Month: October 2019

first_imgEmployees who purchase unhealthy food at office may indulge in such diet outside work as well, increasing their risk of lifestyle ailments such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a study suggests. A recently conducted study demonstrated that employees at a large urban hospital who purchased the least healthy food in its cafeteria were more likely to have an unhealthy diet outside of work, be overweight and obese. They also were more likely to have risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, compared to employees who made healthier purchases. Also Read – Pollution makes you more aggressiveThese findings contribute to a better understanding of the relationship of eating behaviours at work with overall diet and health and can help to shape worksite wellness programmes that both improve long-term health outcomes and reduce costs. “Employer-sponsored programmes to promote healthy eating could reach millions of Americans and help to curb obesity, a worsening epidemic that too often leads to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer,” said Anne N Thorndike, from Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School in the US. Also Read – Physical therapy better for low back painPrevious research has shown that obesity contributes to higher absenteeism, lower productivity, and higher healthcare expenses for employers. These findings can lead to more effective strategies to encourage employees to choose healthier foods and reduce their risks for chronic conditions. “Workplace wellness programmes have the potential to promote lifestyle changes among large populations of employees, yet to date there have been challenges to developing effective programs. We hope our findings will help to inform the development of accessible, scalable, and affordable interventions,” noted Jessica L McCurley, from Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. Participants were 602 Massachusetts General Hospital employees who regularly used the hospital’s cafeterias and were enrolled in a health promotion study. As part of the hospital’s “Choose Well, Eat Well” programme, foods and beverages in the hospital cafeterias have “traffic light” labels to indicate their healthfulness: green is healthy, yellow is less healthy, and red is unhealthy. Food displays have also been modified to put healthier choices in the direct line of sight, while unhealthy foods were made less accessible to reduce impulse purchases. “Simplified labelling strategies provide an opportunity to educate employees without restricting their freedom of choice. In the future, using purchase data to provide personalised nutritional feedback via email or text messaging is another option to explore to encourage healthy eating,” said Thorndike.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: The BJP has managed to puncture opposition’s claims that the party is anti-minority by winning more than 50 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats in 90 ‘minority-concentration’ districts identified in 2008 by the then UPA government. Besides a considerable minority population, these districts have both socio-economic and basic amenities indicators below the national average. Of the 79 such constituencies, the BJP has won the maximum of 41 seats, a gain of seven over 2014. The Congress’s share has almost halved, down from 12 in 2014 to six now. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist An analyst claimed that Muslims did not vote en bloc in favour of one party or candidate this time. On the other hand, 27 Muslim candidates won in the recently-concluded elections. However, none of the six Muslim candidates fielded by the BJP tasted success. The winning MPs are from Trinamool Congress (5); Congress (4); Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), National Conference and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) (3 each); AIMIM (2); LJP, NCP, CPI(M) and AIUDF (one each). Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France The Opposition parties have been accusing the BJP of not doing enough for the minorities and also aiding and abetting attacks on them. Nearly 20 per cent of the country’s 130 crore people are Muslims. In the minority-concentration districts, the BJP gained the most in West Bengal, which has 18 such seats. In Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur district which has a Muslim population of nearly 49 per cent, BJP’s Debasree Chaudhuri defeated TMC’s Agarwal Kanaialal by 60574 votes. In neighbouring Jalpaiguri seat, BJP candidate Jayanta Kumar Roy defeated sitting TMC MP Bijoy Chandra Barman by 184004 votes. The seat has about 20 per cent Muslim population. In Maldaha North seat in Malda, the party’s Khagen Murmu won defeating TMC’s Mausam Noor by a margin of 84288 votes. The seat has nearly 50 per cent Muslim population. In Coochbehar seat which has a Muslim population of around 30 per cent, BJP’s Nisith Pramanik got the better of his nearest rival TMC’s Paresh Chandra Adhikary by 54231 votes. In Balurghat in North Dinajpur district, BJP candidate Sukanta Majumdar defeated TMC’s Arpita Ghosh by a margin of 33293 votes. The seat has 35 percent Muslim population. In Bishnupur Lok Sabha seat (20 per cent) in Bankura, BJP candidate Saumitra Khan won by 78047 votes defeating his Trinamool Congress rival Shyamal Santra. In Hooghly seat (20 per cent), Locket Chatterjee of the BJP defeated his TMC rival Ratna Dey (Nag) by a margin of 73362 votes while S S Ahluwalia of BJP won the Burdwan-Durgapur seat by a slender margin of 2439 votes defeating his nearest AITC rival Mamtaz Sanghamita. The seat has around 15 per cent Muslim population. The UPA government in 2008 had identified the 90 minority-concentration districts under a development programme that focussed on education, health and skill development in these districts. Rampur, Nagina, Moradabad, Sambhal and Amroha are among the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh where Muslim voters are in a very large number. Though the BJP performed well in the state, ensuring that the SP-BSP-RLD combine does not get a cake walk, the ‘mahagathbandhan’ bagged these five seats. In Rampur, where Muslims account for nearly 50 per cent of the voters, veteran SP leader Azam Khan defeated BJP candidate and actor-turned-politician Jaya Prada by over one lakh votes. The BSP won the Nagina seat when its candidate Girish Chandra defeated sitting BJP MP Yashwant Singh by over 1.66 lakh votes. In Moradabad, ST Hasan of the SP defeated sitting BJP MP Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar by nearly 99,000 votes. Another SP candidate, SR Barq defeated Parmeshwar Lal Saini of BJP in Sambhal seat. In Amroha, Kunwar Danish Ali, who had defected from the Janata Dal (Secular) and had joined the BSP just ahead of the polls, emerged victorious trouncing sitting BJP MP Kunwar Singh Tanwar. The Congress had fielded six Muslim candidates in Uttar Pradesh, but none of them won. In the entire state, Muslims account for nearly 20 per cent of the population. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, not a single Muslim candidate won and the jinx was broken only during Kairana bypoll when the seat was wrested from the BJP by Tabassum Hassan, the joint opposition candidate, who had contested on RLD ticket. In Bihar, there are seven such seats, and in Kishanganj, which has around 65 per cent Muslim population, Congress’s Mohd Javed defeated JD(U)’s Syed Mahmood Ashraf by 34,466 votes. In Araria (45 per cent), BJP’s Pradip Kumar Singh defeated sitting RJD MP Sarfaraz Alam by 1,37,241 votes while in Katihar (40 per cent) Congress’s Tariq Anwar (sitting MP, who won the seat on an NCP ticket) lost to Dulal Chandra Goswami of the JD(U) by 57,203 votes. Darbhanga, having a Muslim population of about 23 per cent, saw BJP’s Gopal Jee Thakur defeating RJD’s Abdul Bari Siddiqui by 2,67,979 votes. In Khagaria (23 per cent), sitting Lok Janshakti Party MP Mehboob Ali Kaisar defeated Mukesh Sahni of VIP by 2,48,570 votes, while in Banka (20 per cent) JD(U)’s Giridhari Yadav prevailed over sitting RJD MP Jai Prakash Narain Yadav by 2,00,532 votes and in Madhubani (19 per cent), BJP’s Ashok Yadav defeated VIP’s Badri Purbe by 4,54,940 votes. In Assam, the Congress won two of the seats where there is a sizeable Muslim population — Abdul Khaleque in Barpeta (over 45 per cent) and Pradyut Bordoloi in Nowgong (over 34 per cent). AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal emerged winner in Dhubri, where the Muslim population is over 65 per cent.last_img read more

first_imgNEW DELHI: Capping a landslide election victory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take oath along with a new council of ministers on Thursday for a second term, as suspense mounted on who will get the Big Four berths-Home, Finance, Defence and External Affairs.Top opposition leaders, corporate top honchos, film stars, chief ministers and a galaxy of leaders from BIMSTEC countries will be on hand to watch President Ram Nath Kovind administer the oath of office and secrecy to 68-year-old Modi and his ministerial colleagues at the forecourt of majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twistModi and BJP president Amit Shah held a marathon meeting for the second consecutive day on Wednesday during which they are learnt to have finalised the broad contours of the new ministry that is expected to have some new faces besides retaining most of the senior ministers. Many BJP leaders are of the view that most key members of the previous Cabinet could be retained. Some changes, though, are likely to be made to accommodate allies like Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United and the Akali Dal and also to ensure representation of Bengal, Odisha and the northeast – new zones that have embraced the party. Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from FranceNearly 8,000 guests will attend the swearing-in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday, making it the biggest-ever event held in the historic premises. While the guests attending the event will be treated to high tea, President Ram Nath Kovind will host a private dinner for the leaders from Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) countries as well as Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth – who have all confirmed their presence. The visiting foreign dignitaries will be treated to the choicest vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes that include soup, fish, chicken, vegetables and “Dal Raisina” – a special delicacy of the Rashtrapati Bhavan that takes 48 hours to cook – among other delicacies. The swearing-in will be held in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the same venue as in 2014. The Bimstec leaders attending the event include Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Myanmarese President U Win Myint, Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering. Thailand will be represented by its Special Envoy Grisada Boonrach. The chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, the chief ministers of Odisha, Kerala and Bengal will skip the ceremony. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Telangana CM, YSRCP president Jagan Mohan Reddy are also expected to show up at the grand event. The invitation to opposition leaders is seen as Modi’s move to reach out to them following the fiercely fought election in which the BJP registered a massive victory.last_img read more

first_imgHouston: When Cardinal Daniel DiNardo first met Laura Pontikes in his wood-paneled conference room in December 2016, the leader of the US Catholic Church’s response to its sex abuse scandal said all the right things. He praised her for coming forward to report that his deputy in the Galveston-Houston archdiocese had manipulated her into a sexual relationship and declared her a “victim” of the priest, Pontikes said. Emails and other documents obtained by The Associated Press show the relationship had gone on for years even as the priest heard her confessions, counseled her husband on their marriage and pressed the couple for hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. Also Read – ‘Hong Kong won’t rule out Chinese help over protests’She said the archdiocese assured her that the priest, Monsignor Frank Rossi, would never be a pastor or counsel women again. Months after that meeting, though, she found out DiNardo had allowed Rossi to take a new job as pastor of a parish two hours away in east Texas. When her husband confronted DiNardo, he said, the cardinal warned that the archdiocese would respond aggressively to any legal challenge and that the fallout would hurt their family and business. Also Read – Pak Army chief accompanies Imran at key meetings in ChinaOn Tuesday, three years after the meeting with DiNardo and after written inquiries by the AP last week, the church temporarily removed Rossi, announcing in a statement from his new bishop that he was being placed on administrative leave. Laura Pontikes, a 55-year-old construction executive in Texas, had been at a low point in her life when she sought spiritual counseling from Rossi, the longtime No. 2 official in the Galveston-Houston archdiocese DiNardo heads. Instead, she said, Rossi preyed on her emotional vulnerability to draw her into a physical relationship that he called blessed by God. “He took a woman that went into a church truly looking for God, and he took me for himself,” she said. Rossi’s sexual relationship with Pontikes is now the subject of a previously undisclosed criminal investigation in Houston. Yet it is DiNardo’s handling of the case that poses far-reaching questions for the church in the #MeToo era, when powerful men and institutions are being called to account over sex abuse. As the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, DiNardo will lead a meeting next week in Baltimore to address the church’s credibility crisis over its failure to fully reckon with sexual abuse, 17 years after it committed to cleaning house. DiNardo is expected to present his brother bishops with new proposals to hold one another accountable for sexual misconduct or negligence in handling abuse cases. But Pontikes’ case lays bare that even leaders in the Catholic hierarchy who have vowed to do right by victims continue to fail them. Pontikes said DiNardo has been negligent by keeping in ministry a priest who, in the words of her therapist to prosecutors, “seduced, betrayed and ultimately sexually victimized” her. The June 11-14 meeting in Baltimore is part of the church’s effort to confront sexual abuse worldwide. In a little more than a year, Pope Francis admitted he made “grave errors” in Chile’s worst case of cover-up, an Australian cardinal was convicted of abuse and a French cardinal was convicted of failing to report a pedophile. In the US, a Pennsylvania grand jury blasted church leaders for following “a playbook for concealing the truth,” and attorneys general in at least 15 states are investigating sex abuse by Catholic clergy and its cover-up. The Galveston-Houston archdiocese acknowledged an inappropriate physical relationship between Rossi and Pontikes, but asserted that it was consensual and didn’t include sexual intercourse. In a statement to AP, it said Rossi was immediately placed on leave and went for counseling after Pontikes reported him. Rossi returned to active ministry, without restrictions, based on recommendations from an out-of-state “renewal” program for clergy he completed, the statement said. After the AP story ran, the archdiocese said a number of comments the Pontikeses attributed to DiNardo were “an absolute fabrication” but didn’t say which ones. It said that DiNardo had acted “swiftly and justly” in the case, and that Laura Pontikes had during an Aug. 1, 2017 meeting demanded 10 million. Pontikes acknowledged she suggested an unspecified amount of money in a spontaneous outburst. But she had been clear from the start that she wasn’t interested in a financial payoff a position articulated in April 2016 emails to the archdiocese and repeated as recently as this April in a letter to the Vatican. The Pontikeses and their lawyer told AP the details of mediation, including any financial negotiations, were confidential. Pontikes filed a police report in August. Under Texas criminal law, a member of the clergy can be charged with sexual assault of an adult if the priest exploited an emotional dependency in a spiritual relationship. Rossi’s attorney, Dan Cogdell, said Rossi is cooperating with the investigation and has met with police. He declined further comment. Pontikes’ allegations against DiNardo add to questions about how he has dealt with abuse in the past.last_img read more

first_imgIndore: Electoral bonds worth Rs 5,851.41 crore were bought by donors to fund political parties between March 2018 and May 2019, of which 80.6 per cent were redeemed in New Delhi, where the headquarters of major parties are located, reply to an RTI query has revealed. Chandrashekhar Goud, an RTI activist based in Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch, Sunday shared the information furnished by the State Bank of India (SBI) in response to his two queries. Political parties sold electoral bonds worth Rs 874.50 crore in 10 phases in New Delhi to raise funds, but the value of bonds redeemed in the national capital was more than five times at Rs 4,715.58 crore, he said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Electoral bonds worth Rs 1,782.36 crore were purchased in Mumbai, the financial capital of India, but only seven per cent of them worth Rs 121.13 crore were encashed there, Goud said. Bonds worth Rs 1,389 crore were sold in Kolkata, but just 12 per cent of them worth Rs 167.50 crore were redeemed in the West Bengal capital, he added. Electoral bonds worth Rs 195 crore were sold in the Karnataka capital, Bengaluru, but just one per cent of them worth Rs 1.5 crore were redeemed there, Goud said. In Hyderabad, bonds of Rs 806.12 crore value were sold, but worth Rs 512.30 crore were redeemed there, Goud said quoting the RTI reply.last_img read more

first_imgMumbai: Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), which has an outstanding debt of Rs 94,216 crore, said Wednesday the board has taken various steps to address over Rs 20,000 crore of its debt pile over the past nine months. The government had appointed new board headed by veteran banker Uday Kotak last October. “A critical focus of the board has been to maintain a ‘going concern’ status for companies under the group. Towards this, as many as 55 companies were classified as ‘green’ which are servicing all their obligations,” the company said in a statement. The group has 348 subsidiaries and associates. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalIt also said measures have been taken for resolution of debt of three ‘amber’ companies, which are in final stages of implementation and will result in these companies being re-classified as ‘green’. The 55 group businesses that are under asset monetisation process include securities business, renewable energy, domestic road vertical, alternate investment fund management, education and thermal, the company said. Its fund-based outstanding debt was Rs 94,216 crore as of October 8, 2018. The sale process for assets under the education and roads, environment verticals and real estate are at an advanced stage, it added.last_img read more

first_imgKolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday granted anticipatory bail to two BJP councillors of West Bengal’s Bongaon Municipality in connection with a case of alleged kidnapping of a woman colleague. The two councillors, who switched to the saffron brigade recently from the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), have been named in a complaint filed in the abduction case. Apprehending arrest in the case, Himangshu Mondal and Kartik Mondal moved the high court seeking anticipatory bail. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja The accused civic body members claimed that they have been falsely implicated in a “fabricated” case due to their political affiliation. A division bench comprising Justices Joymalya Bagchi and M Mandal granted them anticipatory bail on personal bond of Rs 20,000 each. The court also directed the two councillors to meet the investigating officer every alternate day. Lawyers representing the Bharatiya Janata Party councillors claimed Himangshu and Kartik were not allowed to vote in the no-confidence motion against the chairman of Bongaon Municipality, which was in turmoil after 11 TMC councillors in the 22-member House moved to the saffron camp. The TMC had claimed that it won the trust vote, with 10 members voting in favour of the chairman Shankar Addhya, while 11 BJP councillors, including the two petitioners, alleged that they were denied a chance to enter the municipal body office during the scheduled voting process on July 16.last_img read more

first_imgBishkek: Twenty people were hospitalised in Kyrgyzstan following a skirmish between employees of a Chinese-owned mine and villagers living close to the gold deposit, officials said on Tuesday. Nineteen employees of the Chinese company that operates the Solton Sary gold mine in the central province of Naryn and one villager had been hospitalised after a conflict on Monday, a health ministry spokeswoman said. Around 300 villagers had gathered at the mine Monday to demand that the Chinese company cease work there, the interior ministry said. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US”Both sides threw stones at each other” during the clashes that followed, the ministry said in a statement. Zhong Ji Mining won a license for the Solton Sary gold field in 2012, shortly after a popular uprising that saw an uptick in conflicts between mining companies and local communities in the ex-Soviet country. Pastoral farmers regularly accuse mining companies of causing ecological damage, accusations the companies deny. Some of the biggest clashes in recent years have occurred in the eastern Issyk Kul province where a mine owned by Toronto-listed company Centerra Gold accounted for 8.5 percent of GDP in 2018. Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous majority-Muslim republic of six million people in Central Asia, is the second poorest of the 15 countries which achieved independence after the Soviet collapse.last_img read more

first_imgWhen India finally made a daring move on Kashmir under the Modi government, notwithstanding the communication blackout and restrictions in Kashmir, the other entity to be most agitated and disgruntled with this development is the western neighbour, Pakistan. It is only too obvious that Kashmir has been a cornerstone of Pakistan’s relations with Kashmir. For long, Pakistan has used Kashmir to stoke a kind of ‘nationalism’ among its people that is essentially one marked by hatred for India. With the August o5 development, India sent out a message loud and clear across the world that Kashmir is India’s internal matter and that India is dealing with it as it thinks fit. But with the fulcrum of bilateral ties with Pakistan declared entirely Indian, the neighbour’s unease led it to take steps that are indicative of several crucial points for consideration. The expulsion of Indian envoy Ajay Bisaria from Pakistan stands testimony to how Pakistan views its powerful neighbour primarily through the lens of a disputed territory from a shared history: the Partition. The expulsion of the Indian envoy was a move to announce the downgraded ties with India over its decision to unilaterally turn the disputed region into a Union Territory under India. It was India’s diplomatic maturity that it still urged Pakistan to review its decision. India’s regret at this turn of events is genuine as positive ties with a neighbour is an asset for unforeseen times. On the other side, given Pakistan’s instability and internal dynamics, its focus on Kashmir and animosity with India does little for their own good. Pakistan has already made it clear that it will not send its newly-appointed High Commissioner Moinul Haque to India. Haque was appointed to the post three months after the previous Pakistani envoy Sohail Mahmood took charge as Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary. A stable Pakistan is certainly in India’s best interest but when the neighbouring state shows little inclination for both its internal stability and diplomatic ties with India, the challenge increases in magnitude for India to safeguard its region from the vile intentions of the disgruntled state. As if it was not bad enough to suspend trade and talks, sensationalism is resorted to once again with a former Pakistani envoy indulging in war-mongering. Pakistan’s former High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit warned of war if India crosses a red line in Jammu and Kashmir. When both the countries on either side of the “red line” are in need of development, education, healthcare, better economy and happier society, and when both countries are blessed with genuine intellectuals of stature, the talks about war should be a commonly agreed upon anathema.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said that its orders on the Guru Ravidas Temple in Tughlaqabad forest area here cannot be given a “political colour”.A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah asked governments of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi to ensure that no law and order situation is created politically or otherwise during the protests over the demolition of temple. “Everything cannot be political. Our orders can’t be given a political colour by anybody on earth” the bench said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderThe Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had demolished the temple pursuant to the orders of the apex court, which had on August 9 observed that “serious breach” had been committed by Guru Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti by not vacating the forest area as earlier ordered by the top court. Following the demolition of the 500-year-old temple, protests have been staged at several places in Punjab and Delhi by political parties and members of the Dalit community. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsAt the outset, Attorney General K K Venugopal, who was on August 13 asked by the top court to assist in the matter, said that demolition of the temple has been carried out by DDA in pursuance to the top court order and a total of 18 organisations are staging protests against it. Venugopal told the bench that since a number of organisations have been agitating against the demolition it is very difficult to pinpoint a particular person behind the protests. To this, the bench said in case the matter is settled, there is no difficulty but if the issue remains the court will take up the matter for hearing. Venugopal then told the bench that it should direct governments of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi to ensure that the law and order situation is maintained. The bench asked governments of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi to ensure that “no law and order situation is created politically or otherwise”. The bench has posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks. Punjab CM Amarinder Singh had said that he will lead a delegation of Ravidas community members to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention in the matter. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal had also said on Thursday that a SAD-BJP delegation will soon meet the prime minister and urge him to provide a piece of land for rebuilding the temple. The top court had earlier warned against politicising the temple’s demolition threatening to initiate contempt proceedings against those provoking dharnas and demonstrations. “Don’t speak a word and don’t aggravate the issue. You are in for contempt. We will haul up your entire management. We will see what has to be done,” the bench had said. The bench had also said that it will not tolerate criticism of the judgement which has been passed by the top court.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: Polling for four positions of Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) will be held on Thursday, with over 1.3 lakh students being eligible to cast their votes. “EVMs were delivered to the polling centres on Wednesday and strict security arrangements have been made. The Community Hall at the Police Lines in northwest Delhi’s Kingsway Camp will be the counting centre for the polls,” DU Chief Election Officer Ashok Prasad said. “Over 1.3 lakh students will cast their votes at 52 polling centres. The results will be declared on September 13,” he said. The keenly contested polls will see a woman candidate fighting for the president post from the Congress-backed NSUI after a gap of 11 years. Its rival ABVP had last fielded a woman candidate in 2011.last_img read more

first_imgOTTAWA – Nearly half the Canadians who seek to have decisions denying them access to Canada Pension Plan disability benefits are successfully appealing the rulings — a statistic that is giving experts cause for concern.The figures illustrate what has happened in the year since Canada’s auditor general excoriated the government for its handling of CPP disability appeals, which provides stipends to Canadians who are unable to work due to disability.Michael Ferguson’s February 2016 report on the $4-billion disability benefits system found that some one-third of applicants who were originally denied benefits were later found to be eligible, based on the initial evidence.Two-thirds of those who took their appeal to the social security tribunal ended up winning, raising questions about why they were denied in the first place.Figures provided to The Canadian Press show that in the last fiscal year, which closed at the end of March, 44.5 per cent of appeals were upheld when federal officials took a second look at the files — an increase from the figures identified in Ferguson’s report, which examined a longer period of time.Among those that took their case to the tribunal, about 45 per cent ended up being successful between April 2016 and March 2017, based on data provided by Employment and Social Development Canada.Experts involved in the system say the data suggest there is an adjudication issue within the department that the federal government needs to address.“That tells me the adjudication process is seriously flawed,” said Allison Schmidt, a Regina-based pension disability case manager and a vocal critic of the system.Schmidt said she has seen a number of cases where medical adjudicators — those responsible for deciding whether someone is eligible for the benefit — make decisions without all the information, simply to meet deadlines.The department said there could be a number of reasons for the high rate of appeal, including extra information that wasn’t available when the initial decision was made, or changes to a person’s medical situation.“The key priority is to ensure that the most appropriate decision is made,” the department said in a statement.The concern that Schmidt and others now have is the pace at which change is going to come to the department.ESDC promised in the wake of Ferguson’s report to create a quality assurance framework to ensure officials are making decisions based on the same criteria.An overturn rate of between 10 and 20 per cent would be understandable, Schmidt said.The department said it is piloting new tools this year to ensure there is consistency nationally in how applications are assessed. The tools will then be rolled out nationwide next year, but won’t be fully implemented until 2019 at the latest.Changes to the paper application itself, which Ferguson said was overly complicated and lengthy, will be tested later this year. A web-based application won’t be online until September 2019.The department has also made other changes aimed at more quickly making decisions on applicants with terminal illnesses to ensure their files are handled within five days of arrivals, and 30 days for those with grave medical conditions.last_img read more

first_imgOTTAWA – The company that operates Canada’s civil air navigation service says flooding from a severe thunderstorm in Ottawa brought down its automated flight planning system early Saturday.Nav Canada says there were delays, mainly affecting international flights, but the safety of the travelling public was not compromised.CEO Neil Wilson said in a statement Saturday night that when water affected Nav Canada’s network that handles flight plans, staff were quickly moved to a facility where backup systems are located.Wilson says there was no impact on air traffic control or communications with aircraft during the outage.Wilson says the system was restored on Saturday afternoon, but there could be some delays as staff process backlogs. It’s not known how many flights were affected.He says Nav Canada worked closely with its counterparts — the FAA in the U.S. and NATS in the United Kingdom — to adjust traffic flows during the outage.“Delays occurred due to problems reinstating connectivity of the system with neighbouring air navigation service providers,” Wilson said in the statement.“Nav Canada apologizes to customers and all members of the travelling public for any inconvenience arising from this unforeseen incident,” he said.last_img read more

first_imgREGINA – An Amber Alert was issued Sunday night for a six-year-old Saskatchewan girl who RCMP say was in the back of her family’s SUV when it was stolen outside a strip mall in North Battleford.Police said that Emma O’Keeffe is Caucasian, three-feet-six-inches tall, and weighs 44 pounds. She suffers from epilepsy and autism, and is non-verbal and unable to walk.“I think any six-year-old that was taken against their will is definitely a risk,” RCMP Corporal Rob King said. “This girl, given her medical conditions, is at higher risk.”RCMP said the vehicle was taken Sunday at around 5 p.m. after the girl’s mother left it running and went into a business in the strip mall.The girl was secured in a child seat in the back of the SUV and police said they don’t believe she would be able to get out of the vehicle herself.The suspect is believed to be driving a dark grey 2010, Mercedes Benz GL350 Bluetec SUV with Saskatchewan license plate 897 HMX.Police said it’s a case of an abduction by a stranger and there is no indication a family member is involved.“This is a stolen SUV with a child in the back seat,” King said. “This is not a parental abduction.”Emma has brown, jaw-length hair and was last seen wearing a navy-blue, long sleeve T-shirt, black jeans, pink socks and no shoes. She was also wearing a diaper.Police said the girl requires medication every 12 hours and that missing a dose could lead to extreme medical distress.There is no description of the suspect at this time and police said they don’t know what direction the vehicle was headed. The Alert has been expanded beyond Saskatchewan to include Alberta and Manitoba.Investigators contacted the vehicle’s manufacturer to find out if it had GPS tracking, but were told it likely does not. They said it was something they were looking into further.The SUV has a keyless entry system so police said that once the suspect shuts off the vehicle, it cannot be started again.The vehicle is estimated to have had a half tank of gas.Police said they are also reviewing any surveillance video that may be available.— Follow @RyanBMcKenna on Twitterlast_img read more

first_imgThose close to Marie Henein say the only thing the high-profile criminal lawyer defends more relentlessly than her clients is the justice system itself.Henein displayed that commitment to the fairness and transparency of the system this week, friends and colleagues said, as she secured a legal victory for Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.After representing Norman for more than two years in a breach of trust case, the charge was stayed Wednesday partially on the strength of information Henein and her team shared with prosecutors.Those who know the Toronto-based lawyer — who has also successfully defended clients such as former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi and former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant — said the Norman case allowed Henein to demonstrate some of the lesser-known skills that have shaped her successful career.Danielle Robitaille, who began working alongside Henein in 2007 and is now a partner in her law firm, said her mentor brings relentless focus and meticulous preparation to every case she takes on.Underpinning it all, she said, is an implacable desire to secure the best outcome for her clients while maintaining the integrity of the justice system.“Marie, really at her core, believes in our institutions,” Robitaille said. “She is so proud of our justice system … She is strongly of the view that we have a responsibility, as lawyers, to promote confidence in the administration of justice. And she takes that very, very seriously.”Henein, who graduated Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1989 and went onto earn a Masters in Law from Columbia University two years later, cut her teeth in the firm of storied criminal lawyer Edward Greenspan.She’s been the principal of her own firm since 2002, and since that time has carved out an increasingly illustrious reputation.That reputation prompted Robitaille to seek her support and mentorship in 2007 when she was learning to practice criminal law.She said Henein was extremely generous with her time and expertise, though her “very direct” personality and sense of drive meant feedback was not always delivered gently.“We weren’t making cupcakes, we were protecting people’s constitutional rights and trying to save people from a loss of liberty,” she said. “There really wasn’t a lot of time to sugar-coat constructive criticism.”Robitaille said Henein’s style is characterized by rigorous attention to detail in every aspect of a case.She said her mentor conducts thorough investigations on behalf of her clients, never accepting evidence at face value but seeking independent confirmation for the smallest fact and making sure that she has multiple avenues for proving her points.Over the years, that approach has helped secure a number of victories.One of the most high-profile wins was the acquittal of Ghomeshi, who was cleared on sexual assault charges due largely to Henein’s withering cross-examination of his accusers.In handing down his decision, Justice William Horkins cited defence questions that exposed sometimes stark inconsistencies in witness accounts and memories, leaving him with reasonable doubt as to whether alleged assaults took place.Henein also represented former junior hockey coach David Frost, who was acquitted on sexual exploitation charges, and American rapper Ja Rule, who pleaded guilty to an assault charge over a fight at a Toronto nightclub.Robitaille said Henein also has a largely unsung talent for case resolution, citing instances like Norman’s in which her work ends a matter before it comes to trial.Another such case took place in 2009 and involved Bryant, who was charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death. Those charges were withdrawn before the case went to trial.In his memoir, Bryant  — now the head of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association — said his lawyer seemed to “channel Hannibal Lecter” through her ability to “find a person’s deepest frailties and exploit them.”Henein’s tough reputation is belied by her generosity, Robitaille said, adding her mentor takes on quite a lot of pro bono work.She also co-founded the Ontario Inmate Appeal Duty Counsel Program, an initiative that helps people secure legal representation in the province’s top court.Michael Lacy, President of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, said Henein has also helped back the organization before the Supreme Court of Canada and served as a mentor to several members.“I can tell you from a personal perspective that her reputation as one of Canada’s top lawyers is very well-deserved,” Lacy said.He too said her driving principle appears to be a commitment to the integrity of the justice system, a point Henein made herself in a news conference shortly after Norman left court.“No person in this country should ever walk into a courtroom and feel like they are fighting their elected government or any sort of political factors at all,” she said.“There are times you agree with what happens in a court, there are times you don’t, and that’s fine. But what you don’t do is you don’t put your finger and try to weigh in on the scales of justice.”Michelle McQuigge , The Canadian Presslast_img read more

first_imgTORONTO — A former Toronto pastor found guilty of manslaughter in the death of his pregnant wife will face a sentencing hearing today.In February, a jury found Philip Grandine guilty in the death of his wife, who drowned in her bathtub in October 2011.Anna Karissa Grandine was 29 years old and 20 weeks pregnant when she died.Prosecutors alleged that Grandine drugged his wife with an anti-anxiety medication so she wouldn’t be as vigilant while he continued an affair with her friend.The Crown said he then failed to stop his wife from getting in a bath while sedated.Grandine had previously been tried for first-degree murder in his wife’s death and was found guilty of manslaughter, but the conviction was overturned on appeal.Ontario’s highest court found the trial judge made an error when answering a question from the jury in that case and ordered a new trial on the manslaughter charge.That meant prosecutors could no longer argue that Grandine meant to kill his wife.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

first_imgStarting Sunday, Canadians will begin to see which third-party groups will be spending money to sway their votes in the upcoming federal election.As of June 30, groups that aren’t political parties but want a say in the fall campaign will need to register with Elections Canada if they spend more than $500 on political activities, and file interim disclosure forms once they raise or spend more than $10,000.Groups such as Engage Canada and Shaping Canada’s Future stole the spotlight earlier this month with duelling ads during the NBA Finals (Engage Canada attacked the Conservatives; Shaping Canada’s Future went after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau), while groups such as Canada Proud will likely be spending big in the coming months.But more than half the more than $6 million directly spent on electioneering by third parties in the 2015 election was shelled out by the top 10 organizations, most of which are unions.Those tallies are just for the 78-day election period in 2015. Now, new rules on advertising disclosure will show how much groups are spending in the months before the campaign officially begins.Bill C-76, the election-reform law passed by Parliament in December, sets limits for third parties of just over $1 million in the “pre-writ period,” and about $500,000 in the election period. In any given electoral district though, those limits are $10,000 and $5,000.At least one union group will be trying to reach that limit, and has already spent on ads prior to the start of the pre-election period.“We’re all in,” said Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, the country’s largest private-sector union.“We’re entitled to spend $511,000 in the writ period — we’re going to spend $511,000” he added. “There is no question, we will be very aggressive.”An outspoken critic of conservative politicians both federally and provincially, Dias said his focus will be on supporting Liberal or NDP candidates and incumbents in winnable ridings.Dias said Unifor will put more emphasis than ever on social-media spending. Digital advertising on platforms like Facebook and Twitter has, he said, greater reach than traditional means.But for some of 2015’s top spenders, the mood is more cautious.“We will be registering for the pre-writ period, and the post-writ period,” said Riccardo Filippone, director of communications at the Public Service Alliance of Canada, but said his union’s final amount of advertising spending isn’t certain.Filippone said the overall priority will be reminding members of the union, which is the biggest representing federal employees, why PSAC thinks they should oppose Conservative candidates.The exact tone of the messaging hadn’t yet been worked out, Filippone added, “but it won’t be gentle.”The United Steelworkers Union, which was the top direct spender in the last election with over $430,000 worth of advertising activities, has not yet committed itself to any spending.“One has to think about whether or not spending money on ad buys in media in July and August is money well spent,” said Mark Rowlinson, assistant to the union’s national director. The union’s elected leadership needs to approve a plan, he said, and that hasn’t happened yet.If the decision is made to run ads over the summer and into the writ period, he added, the spending needs to be carefully targeted so as not to exceed the prescribed limits, while still providing value.The limits on spending in any given electoral district were particularly notable, Rowlinson said, because it made buying ads in urban centres difficult.Daniel Bernhard, executive director of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, an advocate for public broadcasting, said his organization will also wait to make major decisions.“We will be running some print ads, probably next week, to get the ball rolling,” he said. “And then we’ll see what happens in the summer and fall.”But, he added, the group is already out and active in 22 swing ridings.Bernhard also argued any conversation about third-party advertising in Canada needs to acknowledge the roles of platforms like Facebook and Twitter in allowing for “nefarious activity” and enabling groups to skirt limits or act anonymously, he said.He likened the dynamic to the relationship between the tax system in Canada and the offshore tax industry.Facebook has rolled out an ad library to meet the transparency requirements of Bill C-76, so people can see where political advertisements come from and how they’re targeted. Twitter is temporarily banning political ads on its platform in Canada as it builds its own tracking tool.But those actions weren’t enough for Bernhard.“All this talk of limits is almost a sideshow,” he said. “The people who are already reporting and complying with the limits are the least of our problems.”——Here are the top 10 third party spenders from 2015, and what they spent money on:10. Canadian Union of Postal Workers — $208,572.46The postal-workers’ union spent big in dozens of ridings across the country in 2015, with most of those dollars going to election merchandise like buttons and signs. Also, almost $7,000 went to wrapping an RV in a “Save Canada Post” ad during the writ period.9. Canadian Media Guild — $237,032.61The union representing workers at many of Canada’s major news agencies (including The Canadian Press) used its cash to produce lawn signs and buy ads in The Globe and Mail and on Facebook in a campaign to support the CBC.8. British Columbia Nurses’ Union — $256,871.81The nurses’ union launched a series of online media ads and newspaper advertising late in the campaign.7. Unifor — $299,901.77The bulk of direct spending from Canada’s largest private-sector union was in the form of newspaper and radio ads in major cities, particularly in Ontario. Notably, the group ran ads in Punjabi.6. Canadian Labour Congress — $306,518.02The national labour group did spent on newspaper ads, but differs from most of the other top spenders because of the proportion of its expenses that went to on-the-ground canvassing, as well as its emphasis on non-English language media.5. Friends of Canadian Broadcasting — $332,687.11The group advocates for a more vibrant public broadcaster, and did so last election through a series of TV ads and print advertisements in The Globe and Mail, as well as classic campaign materials like lawn signs and stickers.4. Public Service Alliance of Canada — $390,236.50The biggest union representing federal workers, PSAC ran a series of anti-Harper ads in 2015, with a focus on buses and bus shelters, as well as more standard online newspaper and print advertising.3. Canadians United for Change — $425,462.08Funded by Canadian units of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Canadians United for Change ran big national anti-Harper ad campaigns. 2. Let’s Build Canada — $428,974.88The coalition of construction unions spent enormous sums on print and online newspaper advertising, mostly in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg, along with posters in those areas. Notably, many of those ad dollars went to posts on The Weather Network’s website.1. United Steelworkers – $431,639.74The avowedly pro-NDP union spent most of its money in 2015 on radio, print and online ads in some of its key bases of support — London, Hamilton and Sudbury, as well as cities in south-central B.C.Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

first_imgOTTAWA — An organization that advocates for greater government accountability says Canada’s ethics watchdog should never have approved a flight taken by Liberal cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc on a private aircraft owned by J.D. Irving.LeBlanc’s office says the minister, who has been on medical leave since April, needed to attend a hospital in Montreal and was told by his doctors he could not travel commercially because he has a compromised immune system.LeBlanc is being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.He received pre-approval from Canada’s ethics commissioner to travel to the Montreal hospital from his home in New Brunswick on a private aircraft from J.D. Irving Ltd. — a company headed by a personal friend of LeBlanc’s who owns and is affiliated with companies involved in shipbuilding, oil, forestry and agriculture.But Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, says ethics commissioner Mario Dion erred in his decision to approve this flight.Conacher says LeBlanc should have instead chartered a private plane and paid for it himself, rather than accept a gift from the owner of a company that regularly lobbies the federal government.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

first_imgMISSISSAUGA, Ont. — One person was killed in a shooting that sent five others to hospital west of Toronto Saturday evening, police said as they hunted for suspects in the case.Circumstances surrounding the incident were scant, but Const. Iryna Yashnyk of the Peel Regional Police say it happened outside an apartment building in a residential area of Mississauga, Ont., just after 6 p.m. One person died at the scene, while five others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds.“It’s early in the investigation, and it’s still very much an active scene and a dynamic investigation,” Yashnyk told reporters as police officers went door-to-door in the nearby apartment building looking for more victims and potential suspects.She said she didn’t know if the shooting was targeted or if the victims knew the shooter or shooters.Officers didn’t have any suspect information to provide, she said, noting that nobody had been arrested as of 9 p.m. Yashnyk also declined to provide information about the people who were shot.Paramedics, meanwhile, said the person who died was a male, though his age was unknown. Supt. Kyle Johansen of the Peel regional paramedics added that a woman was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.He said two of the injured were under the age of 18. A male teenager had serious injuries, he said, as did a girl who was even younger.He said both of them were expected to survive.Numerous police cruisers remained outside the apartment building on Saturday night.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

first_imgMABOU, N.S. — The federal Fisheries Department says it won’t order a necropsy into the death of a young blue whale off Cape Breton.The body of the endangered mammal was spotted last week at Sutherland’s Cove, about six kilometres north of Port Hawkesbury, N.S., and was confirmed by the Marine Animal Response Society to be a juvenile.Richard Sears, a scientist with the Mingan Island Cetacean Study based in St-Lambert, Quebec, said in an interview Tuesday it’s important to know how the animal died.However, Fisheries and Oceans Canada says in a release today the whale is in a very inaccessible location and can’t be reached by vehicle.A department spokesman says in an email that the decomposed state of the carcass also contributed to the decision not to study its cause of death.Blue whales are the largest creatures on Earth, and have a potential lifespan of 70 to 80 years. There has been a federal recovery plan for the animals off Canada’s East Coast for over 17 years, and federal scientists estimate there are no more than 250 in the population.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2019.The Canadian Presslast_img read more