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Counselling to recruit headmasters from June 27

first_imgKolkata: The West Bengal Central School Service Commission will start counseling for recruitment of headmasters /headmistresses in government aided and sponsored secondary and higher secondary schools across the state from June 27.A notification undersigned by SSC chairman Soumitra Sarkar was released in the Commission’s website on Tuesday. ” We will make the detailed counselling programme available in the SSC website on June 26,” Sarkar said. This counselling will not involve the Hill regions of the state. The move on the part of SSC came soon after Calcutta High Court lifted the interim stay in connection with recruitment of 2,243 heads of institutions. The examination for recruitment of headmasters/ headmistress was conducted in 2017 and 2,243 were empaneled. A good number of candidates are also in the waiting list. It may be mentioned that some writ petitions were filed at the Calcutta High Court after a notification regarding recruitment of teachers was brought out by SSC in January 2017. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaMore than seven such petitions were pending before the court. The state government had notified that those who have secured 50 percent or more in graduation will only be eligible for the Headmaster/ Headmistress post. This was 45 percent earlier. The main petition was filed challenging this notification of the state government. “A number of schools are being run with teacher- in charges at the helm because of this problem. With the HC’s order we will be able to recruit suitable candidates,” an official in the Education department said.last_img read more

School rolls back order to hold separate classes for boys girls

first_imgKolkata: The authorities of Girijasundari Co Educational High School in Malda have revoked the order to hold separate classes for the boys and girls students.The decision was taken after some boys were found passing lewd remarks on their classmates. The School Education department held a meeting on getting a report from the school and asked the authorities to revoke the order immediately. The assistant head master of the school had said on Tuesday the school authorities were forced to hold separate classes for boys and girls as some boy were found to pass lewd remarks on their classmates. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersIt was decided that the boys will attend the school on three days and the girls on the remaining three days. The decision received severe criticism from educationists. Noted scholar Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri said the decision taken by the authorities of Girijasundari Co Educational High School is absurd and should be scrapped immediately. He said the school authorities will find it very difficult to complete the syllabus. Moreover, it will not resolve the problem. Instead the school authorities should call a meeting of the parents to address the problem. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe decision had a flutter among a section of teachers who maintained that if this decision is implemented then it will be difficult for them to complete the syllabus. The School Education department has asked the school authorities to revoke the order and restore the old system of holding the classes for the boys and girls together. The department asked the school authorities to sit with the errant students and resolve the problem. If needed the school authorities can talk to their parents also.last_img read more

State govt to hike daily allowance of MLAs ministers

first_imgKolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday said that her government has decided to increase the allowances of ministers and MLAs in the state.Ministers will now be getting a daily allowance of Rs 3,000, up from Rs 2,000 per day, while MLAs will get Rs 2,000 a day, up from Rs 1,000. The announcement by the Chief Minister came in the wake of recommendations from different members of the state Assembly. “There have been different types of recommendations from the honourable members and the government has decided to increase the allowances of the ministers and MLAs. Finance minister Amit Mitra is not well. But we can afford this at the moment,” Banerjee announced at the state Assembly, adding that her government will have to cough up an additional expenditure of Rs 15 crore for this purpose. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersThe allowances are given to MLAs and ministers’ for their presence in the Assembly, either during the session or for any other meeting. “In most of the cases, the members have to attend the Assembly on a regular basis to attend their respective committee meetings,” a senior member of the Assembly said. According to the enhancement, the MLAs will get an approximate allowance of Rs 60,000 instead of Rs 30,000 and the allowance of the ministers, including the Chief Minister, will be Rs 90,000 instead of Rs 60,000 per month. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaHowever the Opposition protested the announcement, citing disparity of allowances between the MLAs and ministers. “There should not be any difference of daily allowance between the MLAs and ministers, because all are members of this house,” Left Front leader Sujan Chakraborty said. It may be mentioned here that this is the third time the Mamata Banerjee government has decided to increase the emoluments of the MLAs and ministers. Prior to this, when the state Assembly passed the West Bengal Salaries and Allowances (Amendment) Bill, 2017, the salary of the Chief Minister was increased to Rs 27,001 from Rs 8,500. The ministers’ salary was increased to Rs 22,000 from a meagre Rs 7,500, while the salary of the ministers of state was raised to Rs 21,900 from Rs 7,300. Similarly, the salary of the MLAs was hiked to Rs 17,500 from Rs 5,000. The salary of the Leader of Opposition was also increased to Rs 22,000 from Rs 10,500. In 2011, when Mamata Banerjee came to power, the allowance of members of Assembly was increased as well.last_img read more

State hires engineers to check health of bridges

first_imgKolkata: The state government on Friday inducted 21 engineers for the Bridge Inspection and Special Monitoring Cell, which will examine the health of various bridges across the state.The decision was taken three days after Ultadanga flyover developed a crack. The main purpose of the monitoring cell would be to examine the condition of the bridges and take necessary steps to initiate repair work if problems are detected in these bridges. A section of the Ultadanga flyover, which had collapsed six years ago, had developed cracks and the traffic movement on Tuesday was closed immediately after the problem was detected. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersAccording to Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority officials, the cracks in pier cap of the flyover were found during the routine checkup. The expert committee, which will conduct the health checkup of bridges, will have four superintendent engineers, three executive engineers and 14 assistant engineers. The chief engineer of the headquarters of the Public Works Department (PWD) will be heading the monitoring cell. All 21 engineers will be deployed soon and they will go to districts and conduct health checkups of various bridges. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThere are around 1,749 bridges owned by the Public Works Department out of which 738 are in bad condition. Around 95 bridges are in critical condition. According to sources, among the critical bridges, around 15 are located in Birbhum, 7 in Nadia, 9 each in East Burdwan and Jalpaiguri, 8 in Hooghly and 1 in Purulia. Expert committee of the Public Works Department and KMDA officials and other agencies held a number of meetings regarding Ultadanga flyover incident. It was decided that the cracks will be repaired by installing steel plates on the damaged portion. After examining the cracks, the engineers found that it would take around two months to repair the pillar that developed maximum cracks. The experts also suggested to construct a bailey bridge. The Urban Development department will take up the construction work with Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation. The traffic movement along the flank connecting Eastern Metropolitan Bypass to the VIP road was thrown open for traffic from Thursday night. Work to repair the damaged portion of the flyover has been already started. It may be mentioned here that the portion that developed fresh cracks had collapsed on March 3, 2013 when a loaded truck was passing by pier 13 and 14 of the flyover.last_img read more

Canadian national robbed of his money valuables

first_imgNew Delhi: A Canadian national was robbed by an alleged taxi driver and his associates near Mehram Nagar area in Delhi. Police said that they are close in solving the case. According to police in the night of 12/13 July 2019 at about 12.30 AM hours, one Mohammad Mehdu Ghanzanfani (Canadian national) working in Indigo Airlines arrived who was looking for Company cab which was supposed to come to him.”He came out towards City side on the Main road near gate no two metro station near Delhi Cantt. While he was talking to the company cab driver, one person approached him who suggested him to talk to him in Hindi,” said police. Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic itemsPolice further added that he talked to him and he requested to drop him by his taxi near his company cab by charging Rs 100. Complainant sat in the taxi. Two other people were already sitting in the taxi. After about 5 minutes crossing the Mehram Nagar signal towards City, they forcibly took his Debit card/Visa card and the PIN code of the debit card. They withdrew Rs 10,0000 from his debit card Indian Rs of 302 USD and 12000 from his wallet. Police further added that after this they dropped him on the flyover of Mahipal Pur. In day time of 13 July, he reported the matter to domestic airport Police Station. He had read the last digits of the Taxi. Deputy Commissioner of Police (IGI) Sanjay Bhatia said that the case was registered and the investigation is in progress. “Best efforts are being made to work out the case. We will solve the case soon,” said DCP IGI.last_img read more

Toying with peoples power

first_imgDemocracy grants citizens the right to vote and with that power, citizens become the most important feature of any democratic government. Anything to everything that the government does is assumed to be in the benefit of the people. Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as the government of the people, by the people and for the people with the root word in Greek itself citing “rule by the people”. But with the latest Bill floated in the Lower House of Parliament, there is a sense of irony prevailing on the government’s part. The RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced with the objective to strengthen and streamline the RTI Act, 2005. But, with details of the proposed amendments along with reasons for such an amendment bill as forwarded by the government, the objective somewhat gets diluted. RTI Act has perhaps been the biggest boon for the citizenry of this nation. It gave them the medium to know and question those in power without any barrier preventing the revelation of any information not disclosed by the government. Immeasurable good has resulted from such legislation and that may have in itself acted as a strong deterrent for government officials in withholding any information–let alone the one people seek. It is, therefore, to the existence of RTI that citizens can take the necessary step to criticise the government based on information reflecting its performance across different parameters and pertinent issues. It cannot be surprising that this pro-democratic tool has also prevented the country from functioning in the traditional way where the outright belief highlighted that the less public knows, the better it is. And, this may not have been as sound as it seems for everyone. For those who continue to possess something to conceal, RTI will always be a dangerous trump card in the common man’s pocket. Given the purview that RTI exercises and the social good it has done for society, steps to strengthen it should be in the direction of increasing its reach and cementing its implementation. Those are the ideal amendments. But the version of amendments that the government presented were far from those. They elaborated on the tenure, salary, and posting of personnel working to uphold the RTI Act. Information Commissioners, both state and Central, as well as Chief Information Commissioner will be subject to the government’s discretion over the length of their tenures and their salaries. Against the earlier rule of a fixed five-year tenure and salary as that of the Election Commissioner–or Chief Election Commissioner in case of Chief Information Commissioner–this new amendment leaves the decision on the government’s whims. By stating that the terms and salaries of state and Central Information Commissioners, Information Officers as well as the Chief Information Commissioner, the government, through RTI (Amendment) Bill 2019, seeks to undermine the independence of a statutory body. This is a violation of the very cause that gave birth to RTI. Information Commissions were set up to perform the sacrosanct task of functioning independently while processing information desired by the people, especially without any interference from the government. If what government wants is passed then it would not be surprising if Information Commissioners are transferred or their tenure curtailed in case of any particular matter involving the government itself doing rounds of the judiciary. Against the ideal amendments, controlling officers and commissioners posted under the Information Commission is not representative of a substantial amendment. The government argues–through the Statement of Objects and Reasons of RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2019–that functions being carried out by the Election Commission of India and the Information Commission are totally different. It cites that because ECI comes under Article 324 of the Indian Constitution serving a special purpose of conducting elections, it is different from Information Commissions, both state and Central, which are statutory bodies under RTI Act, 2005. The government concludes that since the mandate of ECI and IC are different hence their status and service conditions need not be rationalised accordingly. Even if the government summarised their summary, laymen may still be unable to see how it strengthens the RTI Act and not grant powers to government in a bid to control these independent commissions. Also Read – A compounding difficultyIt must be recalled that this Bill was not tabled in the Lok Sabha despite being circulated amongst legislators due to protests from opposition leaders and RTI activists for particularly clear reasons for the amendment impinging on the freedom exercised by Information Commission in processing and furnishing requisite information to the public. In this context, it is hardly surprising that the very same protests were the order of the day when the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha. Keen on getting the amendment passed in the Lower House, the government could have channelised the eagerness towards strengthening RTI’s implementation say, filling vacancies in Information Commissions, addressing attacks on RTI activists or for that matter drafting a Whistleblower’s Protection Act. Legislations ought to forecast the problem it pertains to address and reflect the change due to its presence but with this amendment Bill, both seem bleak.last_img read more

Angad finds Janhvi the most spontaneous artiste

first_imgMumbai: Actor Angad Bedi is impressed with young actress Janhvi Kapoor’s dedication to work, and considers her to be the most spontaneous artiste.On the film front, the actor is currently busy training for the next schedule of “Kargil Girl”, which also stars Janhvi.Angad and Janhvi began shooting for the film in April and have since then had two hectic schedules. Now the duo, who play siblings in the film, is set to shoot in Georgia.Speaking about his experience, Angad said, “Every artiste has a process. Janhvi is the most spontaneous artiste and a very respectful person.” Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: PriyankaRecalling his first meeting with her, he shared, “It was when our director Sharan Sharma introduced us in our first reading. Sharan wanted us to have many interactions together and become family members literally.”We would rehearse together, eat together and she would spend time even with (Angad’s family) Neha and Mehr. Even before our dance rehearsals, she would take her shoes off and take blessings from the floor she would dance on…always wanting to improve and try and do each scene many times over in as many variations as possible.”last_img read more

Rupee opens 32 paise higher at 7170 against USD in early trade

first_imgMumbai: The rupee appreciated by 32 paise to 71.70 against the US dollar in early trade on Tuesday amid revival of US-China trade talk hopes and gains in domestic equity market. The rupee on Monday had declined by 36 paise to close below the 72 level against the US currency for the first time in nine months, hit by a ‘flash crash’ in global currencies due to uncertainty over the trade front. At the interbank foreign exchange on Tuesday, the rupee opened at 71.70, registering a rise of 32 paise over its previous close of 72.02. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal The domestic unit pared some gains and was trading at 71.85 against the dollar at 1001 hrs. Forex traders said higher opening in domestic equities and the latest remark by US President Donald Trump on trade talk with China enthused investors. Trump said his trade negotiators had received two “very good calls” from China and it was a sign that China is serious about reaching a deal and that talks would begin soon. “I think we’re going to have a deal, because now we’re dealing on proper terms. They understand and we understand,” Trump said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost Market participants, however, said rising crude oil prices and foreign fund outflows weighed on local currency. Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) remained net sellers in the capital market, pulling out Rs 752.90 crore on Monday, according to provisional exchange data. The dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, fell 0.08 per cent to 98.00. Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.51 per cent to trade at USD 59.00 per barrel. Domestic bourses opened on a positive note on Tuesday with benchmark indices Sensex trading 83.20 points higher at 37,577.32 and Nifty up 45.80 points at 11,103.65. The 10-year government bond yield was at 6.44 per cent in morning trade.last_img read more

Issue of Pak Sikh girl resolved amicably Punjab governor

first_imgLahore: The issue of the teenage Sikh girl, who was allegedly abducted and converted to Islam before being married to a Muslim man in Pakistan’s Punjab province, has been “amicably” resolved between the two families, Provincial Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar has claimed. The issue snowballed into a controversy after the family of the girl, Jagjit Kaur, in a video message that went viral on Friday, claimed that she was abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. Her family says she is 18 years of age. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ An FIR was registered against six people in the case and one of the suspects named Arsalan, a friend of the prime accused Mohammad Hassan who married the Sikh girl, was arrested. However, the girl, who is the daughter of a Sikh priest in Nankana Sahib, some 80 kms from Lahore, has maintained that she married Hassan of her locality with her own free will. She was shifted to Darul Aman (shelter home) on a court order. The girl had on Saturday also rejected Sarwar’s plea to return to her family citing threat to her life. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K In a video tweet on Tuesday, Sarwar, along with the fathers of both Kaur and Hassan, said that the issue has been amicably resolved to the satisfaction of the families concerned. He thanked both the families for coming to the Governor’s House on his request. Great news for Pakistani and Sikh communities across the world. Issue of Nankana girl was amicably resolved to the satisfaction of the concerned families. The girl is safe and in touch with her family. We shall continue to ensure the rights of minorities in Pakistan, the governor in the tweet. Sarwar also requested Hassan’s father to speak in the video. We withdraw from the case and we will have no objection if the girl, Jagjit, goes with her family, Hassan’s father said. However, Kaur’s father and brother did not speak. The girl could not be produced before a special judicial magistrate on Monday due to security issues. The Lahore High Court on Monday granted protective bail to Hassaan till September 7. Hassan’s counsel told the court that the FIR against him and others was lodged by the girl’s family under pressure as she married him with her own free will. “Kaur embraced Islam without any coercion and was given Muslim name Ayesha before nikah (marriage) of the couple was solemnized. She has already recorded her statement before a judicial magistrate concerned denying the charges of abduction and forced conversion to Islam,” he said. The police also detained 10 relatives and friends of Hassan on Saturday in connection with the case. There are reports that after the agreement between the two families at the Governor’s House, the police have set free the detained relatives and friends.last_img read more

Food insecurity in toddler years leads to poor health

first_imgYoung kids, who grow up in homes with limited access to nutritious foods are more likely to experience poor overall health and developmental problems, says a new study. However, these kids are not at higher risk of developing obesity, the research added. For the findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, the researchers analysed data from 28,184 racially and ethnically diverse children between one to four years primarily from low-income households in five US cities that participated in Children’s HealthWatch, an ongoing network of pediatric and public health researchers that monitors how economic hardships relate to the healthy development and growth of children. Also Read – An income drop can harm brain”We did find, however, that growing up in a low-income community – typically with a lack of access to healthy grocery stores, an overabundance of fast food chains, and few safe areas to play outdoors – increased a preschooler’s risk of developing obesity regardless of food security,” said study leader Maureen Black, Professor at University of British Columbia. “This is quite alarming and indicates a significant public health issue,” Black said. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardData were stratified by every year of age from birth to one year and up to four years of age, the study said. According to the researchers, about 27 per cent of the children in the study lived in households that had food insecurity, including more than 13 per cent in extremely deprived households with child food insecurity. The vast majority of households in the study qualified for federal and state food assistance programmes that provided supplemental nutrition. The researchers identified food security based on interviews, using a standard questionnaire, with mothers of the children conducted by the Children’s HealthWatch. While the study did not find a link between food insecurity and obesity risk, it did find that food insecurity was associated with significantly increased risks of a child being in poor health and experiencing a developmental delay, with the odds increasing with a child’s age up to age four.last_img read more

Road from plastic waste in Noida

first_imgNoida: The Noida authority has started using plastic waste for resurfacing road between sector 14A and film city in Noida. Officials said that this technique has been used for the first time in Noida.The authority is performing resurfacing of nearly a stretch of four kilometer road on both sides between Noida entry gate and film city with a mixture of bitumen and plastic. Officials claim that these roads will be durable and it will create a plastic coating over the road and not allow water to penetrate. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderDetailing over the newly adopted process of road surfacing, a senior officer of Noida authority said that nearly 8 percent of the plastic is used in the mixture which also contribute towards the durability of road. “The plastic waste including wrappers to plastic bags are shredded and heated at a particular temperature. It is them mixed with bitumen and the mixture is finally heated before being used for the construction purpose. The roads made from waste plastic are more durable against extreme weather conditions like floods and heat as compared to the conventional roads,” a senior Noida authority officer said. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsThe authority has also planned to set up a plant for the use of shredded plastic in construction soon and will also sign an MoU for collection of plastic waste which will also benefit ragpickers. Meanwhile, the authority will also organise a prize distribution ceremony to encourage all the hotels, RWAs, hospitals, schools, government offices and other market associations for cleanliness. The authority will give away prize to the best performer in these categories which will maintain cleanliness.last_img read more

Govts fund will help complete up to 25L housing units in 7

first_imgNew Delhi: The Rs 20,000 crore fund created by the government may help in completion of up to 2.5 lakh housing units across seven major cities, property consultant Anarock on Tuesday said. Last week, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government will set up a special window to provide last-mile funding for housing projects which are non-NPAs and non-NCLT in the affordable and middle income category. In the fund, Rs 10,000 crore will be contributed by the central government and roughly the same amount will come from outside investors. The government had said that this fund will help complete an estimated 3.5 lakh units across the country. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”After considering these caveats, nearly 2.5 lakh units…can avail relief from the government’s aid in the top 7 cities alone. However, since data for projects under NPAs is not available, there could be a further dip in these numbers,” Anarock Chairman Anuj Puri said. The seven cities include four metros as well as Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune. Puri hailed the move to create stressed asset fund but said there was a need to change the government’s definition of affordable’ housing. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost”As it stands today, the government labels a metro-based home as affordable if it admeasures 60 sq mt or less in carpet area and is priced within Rs 45 lakh. This price tag is far too low in cities such as Delhi-NCR and Mumbai. Moreover, the price definition of mid-segment homes is also not clear,” he added. Anarock said a total of 4 lakh units in projects launched in 2013 or before are stuck or delayed across various segments, excluding NCLT projects. Of this, only those that fall under the affordable or mid categories – 2.5 lakh units – can legitimately avail of the government’s new provisions. “This can be further narrowed down when the nominated professionals from the real estate and banking fraternity select the projects to be given government aid. As of now, 2.5 lakh units can at least hope to be rescued under this provision. Only time will reveal the final numbers,” he added. Anarock said there are a total of 5.76 lakh units (launched in 2013 or before) across budget segments that are stuck in various stages of non-completion in the top seven cities alone. These also include units falling under NPAs or NCLT. On Monday, real estate data and analytic firm PropEquity founder Samir Jasuja said Rs 90,000 crore fund would be required for a total of 7.4 lakh units that fall under stressed category.last_img read more

Finalists announced for 2017 Michener Award for public service journalism

first_imgOTTAWA – The Michener Awards Foundation has announced Cogeco Media, CBC Edmonton, Global News, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and The Vancouver Sun as the finalists for the 2017 Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism.Gov. Gen. Julie Payette will host the Michener Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall on June 12 where the winner of the 2017 Michener Award will be announced.Cogeco Media is nominated for work by reporters Monic Neron and Emilie Perreault at Montreal radio station 98.5FM. They earned the trust of 10 women, who risked their careers to go on record and speak openly about alleged harassment and sexual assault suffered at the hands of Just For Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon.CBC Edmonton’s Jennie Russell and Charles Rusnell uncovered serious irregularities involving grants to Pure North, a private health foundation of a wealthy Calgary oilman. Following CBC’s series, the government cancelled the clinic’s funding, and Health Canada and the Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta launched investigations.A Global News team exposed serious flaws in the way Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada handled permanent residency applications for people with disabilities and medical conditions. The multi-platform investigation revealed that immigration officials used faulty and outdated academic research to determine “a cost threshold” and each year rejected as many as 450 viable applicants as medically inadmissible.Globe and Mail reporter Grant Robertson discovered some marijuana companies were cutting corners by using illegal toxic pesticides — and scores of consumers were becoming seriously ill. One patient’s medical marijuana, independently tested by the Globe, contained no fewer than five banned pesticides. Robertson’s investigative reporting ultimately caused Health Canada to institute new federal legislation for mandatory testing.In a massive investigation involving more than 250 Freedom of Information requests, the Globe and Mail’s Robyn Doolittle tracked dismissed, or “unfounded,” sexual assault cases handled by Canadian police. The result was a 2017 series that showed police were dismissing one in five such complaints. The series spurred the federal government to pledge better police oversight, training and policies.A year-long Toronto Star investigation revealed how companies are increasingly turning to temp agencies to limit their liability for workplace accidents, reduce employers’ responsibility and cut costs. Using Freedom of Information requests and undercover work in one of the continent’s largest industrial bakeries, Star reporters Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Brendan Kennedy revealed how some of the most vulnerable segments of the population were exposed to dangerous, and even fatal working conditions.In two series, the Vancouver Sun and Globe and Mail exposed a shocking failure of Canadian security regulators and governments to protect investors. Sun reporter Gordon Hoekstra’s databases for B.C. uncovered unpaid penalties of more than a half-billion dollars over the past 10 years, and fraudsters with $31 million in assets.Globe reporters Grant Robertson and Tom Cardoso took the investigation of white-collar crime national, analyzing almost 30 years of security offences. Data revealed that one in nine white-collar criminals are repeat offenders, evading regulators and fines by moving provinces. Both series sent shock waves through the investment community and governments.The Michener Award, founded in 1970 by late former governor general Roland Michener, honours excellence in public service journalism.last_img read more

Defence minister says Canada will extend Indian Ocean commitment to 2021

first_imgOTTAWA – Canada will extend its commitment to maritime security in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean with ships and personnel for another four years, says Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.He says Operation Artemis, the latest incarnation of Canada’s contribution to a multinational security force in the area, will be extended until the end of April 2021.The international task force deploys ships and surveillance systems to intercept shipments of weapons and narcotics in the region.Sajjan said the extension authorizes the Canadian Armed Forces to commit up to 375 personnel to the operation, send in a frigate once every two years and contribute an Aurora patrol plane once a year.Canada will earmark up to $131.4 million to support the extension.He says Canada has supported security in the area since 2001 under a number of operations and Canada just completed its third rotation in command of the maritime security task force.In the last year, this task force seized and destroyed nearly 2,700 kilograms of narcotics and more than 3,000 weapons.“The government of Canada’s renewed commitment to counter-terrorism efforts is vital to building a safer and more prosperous world,” Sajjan said in a statement.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A headline on an earlier version included an incorrect year.last_img read more

Barrier at Torontos Bloor Viaduct significantly reduced suicidesstudy

first_imgTORONTO – A new study suggests a barrier erected on a Toronto overpass that was once the second-most frequented bridge for suicides in North America is serving its purpose.The study from Sunnybrook Hospital, published in the journal BMJ Open on Tuesday, compares the 11-year periods before and after the barrier went up on the city’s Bloor Street Viaduct.Researchers say an average of nine people a year had been dying by jumping from the bridge before 2003, placing it behind only San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge for suicides-by-jumping.Since the barrier was put in place, however, the study found only one person has died by suicide at the site, a 485-metre overpass that spans a multi-lane highway, ravine and another major roadway.A previous report that examined data up to 2007 suggested suicide traffic had relocated to other nearby bridges, but the latest research suggests suicide rates across the city dropped over the long term after the barrier went up.One of the study’s authors says the latest data is in line with other international research suggesting that barriers in key locations are effective.“The barrier did have its intended effect,” study co-author Dr. Mark Sinyor of Sunnybrook said in a telephone interview. “There was a decrease in deaths by jumping from bridges in Toronto by roughly the same number as the number that had previously been dying at the Bloor Viaduct, without an increase by other methods or locations.”Sinyor said similar research has found the number of suicides-by-jumping at dozens of other sites with barriers in place have decreased noticeably.At Edmonton’s High Level Bridge, for example, city statistics indicate the number of both suicides and general mental health calls was cut in half a year after barriers were installed in 2015.Sinyor said the Bloor Viaduct was previously viewed as an outlier in the mental health community because of the results of the previous study. That report documented a sharp decline in the number of deaths at the bridge itself, but also tracked a spike in suicides at other locations.Researchers now attribute that finding to heavy media coverage in local print news outlets of deaths at the Bloor Viaduct and the debate as to whether or not the barrier was worthwhile. Sinyor said the connection was implied due to a slight increase in the number of general suicides within days or months of such coverage.Over time, though, he said that effect has diminished. Suicide rates across the city have fallen due to a number of factors including the barrier, he said, crediting increased mental health supports, more open discussion surrounding stigma and heightened media sensitivity to such issues for a sharp decrease in recent years.Average annual suicides in Toronto fell from 257 in the 11 years before 2003, to 234 in the 11 years after, according to the study.Sinyor said those numbers highlight the need for a wide complement of suicide prevention measures, a view shared by Mark Henick of the Canadian Mental Health Association.He called for a national suicide prevention strategy as well as ongoing support for mental-health care.He said the effectiveness of bridge barriers can even be enhanced by posting signs directing vulnerable people toward key resources and messages emphasizing that help is available.“Suicide is preventable,” Henick said. “When people get the help that they need, recovery is not only possible from mental health problems, it’s likely.”last_img read more

Five Eyes stress sharing information to battle relentless terrorist plots

first_imgOTTAWA – Security and justice officials from the Five Eyes countries plan to explore “more timely and detailed” information sharing to detect terrorists and extremist fighters.Daesh and its affiliates will continue to attack soft targets in public spaces — underscoring a need for better data exchanges to address the threat, the partners said in a joint communique issued Wednesday.Attorneys general and ministers for public security and immigration from Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand gathered in Ottawa this week for two days of closed-door talks.“Throughout these discussions, we affirmed that building public trust within our countries is required to move forward on national security issues,” the communique said. “Enhanced safeguards and greater efforts to promote transparency are critical in this respect.”The sessions followed a rash of deadly attacks in Britain that highlighted the international alliance’s concerns about the threat of homegrown extremism and the backlash it can provoke.The meetings also came as police in Ottawa busily stepped up security measures in anticipation of tens of thousands of people gathering Saturday on Parliament Hill to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.Although there’s a need to be attentive and vigilant, Canadians can have confidence in their government, police and security agencies, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.“Every year, we step up around Canada Day to ensure that everything is done to keep Canadians safe.”In order to help prevent “sophisticated and relentless plots,” the five countries affirmed the importance of sharing information among partners on known criminal and terrorist actors, the alliance communique said.Security officials are worried about the widespread availability of encryption tools and applications that can allow extremists to more easily communicate without their phone calls and texts being intercepted.Civil libertarians argue the right of law-abiding people to converse in private should not be compromised in the name of fighting terrorism by giving authorities the means to crack encryption or build back doors into security programs.In a statement Sunday, Australian Attorney General George Brandis said his country planned to lead a discussion at the meetings on the terrorist use of cyberspace.In its Wednesday communique, the alliance said the ability of terrorists and other criminals to shield their electronic activities through encryption can “severely undermine public safety efforts by impeding lawful access to the content of communications.”They agreed to a common approach to engaging with communication service providers to deal with online terrorist activities and propaganda, while “upholding cybersecurity and individual rights and freedoms.”The countries also committed to support a new industry forum led by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter.In addition, they plan to:— Look at the role of traditional and social media and community voices in fostering — or discouraging — the radicalization of young people;— Share ideas on handling the threat posed by terrorist fighters who return from conflicts abroad;— Explore the possibility of joint operations to better tackle human trafficking and modern slavery.— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitterlast_img read more