Kolkata: Monsoon is expected to enter Bengal after June 5. All the South Bengal districts will continue to burn in the scorching summer heat in the next couple of days, with the temperature touching 42 degree Celsius in the Western districts.The Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore predicted that rainfall is likely to take place in some parts of the state early next month. It will bring relief to the people from the excessive summer heat. In the next few days, hot and humid conditions will prevail in all the South Bengal districts. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess Durga”A heat wave condition will continue to prevail in all the Western districts for the next couple of days. There may be some scattered rainfall in some parts of South Bengal on Thursday, the day of counting of votes, particularly in the afternoon hours,” a weather official said. According to a weather expert, the onset of Monsoon in the state will be on time. He has also maintained that conditions are favourable for its advancement into more parts of South Bay. It is likely to hit the North Andaman Sea and the Andaman Islands in the next couple of days. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellers”A cyclonic circulation each over the South Andaman Sea to the extreme East and over the Cape Comorin to the West-South-West are expected to provide a momentum to the Monsoon,” the expert said. According to the prediction of the weather office, thundershower along with gusty winds will take place in North Bengal districts in every afternoon during the next couple of days. In the last few days, some parts of South Bengal witnessed scattered rainfall, but it did not last, as a result of which the hot and humid condition continued unabated. The temperature in the city and its adjoining districts may hover around 37-38 degree Celsius, with humidity level on the higher side, in the next few days. The mercury may remain between 41-43 degree Celsius in the Western districts like Purulia, Bankura, West Midnapore, Jhargram and Birbhum. A heat wave will also sweep through the region. The temperature will drop once Monsoon arrives in the state early next month.
Kolkata: Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from various districts soon after the counting of votes started and the BJP put up a fairly good result on Thursday.Trinamool Congress and BJP activists blamed each others for triggering the violence. In some places the BJP accused Trinamool Congress workers of hurling bombs while some TMC activists alleged BJP for capturing their party office. Clashes broke out in various parts of Ranaghat Lok Sabha constituency after election results started pouring in. A BJP worker in the Bagula area identified as Kanu Biswas received serious injuries. He was taken to Krishnanagar hospital. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaTwo persons were injured when the miscreants hurled bombs at ward number 3 in Cooch Behar’s Tufangunj. It was learnt that bombs were hurled during a clash that broke out in the region on Thursday afternoon as the election results kept coming in. The local police administration is yet to confirm who were involved behind hurling of bombs. Tension broke out between at Ayush gram of East Burdwan. A party office of Trinamool Congress was ransacked allegedly by the BJP workers. The party office was later set on fire. The local Trinamool Congress leaders alleged that the BJP workers led the attack. After being informed the police reached the spot and brought the situation under control. They dispersed the mob. A probe has been initiated in this regard. A clash took place outside a counting station under Burdwan-Durgapur constituency. A chaos broke out as the supporters of both the rival parties engaged in heated altercation. A scuffle broke out turning the situation more volatile. The police personnel deployed in the area soon brought the situation under control. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersTension also ran high outside a counting station in Howrah’s Shibpur. A scuffle broke out between the BJP and TMC supporters. The police had to lathi-charge to control the situation. A huge contingent of police rushed to the spot to check a further escalation. Some BJP workers were allegedly beaten up by TMC men when the former somehow came in the way of TMC activists who were smearing each other’s faces with colours. A BJP activist had received injuries in his head. Some others were reportedly injured during the incident.
Kabul: At least four people were killed Monday when a bomb tore through a bus in Kabul, an official said, marking the second day straight that attackers have targeted a bus. The vehicle was taking workers home from a government watchdog agency ahead of the Eid holidays marking the end of Ramadan when the bomb exploded. Farid Ahmad, a spokesman for the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC), told AFP the bomb had been concealed on a bicycle along the side of the road. Also Read – ‘Hong Kong won’t rule out Chinese help over protests'”Unfortunately, we have lost four colleagues, nine have been wounded”, Ahmad said. Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi put the toll at five dead and 10 wounded — all of them civilians. He said the explosion had been caused by a sticky bomb, a common threat in Kabul where criminals and insurgents slap explosives under vehicles. No one immediately claimed responsibility. The blast comes one day after two people were killed and dozens more wounded in Kabul as a wave of bombings hit civilian targets — including a university school bus — across the Afghan capital.
Paris: Gianni Infantino said on Wednesday he had turned FIFA into an organisation “synonymous with credibility” as he was re-elected for a second term as president of world football’s governing body. It was a formality that the 49 year-old would be waved through for a new four-year mandate, until 2023, as he stood unopposed at the FIFA Congress in Paris. The FIFA Council chose to back his re-election by acclamation, with Infantino now hoping to build on the work he started in February 2016, when he was voted in to succeed the disgraced Sepp Blatter at the head of the organisation. Also Read – We don’t ask for kind of tracks we get: Bowling coach ArunEager to “open up” and “globalise” the game, he will now push ahead with already approved plans to expand the Club World Cup to 24 teams, and with his ambition of expanding the World Cup itself to 48 teams. As he addressed the 211 members of the Congress in the French capital, where the Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, Infantino claimed credit for the success of the 2018 men’s World Cup in Russia, the “transparent” bidding process for the 2026 tournament and the introduction of Video Assistant Referees into the game. Also Read – Bastian Schweinsteiger announces retirement, could join Germany set-upHe said he was now at the head of “a new FIFA, an organisation that is synonymous with credibility, confidence, integrity.” “Today nobody talks about crises, nobody talks about rebuilding FIFA from scratch, nobody talks about scandals, nobody talks about corruption, we talk about football,” insisted the Swiss-Italian lawyer, formerly secretary general of European governing body UEFA. “The very least we can say is that we have turned the situation around. “In three years and four months, this organisation went from being toxic, almost criminal, to being what it should be, an organisation that develops football, an organisation that cares about football.” Infantino has overseen a major increase in FIFA’s income, with cash reserves increasing from 1 billion to 2.75 billion over his first term. “FIFA has today also the most solid financial situation ever and is coming out of the period of its worst crisis,” he claimed. FIFA have had to abandon highly controversial plans to expand the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 in time for the next tournament in Qatar in 2022. a
New Delhi: With the government detecting fraudulent refund claims by exporters, the CBIC has asked customs and GST officers to closely verify the IGST refund claims before sanctioning them. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has also asked director-general (systems) to identify a list of “risky exporters” and share it with customs and GST officers, so that an alert can be generated for 100 per cent examination of their export consignments. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepCurrently, Integrated GST (IGST) refunds are issued to exporters automatically based on shipping bills filed with customs and goods and services tax returns filed with central tax authorities. The refunds are issued within a fortnight days of filing of returns without any manual intervention. Tax experts said the move to verify the refund claims would delay the process of refund issuances to exporters. In a letter to field offices, the CBIC said it has observed instances of availment of IGST refund using fraudulent input tax credit (ITC) claims by some exporters. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs”Exporters have availed ITC on the basis of ineligible documents or fraudulently and utilised that credit for payment of IGST on goods exported out of India. It has also been observed in several cases that there is huge variation between the FOB (freight on board) value declared in the Shipping Bill and the taxable value declared in GST return apparently to effect higher IGST pay out leading to encashment of credit,” the CBIC said. “It has been decided to verify the IGST payments through the respective GST field formations,” the CBIC said. It said the GST policy wing will devise a standard operating procedure (SoP) for GST officers to verify the IGST refund claims. The GST officers will report to the chief commissioner of central tax in 30 days specifying whether the amount of IGST paid and claimed/sanctioned as refund was in accordance with the law or not. The chief commissioner of central tax will then share the report with customs port within five working days. In cases where no malpractices were detected and the ITC availed by the exporter was in accordance with the GST law, the customs officer at the port of export shall proceed to process the IGST refund. For cases where malpractices have been reported on verification and it has been found that the exporter has availed ITC fraudulently or on the basis of ineligible documents and utilised the said ITC for payment of IGST claimed as refund, the customs officer will not process the refund claim, the CBIC said. The CBIC said DG (systems) shall work out the suitable criteria to identify risky exporters at the national level and forward the list of said risky exporters to the Risk Management Centre for Customs (RMCC) and respective chief commissioners of central tax. “DG (systems) shall inform the respective chief commissioner of central tax about the past IGST refunds granted to such risky exporters (along with details of bank accounts in which such refund has been disbursed),” it added. AMRG & Associates Partner Rajat Mohan said, “Increased verification and corroboration from custom officers and central tax officers would push back the digital initiatives of government resulting in genuine hardship for exporters.” Under GST, every person making a claim of refund on account of ‘zero-rated’ supplies has two options. Either he can export without payment of integrated tax under bond/ letter of undertaking and claim a refund of accumulated ITC or he may export on payment of integrated tax and claim refund thereof. Currently, the facility of automatic refund is available only for those exporters who have paid IGST while exporting goods. Since the GST Network (GSTN) systems are integrated with customs, hence, refunds are generally transferred to the bank accounts of such exporters within a fortnight.
Lucknow: BSP president Mayawati Thursday said the incidents of crime on communal and caste lines in the BJP-ruled states are “defaming” the entire country and even embarrasses the prime minister.Her reaction came after the alleged lynching of Tabrez Ansari in the BJP-governed Jharkhand and some other similar incidents elsewhere in the recent past. Ansari was thrashed by a mob for alleged theft on June 18 and a video had emerged which purportedly showed that he was forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman” in Jharkhand’s Saraikela Kharsawan district. Also Read – Modi formed OBC commission which earlier govts didn’t do: Shah”Why are the BJP governments allowing crimes of communal frenzy and casteism which are not only defaming those states, but also the entire country and even embarrasses the prime minister,” Mayawati tweeted. “As of now, police and government officials are also at the receiving end of this new problem,” the BSP president said. In another tweet, she termed as “embarrassing” the Niti Aayog report on Health Index under which Uttar Pradesh has remained at the bottom. “The Niti Aayog report that Uttar Pradesh is the most backward state in the country on the issue of people’s health is the most embarrassing for the government,” she said. Also Read – Prohibitory orders lifted from Mumbai’s stir-hit Aarey Colony”What is the use of having a double engine government of the BJP both at the Centre and the state? What is the use of this kind of development for crores of people whose lives are like hell,” Mayawati posed. According to the Niti Aayog’s second round of Health Index, Kerala has occupied the top slot in terms of health performance among large states followed by Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, whereas Uttar Pradesh and Bihar remained at the bottom. In response, State Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh blamed the previous governments for the poor Health Index. “We have inherited certain things from the governments that came before 2017. We inherited their failure and tried to improve it as much as we can. We did make many improvements,” he claimed.
Allahabad: BJP MLA Rajesh Mishra’s daughter Sakshi and her husband Ajitesh Kumar, who allege that they fear for their lives for marrying outside their castes, were attacked inside the High Court complex on Monday minutes after they were given protection.The couple were roughed up by some lawyers as soon as they stepped out of the courtroom after the hearing, eyewitnesses said. Justice Siddharth Verma granted protection to Sakshi and Ajitesh who had asked for security contending that there is a threat to their life from Mishra who is unhappy with the marriage as Shakshi is a Brahmin and Ajitesh a Dalit by caste. The couple had prayed that police or Mishra should not disturb them in their peaceful living as they were adult and had got married in free will. Meanwhile, another couple was allegedly abducted from outside the court premises, leading to a high drama in the area with people thinking that it was Sakshi and Ajitesh.
Kabul: The Taliban warned Afghans Tuesday to keep away from election rallies and ordered its fighters to “stand against” the planned September vote. The Taliban and other insurgent groups conducted frequent attacks during previous elections, and this year’s campaign season has already been rocked by deadly violence. The presidential election is currently slated for September 28, but has got off to a lacklustre start and some candidates are yet to launch their campaigns. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US Many observers think the poll will be postponed again — it has already been pushed back twice this year — to create space for a peace deal to be finalised between the US and the Taliban. In their message, the Taliban said fighters should “stand against this theatrical and sham of a process to their full capabilities” — a clear instruction to conduct attacks. “To prevent losses, God forbid, from being incurred by our fellow compatriots, they must stay away from gatherings and rallies that could become potential targets,” a message posted on the Taliban’s website stated. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls The Taliban said Afghan elections do not “hold any value”, referring to the 2014 presidential poll that was mired in fraud allegations and saw the US broker a power-sharing deal between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Last month, on the first day of the campaign season, suicide bombers and gunmen stormed the Kabul office of Amrullah Saleh, Ghani’s running-mate, killing at least 20 people. Privately, many Afghans say they have no intention of voting, given the security risks and the perception of fraud. The US and the Taliban are currently meeting in Doha for an eighth round of talks aimed at striking a peace deal that would slash the US military presence in Afghanistan. Both sides have cited “excellent progress”. “We are discussing the final remaining points,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told AFP on Tuesday. “With that, the peace agreement will be completed and then we will decide on the announcement of the date of the agreement.”
Mumbai: Terming as “crows” the leaders who left the NCP and joined others, party chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said fielding fresh faces in the upcoming Assembly polls was being considered by the party. The opposition parties in Maharashtra, particularly the NCP, witnessed its MLAs and key leaders joining the BJP and Shiv Sena last month. “We don’t need to worry about crows (kawale) any longer, instead focus on party workers (mawale) ahead of the assembly elections,” Pawar said here. Three NCP legislators- Shivendrasinh Bhosale, Sandeep Naik and Vaibhav Pichad- had joined the BJP along with the party’s state women wing president Chitra Wagh last month. Besides, NCP’s Mumbai unit president Sachin Ahir and Shahapur MLA Pandurang Barora had also joined the Shiv Sena last month.
New Delhi: In a fast-paced development, the Supreme Court on Friday said the woman law student, who had gone missing after levelling harassment allegations against former Union minister and BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand and found in Rajasthan, will be kept in the national Capital under full security.The woman was produced before the Apex Court judges who said she has expressed desire not to go to her home state, Uttar Pradesh. The Apex Court, which directed the Uttar Pradesh Police to produce the woman before it when they were on way to Sahajahanpur from Rajasthan, had an “in-camera” interaction with her. Later, a bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna, which assembled at 7.35 pm to hear the matter, said in open court hearing that the woman had left Uttar Pradesh with her three college mates in “order to protect herself”.
New Delhi: Challans of close to Rs 7 lakh were issued and over thousand litres of acid was seized in the national capital in the last 10 days under a special drive to curb acid attacks directed by Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev. In a statement issued on Monday, the government said that a special meeting was held on August 22 headed by the Chief Secretary to discuss various issues regarding acid attacks inthe city. “In the meeting, the Chief Secretary expressed concern over the incidents of acid attacks and directed all departments to work towards checking the sale of acid and rehabilitating acid attack survivors,” it said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderThe meeting was also attended by Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal, secretaries of several departments, and representatives of Delhi Police, among others. In the meeting, Dev directed the Divisional Commissioner-cum-Secretary (Revenue) to immediately constitute a joint team of area sub-divisional magistrate (SDMs), DCW representatives and Delhi Police personnel. “The Chief Secretary issued instructions that these joint teams will conduct daily raids and any place found to be selling or not maintaining proper records shall be booked on the spot both by the SDM and the Delhi Police.” Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsThe DCW was asked to collect local intelligence through its network of women and identify the shops that were selling acid which could then be raided, the statement added. “The Chief Secretary had stated that this would be a 10-day special drive of the Delhi government and similar drives will be conducted on a regular basis.” In the past 10 days, the joint teams of SDM, DCW and Delhi Police conducted over 100 raids and issued challans of over Rs 7 lakh, the statement said. “The teams also seized over 1,000 litres of concentrated acid by posing as decoy customers.” The government said that in one of the visits, the team seized over 240 litres from one small shop in Narela. “The acid was being sold openly and the shopkeeper even prodded the team to buy larger amounts. In another raid, over 250 litres were seized by the team in Najafgarh sub-division area. Here too, the acid was being sold without any deterrence. In almost all shops, no records of acid stored in the shops were maintained which is in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines and orders of the Delhi government. The raids were conducted all over Delhi in over 24 sub-divisions,” the government said. Dev said he was deeply disturbed with the prevalence of acid attacks in Delhi. “I believe an acid attack is one of the most painful trauma that a human being can go through. We are strictly against the open sale of acid and shall take all measures to stop it. I have directed all SDMs and police officials to practice zero tolerance against the open sale of acid. We will leave no stone unturned for achieving an acid free Delhi,” he said. Maliwal applauded the Chief Secretary for taking this initiative. “Illegal sale of acid and more importantly easy availability of concentrated acid in the open market is a serious issue affecting Delhi. Several acid attacks could have been prevented had there been a stringent check on sale of acid,” she said.
Mumbai: Market benchmark BSE Sensex rose 83 points on Wednesday, led by gains in energy, metal and power stocks as global crude oil prices eased and rupee recovered against the dollar. After a rangebound session, the 30-share index ended 82.79 points, or 0.23 per cent, higher at 36,563.88. The index hit an intra-day high of 36,712.99 and a low of 36,465.92. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty settled 31.05 points, or 0.29 per cent, up at 10,848.65. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal Top gainers in the Sensex pack included Tata Steel, Vedanta, SBI, Tech Mahindra, Bajaj Finance, Asian Paints, M&M, NTPC and PowerGrid, rising up to 3.95 per cent. On the other hand, ONGC, Yes Bank, Bharti Airtel, HDFC Bank, Sun Pharma and Maruti fell up to 2.08 per cent. After plunging over 2 per cent in the past two sessions, equities took a breather as oil prices cooled after Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said that more than half of the country’s daily crude oil production, that was knocked out by the drone attack, has been recovered. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost He also assured that production capacity at its targeted plants would be fully restored by the end of the month. Consequently, Brent crude futures fell 0.95 per cent to 63.94 per barrel (intra-day). Tracking the movement in oil prices, the rupee appreciated 52 paise (intra-day) to trade at 71.26 per US dollar. Further boosting global market mood, US President Donald Trump said a trade agreement between the US and China was likely to happen either before or immediately after the American elections. Market participants were also awaiting cues from the policy meeting of the Federal Reserve, traders said. Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai Composite Index, Hang Seng, Nikkei and Kospi ended on a mixed note. Stock exchanges in Europe were trading in the green in their respective early sessions.
GODS LAKE NARROWS, Man. – RCMP have issued a plea on social media for help from a small, isolated Manitoba community to find the killer in their midst.Manitoba Mounties posted on their Facebook page Tuesday the story of Leah Anderson, a 15-year-old girl who was brutally slain and left on a snowy trail in Gods Lake Narrows, Man., in 2013.Her body was in such bad shape it was initially thought she had been attacked by wolves or dogs, but eventually investigators concluded she had been viciously beaten.At first, RCMP asked volunteers to submit DNA samples, conducted interviews and even did lie detector tests, but one by one the suspects were ruled out.However, on Tuesday, Mounties posted they have made “significant advancements” in the investigation.They said they have narrowed down the remaining suspects and determined that the killer was a male and known to Anderson, but said they need the Cree community to “come together” with any new information that might lead to an arrest.Located 550 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, Gods Lake Narrows is accessible only by air or ice road in the winter.The night Leah died started out as a typical one for the “bright, happy” teenager, Mounties said.“Hey hey hey, you you you, how are you?” she kidded with a friend in her last post on Facebook.She had planned to meet up with a buddy to go skating but the plans fell through so she headed toward the rink by herself at 7:30 p.m.“Somewhere between her door and the arena, Leah met her killer,” said the RCMP. “He brutally beat her and left her dead on a snowmobile/walking trail.”Her remains were found two days later.“The popular, funny girl with so much potential was gone,” said the RCMP. “Not only was the community dealing with the grief of losing Leah, they had to come to terms with the brutal manner of her death and the fact that in their isolated community, where the ice road in and out was closed, the killer was still there.”It was another blow for a family that had already endured much heartache. Leah’s father, Gilbert Duke, was slain when she was little, and she and her siblings went into foster care until an aunt and uncle in Gods Lake Narrows took them in.In recent days, friends and relatives have been posting remembrances and pictures leading up to the RCMP’s announcement of a renewed push in the case.For some, it has been tough.“They say they have a suspect but shouldn’t because they have no actual evidence against him,” Eleanor Duke posted to the RCMP page. “I just want my sister to be at rest and for my family to get the justice she so truly deserves.”
A northern Ontario town that offered generous incentives to potential newcomers in a bid to revitalize the community says its efforts were successful enough to merit a second round.Officials in Smooth Rock Falls, Ont., recently launched a campaign to woo newcomers to the area and help rebuild a town that had been in a financial tailspin since the closure of a local pulp and paper mill.As part of the campaign, the municipal government put 15 parcels of town land up for sale and offered prospective buyers rebates of up to 90 per cent, resulting in some lots being available for as little as $500.Officials say hundreds of calls flooded in, some from as far afield as China and Australia, while a steady trickle of visitors also came to the community to see what it had to offer.The town land got snapped up by a single developer within the first week, and government officials say private real estate sales are starting to increase thanks to newcomers who are taken with the area.Officials say they’re so pleased with the success of the campaign that they’re putting another dozen parcels of town property up for sale by the end of the month.Chief Administrative Officer Luc Denault said the mix of residential and commercial lots will be made available with the same generous incentives as the first batch, adding the move is expected to continue the positive momentum generated by the initial campaign.“The outcome to date has been extremely positive and encouraging, not only for Smooth Rock Falls, but for people and businesses looking to establish themselves,” Denault said in a telephone interview. “It provides them an opportunity or hope, and for some the achievement of their dreams.”Officials in Smooth Rock Falls saw a revitalization effort as necessary as the town slowly declined in the wake of the closure of the area’s sole major employer.People drifted away from the town after the Tembec pulp and paper mill shut up shop in 2006. A population of 2,400 at the time of the closure now stands at 1,330 according to a 2016 Statistics Canada census estimate, prompting a 40 per cent dip in town revenues.In response to the declines, Smooth Rock Falls developed a 20-year strategic plan focused on reviving industry in the area. Denault said officials recognized that the plan wouldn’t come to fruition without new residents to breathe life into the community, prompting the town to actively pursue newcomers through a targeted campaign.Branding itself “Near North, Near Perfect,” the town offered bold incentives to draw people to the community about 100 kilometres north of Timmins, Ont., on the Mattagami River.Would-be residents, for instance, had the chance to purchase land overlooking a nine-hole golf course for as low as $500, 90 per cent off its market value.The town also offered tax breaks for new home- and business owners, up to $2,500 off building permits, and financial loans from the city for those who might need it.Roman Bodnarchuk sensed opportunity as soon as he read about the town’s sales pitch and wasted no time travelling to the community to scope it out.Within days of the lots going on sale, Bodnarchuk had snapped them all up. The vacant properties will soon boast new single-family houses that will be built on factory floors and installed in town by early may, he said.Bodnarchuk said the new, modern homes are expected to sell for between $149,000 and $199,000, well above current list prices for other homes in the area.Bodnarchuk said he hopes the new buildings will improve the town’s fortunes by attracting residents eager to flee a more expensive market.“You could live in this town at a cost of living that’s about a tenth of what we’re used to in Toronto, but yet … you still have the same quality of education and medical care,” he said, citing friendly residents, a scenic location and modern amenities such as hospitals and recreation centres as further draws. “You can live there, but you can live debt-free.”Bodnarchuk said he’ll be in line to bid for the next batch of properties that go up for sale at the end of the month.The presence of a developer does not compromise the town’s original vision for the campaign, Denault said, adding hundreds of people have now expressed interest Smooth Rock Falls and may become homeowners once Bodnarchuk’s work is done.Longtime community resident Wayne McGee agreed, saying the influx of new homes and visitors can only boost the town’s present prosperity and future prospects.“When you bring more people into the community, it increases your tax base,” he said. “When you increase your tax base, you add money that you can do things for the community with.”McGee said a wishlist for the town includes improvements to the arena, a second local restaurant and perhaps a small waterfront project.
LA LOCHE, Sask. – Four people were killed and seven wounded in a mass shooting at a school and a home in the northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche on Jan. 22, 2016. A student, who was 17 at the time, pleaded guilty and a judge ruled Friday that he will be sentenced as an adult.Here’s a look at those who died:Marie Jaqueline Janvier:The 21-year-old was a graduate of the La Loche school and had recently been hired as a tutor or teacher’s aide. “She always felt the kids needed a little bit more. She was the one to give them that,” said former assistant principal Phyllis Longobardi. Janvier’s family said the young woman planned on going to university to become a teacher. She loved children and animals. She lived with and cared for her mother and grandmother. Jackie Janvier described her only child as a kind, sweet and caring woman who worked hard and didn’t like sitting at home. Deegan Park, her boyfriend of three years, said he would have given up the rest of his life just to spend another year with her. “I grew up not a good guy, but she turned me right.”Adam Wood:Wood, 35, started his teaching career in La Loche the September before the shooting. After completing his education degree, he studied sustainable agriculture for a year while living outside in a tent. “Adam was quite an adventurer, had a passion for life, and would often make you laugh until your stomach hurt. He was always up for a good challenge and lived each day joyously,” his family in Uxbridge, Ont., said in a statement after his death. Wood had also worked with youth at an urban farm in Thunder Bay, Ont. “There are some people out there that hold a light. Adam was one of them,” a group member said on Facebook. “I think about the darkness that came over the school in the moments before his death. And then I think about his light. How he would have offered that to everyone around him, and how, maybe, that would have made that horrible situation somehow a little bit easier for the people near him who survived.”Dayne Fontaine:The 17-year-old was killed at a home with his younger brother. “He was a good kid,” said his father, Gerald Moise, as he started a fire at the community cemetery after the shooting to thaw the frozen ground for burials. He said his son often went hunting with his grandparents and liked to go quadding. Friend Brittney Lemaigre remembered Dayne as a caring person. “So thoughtful … He had a heart of gold,” she wrote in a Facebook conversation with The Canadian Press. Heather MacKillop, a former teacher in La Loche, wrote on her Facebook page that Dayne was an amazing student who held a special place in her heart. “He taught me my first (and several more) Dene words, taught me to tie a snare and loved sharing his hunting stories. I’ll never forget his smile.”Drayden Fontaine:The 13-year-old was found dead in the house with his older brother. The pair were later buried side by side at the local cemetery. The mother to both boys, Alicia Fontaine, posted about her grief on Facebook after the shooting. “My heart shattered into a million pieces,” she wrote. “So sad I don’t have no more babies.” Loren Lemaigre, calling himself a family friend, also posted on Facebook: “So young and for nothing.”
EDMONTON – An animal rights group is calling for an independent investigation into how three cats were left in an Edmonton Humane Society vehicle for 22 days.The society says it did a full internal review to ensure something similar never happens again, but Animal Justice executive director Camille Labchuk says that’s not good enough.“It’s a pretty serious conflict of interest in my view because the Edmonton Humane Society is itself tasked with investigating violations of animal protection laws,” she said Tuesday.“But in this case, they would have to investigate themselves.”The society said in a statement Monday that the cats were transferred from another agency to the Edmonton shelter on March 27, but three felines were overlooked while unloading the vehicle.The animals weren’t discovered until April 18, when staff were preparing for another animal transfer.The cats were dehydrated, hungry and had urine burns on their paws. They have since been medically cleared and adopted into new homes.The society said it has reviewed the staff members involved, as well as its procedures. Checks and balances have been added to minimize future mistakes while transferring animals.It declined to provide further details for privacy reasons.Labchuk said she has no doubt the humane society is committed to helping animals and regrets what happened.But she said there needs to be outside oversight, much like how instances of police misconduct are probed by external agencies.“In 2018, we still largely leave the enforcement of animal cruelty laws to private charities and, in our view, this isn’t good enough anymore,” she said.“There should be state agents involved in investigating and prosecuting these offences and there should be a pretty high degree of transparency and accountability.”— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary
MONTREAL – Rabbi Reuben Joshua Poupko looked at the hundreds gathered in his Montreal synagogue Monday night and told the crowd it often doesn’t make sense why the world is filled with such hatred toward Jews.Poupko is originally from Pittsburgh — the city where 11 Jews were shot dead over the weekend at the Tree of Life Synagogue — and he cried when he said his late father used to be a rabbi in that city for 60 years.When hateful people imagine “the other,” Poupko said, “they imagine me and you — they imagine the Jew. It makes no sense.”Surrounded by a heavy presence of police cruisers and security guards, members of Montreal’s Jewish community, politicians and other mourners gathered at Beth Israel Beth Aaron synagogue to remember those killed during a Sabbath service.“This is the most important statement,” Poupko said in an interview before the ceremony, acknowledging the size of the crowd. “There are members of all communities here. The Jewish community doesn’t stand alone and it doesn’t grieve alone. The pain is shared by many.”Brenda Gewurz and her husband, Samuel, were on the balcony overlooking the main prayer hall.“Montreal is a very close-knit Jewish community and we stand in support of our communities across the world,” she said. “It’s a very sad day and I think it’s important that we acknowledge the sadness.”Meanwhile, Toronto’s Mel Lastman Square was crowded Monday night with members of the Jewish community who held candles as they sang traditional songs “Lo Yisa Goy” and “Kol Haolam Kulo,” and later stood for a moment of silence.Among those gathered there were 20 family members of Joyce Fienberg, a 75-year-old who died in the shooting and had previously lived in Toronto. Her funeral is scheduled Wednesday in Pittsburgh.Fienberg’s cousin Judy Winberg led the crowd with a prayer that began with “grant us peace, your most precious gift.”It was enough to bring Rachel Cohen to tears and hug her seven-year-old son, standing beside her, a little tighter.“I can’t even imagine what that family has been feeling since they lost their loved one in Pittsburgh,” she said. “I’ve just been thinking that can happen here and we need to stand strong and support each other.”Sara Lefton, the vice-president of philanthropy at the United Jewish Appeal Federation, said amid tragedy, vigils being held across the country are crucial because those killed in Pittsburgh were “singled out for being Jewish.”“It’s so important at a time like this for the broader community to come together and recognize that we have to fight back against hate and stand together at a time of difficulty like this.”Earlier on Monday, leaders of a mosque in Quebec City that was the site of a 2017 mass murder carried out by a lone gunman sent condolences to Pittsburgh’s synagogue.“It reminds us of the difficult moments we went through, and it brings back some of that worry,” Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec co-founder Boufeldja Benabdallah said in an interview Monday.The January 2017 attack at the mosque killed six worshippers and injured 19 others.In a statement, the centre’s board decried “the madness of men” that “struck our Jewish neighbours of Pittsburgh … who were only praying in a sacred and untouchable place. … Today we understand very well the pain that Jewish families feel, and we are wholeheartedly with them.”In the months since the attack, Benabdallah said, a new reality has set in at the mosque. Open doors have given way to concrete barriers near the front door, magnetized locks and security cameras.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday in the House of Commons that Canadians are “horrified” by the Pittsburgh attack.“Our hearts are with the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and across Canada,” he said. “May the families of those murdered be comforted and may the injured recover quickly and fully. We’re working with U.S. authorities and ready to assist if required.”Monday’s vigils follow similar gatherings Sunday in Halifax, Vancouver and Ottawa. More events are planned Tuesday in Winnipeg and Hamilton.— With files from Tara Deschamps in Toronto.
VICTORIA – Goodwill payments of more than $1 million and a university scholarship in the name of a student who died by suicide are among key actions taken by British Columbia’s government after a report on the firings of eight Health Ministry workers, says the province’s ombudsperson.The report, called “Misfire,” found that seven workers and a contract employee involved in drug policy research were fired in 2012 due to a flawed and rushed investigation. It said they did not deserve the personal, financial and professional harm they suffered.The government committed to implementing the report’s 41 recommendations following its release in April last year. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke, in an interim progress report Tuesday, said there are four outstanding recommendations and his office is reviewing four others.“When we look at the degree of implementation, including comparing it to how quickly public bodies have implemented the recommendations from some of our other reports, this level of implementation is very good,” Chalke said in a conference call with reporters.He said the major completed recommendations include: apologies and goodwill payments to people impacted by the firings, whistleblower protection legislation, a new policy regarding conflict of interest and an independent review of government dismissal policy.The government contributed $500,000 to create a scholarship in memory of deceased former employee Roderick MacIsaac, who killed himself about four months after he was fired by the Health Ministry, Chalke said.Chalke said in the “Misfire” report that most of the grounds cited for MacIsaac’s dismissal “were unsupported by the evidence and not true.”MacIsaac, a university co-op research student, had been accused of jeopardizing privacy and the reputation of the ministry as he and others worked on a drug research program in 2012.The total amount of payments to affected individuals amounts to $1.16 million, Chalke said.“In relation to individuals, ex gratia, also known as goodwill payments, were made and both public and private apologies were made,” he said. “These amounts range from $15,000 to $125,000, depending upon the individual involved.”The remaining outstanding recommendations involve financial impact assessments on disciplined employees who were not fired, union grievances for fired employees, payments to impacted contractors and reconciliation efforts to create a more positive work culture at the ministry, Chalke said.He said his office will publish a further assessment of the implementation of its recommendations after the government releases its next progress report in April.
OTTAWA — The federal government is poised to try to improve RCMP accountability by placing some external eyes on the national police force.Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki are expected to announce the plans at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.The long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale over internal bullying and harassment.Insiders say the measures to be announced Wednesday are the beginning of a process that involves several steps to ensure the force benefits from independent advice and scrutiny.The announcement will represent the Liberal government’s response to two critical 2017 reports.In the first, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP said the force lacked both the will and the capacity to address the challenges that afflict its workplaces.The commission urged the government to usher in civilian governance or oversight for the paramilitary-style police force.The second report, a review by former auditor general Sheila Fraser of four harassment lawsuits from female members, also called for substantial reforms.At the time, Goodale said both reports described “similar serious and long-standing concerns” and would “inform further action” to ensure that the RCMP is a healthy and respectful employer.Lucki became the RCMP’s first permanent female boss last year when she took over the commissioner’s post from Bob Paulson.Before he left, Paulson delivered an apology to hundreds of current and former female officers and employees who were subjected to discrimination and harassment dating back as far as four decades.The words of regret came as the Mounties settled class-action lawsuits stemming from allegations that cast a dark pall over the force.The Trudeau government has directed Lucki to modernize and reform the RCMP’s culture, protect employees from harassment and workplace violence, and foster reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.Goodale’s mandate letter to Lucki, issued last year, also asked her to make the force representative of Canada’s diverse population by embracing gender parity and ensuring that women, Indigenous members and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.Another priority is implementing measures to improve health and wellness after an auditor’s report found the force was failing to meet the mental-health needs of its members due to a lack of resources, poor monitoring and meagre support from supervisors.Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – In the lead up to the fall federal election, the Conservatives have unveiled their plan to address sexual abuse against children.Calling them some of the most disturbing cases in our justice system, Tory Leader Andrew Scheer is vowing to crack down on sexual offences against children.“A society is judged by how it protects its most vulnerable, and under the current government, Canada is failing,” he says.If his party forms government in the fall, Scheer is promising to bring in a five year minimum sentence for anyone convicted of a serious sexual offence against a child, and to make the length and severity of the abuse aggravating factors that judges will have to take into account for sentencing.He says wounds from sexual abuse last a lifetime, adding the penalty should “fit the crime” and that survivors need to be assured the federal government will ensure offenders are appropriately punished.Scheer claims too many criminals are let out of prison after serving only months.“In 2017, there were over 8,000 incidents of sexual violation against children in Canada,” he says. “In many cases, the details of what took place are too horrific to speak of.”This announcement is a part of a broader range of promises the Conservative leader is making in the lead up to the October vote.On Wednesday, he pledged funding for police, survivor services and public awareness to fight human trafficking, adding he will make changes to the Criminal Code to make it easier to convict people accused of it.He’s also in the middle of a five-speech series to lay out his views on issues such as foreign policy, the economy and the environment.