Anil Agarwal wants to refund VAT dues take back import tax hopeful

first_imgNew Delhi: Mining baron Anil Agarwal has said that Zambia must withdraw an import duty on copper and give his company due VAT refunds to help restore investor confidence that was shattered by the African nation’s move to liquidate his copper-mining business. Vedanta Resources has taken the government of Zambia to international arbitration following the seizure of its Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), one of Africa’s biggest copper producer, stunning investors. Also Read – SC declines Oil Min request to stay sharing of documents”We took the plan 15-16 years back. They (recently) slapped duty on copper concentrates, withheld our VAT refunds of $200 million… (Zambian) government has been pressuring us to continue operations but we said please resolve these issues first,” Agarwal said here. Last month, Zambian government seized control of KCM, one of Africa’s biggest copper producers saying it had breached environmental and financial regulations. State-controlled Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) is seeking liquidation of KCM, in which it owns 20.6 per cent. Vedanta owns 80 per cent of the company and has has invested over $3 billion in KCM in adding processing capacity and extending the mine life since it acquiring the business in 2004. Also Read – World suffering ‘synchronized slowdown’, says new IMF chiefAgarwal said the African nation must “give us refunds due to us and remove (5 per cent import) duty on concentrate”. Zambia, which is Africa’s second-largest copper producer, is not in a good shape financially, he said. KCM is Zambia’s largest integrated copper producer with nearly 13,000 workers. It invested $500 million in a new copper smelter which produced 135,000 tonnes of refined copper in the first nine months of 2018. “I have a feeling they will resolve the issue… I am hopeful of an amicable solution,” he said. The Zambian High Court has appointed Zambian law firm Lungu Simwanza & Company to act as provincial liquidator for KCM following an application by ZCCM-IH. “The court is hearing the case, let’s see (what comes out of it),” he said. alast_img read more

Haryana govt witnesses 22 rise in stamp duty collections from Gurugram

first_imgGurugram: The reforms initiated by the Haryana government in the last two years seems to have now paid the dividends. Despite the high number of unsold inventory in Gurugram, the Haryana government has witnessed an increase of 22 per cent from the stamp duty collections in the four tehsils namely Gurugram, Manesar, Farrukhnagar and Manesar.Moreover ,the creation of sub tehsil of Wazirabad that consists of all the posh localities of Gurugram like Golf Course road, DLF, Sushant Lok and Sector 28 and 27 has also benefitted the state government. Also Read – Chinese national held with 6.4 kg sandalwoodIn the financial year of 2016-17 where the government was able to get Rs 1,220 crore in stamp duty collections in 2017-18 it increased to Rs 1,303 crores and in 2018-19 it increased to Rs 1,560 crore. A major reason cited by the officials for the increase in government exchequer is the Khattar Government’s decision to revise the circle rates two times in the year. The revision of rates by the state government has made sure that for residential plotted colonies, new rates will three times higher than that of the agricultural land. Also Read – Gzb man accuses wife of extorting money and thrashing his parentsWhile for residential groups using plots that rates will be four times than the agricultural land. Commercial properties that seem to be doing very well at Gurugram at present will be five times more expensive than the agricultural land. Over the years the state government’s policy to increase the circle rates have resulted in the property rates being increased by over 25 to 30 percent. The reforms initiated by the Khattar government in increasing the floor to area ratio has also increased the revenue for the state government. According to new norms The new houses and the residential projects expected to be constructed in Gurugram now have more carpet areas as compared to earlier establishments. With the implementation of this move in the 75 square metre area, 33 per cent of more space area has been added and in 101 to 150 square metres, 53 per cent more space is included. The increase in the revenue due to the stamp duty collections have resulted in cash strapped public agencies like Gururgam metropolitan development authority (GMDA) and Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) now demanding a percentage of share from the revenue.last_img read more

Will not pull down Ambedkars statue Minister

first_imgNEW DELHI: Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam on Monday clarified that statue of Dr BR Ambedkar will not be pulled down, as alleged by the Vice Chancellor of Ambedkar University Anu Singh Lather.”We are the believers of Ambedkar. We would rather step down from power than allow such a thing to happen,” said Gautam. The Minister said that the Vice Chancellor of the university is making false statements on the matter and is planning to gherao (encircle) the Delhi Secretariat on June 25. Also Read – Kejriwal ‘denied political clearance’ to attend climate meet in Denmark”For the last 30-35 years, there has been a statue of Dr BR Ambedkar on a piece of land at the Deoli pahadi and an organisation by the name of Dr Ambedkar University used that land to run classes. It has now been allocated for building a hospital and school. But, unfortunately, the VC of the University is spreading misinformation that the Delhi government is trying to pull down the Ambedkar statue,” Gautam added. The AAP leader said that he had conducted an inquiry in the matter and directed the education department and the SDM to ensure that no such statue is pulled down. “This government believes in the values of Babasaheb Ambedkar. A meeting was also conducted with all stakeholders to convey this,” he added.last_img read more

DJB suspends four staff for drinking at workplace

first_imgNEW DELHI: The Delhi Jal Board has suspended four of its employees after a video surfaced online, purportedly showing them drinking liquor and playing cards at their workplace. The video clip, allegedly shot at the utility’s Punjabi Bagh Zonal Revenue Office, showed one man asking the security guard to lock the gate so that no one can enter the premises. The man then asks the security guard to bring him some snacks, soda and water bottles, while another man deals a deck of cards. Another man can be seen consuming liquor in the video. DJB vice-chairman Dinesh Mohaniya said, “Looking at the nature of the video, strict action has been taken and four employees have been placed under suspension.”last_img read more

Marathi audience difficult to please

first_imgWhy did you wait so long to make your debut in Marathi films? Television took away all the time and energy and my life. (Laughs) I have been doing television for quite a while. But then, it came to a point when I was saturated and felt that I had it me to do something more than just play roles on TV. I needed to get out. So I wrote a short film called D.A.T.E. I had no clue what I was doing. I bounced it off my mother. She said, ‘It is a good script. What do you want to do with it?’ I said I wanted to make it into a film. She then asked what I was doing about it. I should make it! So we pooled in money. My mother, my husband and I started a company called Purple Morning Movies. I had no idea that there was such a big market out there that showcases short films. I did a lot of research and I am lucky that D.A.T.E. received an overwhelming response. That was a catalyst and that is where the journey began. Then we got Sholay Girl, which was a huge canvas and then came Mogra Phulaalaa. Also Read – Rihanna to release 500-page ‘visual’ autobiographyMy mother had been writing the script for this film for over a year. She is one of those writers who take their time. Finally, when the script was ready, I had been buttering her to cast me in the film. She would bully me and say, ‘You had better behave or I will throw you out of the film!’ So, this has been a very exciting year for me, as a director, a producer and as an actor. Were you always the first choice for Mogra Phulaalaa? Right from its nascent stage, I have been involved with Mogra Phulaalaa. From the ideation stage, Swwapnil (Joshi) who is opposite me in the film and all of us were wondering what we should make when mom cracked the story. As the film developed and progressed, it kept getting better and better. She had me in mind when she wrote the film. Also Read – Hilarie Burton, Jeffery Dean Morgan tie the knot What was it like working with your mother as the director of the film? People say you are a different person on the set than when you are at home. But it has never been like that for us. Do we take our work home? Absolutely! It is our work that defines us. We are constantly talking about it. But on the set, mom was very strict, so I was very careful not to overstep. I was extra-cautious. I did put my thoughts across but I used to be very diplomatic. I have learnt the craft from her. She has taught me everything. What I like about her is that if somebody gives a good suggestion, she will consider it. She lets the actors do what they want to do but she also knows exactly what she wants. As a director yourself, what did you learn from your mother, the director? Scripting – she taught me that in execution, things may go a little haywire or you may not be able to make it like you want to, but if your script is good, everything else can be managed. That is one thing she absolutely ingrained in me, a good script is the crux. Tell us about your character in Mogra Phulaalaa. There is a very interesting dynamic, which will be revealed in the film. My character’s name is Shivangi Gupte and she is an assistant manager in a bank. She is a strong woman on the outside but is actually very vulnerable because of what she has endured. She meets a man of marriageable age who is a mamma’s boy. The mother wants to get her son married but is also worried that she may lose him. Shivangi opens a new world for him and starts a love story between them. The film features stalwarts like Neena Kulkarni and Chandrakant Kulkarni. What was it like working with them? I didn’t get the chance to work with them very much, but they are very close to me as they are from the film industry. And since this was my first film, they were very protective about me. To me, they are Neena maushi and Chandu dada, and I am fortunate that I could do this film with them. What are your plans as a filmmaker and actor? I am working on my directorial project. I have been away from it because of Mogra Phulaalaa. Also, today, the dynamics have changed. No longer are people only actors or filmmakers; you don’t have to limit yourself. Hollywood has been doing this for years, where actors are actively involved in the filmmaking process. People used to tell me, ‘Sai, if you want to concentrate on your acting, stop thinking about direction.’ I never understood that because they are different crafts. You have someone like Farhan Akhtar, who sings, acts, writes, directs and produces. I think he started the whole movement that said, ‘I can do everything’. As an actor, I am really looking forward to Mogra Phulaalaa. People haven’t seen me act in Marathi, Hindi audiences have. And the Marathi audience is difficult to please. They are very critical about what they see. So, I was careful not to lose the sincerity of my character. I am nervous because I want to be accepted by the Marathi audience and do more Marathi films. Organically, nothing came to me and I kept doing what came my way. But now,, I think I am at a stage where I can be choosy and not do things I don’t want to.last_img read more

Bangla Test Changes on cards as no end to Indias middleorder woes

first_imgBirmingham: Kedar Jadhav and Yuzvendra Chahal could find their names struck off the final XI as India aim for a quick turnaround in their penultimate World Cup group league game against a battle-hardened Bangladesh, which is trying to stay relevant in a fight for the last-four berth. The seasoned Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja are in contention for the first XI berths keeping the odd dimensions of the Edgbaston ground in mind. India are currently on 11 points from seven games and a win on Tuesday will ensure a smooth passage to the semi-finals unlike Bangladesh, who must win their last couple of league games in order to make their maiden entry into the last four stage. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football together Having received a rude shake-up from England, India will have very little time for recovery as they seek immediate course correction against a team, which boasts of the world’s No.1 all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan in its ranks. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s poor show as a finisher in a wobbly middle-order has already made the Indian team look vulnerable more than ever and insult to injury was the first lacklustre bowling day in the tournament, that led to an implosion. Also Read – Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian Open India scored only 39 runs in the last five overs against England, with Dhoni and Jadhav at the crease. More than their inability to hit big shots, which was certainly the primary factor, the lack of intent was an eyesore. However, the team management has rallied around their senior-most player and that makes Jadhav the possible fall guy, making Ravindra Jadeja’s case for inclusion stronger by the day. The primary logic could possibly be Jadeja being better at big-hitting compared to Jadhav, when batting at Nos.6 or 7. His wicket-to-wicket left-arm spin is a restrictive option and to top it all, his outstanding ability to field at any position. The other factor that could play a massive role in this decision is the dimension of the Edgbaston ground, where the boundary on one of the sides is less than 60 metres. The England troika of Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes exploited the shorter boundary against wrist spinners Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, hitting the reverse sweep effectively. Similarly, when England bowled, all their pacers were seen bowling to a field set on the side of the longer boundary, which helped them cut the number of sixes to a mere one. After being outplayed tactically, the team management are eager to set things right and have understood that two wrist spinners could be a risk against the likes of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib, Mushfiqur Rahim, Liton Das and Mahmudullah. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar being fit and available for selection, India for the first time in the tournament, could go in with three frontline pacers and in that case, Chahal may have to cool his heels after recording worst ever World Cup figures (0/88 in 10 overs) by an Indian bowler. If Bhuvneshwar is included in the playing XI against Bangladesh, it will definitely bolster the lower-order batting. For India, the important thing will be that Bangladesh’s bowling won’t have the same potency as England and they will heavily depend on Shakib’s all-round exploits (476 runs and 10 wickets) that has got them so far in the tournament. Bowling will be Bangladesh’s weak link and Virat Kohli will certainly want to bat first on a placid track piling up more agony for the ‘Tigers’. Bangladesh’s biggest problem is their skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, who has taken only one wicket in six games so far. Mashrafe has lost the zip and is in the team because of his acceptability as the Bangladesh captain. Squads: India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmuduallah Riyadh, Sabbir Rahaman, Mehidy Hasan Miraj, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammed Saifuddin, Mustafizur Rahaman, Rubel Hossain, Liton Kumar Das, Abu Jayed, Mohammed Mithun. Match Starts 3pm (IST).last_img read more

8 core sector industries grow by 51 in May

first_imgNew Delhi: The eight core sector industries recorded a growth of 5.1 per cent in May on the back of healthy output in steel and electricity. The eight core sector industries – coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity – grew by 4.1 per cent in May last year. Steel and electricity output increased by 19.9 per cent and 7.2 per cent, respectively, during the month under review. However, crude oil, refinery products, and fertiliser were in the negative zone. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepDuring April-May, the eight sectors grew by 5.7 per cent compared to 4.4 per cent in the same period last year. Meanwhile, the Indian manufacturing sector growth moderated in June, largely owing to softer increase in new work intakes, which in turn translated into slower rises in output and employment, a monthly survey said Monday. The IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was at 52.1 in June, down from May’s three-month high of 52.7, indicating a slight setback in the Indian manufacturing sector. This is the 23rd consecutive month that the manufacturing PMI has remained above the 50-point mark. In PMI parlance, a print above 50 means expansion, while a score below that denotes contraction. “Gauges of factory orders, production, employment and exports remained inside growth territory, but rates of expansion softened in all cases as domestic and international demand showed some signs of fading,” said Pollyanna de Lima, Principal Economist at IHS Markit. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsAccording to the survey, consumer goods was the key source of growth, where robust increases in sales, output and employment were registered. Modest expansions in production and new work were noted in the intermediate goods category, but jobs stagnated. At the same time, operating conditions in the capital goods sector were broadly unchanged. Meanwhile, growth of new export orders also showed signs of weakness. “Also, a further decline in unfinished business points to excess capacity among goods producers, meaning that job creation may come to a halt in the near term should demand growth fail to revive,” Lima added. On the prices front, June data continued to show only a moderate increase in input costs and enabled firms to lower charges. Easing price pressure might prompt the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to continue with its dovish stance in its upcoming policy review in August. In the June review, RBI had cut key lending rates by 0.25 per cent for the third time this year to spur economic growth. “Firms tried to boost sales by offering price discounts for their goods, in light of subdued rises in cost burdens. Tamed cost inflation may assist competitive pricing and lift demand to a meaningful extent as we head into the second half of 2019.” Going ahead, manufacturers remained upbeat about growth prospects in June, with marketing initiatives, stable political conditions and forecasts of a pick-up in demand underpinning positive sentiment. However, the degree of optimism weakened slightly from that recorded in May.last_img read more

Jumanji The Next Level teases chaotic ride to jungle

first_imgLos Angeles: “Jumanji: The Next Level” will take actors Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black back into the jungle for yet another adventurous and chaotic ride. The trailer of the film gives a glimpse of the next level of the game. The sequel picks up where 2017’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” left off. But there is one difference. The twist is that the grandfathers (played by Danny DeVito and Danny Glover) of two original players get transported into the game as Johnson and Hart’s avatars. Also Read – Rihanna to release 500-page ‘visual’ autobiography According to the film’s synopsis, in “Jumanji: The Next Level” the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world’s most dangerous game. The trailer opens with Spencer (played by Alex Wolff) trying to fix the game and accidentally returning to Jumanji. His friends then head to the jungle to save him, and it leads them onto a path of adventure. Also Read – Hilarie Burton, Jeffery Dean Morgan tie the knot The witty dialogues and punches make the trailer fun. “Jumanji: The Next Level” has been directed by Jake Kasdan. Besides DeVito and Glover, rapper-actress Awkwafina has also joined the cast. The film also stars Nick Jonas, Madison Iseman and Morgan Turner. The world of Chris Van Allsburg’s book “Jumanji”, narrating the story of a young boy Alan Parrish getting trapped in a board game, found its way to the silver screen in 1995. Robin Williams was its main lead. The story was back on the big screen in 2017 with a modern twist. In “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”, a group of high school students get lost in the jungle after laying their hands on a video game console featuring a version of the game Jumanji.last_img read more

Partha hits out at MHA over terror hub remark on madrasas

first_imgKolkata: Parliamentary Affairs minister Partha Chatterjee criticised the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for issuing a statement in the Parliament on Tuesday that a terror outfit based in Bangladesh is using some madrasas in the state as hubs.Both the ruling party and Opposition protested against the statement of the Centre in the Assembly on Wednesday. Speaking on the issue, Chatterjee said that the Centre has been indulging in divisive politics and it was an attempt to malign the image of Bengal. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellers”If the Centre attacks a particular community in this manner, it sends a wrong signal to the society. Painting all the people belonging to a particular community with the same brush is uncalled for. It maligns the tradition and heritage of Bengal, which accommodates people irrespective their caste, creed and religion,” Chatterjee said in the House. Meanwhile, Speaker of the Assembly Biman Bandyopadhyay urged the House to submit a proposal to him in this regard. In another development during the day, Minority Affairs and Madrasa Education minister Giasuddin Molla called for a meeting to examine the educational details and backgrounds of madrasas on July 10. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe development takes place a day after the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that some madrasas in the state were preaching religious extremism and helping the terrorist organisations. According to sources, Molla will hold a meeting with his department officials, which would be more of a review meeting with the heads or representatives of all the madrasas in the state. The minister will reexamine the details of the madrasas, both government and private, as well as those heading them. He is also likely to check the background of the madrasas and the activities centering them. It may be mentioned here that the MHA, in its reply to a question in the Parliament on Tuesday, said that a terror outfit based in Bangladesh is using some madrasas in Burdwan and Murshidabad districts to radicalise and recruit local youths. The state government was also put on alert. Opposition leader in the Assembly Abdul Mannan said regarding MHA’s statement: “We condemn the statement. Many Hindus also study in madrasas. A community has been attacked. The government has given permission to the madrasas in the state. Blaming people belonging to a particular community is condemnable.” It may be mentioned here that the Khagragarh blast, which took place in Burdwan in 2014, shook the entire state and the Central agencies found the involvement of Jamaat-ul-Mujahiddeen Bangladesh (JMB) behind the blast.last_img read more

UP Man booked for pronouncing triple talaq on wife

first_imgPratapgarh/Baghpat (UP): An FIR has been registered against a person for allegedly pronouncing ‘triple talaq’ on his wife, police said on Monday. Niyaz alias Bablu and his family members were booked on Sunday under relevant sections of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act and other sections for IPC, police said. In her police complaint, Niyaz’s wife Parmeen alleged that on Saturday, she was thrashed by her in-laws following which her husband pronounced talaq thrice on her. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ We are probing the matter, a police officer said. In a separate incident, a woman in Baghpat approached the police claiming that his husband had threatened her with triple talaq. Acting on the complaint, the police contacted Taufiq and informed him about the legal repercussions following which he reconciled with his wife. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill prescribing up to three years in prison for men giving instant triple talaq to their wives and was passed by Parliament on July 30. President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the bill on August 1.last_img read more

Navy teams mobilised for relief in floodhit Kolhapur Sangli

first_imgMumbai: Five rescue teams of the Indian Navy have been mobilised to provide assistance to those affected by heavy rains in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur and Sangli districts, an official said on Wednesday. Kolhapur and Sangli have been the worst affected by heavy rains in western Maharashtra in the last few days. Three villages, having around 7,000 people, in Kolhapur were marooned due to the floods, even as over 50,000 people were evacuated from the two districts on Tuesday. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ “In response to the state administration’s request for assistance to local populace affected by heavy rains in the area, five teams of the Western Naval Command have been mobilised,” a defence spokesperson said. The rescue teams were initially planned to be airlifted to the locations, but the adverse weather did not permit helicopter flying, he said. “The teams then proceeded to Pune by road overnight, equipped with rescue gear and rubber inflatable boats, and will be airlifted to the affected areas,” he said. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K Five additional flood relief teams of the Navy are being prepared to be airlifted to the affected areas from Mumbai on Wednesday morning, the official further said. Meanwhile, the Goa naval area has also deployed four teams of divers for rescue operations in Kolhapur. The rescue teams, along with diving equipment, were flown from INS Hansa Naval air station at Goa on Wednesday morning for Kolhapur airfield, where they will join the other teams from the Western Naval Command, NDRF and the district collector for coordination of rescue work, the official said. Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar on Tuesday said the flood situation in Kolhapur and Sangli was “critical” as several rivers in the region were flowing above the danger mark. “Three villages in Kolhapur with 7,000 people have been cut off completely and efforts are on to evacuate them,” Mhaisekar said. Around 34 out of 103 bridges in Kolhapur have gone under water due to rains in the past few days, he said. “A total of 12,228 families, comprising nearly 53,582 people, in Pune division have been shifted to safer places,” another official earlier said. The administrations of Kolhapur and Sangli have declared a holiday for schools and colleges on Wednesday.last_img read more

Gaana looking to breakeven in next 45 years

first_imgNew Delhi: Music app Gaana expects to achieve break-even in the next 4-5 years with 100 per cent year-on-year revenue growth and traction of paid users on its platform. The company is also planning to invest in non-music genre to increase the engagement time of users on the platform. Industry will become profitable when 50 per cent of Indian people start using streaming apps, and ‘paid music’ as a model becomes the norm, Gaana CEO Prashan Agarwal told PTI. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal “Our revenue have been growing 100 per cent year-on-year. We expect to reach break-even at this rate in next 4-5 years,” he added. The Times Internet Group firm expects to double the number of monthly active users on its platform to 200 million in the next two years representing around 50 per cent share of the overall market. “In next 3-4 years, we expect 500-600 million users will start using music app out of which we expect 30 million to start paying for music. This will take music streaming segment towards healthy profits. We will maintain our share of over 50 per cent in this kind of market as well,” Agarwal said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost The company raised USD 115 million last year, which includes USD 100 million from Chinese company Tencent and USD 15 million from Times Internet. Besides music, Gaana is now expanding non-music content to enhance user engagement. “We are basically focussing on content from motivational speakers, meditation, workouts, comedy and story telling. This will enhance engagement of users on our platform,” Agarwal said. Gaana has also partnered with Google Playstore to launch an instant app for listeners who want to experience the app without actually downloading it. “This feature is targeted towards the next 100 million users coming online. We have registered a 5 per cent surge in app installs per day as more people are realising the convenience of being able to listen to their favourite songs anytime anywhere even before they download our app,” Agarwal said.last_img read more

SP workers protest against BJP govt in UP allege lathicharge by police

first_imgLucknow: The Samajwadi Party on Friday claimed that police lathicharged its workers while they were protesting in several districts against the BJP government’s alleged failure in maintaining law and order in Uttar Pradesh. However, police discounted the claim of lathicharge and said only mild force was used at certain places to keep the protesters under control. “As per directions of party president Akhilesh Yadav, we held protests across the state. Partymen demonstrating peacefully were unnecessarily lathicharged by the police in Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Aligarh, Amroha and other districts,” SP chief spokesman Rajendra Chowhdury told PTI. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ He said over 12 lakh SP workers participated in the protests in 75 districts of the state on ‘Kranti Diwas’, which is observed annually on August 9 to remember the historic ‘Quit India Movement’ initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942. “Police acted in an undemocratic way, but the SP will not bend before these arm-twisting tactics of the government,” Chowdhury said. During protests, SP workers gave memorandums to district magistrates regarding the present “pitiable situation in the state due to BJP’s misrule”, he said. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K “SP workers are killed, humiliated and atrocities are committed on them. The government has failed to launch any new project in the past about two-and-a-half years of BJP rule,” the SP spokesman alleged. “The BJP government is anti-people and the SP will continue to protest against its policies on issues related to farmers, youth and women and also oppose its communal politics,” he added. In Gorakhpur, SP workers claimed that police used canes to disperse them while they were taking out a protest march against the state government. “Our members were stopped at many places in the district where more than 300 people participated in the protest march. We got permission from the district administration on Thursday around 11 am but later we were informed verbally that our permission was cancelled,” city SP chief Ziaul Islam said. “Since there was no written cancellation order, we took out the march and as soon as we reached Lahladpur, police stopped us and lathicharged on us. Our general secretary Ajay Yadav was brutally beaten up by police causing fracture in his hand,” he claimed. SSP Sunil Kumar Gupta, however, denied that police used force to disperse the protesters. “Samajwadi Party workers took out a protest march and since prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC are in force in the area, we stopped them but lathicharge was not applied. Except one or two incident of minor arguments between party workers and police, it was peaceful. Around 150 party members courted arrest in protest,” Gupta said. On cancellation of permission to protest, the SSP said, “It is the right of the district administration to cancel such requests anytime to maintain law and order.”last_img read more

Govt plans financial package to BSNL

first_imgKochi: The government is planning to provide financial package to cash-strapped Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said on Monday. The Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises said the government wants that BSNL should be promoted and it is the “top priority”. “BSNL is requiring some package from the government. We want that BSNL should be promoted. That is the top priority of the government. On the top priority, we want that BSNL should work properly. So, we are also thinking for the package. You will find in future that we will provide some packages to BSNL,” Meghwal told a press conference here on 100 days of the NDA government at the Centre. He said the proposal for the package submitted by the BSNL authorities is under the consideration of the finance ministry. Meghwal said the BSNL was hit by problems in 1995 but now the government wanted to promote the telecom company.last_img read more

Researchers ponder why new dinosaur species had feathers but could not fly

first_imgEDMONTON – The discovery of a new species of bird-like dinosaur is raising questions about the creature’s evolution and why it had feathers when it couldn’t actually fly.Researchers studying a fossil found in China have determined that Jianianhualong tengi had large feathers associated with aerodynamics, but there’s no evidence that it could get off the ground.Philip Currie, a University of Alberta paleobiologist, said the species is a missing link between birds and dinosaurs.“Every time you find a missing link between two animals, you create two new missing links,” Currie said. “We’re looking for the answer as to why there’s a combination of primitive and advanced features.”The findings of the international research team were published Tuesday in the open-access journal Nature Communications.An artist’s rendering of the species suggests the metre-long dinosaur resembled a large pheasant with short wings.The scientists say Jianianhualong tengi lived during the Early Cretaceous period, roughly 125 million years ago, in an area of northeastern China famous for its feathered dinosaurs.Currie said the fossil demonstrates mosaic evolution in which parts of an animal’s skeleton changes without simultaneously affecting other parts.He said more research is needed to better understand why the dinosaur would have had feathers if they weren’t used for flight.“The only way to answer these questions is to find more animals to fill in the gaps.”Currie estimates that only one per cent of one per cent of all the world’s dinosaurs have been identified to date.last_img read more

Switching off Parents urged to keep infants away from digital screens

first_imgTORONTO – Vanessa Lewis couldn’t imagine watching her kids grow up bombarded by digital screens — so she effectively banned the technology from their sight.Making a pact with her husband, the couple decided even talking on a smartphone in the vicinity of their infant twins was unacceptable.“If we needed to use our phones we would leave the room,” the Toronto mother says.“We’ve made a real effort not to have our phones available to them.”While it wasn’t always easy, Lewis says banishing TV, tablets and phones was rewarding for her family. Now almost four years old, her boys spend more time playing outside and reading books instead of staring blankly at screens.New guidelines released Thursday by the Canadian Paediatric Society suggest Lewis is on the right track. The organization issued its first-ever standalone recommendations for how much time children aged five and under should spend in front of a screen.Among the Canadian guidelines is a reaffirmation of their past statement that kids younger than two years old should completely avoid screen time.Putting a stronger focus on digital-screen time management is a new position for the CPS, which for years buried its recommendations within its healthy active living guidelines. But a recent survey of its membership — which consists partly of pediatricians and family physicians — found that parents are increasingly seeking professional advice on shifts in the digital culture.The overall sentiment leans towards not only limiting screen time, but in some cases eliminating it all together.Its advice is more restrictive than guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recently loosened its view on screen time, saying that infants younger than 18 months could participate in video-chatting with relatives and friends.Dr. Michelle Ponti of the Canadian Paediatric Society found that introducing screens at such an early age is unnecessary.“We could not find any good evidence to suggest benefits in introducing technology early,” she says.“There are so many risks of harm that we felt the risks outweighed any potential benefit.”Ponti suggests parents start making a “family media plan” even before their child is born, outlining when, where and how screens may be used.Canadian and U.S. guidelines both recommend toddlers aged two to five should watch no more than an hour of screen time per day — and turn off screens at least an hour before bedtime. Programs should be chosen with specific educational goals to encourage language and literacy development.Parents are also encouraged to actively engage with their children while using digital screens.“Sometimes we find that all of the bells and whistles from some of these programs or ebooks really distracts from learning and parent-child interaction,” Ponti says.“Parents ask fewer questions to their child when they’re on an ebook.”Other guidelines in the new outline suggest parents model good screen use for their children, such as limiting consumption of TV programs and switching off screens if they’re not being watched.The recommendations say research shows that high exposure to background TV can negatively affect language development and attention spans in children under five years old.But the suggestions emphasize that digital screens aren’t always bad. In some cases, screens can be used as a tool rather than a toy.Video chatting with relatives is considered a positive example of how kids can help translate what they see on screen to real-life experiences.Lewis says in her household, video chats are one of the rare instances in which her kids are allowed to use screens; occasionally they’ll Facetime with their grandparents.The mom says limiting her boys’ digital habits has proven successful so she kept the household rules in place when her daughter was born last year.Her boys still encounter smartphones on occasion, especially when family and friends visit, and Lewis has taken note of how quickly they’re drawn towards the colourful and interactive devices.But she’s confident her kids will instinctively pick up technology when they’re introduced to the devices at school.“For them what’s more important are all the skills they develop when they’re younger by not having the screens in front of them,” Lewis says.“All the free play and problem-solving skills they developed, to me, trumps any sort of technological savvy they may have missed out on.”Follow @dfriend on Twitter.last_img read more

Parting with the peacocks Saskatoon zoo moves birds for ethical reasons

first_imgSASKATOON – There are no more peacocks at Saskatoon’s Forestry Farm Park and Zoo following a decision to move them somewhere better equipped to house them year-round.Manager Tim Sinclair-Smith says it was an ethical decision based on what happens when the birds aren’t allowed outside.Sinclair-Smith says the peacocks roamed around in the summer, but were locked in cages for up to seven months in the winter.He says the zoo would have had to spend $500,000 to build a winter facility.Officials chose instead to move the birds in the early spring to facilities with better housing such as zoos in Calgary and Toronto.Sinclair-Smith says it was felt the money could be better spent improving the zoo’s habitats for endangered species.(CKOM)last_img read more

Saganash apologizes for plagiarism in Globe and Mail oped on Canada 150

OTTAWA – NDP indigenous affairs critic Romeo Saganash apologized Tuesday for having plagiarized portions of a recent newspaper column about Canada’s 150th anniversary.The column appeared in the Canada Day edition of the Globe and Mail under the headline, “150 years of cultural genocide: Today, like all days, is an insult.”In a statement, Saganash said he takes complete ownership for the omission.“In drafting my letter on my thoughts on Canada 150, a mistake was made by which ideas that were expressed by someone else were not given proper credit,” Saganash said. “I take full responsibility for this omission.”The oversight offers an important lesson, he added.“We should all make every effort to ensure that we give full credit for ideas,” Saganash said. “For too long, Indigenous people have been without a voice and therefore I apologize for not giving the authors the credit they are due.”In an editor’s note published at the bottom of the column Tuesday, the newspaper said an earlier version of the column did not properly attribute work by two other writers.“The earlier version included much of this quote from student and community organizer Erica Violet Lee without attribution: ‘What does it mean to be safe and free in the context of a colonial state? The frontlines of Indigenous struggle are everywhere, now: from the prairies and rivers to city streets, and in classrooms. In a world where our movement is criminalized and our presence is resistance,’” the editor’s note said.A second quote from Eric Ritskes was also included in the Saganash piece without attribution, it continued, adding the Globe’s editorial code of conduct makes it clear it is unacceptable to represent another person’s work.“The Globe and Mail adds its own apology as well to the writers,” it said. “This version has been corrected to include the attribution to the two writers.”In the column, Saganash — a residential school survivor — explored the reasons why he would not be participating in Canada 150 celebrations.—Follow @kkirkup on Twitter read more

Reallife spy story Washingtonians describe life beside nowvacant Russia annex

first_imgWASHINGTON – To the neighbourhood gossips, the grand grey Russian building atop the hill was a goldmine.Now it’s empty.Amid escalating tensions, the U.S. government this month kicked Russians out of three diplomatic buildings, one of them an international-trade annex perched majestically atop a slope in Washington.Neighbours watched the exodus from the surrounding balconies. The Russians hauled out trash bags, and had one last barbecue behind the beaux-arts mansion. Only this time it wasn’t steak they were charring, but documents.The neighbours had often swapped stories that caused some to suspect they were living at the epicentre of a real-life spy-versus-spy showdown — a true, bricks-and-mortar version of the fictional rezidentura from TV’s Soviet espionage drama, “The Americans.”“I know that building well,” said David Major, a retired senior FBI executive, ex-counter-intelligence official, and now head of the C.I. Centre, which provides counter-intelligence training.“There’s a lot of little activities in Washington — what I call the hidden Washington that nobody knows. But if you’re in the spy business you know these little nooks and crannies.”He wondered whether there are still little wooden boxes up on its roof. There aren’t, he’s told. Well, he explained, there used to be some equipment for the Russians to communicate with satellites: “We have pictures of it.”Neighbours noticed a spike in other activities recently as international hostilities mounted.Cars started filling the parking lot at night. State-of-the-art surveillance cameras appeared above the street. Wi-Fi and cellphone signals started dropping — but only in rooms facing west, toward the Russian building.Then there was that burglar with no bag. On a January night, a neighbour spotted the hoodie-clad intruder on a fire escape.“He just sort of caught my eye,” said the neighbour, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of recriminations.“I’m like, ‘Wait, that looks like a guy up there… It actually is a guy.’”He shouted for the trespasser to leave. In a thick eastern European accent, the man replied that he’d climbed up there to hide from an assailant. Then, in a flash, he was gone.A snippet of what happened was captured on security video from next door. The man jumped off the fire escape onto the narrow top of a wooden fence, then pulled himself over another fence into an adjoining parking lot. Footage shows him sprinting through the nearby lot, tucking something into his hoodie.“He was pretty spry,” said the neighbour.Mark Stout, an ex-CIA Russia analyst and former intelligence officer, suggested the possibility that the man had been tending to eavesdropping gear.“He could have been doing something as simple as planting a battery,” Stout said. “That is an obvious place to surveil the Russians — and the Russians would be extremely interested in that.”Stout said he supports the U.S. government’s decision to close the buildings. He said the U.S. had no choice but to respond after the Russians ordered the U.S. to slash hundreds of staff in Moscow, following the U.S. expulsion of several dozen Russians.It’s far from the first such tit-for-tat dispute.Major described it as the third round of U.S.-Russia diplomat-tossing since the tail end of the Cold War — the others were in 1986 and 2001. He also floated some theories about the odd things witnessed by neighbours.An unusual number of cars in the parking lot? “Pre-positioning,” Major suggests: intelligence officers using a quiet, discreet spot with easy access to set their vehicles up before embarking on clandestine meetings.Then there’s the intermittent interruptions in wireless service.In the late-Victorian townhouses next door, neighbours used different internet and cellphone providers, but all had similar complaints about poor signals on the western side.Phone calls, videos, Bluetooth headphones — all would snap, crackle and pop in the rooms that faced the Russians.One neighbour says his internet access was twice as fast after the Russians left. Another noticed no difference.Added a third: “I think it’s a net positive they’re leaving.”Now the vacant property is guarded by American federal police. Linger too long in front at night, and they’ll shine a flashlight in your face.So what went on here? Major said he’s certain the building offered cover for Russian espionage activity.“(It’s) not likely — (it’s) for sure,” he said. “It’s been used for a base of human operations.”The Russians spread this activity spread around their different properties, to make it harder and costlier for the U.S. to monitor comings and goings.As for whether the neighbours were living at the nexus of another chapter in the Russian-American spy war? Not so much, he said.“No, no, no — (they’re) not the epicentre of anything,” he said. “It’s just another place in Washington (which) they use as a base for human operations.”The real ‘rezidentura’ — the true hotbed of U.S.-Russia spy games, said Major — is in a bigger building, on a taller hill, just north of Georgetown: the Russian embassy.last_img read more

Ship allegedly broke St Lawrence speed limit imposed to protect endangered whales

first_imgOTTAWA – Transport Canada says a ship has been fined for allegedly exceeding a speed limit set to protect endangered whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.Due to the increased presence of North Atlantic right whales in the area, Transport Canada last month imposed a temporary mandatory speed limit of 10 knots on vessels of 20 metres or more.The speed restriction applies to vessels travelling in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence, between the Quebec north shore and just north of Prince Edward Island.Transport Canada says the shipping industry in general has been respecting the speed limit, but it says a $6,000 penalty was issued Tuesday to the Pearl Mist for alleged non-compliance.The vessel owner has 30 days to pay the penalty or to ask the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada to review the facts of the alleged violation or the amount of the penalty.Eleven North Atlantic right whales have died since June in the Gulf of St. Lawrence — an unprecedented number of deaths for the marine mammal that is at imminent risk of extinction with an estimated population of just 500 around the world.“We are committed to ensuring that all vessels respect the temporary speed limit, and we will continue to take all appropriate action to ensure the safety of the whales,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Wednesday in a statement.last_img read more