With larger and easier-to-interact buttons, Google-owned content sharing platform YouTube is testing a revamped user interface (UI) for the “Up Next” videos on Android. This new interface is more straightforward with larger touch targets. In the top-left corner is a numeric countdown that specifies how many seconds are remaining before the next video begins. The biggest enhancement are two large, side-by-side buttons to “Cancel” or “Play Now.” The latter is lighter in colour, while the former action can also be accomplished by an “X” in the top-right corner of the screen, 9To5Google reported on Sunday. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year A larger preview thumbnail is included as part of the test interface, with title and uploader details next to it. Besides, the new cancel button is much easier to tap. So far, the test interface has only been spotted on YouTube app version 14.31.50. In a bid to curb the spread of hateful and racist comments on its platform, earlier in June, YouTube began experimenting with hiding video comments by default in India.last_img read more

Kotak Mhambrey replace Dravid as India A U19 head coaches for SA

first_imgNew Delhi: Former Saurashtra captain Sitanshu Kotak and ex-India seamer Paras Mhambrey have replaced Rahul Dravid as head coaches of India A and U-19 sides respectively following a reshuffle in the support staff for juniors. Dravid has recently been appointed as the National Cricket Academy’s head of cricket operations and will be preparing the roadmap for India A and U-19 teams along with upgradation pan for the existing coaching module. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh It will require him to stay more at the NCA even though he is free to travel for A or U-19 tours whenever he deems necessary. “There will be no formal announcements on this as all these people are NCA staff and this is an internal rejigging,” a BCCI official told PTI. Kotak, a former left-hander, who played as many as 130 first-class games, worked as a batting coach of the India A team that recently toured West Indies. It is learnt that his coaching skills and work ethic impressed Dravid and it was decided that he will continue in that role. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later Dravid’s NCA appointment also led to the elevation of Mhambrey as the head coach of the India U-19 team. The former pacer, who played two Tests and three ODIs, was already Dravid’s understudy as a bowling coach for the past three years in the A and U-19 set-up. Mhambrey’s place as bowling coach in the A team will be taken by former Mumbai off-spinner Ramesh Powar, who was the Indian women’s team chief coach till recently before his much-publicised spat with veteran Mithali Raj after the Women’s World T20 in the West Indies. The fielding coach of the A team will be T Dilip, who was also shortlisted for the senior team’s fielding coach’s job. While Kotak and Powar’s appointment is a short-term one for the series against South Africa A that starts in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday, Mhambrey and Abhay Sharma will continue as Dravid’s permanent support staff at NCA as well as the coaches of the U-19 team for Asia Cup. Hrishikesh Kanitkar will be the batting coach of the U-19 side having worked with this set-up during the U-19 tri-series win in England.last_img read more

Wont allow VIP culture in Delhi govt hospitals

first_imgNew Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday directed the Health Department to “end VIP culture” in Delhi government’s hospitals and said all citizens will get equal treatment.The chief minister said there would be no private rooms for VIPs in government-run hospitals in the national capital. “I have directed the Health Dept to end VIP culture in govt hospitals. No more private rooms for VIPs. All citizens will get equal treatment, but it will be of the best quality,” Kejriwal tweeted. There are a few hospitals which have private rooms that can be booked at some charges.last_img read more

AAP MLAs tour residential colonies of their assemblies to raise awareness

first_imgNEW DELHI: Several AAP MLAs toured residential colonies in their assemblies here on Sunday to spread awareness about dengue and urged people to participate in the ’10 Hafte 10 Baje 10 Minute’ campaign.The MLAs urged residents to participate in the campaign, launched by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on September 1, and save the city from dengue outbreak. More than 200 events were held across the city by MLAs, councillors and party leaders, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said in a statement. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderPatparganj MLA and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also visited his constituency to raise awareness about dengue. MLA Parmila Tokas posted on Twitter pictures of her visiting the Raipur Colony, Mohammadpur village, R K Puram Sector 3, 12, in her R K Puram Assembly. Tokas said she met residents and encouraged them to check mosquito breeding in their surroundings. MLA Girish Soni also shared pictures of him inspecting his home and his MLA office, apart from his visit to Madipur Assembly. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsWazirpur MLA Rajesh Gupta, along with Neemdi Colony ward councillor Neetu Azad, visited different parts of the constituency. Kalyanpuri ward councillor and president of the AAP’s SC-ST Wing Kuldeep Kumar also shared pictures of him checking mosquito breeding at his home. Under the ’10 Hafte 10 Baje 10 Minute’ campaign, people have been requested to devote 10 minutes at 10 am every Sunday for draining stagnant water that could lead to breeding of mosquitoes. The campaign will conclude in mid November. The number of dengue cases recorded till September 7 stood at 122, with 30 of these reported in the current month and 52 in August. Last year, 2,798 dengue cases and four deaths due to the disease were recorded by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), which tabulates data on vector-borne diseases in the city. Both the Delhi government and the local bodies have been making efforts to raise awareness among the people on precautions to ensure that there is no breeding of mosquito larvae in and around their houses.last_img read more

Freeland shares a dark history lesson with NAFTA partners at trade talks

first_imgWASHINGTON – A book which Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland shared with her U.S. and Mexican colleagues during the last round of NAFTA negotiations, offers a dark message about globalization’s collapse, the rise of nationalism and humanity tumbling into an abyss of death and destruction.She brought three books to an informal book club with peers Robert Lighthizer and Ildefonso Guajardo. Two tell a positive tale of human advancement. The third serves up a bleak historical lesson about the big anti-globalization backlash of the last century.It’s no accident she chose to share “The War That Ended Peace,” Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan’s look at the factors that led to the first of two world wars. Freeland, the book and, in an interview, the book’s author, all cite similarities to today.Freeland and other Canadian officials have been struck by the book’s haunting tale: how a period of fast-paced globalization, prosperity, disruptive technology and increased trade was brutally upended by nationalism, zero-sum logic, a global terrorism panic and glorified militarism, ushering in the most blood-soaked era in history.“(It) documents the speed and ferocity with which reaction can set in, even at times when the world feels safely rooted in a progressive and peaceful era,” Freeland said in response to a question about the book.“As with today, the beginning of the 20th century was marked by unprecedented globalization and growth. The events between the turn of the century and the outbreak of war in 1914 are a useful reminder (of) the fragility of the world order and the pitfalls of protectionism and retreat.”The book starts with the 1900 Paris world’s fair and the Belle Epoque.That world was unprecedentedly interconnected by railways and the telegraph. Trade skyrocketed. Germany and England even traded weapons. People lived longer, healthier lives. New international mechanisms were created to settle disputes. Countries signed arbitration agreements, refined international rules of war and even talked about creating global governance bodies.The book describes a growing belief that war itself was becoming obsolete, quoting one author: “People no (more) believed in the possibility of barbaric relapses … (than) in ghosts and witches’.”But these were also disruptive times.Economies underwent radical transformations and workers left farms for new manufacturing jobs in the cities.Terrorism was rampant. Anarchists had killed, bombed, stabbed and shot a French president, two Spanish prime ministers, an Italian king, a U.S. president, an Austrian empress, a Russian statesman and a Russian royal.MacMillan writes of the militaristic backlash. People fumed about the new softness of European men, responding with military-themed organizations for boys. Politicians increasingly wore uniforms in public.Soft-centrist politicians were booted from power.Classical liberal parties devoted to open markets were demolished, left and right. On the left, by socialists, and on the right by, “chauvinistic nationalist parties… A new breed of politicians was going outside established parliamentary institutions to appeal to popular fears and prejudices and their populism … frequently included anti-Semitism.”MacMillan is thrilled policy-makers might draw lessons from that time. She also credits them for trying to squeeze her 649-page book, and two other books, into busy schedules.“I’m impressed,” MacMillan said in an interview from England.“How they find time to read anything, much less a huge, fat book like mine, I can’t imagine. I wonder if they looked at (Freeland) and thought, ‘What is she doing giving us this enormous book?’…”(But) I always find it reassuring when statesmen do have a sense of history. … It helps them — to give them perspective.”MacMillan cautions that there are no perfect parallels in history, that circumstances change.But she said there are obvious echoes in this anti-globalization, America First, Brexit era — with nationalist politicians complaining about foreigners, international agreements, duty-free imports and global institutions forged after the Second World War.“There are, I think, warning signs,” she said.“There are parallels that should make us at least stop and think.”If policy-makers take away one message from her book, she says, it’s this: The pursuit of narrow self-interest can inspire others to respond in kind and everyone winds up worse off.The other books Freeland shared are more optimistic.She gave colleagues, “Sapiens,” a sweeping history of the human species by Noah Harari, a favoured author of Guajardo’s. The final tome was from prize-winning economist Angus Deaton.In his, “The Great Escape,” the Scottish-American author unleashes an avalanche of data illustrating the good fortune of living today in an era of unprecedented wealth, health and human lifespans.He even argues that growing inequality — within and between countries — is a natural effect of rapid technological change, as people catch up at different paces. He suggests ways to address that inequality, including trade and education, rather than traditional international assistance, which he criticizes.Even MacMillan’s book ends on a slightly optimistic note.After chronicling the tragic decisions that pushed Europe into a canyon of catastrophe, she concludes with four hopeful words: “There are always choices.”last_img read more

Rafe Mair former BC radio host and cabinet minister dead at 85

first_imgVANCOUVER – Former B.C. cabinet minister and well-known Vancouver radio broadcaster Rafe Mair has died at the age of 85.A longtime colleague of Mair’s said that he’ll be remembered as a hard-hitting interviewer who was tough but fair.Shiral Tobin, who produced his show on CKNW, said Mair’s doctor confirmed his death at around 6 a.m. Monday morning.Tobin said Mair’s health had been declining for a number of years, but that he had continued to write articles and appear as a radio panellist until recently.She said Mair fought for Indigenous rights, feminism, and the environment in his later years. He even gave up his pastime of fly-fishing over his growing concern for the welfare of animals.Mair’s show on CKNW ran for almost two decades, and was known as one of the most popular radio programs in the province.“He was one of the best broadcasters in B.C. history,” said Tobin. “He used his radio talk show as a bully pulpit on behalf of the people of British Columbia.”Mair’s political career began in 1975, after years of practising law, when he served as a MLA for Kamloops as a member of the B.C. Social Credit Party.He also served as a cabinet minister in a variety of positions during Premier Bill Bennett’s time in office.Former premier Bill Vander Zalm, who served as an MLA and cabinet minister in the legislature alongside Mair, said he was a strong and effective politician who no one could go up against without expecting a lively debate.“I will remember Rafe, and I’m sure everyone will remember, he was a very determined fellow. He made up his mind about what he wanted to do and how it was to be done and no one could really stop him from doing it his way,” Vander Zalm said.“In the debates and the arguments and the discussions that were held both in cabinet chamber or the legislature he certainly made his views known very effectively. As a lawyer that came relatively easy for him.”Mair’s career as a broadcaster began when he was 49 years old. Tobin said Mair turned to journalism because he felt he could have a greater impact by holding power to account.“He saw it as a gateway to power for the public,” she said. “He knew he had more influence, he could give a voice to the issues in British Columbia from the radio station.”Tobin, who is now director of programming and journalism at CBC in Vancouver, said although he had strong opinion and was tough on his guests, Mair was wonderful to work with and great mentor.Mair was a recipient of multiple journalism awards, including the Michener Award for courageous journalism in 1995, and the B.C. Association of Broadcasters “Broadcast Performer of the Year” award in 1993.He is survived by his wife Wendy Conway, five children and step-children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.last_img read more

Ontario politicians condemn Quebec law obliging citizens to uncover their faces

first_imgTORONTO – Ontario politicians took the unusual step Thursday of using time in the legislature to unanimously condemn a law passed by Quebec that bans anyone from giving or receiving public services with their face covered.Premier Kathleen Wynne said Ontario and Quebec have a very close working relationship, but on this issue they fundamentally disagree.“Religious freedom is part of our identity,” she said. “Forcing people to show their faces when they ride the bus, banning women from wearing a niqab when they pick up a book from the library will only divide us.”The legislation will disproportionately affect women, including those who are sometimes already at the margins, and push them into further isolation, Wynne said.“We have and will continue to grapple with the tough questions that come with diversity,” she said. “It’s not always easy, but that’s what makes it important. If we believe that difference is actually our strength, then we do the work to understand each other and not just tolerate each other but love each other because of our differences.”Quebec’s Bill 62 bans the wearing of face coverings for people giving or receiving a service from the state and it offers a framework outlining how authorities should grant accommodation requests based on religious beliefs.Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has defended the law by saying it is necessary for reasons related to communication, identification and security.Ontario NDP women’s issues critic Peggy Sattler disputed those justifications.“Despite the guise of religious neutrality, Quebec’s legislation appears to be targeted primarily to Muslim women wearing the niqab or burka,” she said. “This bill has nothing to do with secularism or public safety, which is why it is overwhelmingly not supported by municipalities in Quebec and likely unenforceable.”Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod called on the Ontario Liberal government to participate as interveners in any charter challenge to the legislation.“The expression of freedom is never strengthened when we try to limit it in others,” she said. “All Canadians have a legal right to their religious beliefs, including in the province of Quebec.”Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it’s not Ottawa’s role to challenge the Quebec law, but noted that he believes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to everyone.last_img read more

NS needadoctor registry doesnt prioritize sickest people auditor general

first_imgHALIFAX – The Nova Scotia Health Authority needs to find a way to ensure people with serious health concerns who’ve registered on a provincial website are actually connected with a doctor, the province’s auditor general says.In a report Wednesday, Michael Pickup says the provincial web site where people can register to indicate they need a family doctor is of limited usefulness because there is no priority based on health history or the person’s condition.As of Sept. 1, there were almost 36,000 people registered online with the health authority’s “Need a Family Practice” registry, about four per cent of the province’s population.The health authority encourages doctors to use the list to obtain new patients, but as Pickup noted during a news conference, they aren’t required to choose new patients from the list.“So you could have people that are on the list that are quite sick who may not get a doctor before others that do,” said Pickup. “That’s just one example of the potential impacts upon people.”The audit, on the performance of the health authority and the Health Department, also says the government has generally done a poor job telling the public about its plans for primary care, despite growing concern over a lack of access to doctors.Pickup said the department and health authority often get bogged down in discussions that can hinder efforts on such things as doctor recruitment.“If you look it from the public perspective and from those of us looking for service, you just want the plan you don’t want this back-and-forth,” he said.Pickup recommends the province bring in a communications plan that will inform people on what the goals are for doctor recruitment and when people should expect services to be available.He says the existing website is inadequate and confusing in explaining the shift away from individual physicians to collaborative clinics. The report notes 50 of more than 70 planned collaborative care teams are already in place.Health Minister Randy Delorey said Pickup’s report highlights the system’s “challenges,” but maintained several times that “work is ongoing” to improve areas such as doctor recruitment.He also reverted again to what’s become a standard response around efforts to transform the system, saying it is taking time because much of the initial work involved merging nine health authorities into one in order to “work provincially.”“That was a necessary step to move forward in the work being done,” said Delorey.But the minister remained vague when it came to questions about what constitutes an acceptable wait time to get a family doctor, how long it will take to get enough doctors, and how many will be hired each year.Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said the government’s “we are working on it” response is no longer good enough. He said concrete work needs to be done to get doctors into communities that need them.“There are no standards around wait times — not even a common definition of what a wait time is after all these years. That’s unacceptable.”The auditor was also critical of health officials for failing to provide clear benchmarks for plans to find hundreds of new doctors over the next decade.The audit says the latest forecasts estimate Nova Scotia will need 512 additional doctors over the next decade. But it noted the health authority had only come up with a doctor recruitment plan earlier this year.It also says the province still doesn’t have a clear, province-wide plan on how to deliver mental health services, even though work on such a plan started in late 2015.Pickup said the approach to mental health care across the province is not consistent and has led to significant variations in wait time standards, eligibility criteria, and in how clients are assessed.As an example he pointed to the Dartmouth General Hospital, where there is no psychiatric support for emergency services and patients must be transferred for assessment. Pickup said the hospital has Nova Scotia’s fourth busiest emergency department, and saw over 1,400 mental health patients in 2016.“That is the only regional hospital in that situation and that is by design, he said. “The government should re-evaluate if that is actually the way they want to deliver service.”The audit also says health officials have not completed decade-old recommendations to do a better job monitoring home care services to ensure they met contract terms.Pickup said the ongoing lack of controls following a fraud risk assessment in 2016 means “there is a high fraud risk around this program.”last_img read more

Face of a killer Police release new images in coldcase murders of

first_imgEVERETT, Wash. – Police in Washington state have released images of a man created through groundbreaking DNA technology that they say could help solve the murders of a young British Columbia couple more than 30 years ago.The composite images released by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office show a Caucasian man with fair hair and green or hazel eyes, traits that investigators said are connected to the DNA of the person they think killed Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, and Jay Cook, 20.“We believe that someone knows who our person of interest is,” investigations Capt. Jim Miller said at a news conference on Wednesday. “Maybe you were too afraid to come forward at the time or you thought someone else already had. Now is the time to share what you may have seen or heard and bring closure to this crime.”The high school sweethearts from Saanich, B.C., were on their way to Seattle to pick up furnace parts for Cook’s father when they disappeared in November 1987.Their bodies were found in separate locations outside the city days later. Van Cuylenborg had been restrained with zip ties, sexually assaulted and shot in the back of the head. Cook had been strangled and zip ties were found near his body.Forensic evidence found at the crime scenes has been tested against databases in both the United States and Canada over the years, but investigators have never found a match.Recently, they sent a sample to a lab in Virginia for DNA phenotyping, a process that looks at specific codes to predict a person’s appearance, including eye, skin and hair colour, facial features and ancestry.The technology cannot indicate traits like age or body weight, but Parabon NanoLabs, the company that did the analysis, predicts the suspect is a man of northern European ancestry, with very fair skin and possible freckles, with light brown hair and could be balding.The sheriff’s office released three images showing what the suspect may have looked like at 25, 45 and 65 years old.Miller noted there may be differences between the real-life killer and the images, but said the technology has been used to help solve other cases.“It’s not 100 per cent guaranteed. It’s not a photograph. It’s a composite,” he said.Investigators have never given up on solving the case and the new images renew their optimism, said Det. Jim Scharf.“Hopefully someone out there knows an individual that looks similar to this that was in the area at the time and capable of committing this crime. All we need to do is get a sample of his DNA to match and identify him,” he said.“The smallest detail could end up being the lead that we need to solving this case.”Cook’s sister, Laura Baanstra, still hadn’t looked at the images when police unveiled them Wednesday.“That could be the likeness of the person that killed my brother. That’s tough,” she said.Baanstra said the last time she saw her brother was as he was getting ready to leave for Seattle. He hadn’t had anything to eat and asked for a bite of her sandwich. Reluctantly, she gave him half before standing in the window and waving goodbye, she said with a small smile.“When your brother or sister, daughter or loved one, walks out the door, you have no way to know that you will never see them again.”Baanstra pleaded for anyone with information about her brother’s murder to call police, even if they only have “an inkling of an idea.”“If these new pictures that this amazing new technology created triggers a memory you had, perhaps of someone who said something odd that lived in or near the Snohomish area or even Vancouver in late 1987, please, for the sake of my brother, Jay, Tanya and all of our families, call it in,” she said.A C$50,000 reward for information leading to a DNA match has been offered through the end of December.— By Gemma Karstens-Smith in Vancouverlast_img read more

Canadian Cancer Society turns around finances after cutting excess fat postmerger

first_imgTORONTO – The Canadian Cancer Society says last year’s merger with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation has paid healthy dividends, taking the charity from running a substantial deficit to a solid surplus.The charity was carrying a $24.8-million shortfall on its books prior to the Feb. 1, 2017 merger.But the revamped organization, which operates under the Canadian Cancer Society banner, has posted a nearly $8-million surplus as of Jan. 31 for the year after it joined forces with the Breast Cancer Foundation.“That is really the result of a tremendous amount of efficiencies and savings that we’ve done through a series of tactics throughout the year, primarily in the area of operating and fundraising costs,” said president and CEO Lynne Hudson, who had previously held that title with the foundation.To attain those savings, the amalgamated charity moved to a consolidated business model, creating a national board of directors with representatives from each province and centralizing operations like IT, human resources, communications and marketing at head office, instead of having those functions organized separately in multiple regional offices, as was the case pre-merger.The CCS also targeted redundancies in the combined entity, cutting a quarter of staff — going from about 1,060 to just under 800 — and closing 27 offices.The reduction has left it with 65 offices across all 10 provinces.“We did not want to lose that pan-Canadian grassroots and community presence,” Hudson said of the organization’s commitment to provide services and programs in all parts of the country. “We feel that passionately, as cancer patients are coming to us and looking to us for support. It’s where our volunteers work and operate.”Sara Oates, executive vice-president of finance and operations, said the charity had to take a hard look at itself in order to turn around its financial picture.“We really pushed ourselves to look at the organization differently and really re-examine every type of costs,” she said.Like many others in the philanthropy sector, the CCS found itself contending with dwindling revenues as a result of falling donations, a phenomenon dubbed “donor fatigue” that arose in part from the proliferation of health charities competing for benefactors’ dollars.“Last year, obviously, we weren’t living within our means,” conceded Oates. “We were running a deficit … We were spending 112 per cent of what we raised last year, and it’s really not sustainable.”Still, a year after the merger, the CCS was able to bump up the percentage of how much it designated for “mission costs.” The proportion allocated to funding for research, services and programs for cancer patients and their families and advocacy efforts rose to 58 per cent — up three percentage points from the previous year.“The 58 per cent represents a total of $103 million,” said Oates, with 47 per cent of that money going to research and 50 per cent to programs and services.“And that’s an increase we’re really, really proud of.”Over the years, the society has faced criticism that its administration and fundraising costs were disproportionately bloated, sapping the amount it could earmark for cancer research — among the prime reasons Canadians donate to the 80-year-old charity.Hudson said the organization has cut the proportion it spends on those costs by 10 percentage points, to about 36 per cent of donations.“That is a substantive change and was part of what very much drove our cost-cutting efforts this year,” she said.Fundraising alone takes a huge bite from CCS coffers: in 2016-17, 41 per cent of revenues went to campaigns and events aimed at securing donations, from small amounts given by individuals during the April daffodil drive and Relay for Life pledges to more significant gifts tapped from large corporate benefactors.Last year, the joint CCS-CBCF whittled those costs down to a third of its spending budget.“I think that for any organization to make a movement of 41 per cent to 33 per cent in the space of one year is unprecedented, quite frankly,” said Oates. “And I think that kind of movement puts us not just in line with others that are comparable in the health-care sector, but really moves us ahead of the pack.”Kate Bahen, managing director of Charity Intelligence Canada, agreed, saying she is “thrilled” to see the turnaround in the Cancer Society’s fortunes.“From a donor’s point of view, these are phenomenal results,” said Bahen, whose organization provides in-depth analyses and ratings of more than 700 Canadian charities on its website.“Two years ago, for every dollar you donated, 50 cents went to the cause … (Now) every dollar you donate, 61 cents goes to the cause,” she said after crunching the numbers in the CCS’s Jan. 31 financial statement.“That’s a tremendous improvement in a very short period of time.”There’s no doubt taking the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation into the CCS fold paid off: the CBCF contributed about $28 million in fund balances with the merger, while the CIBC-sponsored Run for the Cure — an event started by the foundation — brought in about $17 million last year.Hudson said marrying the two charities, which were “quite different” both organizationally and culturally, created a synergy by capitalizing on each of their strengths.The Breast Cancer Foundation had a big-city presence, while the Cancer Society had community-based operations Canada-wide; CBCF employees were more familiar with corporate approaches to fundraising and centralized operations, while the CCS was more grassroots, she said.“Both could learn and leverage the best of both worlds.”Bahen said the CCS is unique among the many cancer charities in Canada because not only does it fund research, but it also “helps people who have cancer.”Though previously given an “average” rating by Charity Intelligence because it was considered “massively inefficient” with costs “in the red zone,” seeing this leaner Canadian Cancer Society should change the story for prospective donors, she said.“I think it’s going to go up in our ratings now.”— Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.last_img read more

NBs stealth issue The language politics of Canadas only bilingual province

first_imgNew Brunswick is Canada’s only officially bilingual province, with the closest balance in the nation of residents who speak our two official languages.Politically, though, language has long been a ticking time bomb.“I don’t think New Brunswick has ever resolved its cultural and linguistic divide,” says Herb Emery, a professor at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.“Instead, it’s had premiers who have been very good at keeping a lid on it and keeping the peace.”Polls suggest the next premier of New Brunswick after the Sept. 24 provincial election will be one of two very different men.There’s Brian Gallant, the bilingual Liberal incumbent who has been reticent to wade into the province’s thorny language politics.Then there’s Blaine Higgs, the anglophone Tory leader who was briefly involved with an anti-bilingualism party three decades ago but has since changed his opinions and is taking weekly French classes.Despite their differences, neither leader is likely eager to make bilingualism an issue in the campaign.“When you play the language card … it’s a hot topic,” says Christian Michaud, a bilingual Moncton-based lawyer who has worked on language rights cases and constitutional challenges as far as the Supreme Court.“If you don’t do it properly you could face different levels of attack. It could backfire.”There was one language flare-up last week: A French-language leaders debate was scrapped by Canada’s public broadcaster after Higgs said he couldn’t debate in French and Gallant refused to take on a candidate that wasn’t the leader.“It made political sense for the Liberals to refuse to participate in that debate, because they don’t even have to debate any issue and they already appear to be the francophone-friendly party,” says Mathieu Wade, a researcher with the Institute for Acadian Studies at the Universite de Moncton.The language rights act of 1969 is credited with ushering in major social reform and safeguarding the French language in New Brunswick, where in 2016 roughly 32 per cent of people said French was their mother tongue, compared to about 65 per cent English, according to census data.But the incident offered a glimpse into the language debate that still simmers. Official bilingualism has sparked heated arguments in both English and French over its benefits and costs.In recent years, separate school bus regimes for francophone and anglophone students, bilingual staffing for paramedics, language obligations for municipalities, and even a complaint — from the official languages commissioner — about a unilingual commissionaire in a government building have all made headlines in New Brunswick.On one side of the debate, some equate so-called duality — two institutions that each serve one linguistic community — with duplication. They see the costs of providing English and French services across New Brunswick as untenable in the cash-strapped province.Critics say the division of New Brunswickers among linguistic lines — such as separate health care or school bus systems — amounts to segregation, and that bilingualism requirements in the public sector unfairly disadvantage anglophones.It’s a position that has been carefully sidestepped by the Progressive Conservative party, historically seen as the party of choice among the province’s anglophones.The tension had been exploited in the past by the Confederation of Regions Party, which won eight seats in 1991 on a promise to strike the Official Languages Act from the province’s books, and more recently by the People’s Alliance party.People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin, who lost his bid for a seat by fewer than 30 votes during the last election and is running again, promises a populist agenda — including ending duality by combining English and French public services.“Bilingualism is a wedge issue in New Brunswick and the People’s Alliance is prying it open,” Emery says.“There are some New Brunswickers that have never really gone along with official bilingualism and they feel there is favouritism, and the party is taking advantage of that.”On the other side of the debate are those who say their language rights can’t be reduced to dollars and cents arguments about economic efficiency.New Brunswickers have a constitutional right to be served by the government in English or French, and proponents of official bilingualism say the duality of services helps prevent the assimilation of the minority francophone population.“Language can be taught, learned and forgotten,” Wade says. “It’s a very porous identity.”“You need to create some boundaries for it to be preserved.”Yet even among defenders of official bilingualism, some moderation of language laws is increasingly considered acceptable.With school buses, for example, Michaud says anglophone and francophone students should be allowed on the same bus under certain circumstances.“I would argue that on a school bus there is very little risk of assimilation,” he says.The school bus issue arose three years ago when the provincial government discovered that students from French and English schools were travelling on the same buses in a rural area of southeastern New Brunswick. The school districts were ordered to stop the practice and added extra buses to comply.The Charter guarantees separate educational institutions for French and English, resulting in two distinct school boards.But Michaud says he doesn’t see a school bus as an extension of the school. And even if bilingual school buses are a breach of the charter — which he doubts — he says it would be a “very limited breach” that would likely be considered reasonable.“That’s the thing with language rights,” Michaud says. “Some people use language rights to the extreme where it’s about purity and that becomes dangerous.”He adds: “Language rights are there to allow for francophones to ensure they protect their language and culture, but it should not be a trump card for everything.”Meanwhile, Emery says the idea that duality creates a duplication in the system is often false.“As long as the scale economies are being achieved because you have a large enough clientele, duality is not more expensive,” he says, adding that issues arise when there are smaller populations without the economies of scale to run two systems.Still, the economics professor says much of the bilingualism debate is a distraction from the real issue New Brunswickers should be focused on during this election campaign: The economy.“If our ability to pay for things falls, there are going to be things people value and care about on the chopping block.”last_img read more

Destroyed by investigation Guy Ouellette sues Quebec government for 550000

first_imgQUEBEC — A member of the Quebec legislature who says he was “destroyed” after being targeted by Quebec’s anti-corruption police is suing the provincial government for $550,000.Guy Ouellette is demanding $250,000 for harm to his reputation, $200,000 for moral prejudice and $100,000 in monetary losses, according to court documents filed by his lawyer in Quebec Superior Court.Ouellette, who won his suburban Montreal riding for the Liberals in the Oct. 1 election, was later kicked out of caucus for allegedly leaking embarrassing information to a rival political party.The Liberals, who lost the election to Francois Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec, said he had lost their trust after Legault confirmed on the campaign trail that Ouellette had been the source of a 2016 leak about a Liberal partisan nomination.Ouellette’s lawsuit concerns another controversial episode he was involved in.In October 2017, Ouellette was arrested by Quebec’s anti-corruption unit, known as UPAC, on suspicion he was responsible for leaking sensitive information about an investigation to the media.The leak revealed UPAC had been investigating the comings and goings of ex-premier Jean Charest and Liberal fundraiser Marc Bibeau up until 2016.Ouellette has denied the claims, and he was never charged.His lawsuit claims the investigation into the UPAC leaks was “seriously faulty and affected by an indisputable carelessness.” The investigation “literally destroyed the plaintiff, his reputation, his political career, the trust of his political party and dealt a blow to his health,” it continues.Ouellette, 66, is a former provincial police officer who first ran for office in 2007.In more than 30 years with the provincial police, he became one of Canada’s leading biker gang investigators and a frequent expert witness at organized crime trials.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

After partisan bickering House backs motion to end veterans homelessness

first_imgOTTAWA — The House of Commons has backed a backbench MP’s bid to have the government work to end veterans homelessness after days of partisan bickering over the fate of the private motion.The motion from Ontario Liberal MP Neil Ellis asks his own government to craft a plan to end veterans homelessness by 2025, in part by creating a subsidy similar to one in the United States that’s credited with helping to cut in half the number of homeless American veterans.Debate on the motion ended Tuesday with the Liberals blaming the Opposition Conservatives for not agreeing to an immediate vote, likely leaving the motion to die when the next election is called.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chimed in Wednesday during the daily question period, saying the government supports the motion.Conservative critic Karen Vecchio took issue with Trudeau’s comments early this afternoon, firing back before asking the Commons for its agreement to pass the motion, which MPs voted to do immediately.The motion isn’t binding on the government but advocates see it as a symbolic victory on an issue that successive governments have not tackled.The Canadian Presslast_img read more