Hyderabad: Dharmapuri Arvind, who caused the biggest upset in Lok Sabha polls in Telangana by defeating TRS heavyweight K Kavitha, Thursday said the BJP is confident of coming to power in the state after the next Assembly elections.A first-time contestant in electoral politics, the former Ranji Trophy cricketer defeated sitting MP Kavitha, daughter of the TRS president and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, by 71,057 votes, sending shock waves in her party. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps & 20 launch pads along LoCBasking in glory after his ‘giant-killing’ feat, the 1976 born said he is confident of his party wresting Telangana from the ruling TRS after the next Assembly polls, due in 2023. “We will increase our tally (Lok Sabha seats) by 2024 for sure. In Telangana, we will be be a formidable strength and by 2023, I am certain about forming the government in Telangana,” Arvind, who has now become a poster-boy of sorts for the BJP’s state unit, said. BJP was ‘down-in-the-dumps’ after the Assembly elections last year when it could win only one seat in the 119-member House, with the TRS returning to power with a rich haul of 88 seats. The Lok Sabha elections saw the party winning four seats of the total 17 in the State, up from just one in the 2014 polls, giving a new energy to the Amit Shah’s outfit. Arvind is son of TRS Rajya Sabha member D Srinivas, who was a Congressman for a long time and had served as president of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh Congress unit before joining the ruling party.
Halle Westfalen (Germany): Roger Federer says staying wide awake will be the key to his grass court season with his focus on claiming a record tenth Halle title this week. The 37-year-old Swiss was given the run around by Rafael Nadal last time out on the Roland Garros clay, but says he’ll be back in his element on his prefered lawns at the freshly renamed Noventi Open. “It was good to reach the semi-final of a Grand Slam tournament again, and in my first appearance in Paris for four years,” said Federer, who last won the title in Paris in 2009. “I feel fresh, rested and ready for the grass season now,” said Federer, who will target a ninth Wimbledon win in July. “The surface suits me: I like the intuitive, aggressive game,” Federer told a press conference ahead of Halle. “The matches on grass are often decided in a few rallies. You have to stay awake and concentrated.” Federer added: “Winning the tournament always has to be my goal in Halle. “I love to play at this venue, so I am going into the tournament with a very good feeling,” said Federer, who first appeared in Halle in 2000 and has gone on to play the tournament 15 times. “It would be just amazing to win for a 10th time,” said Federer, who was beaten by Croatia’s Borna Coric in the final last year. Federer also revealed he would have a bird’s eye view of the action while resting up at his hotel, where his room overlooks Court 1. “When friends come here they can’t believe you can watch tennis from the hotel. It is totally cool to watch your rivals and friends playing from your balcony.” Federer gets his campaign under way against a tricky opponent in John Millman, who beat him at Flushing Meadows last season. “John is always a tough opponent who doesn’t give anything away. He always gives 100 percent on court and it will be a real test, but that is perhaps exactly what I need.”
New Delhi: Recovery of bad loans at Rs 45,593 crore in PSBs was much faster than the total write-offs during 2018-19, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in Parliament Monday. The write-offs stood at Rs 36,377 crore during the year, the minister said. The year-on-year rise in recoveries and recapitatlisation in public sector banks (PSBs) during financial year 2018-19 was much faster than the rise in write-off figures on bank loans, Sitharaman said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep”Recoveries and recapitalisation rose by Rs 61,593 crore (comprising of a rise of Rs 45,593 crore in recoveries, as per RBI data, and Rs 16,000 crore in recapitalisation), whereas write-off figures grew by Rs 36,377 crore (as per RBI data),” she said. The minister was responding to a question whether the write-off figures on bank loans are rising every year, much faster than recoveries and recapitalisation. In the last four financial years, PSBs have recovered Rs 3.59 lakh crore, including record Rs 1.23 lakh crore in 2018-19. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsAlso, the aggregate gross advances of PSBs increased from Rs 18.19 lakh crore by March 2008 to Rs 52.16 lakh crore by end of March 2014, as per RBI data on global operations. The minister said that the primary reasons for spurt in stressed assets in banks have been due to aggressive lending practices, wilful default/loan frauds/corruption in some cases and economic slowdown. The RBI initiated the Asset quality review (AQR) in 2015 for clean up of bank balance sheet by gauging the right amount of bad loans and making appropriate provisions towards that, Sitharaman said. The transparent recognition of stressed assets as NPAs led to higher gross bad loans at Rs 8.95 lakh crore as on March 31, 2018 against earlier estimate of Rs 2.79 lakh crore as on March 31, 2015. However, the 4R’s strategy of recognition, resolution, recapitalisation and reforms have led to decline in bad loans by Rs 89,189 crore to Rs 8.06 lakh crore as on March 31, 2019, the minister said. The government has taken steps under 4R’s strategy of recognising non-performing assets (NPAs) transparently, resolving and recovering value from stressed accounts, recapitalising PSBs and reforms in banks and financial ecosystem to ensure a responsible and clean system, she said. To improve recovery, number of steps including enactment of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), amendment in Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act and creation of stressed asset management verticals under the PSB reforms agenda.
Kabul: Dozens of people were wounded with fatalities feared as a powerful explosion rocked Kabul early Monday, targeting an area of the Afghan capital housing military and government buildings, officials said. The rush-hour explosion sent a plume of smoke into the air above the Puli Mahmood Khan neighbourhood of the city, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said. An AFP reporter said he could hear gunshots shortly after the blast. Also Read – Turkey preparations for Syria offensive ‘completed’ “Dozens of wounded were taken to hospitals from today’s blast in Kabul,” health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar tweeted. The area was quickly blocked off by Afghan forces and ambulances, while the nearby “Green Zone” diplomatic area was put on lockdown, with no one allowed in or out. The heavily-secured neighbourhood is home to some military and government buildings, including one shared by Afghanistan’s intelligence agency and defence ministry, as well as the Afghan Football Federation and the Afghan Cricket Board. Also Read – Imran Khan arrives in China, to meet Prez Xi Jinping Shams Amini, a football federation spokesman, told AFP that the blast occurred near the federation’s gates. “Some of our colleagues are trapped inside, we have reports of some injuries. We don’t know if the attackers have entered the building,” he said. Nearby Shamshad TV station, which was attacked in 2017, aired images of broken glass and damage to its offices but said it was not the target. No group immediately claimed responsibility, and police said they did not yet know the target or nature of the blast. Both the Taliban and the so-called Islamic State group are active in Kabul. The explosion came two days after the Taliban and the US began their seventh round of talks in the Qatari capital of Doha as Washington eyes a breakthrough before Afghanistan’s September presidential election. The negotiations have so far centred on four issues — counter-terrorism, the foreign troop presence, an intra-Afghan dialogue and a permanent ceasefire. A potential deal would see the US agree to withdraw its troops after more than 17 years in Afghanistan, igniting deep concerns among huge swathes of Afghans who fear the militants will return to some semblance of power. In return the Taliban would guarantee the country would never again become a safe haven for violent extremist groups, as happened with Al-Qaeda before the September 11, 2001 attacks. US officials have previously said they are hoping for a deal before the upcoming Afghan presidential elections, which have already been delayed twice and are now set for September.
New Delhi: Firing a fresh salvo on the AAP government, Delhi BJP on Wednesday alleged the budget for construction of nursery classrooms was increased by Rs 100 crore on “verbal” orders, prompting Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to serve defamation notices to the saffron party leaders, including its state chief Manoj Tiwari.The leaders of Delhi BJP claimed there has been a “scam” of Rs 2,000 crore in the construction of classrooms in Delhi government schools and sought the resignation of Sisodia, the incharge of the education department. Citing purported minutes of Delhi government’s Finance Committee meeting in March 2018, Tiwari charged that the government built 366 nursery classrooms at an estimated cost of Rs 28.70 lakh for each of them. Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic items”The minutes show an estimate of Rs 221.44 crore, which was revised to Rs 326.36 crore. The PWD was verbally authorised to complete the work pending formal approval,” he said. The Delhi BJP did not disclose the source of the documents accessed by it through its spokesperson Harish Khurana and media relations head Neelkant Bakshi. Khurana said “verbal authorisation” for an amount to the tune of Rs 100 crore is not permitted as per CPW manual and its a “clear cut case of corruption”. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderTiwari further claimed that in the meeting principal secretary(finance) “objected” that the nursery classrooms constructed by PWD were semi-permanent structures instead of permanent rooms. In his legal notice to Tiwari, BJP’s Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta and party MP Parvesh Verma, Sisodia accused them of defaming him through “offending publications” based on “cooked up” allegations and sought their “unqualified” apology. Earlier, reacting to the charge of “scam”, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Sisodia dared Tiwari and his party to get them arrested or apologise to poor people in Delhi whose children were getting education at good quality government schools. Reacting to Sisodia’s defamation notice, Tiwari asserted that BJP will not bow down to his “pressure tactics”, and go ahead with filing a complaint with Lokayukta. Delhi BJP Tuesday filed a police complaint in the alleged “scam” seeking a probe. Tiwari claimed, the police has forwarded the complaint to the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi government.
Tehran: Iran’s state TV says 18 people were killed and 14 injured in two separate road accidents in the country. The report says both accidents happened on Tuesday. The TV says 11 died after a minibus plunged into a ravine in a valley in the central province of Isfahan. It says eight were injured and were taken to hospital. They were reported to be in serious condition. The second accident, which killed seven, involved a crash between a bus and a car in the southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province. A huge fire engulfed the two vehicles after the collision. With about 17,000 dying every year in accidents, Iran has one of the world’s worst traffic safety records, blamed on disregard of traffic laws, unsafe vehicles and inadequate emergency services.
New Delhi: Coffee Day Enterprises on Wednesday named independent director S V Ranganath as the interim chairman of the company to replace its founder VG Siddhartha, who has been confirmed dead days after he went missing. The company board, wherein Siddhartha’s wife Malavika Hegde is also a director, met on Wednesday to put in place a working structure of the company. The board appointed “S V Ranganath as the interim chairman of the board” and “Nitin Bagmane as an interim chief operating officer (COO) of the company,” Coffee Day Enterprises, which runs India’s biggest coffee chain CCD, said in a regulatory filing. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details It also constituted an executive committee comprising Ranganath, COO Nitin Bagmane and CFO R Ram Mohan “to exercise the powers previously vested with the Chief Executive Officer of the company and the Administrative Committee constituted by the Board in 2015,” it said. “The board will, in due course, prepare a detailed charter of authorities vested in the Executive Committee and approve the same,” the filing said. The Executive Committee will explore opportunities to deleverage the Coffee Day Group, it said. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday The body of Siddhartha, who had been missing since Monday evening, was found on Wednesday in the Netravati river in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka after 36 hours of intense search, officials said. Siddhartha purportedly wrote a letter indicating he was anxious about pressure from banks, investors and the tax authorities before he went missing. “The board took cognizance of statements in the purported letter from V G Siddhartha relating to financial transactions outside the knowledge of the senior management, auditors and the board. “While the authenticity of the letter is unverified and it is unclear whether these statements pertain to the company or the personal holdings of V G Siddhartha, the board took serious note of the same and resolved to thoroughly investigate this matter,” the filing said. The board expressed its condolences to Siddhartha’s family and resolved to lend its support and expressed full confidence in the company’s management team. “The board also took note of a message from Malavika Hegde expressing support and trust in the company’s professional team and the common effort to look after the interest of the employees and all other stakeholders,” it said. “The board remains deeply committed to safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders, including investors, lenders, employees and customers.” The company said the Audit Committee and Executive Committee will engage in discussions with the statutory auditors of the company and such other advisors as may be necessary with a view to recommend appropriate next steps to the board at its forthcoming meeting on August 8. The board has also appointed Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas as its legal counsel to advise on these matters.
Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh): Bangladesh on Thursday said it has banned two aid agencies from Rohingya camps in the country’s southeast, alleging they were telling refugees to reject repatriation to their homeland in Myanmar. The move came amid growing impatience from Dhaka about the presence of the refugees in the country, two years after some 740,000 were driven over the border by a military crackdown on the Muslim minority. The latest repatriation attempt by Bangladesh and Myanmar two weeks ago, the second in less than a year, failed with not a single refugee volunteering to cross the border back home. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USUS-based Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and local organisation Al Markazul Islami were accused by the government’s NGO Affairs Bureau of “instigating” the stateless minority against the recent repatriation attempt. Kamal Hossain, the government administrator of Cox’s Bazar district where the refugee camps are located, said Dhaka had issued a notice for the NGOs to immediately stop their activities across the country. “The administration is taking action accordingly to the issued order,” he said, adding that the NGO Affairs Bureau also ordered bank transactions by the two agencies to be halted. More than 130 aid agencies work in the three dozen squalid camps in Cox’s Bazar, where the 740,000 Rohingya fled to, joining some 200,000 others already living here.
Kolkata: No compensation will be given by the Kolkata Metro Railway in connection with the Sajal Kanjilal case. The 66-year-old had died in a tragic accident at the Park Street Metro station in July this year. He had boarded a crowded coach and was dragged a few hundred metres with his right hand fingers wedged between the coaches. While Kanjilal’s family members demanded that the Metro officials should provide a job as compensation, the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) conducted a thorough investigation. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaAccording to sources, the CRS found that Kanjilal died due to his own negligence. While Kanjilal’s death has become the first such incident in Kolkata Metro’s history, the CRS had instructed the Kolkata Metro Railway authorities to install convex mirrors at the driving motorman’s end at both the platforms in all the stations to avoid such incidents. In August, in a bid to train officials to evacuate passengers during emergencies, the Kolkata Metro Railway officials conducted a mock drill on evacuation. The drill was conducted in a tunnel on the Down line between Rabindra Sarobar and Mahanayak Uttam Kumar Metro stations.
Jerusalem: Israel began voting in its second election in five months Tuesday that will decide whether to extend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s term as the country’s longest-serving prime minister despite corruption allegations against him. Polls opened at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) and were due to close in most areas at 10:00 pm. At one Jerusalem polling station, a trickle of voters arrived to cast ballots just after opening time. The stakes could not be much higher for the 69-year-old right-wing leader who, as in April polls, faces a strong challenge from ex-military chief Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White alliance. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US Ex-defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s former right-hand man turned rival, could play a kingmaker role with his campaign to “make Israel normal again.” Some 6.4 million people are eligible to cast ballots. The first exit surveys will be released just after polls close, while official results are not expected until Wednesday. Opinion polls have indicated another tight race, showing Netanyahu’s Likud and Blue and White winning around 32 seats each in the 120-seat parliament. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls Both Netanyahu and Gantz paid a last-minute visit Monday night to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews are allowed to pray. Netanyahu enters the election after having suffered one of the biggest defeats of his political career following the April vote. His Likud along with its right-wing and religious allies won a majority of seats, leading Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to task the premier with forming a new government. But following weeks of discussions, Netanyahu failed, leading him to opt for an unprecedented second election rather than risk having Rivlin choose someone else. The danger for Netanyahu extends beyond remaining prime minister, a post he has held for a total of more than 13 years. If he wins, many believe he will seek to have parliament grant him immunity from prosecution while facing the possibility of a corruption indictment in the weeks ahead. Israel’s attorney general has said he intends to indict Netanyahu for fraud, bribery and breach of trust pending a hearing expected only days after the election in early October. A final decision would come later. Netanyahu would not be required to step down if indicted, only if convicted with all appeals exhausted. Recognising the stakes, Netanyahu spent the final days of the campaign seeking to appeal to right-wing nationalists — key to his re-election bid — and to boost turnout among his base. Those efforts have included a controversial pledge to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, a third of the territory. He has issued unfounded warnings that the vote could be stolen by fraud in Arab communities, leading critics to accuse him of racism. But Netanyahu has also highlighted the country’s growing economy and his relationships with world leaders such as US President Donald Trump. He has tried to label his main opponents “weak” and “leftist” despite their security credentials. “This is the choice that is open to you: their left-wing government or a strong right-wing government led by me,” he said Monday. Gantz has campaigned by presenting himself as an honourable alternative. He has repeatedly spoken of Netanyahu’s willingness to form a coalition with far-right parties that could help him seek immunity. Gantz says his alliance, which includes three former military chiefs of staff, wants a unity government that the vast majority of Israelis would support.
Highlights from the news file for Friday, May 19———SASK TEEN GUNMAN WANTED TO MARK ANNIVERSARY OF LA LOCHE SHOOTING: The teen who has admitted to killing four people in La Loche, Sask., last year wanted a gift to mark the first anniversary of the shootings. The courts are trying to determine if the teen, who can’t be named under youth offender laws, should be sentenced as an adult or a juvenile. A pre-sentence report tabled in court Friday details how the teen asked staff at a Saskatoon youth detention facility whether they would buy him a present on the anniversary of the shooting. The hearing will resume in June when the defence presents its case.———CANADA’S POT REFORMS GAINING INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION — MCLELLAN: The head of a federal government task force on legalizing marijuana is being watched around the world. Anne McLellan, a former Liberal cabinet minister, says other countries want to see how successful Canada is at developing a legal market for cannabis, how it addresses organized crime and how it deals with drug-impaired driving. Once it happens, Canada will become the first G7 country to legalize marijuana.———TRANSPORT MINISTER MEETS WITH AIRLINES ABOUT PASSENGER RIGHTS: Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau is calling for Canada’s airlines to live up to the spirit of the federal government’s passenger bill of rights, even though the legislation does not come into force until next year. Garneau met with some 30 airline, airport and tourism officials in Ottawa on Friday. He says he sensed a “constructive approach” from the airlines. New federal rules will set minimum levels of compensation for people who voluntarily agree to be bumped from a flight and force airlines to establish clear standards of treatment and compensation for circumstances such as lost or damaged luggage.———SOFTWOOD BAILOUT DELAYED: A federal aid package to help softwood lumber producers deal with the effect of U.S. duties won’t go before cabinet until the end of the month. Cabinet discussed a package of options for up to $1 billion in aid for the softwood industry earlier this week, but negotiations with industry and provincial governments aren’t done. A source with knowledge of the negotiations says Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr had hoped to have the plan ready to present publicly by the end of this week, but things didn’t quite come together in time.———PM WEIGHS IN ON BOEING-BOMBARDIER TRADE SPAT: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is blasting the U.S. government for taking up Boeing’s complaint against rival Bombardier. Trudeau says he’ll always defend Canadian companies. But Trudeau refused to elaborate on the government’s suggestion that it might abandon plans to buy 18 of Boeing’s Super Hornet fighter jets if the aerospace giant pursues claims that Bombardier gets unfair subsidies.———TRUMP STARTS FIRST FOREIGN TRIP: U.S. President Donald Trump has departed for his maiden overseas trip as president amid the controversy surrounding investigations into whether his campaign associates collaborated with Russia to sway the election. Air Force One departed Friday with the president, first lady Melania Trump, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as a group of his top advisers and journalists covering the trip.———TRUMP REPORTEDLY CALLED FORMER FBI DIRECTOR ‘NUT JOB’: The New York Times is reporting that U.S. President Donald Trump told Russian diplomats that firing “nut job” FBI director James Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him. The newspaper report cites the White House’s official written account of the Oval Office meeting. The Washington Post is separately reporting that the FBI investigation into possible co-ordination between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign was moving closer to the White House. Law enforcement officials now consider a senior Trump adviser a “person of interest” in the probe, the Post reported.———OTTAWA BEING ACCUSED OF PUTTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS IN DANGER: The NDP says the federal government is asking some women fleeing domestic violence to get their abuser to sign a form in order to get a child benefit. B.C. New Democrat Wayne Stetski says constituents have been coming forward with letters from the Canada Revenue Agency, asking them to verify that they are eligible for the monthly allowance. Stetski says the requirement puts the victim in danger and needs to be corrected. The government is promising to look into the issue as quickly as possible.———OPP LOOK AT THROWING DARTS AT FLEEING VEHICLES: Ontario Provincial Police say they’ve launched a pilot project that will test the use of laser-aimed darts armed with GPS technology to help track fleeing cars. OPP Const. Kerry Schmidt says when a motorist fails to stop or accelerates away after being stopped, Schmidt says a projectile can be fired at the vehicle where it sticks and emits a GPS signal that can be tracked. Schmidt says this will allow officers to be constantly updated on the whereabouts of the suspect vehicle and safely move in and make an arrest.———ONTARIO TEACHER SENTENCED ON SEXUAL EXPLOITATION CHARGES: An eastern Ontario teacher who had sexual encounters with several students and traded nude photos with them has been sentenced to two years in prison. Jaclyn McLaren pleaded guilty in March to two counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of luring, possession of child pornography and making explicit material available to people under 18 and people under 16. Police originally laid 42 charges against McLaren, 37, who taught French at a school near Belleville.———
QUEBEC – The Quebec Liberals defended their back-to-work bill Tuesday from accusations the law gives to much power to the government regarding negotiations between unions and private-sector construction companies.Members of the legislature debated through the night and passed a law forcing Quebec’s 175,000 construction workers to end their week-long strike and return to work Wednesday.The law grants workers a pay hike of 1.8 per cent and forces both sides to enter into a five-month mediation period followed by an arbitration process if a deal cannot be reached.Unions said their lawyers are preparing a legal challenge to the law because they feel the government has potentially illegally limited their right to strike.The association representing construction companies, meanwhile, said the unions got the better deal because the law grants workers a pay raise without forcing them to give up anything in return.Both sides, however, criticized the fact the government has given itself the right to decide what issues will be decided in arbitration — if it comes to that — and what subjects get left out.Opposition leader Jean-Francois Lisee during question period called the law “anti-worker.”He said the government is in a conflict of interest because it can now decide what subject matters enter into arbitration while also being the body that awards the most construction contracts in the province.Premier Philippe Couillard responded by saying the government has accepted to consult with all parties before any potential arbitration process begins.Eric Cote, spokesman for the association representing private-sector construction companies, said “we are preoccupied that the arbitration process is at the mercy of political powers.”He said what is subject to arbitration “can be motivated or subject to political pressure.”A coalition of construction labour unions said representatives were not available Tuesday, but issued a news release saying the government has “muzzled” workers with the new law.
TORONTO – An Ontario judge who wore a hat in court bearing a slogan used by U.S. President Donald Trump told a disciplinary hearing Wednesday he was shocked to discover that what he meant as a joke was viewed as a political statement.Justice Bernd Zabel told an Ontario Judicial Council panel in Toronto he meant to “lighten things up” by wearing a baseball cap with the slogan “Make America Great Again” while walking into court on Nov. 9, 2016 — the day after Trump won the U.S. election.Zabel, 69, testified that it was only after his actions made headlines that he realized some believed he was showing support for the controversial American president and his policies.“I had no malicious intent,” said Zabel, who vowed never to wear the hat in court again.Zabel admitted his actions were contrary to the standard of conduct expected of a judge and constitute judicial misconduct.An agreed statement of facts shows Zabel wore the hat while walking into a courtroom and said it was “just in celebration of a historic night in the United States.” He then took it off and placed it on the dais until the break, when he took it back to his office, the document says.While leaving the courtroom at the end of the day’s proceedings, Zabel was asked about the hat’s disappearance by a prosecutor, according to the agreed statement of facts.He replied: “Brief appearance for the hat. Pissed off the rest of the judges because they all voted for Hillary, so. I was the only Trump supporter up there, but that’s OK.”Zabel later apologized publicly for his behaviour, calling it a “lapse in judgment.”The judge testified Wednesday that he misspoke in discussing the hat in court, and meant to say he was marking an unprecedented historic event rather than celebrating Trump’s victory.He maintained he is not a Trump supporter but was simply “gloating” at having predicted the outcome of the election better than his colleagues.Presenting counsel Linda Rothstein suggested that even if Zabel believed he was making a joke, the election was no laughing matter for many Canadians, who felt “devastated” by the victory of someone whose values they do not share.She asked the judge if he understood why some might be offended that he appeared aligned with Trump, whose policies have often targeted immigrants and other vulnerable groups, and why they may question his impartiality as a result. Zabel said he did in hindsight but had not foreseen that possibility at the time.In her closing submissions, Rothstein said the judicial council panel must assess Zabel’s actions — which she described as “very serious” misconduct — rather than his intentions. She said steps must be taken to restore the public’s trust in the justice system, noting the judge’s apology “did not go far enough” to achieve that goal.Zabel’s lawyers argued his behaviour did not merit extinguishing an “otherwise unblemished” career.The panel must decide what penalty, if any, to order. It may impose a number of sanctions or recommend Zabel lose his job. A decision was not delivered Wednesday and no date was given for the ruling.The judicial council said it received 81 complaints about Zabel’s behaviour, with some suggesting his apology was not consistent with his earlier comments in court. None of the complaints came from people who were in court that day.Sixty-two character references have been filed in the case, lauding Zabel as a sensitive and compassionate judge.The Ontario Court of Justice said in January that Zabel, who is based in Hamilton, was no longer being assigned cases.One of Zabel’s colleagues, Justice Marjoh Agro, said his absence has put a strain on courthouse operations and caused scheduling headaches in several trials.Agro was one of the few to see Zabel with the hat on when they ran into each other near the elevators before court, she testified. She asked if he was out of his mind, to which he responded that it was a joke, she said.“I deeply regret not ripping that hat off his head,” she said.
OTTAWA – A man accused of holding Amanda Lindhout hostage in Somalia says he was threatened with death if he didn’t help the gang that seized her nine years ago.Testifying Monday in Ontario Superior Court, Ali Omar Ader said he had no role in the plan to kidnap Lindhout, who was working as a journalist near Mogadishu in August 2008.Under questioning from one of his lawyers, Ader told the court he was sitting in a market when he was suddenly approached by men who fired bullets near his feet and demanded he stand up.“They told me if you don’t come with us you are going to die,” Ader told the court in the Somali language through a translator.Ader said he was bundled into a vehicle and driven for more than an hour to a house outside the city where Lindhout, of Red Deer, Alta., and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were being held.Ader, a 40-year-old Somalian national who speaks rudimentary English, has pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge of hostage-taking for his alleged role as a negotiator and translator.Lindhout and Brennan were abducted by armed men while working on a story, the beginning of 15 months in captivity. Both were freed in November 2009 upon payment of a ransom.The Crown has introduced a secretly recorded video of Ader telling two undercover RCMP officers he received US$10,000 for his role in the kidnapping.In his testimony, Ader portrayed himself as a victim who was coerced into assisting three gang leaders and a bunch of gun-toting youths over several months through threats, a beating and an attack on his family.Ader said the group made him question the hostages shortly after their capture, as well as place a call to Lindhout’s mother, Lorinda Stewart, in Canada.Recordings played in court have shown Ader spoke with Stewart frequently in the ensuing months, telling her the group wanted no less than $2 million for the release of Lindhout and Brennan.“I did not do it willingly, but there was no place to run to,” Ader told the court Monday.“I had to make a call when I was ordered.”Ader said he was beaten with a cane and fired at with a bullet that grazed his arm.He managed “to escape” at one point, fleeing to his sister’s place and returning home to see his wife and children.He told the court the abductors tried to take his son, stabbing his wife with a bayonet in the melee.One of the gang leaders warned him “something worse than that would happen” if he did not follow orders, Ader said.The Crown wrapped its arguments earlier in the day after playing the last portion of the surreptitiously recorded sting video.An undercover Mountie posing as a media mogul dangled the prospect of a lucrative film documentary about the hostage-taking in order to elicit details from Ader.The officer floats the idea with a proviso that Ader must divulge fresh information concerning the kidnapping.The pitch comes toward the end of a lengthy June 2015 meeting at an Ottawa hotel in which Ader had already signed a contract to write a book about Somalia, part of an elaborate RCMP ruse to obtain a recorded confession.During the book contract negotiations, captured on the secret video, Ader says he received $10,000 in ransom money.— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
EDMONTON – An Alberta family allegedly kidnapped by a group of naked neighbours, who may have unknowingly drank some hallucinogenic tea, say it was a frightening experience.And the family members say until they learn more facts about what happened, they don’t know how to feel about the ordeal.“We just don’t have enough information,” said one family member, who asked not to be named. “We have no answers as to whether anything was purposely taken or not purposely taken.”The family members were reluctant to share their experience because of the ongoing court case, but they told The Canadian Press they know the accused as neighbours. They are all members of the same Jehovah’s Witnesses church.When one of the female accused showed up at the family’s home in Leduc County south of Edmonton on Monday morning, clothed and acting frantic, they thought there must be an emergency.But the family said with her were four other people who were naked and the family was forced outside and into a BMW. The man was allegedly put in the trunk and his daughter and her baby in the car with the others.While the car was being driven, the family said the man managed to jump out of the trunk. As the car slowed, the woman and her baby then managed to get away.The man, woman and child were then picked up by a passerby in his truck, but the truck was allegedly rammed by the car.RCMP have said that when they arrived at the scene of the crash, they took five people into custody. Three adults, a man and two women, are facing charges of kidnapping, resisting arrest and mischief and are to next appear in court Nov. 30.Two teenage girls also in the car were released without charges.No one was injured.The father of the girls, ages 13 and 15, has said his daughters and their mother were having breakfast Monday morning with another couple when they decided to have some tea recently brought back from a trip overseas. The father said the tea was from India, but the family that was allegedly kidnapped said one of the accused had travelled earlier in the year to Thailand and South Korea.“It’s absolutely crazy,” said the father, who cannot be named due to a court publication ban protecting the identity of youths involved in the case.“It’s a scary thought thinking, ‘Oh, let’s try this tea that we purchased.’ And then all sit down thinking they’re just going to have a nice morning and end up in that circumstance.”He said the girls don’t remember what happened.The Mounties have not said if they’re investigating whether a hallucinogenic tea motivated the alleged crime but have said drugs and/or alcohol may have played a role.
Five stories in the news for Thursday, March 29———ONTARIO BUDGET: NEW SPENDING & DEFICITSOntario Premier Kathleen Wynne will speak to a business audience in Toronto today to sell her new provincial budget. The spending package rolled out Wednesday pumps billions into health care, child care, and support for seniors while sending the province back into deficit, with the books expected to stay in the red for six years.———PM TRUDEAU SPEAKS AT SWANKY FUNDRAISERPrime Minister Justin Trudeau touted his government’s tough stance on the wealthy Wednesday night at a high-priced fundraiser in Montreal. Tickets cost $1,500 per person over 35 years old and $750 for anyone younger. Trudeau said he recognized the audience represented people “who have really succeeded” while acknowledging that raise taxes on the wealthy “can be frustrating.”———BARRICK GOLD FOUNDER PETER MUNK DIES AT 90Peter Munk, whose founding of Barrick Gold Corp. was just one of his numerous accomplishments, has died at the age of 90. He was born in Hungary and fled the Nazis in 1944 with his family before settling in Toronto in 1948 at age 20. He then launched a number of business ventures before founding Barrick in 1983 and building it into a huge gold mining company. And, along the way, Munk also became one of Canada’s best-known philanthropists.———HEALTH MINISTER TOUTS POT AWARENESS CAMPAIGNHealth Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor says millions of young people have been reached through various campaigns to inform them about the health and safety risks of using cannabis. But the lack of a visible, national campaign is among the top concerns of senators who are studying the bill to legalize recreational pot. Petitpas Taylor says the campaigns are not aimed at people in the senators’ age group and appear primarily on social media platforms and web banners.———POKEMON GO CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT ABANDONEDAn Alberta-based class-action lawsuit against the creators of Pokemon Go has been dropped after the company took steps to deal with what the plaintiff said was an invasion of privacy. Pokemon Go sends players into the real world to seek out digital monsters known as Pokemon, which appear on screens when users hold up smartphones. The plaintiff complained that players were inundating her home because it was the site of a Pokegym.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— Finance Minister Bill Morneau is in Asia to discuss the federal budget and business opportunities.— Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is in South Korea to discuss commercial and security ties.— N.L. Premier Dwight Ball will make a funding announcement to support mental health and addiction programs.— Statistics Canada releases include GDP by industry for January and industrial product and raw materials data for February.— NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will visits a steel fabrication plant in Burnaby, B.C.— Play Ball! The Toronto Blue Jays open the regular season this afternoon at home against the New York Yankees.
EDMONTON – Karanpal Singh Bhangu and Ricky Cenabre met the same fate minutes apart while working alone on a night shift at two different Mac’s convenience stores in south Edmonton.Each clerk was robbed, beaten and shot dead.A jury heard Tuesday that three people wearing bandanas over their faces and similar clothes walked into both stores on Dec. 18, 2015. In both robberies, one suspect was armed with a handgun and another had a machete.The Crown said evidence shows that, at some point, they changed who was holding the gun.“The person who shot Mr. Cenabre is not the person who shot Mr. Bhangu,” prosecutor John Watson told court in his opening statement. “But both of the people involved are part of the group of three.”Laylin Delorme, 27, is on trial after pleading not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of robbery with a prohibited restricted firearm.Two co-accused have yet to stand trial.Watson didn’t explain what role Delorme is alleged to have played in the killings. He said the month-long trial will hear from about 35 witnesses, including DNA and firearms experts.One police photo entered as evidence shows a trail of blood leading through one of the stores. In another picture, two feet are sticking out from behind a counter next to an M&M’s candy display.Bhangu, 35, had recently emigrated from India. Cenabre, 41, had come to Canada five years earlier from the Philippines.Watson said the two stores were equipped with video surveillance cameras which captured one of the robbers wearing a distinctive jacket.A short time after the shootings, police spotted a man wearing the same jacket sitting in a car in the Collingwood neighbourhood. The vehicle sped off and officers pursued the vehicle until it crashed near Whitemud Drive.Officers arrested three people in the vehicle — two men and a 13-year-old boy. Watson said police searched the car and found a gun, machete, bandanas and duffel bags filled with cash, cigarettes and lottery tickets.
Four stories in the news for Monday, June 18———REPORT DETAILS CHILD POVERTY IN ALL FEDERAL RIDINGSForty per cent of the children in Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s downtown Toronto riding live in poverty, one of the highest rates identified in a new report that tracks child poverty rates across all 338 federal ridings. The anti-poverty group Campaign 2000 is hoping its report will prod the government to approve a soon-to-be-finalized poverty-reduction strategy before next year’s federal election, and enshrine its commitments in legislation.———U.S. INDIGENOUS PROTESTERS FIGHT TRANS MOUNTAINIndigenous protesters in Washington state are gearing up to fight the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Canada recently bought the project for $4.5 billion but it doesn’t only affect Canadian waters or lands. Many Indigenous activists in Washington trace their roots to both sides of the border and say they won’t give up until the expansion is stopped. They’re calling their fight against the project the Standing Rock of the north, comparing it to the fierce protests that stalled the Dakota Access Pipeline.———POLITICS FAR FROM CLEAN IN QUEBEC: WHISTLEBLOWERA former star witness in Quebec’s corruption inquiry says the Liberals must be defeated in October’s election in order to clean up politics in the province. Lino Zambito says most of the people convicted in the high-profile cases investigated by Quebec’s anti-corruption unit have pleaded guilty and served no jail time, while key figures at the provincial level have barely been touched. Zambito’s comments reflect a frustration in Quebec after recent acquittals in numerous high-profile fraud cases.———UNIVERSITY RECEIVES 1,140 ART PIECES FROM COLLECTORMargaret Perkins Hess spent a lifetime following her passion. And upon her death in 2016 at the age of 100 the lifelong educator, art collector and Order of Canada recipient bequeathed a collection worth as much as $5 million to the school where she received a doctorate of fine arts. The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery received word last year that Hess had donated her vast collection, which includes works by some of Canada’s most celebrated artists.———ALSO IN THE NEWS:— A public forum will be held in Halifax on prostitution and human trafficking in Nova Scotia.— A general court martial will be held in Halifax for Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre, a military police officer accused of sexual assault.— Federal byelection today in the Quebec riding of Chicoutimi-Le Fjord.— Sentencing arguments continue in Quebec City in the case of convicted mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette.— MP Stephen Fuhr, chair of the Commons defence committee, releases a report on Canada’s involvement in NATO.— Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna will make his first appearance in a Toronto court on an assault charge.— Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announces changes to her cabinet.— B.C. Premier John Horgan makes an announcement in Prince George about new housing for Indigenous people.———
MARKHAM (CITYNEWS) – York police say the vehicle believed to have been used in a violent Markham kidnapping has been found, but officers are still searching for the victim.The black wheelchair accessible Dodge Caravan was found empty and without licence plates on Sunday night in Toronto thanks to tips from the public. The license plate that was on the back of the van during the alleged kidnapping was stolen Ontario plate CEAR350.Wanzhen Lu, 22, has not been seen since he was taken from an the underground parking garage of his condominium building at 15 Water Walk Drive, in the area of Highway 7 and Birchmount Road.Lu, who also goes by the name “Peter” and is studying at a school in Toronto, entered the parking garage of his condo building in a Range Rover, Const. Andy Pattenden said.He and his girlfriend were walking towards the building’s elevators when the van came speeding up to them and three masked men, one armed with a Taser-like weapon, forced Lu into the van. The victim was shocked several times with the taser. A fourth suspect stayed in the van.The woman was not harmed and immediately alerted condo security after the incident, who then called police.Pattenden said as the woman wasn’t taken, officers believe Lu was targeted. He noted that police are not sharing some information — such as where in Toronto the van was found and which school Lu attends — to protect the investigation.Neighbours say the student from Hainan, China was regularly seen driving multiple expensive, exotic cars..@YRP tell @CityNews Wanzhen Lu arrived at his condo in a black Range Rover on Saturday evening just before his alleged abduction. A source who shared some pictures with us says Lu also drove this white Lamborghini and Rolls Royce. pic.twitter.com/pffM1Gtx1L— Adrian Ghobrial (@CityAdrian) March 25, 2019Police have not been made aware of any ransom demands and say they have yet to determine a motive for the alleged kidnapping.Officers have been in contact with Lu’s family, who are on their way to Canada.The fact Lu has “vanished” is extremely troubling, said Pattenden adding these types of alleged, violent kidnappings do not happen very often, if ever in York region.“The attack was very brazen, violent and hands on. They took him, threw him into the vehicle and then left,” Pattenden said.WATCH: Constable Andy Pattenden provides an update on the case Police are looking for four suspects – a driver and three others who forces Lu into the vehicle.“Now is the time to seek legal counsel and turn yourself in,” Pattenden said urging the suspects to let Lu go. The first suspect is a male who was wearing a mask, blue pants and a black jacket at the time. Another is described as a dark-skinned male, around six-foot-one, wearing a black Canada goose jacket. The third suspect was wearing dark blue jeans with a jacket and is described as a dark-skinned male with a heavier build and around six-foot-two inches tall. The last suspect was wearing a green and yellow jacket with a hood.Police say Lu was wearing a Gucci hoodie, torn black jeans and white sneakers when he was taken, as seen in the photo below. York police believe Wanzhen Lu, 22, was kidnapped from a parking garage at 15 Water Walk Drive in Markham on March 23, 2019. YORK REGIONAL POLICE/Handout Three of four suspects captured on surveilance footage wanted in the armed kidnapping of 22-year-old Wanzhen Lu. HANDOUT/York Regional Police. —With files from The Canadian Press
Grandparents.com announced today that Deepak Chopra, MD has joined Grandparents.com as Anti-aging and Wellness Spokesperson and has become a member of the company’s Advisory Board.Grandparents.com is the # 2 website in the age 50+ demographic segment, with a new focus on anti-aging and wellbeing for an audience of 100+ million grandparents, boomers and seniors in the U.S.In this new venture, Dr. Chopra and the company will produce text, audio and video productions, including interviews of Dr. Chopra and others. The first project is a multi-part series entitled, “The New Anti-Aging: The Biology of Youth and the Wisdom of Experience.” Each segment will cover a niche regarding a wellness and wellbeing aspect of The New Anti-Aging, i.e., sleep, stress, sex, fitness, alternative, drug-free and more. The company will have a perpetual, worldwide license to distribute the series.“I am very happy with my new affiliation at Grandparents.com,” said Dr. Chopra, “It gives me the opportunity to work with my contemporaries and prove to the world that one can have the wisdom of aging while maintaining, for an extended period, the biology of youth.”“We are elated to have Deepak join our team and lead us in our quest for perpetual youth for America’s grandparents,” said Steve Leber , Chairman and Co-CEO of Grandparents.com. “Deepak is one of the most amazing persons I have ever met. I can easily understand why Time Magazine described Deepak as one of the top 100 heroes and icons of this century and credited him as ‘the poet-prophet of alternative medicine.’ We absolutely love having Deepak join the Grandparents.com team!”Source:PR Newswire